State of Play, has everything it takes to make it a great film. It has an amazing cast, cutting edge issues in politics and business, and although it’s a fun ride, it failed to out-do it’s source material. If you haven’t seen the TV show, this is a good solid escapist movie. If you have seen the TV show, you’ll know what you’re missing. The TV show, was better than the film, no questions asked. Apparently what the film needed more of, was time on the screen.
The biggest disappointment (and I more than anyone HATE saying this) was Helen Mirren‘s character, who seemed to be nearly chopped out of the movie. They cut out everything that made the Editor interesting in the TV series. Finally, women are taking men’s roles, and then the destroy the character so much that it’s completely pointless. In the TV series, the Editor (played by Bill Nighy) is the one pushing his writers to do more, taking control of a situation with his wits not his volume, faking his own firing in order to get the story through, and busting everyone’s balls to get to the “real” news. All that Mirren’s character gets to do is say “where is my story?” 50 different ways. You’ve got Mirren people! Give the woman some lines!
The movie also plays with the idea of new vs. old media. Rachel McAdams‘ is the Globes online reporter who eventually gets won over by Russell Crowe‘s old school, print methods. All I could think was, why not post what you have online, keep updating the news as it divulges, and then put the final big story in print? You would build up a following of interested readers, who felt invested in the story, and could then sell a hell of a lot more newspapers because people who read “new media” would have a reason to buy them. Chances are a lot of people wouldn’t find that story in the paper because they don’t read the paper anymore (it’s sad, I don’t like it, but it’s a fact), so why not use the Internet to your advantage?
In the film, they don’t use online reporting because they don’t want to “scare away the story”, but then they could have used it in another way. Favoring old media is fine, but if you’re going to bring up the debate about old vs. new media, give us something new to think about instead of just the same old argument. Find an edge, show us how they can work together, or go for a cool new way to use Internet media to help print. Give me something fresh. I felt like the only reason they added this was because they cast Russell Crowe who is much older than Rachel McAdams, and they needed to have an excuse for tension.
That all being said, I’m being rather hard on the film. It’s good, I was just a huge fan of the TV series and thought they could have stepped it up a notch. Overall, the film is solid. Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams are quite the cute duo. Both of them give wonderful performances, as we’ve come to expect from both actors. Jason Bateman shows up as the asshole PR guy and it’s amazing. Ben Affleck and Robin Wright Penn are both great and in my opinion under-used.
The film is in theaters starting April 17th. Check it out if you’re ready to watch some “damn fine reporting” old school style…