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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Fun And Dancing...Here We Go Again.
Musicals are often best left in the world of plays, where imagination and the acoustics maximize the song and dance number. Yet, Hollywood just loves a good run at recreating the world in their high stakes glory, leading to some renditions that are fantastic and others not so much. So, a sequel to an already obscure Mamma Mia, glorifying the incredible group Abba, seems like a bit of a stretch for a blockbuster movie. Oh well, Here We Go Again as yours truly does his second movie review of the week on:
Movie: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018)
Director: Ol Parker Writers: Ol Parker (screenplay by), Richard Curtis (story by) Stars: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep
Toe Tapping Numbers: For a musical you need, well you need music, and fortunately the film is loaded with a number of tracks to leave you dancing in your seat. From upbeat, dance filled sequences to the more emotional, slower tracks there is a tempo for everyone in this film. As the tracks play, the choreography is just as vibrant, packed with a fun energy that fits the tracks well, and brings you into the party. If you liked the performances in the first movie than you are in luck my friends for this one.
Cute: The movie may not be a big animated smash hit, or something crafted by Disney, but that doesn't mean it isn't cute all the same. Mamma Mia 2 is super friendly to many ages, and brings an easy tale of love and friendship all wrapped in a sunny bright wrapping paper. Those fans who are really looking for an easy to handle movie where nothing intense happens are again the target demographic for this one.
Surprisingly Emotional: If you're this far in the review, you surely know that this movie is a fun ride, but there is a little more emotion to the film than I expected. As the tale goes, there are more than a number of fun avenues and soap opera theatrics to catch your attention. However, the movie manages to strike into deeper waters, resulting in some performances that had my audience tearing up/sniffing. The fact the film did this emotional part well surprised me despite how extreme the film is, but trust me in saying that these moments are not quite as grandiose as they could have been.
Two Stories Are Integrated: You saw form the trailers that there were going to be two stories to balance. Surprisingly, they did this, though not in a traditional sense for me. Mamma Mia 2 gives you about fifty percent in each story department, helping give each set of characters ample time to explore the uncharted waters of Donna's adventurous life. They manage to cover all their promised avenues and still keep the music infused into each aspect, thereby expanding the range of performances.
Lily James: I'm a huge fan of this star, not only due to her charming beauty, but her talent of bringing characters to life. Once again I was super impressed with her acting, happy to see her take classic Donna and put a more youthful energy to the mix. Her fellow divas captured their characters to the T, and the young squad really was my favorite part of the movie as they were the more interesting, and utilized. Ms. James did a fantastic job carrying the weight of the movie, and I only hope for more leading roles for her to wow me in.
Not Every Character Utilized Well: It's a large cast, we know people are going to be short sighted, but sometimes it's a little too much. Much of the cast has really fallen back to the wings with only a few having adequate time to hold up the movie. So much potential to relive the fun of the first movie gone because of too many cooks in the kitchen. As for some of the more publicized names, they don't have quite the involvement you wanted, while others get a little more billing than you might expect.
The Story: The story is cute and gives you all the pertinent information, but it doesn't present it in the best light for me. There are gaps in the plots, skipped over to allow you to fill in the details. Relationships develop quickly, the pace rushed and glossed over so that more songs could be jammed in. It's a complete, yet incomplete set of stories, with sloppy transition between the two (at parts at least), with the random transitions jumping wildly with little organization at times. True, they did time some transitions perfectly, but for the most part not the best organization.
False Advertising: The movie does deliver its promise on the fun, but some of the plot elements are very minor despite them being central in the trailers. In fact, these plot elements feel rather limited and underdeveloped, so can't state I was the most impressed with these parts.
Too Many Songs: The killing blow for a story of a musical is when the songs become the primary focus. Mamma Mia 2 really tried to pack as many numbers into the 2-hour running time as possible, sometime without regard to if the song was appropriately fitting in the story. As a result, the story components suffered, the characters got catalogued into singing (or autotuned ability), giving it an erratic presentation that only semi impressed me. If you are just looking for musical numbers, your wish is granted, but for guys like me, I missed the complete picture.
Mamma Mia 2 has expanded its emotional diving compared to the first, but manages to maintain the fun energy, charming cuteness, and beauty that was the first movie. The song and dance numbers are the central focus, so those that love this glorification of Abba's hits will be buying a ticket to musical gold. However, the components I miss is the integration of all the characters into the mix and the linear story to tie everything together. The sequel gets points for balancing two stories, but needs to work on directing better transitions and details than what it did. Still, this is definitely the upbeat movie of the month, and once I'm sure will please many audiences. Recommended theater goers should be the midlife to elderly, girls trip out, and of course the musical lovers. Otherwise just skip and wait for something bigger to come.
Comedy/Musical: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.0
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
Does it Equal The First
It is the age of movie transitions, and the age of passing torches to the younger generation in hopes of establishing new legends into the mix. Yet, it doesn't mean that the current legends have faced their last mission. Tonight's movie review proves the case as the incredible Denzel Washington leads another movie, in hopes of bringing the success to a sequel. Can the man who made so many epic films do it again, or is this a series that needed to retire? Let's get into it as I review:
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
Director: Antoine Fuqua Writers: Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan (based on the television series created by) Stars: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders
Acting: Denzel is a good actor, we all know this. His ability to play these hardened, battle scarred, internally struggling super soldiers never fails to impress, and I always enjoy his intensity when playing these characters. Still with the finesse delivery, Denzel's ability to deliver his dialogue is magnificent, brings inspiration and motivation to many. Ashton Sanders achieved his role quite well, not quite as motivational, but certainly capturing the struggling artist motif of his character. A nice balance was struck between these two, which established a dynamic relationship between these two. The rest did fine in their parts, but it was these two who held most of the screen time.
The Realism: It's an action movie, but it is grounded into the realm of reality. Equalizer 2 does have some tense moments to spice things up, but it doesn't resort to flashy special effects and physics defying moves to do it... mostly. This film sticks to tactic combat, utilizing skills and the mind to play a deadly game that will deal the justice you want. While they are limited through much of the movie, the end game is where this strategy is really capitalized on it. In addition, if a player gets injured, they don't recover quickly so that helps keep things exciting.
The Second Half Pace: The movie really takes off at the half way point, taking the steam to push them into the action/thriller component. Once the movie hits into this realm, it finally gets super interesting and engaging, amping up the tension and trying to keep you guessing at what will happen next. And even better... it actually doesn't feel like the movie is dragging by this point.
The Character Development: Surprisingly, the movie opens up Denzel's character to help explain more of the backstory that molded him into the super assassin hiding behind the chiseled features. I did enjoy learning more about the central protagonists haunting past, but also in seeing him evolve, so that he may overcome his struggles and attempt to move on to something else. It fits well with the movie series, and shows potential for any future installments they may try to make.
The Dialogue: Hands down though, my favorite part is the dialogue/writing of the movie. Not so much in terms of story, Equalizer 2 wins points for inspirational words that only Denzel can maximize. It's writing that fits very well into the theme/premise of the movie, almost as if Denzel is defending the audience and trying to make them better. Even Sanders lines are decently developed, fitting his character well and doing the lifting of establishing relationships and connecting Denzel to the characters. Hands down this was the solidifying factor that tied the movie together.
The Pace of the First Part: It helps get the movie established in that Robin Hood like atmosphere, but it dragged for me. Equalizer 2 needs some major pushing to get us to the good stuff, with a few action appetizers to try and hold your energy. It's not the slowest opening, but editing could have taken some time to trim the fat and help tighten the story.
Predictability: It's easy to figure out what's going to happen... not much more I can say about that. The trailers have done a decent amount of revealing, but those that haven't seen it should have no trouble figuring this out.
The Action: Realistic as it may be, the action is still not quite as spiced up as the trailers tried to make it be. Impressive as tactical combat is, the movie still doesn't quite have all the energy and excitement I like in a film (which is often fast paced gunplay with lots of boom). While I still did enjoy the slower combat, I would have liked to see more of it, as there are huge gaps between short lived bouts that make for a slower movie. Yet, if you are a fan of the most recent Borne Film, you should have no problems with this presentation.
Story: My least favorite aspect though is the story. I'm not saying Equalizer 2's tale is horrible, or the worst thing ever, but I also don't think it is the most groundbreaking either. The opening feels like a charity meets Robin Hood approach, a sort of toned down Death Wish to establish the setting. After that though, I struggled with appreciating the four subplots interweaving with each other to try and craft an overall plot. True, this multi-tiered approach opened avenues for character development, however the main plot of vengeance took many detours that felt skipped at times. When the rabbit hole's bottom was reached, it wound up being very lackluster, realistic and certainly making a point, but nothing that had my eyes bugging wide. Even worse, when the exciting climax did happen, the bite sort of fell out of the antagonist.
