in ,

‘Winters Tale’ review : Ladyhawke and Nicholas Spark’s mutant embryo

If frisky Ladyhawke went to town on a fertile Nicholas Sparks, ”Winter’s Tale” would be the ‘after’ picture, and Akiva Goldsman would be the one administering the mutant embryo it’s lethal dose.

Every time you take a puff, you’re warned of the dangers of smoking; before you man oeuvre your missile into mission control, you’re advised to wrap your module in latex; and to deter excessive gambling, gaming venues have rid of traditional ATMs – replacing them with machines that restrict your spending and make it harder for your fingers to relentlessly dry-hump the withdrawal button. But where’s the surgeon general of cinema? Where’s the latex sock you’re advised to wear on your head before you get screwed by an awful movie? Where’s the picture on the back of the cinema tub of what happens to your insides after you sit through “Winter’s Tale”? The Fugees aren’t the only ones killing them softly these days – Hollywood’s getting away with murder!

Based on, I’m guessing a much better book (in fact, the book sounds beaut!), this genre-jumping weepie-wannabe tells of a master thief of the 1800s (Colin Farrell) who, with ‘Angel’ horse (yes, wings and all!) in tow, meets the love of his life – amidst trying to crack her safe. Thing is, the pretty flaxen-haired beauty (Jessica Brown Findlay) is dying from consumption, so the insta-relationship is deemed short-lived.

Hot on the thief’s tail is a brutish demon (Russell Crowe, channeling Ray Winstone-on-a-bender), hoping to get to the stealer of hearts before the good guy can fulfill his expected destiny of ‘saving’ the dying lady…

… but yes, there’s more!

Before you can say ‘Connor MacLeod’, our hero – sans great love – is whisked off to modern-day New York where, in addition to dodging his perpetual imp adversary, he discovers his destiny is still at play.

…Or something.

And did I mention the airborne Angel horse? What about Will Smith’s booming interpretation as Lucifer, in what amounts to about ten minutes of screen time? And have I spoken of the revivification divan? Oh, and wait until you experience the moving power of microfiche!

Like an impulsive “Dirty Dancing” star, his one had so much going for it..but then it had to get and get a nose job, marking it ultimately unidentifiable and unexceptional. In fact, like walking in on Sloth from ‘The Goonies’ getting undressed, you’ve not seen anything quite like it – and hope not to again.

Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar Winning screenwriter of “A Beautiful Mind” (and the chap that turned the ’90s ‘Batman’ series to crud with the ill-fated “Batman & Robin”), makes his directorial debut here. And he don’t get by with a little help from his friends.

As all in Hollywood do when it comes time to pissing away millions, he’s invited his famous friends to the party. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, of “A Beautiful Mind”, do Goldsman their one last favour, Will Smith, of Goldsman’s “I Am Legend”, “I,Robot” and others, turns up – if only so he can finally see the words ‘Fresh Prince of Darkness’ in a review (mine, as it turns out), William Hurt – who starred in the Goldsman produced/written “Lost in Space” (1998)- brings a bottle of esteem, and the Angel horse.. well, I don’t know how the dude knows the Angel horse, but one thing’s for sure, the mare wishes it galloped into a “Luck” reboot instead.

One can only assume that the talented troupe of actors all really like Goldsmith – either that or the version of the script they read was much better than the shooting script (which has clearly been butchered by Sam more times than Alice the maid). This is where Brad Pitt was in 1992 when he signed for “Cool World”, this isn’t where award-winning superstars – and angel horses – like Crowe and Connelly share their skill base. But, guess we’ve all done things for people we later learn to regret – or so the guy from Twitter who deactivated Charlie Sheen’s account tells me.

Look, there’s obviously a lovely story at the heart of book “Winter’s Tale” – one that pumps out timeless ballads like ‘true love can’t be stopped’, ‘we are all special’, ‘destiny is done’ and ‘Angel horses rock’ – but Goldsmith’s interpretation substitutes a lively, flowing, red-thumper with an unsolvable capcha code.

News Briefs – February 13, 2014

Winter’s Tale