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‘The Water Man’ review: Family friendly fantasy filled with nostalgia

Filled with hope and adventure.

The Water Man can be seen as something of a family friendly fantasy movie. The directorial debut from David Oyelowo is about a young boy named Gunner (Lonnie Chavis) who is on a quest to save his ailing mother (Rosario Dawson). His destination is The Water Man, a supposedly immortal figure. He and a girl named Jo (Amiah Miller) venture into the mysterious and dangerous Wild Horse forest in search of the mythic being.

The best fantasy stories are filled with hope and adventure. It may seem far away or even impossible, but it must exist. The Water Man has its share of fantastic moments. Everything is in the confines of its PG parameters and through it all there is the possibility of things getting better. As the film progresses, things get more dangerous and brings a sense of adventure – if not always urgency.

'The Water Man' review: Family friendly fantasy filled with nostalgia

The fact that The Water Man is content to remain in a Spielbergian world can be too familiar at times. But this also brings a sense of comfort. As things get more sinister, there is sense that the young heroes will learn something. It is almost a throwback to the kid friendly movies of previous decades. The reason The Water Man works is its willingness to tackle more mature subjects. Things never get too bleak, but death, identity, and independence are all themes. While these subjects have been handled in similar films, Oyelowo handles things more deftly. There is never a feeling he is talking down to the audience.

The pacing is not as properly executed. Things move at a rapid clip that hinders immersion. This means the film never quite sets the right tone. Chavis is spectacular in the lead role and Oyelowo does a fantastic job pulling double duty also appearing as Gunner’s father, but The Water Man does not have the bombastic feel needed from this type story. Still, it is a strong tale that will hold the interest of anyone who watches.

The Water Man comes to theaters May 7

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