Polarizing ‘Emancipation’ reviews indicate the Will Smith comeback isn’t ready for takeoff just yet
Director Antoine Fuqua and star Will Smith have urged audiences not to take the latter’s infamous Oscars slap into consideration when it comes to judging dramatic thriller Emancipation, but that was never really an option.
The thought of Smith’s star falling so far that one of Hollywood’s most popular names of the last quarter of a century would need to beg forgiveness and begin mounting a comeback designed to bring him back into the good graces of both the public and his peers would have sounded insane this time last year, but that’s what happens when you physically assault the host of the Academy Awards during a live televised broadcast.
Putting the off-camera indignation to one side, is Emancipation good enough to reignite and rehabilitate Smith’s standing in the industry? Based on the first wave of reviews to have made their way online in the aftermath of the film’s premiere, it would appear that the would-be awards season contender is destined to split opinion right down the middle.
Emancipation is a powerful story heavily inspired by and indebted to real events, but it’s been drumming up some negative buzz over the last week or so that has nothing to do with Smith’s road to redemption. It’s important to separate the art from the artist in cases like this, but the consensus beginning to form already is that Apple’s substantial investment may not be good enough to capture the imagination in the way everyone was expecting when it was first announced.