Tomatometer-approved film critic and owner of Deep Focus Review (www.deepfocusreview.com). Tastes range from Tarkovsky to Psycho Goreman.
Caught between two modes, the Oscar-baiting prestige drama and an exploitative action movie, Emancipation never finds a balance. Director Antoine Fuqua helms a competent and sharp-looking production alongside producer-star Will Smith. But the result often feels like a by-the-numbers historical epic, with all the requisite speeches, slow-motion, and sweeping battle scenes. Yet, somewhere between the obvious script and Smith’s ill-fitting ultramodern screen presence, Fuqua cannot resist turning the subject matter into a story dependent on chases, violence, and warfare over…
After 3 hours and 9 minutes of Babylon, I can tell you it's about 9 minutes too long. At a certain point, the film goes off the rails, but not in an admirably wild Berlin Alexanderplatz kind of way.
Still, everything leading up to that point is sensationalistic, indulgent, chaotic, and feverishly fun. The cast is superb. The filmmaking is well-crafted. Even though I wish it would have ended earlier, I admire what Damien Chazelle has done here.
Full review coming in a couple of weeks.