Equalizer 2 is better overall for me, though I won't lie that it was missing that original component (e.g. clever trap battles in hardware stores) the first movie had. It's got great heart, fantastic writing, and smarter acting, which makes it a prime target for thriller/spy/crime dramas that have toned down action. However, the pacing, surprise, and story of the movie require some redrawing for the next installment to really maximize the modern-day vigilante genre. If you are a Denzel fan, I'm not going to stop you from hitting this film up, and if you are looking for a thriller/action this movie is the one. However, I do recommend waiting for home rental on this one to maximize your funds.
My scores are:
Action/Thriller/Crime: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
Trying To Build High, But Only Climbed So Far
Disaster movies and action kind of go hand in hand, but seldom does it involve more than trying to dodge whatever artificial natural disaster the Hollywood directors deem up. Today's movie review focuses on a film that tries to blur the lines between the two a little better, in what will hopefully be a new twist on the action/disaster movie frontier. Utilizing the popular leading man of Dwayne Johnson to carry the movie, there seems to be hope that this Die-Hard copier can potentially bring enough bucks in to get the attention of the modern era. Does it work? Robbie K here to bring you yet another review this time on:
Movie: Skyscraper (2018)
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber
The Special Effects: The leading point of the movie is the impressive display of CGI in this movie. Perhaps a little corny at times, the movie really invested well in high definition sound to rattle the theater as the chaos of the crime unfolds. Excessive computer-generated images are the key to bringing the inferno to life, but is still beautiful rendered to design a building that will only be fiction for a short while. The world crafting gets kudos for me, and will hopefully impress you as well.
The Realism: Despite there being some fiction behind this movie, it is a little more grounded to the real world than one might expect. The "Pearl" is a building that will soon exist, a setting that is perfect to craft a surprisingly detailed plot. As the scheme continues to evolve, the realism continues to remain in check, finding kinks in the plot and having to adapt. In addition, even the action keeps things believable, where if a character takes a hit, they actually suffer in terms of performance. All of this adds to suspense of the film and engaged to this adapted plot.
Character Involvement: A movie with as many characters always has me worried about how much involvement they have in the plot. Die Hard did it correctly as each character had their place and contributions that actually mattered, and fortunately this copy did the same thing. Most of the characters act as their piece to the puzzle, keeping them integrated into the plot for the entirety of the film and doing a decent job of tying up all loose ends. Even more so, the characters are designed to cover a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and genre lovers.
Good Pace: The movie movies quickly, gets the suspense going, and does little to try to slow things down. For guys like me, the movie rocks in terms of few slow parts and keeps the intensity amped up to a level of ten and that just makes for a fun movie in my opinion.
The Lack of Beginning: The pace may be good in terms of excitement, but I am with many of my friends in that plot development is also key. Skyscraper's beginning is almost nonexistent, all the set up skipped over to get to the action and drop any chance of escaping the predictable plot line off the ledge within 15 minutes. Any chance at suspense build up is practically gone and the story actually takes a hit because of that. If you're not in for the story, then you will glaze over this, but for those looking for a little bit of both worlds don't expect much of an opening.
The Plot Gaps: For a building that secure and advanced, you would think there would be more contingency plans than the one they had here. This gap is just one example of the stretches and details you have to ignore to fully enjoy the movie. In addition, there are feats of strength, stamina, and physics defying moves that are also a little cheesy for the fans who love those extremes. As these gaps happen, the movie moves quickly to try and forget about them, but still the movie could have used some refining at points.
The Jumps: This was advertised immensely in the trailers and marketing, but the film has that extreme jump that we have grown accustomed to. Yet the movie took that concept and milked it for all its worth. Skyscraper tries to pay homage to Die Hard in many ways, and while it fits into the grand scheme of the movie, the film goes a little overboard with the gimmicks. All the sacrificing brings that bang for your buck, but in terms of story it's only okay for me.
The Villains Development: I'll give them props, they have made a better villain than many movies have as of late in the form of Botha (Roland Møller). And while this one of the better villains, it still needed more work in his character development. Comparing to its inspiration source, the villain started giving us some deeper levels, but then it tapered out and he went back to the generic villain. A little more insight and integration could have done wonders to expand the tale even more. Even his side kicks and team held promise, but again they too were overshadowed by the protagonist's tale, screen time, and jumps.
The Action: Did it fit with the tale? Yes. Was it realistic? Yes. Was it exciting? Depends. Skyscraper's battles are decently coordinate, but much of this lacks the bite that other movies have had. They are quickly executed, very simplistic, and sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion, but this movie's feeling of trying to survive the manmade disaster I guess takes precedence over the gun fight. Not the worst action, but definitely room for improvement.
Skyscraper is an example of impressive movie theater worthy special effects, and surprisingly stays on the realistic qualities these franchises often ignore. I give it applause for integration of characters, and Johnson doing a fabulous job leading the film. Still the movie is a diluted piece compared to the movie it copies so much of and therefore needed some amping up in terms of story, villain development and action. Perhaps a little less jumping and a little more time could have given this tale the needed oomph to rock it into higher scores. Still the effects do render it a good theater film, but if you don't want this kind of movie... save it until you get home.
My scores are:
Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0 Movie Overall: 5.0
Note As Much Bite, But This Film Cruises to Family Fun
It's Thursday and you know what that means... Yes, another Robbie's Movie Reviews. Tonight, is an animated sequel, hoping to live up to the magic and bring about another family friendly adventure to bring your little ones flocking to theater. Will it be the success they want in regards to quality, or is it mainly a cash grab of the studio to try and compete with the Disney mega corporation. Robbie K is here and ready to write another review... this time on:
Movie: Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky Writers: Michael McCullers, Genndy Tartakovsky Stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez
Cute: The movie keeps to its cute roots, making sure to keep the friendly environment amped up all the way to a 10. Hotel Transylvania 3 has a cavalcade of characters that are adorable as can be, with big eyed werewolves, curly haired kids with squeaky voices, gigantic puppies, and of course all the goofy stunts that are in between. If you are a fan of this dynamic alone, then this installment will already be worth the wait for you.
Funny: The movie has a charming humor to it for adults, presented in the form of a few witty interventions in the form of nostalgic songs and references. Yet, the majority of the comedy is of course geared towards the little ones and those with a childish sense of humor. The movie has loads of slapstick, over the top delivery of simplistic writing to get a laugh. Kids will enjoy this the most, and parents will most likely enjoy watching them giggle their heads off. This will hopefully be further evidence at how appropriate for kids this movie is.
Short run time: While the movie may not be for everyone, you can be excited by the fact that the movie will not last long. The run time comes in at closer to 1 hour and 20 minutes, so you can breathe a sigh of relief that this won't leave you drained upon the final credits rolling. Speaking of which?
Final Credits: I've always been a fan of the cartoon end credits and their clever play with words. The movie continues this trend and brings with it a fun, adorable spin to make it stand out from the other two.. A fun track adds some atmosphere to the credits and ends the movie on an energetic foot to have your kids dancing to the beat.
Music: Hotel Transylvania has always had an appropriate soundtrack to go with the themes of the movie, and number 3 stays on this path again. The difference for this film is that it contains a few nostalgic songs that may confuse younger audience members and bring smiles to the older ones. While these legendary tracks are short lived, they do have the right timing to maximize their inclusion. If only they could have had more.
Animation: The animation is not the smoothest at times, most likely to represent the silly atmosphere of this movie. However, this guy appreciated the clever designs of the world, and the cool adaptations on the cruise ship. Colorful worlds await those who will venture into the theater, though the same can be said for most animated movies.
Too silly at times: I warned you up top, the move is not geared towards all audience members. Hotel Transylvania 3 is all about maximizing kid humor, and fails to extend much past the superficial jabs that will keep the world giggling. I needed a little more maturity to the mix, something to break out the relentless onslaught of comedy this movie is famous for.
Story Suffers: The first movie of the series had a great tale to ground the laughs to, as it pushed character growth and integrated all the characters into the mayhem at hand. However, this installment did not remotely find this balance, dropping most of their characters to the backburner for very cheap laughs and sequences that were less than impressive. Why they dropped so much of their balance, I can't answer that, but it was disappointing to see only one storyline with remotely any sustenance. All the line segment like stories were just not that impressive, but in the grand scheme of things to kids... not really that important.
Lack of Interest: I think the big thing of this movie though, is that it seems like the series is losing the steam that kept it going for so long. After failing with the short before the Emoji movie, I think the series is grasping for straws at this point, and needs to return to its roots to stand a chance for future installments. Given the failure of the cartoon series... I'm not sure if there is remotely any major interest remaining in this series.
A third installment can be difficult to maintain the quality, and Hotel Transylvania 3 really struggled with keeping itself on target. The movie is cute, funny, and with an entertaining design, but it didn't have an engaging plot and reduce its characters to mere shambles with the exceptions of a few. The movie is certainly prime bait for luring kids into the theater, but it just doesn't have the same bite that the first two did. In regards to if this film is theater worthy... I would say only if you're looking to take your kids, otherwise hold out for this one for future viewing.
Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.0 Movie overall: 5.5
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Teaming Up For More Laughs, But Not As Much Action
Another weekend, another chance for Disney to take the box office with their franchises. Tonight, the latest Marvel movie appears to try and steal the bucks from all other competitions as it tries to follow the biggest movie event of the year Infinity War. Can the rogue hero Ant-Man make a film of wavering size... or is it just a placeholder until Avengers 4 comes to life next spring? Robbie K here ready to write the review on:
Movie: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
Director: Peyton Reed Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña
Fun/Family Friendly: If you remember the first movie, you know that these movies are fun and very friendly to just about everyone. Ant-Man and The Wasp continues the family friendly fun and keeping it appropriate for all ages. The pace keeps things moving, bringing with it a constantly entertaining movie that will keep the audience's attention with ease. Little kids will be impressed with all the excitement and constant moving, while the comic fans will relish the graphic novel qualities of the film.
Character Development: Despite all the chaos in this film, Ant-Man 2 is all about evolving the characters to the next level. Scott (Rudd) is all about trying to balance work, family, and saving the world, all while trying to push past the fears that dwell around him. Hope (Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are on a quest themselves, but while doing this, strive to push past the boundary established form mistakes past. It's heartwarming, cute, and surprisingly deeper than expected, but doesn't divert from the story to make the point, rather integrating this into all the tales. It works well and develops a crew you want to follow this journey through.
Good Main Villain: Marvel baddies have all been extreme characters who go over the edge. From CGI titans to hormonal, vengeful aspiring kings, the Wave 3 crew has lost much of the balance some of the earlier villains had. Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is a character that backpedals into a balanced character, an antagonist who won't annoy you to hating them for their grandiose flaws. She's got some backstory, is integrated well to other characters, and remains embedded in the story to develop alongside the rest of the cast.
Funny: See my previous reviews, but Ant-Man 2 rocks in regards to being comedically entertaining. The writing is the start of this ride, a blend of comedic styles that will appease just about everyone who loves to laugh whether it be from banter or a well-timed insult. Director Peyton Reed kept things balanced with this work, and therefore didn't overdo the comedy, or should I say overuse a comedic style. Yet the actors who bring the words to life get the final round of applause for making the most out of comedic gold. Rudd's sarcasm, but his relaxed atmosphere works fantastically. Douglas style is all about dry sarcasm and stoic delivery to counter the energy of just about every character in the crew. Yet... it's Michael Peña who really shines in this movie. His energy, his confusion, his surprise and his yelling were all fantastic qualities to make him the king of the comedy in this movie.
More Bite from Bad Guys: Ghost has got skills and a story, but she is lacking that bite that Marvel Villains are known to have. I can't say much without ruining too much, but this more balanced mercenary is in need of a little more hate/angst to drive her actions, in hopes of making for a more suspenseful tale. In regards to Sonny (Walton Goggins) well he was meant to be a little more deceptive and menacing, but his malice was diluted due to the comedic direction of the movie.
Too Much Comedy?: Disney's last wave of movies is very heavily focused on making people laugh in some form or manner. While it is always good to laugh, I feel this approach is limiting the potential of the movie to be as balanced and exciting as the first few waves. Ant-Man 2 is fun and entertaining, but the comedy becomes the primary focus and sort of dilutes the other qualities of the film at times. In the case of this movie it is the suspense and action that take most of the hits. Speaking of which...
The Action: The First Ant-Man had all the props out to utilize the technology of the hero of varying sizes. As they train to break in, we get exciting military like strategy, before a very fast and engaging fight between two suits. This movie started out with a good fight led by Wasp, which showed off girl power to all proportions. After that... not much else happened even at the end where the exciting climax was a little silly than amazing. Yes, it is entertaining, but it didn't have all the pizazz and edge like the first film, and did fall into repetitive maneuvers that were okay. Again, still fun, but just didn't reach the levels of the first for me.
Overall, the sequel to Ant-Man works on many levels and does its job at the follow-up to the big, bad Infinity War. It's placeholder status has plenty of fun, laughs, and entertainment for the whole family and will certainly keep everyone chuckling by some means. In addition, it has a thousand times better character development than expected, and gives all the players ample involvement in the story, despite all the laughing you will be doing. Still, it's not the most thrilling or exciting of the bunch primarily that the bad guys are not as malicious and the comedy floods much of the movie and washing away the other qualities. However, it is absolutely worth the trip to the theater with your friends and family, to just enjoy the ride. Of note: The Mid-Credits scene will tie the film to Infinity War and the end credit is another laugh.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.5
The First Purge (2018)
Here Comes The Purge!...
To be human is to be a lot of things, but in this day and age, anger, inpatient, greed, and many times politically inclined. Hence we get the Purge, a way to shed off all the negative energies in one night, by legalizing all crimes including murder. Years ago, we plunged into the series in a horror-like approach, that soon evolved into a much more political, drama thriller. Now, the prequel arrives to try and shed that last bit of light to the creation of the Purge, all while giving us more kills to bathe in. Hi I'm Robbie K and I'm here to share my thoughts on the latest movie to plunge into theaters. Let's see what the fourth installment has in store as I review:
Movie: The First Purge: (2018)
Director: Gerard McMurray Writer: James DeMonaco Stars: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade
Gripping Characters: The Purge has taken many leads to explain the journey of the "blessed" event and drop many characters into the throngs of death. This installment, the characters are actually gripping, realistic groups who have personalities and personas that anchor them to the tale. While there are flaws and strengths to exploit, the movie does a nice job developing the crew through the chaos, yet maintaining their core components as they try to survive the chaos unleashed. Even better, the characters that are extreme (much like in the third installment with the candy girl) are limited, helping reel it back to the suspense it wants. Even Marisa Tomei's character has a bit of twist on it, veering away from the one-dimensional route and adding a little more quality to the mix.
The Pace: The movie wins points for being able to accomplish so much chaos and carnage, while completing its story in about 90 minutes. This First Purge was very intense, and that led to a more exhilarating pace to entertain and leave you on edge. When the action gets started, and the morally justified bullets fly, the movie's speed only picks up and caps the film off with a nice action plot similar to components of Purge Anarchy (my favorite of the trilogy).
The Story Development: This prequel did little to add much in the terms of the overall story than what we already know, but it doesn't mean it's a weak story. On this first night, there are plenty of lives affected and many deeper than half the characters we were introduced to in the first films. Most of these characters tales come full circle in this tale, offering some satisfactory stories to talk about when the credits roll. A nice balance between all the characters was appreciated, as it kept most of the characters in the play relevant.
The Setting: It is realistic, it is creepy, and perhaps the most important, very relevant given the political state of affairs. The First Purge establishes the motif well, and turns a simple town, into a coliseum of destruction, which unfortunately could be any city. It's this setting that makes the series feel realistic, playing on a lot of factors that dominate the human psyche today. Needless to say, there is a warning to keep those impressionable minds away just in case.
The Action: My friend and I both agreed that the selling point (past the characters) is the action of this film. While there is a horror element to the film, the First Purge is more of an action thriller than anything else. As the drama unfolds, the truth starts to reveal itself, and the characters get fueled up, the bullets begin to fly. The result are a number of sequences that feel part robo cop, meeting Die Hard, Gangster Squad, and a little Equalizer all put together. It is an exciting climactic finish that starts to bring everyone's emotions to full boil. It felt very much at place, and I was stoked to see it tie the whole thing up in a... messy bow.
The Gorey Violence: Psycho thrillers will not be bothered by this, but The First Purge is no stranger to graphic kills. Gore, sounds of viscera being pierced, and agonizing moans of death are certainly what you have to worry about in this film. At times, it was acceptable, but at points it was a little unnecessary to go into the detail they did. Sorry guys, but that's not the selling point for me.
Dropping the Story Components: The main elements are there for the most part, but there are plenty of other components that got dropped or sloppily finished. Certain characters, a few antagonists, and some creepy relationships that held such potential were left to dwindle in the dust. Some of them they tried to go back to, but for me the execution of these attempts came off as if they had forgotten it up until the last minute. I applaud for the attempt, but these ridiculous characters had small goals to accomplish and could have used a better send off in my opinion.
The Weird Cinema Effects: I know, the Purge series has always been about glorifying the insanity of the people partaking in the festivities. This prequel is no different, but they managed to make a slight alteration that tried to mix soundtrack songs into the slow crawl of their faces. These moments didn't quite integrate into the movie well, and even worse, they kind of overused it for me and therefore not necessarily the most relevant to the mix. A minor flaw for me, but still worth mentioning.
The Stretches of Imagination: The movie I ridiculous, we all know that, but there are times where their stretching was a little too much. Many of the characters had insane stamina, incredible accuracy, or insane luck that was envious to video game players alike in regards to a character. Yet, when the moment came where it was needed, somehow that god like ability faded away, leaving them vulnerable at the wrong parts. Yes, rounds out the character, but the timing and inconsistency was a little too staged for me.
