By Danielle Broadway
(Reuters) – Apple TV+’s 2022 slavery drama “Emancipation”, actor Will Smith’s first film since his famous slap of comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, has received mixed early reviews from film critics.
The movie has scored a 59% positive rating on Rotton Tomatoes so far, with 14 out of 24 reviewers applauding the film as of Thursday afternoon.
The movie directed by Antoine Fuqua is based on the true 1863 story of a former slave named Gordon, called Peter in the film, and the photographs taken of his battered back that depict the brutalities of American chattel slavery. It is scheduled to arrive in theaters on Dec. 9.
The first batch of reviews have earned “Emancipation” the rotten label, as many reviewers voice their disappointment in the historical action film’s execution.
“Emancipation devolves into a confused jumble of messages,” Lovia Gyarke from The Hollywood Reporter wrote.
Several critics however applauded Smith’s performance as the lead. Johnny Oleksinski from the New York Post praised Smith’s “rich emotionality and laser-focused intensity”.
Smith had already completed filming of “Emancipation” when he walked onto the Academy Awards stage in March and slapped Rock for making a joke about the hairstyle of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The “King Richard” star, who won best actor shortly after the assault, was banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, but he remains eligible for nominations and awards.
During the Los Angeles premiere of the film on Wednesday, Reuters asked Smith how it felt to be back in public at a Hollywood event. “So far, so good,” he said.
(Reporting by Danielle Broadway; additional reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Mary Milliken and Stephen Coates)