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3.8 out of 5 stars
Crash
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84 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2005
Format: DVD
This is the truest movie out there on racism, and the preconceived notions we ALL (no matter what color) try not to admit to to a certain extent. This was not a "lets bash the white man" movie either, the racism was across the board. The biggest surprise was to come about an hour in, and I was stunned to see the revelation of that storyline (with Matt Dillon). This film requires paying attention to, please stay with it, it will pay off. High recommend!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2006
Format: DVD
Now don't get me wrong; Crash is decent, and completely watchable. Best Picture material? Uh, no.

Look, I think it's fine and even occasionally necessary to remind people that racism exists and that, despite conscious or unconscious tendencies toward racism, people are more complicated than we think at first glance. Yes, sometimes there's a reason (although not an excuse) for racism.

And having said all that, I still don't think Crash is anything close to a great movie. It whacks you over the head again and again with its message that a) all races are okay, and b) even racists are people, too. It accomplishes this message by taking a minimally simplistic view of racism--racists are baaaaad people--and complicating it, albeit as minimally as possible, by giving all the racists one redeeming quality.

Yes, Matt Dillon's character is racist... but he loves his father! Yes, Sandra Bullock's character thinks all people of color are lazy... but she actually cares about her Latina housekeeper! Yes, Don Cheadle's character is insensitive toward his girlfriend/partner (he calls her white, but she's not; he calls her Mexican, but she's not that either)... but he loves his mother!

And so on. It's something we've all come across in our everyday experience and thought about in much more nuanced terms than this film cares to do. If you have a sixth-grader, then perhaps this film is for him.

Now, let me repeat: this film is decent, and watchable. Perhaps I'd be less disappointed if Academy voters hadn't, in a colossally dumb move, annointed Crash as the best picture of the year. It isn't, not by a long shot. But it's still enjoyable: well-directed, DEFINITELY well-acted, and the soundtrack is excellent. I just think that our national discourse on racism (and yes, movies are appropriate vehicles for this discourse) ought to move beyond such simplistic views.
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43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2006
Format: DVD
I passed up this film when first released on DVD but by hook or by crook, not to mention a nod from the Academy, I decided to give it a look. I was an entertaining two hours, but the in-your-face treatment of racial tension (is that ALL they talk about?), followed by self-congratulatory featurettes in which the film's creators convince us they are doing us great social service by making folks of every persuation confront their prejudice, reek of naivete and opportunism. (The 'Introduction to Crash by Director Paul Haggis' feature warranted its own icon, but consisted only of Haggis grinning in a self-satisfied manner and informing us that he was director Paul Haggis and here was HIS film, Crash). Am I supposed to take a deep breath? Make the popcorn? Take a potty break?

The film looks fine, sounds fine and is well-acted, and other reviews here will outline the who-and-what, so I'll merely leave you with a parting thought. A few years ago, a black man named Rodney King was severely beaten by LA cops. The incident was caught on camera and the police were initially acquitted by a largely white jury. This resulted in rioting in African-American neighborhoods, which cost one caucasian truck driver his life (wrong place, wrong time)and ruined many a business in the area (many owned by Koreans and Asians). If that true-life sequence of events didn't lead to revolutionary changes in people's attitudes (on all sides), an over-rated, but watchable, feature film will not begin to scratch the surface, despite its makers' smug post-Oscar posturing.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2005
There are simply not enough words to describe how excellent this film is. Other reviewers have gone in depth as to its plot, style, craft and comparisons to other films.

This is a film that deals honestly and openly with race relations, especially as played out in America. We all harbor stereotypes, fears, judgments and yet a fascination with "the other" and we often do not realize just how this effects us and society as a whole. The movie digs deep into these emotions and draws them out brilliantly in a montage of triggers that are all woven together in a period of 24 hours in L.A.

Black, white, Puerto Rican/Mexican, Arab/Persian, mixed ethnicity, you name it, it's all in here and it's refreshingly in your face. It is for that very reason that the film is about hatred and hope, violence and redemption. Perhaps most poignantly, it is filled with all the complexity of modern life and provides no easy answers.

