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Zero Dark Thirty



Though most likely not a conscious intention on the part of director Kathryne Bigelow or screenwriter Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty opens with an allusion: the first few moments of the film simply contain a black screen overdubbed with audio tapes from 9/11 – for what seems like an eternity, the confused, exasperated and downright fearful cries of victims and responders alike are played in haphazard fashion, cutting from personal goodbyes to administrative questions, with no discernible motion or pattern relative to each other. Despite these failings of order, the audio fills the screen and the listener with a sense of immediate dread and longing and plants the viewer in a position similar to the one we must have experienced during and after the attacks, much like the film’s protagonists when the film itself begins in 2003. Thus the seeds of vengeance are sown, and Zero Dark Thirty begins with the first of a few somewhat tame torture scenes.

Much like the few minutes after the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (the first (forgotten) moments being merely a black screen and indiscernible noise) we are presented with somewhat barbaric actions (torture; pre-modern man) that plant the seeds of a wholly engrossing, somewhat terrifying and altogether terrific adventure to the heart of the human soul, the desire for and trappings of justice, the dangers of the allure of personal vengeance, and, most importantly, whether the realization of the national mission can satisfy the needs of the individual person. It is made clear from the beginning that Zero Dark Thirty is not merely a Clancy-esque ultra-thriller but an exploration of communication and trust, the ends and means of morality and the effects of tension and rhythm. It may not be so much the story of a woman’s pursuit of justice (she being the ambiguously named “Maya”) but the vengeful dealings of an entire nation (the ambiguously named “America”) coalesced within her fire-haired person. Jessica Chastain illuminates the journey of a woman over the course of eight years, from newcomer to heroic, triumphant mother-figure with a finesses and cruel as well as tame ferocity that perfectly captures that most innate emotions and thoughts of a human being that has dedicated everything to, and finally realizes a single, most simple and perhaps poetic task: the elimination of an enemy; the killing of another human being. She begins much like the film, in a state of naïve despair and much like the audience, is wholly adopted into the world of torture and espionage somewhat of an innocent virgin though, like “Maya”, our baptism is immediate and bloody, as is that of “Ammar”, the first terrorist shown tortured, who is tricked into divulging information concerning a supposed courier for UBL.

The Plot of ‘“Maya as America”

In fact, it is possibly alluded to throughout the film that “Maya” may literally be an actual, biological virgin. We learn that she was recruited into the CIA immediately out of high school; that she apparently has no friends; that, as she says herself, she is not “that girl – the one who fucks”. Not-the-one-who-fucks, and, like America itself, at first, not the one who tortures. But the seeds of vengeance are more likely sown in “Maya” through the violation of a few even purer ideals than Christian chastity – those of friendship and trust. The apparently friendless “Maya” is gradually but eventually wholly assimilated into a social circle containing her fellow operatives, especially “Dan” and “Jessica”. (Spoiler) And long before “Dan” (who basically teaches “Maya” how to torture) escapes from the black scene and heads for the bureaucracy in D.C. and “Jessica” is killed by a suicide bomber she believes to be UBL’s future doctor, “Maya”, always confident in her own abilities, becomes a fully realized torture-ess.

With these departures the only “friend” that “Maya” is left with is her now incredibly personal vendetta against UBL. As any semblance of personal affection is perhaps made impossible within her, the pursuit of the courier (with the alias “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti”) dries up. Believing all approaches exasperated, “Maya’s” desire is perhaps born anew when a younger female operative presents her with a new, promising lead, and her focus sharpens to a near obsessive level. She appears to mistakenly learn the lesson of “Jessica’s” death and warns the woman to “not go out” and do what “Maya” does (and as “Jessica” didn’t) and basically shut herself up within the safe walls of the CIA, fully enveloped in her mission, behind bulletproof glass.

