Movie Review: The Hate U Give (2018)

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Summary: Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. 
  • Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter. 16-year-old Starr is stuck between two worlds. The world of her neighborhood, Garden Heights and Williamson, her prep school. She understands what it means to code switch depending on the people she’s around. One night she attends a party with her best friend, and she meets up with Khalil, a boy she knew from her childhood. They reconnect and when the party turns sour, she and Khalil escape and have moments in the car. Unfortunately, she watches as Khalil is murdered before her very eyes by a cop. She is stricken by this and has to continue through her life with something so horrific in her memory, in her bones and she struggles with the pain that she knows what happened. However, she’s afraid to say anything  because she’s worried what that might do to her family. Also, King of the King Lords pretty much threatens her about dry snitching and what not. But Starr must find her voice in order for Khalil to find justice and to find peace for herself. It’s a powerful story to see told by a friend and a witness. I was a little worried about Amandla at first, I think she’s a good actress but I haven’t seen her play a part like this but she pleasantly surprised me. She does make these weird faces lol, which throughout the movie I was like “lol girl stop” but I know she can’t help it because it’s just her face lol. I thought she did very well with all the emotional bits. Definitely a movie to make her mark as more than just a YA adaptation actress.
Supporting Characters.I mean, everyone on this list are people we see quite often in the movie but I had to give Amandla her due above and then hit everyone else after. Everyone does very well in the film.
  • Regina Hall as Lisa Carter.A friend of mine was curious to see how she would do playing a role like this. I understand her concern but I had a little more faith in Regina Hall and I thought for what the role asked of her, she did very well. She was firm when she needed to be and she has some of the best facial expressions, very funny. I also thought she had great chemistry with Russell Hornsby. I do think her role got a little downplayed in the movie compared to the book but from what she was given, I thought she did well and was memorable as the mom. Some of the best moments was the moment at the diner and at the end when they’re all at Carter’s groceries.
  • Russell Hornsby as Maverick Carter. Outside of Starr, he really shines. I think I’ve only seen him in Fences, but I loved him here. He’s not exactly what I thought Big Mav would look like but he really played him the way I would want him to be played. The movie starts out with him telling his kids how to conduct themselves when faced with police and you can tell that he might have just gotten out of prison and he’s trying to make sure his kids understand. He did this face where he could kind of snarl whenever he talked and I liked that because it’s something I would imagine a man whose been through what he’s been through would do. I loved the way he talked to his kids, he may come off a little hard but it’s clear he loves them. He’s always on their side. He was also really funny, especially the prom scene. Again, with the diner scene where everyone did such a great job, but he did really good here as well since it was directly happening to him.
  • KJ Apa as Chris. First things first, when he first showed up, that dark hair was not doing him any favors. I can’t remember if Chris had dark hair in the books or not but KJ Apa was way to pale that it was kind of shocking. It grew on me as the movie progressed. Anyways, I liked Chris a lot. I thought he was cute and sweet and I understood his confusion throughout the movie. It’s hard to be in an interracial relationship when things are going on because it’s hard to know who to trust with your feelings and whether or not they’ll understand. That’s where Chris stood with Starr after the event. He was in the dog house in the beginning because of what he did before the movie, but throughout the movie he was in a state of confusion because he didn’t know what was going on. I think Chris is a good kid, I do wish we got to see a little more of him and that he was included in more things mostly at the end, I think it would have been nice to have that but I also get why he wasn’t there. I like KJ Apa, he’s likable (though not as Archie Andrews lol) and I liked the chemistry he had with Amandla and his introduction is like the best because he’s so cute! KJ just has this All-American-Boy thing about him where he’s just so earnest, he plays that really well.
