Varietal: Full-Flavored Red
Vintner: Steven Spielberg
Vintage: 2001
Vineyard: Warner Bros

by Brian.

A personal review of the latest from little Stevie Spielberg.

I'm sitting here trying to think of positive things to say about what should've been Kubrick's next film (damn mortality), Spielberg's return to directing after Saving Private Ryan, and the film voted by me Least Likely To Succeed in this summer's wintery economical climate.

I think for a second that since Ministry is in the film, it supplies a giant musical flashback to a high school world where I'd never even heard of the likes of Thelonious Monk or Air, but then I remember that I'm looking for positives.

Well the web game was cool.

For those that don't know, an elaborately subtle web game popped up with the first teaser for the film, crediting a faux-woman for a faux-credit, flashing specific letters in the credits, circling letters on the back of posters, and giving other assorted clues to a breadth of eclectic web sites seemingly years old, floating around inside Google's search engine with assorted links connecting one random page to another. In fact, the arcane plotline that uncovers across these pages proves to hold more mystery, more intrigue, and ultimately more interest than the actual film.

This has never happened before. Sure we all called the phone numbers in Magnolia, and official sites for movies are finally becoming more than slow-to-load hype machines (Requiem for a Dream's site comes to mind), but this is a step out of the box into something from a Fincher film. It doesn't drug you and ship you off to Mexico, but it does bleed into reality such that the players become their own web-Holmes in search of a meaning to all this.

No answers are found in the film.

Where the web was subtle, the film is blatant. Where the web textures in hints and clues, the film is barren. There is no intrigue in the film because there is no mystery, only curiosity as to when the hell it is going to end.

Back to positives. The Supertoy Teddy had the most depth of all the characters, knowing his limit and tagging along anyway. If only Haley Joel had taken some notes from Teddy on how to act. If only we followed Teddy around for two hours rather than Haley Joel. If only Kubrick had made this damn movie.

Spielberg tries hard though. It's unfortunate that he didn't realize or care that his style of filmmaking is polar opposite of Kubrick, and that his seeming blend is about as smooth as vinegar and CRAP! Shot by shot, one can form a list of what's Steven's and what's Steven-trying-to-be-Kubrick's. What's Kubrick's design and what's Steven's sentimentalist idea of touching or endearing. What's borderline interesting and what's Spielberg trying to milk sympathy out of any situation.

I cared more for Teddy than David.

Alas I cannot seem to stay in the realm of Positive. This film is a failed effort, its scope limited, its focus blurred, and its spine broken.

And the ending sucked.