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TESLA review – Modern technology meets the the mind of Nikola Tesla

Title: TESLA
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Michael Almereyda
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jim Gaffigan, and Kyle MacLachlan
Movie length: 1 hour 36 minutes

Tesla is a bio-fiction, meaning some of the events in the film actually took place and others are fictional to help enlighten the viewing experience. This film opens with Nikola Tesla entering a room on roller skates and a woman’s voice narrating the story. From the start this film doesn’t seem to go in any specific direction other than trying to tell the story of the feud between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, but with a modern technological twist. The narrator is Anne Morgan daughter of J.P. Morgan and is played by Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies, Robin Hood).

Anne is telling the story through modern technology like Google and cell phones, which Tesla predicted to one day exist over his life time. When I originally saw the trailer for this film it intrigued me as something I would enjoy watching, sadly that didn’t seem to be the case. I felt Ethan Hawke was a good choice to play Nikola Tesla, however I thought his performance was incredibly over acted and the voice he used for Tesla seemed like he was gathering fighters for Mortal Kombat. It was hard to even understand what he was saying in the film at times, that being said he still gave a pretty good performance as the inventing tycoon.

Thomas Edison is played by Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Capone), he gives a fantastic performance as the thief of ideas, a couple of his monologues make the film bearable to watch. Now I’m not going to say that this film isn’t worth watching, the idea is fantastic but it just seemed to fall short of the greatness it could have been. There is a scene where Thomas Edison is explaining to Nikola Tesla that alternating currents are a waste of time and there is no future in them. While doing so the two of them are enjoying very modern ice cream cones, of course the cones in their time would have been rolled from wafers not pre molded. This film is definitely educational, and if anything, I recommend watching it simply for the Karaoke scene where Ethan Hawke as Tesla singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is entirely cringeworthy.

This film used modern technology and modern music to tell a story as old as the light bulb itself. I commend them for following through with the idea, however I felt unfulfilled once I got to the end. I have to say lightening did not strike with this one, I’d give it a 4 out of 10 rating and that’s mostly for the performances from the actors. 

TESLA will be in theaters and available via On Demand Services starting on August 21st.

Do you plan to see the movie? Let me know in the comments or chat with me on Twitter.

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