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The Postman

movie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Postman

Starring: Kevin Costner, Will Patton
Director: Kevin Costner
Rated: R
RunTime: 177 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Drama


*Also starring: Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, Daniel Von Bargen, Tom Petty, Scott Bairstow, Giovanni Ribisi, Peggy Lipton



Review by Walter Frith
3½ stars out of 4

Cynics were already taking shots at director/star Kevin Costner's film 'The Postman' as it was in production and dubbed it 'Dirtworld', mocking it in reference to Costner's terrible and empty 1995 film 'Waterworld' about the Earth consumed by melting glaciers eventually flooding most of the planet. That film was very unusual, especially showing the characters with soiled clothes and faces in a world full of water? In reality, 'The Postman' is a rich and diversely entertaining film with a thunderous frontier charge reminiscent of Costner's Oscar-winning 'Dances With Wolves' from 1990. Can comparisons be made to 'Dances With Wolves' and 'Waterworld' when describing 'The Postman'? Yes. In fairness, 'The Postman' should be judged on its own merit and it has plenty of it.

Based on the award winning science fiction novel by David Brin, 'The Postman' takes places in the year 2013 when the combination of a deadly plague and war have ravaged and destroyed the fabric of the United States turning the clock back a couple of centuries to the days of the pioneers.

Costner is a lone drifter traveling with his mule named Bill and the two of them stop at small towns and perform humourous antics for the folks of the community. At one encounter, Costner meets General Bethlehem (Will Patton), a brutal and Hitler-like leader who even likes to paint like Hitler did and has taken it upon himself to be the new leader of the former United States and has an army of goons who follow him dressed in militia-like outfits for the purpose of inflicting brutality.

General Bethlehem demands all men between the ages of 15 and 50 be turned over to him for the purpose of indoctrination into his army and Costner is a reluctant subject taken in a prisoner-like manner and eventually escapes and makes his way to another community. Before doing so he finds an abandoned U.S. postal service truck lost in the forest where the skeleton of a postman still in uniform remains and a bag of mail is in his possession. Costner takes the uniform and mail to the new community where he begins to build hope for the future and re-establishes the mail service and the days and historical references of the Pony Express are invoked.

Costner meets a beautiful young woman (Olivia Williams) who along with her husband asks him to father their child since her husband is infertile after he contracts a virus. Costner finally agrees after some very friendly persuasion. He also builds a loyal army of men and women who agree to be postal carriers to face and abolish the naked aggression of General Bethlehem.

I was overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery of 'The Postman' as it uses the landscape of U.S. states such as Arizona and Oregon in its filming. The characters are well developed and the emotion is brought through in Costner's ability to use an old fashioned subject and present it from a different angle in a convincing and powerful manner.

The film's climax is tastefully presented as things are resolved with a restrained amount of bloodshed for a film about war and a conclusion for which many critics are accusing Costner of taking an ego trip. Just because a director chooses to tell a story with himself in the lead, doesn't mean he's on an ego trip. No one complained when Costner did it in 'Dances With Wolves' and people have rarely accused Clint Eastwood of the same practice although he directs himself as the hero time and time again.

At a running time of 2 hours and 57 minutes, 'The Postman' is an epic story of hope, renewal and is a pure visual presentation of conflict in which a hero is built in a most unusual fashion both convincingly and in a way that makes you feel good when you leave the theatre.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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