While awards season will run for a little longer than usual when it comes to 2020’s cinematic output, that hasn’t stopped huge contenders from debuting in their traditional end of year slots. The Tom Hanks-led Western drama News of the World is one such movie that’s headed to a theatrical debut, in the year of great uncertainty. And as critics have already seen the reteaming of Hanks and his Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass, audiences now know if it’ll be worth partaking in this western frontier drama.

CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg saw the film for the home team, and his official review was quite positive. Mr. Eisenberg had the following to say about Greengrass’s latest film, which hammers home the point that we’ve got another prime Hanks performance lying ahead of us:

While Captain Kidd is a character who has seen combat, the greatest weapon he possesses is his charisma, wit, and gravitas, and nobody delivers that like [Tom] Hanks.

As if that wasn’t enough praise from our own bullpen, we’ve got a reaction from Sean O’Connell as well. His take is similar in enthusiasm for News of the World, and is a little more focused on the big picture of the film’s story. Mr. O’Connell’s reaction can be seen below:

News of the World tells the story of Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, and his quest to bring a young orphaned girl (Helena Zengel) to safety. As Captain Kidd’s profession is as a news reader, who travels from town to town reading the world’s news to audiences all over, there’s a strong journalistic thread that runs through News of the World’s sweeping drama. This is something that Movie Nation’s critic Roger Moore truly appreciated, as he shared these thoughts on the movie:

A Western parable for these "troubled times," a story of race and unrepentant racism, men of violence who won't give up that violence and the power of a free press to rectify that.

Western’s aren’t for everyone though, especially with the more modern flavor of that genre tending to be a bit more introspective. The image of the John Wayne dramas of old still hangs high over the head of a movie like News of the World, even if the trailer shows a bit more of a dramatic approach from the get go. Peter Debruge at Variety fell into that school of thought with his response to the film, and that led to this overall sentiment in his write up:

Favoring scenery over incident, Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks reunite for a long, slow road movie across the state of Texas, co-starring a 10-year-old girl who barely speaks.

Idobi’s Sherin Nicole closes out this initial round of reviews, as her take on News of the World sounds like it indicates that the film will be enough of a middle of the road experience that folks should enjoy it at their own pace. That might not bode well for suggesting they see it in a theater, but it sounds like a potential VOD rental isn’t too much of an ask, as Ms. Nicole said this in her reaction:

...this film is pleasant enough but not impactful enough-even while Hanks and Zengel give it just enough charm to make it worth watching.

So there you have it, folks. The level of appeal that Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass’s News of the World will have with you depends on your love of westerns, and quite possibly your tolerance for a paced narrative in the desert. This movie debuts, only in theaters, on Christmas Day, so check your local listings carefully, if you feel safe enough to head out to the movies. Though if you’re looking for something a little more your speed around the holidays, take a look at the 2020 release schedule to see what else is in store for the rest of the year’s box office.

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