I love movies. A lot. I am also pretty critical of movies but bad movies really don’t bother me, most of the time they are just “meh” and I move on.
But this goddamn movie actually angered me while watching it. I did a little research on the director, Akiva Goldsman, and come to find out among other atrocities, he wrote Batman and Robin. After watching Winter’s Tale, I’m beginning to think that Joel Schumacher maybe gets a little too much acrimony for his role in that movie.
My memory may get a few things out of order but it really doesn’t matter. If you heed this review, you won’t go see it anyway. Judging by the box office, I don’t think I had to worry.
The movie starts out with Colin Farrell wandering around present-day New York and going to the roof or ceiling or attic of Grand Central Station where he finds a box full of stuff. I’ll get back to this idiocy later.
Then we cut to 1886 with a couple being turned away from Ellis Island because they are sick with consumption. That’s the “too much shopping” disease. So they want their baby to have a chance in America. Do they leave the baby in a basket at Ellis so it can be discovered and taken to an orphanage? No, they get back on the boat and then find a model ship on the boat called the “City of Justice.”
Because ships are cities. Or something.
Anyway, they put the baby in the boat nearly five miles offshore with storm clearly visible on the horizon. Now I don’t know about you, but the model ships that I’ve owned were meant for display only. They were never seaworthy. If I did put them in water, they usually tipped over in a nanosecond which would’ve immediately sent any baby down to the bottom of the lake but whatever. This one works great.
Worst parents ever.
The next scene immediately cuts to Peter (played with a lot of effort by Colin Farrell. He’s really trying, as are most of the actors so I’ll give him a pass.) Peter is running away from the villain, the comically named Pearly. Pearly is played by Russell Crowe who seems to be channeling his South Park alter ego. You may recall he liked to go “fighting around the world” and was generally irrational. It’s easily the hammiest role he’s played. He wears a scar that goes all CGI when he’s enraged. Most of the time he’s just angry and unreasonable.
So Russell Crowe is chasing Peter and is really angry.
Why is he angry? I don’t know and the movie never really tells us. Oh, something is made of Pearly being mad at Peter turning on him but the point is we never see that. We should’ve seen Peter being found on shore, being raised by Graham Greene, falling into Pearly’s gang, finding out Pearly is bad, and finally making the choice to remove himself, thereby incurring Pearly’s wrath. We see none of that. Truth is, I’m not ever really sure until the very end if Peter is aware of Pearly’s supernatural nature.
So Peter climbs over a tall gate and finds a white horse.
Convenient. Where did the horse come from? Why is it here? It turns out it’s a magical My Little Pony, winged Pegasus version. He gets on the horse and instead of just flying away from the all the crazy demon people with guns behind the gate, the horse decides to run straight towards the gate so he could jump it. This is way too high for an ordinary horse to jump so now we the audience know it’s a magical horse. This could’ve been accomplished by having him… oh I don’t know… sprout the CGI wings and fly away but instead we just get the jump and then he gallops away down the street.
Fortunately, the crazy people either forget to shoot or they went to the Imperial Stormtrooper school of aiming. Quite frankly I forgot because I was so overcome by the stupidity of a winged horse who has all the time necessary to fly off in a safe direction and doesn’t.
So now Pearly is mad. He’s always mad. But he’s also a douche. See I know he’s evil and all but he’s a complete douche on top of it. He begins by telling his head henchman that now that Peter has the dog, he’s close to performing his miracle. Henchman is mystified.
- Peter can do miracles? And…
- Wasn’t that a horse we saw? Why are you calling it a dog?
Pearly patiently — and by patiently, I mean he refrains from killing Henchmeat right there on the spot — explains that Peter can perform one miracle. And it isn’t really a horse, it’s a dog goddammit! Henchfucked backs off like “ok, whatever. It’s a dog. You’re the boss.”
So then he goes to a random assortment of gems on the table in front of the window, waits for the moon and voila! The gems take the moonlight and make a holographic image of Grand Central Station which tells him where Peter is. Wow. There’s wasn’t a magic word or anything. He just seemed to drop the gems on the tray and BAM! Instant image.
I began to wonder if other people ever dropped some random gems on a tray and then one moonlit night: BAM! Eiffel Tower. BAM! Pyramids. BAM! IHOP.
Pearly then says to Henchdead to get the boys and let’s go get Peter and the horse.
“Thought it was a dog?” the Henchscrewed asks quite reasonably. Russell Crowe then gets enraged and CGI face or whatever. Cause Henchwuss can’t seem to get this schizo’s psychotic random synapse firings straight, he’s obviously incompetent.
Dontcha hate crazy bosses?
So Peter was at Grand Central, gathering his shit and hiding the box of memories, but by the time Pearly gets there, he’s long gone. So the gems were worthless and the image didn’t help him at all. There wasn’t even the obligatory “They’ve found me! I have to get away by way of this secret whatever portal only I know about!” Something?! Nope, he’s long gone. Stopped his mail, put a change of address forms into the post office, canceled his magazine subscriptions, etc.
