The Hate U Give

I have heard about The Hate U Give at least two years ago as a teacher in middle school. I had not read it yet, but I did want to read it. I just never got around to it. You know, movies and all.

I knew I had to wait until after I saw the movie. Maybe it would be like this year´s Wonder, in terms of book lovers all excited. Wonder was decent, and the book was decent. I assume there were a lot of fears about turning this allegedly very great book into a mediocre or shit movie. It has a big uphill battle, but at least its subject matter has been making good strides in cinema lately.

This year we already got Blindspotting and Sorry To Bother You, but neither of them are from the kid perspective. Of course, if there are already great movies on similar topics, it has a lot to live up to.

The Hate U Give has a lot of battles to climb, so on its own, it is its own representation of race relations. Another way to examine this is the IMDB rating, which at the time of writing is a 4.6, weeks before it comes out. Why? Oh, almost 200 votes for 1/10. Either this movie is very polarizing, or you know, racism.

Stare
Pretty sure we all know what she thinks.

A few years ago, the Carter family had to have ¨the talk.¨ So Lisa (Regina Hall) and Mav (Russell Hornsby) sat down their three kids, Seven (Lamar Johnson), Starr (Amandla Stenberg), and Sekani (TJ Wright). The oldest are just in their pre-teens, but it is time. No, this talk isn´t about sex. It is about what to do if they are in a situation where they are detained or pulled over by the cops.

This is a real talk that black families are starting to have to talk to, due to the violence and targeting that is going on in our country. It is not a great talk, but for families that care for each other, who know they cannot always be there to protect them, it is necessary.

It is the type of loving family that Starr grew up in, full of knowledge and strength. And now she goes to school outside of the hood she lives in. It is a white school, with white friends, white boyfriends (K.J. Apa) who won´t ever understand what she is going through at home. She has to balance these two lives. But it is when tragedy strikes her life and her friend Khalil (Algee Smith), she has her worlds start to crash together, giving her a whole new insight to this thing called life.

Also starring Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, and Anthony Mackie as a bad guy drug dealer. Been awhile since he has turned south in his roles.

Hands Up
Hands up won´t protect her on its own, but that Carolina Blue shirt will help.

The Hate U Give is a powerhouse from start to finish. From ¨the talk¨ at the start of the film, to the different worlds, to the cop tragedy, to the protests, to the speeches, to the riots. It is full of emotion from unexpected places. My first cry was because the father was by his daughters side after a nightmare. She wasn´t screaming causing him to run in the door. No, she woke up panicked and he was already there. Just subtle clues to show that clearly he had fallen asleep in a chair by her side to protect her, to help her with the morning after, and just be a goddamn amazing father. And that is the type of stuff that gets me.

Sure, I did cry a few other times, not just a one and done deal. It is hard not to get wrapped up in the story. Hell, at over 2 hours it almost doesn´t feel long enough. I need more of the story, I need to be there to help comfort the characters, to rage against the machine or whatever it takes. I am definitely going to grab the book, and it is going to make me upset just like the movie.

And more importantly, it is going to get me more upset about real life. I am white, if my writing doesn´t make that obvious. I am a man, if you cannot tell with my boob tags. And this is the type of movie that can get people to see the other side of the fence if they come to it with any amount of openness.

Stenberg was fantastic in the lead role. She wasn´t great in The Darkest Minds, but no one was. She was good in Everything, Everything despite the fact that I didn´t like the movie. But she was outstanding in this film. She carries a lot of weight and emotion in her face. Hornsby as the dad is my goddamn hero. I hope I can one day grow into a worldly intelligent and caring man like him.

Just so much of this film is relevant, at this point, it is practically essential viewing. It deals with heavy topics that kids in their pre-teens can better handle unlike other films and will be seen in schools throughout the nation within the next year.

4 out of 4.

The Darkest Minds

Didn’t you know? Didn’t you know it was time for another young adult dystopian book to transition into movie magic?

Because we need more of these teenage trilogies to copy the success of The Hunger Games. You know, start off strong, and get really terrible and no one care by the time the final film comes around.

I didn’t want to watch the trailer for The Darkest Minds before going into it, but I had to make sure my kid could see it as well. And the trailer is more than enough to know to pass on this film.

Rails
Let’s stand around naturally, yes, yes, good. This is how kids hang.

Set in the future, or not, maybe just some other Earth, kids start dying. They don’t know why, but a long disease with a long acronym is blamed that scientists are trying to stop. Just people under 17, spaz out and die suddenly. Like SIDS on steroids I guess. But not all kids die. In fact, quite coincidentally, the ones who do not die get powers instead.

No, not random powers. Just one of a set of five. They are going to get super smart, levitate items, or create/control electricity, probably. These are the most common and “acceptable” level of powers. They correspond to the colors of green, blue, and yellow. Next is Orange, and it involves memories, mind control, thought shit. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), our hero, is going to be like this. The government when they start rounding up these rabble rousing kids wants to terminate the oranges on site, because they are scary. And then there is Red. And ooooh boy, apparently Red is so big bad and scary they gotta keep it a secret from us assholes, and they are also on the to be killed level.

Ruby has had these powers for six years in a concentration camp, pretending to be a green, and anyone that would test her or question her she would just mind control them into believing her lie. Good times. Until her secret gets too far out, meaning she has to bust out with some helpful adults. Because this is a dystopian novel, no one really means anything they say they mean. And now Ruby has to run around this world, trusting few, guessing, and getting misinformation and very few details because bad plot reasons.

