It must be nearly impossible to recreate a Stephen King story on the big screen. He's had more books flop as movies than times he got beat up in high school. It's no surprise that Scott Hicks' new movie “Hearts in Atlantis” pales in comparison to King's book. The plot is great, but the movie isn't.
Except for a brief intro and ending, “Hearts of Atlantis” takes place in the 1960s, with the story revolving around a young boy Bobby (Anton Yelchin), and his neighbor Ted (Anthony Hopkins – Finding Forrester, Dracula). The story unravels a couple of interesting ideas right from the start, including Ted's psychic abilities to read thoughts. Hopkins pays the boy to read him the paper every week and watch out for what he calls the low men, who are only described as men dressed in black who travel in packs. Apparently, they want Hopkins for his unexplained abilities. Intriguing, yes?
The boy's father has been long dead, and he begins to look at Ted as a fatherly figure. Spending time with Ted is also a great reason for him to get away from his mother (Hope Davis), who is obsessed with money and overlooks her son's needs.
This is where the story goes bad, or rather, doesn't go anywhere. Take your pick. The rest of the movie consists of scattered scenes of Bobby's experiences with Ted that do nothing but increase the viewer's interest in what never comes. All the interesting factors of the movie, like Hopkins' condition and the low men, are quickly skipped over and left unexplained, leaving the viewers with a story that can only be described as trendy. Bully beats up kid, kid kisses girl, bully hurts girl, kid beats up bully. Like, I've already seen “It.”
Hopkins is a great actor, and Anton Yelchin does extraordinarily well playing the sparky and entertaining Bobby. However, “Hearts in Atlantis” loses its steam early on by ignoring the mystery of the story, and focusing on Hick's uncreative ideals of childhood.
The movie is unsatisfying, and offers an ending nowhere nearly as interesting as the beginning. Don't spend more than a couple of Washingtons on it.