What major movie production features an interracial friendship that defies all the expected stereotypes? Hint: it's not the one starring Sandra Bullock.
On its own merits, The Blind Side is a heartwarming story of the modern South, in which a rich white 40-something woman (Bullock) befriends a poor black teenager (Quenton Aaron). Their relationship develops to the point that the young man feels a part of her family. I agree with our reviewer, Jette Kernion, who described it as "a very good example of a sports-related family film, with quality performances and writing." She also notes the "seeming visual message that the African-American community can't or won't care for their own, and that the saviors here are rich white conservatives." The film is based on a non-fiction account, but it still makes me wonder why, exactly, we needed another film depicting that particular racial dynamic -- beyond providing a great starring role for Bullock and the aforementioned heartwarming elements.
As finely-edged as a new razor blade, Ninja Assassin establishes itself as a contender for "CGI Fu Movie of the Decade" in its very first sequence, gleefully slicing off body parts with the abandon of an extreme gore flick that would satisfy most horror hounds. It rocks back and forth between ponderous philosophical pontifications and riotously preposterous action scenes like a ticking time bomb, exploding in geysers of blood at regular intervals. Our reviewer William Goss was much less taken with the film than I am -- I think it's fair to say he hated it -- so bear in mind that your mileage may vary wildly. However, I feel confident in saying that Ninja Assassin presents a rarely seen relationship: a friendship between two people that makes no mention of their racial differences.
True, Ninja Assassin, directed by James McTeigue, is not really about the relationship between Raizo (one-named Korean pop star Rain), an orphan trained to be an assassin who's turned rogue, and forensics researcher Mika (Naomie Harris), hot on his paper trail for police agency Europol. Mostly it's about outlandish, nearly incomprehensible action sequences featuring ninjas who whisk on and off screen with the speed of a ... well, the speed of a computer cursor. But I love that Harris was cast without regard for skin color, and that she slowly warms up to Raizo despite their obvious differences. After all, he can kill 40 men with lightning speed and she can shriek like nobody's business.
In any event, I'm glad to see any movie where the two main characters are of different races and enjoy peace and harmony together, even while all hell is breaking loose around them. That's true with both The Blind Side (to a certain degree) and Ninja Assassin (to the nth degree). Just don't get the movies confused when talking about them to your sociology professor.