Political Heat: The movie is going to get a lot of things buzzing, for there are plenty of political topics that are fired up in this movie. Racism, poverty, government hesitation, and savagery are just some of the things that are introduced into this movie. It will divide and conquer the audience into two extremes, potentially leading to heated viewings and most likely mimicry in the near future. If you're not looking for hardcore analyses of these topics, stay away from this one.
Overall, the First Purge adds little to the story overall, but it at least brings the characters to bat and hit home runs with. It's still creepy, it brings up good topics for discussion, and has an exciting climax to wrap things up, leading to one of the better installments into the mix. However, it is still a series that is far from my perfect, lost to extreme stretches of the imagination, predictable plots of incomplete stories, and an obsession for the gore are the selling points that aren't for me. Don't go if you are easily sickened by gore or political heat, because this movie is going to hit on all these topics. Yet, if you are a fan of this series, or looking for a decent action/thriller, you want to check this out on the theater. However, I believe there will be a better movie coming in further down the line.
My scores are:
Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.0
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
The Road To El Soldado
Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise. After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico. Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path. Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:
Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)
Director: Stefano Sollima Writer: Taylor Sheridan Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner
The Darkness: A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal. The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of "heroes". In terms of character development, the movie's edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.
The Story: Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades. Del Toro's character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together. Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in.
The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers. It's just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides. Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love.
The Acting: By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully. Brolin doesn't veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken. No surprise, it's Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round. Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.
The Justice: There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen... actually happen and these moments plain out rock. I can't say much more than that so let's move on to the dislikes.
The Pace: The movie isn't quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts. It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots. Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.
Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie's talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is. You'll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players' parts in this film.
Some stretches: The movie's complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal. Sometimes it's turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it's the rapid change of character, but Soldado's road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes. Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.
Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn't the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving. Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.
More Action: The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted. Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional. Why this was the case? I don't know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue. So, let's get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.
Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre. It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant. Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established. Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components. It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained. Good for kids? Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work. Worth a trip to the theater? If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 6.0
Uncle Drew (2018)
Slam Dunk With Drew
Whatever top of blacktop you got to step on, you knew there was a game of basketball going on at some point. While I stunk at the game, watching my fellow classmates agilely school each other in the art of hoops was something that held a lot pizazz, energy, and fun. Tonight, a movie promising to revive that fun, alongside teaching some legends in the art of basketball Zen and entertain the masses. Is this moving going to take home the prize or will it be nothing but an air ball? Robbie K here to review another movie and share his thoughts on the silver screen cinematic known as:
Movie: Uncle Drew (2018)
Director: Charles Stone III Writer: Jay Longino Stars: Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O'Neal
Comedy: Uncle Drew is certainly in the art of playful insults, trash talking, and of course the elderly living life to the fullest. The comedy is spread between a variety of styles, balancing them into an act that feels natural and realistic. I had my fair share of laughs seeing the various slapsticks and certainly enjoyed the delivery by the various basketball stars. In addition, the movie is able to balance Tiffany Haddish's style of comedy into the mix, giving you plenty of attitude, but not to the point of annoyance.
The Character Development: Certainly not the biggest selling point, but the movie expands n what looked like a one-dimensional cast, and brought some more relevant players to the bench. While not the deepest dives in a movie, it's an attempt to give us more backstory and care about the characters. In addition, a few twists come from these back stories so well done in those regards of adding to the tale.
The Soundtrack: A mixture of old and new school track lists, Uncle Drew's crew is ready to rock out to a sensational list of rap, hip-hop, R&B, blues, and a little techno. They pair to the scenes well, add energy to the scene, and if all else fails works to get you dancing in your seat. My favorite track is certainly during the dance off, got love those beats and moves coming together.
The Morals: You want life lessons? Drew's got them. You want bonding of family and trust? Drew's got them. You want other lessons about confidence, respect, and the love of the game? Again, Drew has them. This movie is certainly about teaching much across the generations, unafraid to call out mistakes and inspire to see the world from different angles. These lessons are certainly a keystone for this movie, but it works given that attitude and energy of the film.
The Games: Drew is supposed to be about the moves and being capable of schooling the young players. Well thank goodness they showed off those skills in enough cinematic glory. There are at least two games that give the players their respectful bouts of basketball, blowing the screen up in impressive displays of agility, coordination, and attitude. It explodes with the youthful energy, and brings some tension to keep the game interesting. In addition, these scenes, like the movie, are fun and keep all this balanced to not break from the theme of the movie.
More Depth: The movie made attempts to develop characters, it just needed to dive further in and develop some more tension. Much of the plot points are sub-par at best, deep scars that seem to resolve quickly and lack the full intensity of resolution Drew tried to make them. For two hours... the movie could have utilized some time to give the deeper moments more... well depth.
Ridiculous moments: I get it, the concept itself is nuts, but that aside, Uncle Drew sometimes takes the levels a little too high to fit into the movie. Sure, it's entertaining and fun, but some of these scenes divert away from the attempts to be serious, or just become bloated bouts of banter that unnecessarily extends the movie. If this is your style, get ready for plenty of crazy moments, otherwise just steel yourself for about ten minutes max.
Ending Credits: Small dislike, but the credits would have worked for me had they just been the bloopers, which contained lines I wish had made it to the film's actual dialogue. However, the Haddish ending scene was just a grandiose attempt to bring her attitude more into the mix and didn't need to be there.
Predictable: Much of this is due to the trailers showing too much off, but the movie has only a few twists to try to throw you for a whirl. Much of the attempts are soap opera like stunts that did little to move me because they can see them from a mile away. The movie needed a little more gup behind it to help get a little more slamming behind it.
Cliché: Perhaps also in the predictable category, the messages are powerful, but they are preachy, presented sometimes in an overdramatic manner seen in Tyler Perry or Nicholas Sparks books. It will hit deep in the heart for many, but keep your eyes open and you'll see the overdramatic presentation I'm talking about.
The Length: Two hours doesn't seem long enough once the fun starts, the problem is the first part. Props to them for not skimping on the recruiting scenes as it gave each guy there moment in the sun. However, there were comedic ploys that got overused, or they went out of the way to execute to be honest, and for me that just added unnecessary length to the movie. There is at least 15 minutes to be edited out, but still it works.
Mookie: I get it he was supposed to be annoying, and Nick Kroll did his job well to amplify the obnoxious presentation that was Dax's rival Mookie. Does not mean I wanted a character like this in the movie. Mookie is an annoying piece of work, that serves its purpose of drawing ire out of every character and setting up for an intense rivalry. Yet, his scenes were very draining on my patience and I cherished the silence that followed his babbling of disgustingness.
Uncle Drew is certainly a great representation of black top antics and the spirit of street basketball, brotherhood, and pride. It works to cover multiple generations, and will certainly appeal to many in terms of its comedy, sports nature, and all out fun. Yet, the movie still has some editing components to cut into, dropping the out of the way laugh attempts for some character depth that can spice up the predictable plot. Nevertheless, the movie is fun and energetic and certainly appropriate for many to go and lace up for. I'd say this movie warrants a visit if you are looking to have fun and strongly encourage group outings to thoroughly enjoy it.
My scores are:
Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Has the Series Fallen Into Extinction
Dinosaurs continue to be the fascinating topic of the prehistorical world and with it the carnage that comes with these gigantic beasts. In the 90's Jurassic Park reigned supreme in this genre, and brought Crichton's novel to life in ways we could not imagine. Nearly three decades later, the technology continues to push the dinosaurs animation to new heights and potentially make the carnage all the sweeter. Robbie K here, bringing another review on the last silver screen smash to grace the theaters this week. Let's get started as I review:
Movie: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Director: J.A. Bayona Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
Animation: Let's face it, the 90's brought an incredible baseline of work, and the advancements in animation make these extinct creatures shine like no other. Computer animation brings fluid movements of running, mangling, and hunting, while the robotics creates the realistic sheen that hooks you in. A nice balance between the two styles really crafts the piece together.
The Acting: Pratt is still great, a blend of sarcasm meeting heroic cowboy that sharpens him into a great lead to keep the series alive. Howard dropped most of the edgy, monotonous tone (and the heels) and with it brings that more dynamic, caring approach to life to round out the roguish nature of Pratt. As for the rest of the crew, they play their parts well, though I can't say they were the best approaches direction of the characters I anticipated, primarily Toby Jones who somehow played a stiff, one dimensional character with little bite.
The Pace: Like the stampeding herd in the trailer, the movie moves at a good pace, always moving and at times trying to keep the action/suspense nature alive. It shifts easily from one dynamic to another, attempting to keep the drama down and the chaos high.
More Dinosaurs: The movie manages to expand their collection of thunder lizards to terrorize and amaze. Both carnivores and herbivores will stomp into the group with majestic prowess, or perhaps stalk in with nightmarish grins as they attempt to obtain their next meal. Regardless, the repertoire is impressive and many get their shining moment to actually warrant their inclusion.
