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The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline. FatCats Gilbert is the best place to check out the latest movies in luxury. With the most comfortable recliners in the valley, once you see a movie at FatCats Gilbert, you won’t want to go anywhere else!

We’re getting into Oscar season, and I think that if anything shouts Oscars, it’s the fact that movies like The Birth of a Nation are beginning to come out. These are movies that we expect to be amazingly well-crafted, original, interesting, and have so much talent behind and in-front of the camera. That’s why I was so excited for The Birth of a Nation. I think that Nate Parker is so talented as an actor, and I think he’s someone who is going to eventually change the face of the Oscars. I think he’s already there, and if anyone from Warner Bros. is listening, can we agree that he would make an amazing John Stewart? I know you guys are just waiting to announce Green Lantern in your DC Extended Universe. If you’re going with Martian Manhunter, never mind, but if it’s Green Lantern you’re after, here’s your man. Anyways, let’s talk about The Birth of a Nation!

The Birth of a Nation is directed by Nate Parker who also plays the lead role. Nat Turner is surprising plantation owners by being a literate slave and a preacher who can communicate with other slaves effectively. His childhood friend and owner, Sam, takes him all over Georgia to show his abilities. Once Nat sees how brutal slavery really is, he decides to take matters into his own hands and do what is right by him, his family, and everyone who has suffered what he has suffered.

When I talked about Oscar movies I mentioned a few things. I mentioned that they are well-crafted and well-acted. I can definitely say that those both describe The Birth of a Nation perfectly. This movie is really well-crafted, and from technical standpoint, it’s really amazing. It looks fantastic, it’s really well-directed from a technical and creative aspect, it’s well-edited, it uses unique camera angles and movements. I mean, this movie really shows off from a technical perspective, and it’s allowed to because it really is that good. I thought that the set design was really great as well. I really felt that feeling of the south and the times on the plantations and the way the slaves interacted with nature and each other. I thought that it was really impressive how Nate Parker marked the times all over this movie, and I think he did a solid job conveying the lesson and idea he wanted to convey. Nate Parker was also amazing in this movie. I’ve thought that he is one of the best talents in Hollywood for a while now, and scandals aside, he proves it in this movie. If there was a movie that needed to be made to specifically show just how talented Nate Parker is, The Birth of a Nation is it. It is perfect for showing how talented Nate Parker is, and for me, that was the hi-light of the movie.

While I think that this movie is very well-made and well-acted, I still could never fully get into the film. First of all, I think The Birth of a Nation struggles with pacing. So often it has an explosion, then it flatlines, then an explosion, then a flatline, and so many of the explosions resemble Sparklers more than fire crackers. That’s an example for those of us whose moms didn’t let us have the cool fireworks. The flat lines took me out of the movie, and the awkward bounces from explosion to nothing pushed me away more and more each time. Next, I think that it is much more focused on conveying an outside message than it was on conveying the message in the film. The outside message was really well-conveyed, but it held the story back and didn’t let it fully blossom. I felt like the film had a different agenda that was not the storytelling, and with the pacing issues, I couldn’t get as emotionally invested as I wanted. I thought that the storytelling was very conventional, and it didn’t give me anything mind-blowing from a story or storytelling standpoint. I guess that my main problem with this film is that, in my opinion, it is 12 Years A Slave, only it isn’t as well executed. In 12 Years A Slave, the story was immensely powerful and had me speechless and on the verge of breaking. I felt like The Birth of a Nation attempted to replicate what 12 Years A Slave did so well. The operative word is “attempted” in that sentence. There are a few scenes that are eerily similar to 12 Years A Slave, but they just don’t hit hard, and they aren’t as powerful.

Overall, I definitely did not like The Birth of a Nation as much as I wanted to. I thought that Nate Parker was able to show off his talent both as a director and an actor, but the movie never came around due to pacing issues and not executing as well as it could have. I think that it was too focused on an outside message to be able to tell the story as well as I’m sure Nate Parker is capable of. One of the main reasons I was never pulled into it is because I thought that it was trying to recreate the intensity and harshness of 12 Years A Slave, and it wasn’t as powerful. I’m going to give The Birth of a Nation a 5/10.

Are you going to check out The Birth of a Nation? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! What will you be checking out this weekend? Comment and let me know! Also out this weekend are The Girl on the Train and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. I will probably only have a review up for The Girl on the Train, so be sure to stay tuned for that! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!


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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm