Armageddon Time

Armageddon Time is a new coming-of-age story that, to be honest, was difficult to watch at times. The movie does not pull any punches and provides a lot of late 70s/early 80s drama for this family.

Written, directed and produced by James Gray, Armageddon Time included performers such as Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.

Paul (Banks Repeta) was a young boy going through a difficult time. He was having issues at his school as well as troubles with his family. The only person who seemed to have a connection with Paul was his grandpa Aaron (Anthony Hopkins). When Paul befriends troublesome student Johnny (Jaylin Webb), who appeared to have past mistakes brought back and thrown in his face continually by teachers and others, the two boys began to get into even more trouble.

Paul’s family have their own expectations of him which did not seem to include Paul’s artistic skills, which he is always doing, and they look for a change to try and help Paul with his decisions.

There were several very difficult scenes in the film that included certain racial scenes, showing the privilege of Paul while displaying the perceptions of Johnny, a black boy seen as a problem. There is also a scene of discipline from Paul’s father that caused me to squirm in my seat.

The ways of this family was much more in target with the early 1980s than it is in 2022.

Banks Repeta does a great job as the lead protagonist in this film, especially in scenes opposite Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins. You could feel every emotion from Paul and he could be easily related to in each circumstance that he found himself trapped in. The film only worked because of the strong work of the young actor.

He also has a strong connection with another young actor in Jaylin Webb. Webb brings a lot to Johnny, in a role that could have been fairly stereotypical, but turned out very much his own character. That made everything that was happening to Johnny all the more tragic.

I had issue with the teacher, Mr. Turkeltaub (Andrew Polk). This character felt very cliché in this style of movie and I was hoping for something different. Unfortunately, this is probably part of the experience James Gray faced in his own past.

This story felt very personal for Gray, as much of this could be connected to his own childhood in Queens. There were a couple of strange cameos in the film that felt out of place despite being in place for a distinct reason.

The film stretched out a bit too long, and I would have liked more within the family structure because these scenes were the most compelling of the movie, but Armageddon Time was a solid watch with some good performances that had its share of themes to share with the world.

3.6 stars

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