29 January 2008 | fwomp
Scenery/Action Over Character ...A Shame
Certainly NOMAD has some of the best horse riding scenes, swordplay, and scrumptious landscape cinematography you'll likely see, but this isn't what makes a film good. It helps but the story has to shine through on top of these things. And that's where Nomad wanders.
The story is stilted, giving it a sense that it was thrown together simply to make a "cool" movie that "looks" great. Not to mention that many of the main characters are not from the region in which this story takes place (and it's blatantly obvious with names like Lee and Hernandez). If movie makers want to engross us in a culture like the Jugars and the Kazaks, they damn well better use actors/actresses that look the part.
Warring tribes, a prophecy, brotherly love and respect, a love interest that separates our "heroes", are all touched on but with so little impact and screen time that most viewers will brush them aside in favor of the next battle sequence, the next action horse scene, or the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.
It is worth mentioning that there were some significant changes made to Nomad during its filming, specifically the director and cinematographer. Ivan Passer (director) was replaced by Sergei Bodrov, and Ueli Steiger (cinematographer) was replaced by Dan Laustsen. In one respect, Laustsen seems to have the better eye since his visions of the lands made the final cut that we see here. Definitely a good thing. However, the changing over to Bodrov as director may not have been the wisest choice. From what I'm seeing here, the focus is on the battles and not the people, which I sense comes from Bodrov's eyes and not Passer's. A true travesty.
The most shameful aspect is that this could've been a really fantastic film, with both character and action focuses. Unfortunately, the higher-ups apparently decided that action was what was needed and took the cheap (intellectually speaking) way out.
Even though I can't give this film a positive rating, it is worth watching simply for the amazing cinematography work. But that's all.