Movie Review: The Genius Club
By Donald James Parker
I received my copy of The Genius Club with great anticipation. I'd been waiting for its arrival for several months. As soon as I got in from the mailbox, the DVD went into the machine (well – after a bit of wrestling with the adult-proof packaging). My blood was pumping double-time and my cerebellum (or should that be cerebrum) was ready for an intellectual treat. My review would be written right after I finished watching. Unfortunately, the reality of great expectations set in before I reached “The End.” Whenever there is something I consider wonderful before it's seen, heard, read or tasted, I’m afraid I raise the bar for the judgmental process. With my out of the ionosphere hopes for total enjoyment, my excitement was dashed like a football fan watching his team get trounced in the "big game." I put the review on the back burner with the possibility of it falling off the stove altogether. I was bummed because I really wanted to like this one a lot. Just to make sure I was not off base, I surfed the Net to find another review of the flick. The one I found was very well written and said exactly the same thing that was in my rough draft sketched out in my memory cells.
The title and the synopsis of the story indicated we were going to see geniuses at work. This is perhaps where I found the most fault with the story. People with super high intellects aren't expected to carry on inane conversations. The prospect of the stimulation of hearing profound thoughts made my mind water, but in the end I ended up dehydrated. Fast forward several months. I was going through my movies this week and sorting them out. I found my copy of The Genius Club. Just for jollies I decided to watch it one more time to make sure it was as bad as I remembered. Here I am at my computer the very next morning writing the long overdue review.
This time I expected it to be bad. Of course, I enjoyed the film more. Human expectations are real troublemakers. No wonder marriages struggle. This time I noticed things that escaped me during my first viewing such as the tears dripping down Stephen Baldwin's face when he told the story of the death of his mother. The intensity of the emotion of the Home Security agent struck home this time. I tuned in on the tranquility and humility of the only obvious Christian in the group. The things that bugged me before were still there – but this time they were perhaps overshadowed by the emotional ambience.
Technically I found nothing wrong with this film. There were some great shots of Washington, D.C. from the air. The close-up shots of the emotional scenes were well done. The acting for the most part was superb. The mad genius who threatened the lives of everyone in Washington DC was brilliant. Some of the camera work capturing his conversations was captivating. Stephen Baldwin gave us his normal stellar performance. Ali, the woman suffering from cancer was very good.
Could this have been the great movie I was longing for? With a few tweaks I think it would have been. It's extremely important for a movie to make sense to me. I really struggled with a whole room full of geniuses that are unable to answer a riddle that I not only figured out but considered to be elementary in nature. Viewers are expected to suspend their disbelief to a certain extent, but they shouldn't be forced to abandon all perspective of reality. One of the overwhelming themes of this movie was an obvious rant against the evils of society, big business, and government. The Christian message in the film was late in arriving, but it did arrive before the curtain fell. Ironically, the ending of the film gave me the impetus I needed to finish a novel for which I was working on and struggling with the denouement.
Should you see this film? Yes. Should you expect it to be something you want to watch every year like It's A Wonderful Life? I don’t think so. Remember, folks, Frank Capra's don't come along very often. And even Capra had some movies that aren't something you'd care to watch over and over.
About the Reviewer: Donald James Parker is a Christian novelist in his spare time. See his seven books and more at www.donaldjamesparker.com?tcp