By: Hawk Ripjaw –
The Darkest Minds
Oh boy, this looks like shit. While the world has moved on from high-concept YA adaptations (and we probably haven’t had a good once since…um….the first Maze Runner?), here comes this Darkest Minds, hobbling towards the finish line with visions of “X-Men, but with, like, teenage romance in dystopia” dancing in its head. Based on the trailer, and the fact that this is based on a book series, I’m pretty sure I can predict how this is going to go. The characters have one of a small assortment of powers that categorizes them into groups. The main character will reject this categorization and become her own person, possibly through developing other powers. At the end, she and her friends will escape from the mean soldiers and begin the turning of the tide of this dystopian society. There.
Even if that doesn’t happen, is there anything remotely interesting or compelling that happens in this trailer? There’s not much of a reason to care about any of these characters, nor do you know who they are. Or what’s really going on. There’s no flavor to this world at all, and the trailer makes no attempt to entice viewers besides a couple of action shots that could almost literally be mistaken for something from an X-Men movie. One of the shitty ones.
Boy, this coffin sure does hold a lot of nails! Stay in there, YA adaptations!
I have a level of cognitive dissonance relating to this movie that I can barely handle. On the one hand, I grew up with Winnie the Pooh. That entire world is just so astonishingly wonderful and warm and funny that even years later, I revisit it whenever I can. I almost cried at the 2011 animated feature because it made me so happy. The idea of revisiting the world when Christopher Robin is all grown up is a great idea in theory for how to explore childhood in the rearview mirror and, hopefully, remind us adults that it’s okay to not completely let go of that childhood.
But when you think about it more, how fucked up does this movie look? Christopher Robin posits that Pooh and Co. are not figments of Christopher Robin’s imagination but are, in fact, living, breathing things: childhood friends that he just left behind when Christopher decides to move on with his life. It’s no longer that his grew out of his toys, he abandoned the [literal] fabric of his childhood to just grow up and forget all of that. That’s apparently what the theme of the movie involves, but this is Winnie the Pooh! This is supposed to be whimsy!
But option C is probably the worst, particularly if one insists on calling shenanigans on “Pooh in the real world.” Christopher is not only psychologically troubled, as has been suggested in the past (you could reasonably assign allegorical psychological disorders to each of Pooh and the gang), but is at this point so deluded that his imaginative childhood is bleeding into his reality, which may not be real at all. Christopher was in the war prior to this movie, right? Is his psyche now so fractured that his wife and kids are merely extensions of himself, as his living toys are?
It does look pretty good though, doesn’t it?
The Spy Who Dumped Me
I’ve been hearing good things about this movie, which is great news after this semi-lackluster trailer. Things have been great for R-rated female –centric comedies as they move out of the shadow of male-featured counterparts lately, with only the occasional hiccup. At the same time, I could list a few of the great ones but I can only think of maybe two per year, so we’ve still got a ways to go. I don’t love the trailer for The Spy Who Dumped Me, but I do love Mila Kunis and I especially think Kate McKinnon is one of the weirdest and funniest performers, female or otherwise, working today. It’s hard to nail that kind of wacky charisma without looking like an asshole (looking at you, Happy Madison Team and anyone caught in a Raja Gosnell movie), but McKinnon nails it. This looks like a slightly less good version of Melissa McCarthy’s excellent Spy, but if it’s anywhere near that this is going to be a great time.
An extra point of interest for the apparently very nasty violence, which sounds like the right sort of thing for McKinnon and Kunis to play off of.