I have mixed feelings about this film — much of it is very powerful and affective but just as much of it is borderline lousy. Ultimately I can’t help but see it as a failure, but it’s one of those films that makes you wish its creators could get another shot to make the wonderful film that was within their grasp.
From a special effects standpoint, the film is peerless. Through some combination of digital imagery, makeup and black magic, the filmmakers have managed to seamlessly render Brad Pitt as everything from an 85-year-old man to a 17-year-old kid. It’s astounding what they pull off here, and all the more impressive for being completely organic to the film — there’s nothing showoff-y about the effects, they’re just what was required to tell this story.
(Mild spoilers follow, major spoilers in the comments)