You will be left speechless. All of the actors, most well known, play roles that are against their "types" of roles and it is for this reason that it is perhaps so impacting and believable. It is a brilliant piece of cinema, one that should make us all realize that sanitizing culture in the name of political correctness is a time bomb.

Do not miss this film.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A great cast and good intentions make most of this film go down easily--too easily. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard do sterling work in this tale of culture clashes, prejudices, and coincidences in Los Angeles, and scene by scene the film is gripping with some amazingly powerful and poignant moments. However, the script's desire to throw stereotypes up on the screen, while brave, is also its weakness: too many of the overwhelmingly large number of speaking parts are, in fact, stereotypes, and no amount of happy wish-fulfillment or well-intentioned scenes that come across as patronizing (an injured Bullock embracing her Latina housekeeper and telling her she's her best friend) can paper over the fault lines the film purports to examine. Cheadle, as he was in "Hotel Rwanda," is the throughline of the movie, and his knockout final scene with his mother has a dramatic punch and ambiguity that the rest of the movie needs; too often, it feels like something that would've been incendiary in the mid-90's after Rodney King and O.J. (especially if Spike Lee had tackled it), but now seems simultaneously overwrought and tame. You'll admire the performances (a deserving SAG win), but the more you think about the movie as a whole, the more it seems too tidy--and putting it up against the brainy "Good Night and Good Luck" and the shattering "Brokeback Mountain," it's flaws are even more apparent, especially the awful video quality. It's a water-cooler "buzz" film right now (thanks to the Oscar idiocy), but how it will stand up over time is a very big question mark--it was #36 in Entertainment Weekly's year-end critic's roundup, and #56 in PREMIERE'S. ("Brokeback" and "Good Night" were #2 and #3, respectively.) Good for high school civics classes if they can get past the (voluminous) profanity, and for those more interested in praising the film's reach over its actual grasp.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2006
Format: DVD
I love, love, love the Oscars. This year, when I read that Crash was nominated, I laughed to myself and figured the Academy just needed to fill one more spot to make five...WOW, and then it WON. It actually WON. I will admit I have not seen Brokeback Mountain yet, but I also know that given the publicity and accolades Brokeback has received, it seemed almost indefinite that it would win. Crash is a Lifetime movie at best.

Crash mangaged to have an agenda, stick to the agenda, and basically scream, "Here is our agenda...racism is bad!" for the entire film. Some of the more "serious" racism scenes were so over-the-top and unrealistic that I laughed more than I thought, "What a deep, moving film this is..." Actually, I don't think I thought "deeply" at all during this crap, nor do I find it moving or profound.

How did Matt Dillon get nominated from an ensemble cast where no one in particular shined? This film could have been done with a dozen nobodies and it would still be the same.

I think the Academy, unfortunately, isn't ready to give an Oscar to a film like Brokeback, but they want to look socially aware, so Crash was a safe choice. It's a wonder this film was nominated to begin with.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2006
Format: DVD
THE GOOD:

The acting were great especially Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton. Terrence Howard should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor instead of Matt Dillon.

THE BAD:

I'm a visible minority (non-white) and I have experienced some form of racism in my life. BUT despite my life experiences and the movie's subject matter, I would definitely NOT say that this movie is the best of the year, in fact, it's FAR from it. I have problems with this movie both from a moviegoer's perspective and from a visible minority's perspective. Some of my problems with this movie are:

(1) Poor character development (or none at all). Just because we saw extremes in a character, for example, Matt Dillon being a racist cop and being a good caregiver to his ailing father, that does not mean in any way that the character is well-developed. Yes, I admit that in a big cast ensemble like in this movie, it is quite difficult for every character to be well-developed, BUT that does not mean that at none of the characters should be like that.

(2) The dialogue seems really contrived to the point that I'm really surprised this movie won for Best Original Screenplay. They should show this movie in a screenplay writing class NOT because it's good but to show students and future screenplay writers what NOT to do. I just felt like I've been hit by the head over and over again how bad racism is. I get it.

