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December 2, 2019

The Current War (2019) --- “Only One Could Power The World.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) - two of the greatest inventors of the industrial age of the late 1800’s- are engaged in a battle of technology and ideas that will determine whose electrical system will power the new century. Edison dazzled America with his incandescent light bulbs but now he seeks to dazzle us once more. Backed by J.P. Morgan (Matthew Macfadyen), Edison and his assistant Samuel Insull (Tom Holland) team up to build an electrical current that will power an entire city but Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla (Nicolas Holt) see fatal flaws in Edison's designs, thus igniting a war of currents.  As the two sides go head-to-head, whose electrical system will ultimately power the modern world?
     Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (American Horror Story) and written by Michael Mitnick (The Giver, Vinyl), The Current War: Director’s Cut (2019) is an engrossing, entertaining, stylishly shot period drama about three of the most well-known inventors of the 19th century and their race to provide electricity to the world. Edison favors the direct electrical current (DC), which is costly and cumbersome. Westinghouse favors the alternating current (AC), which is cheaper and more powerful but also, according to Edison, is more dangerous and potentially lethal. And Tesla, who also favors AC, seeks to improve on what both Westinghouse and Edison have already created by using electricity to power machines. Tensions begin to rise near the film’s last quarter when the inventors find themselves in a bidding competition to
     Now while the trailer depicts an invention battle between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla, Tesla’s involvement in the film is almost non-existent. He has the least amount of screen time out of three and when he does appear on screen it is only for a small moment, yet he manages to leave a lasting impression and demonstrates even more how vastly different the three inventors are. The one who receives the most screen time is obviously Thomas Edison and it is most likely due to him being more well-known than the other two. The reason Edison is more well-known is because of the many inventions that he has come up with, such as the incandescent light bulb and his patent for sound and vision on film, which has become the basis for motion pictures. We get to see the man behind the inventions and let’s just say that Benedict Cumberbatch (Avengers: Endgame) does not disappoint. He is a poor man desperate for funding and is constantly playing a game of brinkmanship with his banker J.P. Morgan (Matthew Macfadyen). Also in an era before PR, he was unafraid to belittle or badmouth his competitors even if the consequences landed him in court. While he stays true to his allegations that Westinghouse’s AC current is dangerous and lethal, it is ironic that in his desperate need for funding invents the basics for the electric chair, despite his strong vows that he would never build something that would take a life. By the time the credits roll around, audiences learn how important Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla were to the current war and how their rivalry sparked a battle of the brains that transformed and shaped our world today.
     The cast performances are solid and nothing short of spot on. Cumberbatch does not disappoint as the stubborn, arrogant, and self-aggrandizing Edison. Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) is, for once, not the bad guy and he was the perfect person to play the somber and silently-expressive Westinghouse. As for Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Dark Phoenix), I had some reservations about him playing Tesla, who is a Serb, but I feel that he nailed the part, he adds a vital sense of humor to this sort of wild-card character. The rest of the cast - Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Far From Home), Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts series), Tuppence Middleton (Downton Abbey film), and Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice) - were great in their respective roles.
     Overall, The Current War (2019) is an engrossing film about one of the pivotal moments in invention history. We get to see three of the greatest inventors of their time battle it out in a battle of the brains that transformed and shaped our world today. The cast performances were great especially from Cumberbatch, Shannon, Hoult, and even Holland. I highly recommend this film, especially if you are a fan of history-type films.

Final Vote --- 7.8 of 10 stars

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