The Originality of New Direction: We've understood the cliché of Jurassic Park movies and how a band gets put on an island, forced to pit their instincts against the prehistoric predators. Jurassic World 2 decides to deviate from it and take a more moral dilemma approach. The movie honestly has a lot more discussion of ethics vs business, mercy vs. survival, and selective vs. global compassion. Much of the movie is geared towards these tug at your heart issues and trying to pick a side of the two extremes. While political, the movie will certainly stir up emotions you might not expect in this series.
The Character Development: Surprisingly, Jurassic World 2 manages to beef up the character development of some of its leading groups. Chris Pratt's Owen really gets under the microscope to examine the connections to Blue, bringing with it a deeper connection to one who was so shallow in the previous installment. As for Claire... she too gets a little more depth, but surprisingly took the back seat in this movie compared to Pratt, I guess her family was the driving point for evolving, and without them she lacks the motivation. As for the rest of the crew, there are some decent looks into their lives, but haven't quite gotten to the multiple layers you might want in a leading role.
The Nostalgia: Got to love when your childhood memories and references come back into the screen, and this installment is happy to bring back a few of these moments to have you smiling. They haven't quite mastered showing some of the bigger, iconic references, but they got enough for a good start.
The New Characters: I don't know whose direction or decisions it was, but the new characters are a little too modernized for my taste. Very emotional, angsty characters, the younger cast is a bit too extreme for me and felt like a forced comedic ploy that failed to pick up steam. The villains themselves lacked much dimension as well, falling into stereotypical, boastful blowhards who have little beyond bragging rights. Why such extremes? I don't know, but they failed to impress me given some of the other baddies to infiltrate the parks.
The Twist: There are a number of these in this film, but one in particular about a character will bring with it a new level of soap opera dynamics. By doing this they help establish some more motifs to all the madness at hand, but it really didn't stand and hold place in a movie about creating and unleashing the torrent of dinosaurs. Sorry guys uniqueness gets an A+, but in the grand schemes not needed.
Predictable/Pushed carnage: Since Lost World, the series has been more about the kills as the main source of thrills. Jurassic World and World 2 were still on that gimmick, not so much setting it up to go with the suspense and storytelling element. The movie sets up obvious ploys for killing and often relying on stupidity and foreshadowing to set up their kills with little regards to necessity. I miss the suspense of that first movie and grow tired of the focus of how to make it gore fest, no matter how justified they are.
The Inhumane Moments: The director wanted to elicit emotional responses and he managed to succeed very well. However, in this installment, those moments are sometimes a little too inhumane for my taste and a little unnecessary at times. Fallen Kingdom is going to continue passing the baton of who the real monsters are, but for me this director has a little more sadistic side to the cinematography and plot elements he wants to show. Being an animal lover, no matter how savage they are, it was hard to see some of these moments come to fruition and enjoy the film. If you're like me, steel yourself, because there are going to be some over the top moments to punch you hard and leave you feeling depressed.
Didn't Fell Jurassic: The movie held so much potential for another island adventure that showed danger, mystery, and more of that great survival of the fittest we thrive on in the series. However, this part was rushed, simplified, and very lacking until the big run from the volcano scene. The movie missed all that suspenseful, thrilling moments for the ethical debates, and the though the second act turned out stronger than I expected, it still didn't hold the elements (or the bite) of the movie I longed for.
In truth, Jurassic World 2 is a decent sequel that tries out some new things to try and evolve the dinosaurs' reign on the silver screen. Given the new morale dilemmas, the character development and increase in gimmicks like more dinosaurs and better animation, the movie is obviously worth the trip to the theater. However, the movie still does not quite have the feel of the movies proceeding it, lacking the thrilling adventure of defying debt, for more soap opera and convoluted antics. In addition, the twist and heartbreaking moments may deter you from enjoying the movie at full potential. As for it being appropriate for kids... it depends on their ability to handle the cruel treatment of animals, adult themes, and darker moments (Endoraptor is nightmare inducing) that are often loud. So targeted age is probably 12 and up.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Is the Game Stale? Tagging You Into This Review
Childhood games and traditions may seem silly, but with them comes a pact that helps solidify the friendships that start with them. Based on true events, today's review is based on events of a group of guys who played Tag for almost three decades and the craziness that came with it. Another comedy arrives this weekend and yours truly is here to help get your movie going experience on, or not depending on the movie. Let's gets started as I review:
Movie: Tag (2018)
Director: Jeff Tomsic Writers: Rob McKittrick (screenplay by), Mark Steilen (screenplay by) Stars: Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson
Good Pace: A movie about a childhood game requires a good pace to capture that energy and Tag succeeds in securing this. The movie constantly keeps the gang on their toes, as the crew makes attempts to discover the whereabouts of Jerry (Jeremy Renner) and then execute their plans. Most of the scenes are high adrenaline bouts of running, with obstacles courses, clever dodges, and a few other moves. It keeps up the fun of the movie and does little to venture off the course of bringing you back into your youth.
Surprisingly Deep: While it is a comedy, Tag somehow manages to take a break away from the silliness by getting into the character stories. As a balance between fun and depth, the movie does a unique job presenting the background history, by using the temporarily lapses in the excitement to interview the crew. Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) is an interviewer who gets dragged into the adventure, and to further understand the trend, asks the group how things evolved. Through this story, the characters evolve, and the relationship dives into something much more emotionally charged than I ever expected.
Funny: Is the comedy funny? Yes it is, and the movie does a nice job of broadening the comedic styles across the board to not only help each character stand out, but keep the comedy fresh and fun. I myself enjoyed the physical comedy of the group, which felt like a more ridiculous version of Home Alone's stunts. In addition, Hannibal Buress dry, monotone delivery was perfect to offset all the yelling, high drug and angry comedy that the rest brought. Matched with the energy of the movie, the comedy helped rejuvenate the youthful energy of the movie and keep everything fun to watch.
Good Balance of Characters: My concerns for actors getting underutilized was misplaced for once, and Tag was able to keep everyone practically involved in the adventure. Much of this has to do with the presentation of backstory and modern-day planning, but everyone who gets pulled into the game stays in the game... in a nonthreatening manner that is. And thanks to the blend of comedy styles, every character is very well utilized to further expand the game at hand.
Crosses the line sometimes: Some of the styles in this movie are very dark and mature. It's these elements that sometimes cross way over the line, jumping into topics that aren't worth joking about. Super competitive people will relish in the tactics used to win, but for me, the writers sometimes went a little too far in impeding the sanctity of things that needed to be impeded on.
Sexual Innuendo Banter: Innuendos are a great device when deployed sparingly and timed right. Tag accomplishes this goal well, but there are a few moments where the aggressive comedy diverges from the path to just stuff more sexual antics into the mix. One of these times was completely unnecessary, a lead that was doomed to fail and could have been edited out. When the banter about this stuff continues to occur, it got old due to how irrelevant it needed.
Over the Top At Times: The whole movie is over the top, I get that, but sometimes it flew sky high into the childish and moronic territories. The game of tag has a lot of stakes to winning, and when competitiveness gets in the way, the adrenaline rush causes one to do stupid things. However, this movie takes it a little too far, leading to yes amusing antics at times, but other times very destructive habits that again crossed a line not only into illegal areas, but stupid territory again.
Isla Fisher's Character: This has nothing to do with the actress herself, but the direction they took her in. Anna is a firecracker to say it nicely, but the direction had her a little too obnoxious and bipolar for my liking. At times it came off well, but other times it was just annoying to see her aggressively yell, curse, or sometimes strike a person for no reason. It never got any better for me, and some of my fellow movie goers agreed that her character may have been the weakest link of the group. Still, you want that firecracker wild woman, you are in the right area.
Tag is a movie that doesn't sell you short on the simplistic, fun, youthful adventure that it is. It's a ridiculous, over the top comedy that is incredibly entertaining and should keep you in the film for the entire ride. With a great ensemble and multiple styles integrated together, one should find a few laughs held in the confines of this game. Despite the surprising depth to the movie, the ridiculous antics, cursing/dirty comedy still cross the line and Fisher's character didn't help to maintain the balance they would have strived for. Still, the movie succeeds in recapturing the spirit of youth, and is worth a trip to the theater as a group or date movie. If you can't catch that together, then save your money for the rental service and wait for next week's flick.
Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Incredible Follow Up
It's another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another "masterpiece" to win the hearts of many. After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay. Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations. Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures. So, let's get started.
Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)
Director: Brad Bird Writer: Brad Bird Stars: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell
Cute: If the trailers didn't paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many. Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family's drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.
Balanced First Act: Pixar's team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2's first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion. It's primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.
Relevant: While I can't relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people. For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others. Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl's arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be. Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society. By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.
Animation/Action: The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling. While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix. Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random. Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar's approach to action.
Comedy: Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix. The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs. Jack-Jack's cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though...Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.
