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the current war


DIRECTOR: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (me and earl and the dying girl)
STARRING: benedict cumberbatch, michael shannon, nicholas hoult and tom holland


REVIEWER: lyall carter

The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world.

Due to legal wranglings, The Current War has languished in the ‘Coming Soon’ category on film websites for years. Although the story is interesting and the cast superb, The Current War doesn’t quite give the kick it could of. 


Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse - the greatest inventors of the industrial age - engage in a battle of technology and ideas that will determine whose electrical system will power the new century. Backed by J.P. Morgan, Edison dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan. But Westinghouse, aided by Nikola Tesla, sees fatal flaws in Edison's direct current design. Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on risky and dangerous alternating current.


First things first. I love it when you go to a film and learn. There was so much in The Current War that I didn’t know: the battle between Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla, the lengths that they went to in that battle and just how electricity to the masses came about. Truly interesting and informative stuff.


But you can’t quite shake the feeling that there's either too much crammed in and this would have made a better limited miniseries or that the film didn’t have a very firm direction in mind. 


It seems to waver between making it a film about the battle between Edison and Westinghouse or who received the contract for the World Fair in Chicago. Although you can engage with the film and be really entertained, this lack of clarity of direction threw me a little. 


Cumberbatch is on top form, bringing a Sherlock esque feel to the role, while Shannon brings his classic underplayed powerful performance. Nicholas Hoult is fantastic as Tesla, completely nailing the accent.


Although at times it appears to have a slight lack of direction, The Current War sparks to life with an intriguing tale and an all star cast. 


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