Riddle of Fire

Riddle of fire
Riddle of fire
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Earlier in this era, Spike Jonze had adapted Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, which he turned into a feature film. Nevertheless, it was not a children’s movie adaptation but rather a film about children. So you understand what we are talking about? The same could be said of Riddle of Fire, Utah writer-director Weston Razooli’s first film. While at first glance it may seem like one of those lush fantasy films for kids that your child would love to watch- maybe better suited for adults.

However, perhaps it is just straddling the line and two things are true: It is really an adult movie that is meant for children. But all the same, this last year’s premiered Cannes Film Festival might have seemed to drag out for too long yet this hallucinatory experience of cinema can make stoners go crazy while remaining as childish as ever.

Is there anything more annoying than being locked out from your friend’s shared Netflix account? Imagine setting off on an epic journey through delicious desserts because your friend changed his/her password on Netflix. This ingenuity underscores Riddle of Fire as a modern day fairy tale where three kids named Jodie (Skyler Peters), Hazel (Charlie Stover), and Alice (Phoebe Ferro) try to unlock Jodie and Skylar’s TV set.

The young ones desperately want to geek out over some new video games so they rush upstairs and find their mom Julie (Danielle Hoetmer) laid low by flu. However, being a responsible parent means that she will never share her pass code with these kids who should instead go out and bask under the sun rays. But their situation is not so simple; they put their minds together making what would be deemed perfect plan: bake Julie her favorite dessert – mouthwatering blueberry pie – in exchange for the password.The catch? They must find one ingredient: speckled egg.

This might all sound very standard storytelling tropes, but writer-director Razooli peppers his work with fantastical charm. In fact, it is not just any old egg, it is a speckled egg they need. When the kids try to enter their TV’s password and the screen changes to what appears like a Zelda cutscreen. This effect is similar as before when they look through their smartphone lenses. Technology affects our perception of the world.

Additionally, the film was shot on lush 16mm filmstock with rich green-heavy color palette which makes it look like any fantastic picture you used to read in your childhood.Ideally, this story happens in Wyoming and therefore having for a watch Riddle of Fire may make one wish for more films/series that could be made at such picturesque locations.

As the kids tread to the grocery store while Mom goes back to sleep because of her sickness, it is like all grown-ups they encounter are out of their minds— but not in a scary way though there is enough hostility. Think something like The Goonies crossed with any one of countless favorite children’s novels such as The Chronicles of Narnia. They fight off crazed poachers and end up throwing back 40s at a booze-soaked house party as the kids beg for some of their mottled eggs.

Well you see, this is quite a journey that Alice takes after she ventures into a sort of Wyoming version of Wonderland. Even though the acting by these kids might not be exactly on par with say season one Stranger Things NETFLIX; still fun as heck to watch even when certain portions run too long.

The crazy children also find themselves an adorable little buddy during their insane escapade on the hunt for this mythical ingredient. Petal (Lorelei Olivia Mote), who abandons her gun-toting mother Anna-Freya portrayed by Lio Tipton perfectly. Fans of classic romantic comedies might remember her unintentionally stealing a young boy’s heart in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011).

In Riddle of Fire, beauty takes a side seat as this lovely actress discards makeups for maternal grit and no-nonsense attitude which often forces her to fire away at anyone giving her headache. That includes fellow hunter Charles (the hilarious John Redrye), who the kids have also tracked down ever since Charles snagged the last carton of speckled eggs from the local grocery store. And even director Razooli plays Anna-Freya’s slightly dimwitted husband here.

The storytelling beats are all kind-of strange admittedly, but maybe that’s why it works well. CHildhood is chaotic and confusing; these kids want Netflix to stream through their TV and get some fake entertainment, but life has different things in store. And now that there is a new movie like Riddle of Fire out, it is obvious that kid-friendly adventures are not dead. After all, The NeverEnding Story is getting rebooted, and who knows what Disney has in the works for the next year and beyond? Most likely it won’t be quite as weird and adventurous as this one.

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