Film Review – The Postman (1997)

Title – The Postman (1997) 

Director – Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves

Cast – Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Olivia Williams, Larenz Tate

Plot – In post-apocalyptic America, a nameless drifter (Costner) who dons the uniform of a deceased postman begins to offer hope to various communities that had long since lost it, while his antics anger local warlord General Bethlehem (Patton). 

“It’s gotta be the uniform”

Review by Eddie on 17/06/2022

In the history of Hollywood flops and failures, there aren’t too many more well known misfires than Kevin Costner’s expensive and excessive post-apocalyptic event The Postman. 

Holding a dismal 8% approval rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, winning 5 Razzie awards in 1998 including Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Director and making a meagre $20 million dollars back at the worldwide box office off an estimated budget of $80 million, Costner’s second foray behind the camera following his global triumph and awards darling Dances with Wolves from 1990 didn’t exactly go to plan, as his three hour adaptation of David Brin’s novel knocked his career trajectory down a peg or two in the years that were to follow. 

Taking all of this into account, it’s almost strange to report in today’s time and place that despite its many missteps and poorly developed components, The Postman is not at all “that bad” of a film and far from the Razzie-clad dumpster fire that some may conclude it to be without ever having themselves partaken in Costner’s nameless postal delivery heroes journey across a desolated America that has long since lost sight of itself in the midst of years of war, famine and disaster. 

Set in the futuristic year of 2013, The Postman see’s Costner cast himself front and center to most of the films scenes, as his Shakespeare loving drifter finds himself become a pillar of hope in a landscape desperate to find a light in a dark situation as his quest to deliver old mail to American citizen’s made harder by the fact Will Patton’s bloodthirsty warlord General Bethlehem is hellbent on ensuring any glimmer of the America of old is held at bay by his army of brainwashed soldiers. 

Everything about the film and its story is over the top, from Patton’s ridiculous and miscast performance, the films on the nose dialogue that seems to revel in its stars and stripes grandness at every possible moment and Costner’s insistence that his character is indeed one of those men that young people want to be, woman want to bed and macho men want to fight but there’s also something about The Postman that can’t be denied from its impressive sets, its insistence on everything being over the top, Costner’s clear commitment to his vision and James Newton Howard’s epic score. 

With so much of the film done practically, whatever someone might say about its failings in many various areas there is a craftsmanship found in Costner’s adventure that is rarely seen in today’s CGI infused outings and if you’re willing as a viewer to just go along with a film that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, there’s a misunderstood and overly criticized feature film to be found here that time has been relatively kind to in the years since its lambasted release. 

Final Say – 

You wouldn’t shout about The Postman from the rooftops but there’s no doubt the films reputation as an all time clunker is slightly overdone as Costner’s impressively put together post-apocalyptic tale still provides enough entertainment to justify a revaluation from today’s audiences. 

3 performing mules out of 5  

6 responses to “Film Review – The Postman (1997)

  1. Hey, I actually have some good memories about this one! But I liked Waterworld as well. Yeah, both are a bit over the top, but far from a snoozefest as some would want you to believe.

    • Yep totally mate! After reading and hearing about all the things related to these two films we’re talking about I expected a lot worse!
      E

    • Glad to find someone else that liked this one, and Waterworld. Waterworld I didn’t enjoy the first time around but the second watch I found it highly entertaining. My wife and I will dust it off every once in a while and watch it again even to this day.

  2. I’ll probably get booed but I’ve never been a big fan of Kevin Costner and his movies. But I thoroughly enjoyed The Postman. I went into it knowing nothing about it and was shocked to read the bad reviews and low review scores after I had watched it. It had faults but I liked the story, and the way it was almost two movies in one after the hard pivot in the middle (Dusk to Dawn is another one that pivots the same way). I’m glad to see you say something positive about this movie and even as a non fan of KC, I just don’t understand the terrible reviews.

    • I feel like people had their pitchforks out for this one well before it was even released ha. I expected a far worse experience after all the negativity over the years.
      E

  3. This movie came out when I was writing for magazines about various novel uses of the Internet, so I dug it out and machine-translated it to English:

    “On 17th July 1997, the website of Costner’s latest acting/directing venture, The Postman (http://www.thepostman.com), streamed live on the Internet the direction of one of the action scenes in the film. For the first time in the history of the Internet, we were able to watch a live directing of a motion picture! The Postman is the first film since Dances With Wolves (winner of seven Oscars) where Costner acts both as a director and the lead actor. The streaming was made possible by VXtreme technology, which works by continuously transferring data from a remote server to our computer as we watch the video. This results in the poor picture and sound quality. If we ignore this, we are left (in case of a good connection) with about 20 minutes of footage of the action on a film set near Portland (Oregon, USA). The director introduces himself and briefly explains what is going to happen. Before an unscheduled coffee break, he complains about the inadequacy of the natural light, as artificial light is out of the question due to the width of the exterior shot. We have no choice but to wait for the weather to clear up a little and watch the bustle of the film crew with interest. Long waiting times are commonplace on film sets, as anyone who has ever had the opportunity to experience it for themselves can attest. It all adds to the authenticity of the experience. The stream ends with a completed action scene of a few minutes and the director’s invitation to watch the film in the cinema. And what else is there to do?”

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