Peter and the horse (dog?) have now gone to rob houses. Now at this point in the movie, you have a pretty good inkling that we got angels (horsedog, fuck it) and devils (Pearly).
Yet horsedog is helping Peter rob these houses because “fuck them rich assholes” or something. I guess they aren’t important. Peter has enough stuff but horsedog tells him to rob one more house. There he meets hot sick girl, Beverly.
Beverly, as we learned earlier, is dying of consumption. See? It’s poetical. Or ironic. Or who-gives-a-shit at this point.
Beverly can see light connections between everything and sees how it’s all connected. This is never brought up again and does nothing for her character. It does, however, give Akiva a chance to indulge in Abrams/Spielbergian lens flare shenanigans.
So her family has already headed up north (in winter, good call) to their vacation palace on the frozen river and left her to come later after them while they get the house prepared for her. She has a blazing fever all the time which actually melts the snow beneath her feet. Apparently, she’s the Human Torch now. Peter breaks into her house and sees her and immediately renounces his thieving ways and falls madly in love with her. He decides to take action on this by leaving and thinking.
Pearly is eating at a restaurant where he suddenly has a vision. He kills a waiter who pissed him off (because the waiter asked him if there was anything else they could do to serve him or make sure he was satisfied with the meal or something equally insulting) and he uses the waiter’s blood to fingerpaint a hideous drawing that might be an outline of a red-haired woman. Or Halley’s Comet. Difficult to tell. He demands Henchsofuckingdead to find this woman. From the most obscure drawing ever. In New York. Where there are thousands of red-haired women. In 1914 so no modern advances like the internet or surveillance cameras or even phones.
Good luck Henchy! You should be dead by morning.
Peter asks the native American who found him (played by Graham Greene who is apparently the only American Indian left working in Hollywood) for some advice on the girl. Or life. I honestly wasn’t paying attention because I was trying to figure out why a kid raised by Graham Greene in New York City had a thick Irish accent.
ANYWAY, the next day, Beverly’s packing and putting all her bags in the car by servants. And why does she have so many bags? Because she’s a woman you silly nip! Women are like that! They always have too much luggage. Akiva would know. So, lo and behold Pearly’s Henchstillnotdeadforsomereason is there and knows that this red-haired woman is the one Pearly’s looking for! How? Because fuck you, that’s how!
Peter rides up on his horsedog and rescues her from Pearly even though Pearly could’ve killed her about 5,742 times while Clipclop noisily came up the street (why aren’t you flying, Horesedog?) but he doesn’t notice Peter until the last 40 seconds. In which case, being a demon, he could’ve still killed her about 30 times, turned her body into a Slimfast shake, and drank her with time to spare. I guess Magic horsedog causes Russell Crowe to go into vapor lock.
So they ride like the wind, jump a cliff and run up the frozen river to the vacation house miles away. This long journey in the heart of frozen winter doesn’t kill them.
She doesn’t die because she likes the cold due to her fever(Science!™). He doesn’t die because reasons and stuff.
Pearly chases them up the river and kills them both and her family and burns down the house and dances on their ashes. The end.
Ha! No, he can’t go any further north because the screenwriter needs a half-baked way to keep Pearly from screwing with them for a while so they can fall in love. I mean it’s against the “rules.” This causes Pearly to kill HenchItoldyouso (finally) while watching Peter ride off. Pearly goes back to New York and tries to get dispensation from the rules but Will Smith says no.
Oh yeah, Will Smith plays “Lou.” The judge. He also gets angry CGI mouth. And in case you’ve never actually watched any movies or TV for the last 60 years, Lou is short for “Lucifer.” Who’s the devil. Not a devil, mind you. THE Devil.
Now we’re about halfway in and I have no idea what the fuck is really going on. Why is Pearly so obsessed? Why are there jurisdictions for souls? What the fuck is the horsedog? Is it an angel? A protector? Mythical beast? If it’s an Angel, why is it encouraging Peter to break a commandment? Why is Will Smith stuck in this alley or warehouse or whatever? Why can Beverly see light connections and what’s the point? What’s the point of the gems that don’t work? How do they create images and how did they know what image Pearly wanted? If they knew what he wanted, why did they get it wrong?
What is Peter’s miracle? Oh yeah, he’s going to save Beverly, duh. At least that what you are supposed to think. Of course, that’s pretty telegraphed but we have to slog through the love story now. Peter meets Beverly’s family including her little sister Willa, who I’d guess is about six years old. Her age comes into play later.
Willa has a made a miracle bed in the greenhouse where her sister the princess will get a kiss from her true love and be cured. Ok, now they are really telegraphing it too far. Failure ahead! GET ON WITH IT.
So they fall in love but Pearly sends a fallen angel to poison Beverley. Apparently Pearly has called in a favor. Even though the Angel came back to be a human, I’m not sure why that translates to immediately being evil. What did Pearly have on this guy? The angel doesn’t appear afraid of Pearly. I’m mystified and sleepy.
