A new trailer for the Netflix original film Imperial Dreams is out, and though the footage foretells a rather generic film about an ex-convict father trying to protect his son within a crime-ridden environment, a few details about the movie make it stand out from the pack.
The first and foremost of these is the man in the starring role, John Boyega, who is best known for his turn as the compassionate stormtrooper Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In that film, Boyega’s talent is obvious, given the amount of charisma he brought to a sci-fi saga that, at least in the prequel films, was notorious for its wooden acting. It is not unheard of for run-of-the-mill narratives to be elevated by strong performances, and out of the myriad young actors working today, Boyega is probably among the few who stand a good chance of boosting hackneyed material in this way. Playing the father who is willing to risk life and limb to help his son escape the poverty and violence of their neighborhood, Boyega will probably be given ample opportunity to test his emotional range, an impression reinforced by the abundance of highly dramatic clips shown in the trailer.
Secondly, though the trailer suggests a straightforward crime drama, Imperial Dreams has a guileless grandeur to its marketing that anticipates a purity of feeling often lacking in genre films that are overly committed to being “gritty.” For starters, the film is called “Imperial Dreams,” a title that, though partially derived from the film’s setting in the Imperial Courts projects outside Los Angeles, is still so ham-fistedly quixotic that eye rolls are a major risk. And yet, there is also something refreshing about the kind of shameless sentimentality evoked by both the title and the synopsis’ designation of the film as a “gangster fairy tale,” which hint that Imperial Dreams may want to tap the currents of romanticism that underpin the hard realities of life and give its characters hope.
Check out the full trailer above. Imperial Dreams, directed by Malik Vitthal, debuts on Netflix on Feb. 3.