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Reviews Film / Tenet

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09/10/2020 02:55:57 •••

Mph Mh-Mh Mphphph MPHPH!!

I've been hearing a lot about how Tenet, the sci-fi espionage thriller from Christopher Nolan, was hard to follow and understand. Now I understand why, and it has nothing to do with the weighty, mind and time bending conceit. There's an episode of Red Dwarf in which the heroes visit a happy world where time travels backwards. The dead return to life, people get younger, and the only downside is that every Christmas a fat guy comes down the chimney and steals children's presents. If you can get your head around that, you won't really have a problem with Tenet's plot, which involves a bunch of heists and the selective rewinding of time.

No, what makes the movie incomprehensible is the sound. The sound is utterly atrocious. I'm not exaggerating when I say I could only make out about a quarter of the movie's dialogue, and I was this close the entire time to getting up and asking the staff if there was some sort of problem with the screening. A cursory check online afterwards has confirmed that, no, this is all a deliberate decision on Nolan's part, and most audiences have had the same problem. What's wrong is that the mixing is terrible, with music so loud that you can feel it vibrating the fillings out of your mouth, often playing inappropriately over dialogue scenes where the actors are muttering or wearing gas masks (Oh look, yet another Nolan film with incomprehensible gasmask wearers. The man has a fetish, and one very well served in these days of COVID).

It's a shame because I was enjoying some of the ways the movie plays with its novel ideas. At first we are introduced to bullets that shoot backwards, returning themselves to the gun. Then we discover people, cars, and practically everything else can operate on this basis. There's some incredible choreography involved to pull off some of the movie's more complex action scenes, and I'm dying to see the making of. It's all very classic Nolan action, tied into a classic Nolan story of serious, cold blooded bachelors going on heists. This time the bachelors are trying to stop some future doomsday event, that is going to somehow involve a Russian guy; a man played by Kenneth Branaugh who looks distractingly like Charlie Brooker. And of course, there are some extravagant set pieces involved, the most impressive involving a real Jumbo Jet driving straight through a building.

Do I recommend Tenet? No. The movie is far too aggravating to enjoy in its current state. You should not be expected to pay good ticket money on it, and you might want to wait to see if Nolan caves in to complaints and offers to fix the issue. Or wait until a DVD is released, and you can slap on some vital subtitles.

09/07/2020 00:00:00

Just so we\'re clear, where and how exactly did you watch Tenet? I normally assume people who post reviews soon after a movie\'s release watched it in theaters, and those who watched it half a year or more later did so at home, but given the current state of movies, it wouldn\'t be good to make assumptions.

09/07/2020 00:00:00

In this case I wrote the review half an hour after seeing the film in cinema. Most cinemas in the UK are only showing two or three movies (Tenet being one of them). In my local Vue cinema, they're showing this film every 45 minutes. So if you book ahead, you will most likely end up at sharing a screen with very few other people.

But yeah, this is the first big screen film I've seen since Knives Out. Most stuff I watch via Netflix or Amazon Prime these days.

09/07/2020 00:00:00

I see. I just wanted to confirm where you saw it, since it\'s possible that the problem was with where you were seeing it, although judging from your review, that isn\'t the case.

Theaters can have good sound quality, but they aren\'t always reliable; I had to walk out of Shazam in the scene in which Billy returned home after transforming for the first time because the sound was too loud(a problem that I didn\'t have when I went to see Avengers Endgame a few weeks later).

09/08/2020 00:00:00

From reading around, I think that some of the newer cinemas with a higher quality standard of audio, set to the right levels, might have less of a problem. From a reviewing perspective, I can\'t recommend a movie where people have to do the leg work of finding a cinema pristine enough to get the movie sound to work.

09/08/2020 00:00:00

I can confirm that the horrible audio quality is 100% deliberate. Nolan has a weird fascination with pumping up the SFX and music to such a point that you can\'t understand a word anyone is saying.

09/09/2020 00:00:00 there a YMMV or trivia piece or even a MAIN PAGE TROPE that can be used to describe this movie being basically earrape (horrible sound mixing is better for certain memes, not serious high provalue works)?

09/09/2020 00:00:00

^ In a way that wouldn\'t be complaining? Probably not.

09/09/2020 00:00:00

Stylistic Suck maybe, but considering Nolan seems to think it\'s actually good it probably wouldn\'t apply

09/10/2020 00:00:00

Might work as Misaimed \"Realism\" if they are wearing mouth masks and their voices are realistically garbled.

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