Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gifted Review

It's safe to say that the events of "Captain America: Civil War" really shook all the Avengers, especially Captain America, as they went through all the cliche government/police force vs. the vigilantes/superheros drama that we have to see at least once in every superhero story, but apparently this especially ruined Captain America. Or maybe it's the events of the upcoming Infinity War that we have yet to see that destroys him. Because now we have the movie "Gifted" where Captain America is down in the dumps, not doing any superhero stuff while going by the name of Frank, fixing boats and trying to raise his super genius 7-year-old niece, who is born to be an Avenger one day, and failing miserably at all of these things. Meanwhile the wicked witch of the west has arrived, claiming to be Captain America's mother, and takes Captain America to court to gain legal custody over this girl because this mother has no heart and soul and just wants the little girl to be a brainwashed genius with zero life outside of math. Because apparently this mother has learned nothing from the death of her own daughter, aka Captain America's supposed sister, which is the reason why the little girl is living with Captain America in the first place. Man, what a twisted chain of events!

OK, you got me. This has absolutely nothing to do with Captain America or the Avengers. But it does star Chris Evans as this man named Frank whose life kinda sucks at the moment. I suppose Chris Evans is allowed to do non-Avengers stuff if he wants, but he hasn't spent a whole lot of time doing so since "The Avengers" in 2012. He was in a movie called "Playing it Cool," which I never saw. He also directed and starred in a movie called "Before We Go," which I also never saw. I have seen "Snowpiercer," which is a pretty freaking awesome movie based solely on a train that you should go see if you haven't. Outside that, yeah it's been all Captain America for Chris Evans, which is why I had a hard time watching "Gifted" without seeing Chris Evans and imagining him as Captain America. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. It's more of a compliment to how perfect he is in the Captain America role. But "Gifted" is a movie that I saw the trailers for a few months ago and was intrigued by, then forgot it existed until it randomly showed up in theaters the other week. After being confused about it, I looked it up again and was quickly reminded that I was excited for this movie and decided to go see it. A week later, here I am finally giving you my review of it.

I'm just going to say right off the bat that "Gifted" is an absolutely adorable movie that I completely bought into, despite its somewhat predictable story and somewhat cliche characters. I haven't dove into a lot of the reviews, but I did notice that it is barely positive on Rotten Tomatoes, but is pretty dang high on the Flixter user side of things as well as IMDb. My simple conclusion after watching this movie is that this is a movie where the casual audiences are going to enjoy a lot more than the critics with their super analytical hats on. Oftentimes I'm part of that latter audience with how I look at movies, but I also have the ability to sit back and enjoy a film for what it is, which is what I was able to do here. I walked out feeling like a teenage girl probably does after watching a chick flick. They turn on the movie wanting an exact set of circumstances to happen with whatever love story they are watching and are completely happy when it goes exactly as they hoped it would. That's exactly the case with me and "Gifted." After seeing the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, I had a feeling I knew exactly how everything was going to turn out, but instead of rolling my eyes at the movie when it played out exactly as expected, I was rooting for it to do so and cheered inside when it did.

I think the reason why the movie was able to do this to me was because of Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace. Chris Evans plays this uncle with the best of intentions whose life has gone down the whole because of this dark place he is currently in mentally, but you can really tell that he loves and cares for this little girl and wants nothing more than to do what he thinks is best for her after seeing what direction her mother, and his sister, took with her life. The thing is, they are completely opposites. Chris Evans' character is not dumb by any stretch of the imagination, but he plays the average human adult going through a difficult time in his life while this 7-year-old girl is anything but average. Her knowledge of math specifically is far beyond anything I've ever learned and I've been through two Calculus classes at college. Both in terms of knowledge and social skills, she is way beyond everyone at her normal first grade class and is super bored when they are learning 3+3 while she wants to go do advanced Calculus. And she doesn't feel like making friends with any of these kids because she just doesn't relate to any of them. But Chris Evans really wants nothing more than for her to have a normal life that any other 7-year-old would have.

The best part of this whole scenario is that young Mckenna Grace, who is 10 years old in real life, does a phenomenal job at selling this character. I don't know anything about her personally, but I would be willing to bet that she actually doesn't know anything about Calculus. I mean, who would at that point? But you absolutely believe that she has a deep knowledge of everything that she is saying, making is super fun to watch her quickly answer all the math problems that her first grade teacher throws out at her. It's also fun to watch her solve the big math problems that the professors from the school of the gifted throw at her later in the film. It makes math fun to watch. What's better, though, is she has such a fast, witty attitude about everything. She has quite the hilarious personality that makes her a joy to watch and her acting abilities are on par with all the adults in the film. She may not be a super genius like her character is in the movie, but she is truly a gifted young girl who is going to go far in life if she continues on her current path. It's been a long time since I've seen a child actor blow me away on screen like she does in this movie. I would love to see her and Jacob Tremblay, the kid from "Room," get together and do a movie. That would be great!

The intrigue with the movie comes when the grandmother comes onto the scene. This is where the message of the movie speaks powerfully. I won't say a whole lot about this, but the grandmother wants the exact opposite of what Chris Evans wants. She sees how talented and gifted this girl is and feels like a girl this special should forgo a normal 7-year-old social life and be fast-tracked onto the path of greatness. She wants her to be taken away from this normal school and be sent to a school for the gifted where, when all is said and done, she can be seen as one of the great minds of the times and solve some fancy mathematical equations that no one has been able to solve yet. Doing so would require a lot of focus and no distractions. No social life. No human interaction. No dating. No marriage. None of that. Just math, math, math and more math. Thus we have the question. What's more important in life? Becoming a super genius and solving some fancy equations that no one has been able to do so or living a regular life, learning to be involved, have friends, find love and all of that fun jazz? And what does it mean to be gifted? Are only a few, select people gifted or is everyone gifted in their own special way? I think this movie tackles these questions rather appropriately.

Yes, you can probably see this movie as a boring, cliche movie that does everything you think it's going to do, but I saw it as a movie that hit all the right notes and did so with emotion and tact that makes for quite the wonderful journey. Chris Evans does a fantastic job in this movie. Mckenna Grace does an even better job considering her age. The chemistry between the two as uncle and niece are perfect. You jump for joy when they are together, despite the rough times, and your heart sinks as the grandmother steps in and tries to separate them. Not to be forgotten are the supporting roles from Jenny Slate, who plays Mckenna's first grade teacher, and Octavia Spencer, who plays the neighbor of Mckenna and Chris Evans. The chemistry between Jenny Slate and Chris Evans is awkwardly hilarious given the circumstances of dating your student's guardian is not the most legal. But when that man is Captain America, I mean who can blame you for wanting to do so? And man does Octavia Spencer have a few fantastic moments that proves yet again why the hold world loves her. So yeah, the summer season in Hollywood is upon us and a lot of huge blockbusters are about to hit theaters, but don't let "Gifted" slip by. Give it a watch! I'm feeling generous and thus I will give "Gifted" a 9/10.

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