Winter’s Tale (2014)
Directed by Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay
By Mason Manuel
While perusing the inescapable hell that is my Comcast cable, I ran across a film
named Winter’s Tale. Normally, I would have scrolled past this selection like the others, but the description listed that the flick starred Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe who are some of my top gay celebrity man crushes so I said “What the hell” and turned it on. In my blindness I forgot that good actors sometimes make bad movies too suffered for it. “Winter’s Tale” is an unfocused hodgepodge of too many different ideas that never lands into anything that could be considered a coherent plot.
Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) plays your regular down on his luck, illegal immigrant who works for the mob. In one of his numerous heists, he meets Beverly Penn (Downton Abby’s Jessica Brown Findlay), your regular girl-who-has-cancer-so-cue-tragic-romance-plot who is inexplicably fascinated with the burglar. But rather than just leave the plot in an old timey The Fault in Our Stars scenario, the story takes a more supernatural turn. Turns out, the mob is actually a front for Lucifer’s army led by his demon Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) in their never ending mission to keep miracles from happening. As luck would have it, Peter Lake is in line for a rather large miracle revolving around Beverly that would be devastating to the demonic cause which unfortunately for the demon means he must kill his own man. And so our chase begins both through love and time in a number of twists that will even have Shyamalan saying, what the hell just happened?
I wish I could write this review back like my Trolls 2 one back in the early days of the RDR but sadly I must put effort forth this time around as Winter’s Tale at least attempts to feel like a solid flick. What is mind-blowing is that Academy Award winning director Akiva Goldsman was behind the whole thing, including writing the screenplay.
The source material comes from Mark Helprin’s esteemed 1983 novel of the same name but where most events work on page, the translation to film leaves much to be desired. Terrible CGI, ridiculous dialogue, and cheesy acting result in a very lackluster picture. The only real saving grace lies within Tale’s two leads. Crowe (who earlier had helped win the director with his award with A Beautiful Mind) and Farrell bring the most they can to what is mostly terrible material. Other actors are not as appreciated. Findlay’s dying girl in love story personification often feels ridiculous and contributes little to the plot other than give Peter Lake someone to be motivated for. Also Will Smith plays Satan… moving on.
For a movie that was released in 2014, the visual effects are downright laughable. Magical flying horses and mystic landscapes look like they came out of a 12 year old’s first time using IMovie. These visual catastrophes spell disaster every time they enter the frame and takes the viewer completely out of the moment. Add that on top of the terribly executed plot and bizarre acting from lesser characters (looking at you Jennifer Connelly) makes this a film worth forgetting. A 3 out of 10.