Early reaction from critics over Ben Affleck’s performance as TV’s first Superman, actor George Reeves, in “Hollywoodland” is very favorable. Ben, no stranger to the occasional flop, just ask him about “Gigli,” is superb as the man who made Superman an icon for generations of viewers.
Critic Josh Tyler of Cinema Blend said that “Hollywoodland is one of the most complex, original, based on a true story movies of the year. By avoiding the usual pitfalls of other straight biopics and turning Reeves’ life into a multi-layered, gumshoe murder mystery, it achieves something altogether unique. [Director Allen] Coulter’s compelling film is thick with intrigue and full of energy as it plows headlong into a heavy exploration of fame and failure in Hollywood.”
“A mature and satisfying noir-mystery with Affleck finally redeeming himself in a supporting role,” so says Victoria Alexandder of FilmsInReview.com.
Jules Brenner of Cinema Signas calls “Hollywoodland” an “exploitation of a Hollywood mystery from past times [that] earns its keep with stylish taste and proportion. It goes wrong –way wrong– only in its length.”
“Ben Affleck exudes sleaziness, Diane Lane is slyly manipulative and Adrien Brody scores as the scummy gumshoe…it’s an enigmatic and intriguing tale.” Susan Granger – Modamag.com
“A thoroughly involving modern noir, filled with hard-boiled dialogue and ambiguous characters – plus it proves what a great actor Affleck is!” Kevin N. Laforest of the Montreal Film Journal
Emanuel Levy gives “Hollywoodland a B+. “Inspired by the mysterious death of actor George Reeves (TV’s Superman), Coulter’s debut is an intriguing film noir that unfolds in a Rashomon-like yarn with alternative theories, seen from the POV of Adrien Brody as the weary and cynical detective.”
But of course, as with any film dealing with controversy in Hollywood, there will be those who won’t like it or get it. for example:
“This noir take on George Reeves’ death has its high points but doesn’t quite fly.”
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter.
And this from critic Nick Schager of Slant Magazine, “A polished but puny imitation of yesteryear’s detective yarns.”
Affleck’s performance in this film is applaudable, but it is Diane Lane, who plays Reeves’ lover, and Oscar winner Adrien Brody, the private detective investigating Reeve’s mysterious death, that have captured the spotlight. Bob Hoskins co-stars as the greedy and jealous producer out to destroy Reeves’ life and career.
As we mentioned two weeks ago on our show, “Hollywoodland,” originally titled “Truth, Justice and the American Way” before being forced to change the name by Warner Bros. who owns the film rights to everything Superman, is about the different ideas and theories on how and why George Reeves died back 1959 from an apparent gunshot wound; especially after it was discovered that he was gloveless, yet none of his fingerprints were on the gun and two other bullet holes were found lodged in the room.
While his death was treated as a suicide by the police, many have doubted that reasoning and to this day have questioned the police department’s motives and some of the shading dealings that were rumored to be going on in Reeves’ private life and with some big-time Hollywood money people.
“Hollywoodland” premieres next Friday, September 8, 2006.