Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Indie film on Netflix a noteworthy watch

Posted on March 22, 2016 in Arts & Culture, Movie Reviews
By USM Free Press


By John Rocker

Dope is an Indie film that came out last year. The reviews for this film were positive and it got an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The story takes place in present day, but based on how the main characters are dressed, you wouldn’t believe that. The main characters are three teenagers who are about to graduate high school and they are considered geeks. They are obsessed with 90’s culture and they have their own band. Out of the three, the story focuses on Malcolm (Shameik Moore). He lives in Inglewood, California, an area known for a lot of criminal activity. He lives with his single mother and his father left him when he was young, but despite all the things surrounding Malcolm, he wants to better himself. He wants to do well on the SATs and even go to Harvard. The story really kicks off when Malcolm and his friends go to a party run by a drug lord, and chaos ensues from there.

The story takes a lot of crazy directions, but it’s something that grabs your attention and is paced well. It’s an adventure film mixed with a coming of age film, set in modern times. It’s a film that’s difficult to categorize. The film is truly something original, which is great to see. It also gives a great message. No matter where you come from, you can achieve it if you are willing to make the effort. This is something that is shown throughout multiple points of the film with different characters, and it works.  

The performances are also noteworthy, particularly Shameik Moore. He did a fantastic job of making his character feel natural and likeable. Throughout the movie, you watch this character evolve while still retaining to his true self, and Moore certainly deserves a lot of credit for this. I hope to see him in more movies in the near future. Really, most the performances felt natural, with the exception of a certain businessman. Other than that, the cast does a great job and the dialogue certainly helps. It’s a great mix of comedy and drama, and it gives the characters a lot more complexity. It makes the characters believable, which makes the world feel believable, which makes the story feel believable.

Looking at the technical aspects, the editing is definitely something worth mentioning. It does a great job using non-linear storytelling at points, allowing us to go back to certain points in the story to fill in the blanks. Perhaps a certain detail lost in the chaos. There is also an incredible emphasis on music and it’s used in interesting ways with the editing. There’s one moment where a song says “backwards” and the film literally starts to go backwards because it is going to take us back to a point in time to fill the blank. It’s the little things like that make this film stick out from the rest. The soundtrack is also really catchy and fits well with the characters, since a majority of it is 90’s hip-hop.

Overall, Dope is an original and enjoyable film with a good story and great performances. Since the film is out on Netflix, I’d give it my highest recommendation.

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