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HTF REVIEW: "Hearts in Atlantis" - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 10, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Hearts In Atlantis

    You know, when you you're young you
    have moments of such happiness you think
    you're living someplace magical like Atlantis
    must have been.

    I could watch and listen to Anthony Hopkins
    forever. He is one of the greatest actors
    of our time. Sometimes he can play the part of
    a hideous monster lying behind the eyes of a
    charming well-mannered man. Other times, he can
    play the most gentle, loving individual that
    can move you to tears with his words.
    Hearts of Atlantis is based upon a small
    story written Stephen King, of a strange visitor
    that enters the lives of a widowed Mother and
    her son.
    The year is 1960. Bobby Garfield (Anton Yelchin)
    lives alone with his Mother (Hope Davis). Bobby's
    father has been dead these past six years and left
    the family with no money.
    One day a mysterious elderly man agrees to rent
    the room at the top of the house. His name is
    Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins), a quiet individual
    who befriends Bobby with a secret about special
    powers and the low men that are after it.
    Director Scott Hicks has taken Stephen King's
    story and turned it into an absolutely wonderful
    film that intertwines a tale of the supernatural
    with a story about growing up, losing someone
    you love, and keeping that love in your heart
    forever.
    How is the transfer?
    Two words: Warner Brothers. The studio has
    been batting a thousand by releasing movies that
    look absolutely incredible. This is another one
    of those transfers that looks flawless. In fact,
    where the quality of the transfer really counts is
    in the many dimly lit scenes in Hopkin's bedroom.
    Normally, scenes like this would show grain within the
    darker colors. Not a hint is seen. In fact, there
    are some beautiful scenes of a carnival lit with
    all the colors of a rainbow against the darkened
    blue sky that look breathtaking. This anamororphic
    (1.85:1) transfer simply looks gorgeous.
    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack also sounds
    very good. A great soundtrack of popular 50's
    music enriches the entire front soundstage.
    Overall separation is very distinct and the
    speakers pick up even the tiniest of noises. The
    rear speakers are used very sparingly for rear
    music ambiance and some nice crowd effects during
    a baseball story.
    Special Features
    In addition to a feature-length commentary with
    Director Scott Hicks...
    Dressed in a leather jacket, Anthony Hopkins
    gives an interview to Director Scott Hicks in
    Remembering Hearts of Atlantis. Hopkins
    recalls the audition where he first met Anton
    Yelchin (young Bobby), and immediately knew the
    kid had a Tom Sawyer feel to him and was perfect
    for the part. Hopkins admits how he never was
    at ease with children, and how this affected the
    dialogue with the young actor. Hopkins goes on
    to talk about through his own difficult childhood,
    how he got into acting classes through a local YMCA
    and went on to receiving a scholarship. It's a
    very candid 29-minute interview that shows you
    a side of Hopkins that you never saw before.
    A Stills Gallery takes us on the set
    of the film with many beautiful color pictures
    taken on the indoor and outdoor sets. Most of
    the pictures include Director Scott Hicks who seems
    to have a genuine love for the child actors that he
    is working with in this film.
    The original Theatrical Trailer is also included.
    Final Thoughts
    Perhaps the greatest reward of being a reviewer
    is that I watch films that I may normally have
    never considered watching. I can easily see why
    Hearts of Atlantis may have been ignored.
    The film was not heavily promoted, it wasn't the
    normal box-office magnet, and perhaps the poster
    didn't convey enough about the film for audiences
    to want to see it.
    I wonder how many members of this forum saw the
    film theatrically.
    What is so great about DVD, is that a film like
    this will take on a second life now that people
    have the opportunity to view it in the privacy of
    their home. I think this movie is going to surprise
    a lot of people. It's a really superb movie that
    will make you reflect upon your own life, and
    perhaps like myself, will have a few tears rolling
    down your cheek by the time the end credits roll.
    Don't miss a minute of it - not for all the world.
    Release Date: February 12, 2002
     
  2. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    great book, brutal movie...I'll pass on the dvd
     
  3. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Screenwriter

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    Just watched this myself. The transfer is impeccable(although it is 2.35, not 1.85 as stated in the review). The sound was adequate for the material, but nothing to show off. The movie was great though. Really somber tone like all of Scott Hicks' films, but not as good as Snow Falling on Cedars.

    Highly recommended disc though!
     
  4. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    As an adaptation of a novel, or that sub genre of adaptations, an adaptation of a stephen King story, Hearts in Atlantis is a poor example. On its own merits as a standalone film, its an above average flick, enjoyable, especially for anyone who hasn't read the book.

