There was a time when I believed Netflix could do no wrong. Yes, some of their shows I didn’t appreciate, but they didn’t release anything which was crap. Now, I’m not saying this movie is crap but I do feel as much as Netflix is redefining what it means to be a VoD release[note]Formerly known as “Straight to Video”[/note], at times all they are changing about the stigma is there being bigger stars and a budget.
Characters & Storyline
The discovery that there is an afterlife has, over the course of a few years, led to 4 million suicides. Something which the discoverer of the afterlife, Thomas (Robert Redford), is not apologetic about at all. However, his pseudo-coconspirator Will (Jason Segel) feels differently. He wants, if not begs Thomas to say the research was wrong so that people stop leaving this world thinking they’ll find better in the next. However, Thomas has no plans in stopping. In fact, alongside his son Toby (Jesse Plemons), he wants to go further. He doesn’t just want scientific proof of an afterlife but to provide people imagery. However, this development isn’t just to further people’s curiosity about the afterlife but also to bring a sense of closure.
Isla and Will’s Relationship Seems So Forced
There, to me, was no chemistry between Mara and Segel. She was some form of a manic pixie girl and Segel was the one made to decode her. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, you almost wonder what the point is of Mara’s character? What I mean by this is, as a Black or Hispanic person can feel like a token, just for the sake of diversity, her character feels like a token made just for the sake of a prominent female character.
Allow me to elaborate. Isla (Rooney Mara) is written to be your usual sarcastic, and kind of aloof, woman who as interesting as she is, her world revolves around the guy who introduces her. If he isn’t there, she isn’t talking about herself or revealing anything about her person. She is made solely to build him up, justify certain actions, and not much more.
Something which bugs me since, arguably, Mara’s abilities surpass that of a simply written love interest. Especially one who seems like they would never take an interest in the person they are dating. I mean, granted, Isla has enough issues in her life to push her to suicide, but nothing about Will pushes you to believe she finds solace in him. Nothing about Will leads you to believe she’d want to sleep in his room, in a bunk bed, just to be close to him. Never mind desiring to kiss him and be cutesy.
On The Fence
The Premise Is Better Than The Execution
There was a movie a few years ago called About Time. It too was a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy type of love story. However, what that story did was use the sci-fi premise to help build up the relationship between characters and not allow the sci-fi element to eclipse what was marketed. With this film, unfortunately, what you end up wanting is a sci-fi drama/thriller focused on Thomas discovering the afterlife exists. There is no real desire to see Will fall in love or discover how to connect to his loved ones who are deceased. You want to see him, Toby and Thomas re-forge old bonds and make more scientific discoveries. You want to see them steal more bodies from the morgue and figure out, when they try to tap into the mind of someone temporarily deceased, or permanently, what it is that you will see on the other side. For that is what will hook you. Not the romantic angle but, like About Time, the reconciliation of one of the most important relationships which you can actually see tension and chemistry in.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
If they cut Mara and allowed Toby to take her place, if they focused on the sci-fi part and the relationship between Toby, Thomas, and Will, this could have been a good movie. However, using perhaps one of the most intriguing sci-fi ideas and having it play second fiddle to a crappily put together romance plot between two actors with little to no chemistry? Honestly, I don’t know if I’m more mad I saw this in a theater where I couldn’t have escaped it or because it presented such an interesting idea, is there an afterlife, how would people react if it was confirmed, and what we may see there, and it wasted it.
Either way, I’m labeling this as something to skip for it further diminishes the idea that Netflix putting their stamp on it means it is a quality production. If anything, Netflix is starting to become like Apple. It may be a well-known brand name that a lot of people speak highly about, but there are honestly only a handful of times the things it puts out are worth praising, much less, live up to the hype.