Saturday, December 26, 2015

"The Theory of Everything": one-paragraph review

Scientists now theorize that the center of our galaxy is a titanically stormy, time-warped hell containing either a single, supermassive black hole or a cluster of very massive black holes. 2014's "The Theory of Everything" (TTOE), which stars Eddie Redmayne as cosmologist Stephen Hawking, also contains two supermassive black holes at its heart. The first black hole is the script's deliberate avoidance of the meat of Hawking's revolutionary theories on space and time; the second black hole is the script's deliberate avoidance of any real exploration of Hawking's marriage and his relationship with women. The latter touchy subject is treated with supreme, kid-glove delicacy and compassion, as is perhaps fitting for a hagiography of a great scientist based on the memoir of his ex-wife. The former subject—the lack of any real, substantive discussion of a theory of everything—probably has much to do with the filmmakers' desire to make TTOE a romantic drama instead of a true-to-form biopic. But the movie does possess one asset: Redmayne himself, who gives the most impressive physical performance I've seen since Daniel Day Lewis's "My Left Foot." Redmayne obviously invested an immense effort in this portrayal of Hawking's deterioration, and he deserved every single accolade he got. His touching and vulnerable performance is the one saving grace that keeps this film from falling utterly into Hallmark TV-drama territory. Alas, aside from that, TTOE isn't all that memorable.



John from Daejeon said...

I wasn't blown away by that film either, but his latest effort, The Danish Girl, is so good that I've seen it twice. Of course, I've seen every Alicia Vikander movie at least twice, and that even includes the extremely awful "The Man From Uncle."

Now, I'm just waiting to see Chloe Grace Moretz in January's The Fifth Wave. The first book in the trilogy is actually better than the first of in "The Hunger Games" trilogy, but the second seemed much, much weaker to me. Sony may have really screwed up by green-lighting 4 movies off of the first high concept, universally lauded YA book in a trilogy of novels that had/have yet to be written. So far, it looks like this latest foray into the world of YA will end up doing much worse than both "The Divergent" and "The Maze Runner." Not everything can rake in the billions like "Twilight," "The Hunger Games," and "Harry Potter."

SJHoneywell said...

I agree. I said the same thing when I took a look at this earlier this year. Redmayne's performance is tremendous, but avoiding the actual science in a film about one of the most important scientists of the last several centuries.

Well, that and the fact that no one seems to age. Had I not known better, I'd have thought this took place over 5-7 years instead of closer to three decades.

John from Daejeon said...

If you get a chance, rush out and catch Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, and Stanley Tucci, in the equally outstanding and horrifically sickening, Spotlight. I have never seen so many shell-shocked movie goers in my entire life after the credits have faded out, and a day later finds me still quite upset by the vile evil that allowed these child rapists to prey upon the most innocent of all for countless centuries. How fitting that it was released at this time of year, which was the same time the Boston Globe broke this heartbreaking and despicable story. Go and see it now! See it for the great, Oscar caliber performances by all involved, and see it to see that truth can eventually prevail even over those who consider themselves all powerful and above the law. And be prepared for one hell of a shock before those final credits roll when the actual tally of pedophile Boston priests flickers onto the screen.

Bratfink said...

Wow. I watched that trailer for 'Spotlight'. It looks intense. :-O

Charles said...

I guess I'm going to be the only dissenting (if belated) voice here. Saw this last night with the wife and enjoyed it quite a bit. If you want the science of Hawking, there are a ton of documentaries out there that can serve that need. This was a human drama (and, as you point out, something of a hagiography), and I thought it was done very well. Where I will agree is that Redmayne's performance did make the film. Absolutely astounding.

(Incidentally, HJ has a knack for spotting talented new actors; she's been a fan of Redmayne for years now. I don't know if you've seen him in anything else, but he is quite an exceptional actor. I'm more of a Cumberbatch fan myself, but I have to admit--as Cumberbatch himself admitted--that Redmayne's performance here destroyed all rivals.)