All The King's Men Reviews
Probably the truth [ as always ] is somewhere in between.
Sean Penn, like usual, totally immerses himself in his character, accent n all. If critics and audiences alike paid enough attention to it, he would have been nominated for another Oscar, it's what he and everyone else was going for. His portrayal of an innocent man of the people turned corrupt is diabolically convincing and the transition is gradual which also adds to the villainy, he is the star of the show for these reasons, he is also very loud and grand with his character. The other characters are more subdued in their performances, Law plays the reporter with class and Hopkins is a lot of fun, but they are very quiet vocally and personality wise, which is what bothered most people. Like I said, they're subdued performances and there's nothing wrong with that, but with Penn's bellowing Stark, he is the star of it.
The films dark and gritty look helps convey it's themes and Starks lack of ethics, the fantastic musical score by Horner is a memorable one and one of my favorites.
I still wonder what caused Zallian to pick up this material in the first place. It would always have been compared to the original, which won 3 Oscars, topping it would have been something near impossible. He aims high, but ultimately misses for most people. I'm not ignorant to it's faults, no matter how much I may like it, the story is told in such a profoundly confusing complicated way. However, it is totally impenetrable. The best way I can describe it is, imagine you were in a school class and you zoned out for about 20 minutes, when you start to pay attention again, you're able to pick up bits and pieces but not enough to know what everyone else knows. It's not for everyone, but it's for me and it's one of my favorite movies. Let me end the review with a quote from the film to sum it up perfectly.
'Its like a noise you hear but it isn't fully clear enough, you don't listen to it, so you forget it.'
We see the story through the eyes of newspaper reporter "Jack Burden", who leaves his job to work for "Stark". Through him, we see the changes in "Stark", who lets power to get to his head. "Burden" in fact turns into a detective as he looks into the dealings of a judge.
There are some strong performances in this film. Penn is really good, especially where he is delivering speeches. Not every performance is perfect however. There were times that I thought scenes lagged because of the performances.
In fact, the movie frequently lags. I found myself paying more attention to message boards on the Internet more than watching the movie. I also had trouble listening to the thick Louisiana accents used nearly perfectly by the cast. Sometimes I would misunderstand a word or two and try to figure out what was being said because of the thickness of some of the accents used.
One thing that helps this movie is that it is shot on location in various places in Louisiana. In fact, cinematography is a strong point in this film. There is one scene in the climax of the movie that goes nicely from full-color to black and white, which I thought was a bit odd when it was happening. But, because of what happens in the black and white part of the scene, I can pretty much see why it was done. There was some good use with cameras used in this movie.
As to the authenticity of the 1930's look of the movie. It looks like they nailed it pretty much. Even the automobiles and media's cameras looked as if they came from the 1930's, which is when this movie is set.
I also thought the soundtrack was pretty forgettable. Not one piece of music stands out in this movie.
Personally, I can only recommend this as something to watch on HBO or another movie network on a rainy day when nothing is on. If you like good performances and/or good cinematography, then you can check this one out. However, I wouldn't put it in the Top 10 of your "Must See" List.