Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PREDESTINATION

The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

I was privileged to see a pre-screening of PREDESTINATION which opens in cinemas on 28 August. It's excellent! There have been lots of time travel movies made - and this one adds a brand new layer of complexity and intrigue to the genre. Sarah Snook (Not Suitable for Children) is brilliant - as always - in a breakout performance. Add Ethan Hawke  as co-star and the cast is great. The movie is very dialogue-driven, cerebral, and intellectually engaging. This one's for those viewers who want something to think about rather than just special effects and action. The first 1/3 was a touch slow, but necessary in the context of the whole narrative arc. Watch out for this one when it arrives in cinemas! And, by the way, try to see it without knowing anything much about it... One of the best sci-fi movies this year!

****1/2

Saturday, August 23, 2014

FREEDOM

Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad guide the family on their journey north to Canada. They are relentlessly pursued by the notorious slave hunter Plimpton. Hunted like a dog and haunted by the unthinkable suffering he and his forbears have endured, Samuel is forced to decide between revenge or freedom. 100 years earlier in 1748, John Newton the Captain of a slave trader sails from Africa with a cargo of slaves, bound for America. On board is Samuel's great grandfather whose survival is tied to the fate of Captain Newton. The voyage changes Newton's life forever and he creates a legacy that will inspire Samuel and the lives of millions for generations to come.

Average. Has a very strong (and sometimes very heavy handed) religious flavour with the song, Amazing Grace, by John Newton, providing the organising theme. True freedom is presented as that which comes from trust in the Christian God. The story did not have the power I thought it should have. The acting was adequate and the musical element undermined the emotional potency - although viewers who like musicals may experience it differently to me. The whole movie seems restrained - pulling back form the harsh realities of the slave trade. I suspect that it may be that way to ensure a broad audience. It is consistent with the distributors, Heritage Films International, which has a faith focus, according to its website. Movies supported by faith-based organisations tend, in my opinion, to promote somewhat sterile versions of reality - and I think that FREEDOM suffers from this. The most frightening aspect of the movie is the declaration at the end, just before the titles, that there are more people in slavery today than ever before in human history. While reminding ourselves of the past history of slavery is essential, I'd like to see more contemporary movies addressing what is happening today. It's a travesty that slavery hasn't yet been eradicated.

***