Hail, Caesar! (2016)

3:25 PM

Lights. Camera. Abduction.
 Hail, Caesar! is directed and written by Ethan and Joel Coen (True Grit, No Country for Old Men) and stars Josh Brolin (Sicario, Everest), George Clooney (Gravity, Ocean's Eleven), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Harry Potter), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers, Lucy), Tilda Swinton (Narnia, We Need to Talk About Kevin), Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, Magic Mike) and Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street). "A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line". Hail Caesar! has received strong reviews but very mixed word of mouth - is it a film that critics understand but everyday moviegoers just don't click with?

I was really looking forward to this film and I hate to say it but I did not like Hail, Caesar. Throughout the film, I honestly wasn't too impressed but I kept making little excuses and telling myself that it was a good film. However, an extremely bizarre twist happened towards the end that tipped it all off for me and really made me think 'this is stupid...what am I watching'. I really wanted to like Hail, Caesar! and had high hopes for it but I guess those hopes were too high as this has to be my first disappointment of the year. 

So I'm going to start with what I liked about the film as there is a lot to like as well as a lot to dislike. So the performances in this film were very strong across the board and I was impressed with all of the talent involved. Some may argue they were here for the paycheque but I think you don't star in a Coen Brothers film for the paycheque - you star in it for your resume and to experience something different. As the only consistent characters, Josh Brolin and George Clooney both did pretty solid jobs - Brolin led the film very well and Clooney was occasionally just as annoying as his tacky outfit but he performed his character well. For all of the talent, it must be difficult to act in a film as characters who are actors themselves. Channing Tatum's song and dance number is probably worth the ticket price alone as it really does lift the film at a time where it does start to lose the audience. Scarlett Johansson's accent was no where near as annoying as I thought it would be which is a good thing. I thought Tilda Swinton's performances were the most interesting as she played twin sisters - other than what they were saying, Swinton didn't really make much effort to make the sisters differ from each other which did make it a little confusing but she still did a pretty good job. 

I did find the film quite funny at times as well. Most of this was subtle humour and wasn't really in the dialogue - some may find the humour in this film a little annoying and stupid but it mostly worked for me. I think the exaggeration of the cheesiness in all of the films that are being created is probably the funniest part of the film and gets the most laughs. 

I always like a film that is about the film industry so I enjoyed hearing about the studio system in the past and thought some interesting ideas were thrown about (the pay of different talent involved, box office determining success of film etc). This was an aspect of Hail, Caesar! that I did enjoy but the novelty kind of did disappear as the film went on. Hail, Caesar! was also a pretty different film that you won't see anything like again which is a good thing as Hollywood does lack originality but sometimes original ideas can try to be too clever that the audience doesn't even get or understand.  However, the film did portray actors and actresses to be really dumb and are just in films because they have to be - they're not in them for the enjoyment, it is work - there is no movie magic at all. 

This brings me on to the negative things I have to say about the film. I didn't get the weird religious and political aspects that the film touched on. I don't know if you were to analyse the film in detail, you may be able to find an explanation but for people who were expecting to watch this film just for entertainment these ideas seem random and a little too complicated and out of place. I think Hail, Caesar! would have probably made a better film without these weird aspects that aren't really explained. However, I did appreciate the little discussion about the portrayal of religion in films which is a topical subject and something that needs to be covered. 

SPOILERS
The biggest problem with Hail, Caesar! is its lack of narrative. The trailer paints the film as an abduction-comedy where the characters are trying to get Clooney's character back. However, as soon as Clooney's character goes missing, nobody does anything and nobody cares - surely if you were the executive of a film company and one of your biggest stars for a big film goes missing, you would be panicking? I really didn't understand this. Despite the cast performing well, many of them aren't really necessary to the plot - the film would have been a lot less complicated without Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton. The film did feel very crowded and I think that didn't help the narrative at all. There are just lots of bizarre moments that don't add to the plot at all and make you think 'what am I watching' - Johansson's pool scene, Tatum's dance number...they are all unnecessary scenes that are either there to give the audience a break or they have some deeper meaning. I think the Coen's have tried to be a little too clever with this one and in doing so, have really confused and put off audiences. Let me talk about the twist at the end though - so it turns out Tatum is the leader of The Future which I thought was a very good twist but then Tatum climbs on a rowing boat into the sea with The Future and then boards a soviet submarine -WTF!?!?!?! None of this was hinted at in the film and it was completely random - I was hoping the film would save itself by shouting 'Cut' and a further twist could be that the whole film was just a film but it just didn't make sense at all. 

Hail, Caesar! is the first disappointment of 2016 for me and I feel like there is something I'm not getting about it that others are but it just didn't work for me - unneeded political and religious aspects, random and bizarre moments that add nothing to the plot and a very messy and almost non-existent plot. Hail, Caesar! is well acted, does have its moments and is something a little different but that doesn't help it from being a generally dull and very underwhelming. 

2.5 STARS
C

What did you think of HAIL, CAESAR? Can you explain what was going on? - COMMENT BELOW

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