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"The Kite Runner"

Directed by Marc Forster.
Written by David Benioff.  Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.
Starring Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  12/19/07


Hey, I won't lie to you--I had very high hopes for "The Kite Runner", and sadly, I was disappointed by this film thanks mainly to a slightly twisted idea...I was thinking this film would be about two kids and a traumatic, horrible event that would shape the rest of their adult lives, and I was WAY wrong!

"The Kite Runner" follows two kids living in Kabul in 1978: there's Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi), the son of an activist and generally-speaking wealthy guy named Baba (Homayoun Ershadi), and there's Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), the son of Baba's estate caretaker and Amir's best buddy.  They spend their days reading stories, running around or flying kites, where in a two-man operation they fly kites but also compete to "cut" other kids' kites in order to show air superiority of a way-different nature.  Hassan has an uncanny ability to track or run down opponents' cut-down kites--this is not unlike collecting scalps, although it's never quite referenced that way--and one day while running down an opponent's kite, he is assaulted by three kids even though Amir witnesses the act and does nothing to help his friend.

Fast forward 22 years later, and Amir (now played by Khalid Abdalla) is living in San Francisco and is on the eve of publishing his first book when he gets a phone call from an old family friend; apparently, the adult Hassan has recently died and his son has been recruited into the Taliban...and, this old family friend needs help breaking this kid out of terrorist training school.  Since Amir sold out his buddy so long ago, he agrees to come to Pakistan (since everyone has left Afghanistan) to help Hassan's son.

The big problem I had with "The Kite Runner" wasn't the setup or the ending; no, it was the middle, which is mainly following the adult Amir and his father from escaping Commies in Afghanistan to living in different parts of Florida, to Amir getting married to his struggles dealing with his dad's racist friends.  Maybe this was very interesting in the book, but I was struggling to see how Amir was dealing with his childhood transgressions, at least in terms of what I was seeing onscreen.  This may have been lost in translation from the book, but whatever the reason, a two-hour movie that takes an hour to follow the adult version of the guy we are hoping to see change would be better if our lead would show some remorse for his past mistakes, which I didn't notice here.

Also, many of the scenes just feel a bit stiff, not nearly emotional enough given the material.  This may be on the child actors here; I thought that generally, Ebrahimi and Mahmidzada were just so-so.  The flow of the film in the middle was not great; it just felt like we were getting random snippets from the book at one point, as opposed to telling a real transformation of the Amir character.  In fact, given the material, I was surprised that "The Kite Runner" didn't impact me emotionally more than it ended up doing.

This is another in a long line of book-to-film adaptations that made me leave the theater saying "I'll bet that the book is REALLY badass!"

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09