THE FIFTH ESTATE 2 STARS The Fifth Estate is The Social Network with a bad script and bad directing. That's exactly what it is. Both movies have characters who spend the majority of their time in front of computers. Both movies have lead characters who have strong human and social disabilities. Both movies are about two men who create something on the internet which leads to the disintegration of their friendship.
Alex Gibney's documentary We Steal Secrets is much better at telling us the blow by blow of how WikiLeaks was born and what happened to Julian Assange. And as much as Benedict Cumberbatch is effective as Assange, the movie around him does not hold up. The script is too light. There are strong things to say about Assange, his lack of morality, and where his driven nature comes from, but the movie glosses over those things. He's a strange guy with secrets of his own, but that theme (which would be very easy to tie together with the website he creates) isn't explored at all. The lazy lines at the end do not count.
The Social Network didn't just tell us about Mark Zuckerberg, it dramatized his life and his relationships so we could go deeper into the man. The Fifth Estate always stays at the surface. It's a TV movie with better actors. It's also over directed with "clever" CGI sequences that visualize what's simply happening online. It's as if the filmmakers didn't trust the underlying story and its characters to be compelling enough. They need to show us flashy graphics that are ultimately hollow. There also isn't enough emphasis on the whistleblowers and what they're going through. Pvt. Brandon Manning went through hell as he leaked classified military documents, but we hear his name only briefly.
The Fifth Estate was one of the biggest flops of last year. Part of it should be blamed on its terrible title. Who wants to see a movie called The Fifth Estate? If they titled it WikiLeaks, that would've been more than fine. Maybe it was too early for this story to be told? Julian Assange's story isn't over yet.
LAST VEGAS NO STARS We're a couple weeks into 2014 and I'm pretty sure I will not see a worse movie this year. During the entire movie, during every scene, I felt so embarrassed for these men. Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, and Robert De Niro. These are all great actors, legendary in fact, and somehow they agreed to be in this sad comedy where they are reduced to thousands of old man jokes. Morgan Freeman has a hemorrhoid that is as old as Michael Douglas's girlfriend. Isn't that hilarious? Don't you want 2 more hours of that?
This may have worked with genuinely funny comedians. Maybe Don Rickles or Dom DeLuise, but I do not want to see these great dramatic actors say this terrible dialogue. Nothing they say is funny. Nothing they do is funny. Their friendships don't feel real, and eventually Mary Steenburgen enters the movie as a potential love interest, but I've rarely heard one on one conversations that are so bad. Again, this might be ok in another context, but not with these actors. None of the scenes work, and I didn't feel any sort of affection for anyone. Why is every room overlit and glossy? Why does Vegas seem so bland and uninteresting? Why did I watch this movie! As I think of moments in the movie, I feel embarrassed for these actors. It's 2 hours of humiliation. Did they do it so they could be in the same movie together? That's the only reason I can think of. I don't care if someone offers you $100, do not watch this movie. You will be in a world of hurt.