Despite a wobbly handle on all this, it’s an intriguing film to wrestle with, it’s powerfully acted by Melander and Milonoff, and it sticks out for its undeniable outlandishness. After all, when was the last time a bearded troll baby posted from Finland was the closest thing to salvation?
Boy Erased could have been more sharply etched, all told – there’s something naggingly indistinct about it. But the lessons of Conley’s experience fight manfully, all the same, to punch through and be counted.
As you’d expect from Rodriguez, it has a decent number of pow-wow fight scenes, and sure loves to watch machinery being ripped to shreds. But it's all uncomfortably close to the gruesome Flesh Fair from Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, revamped as an ain’t-it-cool demolition derby with a charm-and-conscience bypass.
Intermittently entertaining but also a rum mix of goofy and pretentious, Glass sets far more problems than it successfully solves: tying various loose threads together, Shyamalan can’t restrain himself from adding more. The result’s a lumpy tangle, and the trilogy’s weakest instalment.
From top to bottom, it’s Brydon’s film, and his performance matches the modesty of the surroundings: rarely pushing too hard, he finds just the right groove as a browbeaten Everyman lacking spring in his step (or dash in his breaststroke).
Mortal Engines has been thoroughly storyboarded, make no mistake. But here lies the rub – lift-off, personality, and plainly put, direction, aren’t there. All the pieces of the movie slide mechanically into place and wait – and wait – for some spark of soul to turn up and animate them.
Through all the film’s bumps and scrapes, Firth does invest a lot of commendable energy in helping us grasp Crowhurst’s besieged state of mind. It’s a good performance in shaky circumstances, but at least he honours the man’s contradictions, on top of his terror of public failure, and even greater one of exposure as a fraud.
There’s a doomy superficial finesse to the picture, with all its wintry confrontations, skull-trained sniper fire and quick thinking, and it doesn’t take itself as seriously as Fincher’s did. But then, it couldn’t: there’s nothing going on beneath.
This film, with its endless copying of Assassin’s Creed camera angles and state-of-the-art bullseyes, is an ugly machine, tiring to the eye, monotonously scored, and also weirdly regressive on quite a few levels.
The film suggests Inglourious Basterds dumbed down, pumped up, and ditching all pretension. If only it played like a spirited B-horror hybrid we could all get behind, instead of a ghoulish effects trip for the Resident Evil crowd.