Imperial Dreams (2014)

imperial dreams poster 2014 netflix
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking and good cast

Story isn't distinctive enough but shows potential

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Imperial Dreams

Studio:  Super Crispy Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 20, 2014 (Sundance)/February 3, 2017 (Netflix)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

imperial dreams john boyega bambi

Going home is hard…especially when you are just out of prison

Bambi (John Boyega) has dreams of getting out of his life.  Trying to raise his son Day (Justin and Ethan Coach), Bambi finds starting his life after getting out of jail is more difficult than he ever believed.  Unable to get a job, a license, or a house, Bambi and his son live out of his car and avoid the violence of the Watts neighborhood around him.  Bambi is a writer and telling his story could be his way out!

Written and directed by Malik Vitthal, Imperial Dreams is a drama set in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.  The film was originally released in 2014 at the Sundance Film Festival but wasn’t released until February 3, 2017 as a Netflix exclusive.

When Imperial Dreams was filmed, John Boyega was a relative unknown.  He had made waves in Attack the Block in 2011, but he was not a household name.  Now with the release of Star Wars:  The Force Awakes, Boyega is a bigger name, and it makes a lot of sense to release Imperial Dreams now.  It isn’t a bad movie, but it also doesn’t seem to do much new.

imperial dreams day riding horse ethan coach justin

Pure happiness!

The story for the film is unfortunately rather typical.  The struggles of Bambi are struggles which have been portrayed in other similar films.  He’s a good guy in a bad situation and society’s structure doesn’t even give him the opportunity to get out.  While it is a general, basic story, the movie does frequently skewer expectations by not having the typical outcome (a negative, tragic ending would be expected).  While this helps elevate the story and make it more real, it doesn’t also make for the best storytelling at points.

The movie is lifted by Boyega.  He does a strong job holding the film together and also deserves credit for pulling off his accent.  He’s boosted by an equally strong supporting cast that helps keep the movie going.

imperial dreams swimming bambi day john boyega ethan justin coach

Hope survives

The movie also looks quite nice.  Los Angeles is generally shot two ways…glamourous or depressing.  This movie has a little bit of both.  While most of the film presents the dark and scary Los Angeles that is dangerous and not safe, the movie has glimmers of hope including a horse ride in an empty lot and the ending sequence in which the characters seem to have a chance to make it.

Imperial Dreams is a solid movie but it doesn’t feel like a distinctive movie.  It does however show potential in both the cast and the filmmaker.  The movie is trapped in that in amping up the drama and events of the film, it would feel less true.  Part of the nice aspect of the film is that it isn’t overly-dramatic…but that doesn’t always make for great storytelling.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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