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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Eastwood gone soft?

Clint Eastwood was once the first choice lead male for Hollywood “shoot ‘em up” movies. He still lives on in our minds as the scowling cowboy in “Unforgiven,” and the lawless, tough cop from “Dirty Harry.” These movies have rightfully maintained their identities as classic action movies.

For younger generations, Eastwood has made more of an impact as a director than as an actor. His smooth transition into the directing world has been marked by genius contributions like “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Gran Torino.”

Eastwood makes directing look easy. He has churned out award-winning hit after hit. The Academy Awards have handed him nominations for his films “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River.”

At a graceful 80 years old, Eastwood had never looked better. Until now. His new movie “Hereafter” hit theaters Oct. 22. Since then it has left whispers among fans that the brilliant director has gone soft.

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“Hereafter” is unimpressive, and it has left viewers with a collective “eh.” While the film was less than inspiring, hopefully Eastwood fans can shrug it off and leave their faith strong in his directing future.

The new movie follows the lives of three individuals who are impacted by death in different ways. Slowly their lives are brought together so they can be forever changed.

Matt Damon plays George Lonegan, a blue-collar American who once had a successful business “connecting” to peoples’ dead loved ones. But tortured by a life consumed with death, he gives it up cold turkey.

Damon has a knack for playing a relatable average Joe, but this role offers a bit of diversity, too. Damon demonstrates his acting talent as a frustrated man dealing with poignant visions of the afterlife.

But don’t pull out your wallet just yet. Despite Damon’s perfected looks of anguish, this role probably won’t bring him any Oscar nominations like his brilliant performance in “Invictus.”

Cécile De France plays a famous TV anchor, Marie LeLay. LeLay is haunted by a near-death experience. She remains cold and distant throughout the movie as she questions whether her visions are proof of an afterlife or insanity.

Marcus is a young boy in London coping with the death of his only friend in the world, his twin brother Jason (Frankie and George McLaren). He searches for psychic after psychic, hoping to reconnect with his brother in the afterlife.

Writer Peter Morgan, like Eastwood, has had an admirable career with scripts for Oscar-favorites “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon.” His three characters suffer depressing losses and debate complexities about death. Morgan thoroughly develops the characters with intricate details. But the two hours of character development is boring and neglects from the progress of any tangible plot.

The movie does offer a couple of very memorable scenes. Eastwood has proven his expertise in cinematography with high-contrast images and edgy alignment that attract the eyes. Eastwood’s bright, stunning landscapes integrated with dark, “Law & Order: SVU” reminiscent scenes will give your pupils a workout.

The two or three beautiful scenes leave the rest monotonous in comparison. The beginning images of a vicious tsunami dazzle and show off Eastwood’s impressive use of computer-generated imagery.

Later, a sensual meeting between Damon and his love interest is possibly the most sexually tense scene of all time. If you can’t wait to rent it, consider keeping a cold drink in your lap for this scene.

A movie about death and the afterlife would normally leave you in suspense and anticipation. But “Hereafter” only offers a couple of scenes of excitement. The rest is admittedly dull.

Eastwood’s portrayal of heaven is boring, both in imagery and explanation. Was he playing it safe? The skilled directing tycoon is at the perfect point in his career to take risks. Instead, he offers blurry, overexposed images with little explanation.

After “Invictus,” it seemed like Eastwood and Damon had made an unstoppable duo. Fans were excited for the iconic figure and the Hollywood star to release their new Eastwood-Damon installment. But “Hereafter” may prove to be an obstacle for the Hollywood power pair.

Unfortunately it looks like “Hereafter” will quickly find out what awaits film-flops in the hereafter. At least we have other Eastwood classics on our DVD shelves to hold us over until he redeems himself for this disappointment.

If you’re interests include questioning the afterlife, “Hereafter” isn’t the film for you. Go explore some other religious options because it doesn’t look like Eastwood’s film will be gaining many followers.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

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