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But The New World settles midway through into a familiar movie trope: Boy loses girl to another guy (in this case, Christian Bale as John Rolfe, when Farrell’s Smith is ordered off on another expedition), and all of Malick’s virtuoso moviemaking, his unique swooping camera movements and layered revelations of his characters’ motivations, cannot overcome the tedious inevitability of the plot machinations. In the end, The New World is about trying to get two lovers back together again as surely as Titanic was, and Malick is too much of an artist to have created a popcorn event like that blockbuster. His New World will stand with his Thin Red Line and Days of Heaven as a stately epic, fascinating yet flawed whenever stateliness falls overboard into languor.

King Kong
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Universal.
Rated PG-13.

Munich
Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Dreamworks SKG and Universal.
Rated R.
opens december 23.

The New World
Directed by Terrence Malick.
New Line. Rated PG-13.
Opens December 25.


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