A review digest for films you can watch right now on Netflix!
In a dark, gang-riddled part of London, Tom (Bill Milner, X-Men: First Class), a young boy pines for Lucy (Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones). The schoolmates are clearly crazy about each other but too shy to take that next step. Tom even resists the nudges to make a move by his friend Danny. It’s here where IBOY, a new Netflix Original movie begins.
IBoy tackles some pretty heavy issues, almost matter of factly. Tom finally gathers the courage to open up to Lucy about his feelings. Tom arrives at Lucy’s flat one night only to find her brother unconscious and Lucy raped. The small gang of perpetrators shoots Tom in the head as he makes a frantic phone call to law enforcement.
Tom wakes up days later and learns that a piece of his phone is lodged in his brain. After this, Tom’s life gets weird when he starts hearing people’s phone calls and intercepting wi-fi signals. Tom goes through the usual steps of life with a new super-power as portrayed in countless movies for decades. He struggles with it at first, learns to control it and have fun with it, then learns how to weaponize it. That might make iBoy sound formulaic, but the film has an attitude that breaks the mold a bit.
The mood of iBoy is somber, reminding me of Alex Proyas and films like The Crow or Dark City. There’s an atmosphere that looms over the film, and the weight of it doesn’t ever crush the narrative. Tom’s story is essentially a superhero origin story but with a darkness we don’t usually see since Marvel’s colors took over. IBoy is more like a DC film except with a more coherent story and less kinetic and frequent CG-infested action scenes.
As for the effects and action, IBoy is gritty and subtle. One of the best scenes, however, comes when IBoy uses his power for fighting evil and tortures his targets. The moment comes in a car and shows the power someone like Tom has. Imagine a hacker who doesn’t need to crack codes or bypass firewalls. Tom is part of the system and can reach out with invisible tendrils to control all manner of things in a super-interconnected world.
If you removed the fantastical elements of IBoy it still works as a drama about two young adults living in an rough, urban district. Of course, without iBoy’s power you don’t get the cool end fight with the head mobster. And don’t let the movie fool you, while it is formulaic in a lot of ways, it never feels it and the end tosses a nice twist into the mix that makes the story firmly as much about Lucy as it is about Tom.
Everything about IBoy is solid and comes together to form an entertaining whole. Fans of the genre will enjoy the ride, especially if you’re looking for something not related to some grander universe that requires research to fully understand.
Sound & Music 3
Visual Effects 3
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
Let’s start this review off with a heap of hyperbole. Sundance award-winner I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is the best “Netflix Original” movie on the streaming service. I’ve watched a lot of them. All the reviews here on Film Debate are a testament to the time I spend sinking deeper and deeper into all the stuff that’s streaming on Netflix. I’ll get into all the nitty-gritty in a minute, but just know that it’s a great film and you’re better served watching it now than reading my next 500+ words of praise. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, then perhaps a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes will sway you.
I Don’t Feel At Home stars Melanie Lynsey (Two And A Half Men) as Ruth Kimke, an unremarkable every-girl. Ruth is nerdy, shy, a little socially awkward, and just downright pissed off. It’s here where I want to remind readers of the movie Falling Down. If you remember, Falling Down starred Michael Douglas as a man who had enough with many of life’s little frustrations that are born from people and the world, erring on the side of the asshole. Ruth thinks people are assholes and it goes unsaid throughout the film that they’re assholes for no reason.
Ruth’s life as a Nursing Assistant is unspectacular, and then she comes home to find her house robbed. Ruth doesn’t have much and now even those few things like her laptop and grandmother’s silverware, are gone. Instead of accepting being a victim, Ruth decides to find her stuff. Before this, Ruth reminds a neighbor named Tony, played brilliantly by Elijah Wood, that he’s an asshole because he let his dog go number two on Ruth’s lawn. Their contentious first encounter leads to a friendship. Tony becomes Ruth’s sidekick as she tracks down her laptop.
I Don’t Feel At Home is such peculiar movie. As it plays out, it manages to live equally in dramatic tension and humor. The film grows more violent as it goes on but never loses its sense of humor. Director Macon Blair makes his directorial debut after appearing as an actor in both Blue Ruin and Green Room, two fantastic films. Blair’s control of the camera works so well for nearly every frame. One scene early on when Ruth walks in on her robbed home creates so much tension with so little movement. A moment of Ruth taking a knife from her kitchen is shot in such a way to make you worry what might come next. As Ruth slips out the knife, the only thing you see of her for these few seconds, the tension increases.
Not a moment is wasted in I Don’t Feel At Home, and I dare people to predict the movie as they watch. The film goes into some surprising directions without being at all jarring, unexpected, or the result of lazy writing. Ruth’s evolution is a joy to watch. It’s a rom-com that trades out the typical movie plot contrivances and instead mixes it with a tense thriller about fighting back against the people we allow to be assholes.
Sound & Music 4