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Dublin: 2 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

Michael Fassbender's new film The Snowman is getting torn to shreds by reviewers in the US


fassy23 Source: Universal

MICHAEL FASSBENDER’S NEW film The Snowman is a serial killer/crime thriller based on the novel of the same name by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø.

It co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer and JK Simmons:

Source: Zero Media/YouTube

Source: 9 Media/YouTube

While it’s already been out in Ireland for a week, it’s only today that it’s got its big release in the US – and the reviews have been, for the most part, unspeakably bad.

Take this headline from Vox’s review

snowman3 Source: Vox

It doesn’t hold back one bit:

it is the most transcendently awful movie I expect to see in 2017, and this is the year I saw The Emoji Movie.

And the cast isn’t to blame, apparently:

Set in an eternally snow-blown Norway, but with an entirely English-speaking cast doing an assortment of accents, The Snowman resembles nothing more than a full-length parody of an awards-bait movie produced for yucks by Saturday Night Live. That feels like the only explanation for the profound mystery surrounding The Snowman: how a cast practically toppling over with talent ended up in such a ridiculous movie.


t3 Source: Universal

The Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang was probably even more scathing:

In ‘The Snowman,’ a wretched waste of time and talent from [Alfredson], two detectives track a serial killer who likes to hack up women’s bodies and then scatter the pieces all over: a head here, a limb there. The movie, perhaps subscribing to the fallacy of imitative form, adopts this dispersal method as a narrative strategy: a scene here, a flashback there, chunks of exposition strewn about like severed fingers. You could try piecing it all together, but really, what would be the point? Dead is dead.

Rolling Stone went so far as to write their review in the form of an open letter to Michael Fassbender

snowman4 Source: Rolling Stone

Not something an actor wants to see.

They’re clearly fans of Fassbender’s work, but once again bring up the issue of accents in The Snowman:

if we’re being honest, we were curious to hear you do a Norwegian accent, although you don’t do one here, no one really does, which is probably for the best, though someone should have maybe mentioned this to J.K. Simmons, who seems to be doing some sort of attempt at a Scandinavian lilt-meets-evil-industrialist voice thing, unless that’s just him with a bad cold, in which case all apologies, we realize it’s below freezing over there.

But had some redemptive words for the Irish star:

Look, we don’t know if you’ve seen the film, or if you have Internet access wherever you’re at, or which stage of the Actor’s Kübler-Ross model you may be at. Hopefully it’s acceptance; probably it’s anger. We’re here to tell you: It’s not your fault. You’re going to get through this.

The phrase “worst movie of the year” has been thrown around by critics with abandon

Then there’s the mystery of Val Kilmer’s role in the film

As Slate reports, something very weird is happening:

The first intimation that The Snowman is going to be a cataclysm of truly epic proportions comes when Val Kilmer enters the picture as a detective investigating the same killer’s crimes in the city of Bergen nine years earlier. Kilmer’s Gert Rafto sits silent as a man tells him about his missing wife, and when it’s his turn to speak, the film cuts abruptly to a shot from behind Kilmer’s head so he’s only visible as a silhouette. His shoulders jerk as he talks, like a puppet being operated by an unseen hand. It’s only subtly disorienting at first, but then you realize that the voice that’s purportedly coming out of Kilmer’s mouth doesn’t sound like him at all, and when the film finally cuts to his face on his third (of three total) lines, it’s clear Kilmer’s lines have been redubbed by another actor.

He’s in infamous company

The plot thickens on the disaster that is The Snowman when the director Tomas Alfredson revealed to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation that they didn’t even get to film the whole script – estimating that 10%-15% was missing:

Our shoot time in Norway was way too short, we didn’t get the whole story with us and when we started cutting we discovered that a lot was missing.

Oh. God.

IndieWire noted that even an actor on the top of his game recently like Fassbender couldn’t save it

snowman5 Source: IndieWire

Everyone knows he’s better than this:

The idiosyncratic performers might have boosted it, yet where Fassbender brought new, uncanny qualities to bear during his recent “Alien” android antics, here he’s stuck playing Composite Scandie Detective. Standing amid wide open spaces in woollens and a parka, his Harry stares frequently into the middle distance, sporadically smoking for added notes of disquiet. Watching him wheel around one scene atop a library cart, we’re struck chiefly by the actor’s own boredom, and it’s a sticking point when your leading man appears bored an hour into a possible franchise-starter.

It’s rare to see such universal disdain for every aspect of a film.

The last time we saw that was probably The Emoji Movie – and that’s not great company to be keeping.

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David Elkin

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