A young girl tries to understand how she mysteriously gained the power to set things on fire with her mind.
THE GOOD STUFF
ZAC EFRON- At this point, I have to give credit where credit is due. Zac Efron is a man whose performances have gotten a lot better over the years. It seems as if everything he’s done post 2015 has been worth a respectable nod to his noticeable improvement from what he used to be. (extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile, the greatest showman, bad grandpa, Mike and Dave need wedding dates) As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten even more naturalistic in his delivery. His status as a sex symbol is no longer forced upon audiences time after time with the attempt to override what he may be lacking in the acting department.
The thing is with Efron though, even though his performances have gotten a lot better… his movies… (such as this one) have not. But he is carrying this film for the most part, and that wasn’t something he was able to do competently up until recent years.
RYAN KIERA ARMSTRONG- The performance of the title character of this film is decent enough. I’m fresh off of seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of madness, which is to say, that I’m fresh off of seeing one child performance that really, really, didn’t work. I don’t feel it is a spoiler in any way to say that the third act of this film requires Armstrong to do a lot of the heavy lifting. With that, she’s merely okay. She is a positive point on a movie where there’s very few.
THE BAD STUFF
THE AESTHETICS- Maybe it was an easy call simply by watching the trailers that there were certain parts of this movie that were going to be flat out hilariously bad. To me that is all of the visuals of this film. Everything about this screams bad schlocky early 1990’s and not in a good way whatsoever. It’s one of the most poorly lit movies I’ve ever seen. The vast majority of this film takes place during the evening. Every shadow completely blackens out whatever it covers. Certain scenes are filmed in a way where I was wondering if the theater was getting it wrong as far as the brightness of the actual screen. The CGI is laughably bad in particularly during the last sequence and which I think I can actually see matte lines against dark backgrounds. It’s not a pretty movie to watch.
THE UGLY STUFF
THE 3RD ACT- To say that this movie doesn’t stick the landing at the end of the film it’s an understatement. This is a movie with a third act that builds up to a particular ending that you think you can call from a mile away…but you cannot.
In the interest of maybe subverting expectations, the ending of this movie takes such a stupid turn in the final 10 minutes of the film that it ruins everything that came before it, and makes no logical sense. Sometimes you can just tell when a bunch of rewrites have taken place, and it’s never a good sign when those signs come right at the end of the movie. But here, they do.
It says a whole lot about this movie that it is a day-and-date release. It even says a lot more that in a city like Los Angeles, there were virtually no advertisements for this movie even though it was given a summer release by a major Hollywood studio. It’s like Universal pictures themselves were warning you not to see this film.