The Current War

The Current War ★½

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, director of the perceptive and unjustly maligned “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” is a young, thoughtful filmmaker with an inventive visual imagination and a very bright future ahead of him. That being said, something clearly went very, very wrong during the making of “The Current War.” A lifeless period drama about the rivalry between two of America’s greatest geniuses, Gomez-Rejon’s lavish third feature unfolds like a more historically accurate riff on “The Prestige,” albeit one lacking even a trace amount of magic (Nikola Tesla factors in, however, and Nicholas Hoult’s performance pays tribute to David Bowie).

The initial aim, however, may have been closer to “Hamilton.” First conceived as a stage musical by eventual screenwriter Michael Mitnick, “The Current War” tells the story of the race to light up the world. It begins, rather inexplicably, in December of 1880, after Thomas Alva Edison (a standard-issue Benedict Cumberbatch) has “wrested nature into a glass.”


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