Friday, April 28, 2017

Movie Review: "The Circle" (2017)

Movie"The Circle"
Director: James Ponsoldt
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Image Source
A customer service rep named Mae lands her dream job at a tech company known as The Circle, a company that specializes in social media and information whose policies and activities are becoming increasingly more invasive.

A movie featuring the likes of the legendary Tom Hanks, the actress who played Hemione Granger in the "Harry Potter" films, the actor who played Finn in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," one of our all-time favorite comedians Patton Oswalt, and the actress who played Nebula in one of our favorite Marvel movies, "Guardians on the Galaxy." What could possibly go wrong?

Apparently, a lot.

"The Circle" is directed by James Ponsoldt, who is best known for his films "The Spectacular Now" and "The End of the Tour." He also helped write the screenplay along with Dave Eggers, who is the author of the novel on which the film is based. It stars Emma Watson as Mae, who lands a highly coveted entry level customer service position at a tech company known as 'The Circle.' This company is a social media and technology integration company that, much like Facebook or Google, really specializes in information. The two head honchos of the company, Bailey and Stenton, played by Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt, are always looking for more and more ways to surveil people, to collect information, and to break down barriers all in the name of transparency and accountability. They want all of the personal information of all of the people on the planet and need to know what everyone is doing every second of every day for reasons that obviously must be nefarious because why else would they want said information?? Also in the movie are John Boyega, Karen Gillan as Mae's good friend Annie; Ellar Coltrane as Mercer, an old but disconnected friend of Mae's; Bill Paxton in his final role as Mae's father Vinnie, who has multiple sclerosis; and Glenne Headly as Mae's mother Bonnie.

Like many films in Hollywood as of late, "The Circle" tends to run on the assumption that technology is evil, that social media and the internet, when taken to their most extreme points, are dangerous and scary. Anyone who could possible head a company like Facebook is clearly an evil genius trying to rule the world like Brain from "Pinky and the Brain." To be fair, this might actually be the case, and we're probably not that far off from everything that happens in this movie actually occurring in real time. Regrettably, this has become such a trope in movie recently that all of the films about these types of subject tend to blend together now.

Within this "Circle" universe, the company has created a crystal clear digital camera with impeccable audio that is the size of a marble and costs less than a pair of off-the-rack jeans. In turn, this means the micro-cameras are literally everywhere, recording everything at all times, which apparently means people will now behave and no longer break laws????!  The crux of the story is centered around the ongoing debate of privacy and individual freedoms versus security. It is also a critique of our current social media, reality television, and online-obsessed world. It's essentially the concept of "1984," but for a modern, digital age.

Unfortunately, "The Circle" isn't well executed at all. The narrative is so disjointed that the movie as a whole suffers because of it. The editing job is sloppy and atrocious, even within the same scenes. There is no sense of time, and even basic causal events go on with no real context or ending. Things just keep happening to the point where it almost seems inexplicable as to why people do what they do. There are also plenty of plot holes as well, and many times, we were left wondering why in the hell this supposedly omnipotent tech company has such horrible on site security since characters seemingly get away with things far too frequently. The writers don't do a proper job setting up the villains and never show why they are bad beyond the general concept of invasion of privacy. There is no true villain in "The Circle" other than technology itself.

With a cast list as impressive as this one, one may assume the acting would save this picture. Not so. Emma Watson is only serviceable as a bland female character who is clearly intended to be a strong female lead, but is written so stupidly at times that it's almost a disservice to Watson herself. She is as dry as week old toast here. As much as we love Tom Hanks and think he's fine here, he's only just so. He and Patton Oswalt fit their characters well and do offer the best performances in the movie, though that isn't saying much. John Boyega is absolutely wasted as he only pops occasional and seems more like a plot device rather than an actual character. The one notably bad, nay, awful performance comes from Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mercer, the blue collar guy who is not keen on technology and has been stuck in the friend zone with Emma Watson's Mae for what seems like years. It took us about half of the movie to realize he was not her boyfriend because, once again, the editing is terrible and there is no sense of time. Coltrane was fine in "Boyhood" because he wasn't really acting all that much. The movie really was a one and done for him because nothing he says in this project feels believable or natural. in the slightest.

There are moments when "The Circle" feels like it could have been so much more, especially given the talent in front of and behind the camera. In reality, it winds up being tension-less, contrived, stale, pseudo-intellectual tripe wrapped in a poorly made, ghastly edited shell of buzz words and catch phrases. This is a huge disappointment and a gigantic waste of potential.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~16%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit!*

No comments:

Post a Comment