A pair of Director/Writer brothers, Jonathan and Josh Baker, transform their subtle and intriguing short film into an explosive Sci-Fi treat for the early fall season. Here is my full review for the film.
I highly recommend checking out the brothers' short film, Bag Man, to get an added layer to KIN. Both films share the structure of a young African-American boy coming into ownership of a mysterious space gun. This tremendously powerful weapon is not only the saving grace but a huge burden for the people in our lead's life. Myles Truitt is great as our lead character Eli Solinski, who is an adopted child to Dennis Quaid's Hal Solinski. And of course a film directed by brothers should have its own set of kin. Jack Reynor plays Eli's older, recently released from jail, thuggish brother Jimmy. The film takes place in the mean streets of Detroit (nice switch from the short's NYC Harlem setting) where abandoned buildings still impact the city's skyline. Jimmy's hooligan past of course comes back to haunt the Solinski household and turns the film into a fun road trip movie. Along the way, Jimmy and his brother Eli are conveniently chased by Detroit and Nebraska gangsters and a pair of mysterious time travelers (searching for that space gun). James Franco plays the leader of the Detroit faction who is rage-fueled over the loss of his own brother. The Nebraska baddies do give up the treat of Zoe Kravitz's character Milly, a stripper with a heart of gold. Her character is a nice addition but eventual left behind.
The story is really super over-the-top, but the pacing and musical score by Mogwai actually hold strong throughout. We are allowed to embrace the Eli character and to see Jimmy has a redeeming quality. The real excitement over the film is fully housed in the Sci-Fi ties. DP Larkin Seiple & the Baker brothers pay tribute to the first two Terminator films and it's influence is nicely connected to the wild futuristic reveal in the film's final moments. I also felt like a ton of 90s era Sci-Fi films obviously impacted the Baker's tastes. Robocop came to mind and even an oldie like The Last Starfighter seems like obvious influences. The gritty nature of the short film are replicated in the feature and everything comes back to the wonderful execution of the Sci-Fi elements. The final 20 minutes of the film are worthy of your time and money. Not only do we get more explosive fun with those two mysterious figures (think Daft Punk meets the Meteor game), but the special reveal of who one of those space folks is worth your patience. Also the epic freeze element is a real marvel and pieces together's Seiple's great city cinematography and the visual/special effects teams.
The film won't make you think amazing acting or anything special. But you are getting to see two intelligent directors/writers get a chance to turn their innovative Sci-Fi work turned into a proper bigger budget film. Alfonso Cuaron had to be noticed by Y Tu Mama Tambien to get the clout to make Children of Men and then the real big money to make Gravity. Ok KIN is not Children of Men level, but these Baker brothers are certainly worthy of notice for giving us heartfelt Sci-Fi set in the tougher parts of Detroit/Harlem. Hell everyone keeps getting fired from Star Wars films, how bout giving these fellas one of them.
Directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker