Saturday, May 7, 2016

It's WAR AND PEACE for dummies -- as that mediocre TWC/BBC cable series hits video

Well, TV reduces so much else to garbage, why not Tolstoi, too? It takes only a few minutes of running time before the shock of the dumb that is this new rendition of the stalwart classic, WAR AND PEACE, makes itself plain. (The latest version uses an ampersand in place of "and." That, along with its utter mediocrity, distinguishes it from its predecessors.)

We're in one of those vast ballrooms favored by movie-makers, where stands much of the cast of this current endeavor pretending to be "period" but looking -- from the women's hairdos to their make-up -- clunky and fake and sounding, thanks to the expository and leaden dialog, even worse. Of the three leads, only Paul Dano, above center, even begins to brings his character of Pierre to something that rises above cliche and a pretty face.

Even acting stalwarts like Gillian Anderson and Stephen Rea (above) are reduced to pushy embarrassment by these proceedings. The less said about the two other leads -- Lilly James (below) and James Norton (shown at bottom)-- the better. Cast evidently for their "beauty," which is but so-so (especially when compared to others who've essayed these roles), the two barely register on the talent front. (Ms James was much better as the recent Cinderella.)

TrustMovies must admit that he lasted only two out of six episodes (which totaled 90 minutes) before giving up entirely. Life -- particularly at his age -- is too short to waste with ersatz twaddle like this. (That's right: It's not even genuine twaddle.) But, yes, it is pretty to look at. For awhile.

At least the producers had the sense to hire an actual Frenchman, Mathieu Kassovitz (above), to portray Napoleon. Congrats, guys. And whenever the proceedings threaten to lag a bit, they toss in a sex scene. How very Tolstoi.

A co-production of The Weinstein Company and (oh, the shame of it) the BBC, War & Peace will be available this coming Tuesday, May 10, on Blu-ray ad DVD -- for purchase and/or rental -- via Anchor Bay Entertainment.

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