I'm really trying to make up for the supposed to be Edward Norton week/tribute/birthday thing so I'm trying to post more reviews about his movies. This one will be about Rounders, a movie he did in the first few years of his acting career.
Rounders was a 1998 movie starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton as underground poker players. The movie was directed by John Dahl, and was written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman. Also part of the cast were John Turturro, Famke Janssen, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, and Martin Landau. The movie received mixed reviews and did not do particularly well in the box office. I found the movie amusing right from the beginning because, once again, Edward Norton's character was in prison. Now that I think about it, the first movie of Edward Norton I saw was Keeping the Faith where he played a priest. Then I saw him in The Incredible Hulk. From then on, the characters I've seen him play always put him on the no-so-good side. The past few films I've seen him do involved him getting arrested. That in itself was very amusing for me.
The movie follows the life of a law student who used to play in underground poker arenas. He was quite good but one game changed everything. After betting everything he had, he miscalculated his chances and ended up losing. He turned away from that life, and decided to get a job and continue his studies. Things changed once again after his friend got released from prison and lured him to go back to the life he had avoided. Simple games ended up being complicated when money was no longer the only thing involved but also their own lives. It was a race against time, against the mobsters, and against luck to win enough money to save both their lives, and also re-gain some of his pride.
Poker has been continuously growing and more people are becoming involved with the game. I know friends who play; not at the same level, but still, they're involved in the game. I did learn a few things about poker watching this movie. I've seen the world series, I've seen my friends play so I guess it's safe o say that to a certain extent, I am familiar with the game.
I thought it would be like the movie "21" another gambling movie. Actually, it had some similarities both using Vegas a s a gambling destination, both using tactics to figure out the next cards, both losing the money and trying to recover after the loss. There are a lot more things common between the two and it would take some time to list them all. I'd have to say thought that I enjoyed 21 a little bit better. While I found Rounders intriguing and a good movie, it lacked on some parts. I couldn't necessarily pinpoint what was missing, but something was. I think part of the problem was for a certain point, the story got loopy, and lost its steam. It became boring, although it managed to get back on track later on, it spent quite some time on scenes that, I felt, were not really important. Maybe if they cut a few scenes, shortened the running time, this movie would have been phenomenal. But that's just my opinion.
However, for some reason, I still found it entertaining. The drama that surrounded it, the rise and fall of the plot, it was still a well-constructed movie. It wasn't too dramatic and it was very normal. That's something that I find in some movies. This one made everything normal and realistic and I greatly appreciated it. It also featured some fantastic performances from the cast. I really liked this cast. They were all strong and effective. Most of all, they were all believable. They all pulled off each character. The push and pull of the characters were the most interesting part of the movie for me. I wanted to know which direction they would all take.
For some reason, I expected a lot more brawl than I got. And even weirder, I was happy I was wrong. It was unexpected. I thought this movie would be more predictable, and although for the most part it was, I took pride in the fact that I got some things wrong. This movie really had its merits, and those merits granted me a very good experience. I liked the movie. Sure, it could have been better, but it was still pretty awesome.
If you're a poker player, or love watching poker games, this one probably could stir some interest. It's about the game, the love of the game, the tricks of the game, and even the politics of the game. It's even more interesting since it deals with the underground sector. You might even learn a thing or two about the game you love.
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