Far and Away [1992]

Filmed in the widescreen splendor of "Panavision Super 70" and blessed with the finest production values that Hollywood clout can buy, this tale of spunky Irish immigrants forgot one crucial ingredient: a decent screenplay. The film is entertaining enough, and director Ron Howard brings his technical proficiency to the simple plot, culminating in a dynamic, breathtaking depiction of the Oklahoma land rush of 1893. But the movie is really just a vacuous vehicle for married stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as (respectively) the poor tenant farmer and rich landlord's daughter who flee Ireland to be American pioneers. The scenery and the stars are never less than stunning, but Howard falls short of the mark in his attempt to match the epic sweep of films by David Lean. On the other hand, this movie is certainly never boring even if it rarely makes sense, and Lean's own Irish epic, Ryan's Daughter, is a snoozer by comparison. --Jeff Shannon

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