*/**** Image B Sound A- Extras C
starring Kevin Costner, Olivia Williams, Will Patton, Larenz Tate
screenplay by Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by David Brin
directed by Kevin Costner
by Bill Chambers
How are you? What are you up to these days? Have they offered you a sitcom yet?
I'll bet that right now you're just lounging by the pool, humming "I Will Always Love You" and wistfully recalling those candlelight dinners with success. It isn't necessarily over for you: I say the moviegoing public still has enough goodwill stored up for you that you could avoid the pilot for "Kevin!" a little while longer. Begin by scribbling "the star that burns twice as bright burns half as long" somewhere you'll always see it. Any shiny surface will do.
You had a heck of a thing going there until you agreed to star in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where you were upstaged not only by powerhouses Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman, but also Christian Slater, several dozen tall trees, bows, arrows, a length of rope, and a canoe, too. After Dances With Wolves and JFK, you decided to take out a policy on three-hour movies--expensive three-hour movies--and so you starred in and produced Wyatt Earp. Wyatt Earp the man owes his place in the history books to a general lack of Wyatts. So dull a cowboy was Wyatt Earp that he died of natural causes. As did most of the people who went to see Wyatt Earp.
Now you're suffering the demise of yet another of your epics, The Postman, a film so financially ruinous that it all but eradicated the memory of Tin Cup's comeback reputation. Contrary to current wisdom, The Postman is not the worst movie ever made--people in Hollywood are quick to forget Booty Call. But it is of few redeeming qualities. I suspect you thought you had the next Braveheart on your hands; why else line up two armies on horesback, all prepared for battle, for the climax of your film? "Mailheart" The Postman is not. (I do have some suggestions for alternative titles, however: Post Encounters of the Worst Kind; Farewell, My Salary; Howard the Postman; The Postman's Never Watched Twice...)
What a brown movie The Postman is. I hate brown. You love brown. Dances With Wolves was golden and brown--it looked like an Eggo commercial. No, it looked like an Eggo itself. What was the exact evolution of this desert world, anyway? Why didn't we immediately begin to rebuild homes, restaurants, shopping malls after the oft-mentioned "war"? We still have electricity, we still have Tom Petty (see below), so where is the Tower Records? Why is it that only the terrorists carry ammunition? What are the terrorists after that they cannot or do not have? Was it really appropriate to cast your DAUGHTER as a girl who has a sweet crush on you, the drifter-cum-postman? Why cast Olivia Williams, the most British-looking actress ever, as the American Eve to your American Adam? Do you just enjoy making things difficult for yourself?
Speaking of miscast, devilish Will Patton as your evil opposite inches this post-apocalyptic fable just a little too closely into the territory of Stephen King's The Stand. Don't remind me of the better time I could be having! (But thank you for reminding me that I need to buy stamps.) Oh yeah, was Tom Petty supposed to be playing Tom Petty? If so, couldn't he accomplish more with a free concert than by running for mayor? Why, oh why, do I have so many questions at the end of three hours of something? You have one great line in this film: "The things I like about my ass..." I know you're technically talking to a mule in that scene, but why else bookend the movie with the unveiling of a statue of yourself except to say, "See?"
At any rate, Warners has produced a suitably mediocre DVD to match. There is an overall softness to the image that reminds me of the studio's lesser LaserDiscs. Occasional shots jitter, others are grainy. The image is letterboxed at 2.35:1, 16x9-enhanced, and the disc is RSDL. The layer switch occurs about 90 minutes into your film, if memory serves. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is good, punchy. The subtitles defaulted to ON when I first inserted the disc, a problem with either Warner's mastering or my Pioneer DVL-700. Included after the 178 minutes of excess is a brief documentary on the creation of "the bridge sequence," featuring commentary by your effects designers. Additionally, there is the usual Warner helping of production notes, among them a feeble paragraph or two by David Brin, who wrote the novel on which you based this, uh, movie.
I'm ultimately saying relax. There is no motion-picture quota for actors of your calibre. Really second-guess future screenplays before committing.
Feel free to write back. I know how much you like to send letters.
178 minutes; PG-13; 2.35:1 (16x9-enhanced); English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1; CC; English, French, Spanish subtitles; DVD-9; Region One; Warner