  • Algee Smith as Khalil Harris. Ahhh Kahlil. I think Algee Smith is so cute. I haven’t seen him in anything else (No I have not seen that New Edition movie though I might watch it now because of him), but he has this light about him. I don’t know if it’s because of who he was playing but as soon as he walked into the room and Starr looked at him, I was like “he’s my favorite” and he’s just so sweet and likable that it sucks that he was murdered. When he and Starr meet up, they catch up and what I love about him is that when the fight breaks out, he didn’t leave her, he made sure she was with him so he could make sure she got home safely. While they were in the car, they reminisced and he thought of what could be and he says this line that made me go “Dang, where’s mine!?” *sighs* He’s super likable and I wish Justice for Khalil. Algee Harris is great, he’s charismatic, and I hope to see more of him. I did fan cast as one of my characters from one of my books lol, I see big things!
  • Lamar Johnson as Seven Carter. Sadly, I don’t think we got to see as much of Seven as I would have liked. However, I really liked him. He’s the product of a night between Maverick and Iesha (King’s wife? Girlfriend?). He clearly spends a lot of time with the Carters as he goes to school with both Starr and Sekani. He is very protective of both of them and he loves the Carters so much that when Iesha and King came to the funeral, he didn’t want to be with them but stay with the Carters. I mean, it makes sense as King definitely doesn’t seem to like him, though we never really got to see an interaction between King and Seven. There is a story line that gets passed to him where in the book it happens to a character they removed from the movie (I talk more about this at the end of this review), which was fine with me. It allowed the moment to be way more personal for everyone involved and I think it flowed seamlessly with the events before and after. It just made more sense that way. I also will keep an eye out for Lamar Johnson though because whenever he was one screen, my eye did go to him.
  • Issa Rae as April Ofrah. What can I say about Issa Rae, hahaha that rhymes. But she doesn’t have a HUGE role but the role she plays is perfect for her. Issa Rae is likable no matter what she does. She plays this woman who stands up for justice and she encourages Starr to find her voice for Khalil. She’s great. Boom.
  • Sabrina Carpenter as Hailey.There are two of Starr’s best friends from Williamson but Hailey gets a little more screen time in that she is the person closest to Starr at Williamson who doesn’t understand. It’s hard when you’re trying to be two people and suddenly your worlds collide and people don’t get it. Hailey doesn’t get it. Sabrina Carpenter is really likable, I mean I still wanted to kind of hit her but her character isn’t supposed to be likable and I just felt like she was really ignorant.
  • Common as Uncle Carlos. So, I think this was perfect casting once I found out about it and I think Uncle Carlos is a good and interesting character. He’s a cop which makes him on both sides of the situation and puts him in an interesting situation. He’s there when Starr calls him and I’ll talk about him more. I think Common is fine in the role, mostly with what they gave him.
  • Anthony Mackie as King. I think Anthony Mackie is a fantastic actor and I’ve seen him play villain roles before. I was a little worried though because physically he doesn’t look like how I would picture King who was described as a big man and Mackie looks younger than Maverick especially with them seemingly growing up together and Big Mav being his right-hand man. We don’t see him a ton but when we do, he’s in the background mean mugging, or threatening people. Anthony Mackie is good in roles like this though so I think he’s great and he’s quite intimidating lol.
  • TJ Wright as Sekani Carter. I don’t have much to say about him but he’s really cute and they did a little something different with him at the end that I didn’t expect. It was actually a great moment and it really worked for what the message of the movie was. This kid was great. Kind of reminded me of the little boy fromBlackish, he really embodied the meaning of his name.
The Family. It’s very important that the Carter family feel like a real family and be strong. There is a lot of history with what happened with Maverick and even the stuff between him and Uncle Carlos. I loved that the movie started out with Maverick talking with a young Seven and Starr about how to conduct themselves in case they’re pulled over by the police. It’s a very important conversation that all black families should have and it set the tone from the beginning. It set the tone of the movie and the tone of the family. Throughout the movie, we see a beautiful love with Lisa and Maverick. A cute sibling relationship between Seven, Starr and Sekani and a great relationship with the parents and their kids. It’s important to note that Lisa is not Seven’s mother but she treated him like her own son. I loved that the movie made sure we saw they were a family.
