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Cinematic Spillover: Short Reviews of The Tomorrow Man, I Am Mother, Changeland and More

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KIKO MARTINEZ
  • Kiko Martinez

Here are a few short reviews of movies that will be released at San Antonio theaters, on Netflix or on VOD June 7 and one we missed last week.

Changeland

GRAVITAS VENTURES
  • Gravitas Ventures
Actor Seth Green (TV’s Robot Chicken) makes his directorial and screenwriting debut with Changeland, a woebegone dramedy that is painfully short on laughs and overdone on the mopes. Green stars in the film as Brandon, a depressed pantywaist who travels to Thailand with his best friend Dan (Breckin Meyer) after he finds out his wife is cheating on him. Why Brandon would go off on an adventure of self-discovery without telling his wife is beyond belief, but that’s where Green has decided to strand audiences for what turns out to be an 80-minute slog through Indochina. Between the boat rides, Buddhist temple visits and nature hikes, not much is revealed about Brandon or what he’s going through emotionally. Instead, Green chooses to limit the character to someone who stares off into the distance and frowns. One of the film’s highlights is a small, quirky role by Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone), whose most accessible film prior to this was the 2004 dark comedy Saved! starring Mandy Moore. In Changeland, he plays Ian, a local tour guide who takes Brandon and Dan out on the sea to see some reef. “Get ready to have your mind blown by coral,” Ian says. As for the rest of Changeland – get ready to have your mind numbed. Changeland hits VOD platforms June 7.
2 stars out of 5 stars

I Am Mother

NETFLIX
  • Netflix
Keep your space cowboys, alien warships and planet-destroying weapons to yourself. The best kind of science fiction films aren’t the summer blockbusters that mainstream audiences flock to every year. The best kind of sci-fi are the intimate, unassuming and intelligently-written sleepers that fewer people watch, sadly, because those movies aren’t attached to something familiar like Marvel or D.C. or Star Wars. From indies like Ex-Machina to Moon to Sunshine, the most memorable, non-superhero, sci-fi movies of the last decade have been those contemporary and cerebral contributions to the genre that feed the mind as much as the eyes. I Am Mother doesn’t reach the same tier as those aforementioned thrillers, but it’s a welcomed pause from all the Godzillas and Dark Phoenixes and Pikachus of the cinematic world. Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Grant Sputore, the film serves as a breakout role for actress Clara Rugaard (Teen Spirit), an unnamed teenage girl (“Daughter”) living in a post-apocalyptic world and being raised by a droid (“Mother,” voiced by Rose Byrne) whose job it is to repopulate the earth. Mother and Daughter are threatened when a wounded "Woman” (two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank) shows up at their bunker, disturbing their peaceful existence and causing Daughter to question everything she was raised to believe. Beautifully shot and convincingly designed, especially for a low-budget, high-concept project, I Am Mother is a blend of classic sci-fi tension and uncomfortably quiet moments. It’s Rugaard’s nuanced performance, however, that stands out from everything else. She might only converse with a non-computer-generated robot for most of the runtime, but Rugaard is able to mold that relationship into something that is honest and unsettling. I Am Mother debuts on Netflix June 7.
3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Rocketman

PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Paramount Pictures

The Elton John musical Rocketman will not become the universal crowd-pleaser that last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody was, but from a storytelling perspective, it is a better biopic overall. The film stars Taron Edgerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as the English singer/songwriter who has entertained crowds for the last half century. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, who was brought onto the set of Bohemian Rhapsody to finish the production because director Bryan Singer crawled into a hole, Rocketman doesn’t top the charts, but it’s an entertaining and imaginative drama that doesn’t pull its punches. Audiences might think with Elton stepping in as an executive producer, Rocketman might avoid some of the more controversial chapters of his career, but Fletcher and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) transform Elton’s life into a fantastical rock opera that doesn’t disappoint visually, emotionally or musically. The biopic blueprint isn’t overhauled in any major way, but with Edgerton’s confident performance and Fletcher’s ability to weave a story from Elton’s own beloved lyrics, Rocketman is a cosmic celebration of an unmatched talent. Rocketman opened nationwide at theaters last week.

3.5 stars out of 5 stars

The Tomorrow Man

BLEECKER STREET MEDIA
  • Bleecker Street Media
More romantic comedies need to be made in Hollywood about people in their 60s and 70s. While we’re at it, those same movies should create relationships that feel genuine and engaging, even for those viewers who aren’t in the twilight of their lives. Movies like It’s Complicated, Hope Springs and Something’s Gotta Give might have a few laughs, but they’re cut from the same glossy rom-com cloth. Although The Tomorrow Man avoids some of the usual tropes, it’s not the film that will change the way senior citizens’ love lives are portrayed on the big screen. It’s unfortunate since The Tomorrow Man stars two-time Oscar nominee John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment) and Blythe Danner (I’ll See You in My Dreams), who work well together as an older couple who meet-cute and fall in love. Lithgow plays Ed Hemsler, a paranoid retiree who is stocking up on things like water, canned food and batteries in case, as he puts it, the “SHTF” (shit hits the fan). Ed is a conspiracy theorist of sorts and is fairly creepy when he meets Ronnie Meisner (Danner), a soft-spoken widow who spends her money on things she doesn’t need. Despite the chemistry between Lithgow and Danner, debut writer/director Nobel Jones’ screenplay is hokey and emotionally unsatisfying. The offbeat premise, too, fails to deliver its ultimate message without Jones spoon-feeding it to his audience—the importance of living in the now and not worrying about the future. When it’s not awkward, Ed’s courtship of Ronnie is sweet, but The Tomorrow Man spins its wheels all the way to what has to be the most predictable ending of the year. The Tomorrow Man opens exclusively at the Santikos Bijou Cinema Bistro June 7.
2.5 stars out of 5 stars

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