In an age where political issues swarm like an upset nest of hornets and movements taking place across the world, the movie business is looking to do its own public relations campaign in the form of films. No matter the topic of racism, sexism, or even just moments in history where ethnicity takes a role, we have been subjected to a number of films trying to capture the tales in all their “glory”. Yet like all films, the art of bringing the class and magic to stories like this can again be a challenge that some struggle with. So my final review this week looks to see if this biography succeeds in telling a story without going too far down the melodramatic, political preaching that these movies sometimes become. Robbie K reviewing:
Movie: Brian Banks (2019)
Good Morale Lessons
The question of real vs magic
Not as Much Morgan Freeman
Revealed Ending Early On
A Little Preachy At Times
More of the Lady Lawyers
The biography movies require that the character be hopefully represented by someone who not only looks like them, but can act like them. And for this reviewer they succeeded in capturing the looks of the characters they portrayed. Brian Banks tale has some grade A acting that feels very realistic, but somehow manages to find that passion to sell the emotion and struggles of the events the football player went through. Hodge in particular steals the show with his ability to take the drama and provide strength with it. Kinnear on the other hand seems to have the lawyer role down pat, seriousness and stern, yet compassionate and fun. The chemistry with all the cast really brings the scenario to life and making things feel real instead overly fake and doctored up by the studio. Despite all the quality acting though, the movie has many other qualities that help bring this political issue to new levels that other movies did not succeed for me. Some of it has to do with the presentation, primarily in how they take us on the trek of his case for freedom and the events leading up to it. This film manages to blend the past and present in an interesting manner that is easy to follow, each piece of the puzzle fitting into a nice slot that was placed well during the quest for the truth. In addition, the pace manages to strike a nice balance, managing to allocate plenty of time for character development, yet not move so slow that you wish the movie to end. In addition, the film achieves the emotional delivery utilizing well written dialogues, camera work that captures the emotion, and musical editing that somehow manages to blend together and motivate one to become better. Note, I found this case a little more relevant to myself that may have helped, but I was impressed in how well the tale was presented feeling real, but no so real as to be dry and mundane.
Yet, the movie still has some things I would have liked to see improved upon. One is how much of this is realistic vs. magic of the cinema. For this movie, the emotion can sometimes cloud the evidence and get you caught up in the frenzy, but I feel it struck the equilibrium quite well for real vs. doctored. Past this point, the movie’s component I would have liked was the better character balance of some of the group they worked hard to show off in the trailers. The lady lawyers were some of these characters, two women who sort of got things moving, but then sort of got lost in the background. I would have enjoyed more of their integration and perhaps dive into their lives. However, the biggest surprise was that Morgan Freeman was not as prevalent as the trailers seemed to promise. Luckily, he maximizes the time he is on the screen, bringing those same powerful performances he is famous for, still I had hoped the man who influenced so much would have been a little more integrated into the tale. In regards to the story itself, again its motivational, but the ending is dropped off right at the beginning and thus taking with it the suspense of the film. As for the morals, as powerful as they are, the movie sometimes drops into the preachy category, deviating too much in the political territory and veering away from the balanced telling I loved about this movie.
As you can see, I loved this biography/drama well and found that the realism and emotion were able to truly inspire me about Brian’s journey and what his determination accomplished. The film’s story, acting, and presentation accomplish the balance of reality with magic, all utilized well to teach the lessons I think these movies are all about. The movie could have been perfect had there been a little more tightening, primarily in the realm of utilizing Brian’s crew a little better, not giving the ending away in the first two minutes, and not going out of the way to state the political components it was presenting. This treasure will most likely go unnoticed given all the movies being released, but in terms of biography I recommend this one for a theater visit. If not in the cards, check it out at home release, especially those looking to inspire others to overcome the goals. Given all this, my scores for this movie are:
Movie Overall: 6.5