Relevant Story. No matter what you think of the movie overall, the story is relevant to what is going on today. Khalil was unarmed. Yes, he reached into the car and grabbed his hairbrush but why does no one ever shoot to disarm or shoot a taser? Why is it always shoot to kill? Sure, you’re in fear of your life but both of them were harmless, they didn’t even look like they were trouble other than the fact they’re black. We see Starr struggle throughout the movie with speaking up, we even learned that what happened with her other best friend as a kid, and how she didn’t speak up then. A lot of people go through that, no knowing whether or not they should “snitch” or speak up when they witness something because they’re afraid. Starr deals with grief and then she sees what happens with her family and Khalil’s family and she has to make the choices whether or not to live for Khalil.
Khalil’s Death. Not a spoiler since you know it from the trailer and what not, but it doesn’t lessen the blow when it happens. Starr and Khalil are having a great moment in the car, they talk about THUG LIFE, music and childhood and it’s so cute. Algee and Amandla have great chemistry and it’s so cute to think of the future. Anyway, they drive off and get pulled over and Starr thinks of what she learned as a kid. Khalil is a bit more frustrated because he’s not sure what he did. Watching the scene unfold knowing what it leads up to is very tense and then when he gets shot, it felt like I got shot three times because at this point, you like Khalil. We don’t get to know him that much since it’s basically 30 minutes into the movie but he’s likable and you like him. Starr is hysterical and the cop puts her in handcuffs and she’s trying to comfort him… it’s just so much. First scene of the tears and I still can’t forget it. I couldn’t forget it in the book either.
All the Feels. I think I cried like five times in the movie. I don’t expect everyone to cry while watching it but if you don’t feel anything, or don’t care about anything you see then, one, you’re made of stone and two why are you even watching this movie? lol being that this kind of thing happens in real life, it’s hard to not picture the people you know and love in these positions. When all of the death was happening a couple of years ago, it seemed like it happened every day, I had a moment where I just hugged my youngest brother because he’s tall, he’s black and I couldn’t bear the idea of losing him like that. So, I get it. It doesn’t happen constantly, there’s a lot of laughs in the movie too, but it’s very realistic.
Would you Shoot? Starr and Uncle Carlos have a moment in his kitchen after the family gets shot at in their house. She’s talking to him about it and he tells her what it’s like to be  a cop on the force and it’s intense. I totally get it. It was a great scene and you can tell that he really wanted her to understand just what all of that meant, but at the same time, you can tell from her that she expected something different from her uncle being a black man on the police force. What he was saying is probably true for most cops, I don’t know, I’m not a cop, but he’s right, it is the world we live in and it sucks. Great moment from both Amandla and Common.
Get out the car! There’s an entire scene that happens from this diner all the way to the Carter’s house. Big Mav and King have a moment and the police show up and well you can guess what happened. So, everyone has high emotions because of what happened and Starr says something that triggers Maverick and he makes all of the kids stand out on the lawn and recite a part from the Black Panther’s Seven Point program. He then tells them what their names mean and it was such a powerful scene. It quickly became a favorite in the movie.
Starr and Hailey. There’s a scene particularly towards the end where Starr and Hailey get into it. I won’t spoil it but Hailey basically makes a comment about the hairbrush and Starr snatches the one that’s in Hailey’s book bag pocket and makes a point. It was a great scene. In the book they have a physical fight but I actually think I liked this better just because it makes an important point. Amandla did great in that scene.
Cons:
Uncle Carlos. He’s not a bad character nor is Common a bad actor (he’s inconsistent but he’s fine), I just think they didn’t end his character on a good note. He’s supposed to represent the other half. He’s a cop which could make it hard for Starr to completely want to give up on all cops because of her uncle. They had a great relationship in the book and I think in the movie it was kind of implied that he was a large part of her life while Maverick was in jail, but I don’t think they played it up enough. I mean he was really important and he should have been way more in the movie. While I liked the conversation, they in his kitchen, it showed what cops might go through when out in the field, I don’t think they ever gave him the chance to really show that he was on Starr’s side. I think that was an issue because he needed to be and should have been. I don’t want to compare to the book too much but in the book, he gets into a fight and put on paid leave… that should have happened because it shows both Starr and the audience that he was still on her side. Common was perfect casting for him, but they really missed the mark on what to do with his character. Plus, he and Maverick have beef… it would be well founded but they don’t give it time to marinate before it’s finished. Meh.