Now “Maya” must do battle with the bureaucracy to protect her baby. Eventually the courier is located (consequently, “Dan” uses government funds to purchase an informant a Lamborghini in exchange for the phone number of the suspected courier’s mother; you don’t hear the moralist’s crying foul over that) and traced to the compound in Abbottabad. “Maya” wants to bomb the place immediately, but months pass as the echelon of the CIA mechanizes; while the CIA plans a possible operation; eventually the compound is presented to the Director. In a memorable scene her fellow operatives are asked by the Director (yes or no) whether UBL is there. Not dealing in specifics but only in probability, they agree amongst themselves that there is a 60% to 80% chance that he is there; that the facts are not necessarily there. But one operative wants to know what “Maya” thinks: “100%.” she says “but since I know that certainty freaks you out, its 95%; he’s there.”

She is no longer the torturing brute but the immensely tactile statistician; in her own words “the motherfucker who found this place”. She believes in herself when at the beginning of the film she lectures “Ammar” that “you can help yourself by being truthful”; that fidelity to one’s own inner truth when invested in a greater good will deliver positive consequences for all, not just for oneself. And like a mother she is startled when after receiving word that the raid is on she realizes that the Seals she has just begun to regard emotionally are in danger, that their trust in each other is all they have, and if that fails, then they fail (then she fails) – and this frightens her. She watches in earnest, breathless helplessness as around midnight the Seals depart on the two Blackhawks, her red hair an anarchistic swirling passion against the only lights piercing the black and desolate desert evening, the emotions of the moment pouring through the contradictorily thick thin-skin of Chastain’s face as she stands alone.

The raid is obviously a success. The Seals return with a bevy of information that is, in a Utilitarian sense, far more valuable than a symbolic body. But this is no longer about geo-politics – it’s about the moment that “Maya” gets a look at UBL’s dead face and gives the confirmation that she (earlier remarking to the Seals that they were gonna “kill him (UBL) for me.”) had finally achieved her goal. She leaves the tent and can barely breathe. She is the only passenger on a plane bound for the destination of her choice and when asked to provide it she is without one; tears begin to silently fall down her face. For the longest time her target has been provided for her – she has nowhere to be, much like Renner’s Staff Sgt. James in The Hurt Locker who’s only love is the war that he left behind. But unlike James, “Maya’s” war is over, and the film is over.

The microcosm of ‘“Maya” as America’ is the central dramatic mechanism of ZDT and to describe the plot as discernible only along with her emotions is absolutely necessary. The vacant feeling that she experiences after the triumph of a lifetime is similar to what many Americans must have felt after the realization of the fact that this is more of a symbolic (or perhaps even pyrrhic) victory than anything. Coming to terms with that fact she now she can see the lights at the end of the tunnel does in fact contradict the visions of America’s future being clouded with so many obstacles. Perhaps remembering all the costs of the search overwhelmed her and convinced her that they were not worth a simple glance at a bullet ridden face that she had seen alive so many times.

“Maya’s” tears are probably where the answer to the torture discussion really lies. After it all – with the glory for the bureaucrats and the affirmation of the fidelity shared amongst the Seals juxtaposed with her own hollow vacancy; as they oratize and celebrate she sits alone, as does America, to face an uncertain future. She invested her most innate and profound spiritual intentions into the greater good and it promised her the realization of a sense of self. When it fails to deliver upon that promise nothing more than the loneliness that she already felt as well as the novel and yet so familiarly disastrous vision of death, the only possible reaction is a sense of possibly latent suicidal longing and discernibly intense isolation. How we can react positively to the death of UBL highlights the nature of the film as historical fiction and the nature of the War on Terror itself as not a patriotic burden shared by all Americans but one wholly placed upon the shoulders of those who were (perhaps) stupid enough to get themselves involved in it.

