Review By Valerie Cameron
In Theatres August 26th, 2022
Director George Miller brings us a modern-day Genie in the lamp story. Staring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, this story features an Academic (Swinton) and a fantastical Djinn (Elba). Swinton's character Dr. Binnie finds an odd glass bottle in a small shop while visiting Istanbul. She does what one does in every genie (Djinn) story, she cleans the bottle and out pops the Djinn. We have seen this so many times before and so has the Doctor who studies and teaches such things. She is unsure if what she is seeing is real and then when given the opportunity to have three wishes of her greatest desire, she struggles.
Would you believe a Djinn was really there and would you think they had your best interests at heart? Do you know what your greatest desires would be? What would you wish for? We heard stories of wishes going dreadfully wrong. So, are wishes a trick or a way to open yourself up and really understand what you want from life. These are all struggles for our characters in the movie, both the Doctor and the Djinn. We learn about his past and how he came to be where he is now and we learn somewhat about the Doctor, but not as much as we should.
For me, Miller does a great job showing us fantastical worlds with oppilate surroundings. There are a few special FX issues in the beginning of the film that are so horrendous you wonder if you are seeing an unfinished cut of the film and then as we move through to the middle of the film, we get memorized by visuals and mystical transitions.
There are a few things that get messy with the story, the characters and the length of the film. Should we be able to let go of the fact that this Djinn is a black man basically being enslaved by a white woman? Is there a point being made by the filmmaker? There are several moments in the film that touch on race, but then it slides off in other directions. Should we/can we drop the notion that race and color have anything to do with this film and we are just seeing a tale as old as time with two very different characters and their juxtaposition in finding happiness is what the story is? If you can let yourself, be enveloped by the fantastcial, there are many things about this film you can enjoy. Elba and Swinton deliver solid performances and you want to get lost in Djinn's stories. However, with everything going on in this film I was left without magic by the end. I was not sure how to feel about the characters, the story or myself. Sometimes I like that, in this case I just felt there was not a clear direction.