Predictable: The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn't do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.
Inconsistencies in Story Components: The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects. During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components. No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won't care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you'll start to realize these moments. At this point, I'll state that some of the new characters didn't have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.
Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack's antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of. The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me. In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack's-Jack's power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity. I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.
Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction? Me too! Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight. The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story. Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with. Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don't know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.
Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It's a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had. With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film. However, the movie still didn't quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn't maintain that balance I loved. Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way. Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in. Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.
My scores are:
Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5 Movie Overall: 7.5
Ocean's Eight (2018)
Not necessarily an 8
When it comes to crime thrillers, most will immediately identify Ocean's 11. This movie was big back in the day, modernizing the crime film, and solidifying some of the mainstays of the decade's biggest stars. Many films have followed suit, but none quite establishing the legacy the Oceans series did, and this weekend, they will attempt to do it again, but establish a different group to lead instead. Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:
Movie: Ocean's 8
Director: Gary Ross Writers: Gary Ross (screenplay by), Olivia Milch (screenplay by) Stars: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway
Fun: No doubt about it, I had fun in this film. Watching the new adventure unfold brought a renewed energy to this series that contained many elements and styles to have you chuckling or smiling in delight. The new 8 has captured a portion of the original trilogy's mood, but twists it into a more entertaining tale than you might expect.
Balance: My pre-review stated concern that the movie's dynamic was going to be solely comedy and political power for women, but my concerns were wrong. The writers managed to interject key comedic moments that had wit and timing behind them to capitalize on the laughs. Even more impressive, is how they showed off how awesome these women were, but didn't quite rub it in our faces via preachy monologues and aggressive, anti-male lines. The result was a more respectable, and acceptable screenplay.
Fast Pace: The movie didn't drag like I was concerned with, moving a fairly quick pace and utilizing the screen time to make it fun. My first-time check was almost 1-hour in and could not believe so much time had passed in such a little amount. Such a speed adds a little energy to it, keeping you entertained and further adding to the enjoyment of the movie.
The costumes: My lord was wardrobe on point, crafting incredible outfits for our stylish sisters to wear (when they aren't dressing like bums). Ocean's 8 is a grown women's fantasy closet, with numerous designs to reel the targeted audience in and keep it lodged in for the full 2 hour run time. Throw in some very fancy, gorgeous accessories and jewelry, you might understand why many in my showing were oohing and aching for most of the movie. Such a suave style fits well with the characters of the movie and it adds personality to an already colorful cast.
Acting: It's decent, what else can I say. Ocean's 8 is not going to have award winning nominations, but Sandy B and her team get props for not only bringing each character to life, but also creating a new family that show the makings for future development and tension in the future. Kudos also go out for utilizing each character fairly well, not necessarily perfect, but much better than most films, even integrating cameos to interweave with the leading ladies.
James Corden: A final nod goes to Corden's appearance in the movie. His introduction brings with it a new sense of comedy that feels much like his talk show moments we've fallen in love with. New story elements are teased with him, but Corden somehow further amplifies the fun and had the audience laughing the most of the film. A well-timed and integrated move my friends, and one I hope will come in future installments, should they decide to go that direction.
Carbon Copy: The first movie was epic and really broke ground, but this movie... not so much. Ocean's 8 feels more like a big game of steeling dress up items than a true crime/drama, it lacks some of the unique elements and the energy isn't quite there to feel original. The result is a formulaic film that emphasizes new qualities in a criminal team, that is a major set up for future installments. Yes, it falls victim to franchise mode, which causes the movie to suffer elsewhere, like...
Semi-Use of Nostalgia: Acknowledging that this is a movie meant to establish its own stride, Ocean's 8 tries to utilize nostalgia to help spice things up. I can say they hit some great moments to it, integrating it to help further the plan, but other times was just a nod that didn't have quite the same emphasis as the bigger moments. George Clooney's reference in particular felt very lazy to me, but potential sequels may correct this component or at least shed some light on things.
Weak Character Development: Like the other Ocean's movies, the criminal team didn't quite get a hard self-reflection/revelation that other films in this genre has. Ocean's 8 tries to get things rolling, primarily in Bullock and Blanchett's character's guidance, but much of it is a generic, diluted mess that doesn't feel invested by the writers. As for the other characters, yeah they are rather superficial sub-plots, much of their desires not even remotely fleshed out contributing to an incomplete writing or foreshadowing for more franchise moments coming. This is franchise planning at its "finest" the plan for more movies to explain, instead of letting the first movie do some heavy lifting.
Lack of Plausible Opposition/Tension: Ocean's 11 had plenty of parts that kept you on your toes and your interest engaged, perhaps even convincing your mind that the team won't make it. Ocean's 8 has severely diluted the tension, with very few obstacles to come close to standing in their way. Perhaps it's the fun nature, or a subtle nod that women are better planners, but I felt the "exciting" climax was not quite as suspenseful or engaging as the predecessors. This film needed a little direr strait to get you caring about them, perhaps again awaiting another film to bring more opposition to the mix.
The Trailers Ruined Twists: Watch one trailer semi-closely, and you now have the surprises robbed from you, including the two bigger treasures hidden in this film. Ocean's 8 marketing was good, but perhaps it did a little too well to ruin some plot points. If you haven't watched it, you are in luck, otherwise get ready to be less surprised based on what you remember.
Ocean's 8 isn't as horrible as may predicted it to be, and much of this comes from the fear of heavy bombardment in female comedy/principles. Yet, the group did a great job balancing those components in, striving to find balance between nostalgia and newness, comedy and seriousness, and women vs. men's parts in plans succeeding, seeing these women dressed up in fantastic features strengthened the fun this movie brought, helping to keep the energy flowing. Yes, it requires some more uniqueness to be put in, and the character development certainly needs an overhaul, especially if they add another woman to the brigade. Even more, this potential series need s to tighten its focus and bring some suspense to the movie to maximize its effect. Still, this movie is worth the theater visit, primarily with girls groups, mostly due to the bond the ladies bring... and it's the only crime film out right now.
My scores are:
Action/Comedy/Crime: 6.5-7.0 Movie Overall: 5.5 -6.6
Hotel Artemis (2018)
Looking For a Suite and Received A Lower Key Room
What does crime, medicine, and dramas all have in common? Well outside of certain episodes of ER and Grey's Anatomy, not much to be honest. However, today those three genres mix together to bring you another movie that will hopefully bring with it some suspense, a little creativity, and some originality that Hollywood needs. Welcome to another Robbie's movie review and today we review:
Movie: Hotel Artemis
Director: Drew Pearce Writer: Drew Pearce Stars: Jodie Foster, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista
Acting Character Dynamics Sofia Boutella and Sterling Brown's Characters Realistic Setting Action Scene
Summary: Hotel Artemis is a movie largely dependent on its characters, which fortunately are brought to life by the fantastic talents of the various cast members recruited for the project. Leading roles by Foster, Boutella and Sterling K. Brown are by far the most in depth and worthy of billing, but even the supporting characters like Bautista and Charlie Day who bring their usual styles to the mix to alleviate some of the more somber moments. As the actors bring it to life, the character dynamics start to awaken, establishing the realm of crime in the near-future LA and just how fickle trust can be in the underworld. Those dynamics by far are the driving force of the movie, trying to help figure out how each of the pawns are connected and what will drive them in this high stakes hospital. Perhaps it's the setting itself that forces this evolution of characters, as the dingy oasis from the riot outsides places numerous pressure on the group. As the outside world grows wilder (documented by occasional news blurbs), the characters are forced to interact and face their own dilemmas. It's a well-done drama that doesn't pull any punches in the 2 hour run time so that it may establish so much. I mentioned in pre-reviews that this movie looked to have some action to further spur the story on and for the most part... that is not the case. Yet, there is one action scene in particular led by the sexy assassin herself, that is just epic, tense, and a great fit into the story that feels pertinent to the tale as a whole. I wished there was more of these moments, but that wasn't the direction they wanted to go.
DiSLIKES: Slow at times Charlie Day/Quinto Rants Underutilization of characters/actors More Action Darker Violence Background flops
Like some of the more popular dramas on television, Hotel Artemis' drama is all about try to build tension through the characters and have politics, emotional fervor, and affairs be the selling point. This takes time to adequately develop, and given all the convoluted ties in this movie, it means a pace that isn't quite adrenaline fueled. Hotel Artemis has its slow points, that easily could have been tightened to reduce the run time or potentially add some more tension/urgency to the mix. Had there been more action to speed it up, the pace may not have been as much of a low point for me, but I fought sleep a couple of times. In addition, a few of the directions that the characters were taken were not my favorite renditions I wanted to see. Primarily in Quinto and Day's characters, these players in Artemis' game are more annoying than engaging, leaving me disappointed with the little contribution they played. Day just rants and curses like someone hopped on coffee, Red Bull, and methamphetamine, while Quinto is just a big baby. Not quite as fitting given the other portrayals of the crime gang. Even worse, a few of the characters are super left out, reduced to a few, unmemorable lines or weak character ploys to get to the climax faster. Jeff Goldblum's character was one of these guys, and my fears of too many characters came true. Which brings me to perhaps my biggest dislike of the film, the rushed background stories and flops. The Nurse's story is one of the heavy hitters, mysterious and emotionally charged, you expect it to be the epicenter of the movie. And while it was a key connector, much of the backstory was not that impressive, alliterated, and lacking any major surprise/mind blowing component. When the big revelation comes... you almost miss the clues and by this point I was done with all the planning, I needed the climactic finish. Fortunately Nice and Waikiki's tale had a little more to it, but even then it was only a superficial scratch to what lied below. All the potential was kind of flown over, therefore this was the disappointment factor for me.