Focus and Aspect

Any comparisons made between Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker are appropriate and enlightening. The central aspect (technically at least) of the latter is that of it being out of focus – oftentimes that camera is so shaky and the shot so incorrectly framed that it is nearly impossible to get a clear image – while the dialogue and actions of the players – especially that of Renner’s closing message to his son – bring a concrete sense of clarity in a mess of mere abstraction. In contrast, the images of the former, like the hunt for UBL or that of 9/11 are, to a point, oftentimes startlingly clear. Especially the raid, which is as overtly a controlled piece of filmmaking as could ever not be considered boring. Conversely it is the audio of Zero Dark Thirty that is unfocused. From the indiscernible recordings that begin it to the whimpers of “Maya” that close the film, military jargon, foreign tongues and accents, combat speak and even the low-fi audio itself serve as the language of Boal’s mechanisms. We get lost in a world of practically foreign tongues that work to corrupt the lucid record of events that we desire (who is who, where, what, and why?). We can see the towers collapsing in insurmountable heaps of ash as the audio recordings play and we understand the image in our minds much better than the noise that we are hearing.

As with “Maya” we seek to navigate our way through this tangled mess of jargon. She loves to say “fuck” and is never found to be lacking a dominating interjection of confidence when challenged. She forces her way through all the white noise and the confusion and disillusionment that accompanies it by simply fixating only upon her target: every mention of UBL or his associates is to “Maya’s” (and our) ears one that immediately brings a sense of attention unrivaled by any vile word or image of death. When her boss says she’s crazy, she knows that she isn’t and when she addresses the Seals she doesn’t mess around with introductions or the like. She has no patience for the bureaucratic doublespeak that is keeping her from UBL and neither do we. As an audience our only sense of solace, of absolute clarity and determination, lies with “Maya’s” ability to burst through the blankets of static abusing her; when she I.D.’s the corpse of UBL, the only remark is a simple “yes”; nothing more is needed.

What this lack of verbal focus acts to do is to completely place us at the behest of the film’s images and Bigelow’s attitudes in conveying them with a measured, almost modern style that absurdly contradicts that of The Hurt Locker. Zero Dark Thirty is paced with simplistic segmented title heads set against black backgrounds that portray phrases that, when recognized in the forthcoming segment, create the same effect in us that the mention of UBL does in “Maya” – that something is being realized; that we are getting closer. The motions are not in the cuts and actions of the cameras but in the movements of the players (the sporadic mess of “Dan’s” interrogation; the perturbed stoicism of “Maya”; the grand physical competence of the CIA Director; the alpha-male presences of Pratt and Edgerton as the lead Seals) set against the practically quaint backdrop of the black sites or the torture chambers therein or the seemingly ordered chaos of the marketplaces in the towns in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Many scenes are realized not by abrupt cuts to the next but with compassionate fade-to-blacks that seem so out of place but at the same time bring such an atmosphere of calm that you can’t help but welcome them as “Maya” can’t help but enthusiastically welcome her next lead.

The Effects of Rhythm and Tension

The rhythms of the film are balanced and at the same time complex and violent while always subverted with a sense of impending or even imminent violence or even better yet, a sense of penultimate doom. The torture scenes are so measured as to practically stun or even disappoint the viewer in their cohesiveness. In one instance, as the camera simply records it all, “Dan” does no more than speak to “Ammar”; and you think, well, nothing is happening, but something will, and it is “Dan” himself, with a voracious sweep of the leg of “Ammar’s” chair, who startles the scene into one of torture.

Immense gradients of relatively dull plot design are hyphenated by consequently near absurd bursts of excitement filtered through violence and emotion that pace the film in a positively agonizing fashion. The scene of “Jessica’s” death holds the most intense physical and emotional tension of the entire chase: (spoiler) she thinks she has a fantastic lead and convinces the C.O. of the black site to allow him in without a security check. Before his arrival “Jessica” is so enthusiastic at the thought of him that she becomes disoriented when he fails to arrive on time, or anywhere near to it. Then finally he is spotted – the car ride from the gates to the steps where “Jessica” and her team is gathered takes around a minute and it is a visually tranquil one: no arguing over policy; no fearful grimaces, just the car solidly moving through the site. But the moment he steps out with his hand in his pocket the agents immediately react and there is a 20-or-so second rise in static emotion that is capped with the typical suicidal declaration. The younger female agent runs for it; the camera cuts to the sky-view and everything is lost in a burst of smoke. “Maya” is left hanging on the other end of a simultaneous email chat with “Jessica” as to the proceedings of the interrogation.

