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Overall Rating
2.29

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad85.71%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 1 rating



Kite
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by Jay Seaver

"Just another killer kid in another fallen world."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: This live-action adaptation of Yasuomi Umetsu’s animated film has apparently been in development for fifteen years, and the end result is one to make you wonder why certain projects persist and eventually get made in some form while others just fall apart. The idea isn't bad, but by the time all the necessary compromises have been made, is what's left worthwhile, or even good enough to stand out among other sci-fi/action movies of its type?

This one follows Sawa (India Eisley), whose mother and farther (an honest cop) were killed about ten years ago, and who now uses herself as bait to catch the flesh-smugglers who did it. She takes the edge off with "Amp", a drug designed to combat PTSD but which winds up erasing long-term memory if you abuse it the way she has. She's aided by her father's old partner, Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson), although as she gets closer to The Emir, a new potential ally enters the great, a boy about her own age by the name of Oburi (Callan McAuliffe).

The world she lives in is the near-ish future, after the economic collapse that has become the fashionable way to create a grimy environment where criminals run the show in genre films these days. The place is South Africa - not specified, but Jackson is the only one without the accent of the region - but it hardly matters; though the filmmakers were able to shoot in some impressively run-down neighborhoods, it's a generic sort of dark future where the setting contributes very little personality to the story. The string of foes that Sawa must go through (or whom she goes through even though she'd be much better off keeping a low profile) are fairly uninspired as well, leaving the story feeling like a warmed over mess of sci-fi pieces, with the really weird versions left in the anime.

It does have a little more style than most - director Ralph Ziman (who took over the job when David R. Ellis passed away during production) and the costume guys make sure that Sawa pops out of the screen during most of her scenes, and they tend to stage the action to make it believable that this fairly small girl can appear to hold her own without making her look superhuman. They at least seem passingly aware the the way they and Karl are exploiting this young girl's sexuality should make the audience at least a little uncomfortable, which is better than is often the case, although they'll often go for the gross kill without making the audience feel the intensity. Ziman and company are frequently clumsy with how they demonstrate memories popping in and out of Sawa's head, though, and given that her destroying her memory to try and avenge something in the past is meant to be this story's central irony, that's something that's got to be more striking than whispered flashbacks to five minutes earlier.

There's also not a terribly impressive performance to be found anywhere. India Eisley seems like she might have potential, and she's got her moments, especially around action where she doesn't have to speak, but she's never memorable in how she says anything. Callan McAuliffe is going for cool-but-damaged as Oburi, but he never makes the guy interesting at all. Even Samuel L. Jackson is sort of going through the motions of being Samuel L. Jackson in a part that fits the sort of thing he does but never has the extra boost of charisma Jackson can bring to this sort of role. Nobody really manages to hold the screen other than during a late-film exposition dump.

For all the potentially weird science and hard action, "Kite" never really excites. And yet someone, if only the producers of the original version hoping for a future source of income, spent a lot of time and effort getting it made. It's a strange business, the movies, even as it tries to make the strange digestible.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=27296&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/19/14 16:51:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/17/16 chpqso USA 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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Directed by
  Ralph Ziman

Written by
  Brian Cox

Cast
  India Eisley
  Samuel L. Jackson
  Callan McAuliffe
  Carl Beukes
  Deon Lotz



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