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Kristopher Tapley’s “Prisoners” Review Is a Tonally Confused Mess

In response to Kristopher Tapley’s 607‑word review of Prisoners on HitFix 

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/telluride-denis-villeneuves-prisoners-is-a-bow-of-tension-drawn-impossibly-tight

By Rochus Pomponius, Adjunct Critic

In “Telluride: Denise Villeneueve’s ‘Prisoners’ is a bow of tension drawn impossibly tight,” it’s not clear whether critic Kristopher Tapley thinks the movie Prisoners is a masterpiece or a dud. His poor word choice and and lack of tonal control bear the blame for this. At one point, he writes that Prisoners is not a typical studio movie because it is “bloated to a 158 minute run time” and “glacially paced.” He then revisits this fact in the course of the review and implies that it’s one of the film’s strengths. It is very rare to encounter the word “bloated” used positively. Try calling a friend or loved one bloated and see how that works out.

This tonal confusion is evident elsewhere in the review, too. He has much praise for the film’s cast, but follows that up by stating that the movie might not be awards material. Does he love this movie or hate it? Choosing not to rank the film, either with stars or through a letter grade, his overall opinion of the film is even less clear.

Being able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of a film fairly is an admirable quality. However, without tying them together into an overall impression of the movie the end result is a series of observations not a review. In the end, Prisoners’ is a bow of tension is just too confusing and equivocal for its own good.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation

Rochus Pomponius joins the Existimatum staff after a celebrated career as a court jester and the personal entertainer of Emperor Trajan. His studies in rhetoric inform his assessments.