on October 27, 1995 by Christine James
   This emotionally wrenching but often formulaic morality tale opens with the high-tension scene of a mother dying from trauma just after giving birth to an albino child whose brainwave activity is off the chart. He's left in the care of his grandparents but, when they die 16 years later, the boy (Sean Patrick Flanery), nicknamed Powder because of his stark-white complexion, is taken from the basement where he's lived in total isolation and is introduced into a predominantly unaccepting society. It doesn't help that Powder is charged with a powerful electric current somehow connected with his ESP and supergenius I.Q.
   The townspeople's negative reaction to Powder's albinism seems exaggerated; give him an all-black wardrobe, an attitude and a guitar and he could pass for a rock star. And, considering the film is an outcry against man's inhumanity, it would have been inspiring to see Powder have a more enlightening impact on some of the more judgmental characters. Both of Powder's key relationships--with mentor/father figure Donald Ripley (Believe It--Or Not), played by Jeff Goldblum, and his guardian (Mary Steen-burgen)--needed more screen time and action. But this warm, well-intentioned story is buoyed by a hopeful message and a standout performance by Flanery as the title character.    Starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Mary Steenburgen, Lance Henrickson and Jeff Goldblum. Directed and written by Victor Salva. Produced by Roger Birnbaum and Daniel Grodnik. A Buena Vista release. SF/drama. Rated PG-13 for intense, sometimes frightening elements of theme, and for language. Running time: 111 min.
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