The tension in the scene is most palpable. Not because we fear for “Jessica’s” safety (there’s no mistaking that everybody is in danger here) but because we know that she has invested her faith into this man. When he emerges in classic terrorist fashion we are left to ask “why did she do such a stupid thing?” or, why did she place her trust into another human being? This is an incredibly painful thing to ask. And like “Maya” the answer that we actually do receive does not become clear until the raid when the brotherhood of the Seals and the ability of the citizens of Abbottabad to cooperate with them each proves true.

As Historical Fiction

The miscommunication suffered by “Maya” in this scene brings to light the subversive role that language plays in the film. There are never any answers, only clues. And everything stands for something else; everything is a step removed from the truth of the matter. The reason I am quoting the characters names here or simply using initials is because everybody in the film, including UBL, uses an alias or, more appropriately, is furnished with one. These are not merely poetical devices of practicality but purposeful statements as to the meanings of labels or names or titles in the actions of the film. Even UBL is called something else by his wife when the Seals try to understand who they had just shot in the face.

These aliases bring to light the nature of the film as historical fiction; as a half myth half fact subconscious dissection of the entire nature of the event. No longer are these characters allowed to have honest names given to them by their parents; no longer do they have last names. Their identities must be filtered through ambiguous devices of abstraction that seek to corrupt our ability to designate them as fact or fiction. Their names have no real meaning (really, do any names?) relative to the personalities or duties of the characters but simply serve as just that: names of characters – perhaps even names of characters that actors are merely trying to portray, knowing only so well that to truly attempt to capture these people is not only impossible but incredibly offensive. For Jessica Chastain to understand one semblance of the demons that must plague the person “Maya” is based on is comical at best. No film would ever be able to take us into this world, or should it even try, as any sane person wishes that this world doesn’t exist. No actor could ever portray the immense personage that was and is UBL. Conversely, only subtle factorials such as the length of their stride or the level of their voice could ever hint as to their true nature or sense of personhood relative to ours.

In this sense Zero Dark Thirty fails to truly engross us into its world but that is because any work of historical fiction claiming historiographical authenticity is merely masquerading as such. To claim a factual impetus in the design of an event as convoluted as this is the worst offense that any piece of art could ever commit – to not be truthful to one’s inner sense of mission contradicts “Maya’s” message to “Ammar”. To say that Boal, Bigelow and Chastain could actually tell us this story as it actually happened would have to be taken as a declaration of war on conscience and on the conscience of the medium of art itself; as a betrayal of what art must do.

This is not to say that inaccuracies in a work of art that claims the burden of historiography should be tolerated. But as any student of history understands, vastly more often than not when translating the relics of historical action, no matter how old they may be, something is almost always lost as the color in one’s skin is lost as they turn from a living biological organism into a corpse. Thereby it is most understood that myth becomes history and history becomes myth. Real history is not a list of factual articles but the desires, emotions and thoughts of the players thereof that are somewhat lost to the agent of academic history. Thereby creative historical fiction must necessitate a redistribution of these aspects in order to tell the stories that the academic historian cannot. The aliases in the film work not to delineate any sense of personal clarification for the audience regarding the players, but just as the call sign for any government official does – to produce a sense of inescapable conundrum and doubt on the part of those (the audience in the former, the assassin in the latter) attempting to decode the situation. We are thereby invested with the same conflict of absolution and doubt that the Seals experience when in the heat of midnight battle they shot an enemy they believed to be someone and his wife tried to convince them that he was someone else entirely. As historical fiction Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t work to teach us a lesson (every true lesson being a moral one) but to somehow imbibe in us the spirit of the experience while at the same time acknowledging its arbitrary failure to do so.