Hotel Artemis is weird and dark, no doubt about it, and truth be told it is a crime/drama with characters that are the central pillar to the story. Despite a fantastic cast acting their brains out and a character centric plot, Artemis's main flaws come from not having enough time to fully utilize everyone they wanted, and it resulted in plot teasers that could be expanded on in the future (perhaps in a sequel no doubt). Such complications were only exacerbated by the slower pace, that begs for more suspense, tension, and action to bring it to life. Truth be told, this could have been better done as a television series than a solo movie, given them hours to further map out the conspiracy web. Overall, not worth the trip to the theater to be honest, but worth the rent if you are into the alternative Sci-Fi/crime scene.
My scores are:
Action/Crime/Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall 6.0
A Genetic Mutation in Horror, That Took Long To Execute With A Finale That Was Meh
Robbie K here, ready to try and do another movie justice in his reviews and observations. Tonight's focus is on a horror movie that looked very disturbing, chilling to the bone, and potentially containing a high creep factor to really make you squirm in your seats. Yes, assuming you read the title of the movie on your way into this review I'm giving you my thoughts and observations on...
Director: Ari Aster Writer: Ari Aster Stars: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
LIKES: Creepy: The trailers didn't lie, Hereditary is creepy as heck and not afraid to flaunt it in so many forms. While not loaded with jump scares that many love, Hereditary is all about using shadows and the edge of your vision to make you see things. It uses subtle sounds to keep you on the edge, and reveals just enough to keep you further engrossed in the thrills. Hereditary also is not afraid to cross the line to really get a reaction going, sometimes to the point of intensely disturbing visuals that one does not expect to see. Yet, my friends and I all agreed that the true creep factor comes from how realistic this movie is, at least at the beginning. The questions of how much is true and how much potential psychosis is helps depict some of the more extreme cases of mental illness and how dangerous and intense this disease can be.
The Setting: A creepy movie requires a setting to bring it to life and this movie has got that going on for it too. The house is classic, semi isolated from town, with enough nooks and crannies to generate shadows that hide in the light. It's not these random temples or abandoned houses, but an actual lived in home that brings that realism to light and immerses you into the movie. And if you don't care about the creepy shadows and lights the movie holds, then just enjoy the beauty of the house, especially if you were dragged to the movie to begin with.
Dynamic Story Changes: A fancy way of saying twisting transition, Hereditary's writer certainly new how to adjust the script to bring a different atmosphere with the movie. At first more of a psycho thriller with some potential horror elements, the movie manages to gradually fluctuate into other genres. It evolves into different types of horrors, and with it brings more levels of disturbing twists to begin to connect semi-vague pieces together. It certainly a bit haphazard and mashed like a play, but I give props for a writer willing to switch gears from time to time. In addition, some of the lengths they go to shake things up are certainly risky, but with it generating some reaction you weren't quite expecting.
Long: Heritage certainly does the job of tying up loose ends and making sure everything is explained (which of course is a like). Sadly, it takes a little too long to get to that point and in a very complex manner that is almost like going around your elbow to get to your thumb. The second act, and partially the third act, were very drawn out, boring to the point of trying to make these connections in a mask of coping mechanisms. Again, it's realism and portrayal are awesome, but as the direction of the movie starts to change, these weird transitions start to feel a bit too odd and not worth your time.
The Goofy Faces: Some of the movie tried to bring some torturous reactions in the non-verbal acting. Poor Toni Collette came off with some rather goofy, perhaps unintentional, faces that were funny and looked more like being stoned or maybe getting brain freeze. Her son Peter (Alex Wolff) didn't turn out much better, as his own facial dynamics were, well goofy as well, primarily in that buck toothed, stoned look that was meant to be exhaustion.
The Acting: Don't get me wrong, the acting was mostly decent, if not good, primarily in the portrayal of mental illness and fear. Yet there were times where hysterical crying, yelling, and blubbering were again a little too much and went down the wrong path. I'm not trying to pick on Wolff, but his hysterical crying was a little too forced for me and seemed incredibly fake compared to the rest of his performance. Why this gimmick was done more than once, not really known, but I can't say that it was a direction I would have taken.
The Tongue Clicking: Not quite an as annoying as the trailers made it out, the use of the tongue clicking was decent at times, but a little over used. Whether it was the amplification by the speakers, or maybe just the excessive/random moments, this device started to grow annoyingly humorous and needed to stop. Thank goodness they got light of it and didn't bombard us too much with it.
The Complexity: A complex plot makes you think, makes you question, and more importantly keeps you engaged. This movie accomplished those goals, but when the ending finally came through and the final transition happened, the complexity felt stupid and unneeded. Again, it supports the ending, but because of how much I didn't like the ending, this complexity just didn't feel the right direction to me outside of extending the film. Complexity can be good with a real good finish, (which some may like), but for this reviewer the ends didn't justify the means.
The Ending: You saw this coming, but Hereditary's ending wasn't the one I had in mind from the trailers. A surprise can be good, but to quote my friends, the ending had completely leaped over the gap to another movie altogether that didn't quite fit all the way with the direction the first act did. It was almost like two screenwriters wrote the two halves, came together and tried to paste them together (even though there was supposedly only one writer). While the broad transitions will grip more people in, the movie's grand finale wasn't my cup of tea, though it may explain the disturbing steps this writer planned. And some of the end game decisions, rushed, pointless, and really not pleasant to look at (fans who see the movie will know what I'm talking about).
The other reviews are right, this movie keeps you guessing, has a number of twists, is creepy and hard to stomach, and not afraid to go down the dark abyss to bring you shock. So, bravo in thinking outside the box and crafting a rather original tale with a dynamic component to it. Yet, this movie's tinkering with the plot was unnecessarily complex, with a few gimmicks/deliveries not really keeping in tone with the genre and the ends not justifying the lengthy journey I took to get there. If you like the Lords of Salem, you are going to enjoy the approach this movie takes, as it feels very similar in a lot of components. Yet, if you want a more linear, straightforward movie, hold your horses for later this year when other films are supposed to grace the silver screen.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 7.0
Check Out This Update!
Robbie K back with yet another review this time on a movie that looks to be interesting to say the least. With one of the weaker advertising campaigns to hit in a while, this movie didn't reveal much in regards to its contents, so I went in wondering what was in store. After seeing it, yours truly has plenty of things to report his thoughts as I review:
Director: Leigh Whannell Writer: Leigh Whannell Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, Rosco Campbell
Sci-Fi Plot: The movie genre says Action/Comedy/Horror, but this reviewer felt it was more a science fiction piece than anything else. The piece is a culmination of various Sci-Fi hits that include things like: The Fugitive, Bladerunner, Matrix, and even HardCore Henry. Such a ragtag collection really worked in this case, and brought with it an engaging story that addresses the issues of technology and how the world can potentially abuse them. It's a thrilling adventure that for the most part kept my attention, and helped dive deeper down the rabbit hole.
Decent Character Development: You may remember the movie of Her where man and machine entered a complex relationship that was odd and inappropriate. Upgrade takes that foundation and updates it to something much better, creating an interface between man and machine that isn't love, but practically survival. While this relationship is multi-faceted, I was impressed with the amount of development both key characters got. STEM in particular had loads of development, despite only being a disembodied voice that was set for survival. As the movie progresses, the level of complexity between the two further expands, and creates one of the more engaging relationships I've seen in a while.
Decent Editing: For a movie with a complex tale and a lot of pathways to connect, it surprisingly felt complete in such a short time limit. At around 90 minutes, Upgrade meets all its goals of action, storytelling, and motif exploring and keeping most of the footage tight and relevant to the film. This weekend is surprisingly meeting this goal, and I'm thrilled to see this art hasn't been completely lost.
Action Scene: For an action genre tag, Upgrade manages to accomplish this goal quite well and bring about one of the more intense scenes I have experienced in a long time. Grey and his cyber buddy go through the motions from standard fist fight to kung fu fury and given the rock music infusion with a very active camera, the scenes only get more exciting. Sure, some of the action scenes were simplistic stunts given other examples, but what's impressive is that the action is always pertinent to the film. In addition, the style of fighting maintains the dark edge of the movie, leading to further amplification of the suspense and thrills this movie brings.
