Are you psyched to see Captain Jack Sparrow as a real-life gangster? Johnny Depp plays an infamous criminal in Michael Mann's Public Enemies, which opens tomorrow. But in a world where giant robots draw huge crowds, "do audiences want to see Depp as a fairly realistic, non-fantasy version of Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger?"
That's the question asked by Anne Thompson, a veteran industry analyst. She describes the movie as only "fitfully engaging ... often flat as a pancake." She says that Michael Mann's "biggest misstep here is the same as the Wachowskis with SpeedRacer. His pursuit of what interests him formally may leave audiences behind." Like David Fincher's Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Mann's own Collateral and Miami Vice, Public Enemies was shot on high-definition video. Thompson claims: "When moviegoers watch a period film, no matter how authentically recreated, they aren't expecting it to look like this. There's something jarring about the way Public Enemies shoves us into the past."
I don't know about you, but I could use a good shove now and again. I've enjoyed Mann's last two films, and the trailers for Public Enemies have done a good job of whetting my appetite. The cast, including Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and Billy Crudup, looks solid. I don't have any preconception about how period films should look -- I want a good, well-told story with interesting characters. How about you? Do you have certain expectations about how films set in the past should look? Do you want to see Johnny Depp as a "fairly-realistic, non-fantasy" bank robber?