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- Apr 4, 2017
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With Covid-19 messing with supply chains around the world and keeping people at home full time, we’ve had to make some adjustments in a few reviews for the month and take on some digital reviews instead of physical for the time being. Some we’ll be able to supplement with the 4K UHD and/or Blu-ray review in a few weeks, but as some supply houses are shut down due to state lock downs, we’ve made a few deals to bring you the reviews in digital form for the time being. Bad Boys for Life was the first in this list, and we follow it up with the low key drama The Current War: Director's Cut today.
It’s incredible how much we take bounteous energy for granted. Today we don’t really think about it outside of paying our electric/gas bill, or when our phone is on the edge of dying and we’re frantically looking for a power socket to give it a quick boost to last the rest of the day. Think about it for a moment. If the power grid in our nation went down, what would we do? How many of our normal businesses would continue to function, and how would that affect our entertainment, communication, and general day to day life? In short, we are so dependent on electricity and other power sources that without instant access to it our way of life would effectively crumble.
Most of us think of Edison and the light bulb when we think of electricity, but there were several powers at work back in the latter half of the 1800s. Edison was the man who invented the glass filament light bulb and in many ways started our journey towards electrical power, but back then he was obsessed with using DC current due to it’s simplicity, while A/C electricity was thought of as too dangerous, requiring a motor that hadn’t been invented yet. While Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) was busy selling J.P. Morgan on the wonders of electric light in modern cities, he had hit a bit of a snag in the form of the amount of copper and way stations needed to thread the proverbial stream of light through countless needle heads. The cost was absolutely enormous, which is where George Westinghouse came into play.
At that point Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) was mostly known for his air brakes that revolutionized the train industry. But being a brilliant engineer, he was also working on the same issues that Edison was working on, but instead realized that Alternating Current was the future, as it required much less effort and physical resources, but was inherently more dangerous and needed a transformer and motor to operate efficiently. Something which he had most of in his grasp after jumping on several new patents for transformers. However, Edison had the better bulb, and that was something that Westinghouse would need to over come. He tried working with Edison directly, but the inventor of the light bulb was adamant about keeping his work in house, and arrogantly decided to go toe to toe with the infamous engineer in a war that turned into an all brawl for the title of WHO would own the rights for modern electrical power going into the 20th century.
Michael Shannon and Benedict Cumberbatch do great things with their performances, but they are not to overshadow some strong background characters like Nicholas Hoult as Tesla, and Tom Holland as Edison’s apprentice. These performances are actually the thing that saves The Current War from being a bland footnote to cinematic history. The film itself is not great as a structure, but these performances by some great actors breathe some life into an otherwise stale presentation.
Rated PG-13 for some violent content and thematic elements
I honestly have to say that I’m more impressed with The Current War’s visuals than I am with the actual substance of the work. The performances are good, but the narrative bland and stale, and the really intriguing facet of the movie is the cinematography. Gomez-Rejon’s film is filled with showy camera work, and a lilting style that catches the eye gracefully. The flashy and parchment colored period piece is a joy to look at, but not always a joy to watch past the visuals. Universal’s director’s cut of the film is definitely better than the film festival “theatrical” cut that was floating around for a few years, but it still had some hurdles to overcome that weren’t completely overcome, in my opinion. Worth a rental, but I would hesitate on a blind buy.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Nancy Crane
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: Michael Mitnick
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 31st, 2020