A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fast Color is a sci-fi drama about a family of women who have the ability to deconstruct objects with their minds. The government is trying to capture main character Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) for experimentation; once cornered, she shoots an untrustworthy scientist in the face (he's bloodied, but it's not gory, and he continues hunting her). Ruth is a former drug addict; the use is presented as justified because getting high quieted her earthquake-causing seizures. She had her daughter while using; the girl is presented as smart and kind and also has superhuman abilities. Despite the fact that Ruth abandoned her daughter for a decade, when they're reunited (not out of love, but for survival), there's no resentment -- which is perhaps unrealistic. Language is occasionally coarse (mostly "s--t"), but there's no iffy sexual content. The film is being touted as offering up an alternative superhero: A woman who's able to reach her full potential after she stops hiding her true identity and collaborates with other women.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In FAST COLOR, Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has a special ability to destroy things with her mind, but she can't control her earthquake-triggering seizures without taking drugs. On the run from the government, she hides in the place she abandoned long ago: home. There she reunites with, among others, Lila, the daughter (Saniyya Sidney) she left behind a decade before.
Is it any good?
For a superhero movie, this one lacks power. Ruth tells Lila that they may possess unusual telekinetic powers, but "we're not superheroes" -- but viewers are still meant to understand that the special abilities Ruth and all the women in her family line possess are indeed superhuman. The ability to break things apart isn't just limited to cigarettes and ceramics: They have the mental strength to move heaven and earth.
Humanity loves a good story about magical skills that extend beyond the norm, with each decade bringing its own brand -- from I Dream of Jeannie to Carrie to Superman to Harry Potter ... and back to Superman. Despite our current cinematic worship of all things superhero, however, both the DC and Marvel universes are distinctly lacking in female voices of color. Fast Color looks to solve that crisis. But most superhero stories are meant for kids -- and Fast Color is not. It may offer up a mirror to viewers who feel ignored by society (and the multiplex): Drug-addicted Ruth got pregnant while high, then left Lila behind in an effort to give her a better, safer life. But kids whose lives don't have comparable circumstances may receive a different message. Will they understand that they can change the world by relying on the traits they've inherited from their ancestors? Will they see those who are "specially" abled as equal, if not superior? The metaphor just doesn't go far enough for kids to internalize/appreciate. For teen audiences, as good as writer-driector Julia Hart's intention is, Fast Color isn't super, but rather a little draggy, a little heady, and a little boring.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Fast Color's message that we all have special powers in our DNA: the skills, traits, and lessons that we get from our ancestors. When you go up your family tree, what "powers" can you find that could be lying dormant in you?
Is Ruth a role model? Why or why not? In real life, can someone change their story?
Do you ever feel -- like Ruth and the other women do -- that you have to hide your true self for society to accept you? How do you think swallowing their real identity affects someone?
Why do we like movies, comics, and TV shows about people who have superhuman abilities?
- In theaters: April 19, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: July 16, 2019
- Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, David Strathairn
- Director: Julia Hart
- Studios: Lionsgate, LD Entertainment
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: a scene of violence and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 11, 2020
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