(On DVD, February 2018) Watching the original 1949 All the King’s Men quickly led me to this remake, languishing on my unseen-DVD shelves. While undoubtedly slicker than the original, this remake has issues of its own. Despite a terrific cast, fantastic atmosphere and Steve Zaillian’s moody direction (wow, that use of an engraved floor map of the state in the opening and closing sequences…), the film struggles with time, with motivations, with having something interesting to say at a time when political movies all seem to turn around the same ideas. The film was a notorious flop, which is too bad, because it does have quite a few things going for it: the cast alone is amazing, and comparing the slickness of the film’s production with the rough-hewn charm of the original is incredibly eloquent regarding the evolution of Hollywood movies in fifty-five years. Sean Penn isn’t particularly well cast as the lead—we can believe in him as a corrupt politician, but he somewhat misses the mark in the film’s first-act evolution of an idealist into a political machine boss. The film also misses the mark by compressing decades-long events into a mere few years: while the protagonist’s arc is a bit tighter, it’s far too fast for describing the corruption of an idealist populist. Otherwise, there’s a lot to like in the way the film looks, from costumes to sets to the overall atmosphere. Still, when you take it all in, this remake of All the King’s Men feels sluggish and overwrought. It certainly doesn’t replace the original film.