Now the answer that “Maya” receives as a result of “Jessica’s” death is, not surprisingly at this point, one of emotional reaction, not literally informed nuance – she now understands her limits; now she lectures the younger agent on them. And it is also clearly demonstrated to the audience that the agents (and thereby us) cannot simply be taken to UBL, but must track their way to his front step and burst through the door – something either of us are incapable of doing under the circumstances. Enter the Seals, and let play one of the most fantastic segments in the history of postmodern film.

Climax: The Raid, Geronimo

The difference between the Seals and the CIA agents is that, while both are capable of understanding their objective, only the former are able to immediately and satisfactorily act upon it. Perhaps “Maya’s” reaction to the news of the impending operation is not one of apprehension, but of envy. Nevertheless, the realization of her personal crisis is out of her hands and, conspicuously, besides a few witness-like shots of concern, she is out of the movie. The task at hand is no longer hers.

What makes the raid so immensely successful as a piece of film is its ability to walk the line between pseudo-documentarian methodical calm and Hollywood-ish melodrama of the most constrained and realistically violent outburst. The tension in the soldiers is palpable as they get nearer to the compound, but then through the chaos of the landing they control themselves, exit in a proper fashion and, literally, go to work. Half of the raid is simply the opening or breaching of doors; they yell in familiar voices the names of those that they know to be around the corners ahead of them and then efficiently dispatch of them; they plug the bodies multiple times thereafter in order to be sure.

Their communication never fails. They talk with an almost morbid sense of disinterest about the kills they have made while still performing the mission. One of the CIA agents along for the raid while attempting to send off the approaching townspeople switches to English and simply declares in sympathetic fashion what will happen to them if they continue to advance; they stop. UBL is coaxed into the hall and then shot in the face. The children and surviving women are rounded up in a nice bundle and controlled (a particularly troubling shot details one of the CIA agents attempt to silence a few of the girls by giving them a light stick to play with – they don’t appreciate it). As many documents as possible are collected; the down chopper is destroyed; the scene is quitted. The only true sense of any acclaim is “Justin’s” declaration of success over the com. The Seals have realized their objective as “Maya” could never hope to – in this sense, she may most be a tragic hero.

The problem with plot and the impetus for postmodernism is simply that anybody attune to storytelling understands that, in a broad sense, every ending is predictable, even the most unsuspected ones (we predict that they will be unsuspected, and then that dampens the ending). So what the raid as the entire third act must do and where it’s advantage lies is the fact that, doubling as historical, the events may be seen as startling not because of their mere measure relative to the plot, but for their aspects and their aspects only. The most important cinematic aspect of the segment is the lighting, which switches from 3rd-person pitch black nighttime (more appropriately moon-lit grayish) and 1st-person Seal-view night vision green. The action mostly takes place in the former. This presents the viewer with a vital dichotomy that must be traced between ourselves and the Seals. Though our vision of the events is somewhat pitched in blackness and uncertainty, theirs is seen clearly through the lenses of their equipment. Again, they understand their role. Again, as a work of historical fiction this is appropriate as we could never truly experience what these men did – but as such we are keen to certain aspects of their emotions. They are not the hectic and heroic visions of warriors portrayed in Saving Private Ryan or The Hurt Locker but what many of today’s soldiers really are (and what Navy Seals most definitely are): methodical, efficient, trained killers. They definitely have hearts and, as far as they are concerned, their hearts are in the correct place. Their actions afford the viewer with the first sense of legit overwhelming strength and innocent positivity but it comes at the expense of the more accurate convoluted chaos that most perfectly describes the hunt for UBL and the means of which. Military talk is used, but we have no misgivings or questions about what “For God and Country; Geronimo” must mean.

