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Kin reviewed by Stars & Popcorn

There are definitely more than a few problems when it comes to Kin. However, none of those matter in the grand scheme of things because it’s such an incredible movie as far as representation goes. Growing up it was easy for me (your typical white guy) to relate to all the kids who would go off on fantastic sci-fi adventures. I had Flight of the Navigator, E.T., The Never Ending Story, and so on. Kin though is one of the first times we’ve gotten to see a black kid be the center of one of these epic sci-fi adventures. This might not seem like a big deal, but if there is anything that Black Panther taught us it’s that this kind of representation is incredibly important for kids out there. I might not have been completely sold on Kin, but the person I went to see it with was ecstatic at the chance to see a young black boy on the big screen getting a chance at his own adventure. To me, that’s more important than a lot of the pacing issues, weak character development, or anything else I can find wrong with Kin. Even then, there really isn’t that much to find wrong with the film.

It’s pretty clear that Kin is a story about family. Well, it’s a story about two brothers, Jimmy and Eli Solinski played by Myles Truitt and Jack Reynor. Eli is the younger adopted brother who is struggling to get by in the wake of his adopted mother’s death. At exactly the wrong moment, his brother Jimmy gets out in time to be a bad influence on Eli. Of course, this all sounds an awful lot like a drama, so let’s not forget to mention that Eli also gets his hands on one of the craziest sci-fi guns I’ve seen in recent memories. I mean, this thing is pretty much a “point, shoot, watch everything in front of your explode” kind of gun. Needless to say, things get complicated for the brothers because this is the must-have weapon of the year. Not only do criminals want to get their hands on the brothers, but a bizarre pair of alien bounty hunters want their tech back.

One of the biggest problems with Kin is that it’s supposed to be a movie about family and the dynamic between Truitt and Reynor is a bit lacking. Truitt approaches his brother with a mixture of apprehension and admiration. However, he puts his well-deserved apprehension on hold a little too quickly, especially given the erratic behavior of his displays throughout the movie. Reynor, on the other hand, seems a little too willing to take his kid brother on the lamb with him once he does get back into trouble. It feels a little too convenient to the plot, especially when the two are so willing to forgive each other at the drop of a hat. Maybe it’s just that I’m not the kind of guy to believe blood is thicker than water. That being said the problem is less with the performance than with the script by directors Jonathan and Josh Barker.

Oddly enough the most memorable performance in Kin comes from James Franco who plays a crazy arms dealer who has dealings with the older Solinski brother. There’s something so off-putting about his boyish smile that your skin can’t help to crawl. It’s his characters ways of saying “careful, I bite.” He sets out on a self-destructive journey of revenge after his brother dies in a robbery gone wrong with Jimmy. While his motives might be understandable, his actions are a little less so as his mind quickly seems to fade. Still, he makes for quite a terrifying bad guy. I mean, he even makes an ugly sweater looks scary. As far as the sci-fi elements of Kin go, I really love a lot of the production design that went into this film. The gun itself is memorable and has a practical, yet incredibly innovative design. It’s essentially a boring looking rectangle that pulls out into a sleek looking battle rifle. Of course, that’s not the only alien part of the film. The two bounty hunters tracking the gun and incredibly intimidating. Not because they are mean or rough and tumble, but because they’re these sleek, armored up, terminator-esque unstoppable beings that refuse to quit until they get what they want. Combined with Franco’s character, the Barker brothers are able to create a sense of urgency cutting to their heroes pursuers who are hot on their trail. It’s only a matter of time before all these forces end up colliding in a pretty epic conclusion.

My biggest problem with Kin though is the ending. It’s not a bad ending at all, it’s an ending that makes me feel like what’s about to come next is going to be so much more interesting than what I just saw. It turns out there is much more to the entire film than meets the eye initially and no matter how I might feel about the faults in Kin, I want to see a sequel from the Bakers more than anything. In that sense, Kin serves as an epilogue to a much grander story. In that regards it’s a raging success. However, I wanted more than just a chapter zero from the movie. What I got might have left me wanting for more, but does that make for a bad movie? Well, a little. Given what I did get from Kin though, I will say it’s a unique concept with cool production values that suffers from the same problems a lot of films from first-time feature directors experience. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s far from perfect. Here’s hoping the Bakers get a chance to make it right with an incredible sequel that lets the seeds they’ve planted come to fruition.  

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