Popcorn rating: 3/5
Ah, we all love a good love story don’t we? No, really, we do. Especially when, say, we are 15 and that story is a love triangle starring everyone’s favourite vampire du jour, Robert Pattinson, looking suitably winsome and scruffy, every piece of his gorgeousness saturated in technicolour. In fact, so very beautiful is Water for Elephants that I actually started to think I quite fancied Mr Pattinson myself; so heroic, so endearing, so consistently on camera was his rugged, handsome face.
Then the movie finished and, akin to waking from a heroin stupor, I recovered my senses and realised that what I had actually endured was, well, kinda boring, in a Sunday afternoon movie kind of way.
Water for Elephants tells the story of veterinary student, Jacob Jankoski (Pattinson) who, disillusioned with life after the death of his parents, takes to the road (or rather the railways) in Depression era US. After accidentally falling in with a travelling circus, Jankoski finds himself taken under the wing of circus boss and unstable control freak, August (Christoph Waltz, who can be seen not bothering to stretch his acting chops very much in similar roles in Inglourious Bastards and The Green Hornet).
All is going swimmingly until Jankoski finds himself increasingly drawn to August’s enigmatic and (handily) drop dead beautiful missus, Marlena (Reece Witherspoon), a golden haired goddess who regularly drapes herself in such finery as to give argument to the fact her wardrobe and hair alone may have actually caused the Depression.
So far, so blah, blah. Throw in an elephant to give doe-eyed Jankoski and the tragic Marlena summat to bond over and mad old August something to beat up, so the audience knows exactly who are the goodies and baddies in this movie and there you are, Bob’s your uncle. Beginning, middle and oh so predictably happy ending. Yawn, sorry – did I just nod off?
Sure, Water for Elephants isn’t a bad film. Pattinson holds his own, exuding a sweet charm as the naive hero, no mean feat when he is rarely off screen, and Witherspoon is a seasoned enough actress to hold up her side of the bargain. Even Waltz does a plausible enough job of replacing Christopher Walken as everybody’s favourite psycho (and who can blame him, when it’s bringing in the Hollywood bucks) while the rest of the cast comport themselves accordingly, wringing out emotions and laugh as and when required.
The movie looks absolutely stunning too. From the sheer vibrancy of the colours to the pitch perfect lighting (seriously Witherspoon almost glows at certain points), Water for Elephants truly is a feast for the eyes.
Unfortunately, like so many pretty people out there, Water for Elephants just doesn’t have any substance. It is, let’s be frank here, a bland old love tale, predictable, even boring in parts, an advert for the pretty people that is just all too forgettable. Sorry, what were we talking about?