Sunday, October 05, 2008

REVIEW: Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius

Year: 2008
Director: Marc Abraham
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Jake Abel, Tim Kelleher
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

I honestly didn't know about this film until couple days ago when I heard my friend talking about it. I then decided to look up the trailer for this film and see what its all about. I liked what I saw from the trailer and the film looked very interesting. I wasn't pumped to see it on day one, but it looked like a film that I wouldn't mind watching. So when the film came out Friday, my friends and I decided to watch it simply because their weren't other major films that looked interesting to watch.

Plot Outline:
Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear) submitted an invention to each of the big three auto companies about the modern intermittent windshield wiper. The companies each promptly rejected his idea then turned around and put the device to use. The enraged inventor spent several decades attempting to collect on his patent, and mounting lawsuits that traveled all the way to the Supreme Court; he eventually collected over 30 million dollars for his obsession.

The story for Flash of Genius is pretty good. The film is based on the fact that Robert Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper and how a powerful automobile company like Ford tried to steal his invention. The movie seems pretty accurate with what I read about on the real Robert Kearns maybe with some minimal changes. The plot is simple and very straight forward. If you read about the film than you will obviously know whats coming next. The film is also not for everyone as I can see alot of people calling it boring and I will admit that their are a few dull moments, but still an enjoyable film to those with enough patience. As much as I enjoyed the films story, I cant help but think this film would have been better suited as a mini-series or direct-to-home video film. I mean their really isn't enough material here to push out a 2 hour film and yet that's exactly what this film is. Other than that, I really don't have any issues with the film. I thought the dialogue was interesting and mixed a good amount of humor that worked nicely. I also enjoyed the ending and thought it closed the film just the way it should have.

Greg Kinnear plays as the main character of the film, Bob Kearns. He does a great job here and one that I enjoyed very much. I thought his character was interesting even though hes somewhat stubborn most of the time and thought Kinnear played Kearns wonderfully. Lauren Graham plays as Phyllis Kearns and shes alright in her role. I haven't really seen her in a new role in awhile and I only saw one episode of Gilmore Girls in which I thought she was average at. I think shes pretty average here, but still enjoyable in her role. Dermot Mulroney plays as Gil Privick and he too is good in his role. I thought he was a good supporting actor in the film and fairly enjoyed his performances here. Jake Abel plays as Dennis Kearns and I thought he was very good in his role, probably the second strongest in the film in terms of acting. He was pretty serious and smooth in most of his on screen time. We also have Tim Kelleher playing as Charlie Defao and he was just plain funny.

The visual look of Flash of Genius is simply great. The movie has this 1960's look to it that really makes the film look really nice. I think the production crew did an awesome job for the films setting. The film was just released a couple days ago and its source is an excellent condition. I didn't detect any film grain in the day or night scenes. Colors look good for the most part, but the contrast seems alittle too hot. It makes the film look somewhat orange in the day scenes, but I think this was to make the film seem more 60-ish. Black levels are pretty good, but don't hold up too well in darker scenes. Detail is mostly great with alot of close up shots revealing alot of clarity. The film is never razor sharp, but its got a good amount of detail from beginning to end.

The film is somewhat of a mixed bag in the sound department. The films score is composed by Aaron Zigman who also composed music for other low budget films such as Alpha Dog and Good Luck Chuck, but his score here feels wasted. Theirs hardly any music in Flash of Genius. I know this is suppose to be a biopic, but even then I would have liked some music to break away from the many silent moments. The film isn't music-less and their are a few scenes where the films score catches on, but their aren't enough and they ain't loud enough. The films bass is pretty much nonexistent, but that really doesn't come as a surprise considering the films story and pacing.

Flash of Genius isn't for everyone and it never was. The films story isn't going to cut it for everyone simply because its plot doesn't sound interesting on paper. The films story is pretty good if your patient and really pay attention to whats going on. The cast is great for the most part with everyone delivering slightly above average performances. The visual look of the film is very accurate to the films time period. It also features a good amount of detail and some good colors. The soundtrack is pretty much useless since we hardly get any music in the film. I really wish this film was made as a mini-series or a direct-to-home video film. Its just tough forking out $10 bucks for a film like this when it clearly doesn't have enough material to justify that money. Still, this is a good film that I enjoyed and would recommend it to those looking for slow movies or have $10 bucks to burn.

Grade: B-


Ross said...

Flash of Genius is nothing less than TERRIFIC. Besides being a compelling story, it also celebrates INVENTION. Garage Inventors have made this country great--their innovation, creativity and ingenuity are what set this country apart from the world. And don't think garage inventors are only from a time gone by--check out the book "GADGET NATION: A Journey Through The Eccentric World of Invention" ( it showcases more than 100 off-beat gadgets and the inventors behind them. From Bird Diapers to Slippers with headlights--its a fun read filled with information--and it honors today's garage inventors as they reach for the American Dream.

micky said...

nice review farzan. ill probably check it out on dvd since it doesnt sound like its worth forking over 11 bucks to go see it

Farzan said...

@Ross: I agree for the most part. The film was really interesting and somewhat compelling, but it just didnt have enough material to warrant a 2 hour film.