‘Monster’ movie review: Kelvin Harrison Jr. shines in predictable Netflix courtroom drama

Based mostly on the award-winning novel by Walter Dean Myers, the drama is a biting, if myopic, commentary on the flawed nature of the prison justice system

Greater than three years since its world premiere on the Sundance Movie Competition, Anthony Mandler’s Monster is extra related now than it ever was. For one, the story of a black teen caught on the flawed aspect of a racially unjust prison justice system has turn out to be an on-screen staple; a case examine in how artwork imitates life.

And but, this newest Netflix launch appears to be influenced extra by a few of its forgettable predecessors quite than specializing in those which did impress. The movie is actually a courthouse drama, the place scenes from the previous and current are inter-cut at a dizzying tempo, to form a story that tries laborious to interact its viewers.

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Set in Harlem, the movie’s protagonist Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a likeable 17-year outdated who attends an elite highschool and aspires to be a filmmaker. Quickly, he finds himself in a repair. He’s accused of being an adjunct to homicide after an tried theft of a departmental retailer goes awry. Harmon whole-heartedly pleads his innocence regardless of his associates turning on him.

Subsequently, he’s racially profiled and left for the gallows till the steadfast defence lawyer Katherine O’Brien (Jennifer Ehle) steps in to try a well timed rescue. O’Brien is met with agency opposition from the state’s legal professional Anthony Petrocelli (Paul Ben-Victor) who manufacturers the younger Harmon as a ’monster’ and assures himself of the prison nature of {the teenager} by mumbling, “He seems to be the half to me”.

As his dad and mom (Jeffrey Wright and Jennifer Hudson) watch from the sidelines, Harmon grapples with the query of his self-worth, desperately questioning his humanity whereas attempting to make sense of the truth he finds himself in.

Led by Kelvin Harrison Jr., the central solid members are on the high of their sport, delivering plausible performances and setting the stage for a morally-charged story of justice and criminality in a world marred by racial inequality. Harrison’s portrayal of the troubled Harmon is simplistic but highly effective, etching out {the teenager}’s vulnerabilities with a sure diploma of ease that may depart one spellbound.

Paul Ben-Victor, beforehand noticed in critically acclaimed productions like The Wire and The Irishman, seems menacing and enthrals viewers along with his poise and dialogue supply, intensifying the central battle within the story. To high it off, high-profile cameos from widespread rappers like ASAP Rocky and Nas assist in boosting the manufacturing’s east coast credentials and the way.


  • Director: Anthony Mandler
  • Solid: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright
  • Period: 99 minutes
  • Storyline: A wise, likeable, 17-year-old movie scholar from Harlem sees his world turned the other way up when he’s charged with a homicide. The movie follows his dramatic journey by way of a posh authorized battle

Individually, David Devlin’s cinematography, which implements unconventional digicam angles and distinctive point-of-view pictures, provides to the following drama, making audiences squirm of their seats whereas a number of the excessive rigidity moments play out on display screen.

Regardless of prior hypothesis, the movie’s script is just not primarily based on true occasions. Fairly, it’s impressed by a Walter Dean Myers novel of the identical title, which was the recipient of the inaugural Michael L. Printz Award for younger grownup literature in 1999. Nonetheless, Myer’s addition to the checklist of writers concerned with the mission has not yielded the specified impact.

This may be attributed to the erstwhile ad-filmmaker Mandler’s ineptitude in utilising the sources at his disposal. Working example, the happenings inside the courtroom — which appear to make up for the final lacklustre nature of all the movie — harps on the pointless must mission a state of heightened rigidity, solely to boil right down to a predictable climax.

From overlaying problems with ghettoization of neighbourhoods to the complexities of life in jail, Monster, quite than delving into the intricate particulars of the world it’s set in, tries to seek out black and white solutions to the seemingly complicated issues it tries to deal with.

To sum up, morally charged movies on socio-cultural points are a dime a dozen within the on-line world of streaming platforms. To face out from the remaining would entail breaking new floor.

Fairly than taking a crack on the similar, Monster opts for a quite myopic strategy, searching for to easily pander to the ‘woke’ audiences, quite than carving a definite area of interest for itself. Its wasted potential is a sworn statement to the model of filmmaking it places on show— a form that may garner one’s consideration briefly however is unable to make a distinguished impression.

Monster is at present streaming on Netflix


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