fan reviews *SPOILERS, maybe?*
I'm torn, I really am. "Disappointed" isn't the right word, but it's the first that comes to mind.
I absolutely loved the second half of this film. It had some really brilliant scenes. But the first half was... meh. The dialog was just so bad. The movie was attempting to give you every piece of backstory and character history through wooden, unnatural dialog. In this way, the first 30-45 minutes of Choke was like a daytime soap or a sitcom. They were trying very hard and very fast to establish the characters and storylines without actually paying attention to real character development. The first half of Choke The Movie seemed to go against a lot of the basics of storytelling 101. Too many scenes with characters saying how they feel, rather than showing us (there wasn't much unpacking, to put it another way). Also, the music wasn't used very well (there was some cheesy, distracting violin during a flashback). The first half fell flat.
Who knows when it happens, but at some point about half way through the film, Choke becomes a different movie. It gets good: The characters are less wooden, more believable. The vibe is less sitcom-y. The gags are used to advance the plot. The pacing is settled-in and consistent. The acting is better (the church scene with "Reckoner" playing at a low volume was electric). Unfortunately, this movie suffered from trying to include too much in too short a span of time. If I hadn't read the book, I would've been lossed for the first half-hour. Running time is about 90 minutes; they should have made it two hours even and let the action tell the story a little more (not forced dialog). This movie really shows the contrast of putting Chuck's work in the hands of a confident director (Fincher) and a rookie. It's a pretty good first effort. I just wish that first effort wasn't my favorite Chuck novel.
Overall rating: 6.5 Chucks (out of 10)
p.s. ... Was anyone else here at the SXSW screening? I waited in the loser line but still got in.