    Hearts in Atlantis is probably my favorite stephen King novel, so I had been looking forward to seeing the film since I'd heard it had entered production and anthony hopkins was Ted, a perfect casting choice. I was even more excited when I saw the poster, which I felt captured the dark brooding spirit of the novel, I we3nt to see this in the theater eager and hopeful, I wasn't sorely disapointed, but I was very frustrated. You see most all the elements are there for a really great film, this could have nearly been a film on the level with Stand by Me and Shawshank Redemption, instead it falls somewhere int eh upper middle ground. by no means is it a bad film, but the film is not a stephen king story, all the little touches and characterizations that king really excels at, and are on of the highlights of the source novette, are, for the most part, gone from the film version.

    To put it simply, they took a Stephen King story and ruthlessly excised all the Stephen King elements, and what had been a dark, brooding, touching, and insightful coming of age story became an uplifting nostalgic and sentimental coming of age story. There's nothign wrong with those kind of films, I enjoy them myself, but when I know what Hearts in Atlantis could have been it nearly makes me weep. The cast is spot on perfect, the direction is surehanded, the look is right, the cinematogrphy could have been darker, but it would have underscored the novlette perfectly to be shot in the manner the film is in. But it falls apart in the script, a real disapointment from william Goldman. The parts that work best in the film are the parts that come stright out of the King text, it's where goldman 'compensates' to make it more 'filmable' that the film takes it's turns for the upbeat. The lame 'inspiring' sports story for instance. The scene where Bobby carrys Carol to his house bears comparison as a perfect example. In the book, this journey is terrifying and compelling, Bobby is in shock Carol horribly injured and he battles interneal demons and soemwhere finds the courage to get her to his house. Int eh film, bobby draws inspiaration from a sports story (lovingly made obvious by the use of sound at this point) and crawls with carol on his back up a steep hill in the woods, aww makes you all misty eyed doesn't it, gotta love those sports heros.

    Like I said there are flashes of brilliance, the three card monty scene, the scenes in the bar, the moment when Bobby's mom walks in, but these only serve to painfully illustrate to fans of the story how much potential was there.

    Imagine for a moment a Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne just has generic movie posters, sure the movie still works, but Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and the others add something that elevates adn underscores the moment perfectly. Or if Andy never wrote letters and had a library built, it's a subplot that's not all that necessary, it could easily be written around, after all we need to only show that he runs the books. But the subplot adds so much depth to andy's character that it becomes essential to making the film what it is, without it the film is lessened. That is the equivalent of Lord of the Flies importance to Hearts in Atlantis, by no means is it necessary and the story is still told well without it, but it is not what it could have been had it been left in to add depth and shading to the characters.

    another separate problem with the film is the generic CIA agents. Ted is obviously something special, if he had the mysterious dark tower agents after him it would have added another level of suspense to the film and added depth to Ted's character.

    But most all of these criticisms are moot, in the version that was filmed books have no importance, Bobby's mom giving him a library card is reduced to merely illustrate her relative two dimensionality as a selfish mom, so there is no 'need' to have lord of the flies, or bobby's and ted's relationship revolving around books. Ted is merely supernatural in a vague sort of way, in the uplifting melodrama presented we have no need to have a further focus on the supernatural aspects. Bobby is a nice good boy, in teh film, lacking any flaws, there's no reason he should go out and brutally injure Carol's attacker with a baseball bat in revenge, there's no reason for him not to get the bike, it makes teh audience happy, there's no reason to show that the relationship between bobby and his mom is still not effective, only put aside because of their trauma.

    As a nostalgic melodrama Hearts in Atlantis is an enjoyable film, somewhere alongside the ranks of Sandlot, Now and Then, and Radio Flyer but it doesn't come close to matching Stand By Me, The War, or How Green was My Valley (to name a few paragons of the genre). This is a good movie many familys with older children (10 or so and up) can enjoy together, there are few flaws with the film as a standalone film, but it is satisfied with being average instead of striving for greatness.

    That said noone should be forced to watch the trailer before seeing the film, it is a shoddy poorly done trailer that manages to spoil the film completely, I can't imagine why anybody who saw the traielr woudl want to see the final product.

    Adam
     
  5. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I saw this in the theater and thought it was an "OK" movie. However, I will check it out on DVD. After all, I was on a date and my mind was a little preoccupied with something else. [​IMG]
     
  6. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

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    Was wondering when someone online would finally review this DVD seeing as it's coming out on Tuesday.

