The Children of Huang Shi
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode (R)
A British reporter leads Chinese orphans to safety after the attack on Nanking.
The Children of Huang Shi is a story worth telling, but it’s not told well, said Claudia Puig in USA Today. This wartime epic recounts the life of George Hogg, the British journalist who in 1938 rescued 60 Chinese orphans from the Japanese invasion of Nanking. Director Roger Spottiswoode wonderfully renders Hogg’s 700-mile trek through treacherous mountains. But he fails to adequately fill in the historical context of these events. His “skills for physical production outpace his ability to generate vitality and bring out the best in his actors,” said Robert Koehler in Variety. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Hogg, doesn’t convey any real “vibrancy, emotion, or style.” But Spottiswoode also speeds through the story, giving Rhys Meyers and his castmates few chances to develop their characters. The film “jumps forward in vast leaps—months, then years zip by,” said Tasha Robinson in The Onion. You’re left wondering about the logic behind Hogg’s decisions, and the film’s “complete failure to get into his head” makes him seem more like a madman than a humanitarian.