Seven and King. In the movie we learn that Seven is the product of Iesha and Maverick having a night together. Something happens towards the end of the movie with Seven and it kind of came out of nowhere. Outside of King making a comment to Kenya and Starr about Seven’s name (though you can’t really talk King…) they never have a moment to really show that King doesn’t like Seven or anything of that nature. I think there should have been a moment or a few where King may look at him funny, or they have an argument, or something that would have made the part at the end make sense and not just some extra drama.
Overall, I loved The Hate U Give.For one, I think it’s a great adaptation of a fantastic book and I was thrilled that it for the most part kept the essence of the book. As a film, I think it was handled really well. All of the characters serve their purpose and I think audiences can identify with Starr with what she went through. I can’t imagine everyone going through what she went through but Amandla Stenberg does a great job playing the part. There are times where her facial expressions look really funny but she manages to push through the funny faces and really deliver a performance I think is her best. She had me by the heart strings. I loved the family dynamic and that they felt like a real family and how they reacted to each other like a family would. The story is extremely relevant in the situation and I think it’ll hit close to him for a lot of people. There are a lot of GREAT scenes as well that I think are extremely memorable. On the flip side, I think Uncle Carlos received the short end of the deal in that his character should have been used more and been more of a lifeline for Starr in that he was a cop but someone she looked up too. I also think the relationship between Seven and King should have been used more because it comes to a head at the end and it’s random. BUT I loved the movie and I think it’s a must see!
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
P.S. There’s a couple of spoilers down here.
Khalil’s hairbrush: In the book when Starr and Khalil get pulled over, he is told to get out of the car. In the book, he opens the door to check on Starr and then gets shot, he doesn’t even get the chance to ask Starr if she’s okay, or at least to finish the question. In the movie, I was worried because the trailers showed that he actually reached for his hairbrush when it was actually in the side of his door that the officer thought was a hairbrush. Khalil never reached into the car, he never pulled anything out the car. I was worried that would change the situation and the narrative. Either way, Khalil should not have been killed but I think with it obviously being a hairbrush, it actually takes away the element of confusion because the cop clearly saw the brush. I don’t know, it’s kind of…hard but either way I wanted to mention it.
DeVante:So, I mentioned in the book review that I thought the DeVante storyline I could take or leave. I liked it but it could have been cut out and I wouldn’t have missed it. I knew they would probably cut it out of the movie and they did. I totally get why too. All the stuff that happened to him was outlier and was there so Maverick could have a way to save someone since he couldn’t save Khalil but I think he had enough to do with his family. In the book, DeVante gets beat up by King. Seven (who is driving) takes Starr and Chris with him to go and get him. In the movie, Chris is driving and it’s Seven who gets beat up. I like that because it keeps the story personal. Sure, Chris doesn’t have the chance to get close to DeVante like in the book, but for the movie sake he didn’t need to. I liked that it was Seven because it was more personal for Starr and for Iesha who uses that moment to save her children. That’s way more powerful I think than her trying to save DeVante. That’s just me though.
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Everything, Everything (2017) Review

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Summary: A teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door.
Pros: 
Cast and Characters. I think everyone is really good in their roles. Being that these are characters from a young adult novel, with the exception of Maddy’s mother, I think everyone fills those roles really well, they look like their characters and feel like their characters in the book. Maddy’s mother is Japanese American in the book and her father was black, it looked like they switched it in the film.
  • Amandla Stenberg as Madeline “Maddy” Whittier. Maddy is an 18 year old girl who is living with a disease that prevents her from going outside called “SCID”. It pretty much means that she could die if she goes outside. She’s lived her entire life in her house. However, she manages to have a pretty positive outlook on life, she knows what her limitations are but that doesn’t stop her from longing, especially for the ocean. When she sees Olly’s family moving in she’s immediately drawn to him and she watches him to know more. When they start talking, it’s a bit easy to see that she’s nervous but she wants to know more about him. As time goes on, she wants more and more, and she even risks her life to run outside to see if Olly is okay when he gets into it with his father. Maddy puts her passion into everything. I like Amandla, and I thought she was well cast here. She was soft spoken most times, but she was able to maintain a kind of fierceness about her. She ended up being a little forward which for her, was good and it made sense instead of her just being pulled along by Olly. I had massive hair envy of her as well. The film really rests on her shoulders and I think she led it well.
