DVD Reviews | Feb 10th, 2007

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Starring Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney
Written By: Paul Bernbaum
Directed By: Allen Coulter
Studio: Universal/Focus Features
Buy on Amazon.com link

I had no idea this movie was even being made until I saw a trailer for it in front of Superman Returns. I thought it was clever marketing to have a trailer for this in front of Superman Returns. After all, this film is about the mysterious death of the actor who once played Superman. Hollywoodland is an interesting crime thriller that sort of reminds me of L.A. Confidential.

Hollywoodland is based on the true story of George Reeves (Ben Affleck), who played the Man of Steel on the TV show ‘Adventures of Superman.’ This story is one of Hollywood’s most notorious mysteries because no one knows how Reeves was killed. He died from a single gunshot wound in his bedroom of his Hollywood Hills home. Reeves leaves behind a fiance, a mistress, and millions of fans who are upset & shocked over his death. George Reeves mother takes it upon herself to hire a private investigator for 50 bucks a day to get some answers. She doesn’t believe it was a suicide and thinks he was murdered. The private investigator to arrive at the scene and get hired is Louis Simo, played by Adrien Brody. Before this job, Simo worked smaller P.I jobs where he just watched a bunch of cheating couples. He quickly learns the hard way that getting answers in Hollywood isn’t easy, and its also very dangerous. Simo is hot on the trail, and tries to put all the pieces together. Who pulled the trigger? Was it his lover? maybe his scheming fiance? Perhaps it was a scary mob-tied, MGM studio executive? But maybe it was just a depressed suicidal Reeves who did himself in?

From not knowing any of this story, I thought it was really interesting. I love who-did-it murder mystery movies, but you usually find out who did it in the end. I guess we’ll never know who or what killed George Reeves. The studios and the cops wanted to label this as suicide and move on. It was kind of hard to follow the movie at times because it kept going back to flash backs & then present day with Brody’s character. I thought the subplots weren’t that interesting and they should have just focused on the death of Reeves more. I really don’t care about Simo’s family and his son who’s upset over the death of Superman. But I guess that’s part of the movie, finding out about how someone died and then looking back on your own life. I loved how they showed how old Hollywood was, and any movie fan would appreciate a film like this. I never realized how TV was frowned upon back in those days among movie stars & movie studios. That’s why Reeves ends up doing Superman because he doesn’t think anyone would watch it, and then millions end up watching. But it was also nice to see movie stars at old Hollywood hangouts and how things were done back then. I just think if the movie was re-structured to have it just be a George Reeves biopic, it would have been better. I thought Adrien Brody did a great job with the character, but it wasn’t the stuff I wanted to watch. All the stuff with Ben Affleck, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins was the cool stuff to see. Affleck certainly rebounded after a quite a few crappy films but he was great as Reeves. Diane Lane was stunningly beautiful but also did a excellent job as Toni Mannix. Even though they made her look older than she is, she still looked amazing. But then again, I do love the older ladies.

The bonus features were pretty good. They were short featurettes but they covered a lot of ground in that short of time. Each featurette shows how they did a lot of research with old Hollywood and George Reeves’ life. You find out that Ben Affleck became almost obsessed with George Reeve’s life, listening to tapes of his voice on set and watched all his work. You can tell in the movie, he took on the role and did a lot of research. Besides three featurettes, there’s also audio commentary with director Allen Coulter, and some deleted scenes. If you enjoyed the film, be sure to watch the extras after it.

Hollywoodland is a good murder mystery drama and is worth watching on a Sunday afternoon. The movie could have been better if they just focused mainly on Reeves and not on the private investigator who was trying to figure out how he died. I still enjoyed the movie and felt the acting was really strong. If this is something you might like, then check out Hollywoodland.

Re-creating Old Hollywood
Hollywood Then and Now
Behind the Headlines
Deleted Scenes
Feature Commentary with Director Allen Coulter

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)

English, Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: I liked all the scenes with George Reeves and Diane Lane. Seeing the different murder scenario
Rating: NR
Running Time: 127 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: