‘Emancipation,’ movie review by EW, is a self-centered, ponderous affair; Will Smith’s Oscar bait is nothing more than dead on arrival

It’s likely Will Smith’s face will be permanently impaired by the blow he took to Chris Rock’s head at the recent Oscars ceremony. That small smack will likely reverberate through the actor’s entire career.

One ought to and are supposed to admire his total devotion to his role in Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Emancipation’, a film depicting the slave trade that claims be a drama but instead ends up being a period-action movie. But being part of this neo-Blaxploitation film is unlikely to help Smith’s already troubled reputation.

In interviews coinciding with the release, the character had requested that he not be judged by his performance alone, that a lot of other people had worked on the film, and that the shadow of this slap did not haunt it. He performed admirably, I thought. But even if the ghost of this slap was not hanging over the film, it would not attract much attention.

I do not consider it a bad film, myself, although I think there is enough emotion and pathos throughout the plot of Smith’s performance alone to make his film worth selling to his fans. Fuqua possibly thought directing the movie like a action and thriller would be the best way to achieve this particular film’s objective, but in his heart he rather wanted it to feel in addition to perform like a slavery drama. The end result is a movie that has no personality, and it fails to work as either an action-or-thriller flick or a slavery drama.

The Plessy v Ferguson case overturned the segregation of American schools, which was a criminal policy inspired by the life of one remarkable Peter, referred to as Whipped Peter. He escaped slavery in Virginia after hearing of the Emancipation Proclamation and joined the Union Army to oppose the Confederacy in the Civil War. Almost nothing is known regarding the man himself; his tanned back is marked with whip marks, which circulated widely among abolitionists.

Smith, Peter’s role in the movie revolves around him quoting the Bible to his family, and at one point proclaiming, “God loves you.” This movie is rife with religious themes, as Peter finds himself engaging in conversations with other, less devout workers about the existence of God and the strength of His existence. He certainly believes in Him.

He says while he suffers cruelties and beatings at the hands of barbarians, non-believers who embellish biblical verses to explain to the slaves the agony they inflict. Certainly, God works mysteriously. The biblical precept does not seem to have any rationality. This is the non-believer in me who would take this opportunity, Peter would have seemed much more interesting to be cynical after having witnessed all the horrors he witnessed.

It’s customary for a slave drama to contain nearly every scene you would expect to see. Nazifying the N-word is fine to carry out, and making the slave be subjected tightly to confinement is typical of these methods. Certain stereotypes regarding African-Americans are customarily applied, and they’re kept basically the same way that poultry are kept.

Human horribleness has proliferated throughout history, along with the slave trade being one of the most disgraceful things to ever occur. Butֵren to compensate for this, the movement has often bordered on abuse. Slavery pornography, I think, is the word I am looking for.

Documentary on Emile Zola’s novel could have been profound and dramatic, but the film, ‘Emancipation,’ wishes it felt more like a lower-rung Oscar nominee if it were constructed according to what sort of program a calculating machine would produce astray. It looks as if director Smith kept it around as a kind of second option if ‘King Richard’ did not rate highly.

It has that “pretence” look and frequently seems to appear like an imitation of one of HBO’s crime dramas. Visually, the film is for the most part but not completely black and white, another logical option to imitate the feeling of a pretentious film, but it does not justify its existence.

Toward the beginning of emancipating, the movie is neither speedy nor engaging enough to be an alright battle film. It has anything new to say about the nature of slavery and emancipation but neither the good thing about freedom is good nor the popularity of slavery problematic.

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