Review – The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)

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rrWG0Aoeagj5WvS9x1hpRBvZC4bIt’s a whole new week, guys! This time, the theme is post-apocalyptic/dystopian films. I’ve reviewed most of the main ones (in my opinion), so the films I’ve chosen throughout the week are more lesser-known than what you typically see, starting off with the 1990 controversial film, The Handmaid’s Tale…based off of the book by the same name. This film was recommended to me by my wife in preparation for the new series on Hulu based on the same story. I thought it prudent to watch both for this week’s reviews and compare both of them to decide which one’s better. That being said, this is an early dystopian film. It came out 27 years ago…so how good can it really be? Well, let’s get into that, shall we?

The Handmaid’s Tale is ultimately about the fertile women left in the world…which isn’t many. Throughout the years, sexually active women went from relationship to relationship, causing their fertility to slowly die out. Only a handful of women still has the ability to reproduce, which causes the nation to take the future of the human race into their own hands. The government falls apart and what they have left is a systematic process of forcing fertile women to become pregnant…whether they like it or not. We’re not talking about in vitro here. These people hate everything unnatural, as that was “part of the problem” in the first place, so we’re talking about rape while they attempt to say it’s the lord’s purpose for them, and what they are doing isn’t a sin, but god’s work.

The concept of this film is insane. It’s insane, but it really is important to think about. IF we did become a society with very few fertile women, could something like this potentially happen? While this may be way over the top in parts, it does beg the question if something LIKE this would happen, and I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that 1990 was the wrong year to try to make this a movie. Everything felt a little too innocent and washed out…because it was 1990. It felt like the 80s, though. It just wasn’t dark enough or bold enough to really get the point across that what’s happening here is actually insane.

Now, what this movie does wrong, I will say that Hulu does right – but I’ll get into that tomorrow. Today, I just want to focus on this 1990 movie and give you the 411 on how it did as a film.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 5/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 0

Alright, first off, we have people…which isn’t looking too good. The acting was mostly subpar. Nothing really stood out there, and I was a little pulled out of the story by the acting in some parts – sometimes because of age issues. The characters were…okay, but a lot of them kind of blended into each other…other than the main girl and guy. The casting was kind of an issue for me for the main girl, as I thought she felt a little too old and her voice didn’t really match her face. The importance of everyone, on the other hand, was perfect. Everyone had a role to play that added to the plot, but no one had chemistry. On their own, it was fine. Together…eh.

WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 1|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2

Next up, let’s talk about the writing. The dialogue was okay, but nothing really stood out there, the story itself was a bit imbalanced, though. It was a little too ambitious for its own good. There were ceremonies and celebrations and public murders…and it just keeps going – something that works better for individual TV show episodes, not for a movie trying to cram everything in. I do consider the story behind everything brilliant, original, and interesting, though. It really does pose an interesting idea that I haven’t really seen before.

BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1

Everything behind-the-scenes was mostly as expected. The visuals were all okay. While it had some decent-looking scenes, it could’ve used some help. The directing is typical, the editing is typical, the music is typical. I will say it was as-advertised, but that’s the only thing that really stood out here.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1

The narrative arc score was pretty decent, but not perfect. It introduces us to a dystopian world where these women are being used for their fertility. I’m not sure what the inciting incident was, but I think it was when the main girl get’s “bought”. The obstacles really just come down to living in a society where rape is acceptable. The climax is pretty strong. There’s even a hint for a sequel at the end, which is partially okay for a falling action thing, but it was really short and barely focused on.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 4/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks Audience IN – 1

How entertaining is it, though? I would say it is partially entertaining, but I’d rather watch the TV show. Why? Well, it’s a rewatchable movie if I somehow run into it while changing channels, but I wouldn’t go looking for it. Thinking about the concept is certainly fun while watching, but a lot of this film feels too innocent and washed out to really be “fun”. A lot of it is, dare I say, boring…so it doesn’t always suck the audience in. That being said, the concept is something I’d talk about with others…but I don’t think I’d really get into the movie itself as much as the concept. Finally, I don’t have any urge to purchase this film.

SPECIALTY QUESTIONS – 30/50
Female-centered – 10|Drama – 10|Romance – 5|Sci-Fi – 0|Halfway Decent – 5

Now for the specialty questions written before seeing the movie. The first thing I expected was this was going to be a very female-oriented film, and it is…it really, really is. I expected some drama from this film, which is ever-so apparent. IMDb also puts this in the realm of romance…which isn’t hard to believe, given the cheesy movie poster that screams romance…but there’s not much romance to be seen here. There is a little bit, but it has very little focus. Next up, IMDb puts this as a sci-fi…which it isn’t…at all. Nothing about this movie screams science. It actually screams the opposite – like, primitive naturalism. I guess they said sci-fi based off of the dystopian near-future concept…but that’s not sci-fi, sorry. Finally, is this movie halfway decent? Well, I would say it could have been if it was released a couple of decades later. It’s just too light, washed out, and feels too innocent for what it’s really going for…and that’s the main thing I’d change there. So it’s only a quarter good.

RATING – 61/100

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