What was once a man’s desperate quest to resurrect his lost lover ala Dracula has been turned into a petulant girl’s desire to reincarnate the god she serves ala Suicide Squad. Could there be a more fitting beginning to this venture? This is shaping up to be a cinematic universe in the same way that a mime doing the invisible box gag is shaping up to be an opera.
The Western is a myth of values. True Grit is a story that appreciates these values without necessarily approving of them. This is a film made in the spirit of a long tradition, which is surprising coming from the usually more provocative Coen Brothers. But its subtle changes should not be ignored – they contain all its secret truths, and theirs.
In this film, the divisions that we value so much, out of which we create our sense of individuality, will victimize us to a terrifying monster of collectivity. The Thing absorbs and unifies life where suspicious and divided people destroy it. This is Invasion of the Body Snatchers accelerated to universality.
This below-average comedy becomes a disreputable slog by whoring out its cast for a studio’s marketing angle. It becomes socially harmful in the guise of good, a defiler in prophet’s clothing, when it promotes the fair representation of young girls in a film whose feministic prowess never exceeds petty and ill-conceived passes at men, whom Sony counter-marginalizes as comeuppance, as though the playground is the most intellectual arena to which feminism has ever gained access.
From Willem Dafoe approximating a German to Penelope Cruz approximating a maid to Judy Dench stretching no imaginations as a frowsy curd whose gaze would cure mustard, the train certainly carries cargo with the promise of becoming precious. But the cogs it winds up never outgrow their clock: the plot remands wit to the backstage of Branagh’s eyes and the film lulls almost indefinitely as soon as the mystery begins.