Film Reviews Cat

News of the World (2020)


The civil war veteran Captain Kidd (played by Tom Hanks) becomes a newsreader, and on his way to a different town he comes across a young lost girl. This girl was taken by the Kiowa people, and Captain Kidd tries to bring her back to her own family. 

The premise of this movie is not very sophisticated, or original because it is your average ‘girl needs to be saved’ kind of a story. Therefore, in my opinion the premise is way too simplistic for an actor such as Tom Hanks. But I understand that the Western setting might have a certain appeal to some actors. Nonetheless, it was a little weird to see such a great actor in scenes which often looked like a high-end B movie.

I will give you more details about the plot structure so it will be easier to understand. Firstly, the plot structure is a perfect bell curve which is divided into three parts. Therefore, each part consists of roughly forty minutes, so the entire movie is 118 minutes long. The middle of this plot structure contains forty minutes of the ‘rising action’. Here you will find most of the conflict, and emotional scenes. It is exactly here (middle 40 minutes) that the entire story collapses because it consists of so many cliché moments and bad scenes that the entire film becomes unrealistic, and way too simplistic. However the beginning, and end of the story structure (first and last 40 minutes) are pretty decent. One might even make the argument that they should rewrite the entire middle part in order to turn it into something good. 

So what was so terrible about the second part of “News of the World”? Without spoilers I can tell you about that one essential scene, which included a big rock, and was edited/created with CGI. I don’t have anything against CGI, but please create a realistic scene and not some unrealistic image which takes the audience out of the story because it looks totally fake. I think that most of the CGI of the 1990’s was still better than this certain scene. Moreover, it was strange that I could hear Johanna’s (Helena Zengel) German accent at times. The writers covered this up somewhat by informing the audience that her original family was German. However, in the film she doesn’t speak, or understand German at all because she was taken away as a very young girl. The actress is German, but I was hoping that they would instruct her on how to say certain words in a more native way. Additionally, the bad guys come out of nowhere and what happens next makes no sense at all to me. It is almost like you need to throw all of your rationale out of the window during these second forty minutes in order to somewhat enjoy it. To make things worse the bad guys are so cliché that they could as well be considered movie props because they are not developed. 

The final forty minutes are ok, and might be the same quality as the first part of the movie. However, this part contains too many ‘feel good’ moments to be considered realistic, and authentic. I would even classify this ‘resolution’ part as boring and uninteresting. However, this really depends on your mood and taste.

To conclude, the biggest mistake that was made is the lack of realism, and detail. Tom Hanks is a great actor but should never have been part of this project. You just can’t expect a great actor to carry an underdeveloped script all by himself. Especially not when some of the essential cast is not performing good enough. Therefore, I advise you to watch a good Spaghetti Western instead. 

Directed by: Paul Greengrass (directed by). Writing Credits: Paul Greengrass (screenplay by) and Luke Davies (screenplay by) Paulette Jiles (based upon the novel by)

Tom HanksCaptain Kidd
Helena ZengelJohanna
Tom AstorCavalry Lieutenant
Travis JohnsonCavalry Rider (as John Travis Johnson)
Andy KastelicUnion Duty Officer
Ray McKinnonSimon Boudlin
Mare WinninghamDoris Boudlin

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