Critic scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.
It's a special film of sacrifice, redemption and hope in the shadow of a holocaust that packs an emotional wallop from which there is no escape. I can't get it out of my thoughts, and I recommend it highly. Read full review
Bale's presence in the film is a kind of misdirect, a calculated element intended to better its international commercial prospects -- his character makes a clumsily predictable journey from cynical drunken expat to hero willing to sacrifice a chance to escape the country in order to care for the children who've ended up in his charge. Read full review
The Flowers of War is the latest movie focused on the Nanking atrocities. Lu Chuan's "City of Life and Death'' was released in the United States last year and presented a far greater, grimmer, and more punishing re-creation of the sacking. Read full review
That's not to say it's a bad film, necessarily. It's just not as good as it could have -- and should have -- been. Read full review
Affecting at times, but finally feels overblown and heavy-handed.
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While Bale speaks in an anachronistically modern American vernacular, the Chinese cast recite grammatically perfect, phonetic English so stilted you find yourself wishing the film would stick to subtitles. This is not so much a question of a story being lost in translation as a movie that never finds the right story to tell. Read full review
Now let me ask you: Can you think of any reason the character John Miller is needed to tell his story? Was any consideration given to the possibility of a Chinese priest? Would that be asking for too much? Read full review
When it comes to storytelling, Zhang Yimou's 19th feature is decidedly backward-looking: A lavish period weepie set against the atrocities of the Nanking Massacre, "Flowers" abounds with well-worn movie archetypes and slathers on schmaltz. Read full review
The biggest problem, however, is the way Zhang romanticizes the unimaginably awful, turning gold-hearted prostitutes and virginal orphans into cinematic martyrs. Though his talents are vast, there may be too much truth in this particular story to suit his extravagant tastes.
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It's something you'd think only the crassest of Hollywood producers would come up with - injecting sex appeal into an event as ghastly at the Nanjing massacre - but it's an element central to The Flowers of War, a contrived and unpersuasive look at an oft-dramatized historical moment. Read full review
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