A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005
Just like Europe produces their own comic book heroes very different from those created in America, so the Old Continent creates their very special screen adaptations of those comic books. But, although their comic books and comic book adaptation are different, Europe and America share one thing – most of comic book heroes usually disappoint their avid fans whenever appear on screen. BLUEBERRY, 2004 French western directed by Jan Kounen, isn’t exception.
The titles say that the film is “loosely based on” the famous comic book series by Jean “Moebius” Giraud. The plot starts in 1870s Arizona boom town of Palomito where young Mike Blueberry (played by Hugh O’Connor), a Louisiana Cajun, comes to live with his tyrannical uncle (played by Tcheky Karyo). Mike falls in love with local prostitute Madeleine (played by Vahina Giocante), but one night in her bed goes disastrously wrong with the arrival of her abusive boyfriend/customer Wally Blount (played by Michael Madsen). The confrontation leaves Madeleine dead and Mike, wounded and psychologically scarred, escapes only to be adopted by Apache tribe. Years later, older and wiser Mike (played by Vincent Cassel) is a sheriff of Palomito, and his mission is to maintain peace between settlers and Apaches. But this balance is shattered when Prussian geologist Prosit (played by Eddie Izzard) finds old Spanish map indicating gold deposits in Apache-populated mountains. Among various characters in search of fortune is Mike’s old nemesis Blount, who appears to know that mountains hide something more precious than gold.
At first, it looks that BLUEBERRY has anything that film worthy of such highly respected source material should have – a diverse and truly talented cast (which includes veteran Ernest Borgnine and Juliette Lewis playing with her father Geoffrey Lewis), beautiful cinematography and exotic locations. But, somehow Jan Kounen, Dutch director who cooperated with Vincent Cassel in ultra-violent DOBERMANN, fails to put any of those resources to some sensible use.
The first problem is the script. To say that the plot and characters don’t make any sense is an understatement. The audience will need a lot of patience and ability to spot tiny details in order to have some basic idea what is actually going on in the film. Kounen’s rapid editing style, which served him so well in DOBERMANN, completely ruins BLUEBERRY.
However, it soon becomes quite apparent that BLUEBERRY was took less inspiration from the works of Giraud than the works of Carlos Castaneda. Because of that a large section of the film deals with Apache shamans (with almost unrecognisable Temuera Morrison as Don Juan-like character), while almost two hours of film’s length could be explained with the scenes describing protagonist’s psychedelic visions. Those scenes, made with CGI, are fascinating – for about two seconds. After that they become so tiresome that the average viewer gets impression of watching a screensaver instead of feature film.
Although BLUEBERRY at times comes close to the “it is so bad that it is so good" point, most of the audience would be wise to spend two hours on something better than this colossal waste of cult comic book’s reputation.
RATING: 2/10 (-)