Everyone's a critic: 'Hollywoodland'

Friday, September 15, 2006

Two stars (out of four)

George Reeves' -- who played Superman on TV from 1951-1957 -- life was cut short by a single bullet when he was 42 years old.

"Hollywoodland" is about a detective, Louis Simo, who is convinced that it wasn't suicide, but a homicide. The story fades in and out between the times when Reeves was alive, both when his career was at the top and as it spiraled downward during his last days, and Simo investigating leads and uncovering some surprising facts along the way. The movie also deals with who had motives to kill Reeves and how the crime could have been committed.

I was not impressed with the all-star cast and the acting. Reeves played by Ben Affleck is laughable at best. He severely overacts the part. The movie really drags in places, and some of the scenes could have been left out completely without losing any of the story. I did think that the sets, costumes, period cars and music were all done with great detail. Too bad the acting wasn't.

I cannot recommend seeing this movie in the theater unless you are really curious about Reeves' life and death.

-- Dan Zimmerman

Three stars (out of four)

Welcome back, Ben Affleck! After a series of duds, Affleck redeems himself in the charismatic role of the first TV Superman. George Reeves struggles with the fact that his TV fame has ultimately stereotyped him as the Man of Steel. Even his affair with a movie exec's wife (Diane Lane) cannot propel his career into fast-forward; the realization that he cannot be cast outside the mold of a superhero drives him to the brink of insanity.

Did his hopelessness over his stunted acting career drive him to take his own life? Adrien Brody portrays the investigator, who retraces the final hours of the night in question. As he digs deeper, all is not as it seems; too many coincidences and un-investigated suspects weave a tapestry of shadows and doubt on the original case. The characters were well cast and thoughtfully portrayed in this classic "who done it" film.

-- Jerry Swan

Three stars (out of four)

"Hollywoodland" is a uniquely compelling exploration of the hunger of man for fame, but movie goers must remember truth is this is still one of Hollywood's most infamous unsolved real-life mysteries in order not to be disappointed.

If you can enjoy the movie as a terrific lineup of talent telling a historic story with great scenery and doing a flawless job of catching the mood of the era, then this is for you. It's a good film because you come out of the movie thinking about it and playing the various scenes over in your head, trying to determine who you think "did it."

I didn't leave the movie feeling "warm and fuzzy," nor was it the action-packed thriller I expected. But for those who enjoy the talent of today's Hollywood crowd, it was a believable and well-done period piece.

-- Carolyn Kempf

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