‘Come Away’ Review: A film with so much potential left little to be desired

It was the film that nobody asked for and the crossover nobody expected, and, it was given to us in live-action. This begs the question, “What could be worse than a Mushu-less, live-action Mulan?” The answer to that question is Come Away.

To be fair, the director explained why Mushu was left out of the 2020 remake of Mulan (cultural reasons). That withstanding, a large cache of fans were upset, mainly because they knew their full dose of nostalgia had been taken hostage. Besides, when you have the opportunity to relive an amazing experience from your childhood, you want to take it. So I completely understood why initial reactions to this film’s announcement were met with hesitancy and negative comments; you hold on to childhood anything as sacred.

Knowing this, I found it quite interesting that a film with a failsafe plot (Peter Pan and Alice and Wonderland) and cast (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Angelina Jolie, and Michael Caine) would wind up failing so miserably. What was supposed to be Peter Pan & Alice and Wonderland X (the prequel that tells a backstory) turned out to be a dark, magic-less, bore of a film that dragged nearly every second I watched. Mind you, this is supposed to be geared towards the children of 2020. Not quite.

Come_Away_20.08.18._3412_AB (ctr) Jordan A. Nash as stars as Peter in COME AWAY, a Relativity Media release. Credit: Alex Bailey / © Maginot Line, LLC 2020

The film is only 94 minutes in runtime but felt like it could’ve matched The Hobbit. There wasn’t any real ‘magic’ until about 50 minutes in, and by then, the film had already lost its luster. While the idea of seeing the children’s imagination in a type of augmented reality was an interesting touch, it struggled to maintain its focal intention. The massive helping of despair and woe didn’t help either.

Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa) live in the English countryside with their parents Jack (David Oyelowo) and Rose (Angelina Jolie). Along with their older brother David (Reece Yates), the children runabout playing and using their imaginations outside. Once tragedy strikes the household, the outdoor recreation comes to an abrupt halt. Jack and Rose are financially strapped and tragedy brings them down even further. Without detailing the source of their initial grief, the doubt and sorrow cast over the house spans 90% of the film. So if you have children struggling with grief of any type, I highly advise sitting this one out.

I should also note that by no means is the cast responsible for this film’s failure. Jordan A. Nash and Keira Chansa are absolutely delightful and a bright spot in such a dark, dreadful showing. When you’re as adorable as they are and your parents are Martin Luther King Jr. and Tomb Raider (major roles played by Oyelowo and Jolie in past films), how could you possibly fail?

Come_Away_07.08.18._1164_AB_RC Jordan A. Nash as stars as Peter and David Oyelowo as his father Jack Littleton in COME AWAY, a Relativity Media release. Credit: Alex Bailey / © Maginot Line, LLC 2020

Its direction was lacking and that responsibility stems directly from Brenda Chapman, whose résumé boasts a plethora of animated Disney classics, but most notably, she directed the 2012 Pixar hit Brave. Sadly, her live-action debut falls short, mainly because the film is so tied down in adult struggle and grief that kids of this generation are not going to relate. If anything, it will repel them. But there’s a lesson to be learned here. While she’s been a part of Disney blockbusters like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, they were all animated. It’s a lot easier to consume grief when it’s delivered via cuddly characters and memorable tunes. That experience changes completely when you involve real people and this film is a perfect example.

I give Come Away a 5 out of 10. The film has its bouts of beautiful moments, but ultimately, it’s a snoozer that’s definitely not worth risking COVID to see in theaters. Jordan, Keira, and Reece did an amazing job and were definitely the bright spots in such a grim, boring film.

-Jon J.

Photos: Courtesy of Relativity Media

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