Hmmm, a YA film on netflix, starring someone who was in the Maze Runner films? This could be terrible, this should be a film I start with low expectations, expectations which the film still might not be able to meet.
And then the film starts, and I realise it’s actually a piece of greatness. I’ve spoken before about how some films have turned me against them in the opening scene. The obvious ones being the new version of Hellboy, which showed me that the film is going to replace actual maturity with swearing, and Wolf (or The Wolf, I don’t know, and I don’t care) which lost me with the sub-par directing choices and performance in the opening moment (I will NEVER have a film that freefalls in my opinion as much as that did in the opening scene). This is one of the few cases where the opposite happened, where a film completely won me over. It was funny, had some great art involved, and told a compelling backstory. And the film only got better from there on.
Truth be told, I was going to skip this film, just ignore it completely, until it was recommended to me by someone who called it “Delightfully quirky, horrific, and thoughtful in almost equal measure”, and I can’t argue against any of that. It’s such a good watch, and yet another film that I wish I saw in the cinema. A film that looks as fantastic as this, deserves to be seen on a big screen. Although part of me is glad I saw it on netflix, it meant I could truly savour some of the moments, I could rewind them and have another look at moments I loved.
This is a film awash with new experiences. The soundtrack is full of songs I want to listen to by bands I should be into. The director is someone who’s earlier work I now want to watch. And with a few exceptions, most of the performers are ones I’m unfamiliar with and whom I now want to see more of. Ariana Greenblatt, for example, has a great future ahead of her if she continues doing performances like this.
This is the best kind of YA media, it doesn’t treat young adults as idiots overrun by emotion, but as people with untapped potential who need to learn some things. It’s a film about growth, about realising what you’re capable of if you push yourself. It’s also about love (and monsters) about how people change, and that’s okay. He spends the entire film putting his life on the line to try to find his ex girlfriend, only to find out (spoilers) shee’s changed, and they don’t really belong together anymore.
He takes this, not in an angry way, not even in a “but we belong together, I’ll prove you wrong” way. But in a “it sucks, but I get it” way that displays the characters emotional maturity, and a way which is weirdly not seen much in films, but probably should. It’s an important lesson, how to deal with rejection in a normal healthy way. Rejection does hurt, but if you dwell on that and use that as a form of revenge and as your sole motivator, you’re fucked.
Special mention also has to go out to how damn good this film looks. Reminds me of the live action version of The BFG with how it used colours and soft shapes to create great beauty, and then used size and texture to create ugliness. The monsters don’t look too fake, they look like they belong in the world the director has created. So does Mav1s, a robot who isn’t in it for very long, but definitely leaves an impact on you with how robotically sweet she is.
In summary, I’d say you definitely need to watch this. It charms even a cynical bitter bastard like myself.