Stray (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

Stray (2019) - Title Card
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Stray is a semi-low budget sci-fi film which focuses more on the cop seeking to redeem herself than the powerful girl, and her family, you want to learn more about.


Director(s) Joe Sill
Written By JD Dillar, Alex Theurer
Date Released 3/1/2019
Genre(s) Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action
Good If You Like Watching Detectives Get Their Lives Back Together
Isn’t For You If You Were Expecting A Sci-Fi Movie Starring And Focused On A Asian Family With Secrets
Noted Cast
Kyoko Saki Miata
Stella Murphy Christine Woods
Nori Karen Fukuhara
Jake Ross Partridge
Jin Miyavi
Saeko (Grandma) Takayo Fischer

Stray Plot Summary (Ending Explained on Page 2)

With the discovery of a petrified woman, Kyoko, whose body is supposedly 1000+ years old, this raises a red flag for the police department. In particular, it raises a red flag for Detective Stella Murphy who just rejoined the force after being put on leave. However, with evidence scarce and Kyoko’s mother weary of outsiders, the case seems like an uphill battle. That is, until Kyoko’s daughter Nori goes to Stella, on her own, and against her grandmother’s will, and pushes the case forward. But, by putting herself out there, she only instigates her mother’s killer to be a bit more reckless as it becomes clear they are looking for her.

Highlights

The Magic Seemed Interesting

Nori (Karen Fukuhara) using her magic in the final battle.
Nori (Karen Fukuhara)

With us seeing Nori recreate the past with her Kaisho and us seeing the destructive powers of something else using the same power, it created a bit of a hook. One which we learn is a bit of a Trojan Horse but what you’re going to do. At least the swirling of energies made for a few decent fight scenes towards the end of the film.

Criticism

Stella Being Pushed Front & Center

Stray’s trailer: let’s focus on a woman being killed who was petrified and a girl who clearly has powers. A girl whose powers weren’t spoken of much and she was taught more so to ignore them than learn how to control them. All the while, someone hunts her down who possibly wants to kill her.

Stray the movie: Let’s focus on the detective whose marriage is falling apart and is dealing with losing a child. I don’t know about you, but I hate being sold one thing in the trailer only to realize that storyline either shares focus with a less interesting storyline. If not, depending on how you look at it, is a secondary storyline to a movie you wouldn’t rent or buy access to.

Which isn’t to say Detective Murphy’s personal life is boring or the way she is performed is lackluster. More so, I wasn’t invested in what happens to her for that wasn’t what was marketed. So the more it became clear I better get used to seeing her take over and be focused on, the less able I was to enjoy myself.

Inconsistent Subtitles

I watched this through Amazon, and there were periods when the subtitles just said that they were speaking Japanese. Which, considering it is noted they immigrated from China raises a few questions but also leaves who knows how much information out there. The kind which perhaps could have solved some issues we have with the film.

On The Fence

The Oshiro Family Drama & History

Grandma (Takayo Fischer) noting she doesn't care about Nori's happiness.
Grandma (Takayo Fischer): Your kaisho is more important than your happiness.

With Stella’s personal life and complicated relationship with husband/ lieutenant Jake so heavily focused on, we only get scraps of what went on within the Oshiro family. This sucked because the whole Kaisho thing is just left on the table and not delved into much. It is presented as a genetical inheritance but as for its exact origins and what can be done with it? You are given very little information.

Also, in terms of where the males are in this family, like Nori’s dad, heck Kyoko’s even, you can only assume they were killed, and that’s that. And this lack of information fuels the dislike of Stella for in making the Oshiro family so underwhelming, it forces you to look towards the drama in Stella’s life.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase, Rent, or Merchandise On (Amazon)

The issue with Stray is that the trailer sells you one thing and then focuses on a character who you knew would be a medium for the story, but wouldn’t expect to end up the star. Yet, one has to admit, between the potential of the magic users and the little we know of the Oshiro family, the movie isn’t terrible. Hence the mixed label.


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