The Ends and Means of Morality

But do the ends justify the means? One must be invested in the ‘“Maya” as America’ microcosm in order to understand that, as far as Boal and Bigelow are concerned, no, in this case, they don’t. They do for Lincoln in Lincoln (which should actually be titled How Our Most Moral Beacon of Hope Cheated His Way to the Passage of the 13th Amendment) but that is an end that, with the benefit of historical evidence and moral evolution we deem justifiable by its means. Perhaps in one hundred and fifty years the torture that has been such a controversial aspect of this will be seen through the lens of fourth-dimensional distance as not only necessary, but efficient or even humane (you never know how society will change). But that’s assuming history will say that torture was beneficial to the investigation at all – that’s where the real debate lies, and I have no answers. Who knows; who’s prepared to trust the government? I just hope that, unlike the N----r controversy in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn nobody attempts to remove the subject of torture from the debate, but that it is highlighted in it. The triumph of this film is its first thirty minutes because Bigelow (and Boal) are not afraid of history or all its ugly ducklings. Simply, the message of ‘“Maya” as America’ is that though torture happened and it aided the search, more was lost than gained as a result. The fact that they got him is in no way a true victory – we can still hear the audio recordings. A dead body and a vapid future is all that “Maya” has to show for her actions – no friends; no home and perhaps worst of all: no enemy (no purpose). Conversely, she is left with an existential crisis and a pyrrhic victory in its most Utilitarian sense.

What is to be gained from all of this is a lesson in the subjectivity of morality, an education on the realities of historical study and an understanding that characters and their human counterparts not only develop overtime, but in many cases (most cases actually) they develop backwards, for worse; that realizations are not always epiphanies. Corruption and disillusionment are as well rounded and more realistic character traits than happiness and accomplishment. A piece of art can be a contradiction and a statement at the same time. A postmodern masterpiece of cinema, Zero Dark Thirty does nothing to highlight the most ambiguous and troubling elements of the historiography of the War on Terror and more precisely the hunt for Usama bin Laden. How is that supposed to happen? How can a film know something about society that society doesn’t? That is fiction in its most utterly pretentious sense.

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110 Reviews

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Reviews: 110

Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:28 pm
Gardevite wrote a review...

Hey there! Hightop here to review the review. I have not seen Zero Dark Thirty, so I'm going to focus on how well you stuck to review format, and the effect it had on me, the unbiased reader.

So in your opening few paragraphs I'm wondering if we have actually got to the review. You incorporated some traditional review aspects but also some non traditional ones. If you are giving a plot overview give one, if you're giving an opening review, give one. Mixing the two tends to confuse the reader because of the formal and informal language mixture.

Now when you go deeper into the plot I noticed two Boo-Boos. One, you dropped some F-bombs. That's fine as it is a direct quote, but you probably should have put a 16+ warning at the top. The second Boo-Boo is that you put in a spoiler. I can see that you put a spoiler warning in, but you should have said how long it extended for.

Everything else seems seems to be find to me. One thing I would have liked to see is recommendations. Recommendations are such an important part of reviewing, and unfortunately it's often the only part that gets read.

So good job on this review, except for those few nit-picks! XD

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Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:54 am
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Audy wrote a review...

Hey Mucho,

Though most likely not a conscious intention on the part of director Kathryne Bigelow or screenwriter Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty opens with an allusion: the first few moments of the film simply contain a black screen overdubbed with audio tapes from 9/11

The way that this sentence phrases it, it sounds like you're saying the allusion to 9/11 was unintentional. Are you trying to say the disorganization was unintentional, or what are you trying to say? I haven't seen the movie, but I disagree with the bold part entirely. Kathryne Bigelow is of "Hurt Locker" fame - if there was an allusion to 9/11 in it, then I'll be willing to bet it was a conscious decision, she's all about the war on terror. On the contrary, if you were to say there's an unconscious allusion to -- I dunno - something entirely random/ or that reference to 2001 space odyssey that was similar, then I can buy that first line. Otherwise, it'd be a hard sell. Directors/writers/producers/set-designers make conscious decision about every detail that goes into their million-dollar movies down to the clothes and shoes the actors wear.

