The story of Thomas Edison’s work with electric power generation and distribution are about to be brought the big screen in a new biopic called The Current War. Benedict Cumberbatch (Avengers: Infinity War – Part I) leads the cast as Thomas Edison and he’s joined by Tom Holland, fresh from his adventures in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Katherine Waterston, who has picked up a fair amount of acclaim following her performance in Alien: Covenant.
The film had its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier in September 2017, so there are a fair few review scores in already. It’s been a fairly mixed response though as of yet with some as low as 1.5/5, ranging up to highs of 3.5/5, so it hasn’t exactly lit up the boards as of yet. You can check out the trailer below to see what to expect from the film.
The Current War has a UK release date of Friday the 5th January 2018, more than a month later than its arrival in cinemas in the US on the 24th November 2017. It’ll be out in the UK on the same weekend as two other big name biopics, The Greatest Showman featuring the story of P.T. Barnum and All The Money In The World, which looks at the kidnapping of billionaire J. Paul Getty’s grandson.
The plot for the film is set to be yet another versus concept, portraying the battle for dominance of the US electrical utility market. Edison’s main rival was fellow businessman George Westinghouse and the two essentially slugged it out for the prize of supplying the world with the first electric power system.
Obviously, the history of the battle is fairly well known, so there won’t be any twists to look out for, but you’ll get to see it all played out on the big screen with full dramatic effect. Edison is widely regarded as America’s greatest inventor, but it doesn’t look like much of this will feature in the film, as it focuses mainly on the big business race that was the war of currents.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Thomas Edison, following on from his previous biopic roles as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and William Bulger in Black Mass, with the latter also featuring his efforts with an American accent. With his role as Dr. Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange, he’s had a fair bit of practice with a US accent, but it still sounds a bit like a work in progress in The Current War trailer.
Michael Shannon (Loving) stars alongside Cumberbatch as his rival George Westinghouse, and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse) as Nikola Tesla. The cast also includes Katherine Waterstones as Westinghouse’s wife Marguerite Erskine Walker, Tom Holland as business magnate Samuel Insull, Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game) as Thomas’ wife Mary, and Matthew Macfadyan (Frost/Nixon) as banker J.P. Morgan.
The film hasn’t been certified in the UK as of yet, but it’s been given an age rating of PG for the Toronto International Film Festival screening.
The film has been directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who’s previous credit as director was Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, so it’s a big leap between the two styles of film. Michael Mitnick is responsible for writing the screenplay with Harvey Weinstein, Basil Iwaynk and Timur Bekmambetov producing.
Chung-hoon Chung is the director of photography, David Trachtenberg editor and Jan Roelfs the production designer. Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann have created the original score, including the high drama that runs throughout the trailer below. You can keep up with more from The Weinstein Company on its official Twitter page.
A strong cast has been brought together for The Current War with a lot of experience in period and biographical films for a number of the stars, not least of all Benedict Cumberbatch. However, we’re not convinced he was the right choice for the role with the accent sounding a little forced and the overly theatrical nature of his movements in the trailer below.
Tom Holland put in decent performances in The Lost City Of Z and In The Heart Of The Sea, but he’s much better in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The role of Samuel Insull also seems a little too big for him at the moment, as do a number of the other casting decisions with Nicholas Hoult playing Nikola Tesla and Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan.
The biggest exception is Michael Shannon as Edison’s electric system rival George Westinghouse. He may still be unforgiven for his portrayal of Zod in Man Of Steel, but the rest of his filmography is exemplary and he could well be the film’s saving grace, especially with the importance of the character to the overall history behind it.
However, it’s easy to see why it hasn’t picked up rave reviews with the stilted trailer, but equally it seems obvious that it will connect with some people more than others, which could explain the wide range of review scores. If you’re into the history of science or period biopics then it might be one to add to your watch list.