Starring Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, Gwendoline Christie, Eiza González, Leslie Zemeckis, Janelle Monáe, Alexander Lowe, Patrick Roccas, Nikolai Witschl, Falk Hentschel, Matt O’Leary
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
2018 / 116 Minutes / Universal Pictures

Review by Brent

I’m pretty shocked that this mess came from the brilliant Robert Zemeckis who gave us such films as Forrest Gump, Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He’s had a pretty good track record, but unfortunately this is probably going to go down as one of his worst. I definitely wasn’t expecting much going into this, but I certainly was not expecting it to be this quite this bad.

Welcome to Marwen is about Mark Hogancamp, the victim of a brutal attack, who finds a unique outlet to help him during his recovery. He creates a world with dolls (that look like him and the people in his life) and photographs them. It’s an odd unique story that had a lot of potential, but Zemeckis spent way too much of his time perfecting the special effects involved than delving into the actual person and his serious PTSD. I wanted to know more about him. The best scenes are with the real Carell and the rest of the cast, once it went into the dolls I found it unbearable at times.

It’s a story that may not be deserving of an entire 2 hour film, but more-so I don’t think it was executed in the best way. Zemeckis has a history of pushing the boundaries with new technology. He gave us Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a world where cartoons and humans interacted. It worked and it was a remarkable film that also had a terrific story that worked. Then he brought us The Polar Express featuring motion capture. Some may love that movie, I was not a fan of it and it’s creepy style, but granted it was something new we hadn’t seen before. This time we have a similar situation, but this time the animated motion capture sequences although impressive don’t quite jell with the live action. Which is mainly to blame for a pretty weak script.

Throughout this entire movie all I could think about was who was this movie made for? It’s not a kids film, but it’s not really a film for mature audiences either. I can’t really think of an audience that’s going to really care much for this movie. Young and old it doesn’t really feel like it will appeal to either. I wonder how this got greenlit other than the fact Zemeckis is a great director and that they think audiences will run to any movie featuring tons of special effects and cool visuals (newsflash it’s not that cool). I definitely had a struggle with this one.

The performances weren’t even all that special. Steve Carrell, who I’m really kind of growing tired of in these dramatic roles tries to make this character loveable and interesting, but he’s not at all. He comes off more creepy than anything. There’s no heart to his character, which I find hard to believe. I’m sure this real life person is very interesting, he just deserved a film with heart and imagination and not plastic and soulless. The rest of the supporting cast is equally wasted. Leslie Mann who I love deserves to be in better films. She always gets stuck in some pretty weak roles and she is such a brilliant comedic actress who really deserves a starring role that utilizes her talent. Everyone else is barely even in the film and honestly doesn’t matter. Instead of just playing dolls their real life performances are the ones that were left out and wasted. With that said there was one performance that I thought stood out. Merritt Wever is always a joy and it was nice to see her on the big screen in what was actually a great role for her, but unfortunately in a dud of a movie.

Unike a lot of Zemeckis’ previous films, this one is going to be the one most are going to forget or want to forget. It’s unfortunate because I’m sure there is a fascinating story there and one that could have been so much more. Zemeckis is a director that can deliver on that, but this time he really missed the mark and instead has made a big dud of a movie that will only be remembered for the mess and failure it was.

Grade D+

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