Also, your entire first paragraph is made up of two, extremely long run-on sentences. I would suggest breaking it up for clarity. I also think this review could be condensed for crispness? I notice a trend of this long, muddling sentences throughout and I wonder just how much is necessary and how much can be taken out. I haven't seen the film yet, so I can't be too sure.

I do agree with Kyll though, this review was rather long. I read movie reviews all the time, and there are some that are pages long -- but they don't feel long. This on the other hand feels so bogged down and weighted just by the sentence structures - sometimes in the middle of explaining a point, you'd ramble and slip into a new point, and I lost what you were trying to say. Use sentence variety and break your ideas up! And most importantly, be clear. After the first paragraph, the next paragraph sounded almost like a conclusion - It would've made more sense to me to have the plot - or a quick summary of the movie, it can be like a short (I would say a sentence or two, but your sentences are o.0) 50-word synopsis, it doesn't have to be long at all. That way, for those of us who read the review without seeing the movie, we can at least get a general picture in our heads and follow along with it.

I do like the extensiveness and the in-depth care of exploring all of these subtexts within the film. It's got me intrigued and now I want to go see the film just to partake in the conversation and see what all the hoopla is about. In depth things are great. But, again, you don't have to make it read like a textbook. You can make it entertaining and it would be much more reader-friendly. But seriously, trim the wordings. I had to skim through this just to make it.

~ as always, Audy

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Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:17 am
Kale wrote a review...

Hello MUCHO. Since you posted this, YWS has resurrected the old reviews forum, and I think this piece would be a perfect fit there. A lot more people will probably see this if you repost this in Media Reviews, so it's something to consider.

I also haven't seen the movie, so that's something to keep in mind.

With that said, I was impressed by how extensive this review was. The subheadings in particular kept this from feeling too long, though with how extensive this review is, the sheer length of it is still quite intimidating. It is possible to be thorough without being long, and I would recommend paring down some of your sentences so that they're a bit more concise. You are quite fond of wordy sentences and sometimes obtuse syntaxes, and that winds up making sections/points a bit inaccessible for your readers, as well as leading to quite a few errors where the initial point of the sentence is long lost and run-ons run rampant. You also had a few spelling errors scattered throughout which undermined the appearance of intelligent literacy the complexity of your sentences and language tried to build, and so I would strongly recommend you go through this again and painstakingly weed out every instance of misspelling and questionable grammar so that your structure reinforces the impression you are trying to give, rather than sabotaging it.

On instance of misspelling and questionable grammar is this section:

with a finesses and cruel as well as tame ferocity

I believe you meant "finesse", or otherwise "fineness". The "as well as" also muddles the meaning of the sentence by muddling the relationship between the modifiers, and so I recommend either substituting the "as well as" with "but" or surrounding the "as well as tame" with commas, to make it an appositive.

One example of a rambling sentence which has lost its focus and become a run-on is this one:

She begins much like the film, in a state of naïve despair and much like the audience, is wholly adopted into the world of torture and espionage somewhat of an innocent virgin though, like “Maya”, our baptism is immediate and bloody, as is that of “Ammar”, the first terrorist shown tortured, who is tricked into divulging information concerning a supposed courier for UBL.

Each error you have undermines your credibility, while each overly-complex sentence alienates potential readers (and future movie viewers), and so I recommend mixing in a bit more simplicity in both syntax and vocabulary to give your readers a bit of a break from all the complexity and allow them to absorb what you're saying. As it stands, this is quite intimidating a read for most anyone, though it does not need to be so.

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Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:34 am
PollarBear14 says...

This movie hasn't come out yet where I am so unfortunately I can't read your article yet! :(
But I look forward to after I have seen it.

MUCHO says...

thanks! see it! now! haha, just kidding...(see it!)

MUCHO says...

thanks! see it! now! haha, just kidding...(see it!)

A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.
— Honore de Balzac