***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
The Tree of Life - 3 out of 5
The Tree of Life is one of those unique, artistic films that are so experimental that it's quite difficult to review. It's not your typical film. There's no linear narrative to speak of and the movie ultimately feels like a dream within a dream, a religious experience or the most mellow drug trip the world has ever seen.
|Is that..is that Mayhem?|
To try and describe the film's premise is even difficult with all the artistry placed within its running time. To put it in its simplest terms, the movie is about a young boy (Jack) growing up in the 50s and, after the loss of his brother, starts to see his own innocence fade away. The film jumps from Jack as a child to Jack as an adult (played by Sean Penn)--except when we see Jack as an adult, he's on some sort of peyote trip and is having visions of himself and his family in the desert (yeah, you read that right). The film becomes even more like it was the remnants from the cutting room floor of 2001: A Space Odyssey as, after the death of the little brother is established, the movie cuts to the creation of the universe and the planet Earth--and we're even treated with a short scene that contains dinosaurs (yeah, you read that right, too).
|Brad Pitt plays Jack's father...so this movie contains Brad Pitt AND |
dinosaurs? Why was this not the greatest movie ever made?
Visually, The Tree of Life is beautiful (even the stuff that doesn't seem to make sense on the surface). The entire movie is filmed beautifully with its use of natural light and smooth flowing camera shots that keep the movie moving forward as the camera never seems to stay still and moves around the action like an aquatic dancer (I'm not even sure what exactly an aquatic dancer is but it sounds good).
|If you look closely, you can see James Franco cutting his arm off in the background.|
|"Hmm...there seems to be a cameraman at crotch level|
right now. Interesting."
The only thing that harms the film (and Sean Penn actually was very critical of this aspect of the it as well) is the way the film's story is told. Director Terrence Malick is very experimental with this one, especially with its editing, as the film moves almost chaotically from sequence to sequence and it's not till the movie is over are you able to properly digest the events and have a bowel movement of insight to what you just saw. The dancing visuals that are interwoven into the film's story keeps the viewer (or at least me) from being able to fully empathize with the characters within. It wasn't until the credits were rolling could I feel anything for what I just saw. Because of this, the movie can feel like homework and less patient viewers can be (justifiably) bored with what they are seeing. Also, if you've ever described Michael Bay's work as a "masterpiece" or "an emotional rollercoaster" you should avoid this movie like the plague because it'll make your head explode.
|Seriously, there were dinosaurs in this movie!|
|Wow, even in those glasses Brad Pitt is better|
looking than I'll ever be.
The Tree of Life is a hard film to watch because your typical movie rewards don't come in the form of explosions, jokes, damn dirty apes or even the occasional appearance of a boobie. Instead, the film is an ever expanding story of developing emotions in a young boy as he grows old juxtaposed with amazing visuals and an unusual editing style. With its running time, it's easy to compare the film to a flower blooming: It takes some time and you may wonder why the hell you are wasting your time watching it but in the end, the final result is beautiful.