After a harrowing digital-projector snafu scuttled a Los Angeles critics’ screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last Thursday (dozens were killed in the explosion), the movie finally screened on Saturday, and yesterday Variety posted two reviews of David Fincher’s massively anticipated old-man-baby drama. The verdict(s)? Like practically everyone else who’s seen it, Todd McCarthy liked it, was impressed with the film’s technical accomplishments, and predicts probable box-office glory. Even so, something felt off: “For what is designed as a rich tapestry, the picture maintains a slightly remote feel … It is possible that the picture might have been warmer and more emotionally accessible had it been shot on film.” Similarly, Anne Thompson enjoyed it but had a problem with the CGI: “The film’s central performance is in great part a visual effect … That accounts in part for the movie’s high cost (well above $150 million) but is also its primary limitation … The movie is not entirely satisfying.”
Lest you worry, though, this thing is still going to win like a million Oscars. In Contention’s Kristopher Tapley attended the screening and is predicting as many as fourteen nominations (including acting ones for Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson) — but he, too, said the film left him “strangely cold” without much explanation. So what’s the problem? Do the special effects just look weird? Was it the digital projector? The temperature in the theater? Will the movie look better when it’s screened on actual film? Or is there really something wrong with it? Is it just not as schmaltzy as Forrest Gump (which was also written by Button’s Eric Roth)? That sounds pretty good to us!