cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Click for full size poster

Buy the Poster

All the Pretty Horses

Starring Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, Lucas Black and Penelope Cruz; Ruben Blades and Miriam Colon
Screenplay by Ted Tally
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy
Directed by Billy Bob Thornton

IN SHORT: A dud. [Rated PG-13 for violence and some sexuality. 135 minutes]

As is policy with this site, no comparison is made to the Source Material. We don't think you should have to read a book to appreciate the intricacies of a plot. We don't think you should have to read a book to understand why director Billy Bob Thornton allows characters that seemingly have absolutely nothing to do with the story to have significant amounts of screen time. In movie talk that means as little as a few seconds of the camera lingering on a face, as happens repeatedly in a scene at a train station near the end of the film. Those are usually friends of the director. OR giving much more than a few seconds to a character doing a tap dance in response to one side of a telephone conversation. That's something you have to read the book to understand -- we got that info from the detailed press notes that explained what a great book Horses was and how every effort had been made to honor it. Points off for explaining to us what should have been clear to folk paying hard cash.

We had high expectations for All the Pretty Horses. Good cast. Good director, himself a good actor which usually means a sympathetic ear and the ability to bring out good performances in his actors. What we saw was a flat piece of storytelling, chapter after chapter in the life of a young man of Texas, post W.W.II. John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) by name, cowboy by trade, with his grandfather recently deceased he hoped to take over the family ranch. When his mother, the sole inheritor, decides to sell the land (for three times its book value) to oil interests, John and his best friend Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) saddle up and head for Mexico, where there are large cattle ranches to be found.

Just before they cross the Rio Grande they are joined by a kidlet named Blevins (Lucas Black) who tells them a background story that both know is a lie. In Mexico, Blevins gets his horse and clothes stolen, steals the horse back and rides off in a different direction, chased by the locals. That's trouble waiting to come back on the main pair, who find work on a ranch. John Grady impresses the ranch's owner (Ruben Blades) and catches the eye of the owner's wild of heart daughter, Alejandra (Penelope Cruz).

We're not about to explain the murder charge, the penitentiary life, the authoritarian aunt (Miriam Colon, who delivers a spectacular screen grabbing presence) or the judge (Bruce Dern) who must decide if the cowboy is pulling his leg. There's too much story here to fit easily into a trim two hours fifteen minutes, a typical problem in adapting really thick novels to really slim movie reality. Trade buzz had Thornton's original cut at four hours. We could easily have sat for three -- it's a beautifully made film to look at and, in Colon's sequences, riveting to watch. What survived the cut lays out flat, as we wrote it feels like looking at chapter after chapter, rather than a free-flowing story.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to All the Pretty Horses, he would have paid...


All the pretty horses and all the talented men, and women, can't squash what wants to be an epic into non-epic time constraints.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Billy Bob Thornton
Click to buy films starring Matt Damon
Click to buy films starring Penelope Cruz

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.