Monster, based on the novel by Walter Dean Myers, had its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. But oddly enough, it never found an official wide release – until now. Netflix scooped the adaptation up and will finally release it in May, with the first trailer now available to watch below. The movie follows a seventeen-year-old film student whose entire life gets turned upside down when he’s charged with felony murder.
Published in 1999, Walter Dean Myers’s Monster was partially written in screenplay format – so it’s only fitting that someone would eventually turn it into a movie. Anthony Mandler helms the film adaptation, which was written by Radha Blank, Colen C. Wiley, Janece Shaffer, and stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, Jharrel Jerome, Jennifer Ehle, Rakim Mayers, Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones, Tim Blake Nelson, and John David Washington.
The story follows Steve Harmon, “a seventeen-year-old honor student whose world comes crashing down around him when he is charged with felony murder. The film follows his dramatic journey from a smart, likable film student from Harlem attending an elite high school through a complex legal battle that could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison.”
As the book’s synopsis adds: “Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn in the hands of ‘the system,’ cluttered with cynical authority figures and unscrupulous inmates, who will turn in anyone to shorten their own sentences. For the first time, Steve is forced to think about who he is as he faces prison, where he may spend all the tomorrows of his life.”
Monster had its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and I’m not entirely sure why it took so long for it to finally be released. Sometimes that will happen with a film that’s less-than-great, but reviewing for /Film, Steven Prokopy wrote: “The film adaptation from music video veteran and first-time filmmaker Anthony Madler is an ambitious, complex, and layered look at how the court system in America is virtually designed to keep defendants like Steve from every getting a chance at actual justice,” adding: “This isn’t a film in search of a happy ending; at best, the story hopes that those hurt by these events can salvage relationships and faith in themselves after systematically being torn apart at every step of this process. It sounds gloomy and somber, it’s true, but the emotionally rousing Monster does find threads of hope amid the despair. These days, that’s often more than we’re used to.”
Monster hits Netflix on May 7.
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