  • Nick Robinson as Oliver “Olly” Bright. Olly is introduced when Maddy looks out her window and sees his family moving into the house next door. After he and his sister bring over a bundt cake, he shows his interest. As the story continues, he continues to try to reach out to her in different ways, he uses a bundt cake to make her laugh, he gives her his number, he asks her questions and he seems open but I think he also showed that he had his own secrets which we learned. I liked Nick Robinson, I’ve only ever seen him in Jurassic World and his character was meh, but here, he was able to have a bit more fun. He was able to really fall in love, to worry about her, to worry about his family, to have fun and show her fun things. It was cute seeing him care so much and the way he looked at her, I thought he did very well. I was a little sad that they didn’t keep physical stuff he liked to do. In the book, Olly, liked to climb on stuff, he would climb up on his roof a lot. However, I do like they had him have longer hair whereas in the book he had a shaved head.
  • Anika Noni Rose as Pauline. She’s a doctor, she works in a hospital but she also makes sure that Maddy is well cared for. She’s not always around but when she is, she and Maddy have fun. They play Phonetic Scrabble, they watch movies together and it’s clear that Pauline loves Maddy. She might be a little bit of a curious person though. I think Anika Noni Rose does a good job, she has great chemistry with Amandla, I believed that she was her mother, I thought her performance was also very understated. When she finds out that Maddy had been talking with Olly, she doesn’t freak out, she sits and talks with her in that knowing motherly tone. I was actually surprised because I think she freaked out a bit more in the book. I appreciated that it wasn’t overly dramatic. There’s also a scene towards the end, an emotional scene between mother and daughter, and again, I thought Anika Noni Rose was really subdued but emotional in how she performed that scene.
  • Ana de la Reguera as Carla. She has a larger part in the book, but Carla is Maddy’s nurse, had been for years and a friend to Maddy. She, in the beginning knows that something is different once Maddy starts talking with Olly. She spends her days with Maddy and knows her so well, that she walks into a room and knows something is different. She even allows for them to meet in person because she wants Maddy to have something to experience. She’s very supportive, she loves Maddy and she’s also funny. Once she learns that Maddy wants to keep Olly from coming over from her mother, she wonders about her own daughter keeping secrets.
The Story.  I think it’s sweet. It’s not an extremely deep story but it has a lot of layers.  There’s a girl who wishes she could go outside, knows she can’t and is okay with that, for the most part. She has her wishes, her illness prevents that and she’s okay with it, but when she meets Olly, she starts to get a lot of new thoughts and wants. Just like any young woman, she begins to want more than she has and Olly is a nice catalyst to that. I think it’s more than just love that causes her to want to go outside, mostly visit the ocean, it’s something she’s always wanted, and she does it. Don’t let fear hold you back, if you want everything, then go for everything. It’s definitely sweet to me. There’s definitely more to it but I don’t want to spoil anything either lol. But there are some interesting additions between Maddy and her mom.
The Romance/Chemistry. This film banks on the relationship and chemistry of Maddy and Olly. If Amandla and Nick didn’t work out together, then this movie would be terrible. They have great chemistry. When Maddy first sees him, it’s already shown in her eyes that she’s intrigued, same with him, when he sees her, it’s flirty. But then it turns into something more and they are able to really connect.
The Texting/Getting To Know Each Other Scenes. So in the book, Maddy doesn’t have a phone, she only emails and IMs Olly and we have to read their interactions, which is fine. But for a movie, I’m glad the audience wasn’t stuck just reading their emails, and text messages. They spend time actually talking on the phone before they meet in person, whenever they start texting each other, the viewers go into Maddy’s imagination and we get to see Olly and Maddy actually physically talk in her imagination, we get to see the actors talk but in real time they’re texting. It’s really cool to see that. When they actually get into a room together, we see awkward silences and their conversation but at the same time, we see sentences of their inner thoughts. I thought that was handled really well. When things got emotional and taxing between them, texting and IMing is so impersonal but seeing them actually interacting helped.
