News of the World

The second of the films I saw today at Cinemark is the new Western starring Tom Hanks. This film is called News of the World and it places Tom Hanks in a story that we have never seen him in before, unless you count Woody from Toy Story!

Hanks played Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who travels around the West reading people the news for money. He would emphasize the stories, providing the crowds an entertaining presentation. However, on his way, Captain Kidd came across an overturned wagon and a lynched black man in the tree. He found that the man had been taking a young girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who had been kidnapped and raised by the Kiowa people. Johanna did not speak English and seemed like a wild child.

Captain Kidd committed to take Johanna back to her remaining family, an aunt and uncle in Texas. Along the way, the two unlikely compatriots bond over the dangers of the world.

Honestly, the first part of News of the World I found slow and a bit dull. I was starting to worry about the film, but then the story picked up energy and the last hour and twenty minutes or so were extremely compelling and thrilling.

Tom Hanks is always great, but there has to be a big shout out to Helena Zengel, who had a lot of challenges to her performance, in particular the language issues. She was excellent and held her own with her famous co-star. She provided as much emotions with her face and her eyes as she did with her words. It was a seasoned performance from the young lady.

The cinematography of the film is gorgeous, as the land of the west is as much of a character as our two main characters. Director Paul Greengrass gave us amazing visuals to watch as the story progressed.

I did like how straight forward Captain Kidd was with everyone he came in contact with. His honor shined through his actions. This made him an uncommon character in Western movies.

After a slow start, News of the World really picked up and is carried by the performances of Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. It was one of the best Westerns of the year (I only saw one other… )

3.8 stars

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