The Hawaiians (1970)

Genres - Drama, Epic, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1970 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 134 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Like its predecessor (Hawaii), The Hawaiians is a good enough film that should have been a much better one. Both films derive from Jams Michener's epic chronicle of the history of the island, a novel that is jam packed with enough excitement, color and plot for a dozen movies, and all of which would seem a fairly natural translation to the screen. But The Hawaiians comes across a big stodgy; even when it is huffing and puffing and letting its characters get all worked up about the big events that are happening in their lives and to their island, it doesn't light up with the fiery passion it keeps promising. As a result, the two-hour-plus film drags in places and comes across as a bit too long. It's still worth watching, and it's not that one watches and wishes elements had been cut; it's just that one wishes the director had found a way to breathe more life into the proceedings. Some of the casting is also problematic, starting with lead Charlton Heston. The actor never seems fully committed to the part, as if he didn't totally understand the role. He goes through the paces and does what is expected of him, but the essence of the character eludes him. Geraldine Chaplin, though better than Heston, also doesn't seem fully in sync with her character. This is no problem for Tina Chen, who turns in the film's best performance -- aided perhaps by the manner in which her character is allowed to grow and change. Hawaiians is visually a treat, with gorgeous costumes and yummy photography.