The Music. This will be in both parts, but there are parts where the music really worked, especially in the scene where they are driving together to their hotel. I also love that song. There are also some more mood like music in the film that is sweet and uplifting. It helps fit the movie, it’s even better when the characters are playing the music or listening to it themselves because it fits even more and not just blasting in our ears as the audience.
Looks Good/The Colors. This film looks really good, the colors are bright and warm. Whenever Maddy wears colors, it always looks like the colors were turned up to make it pop more. When she’s outside, this filter seems to slide over the camera, which makes sense as this all new to her. When she’s at the ocean, the shots are so beautiful, the water looks beautiful and makes me want to go there. Maddy wears a lot of white and it looks clinical and off putting but at the same time ethereal which makes sense for her character.
The Credits. This isn’t a point to the movie at all, because it’s the credits lol but I appreciated how they added all of the drawings and pictures from the book into the credits. It was cute.
Cons:
It’s Cutesy. If you don’t like romance movies, especially ones with young people, then this movie won’t be for you. It’s really cute and in places it’s a bit too cute where  part of you may feel like ugh.
A Bit Slow/Pacing. There are moments, which for a book works, but for a film, those moments of staring out a window, or staring at each other longing for long periods of time doesn’t always work. It gets a little awkward after the third time. It slows the film down and makes it feel slower than it probably needs to be. Instead of all those moments, they should have filled those spaces with learning more about Olly’s character outside of his interactions with Maddy. In the book, there were a lot of times where Maddy watches from her window, and sees things at Olly’s house, I think if the movie would have shown his side a bit too, albeit from her POV, it would help give him a bit more character.
The Music. It’s not always bad but sometimes it’s just too much pop music. I always think that music is a big part of the film but I think this film uses way to many pop songs. There’s one song by Alessia Cara and Zedd I think that I really like, but then there were like two songs immediately afterwards. I started to get a little fatigued.
The Disease is Forgotten. Maybe that’s the point considering that Maddy wants to live her life, what may be left outside BUT it feels like if the disease didn’t exist, it wouldn’t really change anything. She’d just be a sheltered girl who went outside for the first time and then the disease comes back and makes an appearence for drama. You could really take it out and it wouldn’t really matter for the most part.
The Last Act. So Maddy and Olly run off to Hawaii to “escape” and it’s cute but then drama happens. The last 30 minutes or so, feel kind of random, I think the book handled it better, it flowed better than in the film. It just felt like things took a weird left turn and if I didn’t know what was going to happen, I would wonder why there wasn’t a buildup to this. Maybe Carla should have said something, I think she did in the book, but here there’s nothing. There should have been something. It gets a little emotional in the movie but I don’t think that translate to the audience, at least not to feel the same emotion the characters are feeling, or at least to cry at what’s being shown. It feels a little unearned.
Overall, I really liked this movie, I thought it was cute. It’s a nice date movie. If you go into this film expecting a huge romantic love story, you won’t really get that. It’s a young adult story (one of the better ones I think though) so don’t expect a big epic love story, but to these two characters and probably some teenagers they may feel that way. I think the characters are good for the film and the cast do well in their jobs, they are well casted from their book counterparts. Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson really hold well together with their chemistry and interactions. I love the little tidbits of watching them get to know each other even though it’s through texting form. I think the movie looks really good as well, the colors are bright and welcoming, the whites that Maddy wear are pristine and clinical which fits into her world, the shots at the beach were beautiful. It’s fun. On the other hand, it does feel a bit shallow in the emotional tidbits at the end, it doesn’t feel earned like it should be. The last act of the film feels a little random where it seems like some scenes are missing or that they don’t flow well together.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Everything, Everything? Have you read the book? How does it compare?
What is your favorite romantic movie?
What romantic book do you want to be turned into the film?
Let me know in the comments below!
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