Review | Once Upon a Genius – Idris Elba is Genius of the Lamp in Fantasy Fable from the Creator of ‘Mad Max’
when the name George Miller emerges in conversation circles is usually associated with its most successful franchise, ‘Mad Max’, which, since the 1980s, has become one of the favorite films of the geek audience and action movie fans. Although, George Miller is also responsible for other successes in the genre of fantasymany of which are aimed at children, such as the animated feature ‘Happy Feet‘, about the little penguin who wanted to be a dancer, and ‘Babe the Cluttered Little Pig in the City‘, the classic story of the loving little pig that won the hearts of so many children in the 1990s. And now he brings his newest project, ‘Once Upon a Genius‘, which at the same time mixes and clashes with everything he’s ever done.
Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a solo academic traveling across Europe. No children, no husband, no parents, she lives only for her research and her stories. One day, in a store, she finds a kind of blue vase and is enchanted by it, deciding to take it. Back in the hotel room, Alithea cleans the vase, however, when rubbing the object, a huge genie from the lamp (Idris Elba) comes out of the container, and asks him what his three wishes are. She in disbelief at what she is witnessing, and doubting even her mental faculties, Alithea decides to talk to Geniusand since she herself doesn’t want anything for herself, she wants to at least hear the stories he has to tell.
The film is inspired by the tale of AS Byattand quickly the roadmap George Miller with Augusta Gore demonstrates that it is an ornate adaptation of a plot shorter than the two hours that the feature contains. In practice, this means that, although the story is thought-provoking, its repetitive and circular rhythm ends up losing the viewer’s attention, who will invariably be expecting something amazing. Being a pandemic project, it is interesting to observe the director’s resources to make his feature, with several scenes recorded inside a hotel/apartment with only the protagonists and, in some external ones, with the supporting cast wearing a mask, leaving us the provocation indirect: during quarantine, have you ever thought about finding a genie from the lamp that grants three wishes?
The aesthetics and narrative that resembles the structure of ‘The one thousand and one nights‘, wherein Genius plays a role of Scheherazade, ‘Once Upon a Genius‘ refers the viewer to the playful and exotic imagination of fantasy, of ancient Middle Eastern characters, of style adventures ‘Aladdin‘. So, as the film unfolds in the memories of the Geniusthe spectator embarks on the fable, however, when the story returns to the present time, the magic is broken, perhaps because of the improbability of accepting the intimacy of the protagonists, such is the distance between them.
With a beautiful look and an exuberant production that strives to recreate the dream through special effects and dedicated scenography, ‘Once Upon a Genius‘ is one of those cult movies of film festivals that become the darling of a select group of cinephiles who let themselves be involved by art cinema, and it is certainly a gift from the director to his audience, offering us what is definitely the fulfillment of one of the greatest desires of George Miller.
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