The Hate U Give - Hotseat Reviews

nerffan8000
Funny story, when seeing this movie it was one of those days where I didn't get a single minute of sleep, I'm not really sure why. I didn't have any expectations regarding this movie going into it, so I doubt it had to do with stress. Who knows, and... who cares? All I can say is that the movie should be glad that I was rarely bored while watching it, or else I probably would've fallen asleep. Reclining theater seats, the sign of 2018.

Getting back on track, it's time I try to get more progress on this blog series now that school isn't breathing down my neck. With that being said, I present to you The Hate U Give, a movie that has received high praise from critics with an 82 MetaScore, yet it hasn't gotten that much buzz elsewhere. However, my school has recently been doing field trips either inside or outside of class for movies, and I decided that I would take advantage of it. Sure they aren't free, but I'll at least see some good movies this way! Or so I thought.

No matter what you believe in when it comes to politics, I think we can try to be civil and instead try to focus on the filmmaking aspects rather than the message it's trying to preach. Unfortunately for this film, in particular, the film in question had the flair of a TV movie with a larger budget. It can tell a story well enough but will leave viewers like myself starved for anything unique when it comes to the directing, cinematography, soundtrack, and anything else that makes movie watching special. Ironically enough, the biggest problem I had with the movie was the script. I haven't read the book that this movie is based on, which might not have the same problems, but at the same time, I'm solely judging this movie on what is presented to me, not any lost concepts that may or may not have been in the book.

Coming from a high school that could very easily be described as "ghetto" (Which was probably why this movie was permitted to be for the field trip), I was at least hoping for dialogue that would be the slightest bit convincing for that setting. It's just a shame we never got that. Making references to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé isn't going to appeal to the high school students you made this movie for, and it's jarring when characters unironically say "lit" in a Christian school setting. I also found the narration to not only make the movie incredibly corny (which does not help the attempted serious tone) and treats the audience like complete idiots. The narration constantly tells us what the characters are thinking and doing rather than showing it as the movie should, and it gets grating fast. That's not to say that narration can't work, there are films like Trainspotting that use narration very well, but it shouldn't be used to tell the audience how to feel while making up for poor characterization, and that's what The Hate U Give does.

I never once felt like the characters I was watching were real people at any point, they all felt like walking Wikipedia notes. In this movie, a character is either portrayed as a saint or as a scummy human being, and there can't be any gray area because that would challenge the viewer. You've got the good family, the good white friend, the kid killed by cops, the bad white friend, the racist cops that don't go beyond being racist cops, there's nothing that could be used as an addition to a complex discussion about a topic like this and it's borderline insulting. I got 13 Reasons Why flashbacks at certain parts because of how little this movie had to say, and everything that it did say was so surface level that I'm surprised anyone is taking it seriously, no matter the political spectrum.

The rest of the script was dreadful also, especially in regards to the tone. The movie didn't seem to know whether it wanted to be a serious melodrama or a sitcom, because it desperately tried to shoehorn in comedic moments right after scenes where we're supposed to feel heartbreak or tension, and they don't flow together at all because it seems to change with each scene. One scene we go from having a "hilarious" scene where the white friend is brought to the black family, and the dad doesn't trust him because he's white. The next scene the entire cast is at risk of being killed. There are movies like Happiness where they are able to combine serious drama with comedy seamlessly, but it takes a lot more talent than The Hate U Give had the capability of acquiring, and it's difficult to take the movie seriously when this combination fails to work, especially when it isn't funny or dramatic. With all of the jokes thrown at the audience, I didn't laugh once, which was made even worse by the roaring laughter in the theater, to the point where I wondered "where was the joke?" at certain parts.

The last nail in the script's coffin was the unnecessary padding that destroyed the pace. For a movie that clocks in at two hours and thirteen minutes, I'm willing to bet that a good 40-60 minutes could've been cut and nothing would be lost. This especially rings true with the subplot revolving the dad's connections to a drug lord, which served no overall point in the movie and just detracted from the overall message. There wasn't any relevance to her basketball playing in any way, a lot of the exposition could've been cut down, a lot of scenes could've been shortened, there wasn't much justification to the runtime at all. When I'm criticizing the script, I'm completely aware of the unfortunate tragedy that happened with one of the screenwriters and I wish my condolences to everyone who knew her, yet I don't want to lie about my experience either.

The only positives I can think of when it comes to the movie is some of the performances, particularly with the lead Amandla Steinberg. While there were some scenes that could've been improved upon in her performance (coming from someone who just had stomach flu, it's distracting to see an actor who clearly faked vomiting), she certainly excelled with the emotional moments, which I'm convinced was the only reason why I wasn't bored. Anthony Mackie did a great job as well, Regina Hall was surprisingly good, Russell Hornsby was serviceable... and yet, there were other performances that were not so great. K.J. Apa didn't sell his performance at all and Sabrina Carpenter really bogged down any scene she was in as well. I also didn't think the child actor did that well either.

However, I don't think I can blame any of the actors involved here, because I feel like the core problems come from the script and the director. As said above, everything in regards to the cinematography is completely bland, mediocre at best. I can't think of a single shot in the entire movie that actually impressed me in any regard, even in the most minor of ways. What makes this even worse is that the director of photography in this movie is the same one as Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, which is a movie that is drop dead gorgeous, and beautifully shot. Either the cinematographer just wanted a paycheck or the studio/director was holding him back from shooting anything that would prove to be visually interesting. The soundtrack was most likely pulled off of one of the actor's Spotify playlists, none of them seemed to fit in any of the scenes other than to pander (hey look, 2Pac, we know what you like audience member!).

Overall, this is definitely the most shallow and preachy film I've seen all year, and this isn't even going into spoiler territory or going further in depth into the politics it preaches, because I refuse to do both. Outside of the performances, there is nothing about this film that I really enjoyed, and if you're looking for a film about race there are better ones out there, even down to ones released this year. Blindspotting is held up on high regard and I hope to see that soon because I'd rather see a movie that actually has complexities and can be talked about rather than making broad statements. Also, this is just a side note that didn't affect my rating of the film, but one thing I would like to tell a large group of students that attended is that you don't need to comment on everything that happened in the movie while it's happening. Also, to the student next to me, I don't know what universe you live in where you think it's a good idea to pull out your phone halfway through the film. Teenagers, a movie going group that I hate associating myself with but have no choice in doing so.

Either way, I'm hoping we can all act like somewhat mature users and try not to call people racists simply because of their view on a movie. Just because you don't like a movie doesn't automatically mean you're disrespecting the cause. If anything, asking for a more complex film is doing more than the movie itself did. I just wish that sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes didn't fall to their knees upon seeing a movie that has a message that they agree with because the entire film community is suffering because of it. For anyone who wants to become an avid movie critic or even someone who just wants to form an honest opinion, don't bother with either of those sites. Form your own opinions, no matter how you judge a film, you'll be better off. Next time I'll try to promote more positive media, it's too easy to be negative like this.

Rating: 3/10 (TheTopTens doesn't want this to be in bold anymore, I'll fix this when I can. Take care, everyone).

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