FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, for my final Friday Night Movie Night before I head off to college, I saw “A Hologram for the King,” which stars Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Cast Away), Alexander Black (Tim [Short]), Sarita Choudhury (Lady in the Water, A Perfect Murder), Jane Perry (World War Z, The Three Musketeers ), Tom Skerritt (Alien, Top Gun), and Tracey Fairaway (Enough Said, Eden). It is directed by Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), who also wrote the screenplay. Based on a novel written by Dave Eggers (Away We Go, Promised Land), this film follows the story of a man named Alan (Hanks), who is put in a tough situation when he has to come up with a brilliant presentation in order to persuade the king of Saudi Arabia to buy their product of a hologram. On top of that, personal issues begin to weigh in on Alan’s health, as he feels depressed and off-center in life.
Tom Hanks is a well-respected actor. I’ve appreciated the man ever since my childhood movie “Toy Story,” and am always eager to see a new entry from him. So, when a trailer for “A Hologram for the King” came out, I was a bit pumped. Sure, the preview didn’t boast much, but the cinematography looked unique as well as the story, which seemed shrouded in mystery. I pretty much got what I predicted, that being both a good and bad thing. Although this feature had a lot of interesting components, the plot was rather jumbled, with many arcs conflicting for screen time. When I said that the story seemed shrouded in mystery, I never knew that it would actually be that way. Not to say that this is your typical clue-solving, thrilling mystery. Instead, I couldn’t really figure out what it was shooting for. Tom Hanks portrays a man who has a rather sucky life. He’s been divorced, had to lay off a company’s workers after China beat them, and now has to sell a product to the king of Saudi Arabia, who is a hard man to please. All chips are on the table for his job, and even though he is employed, nothing seems to fulfill him. I admit that this movie has a certain charm. The cast is great all around, and make sure to do whatever they can to bring out such a fickle of a storyline. The cinematography is also really good as well as the location, which is stunning in certain shots. It’s funny, because they actually filmed in Morocco instead of Saudi Arabia due to restrictions. It doesn’t matter, however, because just watching the sand fly across the desert and the shimmering blues of the surrounding water was enough to captivate me. I enjoyed looking at this, but I wish I could say the same great compliments about the plot. The first twenty to thirty minutes were actually nice. There was some surprisingly solid comedy as well as quirky editing that brought me up to speed on Hanks’ conflict. Everything was going smooth until he got to his planning site. This story travels in many different directions, with the writer trying to tie it all up into one theme and ultimate conclusion. Watching this in the moment proved to be a struggle in keeping pace. The further I got into it, the more confused I was as to what the endgame really was. I knew that Hanks had to prepare a presentation for the king, but most of that was thrown out the window halfway through so he could discover things in Saudi Arabia. It may seem on the same tangent, but stepping back and thinking on it proved to be difficult. Yes, Hanks’ life is in a downward spiral and he is stressed, but the execution of his journey to happiness seemed hard to grasp. There was this thing with a bump on his back and soon enough a female interest was thrown in. Towards the end of the release it felt like a different story altogether. Usually, in this case, I would condone people to watching a film with a convoluted plot, but for some reason I felt like there was a meaning behind it all. Through the muddled top layer of plot lied something more serious and genuine. Like I stated, it’s barely visible and hard to grasp, but I could sense it. So, I watched the “making of” bonus feature, which shed some light on the story. Even though it told me what I already knew, the cast and crew who were interviewed spun it in a better way than the film did. After viewing the special feature, I had more admiration for the tale, thus my reasoning for a not-so-harsh score. There is something to take from this story. Although it is incredibly hard to find and isn’t told in a concise fashion, I’m sure that it will be a home run for some. As for me, I can see that the author of the book this was based on had an interesting vision. One that I like, but wish was portrayed better when turned into video form. There are a ton of key components that work and blend nicely into this story. The plot itself just needs work. FINAL SCORE: 71%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: