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News of the World
Academy Award® Nominee
Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents...  View more >

Starring Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Mare Winningham...  View more >

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Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Apr 20, 2021
Tom Hanks is one of those actors that brings credibility to any movie he's in. Seeing his name attached pretty much guarantees that the movie will be worth watching, in my opinion. I'm a fan of westerns, so putting Tom Hanks in a western should be a recipe for success.

After watching News of the World, I'm still trying to figure out how his involvement affected the movie. Is it a compelling story that could be told effectively by any actor, or would the weaknesses of the storyline be more noticeable if not for the performance of a guy that could read a phone book and make it interesting?

I'm going to go with the latter. The story requires the character of a Civil War veteran to be more than just good or bad. On the surface, he's a simple man trying to make his way in the world and running into a child in need isn't exactly helping his situation any. However, much like in the westerns that I've been watching recently, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has a lot of layers to him. Those layers are going to require a talented actor to bring them to the audience in a way that we can appreciate. In movies like Broken Arrow and The Man from Laramie, that actor was James Stewart. Fortunately, we have Tom Hanks taking the literal reins of this movie.

Much like in True Grit, the story wouldn't have gone far without the character of a girl in need and for an actress capable of matching John Wayne's Rooster Cogburn. While she doesn't have the tenacity of Kim Darby's Maddie Ross, newcomer Helena Zengel's portrayal of Johanna/Cicada is spot-on. She is in need, but not helpless. Without her help, she and Kidd would not have survived some of their adventures.

While the ending is not a surprise, it does provide a satisfying closure for these two people who met while on separate journeys through life.

Reading what I have just written, I wonder why I did not give it a higher rating than "Good" and I can only say that it might be the result of needing another viewing at some point. Many of Tom Hanks' movies tend to be a slow-burn affair, where you need to come back to it again in order to appreciate everything that is there. I find myself wishing for additional scenes that may have hit the cutting room floor to fill out what is behind and between these two people. The movie touches upon the treatment of native people by the settlers, but it seems to want to avoid going too far.

Much is made of the impact that the Kiowa raid had on young Johanna and the destruction it brought on her family, but the raid on the Kiowas that were her new family (and the family she was most familiar with) is only mentioned. I can't help but think that seeing things more from Johanna's perspective could have provided a balance that isn't there in the final cut. But, when you have Tom Hanks in a movie, you make the movie a Tom Hanks movie, so I understand the concentration on his arc.

News of the World is a movie I would watch again very easily. It's well worth two hours of your time!

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