(3) The plot seems so coincidental, it is laugable. What are the chances of a black car robber running over an asian guy who also happens to be a human trafficker while entering his van, and that same black car robber ended up carjacking that asian guy's van several hours later after he brought him the hospital, only to find out that the several asians being trafficked inside the van just to show you that the black car robber is good after all? Or, what about that scene where a prejudiced upper-class white woman who fell down the stairs and all her prejudice and hatred vanished into thin air? If it was THAT simple, why don't we throw every racist in America down the stairs so they will have a change of heart?

(4) I think my biggest misgivings about this movie is the unrealistic view of racism. As someone who has experienced racism in my life, the realistic view of racism is that it is hidden rather than in your face. I've been refused to enter a supermarket because I'm not white. Did the store owner said because I was not white? No, he said the store was closing even though there were a lot of people shopping inside. Did he yell racial slurs? No. Racism in America is more hidden. Some cab drivers probably won't stop to pick you up because you're non-white but that does not mean that they will try to run you over or get out and say racial slurs. If a chinese woman rear-ended me, I won't be saying "blake! blake! Learn some English bitch!". On the other hand, if I was a Chinese woman and I accidentally rear-ended a Mexican woman, I won't say "Mexicans are bad drivers" in front of her face. That's not how things work. Instead, I would give out my insurance info, say sorry, and go home and tell my fellow chinese friends and family that Mexicans are poor drivers and make fun of them behind their backs. That is the real racism. It's hidden and not in your face.

Anyway, Crash is not original unlike what some people may say. The interlocking and interweaving storylines, plots, and characters have been done before. "Magnolia" is a movie that does this much better than Crash did and yet, it was never nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It had a stellar cast -- Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who won best Actor recently), Tom Cruise, etc. It really boggles my mind how Crash was even nominated for Best Picture.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
overrated and overwrought, but i guess the academy felt very good about itself in voting this obvious piece of relevance the best picture oscar that "brokeback" deserved. i figured out every twist and turn long before it happened, and i am tired of los angeles as a character; when the film noir guys were doing it 60 years back, it was creative -- now its just silly. strong performances in support of a cloddish script raised it from one star to two.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
Format: DVD
Hard to know where to begin about a movie that wins the Best Picture Oscar yet manages to offend, manipulate, and generally insult its audience all at the same time. Resorting to cheesy coincidence to ratchet up the drama, Crash cynically throws every over-the-top cliche about racism at you, then shrugs its shoulders with a vague, can't-we-all-get-along plea that smacks more of a Sunday School sermon than a serious exploration of racial conflict.

There is neither depth, nor daring, nor originality of thought anywhere in this film. It's a rich liberal's wet dream about how all those ethnics live, and it reeks of elitism and unreality. Jerked this way and that by choppy, improbable plotting, we're subjected to some truly repulsive ideas, such as that a racist, rapist white cop -- who should be in jail -- would suddenly, and inexplicably, risk his life to save the African-American woman he had abused the night before. We're told that affirmative action -- the one great victory of the anti-racist movement in this country -- actually CAUSES racism (they'll love that at the local [...] klatch), and that its victims (immigrants, black street kids) are just as much to blame for it. And THIS they celebrate as some big progressive statement?

There is some fine acting here, but it's hindered by truly laughable dialogue and zero character development.

A forgettable, regrettable movie that will besmirch the Academy for a very long time.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
One of the better movies of 2005, but doesnt have anything new to offer to the audience, other than playing on their emotions.

It didnt have to be rewarded with an oscar, as it conveys the wrong message that American society is inherently prejudiced and racistic.

The movie makers might not have meant to convey that meaning, but as it doesnt present any end solution nor does it impart a decent message to the viewers, it unfortunately ends up as being a mere show-case of American racial prejudices.

Dont think of me as a right wing American patriot, I'm actually from India, belong to the Hindu majority community, from a city that has a huge muslim population. I'd several muslim friends who used to advise me not to venture into muslim localities during nights and evenings.

Thats quite similar to the predicament of a white person, being advised to stay away from black dominated areas after nightfall.

