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Review: “Kin” Confounds with Crime and Blasters

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There’s a hooker of gold that serves the purpose of the most memorable scene in Kin, commenting on how weird it is that a criminally-inclined young man and his teen brother are dashing around the country with a bag full of money and a ray gun. And, yes, it is weird, but perhaps not weird enough to be a good movie. A perplexing one perhaps.

Directors Johnathan and Josh Baker throw a lot of interesting ideas on the screen, even if not all of them blend that well. The young and plucky Myles Truitt plays Baltimore teenager Elijah, a kid bordering on a life of crime. He gets into fights at school and steals copper wire from abandoned buildings. His adoptive father, Hal Solinski (Dennis Quaid), is hoping to steer him on the path of being a hard worker in tough times. He hopes that he won’t pursue a life of crime like his older brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), having recently been released from prison. Elijah and Jimmy seem to bond just fine despite the separation, but Jimmy is still bad news, in need of funds to pay off the violent kingpin Taylor Balik (James Franco). Family fights lead to bigger fights of violence and money, leading to a dangerous and seemingly exciting road trip of brothers on the run.

It sounds like a solid enough story, but in comes a ray gun to spice things up, more of a dash than a main ingredient. During one of Elijah’s copper-hunt outings, he happens upon a mysterious gun that looks like it’s from either the future or another dimension. The weapon shaped like a box of chocolates seems to have its own never-ending power supply that can shoot powerful charges of energy, zapping anybody who gets in his way into neon ash. It sure does come in handy for getting rid of murderous criminals and holding up poker games. But the gun isn’t Elijah’s, despite the way it only seems to let him fire it, and is pursued by two robot-looking officers from another place. Their sci-fi contribution to the story is minimal, more as bookends, and you’ll understand why when the finale uses them for the silliest of twist endings, rolling the dice for a possible sequel.

There’s a lot of fantastical and wish-fulfillment aspects to Kin that must be accepted to enjoy the strange stew it brews. You must be able to accept that Elijah could venture into a strip club with his brother Jimmy and that said club doesn’t feature any topless women. You must accept that Elijah can easily become accustomed to using the ray gun with only one or two sessions of tinkering. There’s a possible reason for this, but that requires you buy that a teenager of the 21st century would be watching the 1980’s anime Bubblegum Crisis. Probably the tallest order is buying James Franco as a snotty and cocky kingpin.

There’s almost a fear in the direction of Kin that seems to be struggling never to go too campy or serious. The plot of the aliens looking like the Daft Punk mafia dashing around the Midwest to find their stolen weapon takes a backseat as an almost engrossing slow burn of special effects and intimidation. The drama between Elijah and Jimmy is unique if not lacking in personality as Elijah keeps so quiet and to himself that even we don’t know that much about him. Also rather relegated is Zoë Kravitz as the warm stripper that is more playful and open with Elijah, fulfilling her purpose to a degree that doesn’t get her too involved. There’s a certain dignity to this design, but why deny a campier appeal?

Kin is a film so strange in its conception that it feels like a sloppy script of the 1980s that would’ve been doomed to home video. It could have made a forgettably silly sci-fi romp with a budget holding the film back from its grander aspects, but here it is given a slightly more earnest approach. And what could’ve been a laughably generic adventure piece turns into a picture with a firm foundation for original entertainment, but nothing all that impressive on top of it. Something about a kid blasting violent gangsters to dust and hanging out in a strip club with his brother feels as though it should have more of a Roger Corman edge than an artsy subtlety. The Baker brothers certainly have a talent for genre-mixing, but they really gotta take off the safety for something this odd.


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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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