Also starring Bradley Whitford, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Miya Cech, and Skylan Brooks.

Color
Guys, guys, guys. Let’s just not acknowledge color, that will fix things.

Oh goodness, it was worse than I thought. I figured this could be cool if it really played up the X-Men element and less the cookie cutter young adult element. But alas, powers barely seem to matter.

Because they decided to make powers fall neatly into five categories, all nicely color coded based on how the eyes bright up when powers happen. Oh good, it is time for cliques and boring grouping again. Grouping is a common and lazy theme in these novels.

There are a lot of holes and stupid plot points in this movie. I feel like throwing a few out there that I recall, some that could be spoilers. Some of these are things thst can be explored in the book but are happily ignored in the movie.

For example, we have a diseases that kills everyone 17 and under? Not at once but over a time span? And the people who don’t die from it also at the same time get powers, but only one of five specific but very different things? Like, why? Why? This is something that might be explained by book three, but there is certainly no one in the movie even asking the most basic questions right now and that is non sensical.

The powers are so stupid. Smarts, telekinesis, electrical control, okay. Those are the main three? Fine. Orange being mind control and memory things? Fine again. Cool. But to make red seem like an extremely scary thing as well, and story wise keep it a secret also makes no sense. It is supposed to be a big surprise, and I was surprised only on how boring it is. It’s fire. It’s fire everyone. Like shooting fire from mouths specifically. Okay. Why is that worse than lightning? Who the fuck knows.

The movie went the boring exposition route of having the main character be new to the events around her so she is just a passenger. It allows the film to explain all these groups to us and to her but never the full story. Because suspense. That’s now how people talk.

When traitors are revealed it isn’t a surprise, it was obvious from moment zero. There is no reason to trust this person at all, and yet, it happens. When the red powers are finally shown we see them fuck up the place. But, the place is supposed to be used over and over. Why are they blowing shit up now when it should be a normal occurrence? Why did we have a long montage of an abandoned mall that seemed to be only in one store, and then finally an attack? Based on their explanation they would have attacked right away.

Why do powers fluctuate? Why would two people who have the power of being smart argue about a situation that has one right answer? Can someone be more smart from the magical same power? Why do we have an orange make everyone kneel and obey but not the four people who are causing problems and trying to escape? Why is there powr disparities when it is convenient? Lazy writing.

What happens to kids when they are above 17? Do powers go away? Will new kids die or gain powers? Why are so many things based on sound frequency difference of ages when presumably people who were 17 and powers now are 23 and powers and not affected by these measures?

Anyways. I’m done. This film is bad. It is rushed. Things aren’t explained. Effects are whatever. Just a mesh of other things with a non unique approach and a waste of time.

0 out of 4.

Everything, Everything

Everything? Like, Everything, Everything? Like the whole world?

This movie seems to cover a pretty large range of subjects. And to think it is mainly supposed to be a teenage drama romance that is based on a book!

We get these yearly by now, or at least a few times a year. Gotta get those teenage kids buying movie tickets, watching teenagers in love die and shit. Inherently, I can really get into these films, and most of them have made me cry. I honestly knew nothing about the film outside the cover, so I assumed this movie would be about racism.

Which is kind of shit on me. A white person and a black person can fall in love and have NOTHING to do with racism. This film doesn’t touch on it being weird at all. YAY PROGRESS!

Glass
The glass ceiling…err wall, will be shattered!

Our story is about a girl named Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), on the cusp of turning 18, like all good romance movies. Because when people turn 18, they can do sexy stuff and not be weird. Okay, it would be weird for Maddy. because she has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). It is a thing that means she doesn’t really have a strong immune system, like, at all, and most things could kill her. Yes, like Bubble Boy.

But her mom (Anika Noni Rose) is a doctor and is loaded, so instead of a weird plastic bubble, she can live the entirety of her life in her home. They have a lot of space for her to live and learn and be creative, but she just can never leave. She has a nurse (Ana de la Reguera) who keeps track of her during the day, and the nurse has a daughter (Danube Hermosillo), but those are the only people she has any contact with. Her father and brother were killed in a car accident when she was a baby.

Things are about to change for this unreasonably attractive hermit! Because they are getting new neighbors, and one of them is a similarly aged boy, named Olly (Nick Robinson). His family moves around a lot, issues that they will go into eventually.

And they fall in love. A mysterious love, filled with text messages and typing to each other on the internet. For them to meet, it could mean her death. A love that will truly kill her.

Also featuring Taylor Hickson, as Olly’s sister.

Outside
Spoilers: She gets out.

This is a teenage romance film, involving big dreams and the potential of death, that did not make me cry.

But that is not my biggest issue. For the most part I thought the movie was cute, but at most still just okay. One of the main characters, the mom, just felt really bad at the acting thing and was getting on my nerves, but overall, just an okay story.

Unfortunately, the ending really threw me off. Not in a “oh man, plot twist!” sort of way, although that is how a lot of people may take it. It ended in a way that I hoped among hopes it would not end. Little clues started to fill me in that it might head that way, but I was hoping they were tiny false flags and the movie would be somewhat creative.

Alas, it wasn’t. It went for an edgy finish, but it feels like something that has been done before. It just killed the entire film for me and I left disappointed, no longer interested in the cute aspects of the film. And on top of that? I still didn’t even cry.

To end this on a good note, Stenberg was pretty great in this movie. Rue from The Hunger Games is all grown up and melting hearts.

1 out of 4.