And at present, living in US, I'm a minority. The closest I've come to being discriminated here, is when I'm usually mistaken as a hispanic and strangers accost me speaking in spanish, a language I'm utterly unfamiliar with.

Its trivial knowledge that majority communities alone donot discriminate people, minorities do it as well, either due to isolation or propaganda by unscrupulous politicians, numerous reasons abound.

The problem comes when certain ideologically oriented people dishonestly try to justify acts of minority discrimination as arising from historical reasons (slavery, segregation, etc) while trivially shunning majority discrimination as based on racial supremism, nazism and what not. They want to level the playing field for all, by "explaining away" certain forms of minority discrimination as having legitimate reasons, while chastizing only discriminators from majority community. The end effect is that it builds up an unhealthy frustration in the majority community, which forces itself in the forms of extremism sooner or later.

BTW, has anyone ever realized that its possible to even discuss issues of race & religion in ONLY democratic, multi-ethnic societies ?

Very few countries in the world are genuinely multi-ethnic and religiously diverse as US and India are. India is perhaps even more diverse than US owing to her great linguistic diversity. And that is probably why people from these two societies cry out the loudest about religious/ethnic discrimination and oppression.
Because they are free to do so. They are democracies with freedom of speach and expression are enshrined in their constitution.

Afterall :

Can you make movies showcasing the racism involved against non-muslims in Saudi Arabia ?

Can you complain about censorship and organize anti-government rallies in China ?

Can you write articles against Vladimir Putin in Russia and not be jailed ?

And yet, inspite of their inherent oppressive societies, they donot face as much flak about their societies as democratic societies do.

Movies like Crash only make democratic societies look bad, by show-casing only the ugly side. Even if a couple of such movies are turned out by hollywood and rewarded with best oscars every year, people around the world would get a seriously wrong impression about the nature and character of American society.

The truth remains that democratic societies are moving toward assimilation and dialogue. They are already better than most of their counterparts, even though they are not immune from prejudice-free environments. Sooner or later, they'll achieve that harmony and balance. Non-democratic and homogenous ones cannot achieve that balance as their authoritarians systems prohibit open dialogues between different communities.

Situation in both US and India is much better than in majority of the known world. Some interesting facts to give a dose of reality to some of you, who probably are too influenced by propaganda from extreme left. Did you know that :

--> The standard of living of American blacks, as a whole community, is higher than that of Swedes ? Nearly 70% of black community doesnt belong in Ghettos, but leads normal middle/upper middle class lives ?

--> Over 25% of the entire black male adult population in US cohabitates and/or marries White females and over 500,000 Asian females inter-marry with white men each year ? This trend of racial inter-marriage has been growing unabated in United States in the past 2 decades, and only seems to increase. If American society is indeed as racistic as this movie portrays, how is this even possible that millions of Americans have inter-racial marriages each year ?

--> According to Amnesty international, blacks are subject to greater job-related and social discrimination in Switzerland, and eastern europe than in USA ? An average black person can experience hate glances and crude remarks with a greater probability in Zurich or Moscow than in backwater Alabama ?

--> Persian Americans are the most educationally accomplished of all recent immigration communities in USA ? Over 80% of them hold university degrees.

--> Indian Americans are the richest ethnic group in USA, next are Greeks and third are Jews ?

--> That India, inspite of its history of caste/religious tensions is the ONLY country in the entire world run entirely by its different minority communities. The Indian president is a MUSLIM, the prime minister and chief of Army staff are both SIKHs. How many non-multiethnic, non-democratic countries would allow their religious/racial minorities to run their countries ? Would China ever allow an Uighur or Manchu to be their president ? Would Saudi Arabia or Pakistan allow a Hindu to rule over them ? Impossible.

Democratic societies dont need to feel guilty about the direction of their societies. It'll all settle down if more people concentrated on solutions rather than exploiting the problems and making unfair, guilt-ridden statements about their own societies, mostly based on extrapolations.

I just hope the movie makers had realized that the key to harmonious societal existence is BALANCE and STABILITY in inter-racial, inter-religious relationships, which cannot be achieved by a blame game..... before making this movie.
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