Reviews for The Making Of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece

by Tom Hanks

Library Journal
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A burnt-out soldier returns home from World War II, then vanishes after meeting his gifted young nephew. The nephew grows up to create underground comic books, including one featuring a World War II fighting hero inspired by his uncle. In the present day, the comic book is rediscovered and inspires a multimillion-dollar superhero action film whose workings two-time Academy Award-winning actor Hanks should detail with verve and grace.

Publishers Weekly
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Actor Hanks explores the making of a superhero film epic in his entertaining debut novel (after the collection Uncommon Type). In 1947, Bob Falls finds it difficult to adapt back to civilian life after returning from the battlefields of WWII. In 1970, his artist nephew, Robby Andersen, creates a comic book series titled The Legend of Firefall inspired by his uncle’s experiences wielding a flamethrower in the Pacific theater. In the present, writer-director-producer Bill Johnson decides to use Andersen’s comic as the basis for a superhero film. Cast as Firefall is O.K. Bailey, an actor whose ego knows no bounds, while the female lead, Wren Lake, is as savvy as she is beautiful and talented. The shoot gets underway in Robby’s hometown of Lone Butte, Calif., where the production is complicated by marital disharmony between a rising star actor and his neglected wife, the unexpected death of a beloved character actor, and a stalker who threatens Wren’s life. Pages from Firefall, illustrated by R. Sikoryak, appear throughout and are a hoot (in one panel, Firefall’s sergeant gives the order “light ’em up” while lighting Firefall’s cigarette). Neither slashing satire nor moody melodrama, this sincerely Hanksian paean to the people behind the scenes of a movie production comes to life with great characters. It’s a winner. (May)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A fictional account of the agony and ecstasy of making a movie, from someone who’d know. For his sprightly debut novel, actor/writer/national treasure Hanks—author of the story collection Uncommon Type, 2017—imagines the making of Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, a mashup of Marvel-esque superhero fare, war story, and artsy melodrama. The movie’s concept seems like an unworkable, even bad idea, which is part of the point—Hanks stresses the notion that successful movies aren’t just a matter of story but the people who make them. So he’s assembled an engrossing cast of characters: Bob Falls, the World War II vet who served as a flamethrower in the Pacific theater and became a PTSD–struck biker; Robby Andersen, the nephew who turned him into alternative-comix antihero Firefall; Bill Johnson, the well-decorated Spielberg-ian director who acquires the Firefall property and writes the script; and the small army of actors, assistants, and technicians charged with shooting the film in the Northern California town of Lone Butte—on time, lest morale collapse and the budget inflate. Hanks ably depicts how easily things derail. The male lead’s ego wrecks the shooting schedule. A stray social media post complicates security. On-set flirtations threaten a marriage. But the novel reflects the sunny stick-to-it-iveness of many of Hanks’ roles, and his central thesis is that every movie’s true hero is anybody who reduces friction. To that end, his most enchanting and best-drawn characters are the director’s assistant, Al Mac-Teer (full name Allicia), and Ynez Gonzalez-Cruz, a ride-share driver with no movie experience but a knack for problem-solving. “Most of the film business is done by meeting folks,” one character says, and Hanks suggests that meeting the right people—and being kind to them—is half the battle of successful moviemaking. Overly romantic? Consider the source. Regardless, it’s a well-turned tale of a Hollywood (maybe) success. (Sikoryak illustrates some comic-book pages related to the Firefall backstory and film.) A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

We all knew he could act, but the publication of Hanks’ Uncommon Type, his excellent 2017 short-story collection, proved he could write, too. Now he’s followed that with a full-length novel, and it is superb. As the title suggests, it’s the story of the making of a movie—a big-budget superhero movie. But it’s so much more than that. Above all, it’s a heartfelt tribute to movies and the people who make them. We follow not just the director of this movie, but the creator of the comic book on which it’s based (the novel includes a replica of that fictional comic book, drawn by graphic-novel illustrator R. Sikoryak), the director’s brilliant production assistant, and an assortment of other characters. Joe Shaw, the book’s narrator, is thoroughly compelling, a guy who loves movies and wants us to love them, too. The writing is spot-on, bringing to the novel all the passion Hanks feels about his profession: “Making movies is complicated, maddening, highly technical at times, ephemeral and gossamer at others, slow as molasses on a Wednesday but with a gun-to-the-head deadline on a Friday.” The whole book is like that: lovingly crafted, a wildly entertaining story beautifully told. If you love movies, you’ll love this book.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hanks' first novel is a delight that will draw not only the actor's fans, but also movie buffs everywhere.