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Review - Million Dollar Baby

Posted by askanison on 2005.07.20 at 06:44
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A certain amount of hype is imparted into any good motion picture ad campaign, because it is necessary to get the word out there about a movie and its content in order for the general public to actually spend their hard-earned cash to see it. It is rare, however, for a movie to actually live up to, or even surpass, the hype that surrounds it. In the case of Million Dollar Baby, it's safe to say that all of the attention is well-deserved.

I was sadly expecting to be disappointed by Clint Eastwood's twenty-seventh directorial outing, simply because of the fact that no matter who I talked to, it was lauded as one of the best movies ever. That's a tough standard to live up to, after all. The gigantic Academy Award Winner label on the DVD case didn't help matters any; I was deterred in every way shape and form from actually watching this movie, simply because I was afraid that it would be a giant letdown.

What Million Dollar Baby manages to do is to be truly captivating in an age where "captivating" often means "big CG explosions." Even though I was aware of the basic premise of the movie (damn you, internet), I still was able to stick with the plot and characters for the whole duration. Each character is very believably rendered, from Eastwood's gruff boxing trainer persona to Hilary Swank's determined yet fun character. Hilary Swank has come a long way since The Last Karate Kid.

Clint Eastwood has come a long way since Firefox, as well. The film noir low-key lighting that seems to be ever-present in Eastwood films of late (Blood Work came to mind a few times when watching this) is back in full-force, and in a movie like this, it has one hell of an effect on the mood. This film seems almost as though it were black and white; the lack of colors (except for a few vibrant key colors in some scenes) makes this movie feel sort of timeless, while giving it a unifying visual theme. Eastwood's choices in this production were excellent. I've heard some reviewers deny that this movie was stylized, but I disagree; I believe this is Eastwood's most stylized movie to date, simply because everything just fits.

The plot in Million Dollar Baby is dramatic, without suffering from some of the boilerplate of other dramatic movies. When there is something which may seem cliche in the movie, the acting of Eastwood, Swank, and Morgan Freeman manage to carry it through. I mean, come on, it's Morgan Freeman. I can safely say that the cast's performances in this film are some of the best I have ever seen. And that's saying a lot.

I sound a bit like a fanboy in this review, but in all honesty, I can't find a single thing wrong with this movie. The only thing that might turn viewers off is the heartbreaking and controversial ending (which I will not spoil). I must say, bring tissues to this one. The characters are too convincing not to care about, and they go through absolute hell in this story. This is definitely one to add to your collection, cherish, and remember for a long, long time.

Final Score: 5/5
Million Dollar Baby: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love this film.

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