Emma Watson and Tom Hanks star in The Circle, a movie that brings about interesting ideas about social media obsession and pushes that aside in favor of a lousy story populated with even lousier characters.
There’s a wealth of talent involved. Director James Ponsoldt is coming off of The End of the Tour and The Spectacular Now and, aside from Watson and Hanks, there’s Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, and the late Bill Paxton in juicy roles.
But in this movie, everything good comes with something weak it seems. Paxton is one of the film’s strongest pluses as Watson’s troubled-laden father. But here’s a wasted Gillan in a personality-less “best friend” role and Coltrane forcing out every line of dialogue in some awkward scenes with Watson.
When it comes to the story, moments like Watson getting used to her spotlight and Coltrane’s life getting ruined (aka the character development, lol) don’t exist. We just see these characters in the aftermath of their transformations. I guess Watson’s parents are along for the 24/7 ride? Add it to the list of interesting scenes I don’t get to see.
The Circle entertained me even with its mediocrity, but it’s always annoying when a golden cast and crew are stuck with some lazy storytelling.
Watson is hired in The Circle, a technology company that seems like Apple, Google, Facebook and the NSA Reddit page’s group orgy disaster. They build incredible technology, carry a popular social network and are in full support of monitoring the entire world. The movie shows tech’s moments of triumph (a saved life here, a caught criminal there) as well as the moments of disaster (stalkers following your live tweets here, accidentally live-streaming your parents having sex to your followers there).
Watson’s character is in support of the tech craze. She ends up livestreaming her entire life, enjoying the benefits and injuries of popularity. We’ll see friendly and family relationships fall apart and how people all over the world react to having the esteemed pleasure of watching Emma Watson all day. So what if the channel tunes in to her disabled Dad trying to get it on with Mom occasionally? Hand me that damn popcorn and let me watch Emma Watson all day please.
Hanks and Patton Oswalt are the founders of The Circle. Hanks’ character is the Steve Jobs in the keynote, putting himself out there as a major face in the company. His character, and especially Oswalt’s, don’t contribute much other than that to the story. To Watson, Hanks is a smooth talking guy that tells her what is up and hands out some fancy little ball cameras. To the audience, he’s Tom Hanks in a movie with Patton Oswalt sitting next to him.
Instead of capitalizing on the pros and cons of tech giants and social media worship that the movie hints at, here’s some boring characters scratching the surface of what could be done with this material. There’s a fair bit of — sometimes ridiculous — drama in The Circle to keep you entertained like parents having sex in front of millions and drones causing car accidents and killing people that sort of fun stuff. But the praise doesn’t extend much farther than the almost guilty pleasure fun that comes with the drama in this movie.