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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Retro Review: Blood Red (1989)

Blood Red
Cast: Eric Roberts, Giancarlo Giannini, Dennis Hopper, Julia Roberts, Michael Madsen 
Genre: Western Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: $15, 510

Plot: In 1890s California, Sicilian winemakers battle with a railroad tycoon over control of the land. William Berrigan (Dennis Hopper) will stop at nothing to get what he wants - a train track running through the valley. Standing in his way is the Collgero family: father Sebastian, son Marco (Eric Roberts) and daughter, Maria (Julia Roberts). But Berrigan makes a misjudgement when he orders the death of Sebastian, which launches a blood war in the vine-strangled hills 

'Incredibly Bland Period- Based Western In Need Of A Better Screenplay'

In a cast that includes Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts and his sister, Julia, you'd think this film would be better than just a TV movie. But no, a TV movie is what this film is. A Sicilian family, who specialise in making wine, immigrates to California during the late 1800s, only to run afoul of tycoon, Berrigan. 

The idea was originally conceived in 1976 and was eventually filmed 10 years later in 1986, which marks the debut of Julia Roberts, even though the film itself wasn't released until 3 years later in 1989. A year that furthermore saw the releases of Julia's other major film, Steel Magnolias and Eric's martial arts effort, Best of the Best, Blood Red also saw the onscreen appearances of brother and sister, Eric and Julia together for the first, and only time and it's intriguing to see not just so much how they match up and compare as performers, but with Julia that potential star quality that put her on the pedal stool for greater success, later on. I'd have liked to have seen another film made in the early 2000s or during the 1990s with Eric and Julia, and I don't mean, in a rom-com. Julia as Maria also dons a headscarf and she shares a brief scene with her older brother when they infiltrate some guy's house and they see him naked in a bathtub with another woman, and Gianni has a shotgun. I think she only had 2 or 3 lines in this film. 

However, with Blood Red, the whole thing has a very run-of-the-mill approach that could do with more vitality and life. Period-based dramas aren't usually my thing, and this film didn't alter my views on them, in any shape or form. The plot is not very entertaining or interesting enough. & besides seeing this just for Julia Roberts's performance, it's not thoroughly watchable. The screenplay needed to be better developed; the scenes lacked emphasis of the struggles of the characters, characterisation is also non-existent. I'm sure there are other films which have a similar plotline and are conceived better than Blood Red. Eric Roberts as Marco looks nice (he even has a few shirtless scenes) and he does have that male heartthrob quality, which he chose not to take advantage of in his career, as he opted for more dramatic and antagonist-based roles. He tends to get criticism for overplaying his parts and act too over-the-top crazy, but here he strikes a good balance with his acting. It's a shame his character doesn't have much going for him in the film.  

I guess Blood Red might have been good, despite the lacklustre plotting, but the manner in which the events unfolded, there was never a real effort to make it work. But for a few action set pieces, nothing else about it springs to life. This film fell through the cracks and given the plodding feel it gives off, that's not surprising as well. 

The late Dennis Hopper hams it up with an atrocious Irish-sounding accent, so bad it's laughable, although there is no other reason to add this film to your collection unless you are a massive Julia Roberts fan and need to complete the collection. 

Final Verdict

Visually, it is more align to being a TV movie, there is very little to recommend from this film and though Julia Roberts is in this one, she doesn't appear in it as much - nor does her character have more of a bearing on the main plot. Meanwhile, Eric does okay in his performance. The biggest flaw with this one is the story is very uninspiring, almost directionless and leaves a lot less to be desired; it is very droning and mediocre at best, with no real enthusiasm or intrigue going for it. 

And that is the reason is why it was ever forgotten, to begin with. 

Blood Red is bland, it's far more like blood grey: grey as in drab, asinine, dull, lacklustre, which this film is. 


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