"The Circle" looked promising thanks to the star power of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, but their performances weren't enough to stop the thriller from being crushed by critics.
Watson -- who is hot off of record-breaking blockbuster "Beauty and the Beast" -- plays a young tech worker who starts a job at internet corporation, The Circle, overseen by Hanks' character. John Boyega, best known for his role in the "Star Wars" franchise, also has a part. Watson gets tossed into a world of privacy and surveillance that leaves the future of humanity in her hands.
The movie currently holds an unfortunate 22 percent "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are saying the movie is "the reason why people hate Hollywood," along with things like "bleak horror" and "emotionally dead."
"'The Circle' is almost as much of a bait-and-switch for its audience as The Circle is for Mae. Reeling us in with the promise of telling us something new about the fast-moving conspiracy to monetize our private lives, it turns out to be just a hokily melodramatic rise-fall-redemption story with a mostly unearned patina of greater significance."
"The movie's characterizations are broad and bland, and the haphazard editing leaves apparently major figures stranded for long stretches of the story: 'Star Wars' [star] John Boyega turns up in what would seem to be a key role—and is then reduced to a mute, disapproving presence at the back of the room during the Circle's in-house pep rallies. It's a movie that thinks it's bitterly ironic to have Mae's cellphone ring with the Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts,' making Mae the only millennial in the U.S. with a MIDI ringtone. (It also features numerous scenes of symbolic kayaking.) For all its dire warnings about the dangers of the internet, 'The Circle' feels less an urgent cautionary tale than a dyspeptic toldja-so, as if its primary purpose were to ensure that the people who made it could pull the film out in 10 years and say, 'See?'"
"With so many thinly drawn characters and a sputtering engine of suspense, it's hardly the crackerjack denouement the movie needs. 'The Circle' is like a buggy app, something you want to work but is doomed to be remembered more as a missed opportunity than a memorably cautionary message for our times."
"Watson is reasonably charming at first but annoying by the end, largely because it's hard to believe that this clearly bright young woman could also be such a gullible idiot. The story condescends to Mae, and, by extension, to smart, ambitious millennials everywhere—I'm not a millennial, but I felt offended on their behalf. Shot by Matthew Libatique, The Circle has a polished, handsome surface, but it also looks as if it were designed by committee, like a fussed-over corporate logo. That would be OK, probably—if the movie at least knew what it was selling."
"Lampooning the simple-mindedness of utopian web clichés was arguably part of Mr. Eggers's point, but much of that point is often muddled in the book. And it's simply incoherent in the movie. The novel is at its most trenchantly funny when depicting the exhausting nature of virtual social life, and it's in this area, too, that the movie gets its very few knowing laughs. But it's plain, not much more than 15 minutes in, that without the story's paranoid aspects you're left with a conceptual framework that's been lapped three times over by the likes of, say, the Joshua Cohen novel 'Book of Numbers,' or the HBO comedy series 'Silicon Valley.'"
"Let's cut to the chase: 'The Circle' is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It's so shockingly flat, logically flawed, emotionally vapid, and astoundingly awkward that its end credits felt like a cruel prank. How is it possible that this movie stars such charming screen presences as Emma Watson, Karen Gillan, John Boyega and Tom Fucking Hanks, and is still less exciting than watching broadcast static? How has it passed that Dave Eggers wrote humane and daring books like 'Zeitoun,' 'What Is The What' and 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,' only to create a story and adapted screenplay this tone-deaf and bland? How is it possible that acclaimed indie director James Ponsoldt gave us the sparkling 'Spectacular Now,' the stirring 'Smashed,' and the challenging 'End of Tour' only to seem to forget everything he knew about human emotion, character arcs, and simple film structure to create this ... 'The Circle' is a movie that is emotionally dead, intellectually vapid, and otherwise just dull. It doesn't even have the decency to be so bad that its failing is amusing."
"Overall, 'The Circle' is a pretty round failure: It fails its cast, who are caught in the machinations of an incoherent plot; it fails its concepts, which flounder about in search of something to latch onto; it fails its audience, who come out the other side feeling a little more hateful of humanity in general, and cinema in particular. Someday, Hollywood might produce a film that actually critiques surveillance society and social media obsession in a meaningful or provocative way. Today is not that day, though, and 'The Circle' is very much not that film."