Talking Movies: Sons of the Sea, A Dangerous Son and Gemini Man

Spling reviews Sons of the Sea, A Dangerous Son and Gemini Man as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a crime drama, a documentary and an action thriller.

Starting off with a film on DStv Box Office…


Two brothers try to flog a dead smuggler’s stash of abalone.

Writer-Director: John Gutierrez

Stars: Roberto Kyle, Marlon Swarts and Brendon Daniels

– Abalone or perlemoen smuggling continues to be an issue in Cape Town’s seas with the delicacy going for up to R8,000 a plate in China.
– While contentious, the ocean’s rich resources become a thoughtful leverage point for this timely, intimate and haunting seaside crime drama.
– Making for a captivating character study in the style of A Simple Plan, it’s influenced by the Mexican legend of ‘El Mechudo’.
– Aiming for more naturalistic performances, things are downplayed and geared towards realism.
– Set in the picturesque seaside villages of Simon’s Town and Kalk Bay, one wonders why these film locations aren’t used more often.
– An artful eye, the cinematography captures some wonderful shots of the False Bay area whilst retaining its stark and sombre mood.
– Gutierrez avoids a manufactured feel, opting for real untainted backdrops with a focus on the complex lives of the characters.
– Sons of the Sea has understated suspense and intrigue, hinting at economic, ecological and socio-political issues.
– In spite of checking in at a brisk 82 minute running time, the impact value is dulled.
– While thoughtful, the cautionary tale does get somewhat lost in the wilderness of the third act and struggles to power home.
– Perhaps a stronger connection with the lead or the introduction of greater antagonistic tension would have made all the difference.
– Still, it’s a commendable, noble, resourceful, spirited and thoughtful homegrown drama that distinguishes itself.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a documentary on Showmax…


A fly-on-the-wall documentary about coping with children affected by serious emotional or mental illness.

Director: Liz Garbus

– Previous generations put many cognitive and behavioural issues with kids down to bad parenting.
– We know better now, realising that there are many cases where children are genetically predisposed to need extra support, professional care even.
– Tracking with three boys with violent tendencies and their precarious family situations, we get a deeper understanding of the intricacies of their care requirements, the coping mechanisms for each of their families and the lack of state-funded support for children and families struggling through these emotional and mental challenges.
– The eye-opening and investigative documentary takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, sinking into the backdrop and capturing some disturbing footage of outbursts – some of which actually prompt intervention.
– Linking this back to school shootings where many of the perpetrators needed more drastic care earlier in their lives, the documentary remains edgy without losing its sense of empathy.
– Consulting experts and referencing several other cases – some ending in tragedy – A Dangerous Son tries to unveil problems that are often guarded and secretive.
– Creating this kind of awareness helps put pressure on authorities, demonstrates how little we understand when it comes to treatment and helps demystify the challenges without judgement.
– The complexity and enormity of the issue is given platform in this film’s open-handed and intimate investigation.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a film on Showmax…


A hitman on the verge of retirement faces off against a younger clone of himself.

Director: Ang Lee

Stars: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen

– Lee is a versatile director who’s best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain, Lust Caution and Life of Pi.
– From period piece romance to epic action, he’s become known for experimenting and pushing the limits of the craft.
– While some experiments have won him acclaim, others have had a more tepid response – whatever happens it’s never dull.
– Gemini Man falls into the latter category, an action thriller that hinges on such a big gimmick, it often comes across like a proof of concept.
– Having Will Smith star opposite his younger self, Gemini Man’s biggest selling points are its big name star and high concept CG execution.
– It’s quite remarkable to have a living and breathing character who’s been digitally re-created to depict young Smith.
– Unfortunately, so much of the focus probably went to technical execution… and the film suffers for it.
– Action fans will probably find the film too slow-moving, whilst the superficial treatment forgoes the true potential of the human drama.
– Throwing us in the deep end, we ultimately don’t connect properly with either character – making the exercise mostly to do with spectacle.
– It’s astonishing to see what’s possible with visual technology and there are some eye-popping action sequences, but failing to summon a full-fledged villain or embellish the man-in-the-mirror drama set up dilutes the overall effect.
– Gemini Man is lightly engaging and entertaining with its Face/Off type concept but is ultimately underwhelming based on the talents involved… it did just enough to get a…

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

SONS OF THE SEA… an authentic, haunting, resourceful, thoughtful and understated local crime drama with naturalistic performances… A solid 7!

A DANGEROUS SON… an eye-opening and important examination of families coping with children struggling with emotional and mental illness… A solid 7!

GEMINI MAN… an intriguing concept, cutting edge CGI, a charming star and accomplished director struggle to substantiate this gimmicky actioner… A satisfactory 6!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!