Robert Zemeckis’s newest film focuses on the true story of Mark Hogancamp, a victim of a brutal attack who uses his own doll creations as a way to cope and help himself through recovery. Zemeckis is known best for directing the groundbreaking films; “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away” and “Back to the Future”. However, with “Welcome to Marwen”, his directing talents don’t shine as bright as they do in his other films.
The film stars Steve Carell in both live action and animation. In his live action scenes, he’s Mark Hogancamp. In the animated scenes, he’s Cap’n Hogie, a miniaturized version of himself as a World War II soldier who fights for both his own life and for the women of Marwen; the fictional town his doll creations are set in. Throughout the whole film we see snippets of his personal life and the struggles that come with his recovery, and animated recreations of what Mark visualities as he takes pictures of his Marwen dolls.
The concept of “Welcome to Marwen” is pretty captivating. However, if you really want to understand what Mark went through, seeing the documentary on his life would most likely be much more informative. “Welcome to Marwen” attempts to add heart and humor to this story, and unfortunately much of it falls flat. There are clear positive intentions behind this screenplay (also written by Zemeckis), but the film never seems to be what it’s trying to be.
Steve Carell delivers a great performance as always. He is one of the most raged actors working today as shown from his silly, yet layered performance as Michael Scott in “The Office” to playing the deeply disturbed wrestling coach in “Foxcatcher”. Here, he delivers just as much range and is without a doubt, the best reason to watch “Welcome to Marwen”.
Other than Carell though, the film isn’t as worth the trip to the theater as you would think. The animation sequences seem oddly out of place (although it is clear what they were going for), the dialogue is often questionable, and we don’t get to see as much of the other vital supporting characters as we think we would. The film is an overall disappointment, which is surprising given the name of the lead actor and the reputation of the director. However, all that is important to know is that “Welcome to Marwen” isn’t the touching, biopic its markets itself to be.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence, some disturbing images, brief suggestive content, thematic material and language