Anyway, he poisons the girl with special time-release poison to make her dead right as Peter and she makes love. So Peter thinks he fucked her to death. Lovely. Predictably at this point, the magic princess bed doesn’t work because she’s not Peter’s miracle. Also, we have like 45 minutes left of running time.
So Peter’s heartbroken and he and the horsedog go riding casually around New York to get found by Pearly so he can end it or whatever. The horsedog flies off because Peter told it to and because even though it’s a magical winged horse and they could’ve gone to Miami, the script needs Peter to stay and winged horsedog to take a powder for about a century, give or take a couple of years.
And Pearly finally has him. Does he shoot him in the head? Rip him from limb to limb? Nope, he throws him off the bridge. He stumbles out of the river with the most wonderful of plot devices, amnesia.
So now we skip ahead to 2014. Yup, a century has passed and everyone that Peter cared about is long gone except Peter who’s unaged and has grown a kickin’ rock star hairdo. Peter draws the redhaired woman in chalk on the sidewalk and wanders aimlessly. He appears to have an apartment however and in New York. Um, how does he afford it on a vagrant’s salary? Maybe that’s his miracle. Oh and he’s unaged but that’s just standard issue magic. Seriously, he’s allowed one miracle but living for a hundred years without aging is apparently not it.
Anyhow one day he bumps into a little girl who reminds him of Willa and that jars his memory. Really? After 98 years? He’s been just wandering around for 98 fucking years and now this is the first little kid he’s bumped into? Fuck you, movie.
So he goes to a library and then to Grand Central where his little room is kept intact and the hidden box of memories is still there. After 98 years. Surely Grand Central has had a renovation or two? Something? Someone must’ve been up there at some point!
Peter goes to the newspaper archives where Jennifer Connelly works. Who just happens to be the mother of the little girl that bumped into Peter that started this whole thing and who conveniently has the access to let him go to the archive to look up the past. Where he finds pictures of Beverly and himself. Wait, what? When did he take that picture? When did they take any of these pictures?! FUCK!!!
Now I’m rapidly getting pissed off. The coincidences are piling up and I still have no idea why he’s in the present day or what the previous 3/4 of the movie was leading up to.
Connelly is mildly, and I can’t overstate the word “mildly” here, surprised that here this person is standing here, over 130 years old and still looking pretty damn spry. We find out that Beverly’s family owned the newspaper. Guess who’s the owner? Willa! Yes at 104, she owns and runs the newspaper. Most 104-year old’s don’t know they are still alive but WHATEVER. (I find myself saying that a lot.) She gives us some plot information or something. I’m too angry to listen anymore. Oh and same paper Jennifer Connelly works at who is the mother of the little girl he just happens to bump into who jars his memory.
In the meantime, we find out Pearly still at it and we know he’s been successful at doing… whatever the hell he does… because he has a great apartment and rows of henchgeeks running computers. I guess angels and miracles are now published on the internet or something. Somehow he knows that Peter is back. There may have been a half-assed explanation. I don’t care. He goes to Will Smith to get dispensation (again) to get Peter. Cause after 98 years he’s apparently still THAT pissed.
He and the Fresh Prince of Darkness have a contemplative moment discussing how they are losing the war for humanity’s souls. Really? Sure looked like you were doing well to me. Big apartment, lots of infrastructures. And have you looked around lately? War? Drugs? The shit that went down in the last hundred years? WWI? WWII? Holocaust? Vietnam? 9/11? New Coke? SJWs? Captain Marvel? This movie? I think you’re winning.
Will Smith gives him mortality to go after Peter which means he can go anywhere and take his henchbabies too. I guess Lucifer mellows after a century or so. Probably still is smarting thanks to After Earth.
So Peter stays with Jennifer Connelly and her daughter who has a big red scarf on her head and we realize she’s the girl Peter’s been drawing. Also, she has cancer. She needs a miracle.
So wait. Wait! WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE! So the entire first 3/4 of the movie was a red herring? It meant NOTHING? FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!
So Peter takes the two on the winged horsedog (yeah it’s back now. Why now instead of sometime in the previous 98 years? Because fuck you, that’s why.)
They go to the now abandoned vacation house, Pearly finds them, they fight, Peter wins in a callback that’s too stupid to mention. The little girl dies for plot timing reasons. He takes her to the still fucking there princess bed. Which by the way looks pretty damn good with only a few dead leaves on it. Whatever.
She comes back to life.
Then there’s a voice over how the universe will bend over backward once in a while to create miracles. And Beverly yells down from the stars “FUCK YOU, where was my goddamn miracle?!” And the waiter that got killed by Pearly has a word or two for the universe as well. And about a billion other people who died horribly throughout the last century.
Fuck you, Akiva.
From what I’ve read, the book is supposed to be pretty good. It appears that Goldsman completely missed the point. After I, Robot, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, and I Am Legend, I would say this is just another Akiva Goldsman failure. With him writing and directing, we finally realize that this is the luckiest son of a bitch in Hollywood. I don’t know who he has pictures of but congrats on being able to make a career out of ruining things.
You’ve been warned.