Here is the transcript for my review of The Snowman, which aired Oct. 25 on Episode 89 of The Bridge.
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What’s up everybody? I’m Joe Baress and this is “Five Minutes in the Film Room.”
Since 2014’s Gone Girl, October has been the stomping ground for psychological thrillers based on books. Gone Girl was a critical and box office hit so naturally studios have tried to piggyback off its success.
Last year, The Girl on the Train was pegged as the next Gone Girl and the trailers looked great. It sported a strong cast that included Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Luke Evans. I was pumped to see it. One of my most anticipated films of 2016.
It was all right. I enjoyed it, but it was nowhere near the greatness of Gone Girl.
This year’s Gone Girl entry is The Snowman. Again, the trailer looked great and the cast is stellar with Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, again, and J.K. Simmons.
But, when it comes to its quality, would The Snowman be more like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train? … Let’s go to the tape.
The good thing going into The Snowman was my expectations were rock bottom because of the 9 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes so it really had nothing to lose with me. In that sense, the movie exceeded my very, very low expectations. So yeah, it was bad.
Michael Fassbender is awesome in everything. I always want to see a movie that stars him. He’s very good here, too. The problem is there’s nothing for him to work with. We are given basic details about him. He falls asleep in random public places like a homeless person. He smokes. He has family trouble. That’s all we know about him. He’s the main character! We learn nothing about who he is or why he is the way he is.
The same with Rebecca Ferguson. Ferguson burst onto the scene with her performance in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, where she was arguably the best part of the movie and able to handle the physicality of role. She’s since nailed roles in Florence Foster Jenkins and Life so she has shown the talent. She does well in The Snowman, too, but she’s wasted in a role that has no depth.
J.K. Simmons, an amazing character actor, an Academy Award winner, has no purpose in this movie other than to throw another big name in the cast. It’s not his fault. The character is simply a plot device. Nothing more. That’s just sad.
Speaking of sad, Val Kilmer is in this movie. I believe he was recently battling cancer so that may have had to do with his performance, but it seemed like a strange choice. His lines were ADRed and the timing was off on the sound and movement of his mouth. On top of everything else, his character was also pointless. Another plot device. I would love to know what happened here, but ultimately let’s just hope Val is doing ok.
There’s a real lack of mystery to the plot, which really makes The Snowman drag. The trailer pretty much tells you why the murders are happening and the first scene in the movie tells you why he does it. All that’s left is who done it? And that’s what this movie ultimately becomes. A poorly written who done it film. That’s just not interesting and that’s not what this movie sold itself as.
The Snowman is also very difficult to follow, not because it’s intelligent. There are pointless subplots and a real lack of focus that makes the movie confusing. There’s literally a subplot about Oslo, Norway, trying to host the Winter Olympics that serves no purpose. As I said earlier, there are characters who are there just to throw you off who the real killer is. And the big reveal of the killer just doesn’t add up to what we have seen throughout the film. I feel bad for the book because I’m sure author Jo Nesbo does a better job in print.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Snowman is a disappointing mess that wastes it’s great acting talent. The story isn’t cohesive and the mystery isn’t interesting after the first five minutes. I loved Gone Girl, but the psychological thriller genre has devolved ever since. So how was Gone Girl successful? First and foremost, Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, also wrote the script for the book. Who better to write the screenplay than the person who came up with the idea in the first place? Who would understand what needs to be done more than her? The Snowman was written by three people, none of them were the author of the novel. Also, one of the best directors in the business who constantly captures the dark tone of films perfectly, David Fincher directed Gone Girl. So until we get the right team up for this genre behind the camera and in the writers’ room, maybe it’s time to put it to bed.
I’ll rank The Snowman as a three-and-out. Every drive starts with potential, but this one ended with a punt after two incompletions and a sack.