    I really enjoyed this film when I saw it back in the fall. Sounds like WB has made a fine DVD out of it. That Hopkins interview sounds like it's worth the cost of the disc on its own. Can't wait for Tuesday.

    - Guy
     
  7. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Definately getting this one. I thought it was really well done.
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It seems that those that read the book

    first did not enjoy the movie.

    This review is based on the premise of not

    seeing the movie and thoroughly enjoying it

    based on its story and entertainment value.
     
  9. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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    Oh yeah, now this is one of my favorites of the year. I absolutely love this movie and the book. Anthony is the greatest actor ever!
     
  10. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    I would have to agree with John_S, reading the book first absolutely ruins the movie experience, as the book is incredible, and a lot of it's best elements were not included in the film. So if you're interested in this one, see the flick before you read the book, but even if you hate the flick, STILL read the book, mmmkay?
     
  11. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Ron,

    I did see it when it came and loved it.

    Alex S.
     
  13. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    By all means it is a good movie, but it could have been great. The novelette that Hearts in Atlantis is based off of "Low Men in Yellow Coats" is, in my opinion, King's best work, and some of the best elements of that novelette are missing from the film. Some are still there, the scenes in the bar, at the fair, especially the three card monty, and bobby's mom returning, are all high points of the movie and push it above average, adn make it more enjoyable than the run of the mill nostalgia flick. I enjoyed the movie but was frustrated that it could have been better given the quality of source material, cast, direction, and photography.

    Like I said It was good and very enjoyable, it could have been great, but anyone who hasn't read the book is in for a real treat of a movie, and readers of th book will enjoy when it matches the book but be disapointed where it fails to live up to the source material's dark and brooding nature.

    Adam
     
  14. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Thanks Ron - this was on my list to see but unfortunately it slipped by due to the mixed reviews. Definitely will be picking it up to rent though.

    Having read the book already I have mixed feelings. The good thing is I could watch Hopkins read a grocery list and still be entralled.
     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I'll actually buy this movie sight-unseen.
    I'm really curious about how I'll feel about this movie. I'm a huge King fan, but I did not think Hearts in Atlantis (or even just Low Men in Yellow Coats) was among his best work. I did enjoy the reads, but it just wasn't...vintage King in my opinion. So I don't think I'll have the same sentimental attachment that others who loved the book will have. To be honest, I don't remember much about Hearts anyway, so I will probably be coming from more of a first-time perspective anyway.
    Oh, and Fry's has it advertised for $15.99, so that don't hurt, either. [​IMG]
     
  16. Dave Anderson

    Dave Anderson Second Unit

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    Poor excuse for a movie. Yes, this is coming from someone who read and loved the book. I've listed to the unabridged audio book about 5 times. I just loved it - excellent character development. The movie should just be called 'A Guy and a Boy' and not have King's name on it - I'd like it more then.
     
  17. MichaelW

    MichaelW Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron -
    A question. Do you only post reviews of movies you like or think are worthwhile?
    If that's the case, I certainly have no problems with that. Kind of like a "Hey, I just saw this and you shouldn't miss it" kind of thing.
    I'm just not sure I've ever read a negative review from you. [​IMG]
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Michael,
    I can understand your concern, and
    this question has come up many times before.
    I'll answer your question in this manner....
    Click Here
    Read the following reviews...
    * Angel Eyes
    * Soul Survivors
    * The Man who loved Women
    These are the first few titles that pop in my
    mind that I did not like, and expressed as much
    in my review.
    People that have consistently read my reviews
    over the past few months know that I have a very
    open mind to what I watch. I generally like
    everything I see.
    I'll admit in the beginning of my review career
    I only picked and reviewed movies I liked. But
    over the past few months, I have forced myself
    to watch titles I thought I would hate, and
    found myself actually liking.
    You can rest assured that DVD product I review
    on this forum are being reviewed without bias.
     
  19. Yumbo

    Yumbo Screenwriter

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    frankly,

    this was the most disappointing movie I saw this week.

    very simple, lacking almost everythign one would expect.

    well...just that. if others enjoyed it, great. The ONLY thing I liked were the classic songs.

    Watch "O" or even Hardball which has more interesting elements.

    Don't Say A Word is rather generic as well.

    cheers.
     
  20. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    Lou said: The good thing is I could watch Hopkins read a grocery list and still be entralled.

    You're in for a treat then. All the participants sound like they are reading a grocery list throughout.
     

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