End Of The Spear

"Bad"

End Of The Spear Review


It takes a movie like Brokeback Mountain to make you realize how awful End of the Spear is. Part of the former movie's beauty is it dealt with one rewarding storyline, the secret, destructive romance of two closeted cowboys (Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger), while branching off into other aspects of the men's public lives. It's proof that a great movie can be simply told.

This lesson is lost on the people behind End of the Spear, who continue a not-so-great tradition of 2005: cramming storylines and tangents into the basic plot like a film is some kind of supreme burrito where quantity matters over quality. You'll get extra characters and supreme plots for that crispy cinematic crunch! Finish End of the Spear and you'll have no idea what you've watched, no idea of how characters relate to each other, or what the movie's is about. You will be full. And annoyed.

The movie begins in 1994 as American Steve Saint (Chad Allen) kayake the Amazon River with the man who killed his father nearly 40 years earlier. Nate Saint and four other missionaries were killed by the Waoranis, a violent Ecuadorian tribe who were literally spearing each other into extinction. Mincayani (Louie Leonardo), now a grandfather in his sixties, killed Saint.

Wouldn't you want to know what leads to a man being paired with his father's killer? Well, hold on, because the filmmakers make you work for it. You sit through pointless jungle scenes involving the Waoranis' warring lifestyle and Nate making initial contact with the tribe. The spearing scene rouses you... but then you're wading through Ned's family making peace with the tribe, which happens too easily. (I would think living with, and then aiding, the people who slaughtered your family and friends would be done with a little reluctance, but that's just me.) Then you have to endure Mincayani's emotional struggles, not exactly fertile territory since the Waoranis aren't exactly the thinking type. And let's not even get started on the fever outbreak, Ron Owens' manipulative, sappy score, and the stilted dialogue.

If the innumerable plot diversions don't keep you from getting to know the two people on the boat, the stunning lack of character development seals the deal. Steve is painted as a precocious boy who loses his dad, kicks a couple of stones in disgust, and then readily helps the Waoranis as if his dad's death was like losing a game of stickball. That's the one reason you can't relate to any of the Saints: The script leaves you wondering if they're good Christians or if they're morons.

As the tribe's fever ends and the quarantine is lifted, the film's writers depict an allegedly touching scene where Steve offers Mincayani his friendship. Of course, the pair has spent exactly 3.9 seconds together onscreen, aside from Steve saying that the tribesman paid him little heed. Mutual misery links them together; however, it takes a back seat to community relations -- Mincayani is afraid of losing the warring civilization he's grown dependent on -- and laziness: a sporadic presence, young Steve is portrayed either as a annoying goody-goody or as a useless commentator to the ongoing stampede of events.

End of the Spear ends with Steve returning to Ecuador for his aunt's funeral; later, he goes on the aforementioned trip with Mincayani and the old man tells his young friend about his horrible act. I won't spoil the ending because it's not worth revealing. It's devoid of suspense (obviously) and resonance. Ultimately, you're looking at two strangers whose connection to each other is only there because the writers and director deemed it so. The real-life Steve Saint has learned a lot about people and tolerance. I don't doubt that. It's a shame that people watching his life will see it filled with perfect strangers and imperfect resolutions.



End Of The Spear

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th January 2006

Box Office USA: $11.7M

Distributed by: Every Tribe Entertainment

Production compaines: Bearing Fruit Entertainment, every tribe entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jim Hanon

Producer: Bill Ewing, , Mart Green, Tom Newman

Starring: Louie Leonardo as Mincayani, as Nate Saint / Steve Saint / Narrator, Jack Guzman as Kimo, as Young Steve Saint, as Barbara Youderian

Also starring:

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