Harry Potter isn't the only big-name movie hitting theaters this weekend. At long last, the two-hour Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated, is out — at least in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Orange County, Calif., Orlando, and Phoenix. Sorry, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — you'll have to wait. No one was expecting a Tea Party Citizen Kane from conservative filmmaker Stephen Bannon, but all the same, critics (who've so far given the movie a 0 percent favorability rating on Rotten Tomatoes) are deriding the film, not just for being pro-Palin propaganda, but for being "bad propaganda." How foul is it?
It's amateurishly bad: The Palin documentary "makes no pretense of being anything more than a full-length commercial endorsement of her character and accomplishments," says Robert Levin at The Atlantic. It's just too bad the director, conservative Stephen Bannon, isn't a better filmmaker. He beats every talking point to a pulp, "with earsplitting soundtrack flourishes, aggressive montage, and an overall state of high anxiety." The film's biggest problem isn't its "hagiographic leanings." It's the "simple fact that its director needs to go back to film school."
"Sarah Palin's The Undefeated: Bad propaganda, worse filmmaking"
And quite boring: "The first hour of The Undefeated, scrupulously attentive to Palin's rise through state politics, is pretty rough going, a turgid primer in Alaska's pipeline management and oil, gas and, yes, milk subsidies," says Richard Corliss at TIME. What could have been a compelling film about Palin's place in the political landscape, and the establishment's handling of her, is marred by Bannon's clumsy, yawn-inducing attempt at propaganda. The movie might lead "even the most ardent conservatives to emulate their idol's tenure as governor and walk out halfway through."
"The Undefeated: Her holiness Sarah Palin"
And very thin on new material: This film is little more than "a string of encomiums against a backdrop of frantically edited archival material," says Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter. Palin wasn't even interviewed for the documentary, though some excerpts from her audio book are featured. There's no worthwhile analysis here, "nothing about her personal life, international inexperience, or interview gaffes." It's essentially a redundant, two-hour film "stitched together with a thousand sound bites" and a grating musical score.
"The Undefeated: Film review"