Case Number 19628: Small Claims Court


Lionsgate // 2005 // 112 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // September 8th, 2010

The Charge

Every family tree has its nuts.

The Case

Oh dear, how should I begin? Well, the facts should come first. Fierce People is about Finn Earl (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek (2009)). Finn's mother, Liz (Diane Lane, Unfaithful), is a masseuse, drug addict, and alcoholic. His absentee father is a famous anthropologist who studies tribes in South America.

In an attempt to restart her life, Liz manages to get a job being a full-time masseuse for Ogden C. Osborne (Donald Sutherland, Space Cowboys), a reclusive billionaire. As a bonus, Liz and Finn get to live on Osborne's sprawling estate. This introduces Finn to a world of privilege, obscene wealth, and Osborne's fetching granddaughter, Maya (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room). Things are looking up for young Finn...until they don't.

Fierce People is a mediocre movie about rich people behaving badly, corrupt souls, and coming-of-age. There are elements of The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations, and Deliverance (believe or not), but all these disparate components do not fuse into an original or interesting story, the film unspooling in a gratingly heavy-handed manner. Finn constantly talks about his father's work with primitive tribes, who are then contrasted with Finn's wealthy hosts. These comparisons and parallels are drawn over and over (and over) again, in increasingly overt, transparent, and, ultimately grotesque ways. The filmmakers apparently believe this over-the-top presentation means their film is loaded with meaningful symbolism and a real message. The actual result, though, is a silly, pretentious, and cluttered film with little imagination and even less insight into human behaviour.

Now let's get to acting...wait. What's that you say? Why am I reviewing Fierce People? After all, this pedestrian film was released on DVD back in 2008 and reviewed by DVD Verdict's very own Judge Clark Douglas. What could warrant a new edition in 2010?

Has the film become a cult classic and re-discovered by critics? Not in this reviewer's opinion.

A remastered transfer, perhaps? Nope.

Perhaps new extras have been added? Negative.

Let me end the suspense and inform you, dear readers, that there is one, and only one, new thing about this release: the cover art. The previous DVD cover featured only Sutherland and Lane. The new cover prominently features Stewart at the front with Sutherland, Lane, and Yelchin positioned behind her. Yet her character is rather secondary to the proceedings with far less screen time than the three principles. Why the change? Easy, it couldn't be more obvious that this re-release is simply a bold-faced attempt to cash in on Stewart's fame arising from The Twilight Saga films.

Truly shameless. You have been warned.

The Verdict

Guilty. Skip this sorry excuse of a double-dip.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 35

Perp Profile
Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English (CC)
* Spanish

Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurette

* IMDb

* Official Site