The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - DVD Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 9 Old 05-08-09, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
Brandon Dimmel
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - DVD Review

Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Jared Harris
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Eric Noth
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 166 mins
DVD Release: May 5, 2009

And so we have this generation’s Forrest Gump. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a curious case indeed, following a rather odd fellow (not unlike Gump) as he journeys around the world (like Gump), falling in love with a beautiful and intensely troubled young woman who floats in and out of his life, flirting with his, and our, emotions (uh, also like Gump). Comparisons aside, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a romantic, intelligent, and above all entertaining film that will leave a lasting impression on its viewers.

The film follows, you guessed it, the life of one Benjamin Button, a curious individual whose aging process is somehow (we’re never really told why) flipped 180 degrees. Well, make that 175 degrees – Button is born a tiny baby, not a full grown old man, but like an octogenarian is thoroughly coated in wrinkles, suffering from severe cataracts, and quite frankly, knocking on heaven’s door. With his mother’s life tragically cut short by child birth, Benjamin’s shaken father Thomas quietly approaches his newborn son’s cradle – only to be repulsed by the sight. In a blind haze of anger and disappointment, Thomas rushes the child to the harbour, holding the infant tentatively before the midnight current. Chased off by a security guard, Button’s father finally comes to rest at a local old age home, an appropriate place for Benjamin, where he leaves the tiny child for someone else to raise. Poor Benjamin is discovered and cared for by Queenie, the home’s African-American caretaker, who prevented biologically from bearing her own child decides to keep and protect Benjamin (whom she names), even as she’s told that this decrepit little thing won’t last the night.

As you can tell, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, like the movie which inspires it so greatly (both Button and Forrest Gump share the same screenplay writer, Eric Roth), is an emotional rollercoaster from the start. It’s hard not to be sucked in by the characters and the setting, post-WWI New Orleans. Through the first half of the movie we watch Benjamin steadily get younger and stronger, progressing from a wheelchair-bound five-year-old to a running and dancing teenager, who, by the way, still resembles someone tipping seventy-five. Button faces a number of challenges, including the grandmother of redhead beauty Daisy (Cate Blanchett), who simply can’t accept the fact that this old man should be playing with such a young girl (when in actual fact, they’re the same age). However, aside from this instance and a few curious snickers by neighbourhood kids, we’re not given the impression Benjamin’s childhood is particularly trying. There’s no mention of any schooling, and so we assume he’s taught by the more-than-likely uneducated Queenie. Perhaps this is one instance where the film strays from Gump, which spent a much greater effort emphasizing the impact of a difficult childhood.

As the years pass, Benjamin progressively draws closer to the image of dashing Pitt. The movie relies heavily on computer imaging to help “young” Benjamin resemble Pitt, and sometimes it’s a bit too obvious, even cheesy. However, the bulk of the film follows a middle-aged Benjamin out of Louisiana and into fantastic new locales and crises, including Depression-era Russia, the Caribbean, and even the Battle of the Atlantic. Button’s work as a tugboat sailor in the Baltic sets up a rather extraordinary battle scene reminiscent of Forrest Gump’s heroic dash through the Vietnamese jungle. Far-fetched, certainly, but entertaining? No doubt.

We forgive many of these implausible scenes because, as you might expect with a cast of this magnitude, the acting is strong and the dialogue concise and powerful. Button is a man of few words, and those few he chooses are eloquent, romantic, and memorable. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that he was raised in a retirement home alongside society’s wise elders rather than its tots and tweens, who most of us recognize have little, if anything, of meaning to say. Both Pitt and Blanchett do good work here, and are supported by a loveable cast of exceptional minor characters, including the hard-drinking Irishman Captain Mike and one plucky old chap unlucky enough to have been struck by lightning an incredible seven times. The way these episodes are related is absolutely hilarious and won’t be forgotten by viewers.

Although there are some moments of physical intimacy, teenagers should be able to handle the film’s adult themes. Of course, that’s up to the savvy viewer to decide beforehand, but this is a feel-good movie that offers positive life lessons many older kids and teenagers will (or should) appreciate. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button isn’t quite as good as 1994’s Best Picture winner, but it is certainly another triumph for writer Eric Noth, who has once again successfully woven history’s most fascinating highs and lows with interesting characters and a touching love story. It’s another great DVD release, adding to an already strong month or two at the rental store.

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post #2 of 9 Old 05-09-09, 10:15 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

Interesting review.

I for one haven't seen this movie yet and honestly, was a bit turned off by the feeling that 'Pitt can do nothing wrong' when it comes to making movies.

I did however thoroughly enjoy Gump, and did not know this was penned by the same person. I just may pick this one up and check it out!

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

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post #3 of 9 Old 08-18-09, 04:22 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

I thought it was mildly entertaining but much too long. I absolutely hated the flashback gimmick
at the beginning where the bedridden character recalls events as if they are from a deteriorating nitrate film with decomposing images full of scratches and damage. I wasn't a fan of the "Gump"
movie either.
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-02-09, 07:54 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

I love my Blu-ray copy, with details that are extremely satisfying.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-09-09, 07:19 AM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

While I can see the attraction of this film for many, I found it an all to predictable one watch flick. I new from the off where it was heading and I just found it a little to mundane. That feeling removed any sort of emotionally response I might have had, especially at his eventual death and as the credits rolled up I simply felt I had ticked it off the list. IMO, a Forrest Gump it is not. I can do far fetched but it has to be fun and and I couldnt really find the fun in this film, and there was nothing I didnt predict.

Its an OK watch, but nothing more for me, and I doubt I'll watch this again, especially when there are still classics out there I have yet to watch (Platoon anyone?).
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-09-09, 05:32 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

Predictability rarely affects my level of enjoyment of a movie. Most of the movies nowadays are rehashes of the same old story, which is fine by me. I want to see the re-imagining of stories. I want to see how stories are told. I find simply being online at forums in general lead me to spoilers for movies anyway so often times I already know the end of the movie, I just like seeing/experiencing how the film gets to that point. Benjamin Button was one of the movies that really intrigued me as I watched it because while I knew how it would end, his experiences and the different aspects of his life were what made the movie so entertaining to me.

I agree with your assessment, Moonfly - Forrest Gump it is not. But I still enjoyed it thoroughly. Actually more than I originally expected to.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-10-09, 12:14 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

I see your point on predictability, and I suppose I have to agree. I shouldnt let it ruin a film, and generally I dont, but if a film has a nice surprise in it then its all the better for it. If this film had have had just one moment like that it would have changed the entire film for me.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-10-09, 04:36 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

True, if there is a surprising twist to the story line it certainly makes it all the better, but even then just perusing various forums reveal spoilers for those, too. Ah well, I guess that's what I get for being so curious.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-10-09, 05:00 PM
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Re: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

Lol, I only look at reviews of films Ive watched already, or dont really have any interest in to see if it persuades me otherwise. I just feel this film needed a surprise moment, it felt a little thin to me without it, rather than a very polished version of the kind of film it was trying to be.
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