Realism: Sci-Fi often gets a bad rap for being unbelievable, but Upgraded is one of those films that will shatter that fantasy glass ceiling. Set in the not so far future, the movie manages to bring the future technology to the "modern" world, skipping the grandiose futuristic cities and creatures, for a much more grounded approach. As such, the added realism, brings the horror element out and is scarier than what most horror movies can cook up.
Character underutilization: The movie relies a lot on two characters to make up the story, the secondary characters are semi important, but most of them get the shaft. I would have liked better integration of these characters, especially the cop, who could have opened up more of the movie's edge had she been given the chance. Perhaps future installment can help out with this, but for this movie...it was okay.
Gorey At Times: There are some things one does not like to see and some of the finishing moves in this movie are examples of this. Upgraded doesn't go overboard in bloody chaos, but it also is not afraid to show off the savagery of enhanced biomechanics. Those of the faint of heart or squeamish are now warned, because some members of the cast will have some heavy hitting injuries to deal with in the 90 minutes.
Rushed Ending: The movie had so much going for it, but the ending while complete, dark, and fitting, seemed a bit rushed to get there. Sure, much of the rabbit hole was predictable to me, with only a slight layer escaping my theories, but when it came to boil things move a lot faster than they had. I had hoped for a little more engagement, a little more obstruction, and definitely a full-on finish instead of a cliffhanger to indicate a potential series to come. Breaking the pace, I had started to thoroughly enjoy so late in the game wasn't my favorite decision of this movie.
Upgrade is definitely not the typical movie to grace the screen, but this darker film crafts an adventure that will pull many of the Sci-Fi genre into the mix. The dynamic duo of man and machine is a keystone in supporting the film, and with energetic action, a realistic setting, and good editing, one will surely become immersed in the new matrix. It still has some rough edges to smooth out, primarily in integrating all the character and not breaking the pace in the final minutes of the film. Yet, the hinted series to come can address this, potentially leading to a plummet into a new Wonderland of androids vs. humans. Worth a trip to the theater? You bet, but be warned for the violence and be warned of the very loud sound effects that can be hard on the ears.
Action/Comedy/Horror: 7.0 Sci-Fi: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Action Point (2018)
Point Yourself In A Different Direction
In the "golden era" of television, there was a variety of shows that served to entertain, teach, and all out shock the audience. While sitcoms, cartoons, and the soap operas reigned supreme, there were a few shows out there trying to make their mark. One of these was Jackass, a show that was all about taking the wildest, stupidest dares and making them a reality. Despite all the self-harm, destruction, and lack of logic, this show thrived and led to Knoxville producing a number of movies to support his endeavors. After some hiatus, the master of stunts and ridiculousness is back again in the form of another of a stunt palooza. Robbie K, here to provide insight into the latest silver screen, as we review:
Movie: Action Point
Director: Tim Kirkby Writers: John Altschuler (screenplay by), Dave Krinsky (screenplay by) Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Susan Yeagley
Cute Motives at times: Among the ridiculous stunts, alcoholism, and dirty humor, there lies a soft, chewy center of family bonding and love. Action Point helps display the hardships of parenting, and in some cases grandparenting, which will speak to many and perhaps demonstrate the importance of balance and understanding. It's a small lesson embedded in the seas of ridiculous stunts, but decently presented to say the least.
Stunts: You can say what you want about how illogical it is to harm one's self for a laugh, but I give credit to Knoxville for still doing his own stunts. Despite being almost 50, he took point in all the injuring scenes and sequences, some of which could easily break a hip, or a neck. His youthful gang is starting to inherit the mantle, but the directors still has a few tricks up his sleeve to bring a laugh.
Fast Pace/Short Run Time: Editing is always impressive to me and Knoxville achieves his desired goal in a short amount of time. Action Point has cut out a lot of fluff, bringing pertinent shots, plot points, and balance between past and present while maximizing the disaster at hand. While you might feel gipped out of a movie for not being at least 90 minutes long, to have the movie feel complete in the short time gets mad props from me, which doesn't happen that often.
The Bear: I'm not talking the mascot, but the actual animal that is in the movie. Knoxville's crew got a bear involved in the movie, and his scenes are humorous to me, primarily when they start harnessing its unique skills for their own promotions. Nevertheless, have a laugh at the impressive performance from a non-English speaking cast member.
Little Story: I'm a story guy and no surprise, the movie has little to no story outside a paper-thin plot to ground the stunts to. While this is to be expected in this type of movie, as a reviewer I have to look at all components for my review and Knoxville's team fails on this level for me. Yes, there is some slight character development in the leads, but not much to warrant giving two thumbs up.
Stale Stupidity: Knoxville may get kudos for tackling his self-harm adventure head first, but subjecting himself to the illogical torture gets old after a while. The constant slapstick crashes, pranks, and running into stuff purposefully gets old after a while. Outside of a few scenes, including the bear parts, the movies repetitive comedic focus lost its touch very quickly, resulting in a rather bland attempt at laughs. Most of the audience in my group seemed to have the same reaction as well, so don't expect masterpiece here.
Over the Line: It wouldn't be Knoxville without crossing the line, but there were some major moments that I certainly did not enjoy. Seeing dogs get it on, rather heated sex scene, animal cruelty, and continuous abuse of alcohol are not the things that make a great movie for me. While small in number, the team maximized these moments and not in a classy way at all.
Action Point doesn't sell you short on what the trailers promised. It's a ridiculous ride of Knoxville's usual repertoire of skits with a little cuteness/sincerity thrown in to sweeten the deal. While I understand this is the point of all his works though, the movie doesn't have enough gusto, uniqueness, or creativity to warrant a theater visit. Action Point would have served better as an extended TV special or Netflix series. In addition, it may not turn out as funny as you might expect, mostly because of either the inappropriate moments or the stale comedic slapstick (much of which was ruined by the trailers). Overall, I suggest skipping this one and trying something else in the silver screen.
Comedy: 5.5 Movie Overall: 4.0
Drifting Towards Beautiful and Inspiring Visions, At a Stranded Pace
The words based on a true story are always good tags to hook audience members into the cinema. Seeing humans go through these extreme vents brings a sense of thrilling adventure in hopes of crafting a story that one can relate to. Tonight's story promises such a thing, as young actor and actress set out to the expanse of the sea, facing the unhindered forces that lie in waiting. Robbie K back with another review, helping share his thoughts on the movie:
Director: Baltasar Kormákur Writers: Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell Stars: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Grace Palmer
Cinematography: The movie's high point is the beautiful shots of the big, blue, wet thing (ocean) and the beauty and terror it contains. Adrift spends a lot of time on the surface of the Pacific, so it's natural for them to have to find unique angles to fully immerse you in the journey of being stranded at sea. You'll get to transition from boat, to under the sea, to the beautiful horizons that paint the setting and with appreciating the serene calm sailing can bring.
Acting: Claflin and Woodley captain the ship of this film pretty much the whole time, so if you aren't a fan of their work... then sit this one out. However, for the rest of the crew, the combo does a decent job of crafting their respective characters from whatever proverbial clay they were written in. Claflin shines in the loner, philosophical voyager, opening up new doors for Woodley's character to walk through and continue the story. Woodley though has the hardest job of the bunch, going from the vagabond, see the world atmosphere to the survivor against the odds role. Seeing her unleash the fury of exhaustion, dehydration, and potential delirium is epic, but not as much as watching her take control of the nightmare that life cast on her. All in all, not the strongest acting chemistry, but still a grand craft.
The Makeup: Having to transform the actors from normal hipsters to sickly, on the verge of death of those stuck without many supplies. The cosmetics involved in this production are phenomenal, subtle transitions taking place to document the strain the sea and sun are providing on the days long journey. Whether it's the paling complexion of blistering skin, to the wound inflicted from the hurricane storm, you'll get chills at the realism to these visuals.
The Presentation: As mentioned in my pre-review vlog, I worried about a very monotonous presentation where it would just be a thousand sequences of drifting crafted together. While this is still true, the team brought a presentation style that managed to break up the monotony of the shots. Adrift is a mixture of past and present, intertwining between the two the way waves merge in a storm. You'll start out in the present, but quickly dart back into the past, trying to connect motivations and background to the matters at hand. It does a decent job of balancing the two timelines, and helps give some more depth to the leads, even though one doesn't speak much during much of the present.
The Twist: Get ready for the doozy of a twist my friends, because Adrift has got one for you. Pay attention and you might get it within three minutes of the start of the film, yet go in there without the power of observation will be blown away by the surprise. I can't go much more into that, so let's move on.
Predictable Ending: Come on... if it's based on a true story, you kind of know what is going to happen if someone made it back to tell the tale. Adrift's setting is still a remarkable feat of survival, but you know what the ending is going to be...mostly. As such, the suspense gets a little ebbed from this and as such takes away from the entertainment value for me.
Semi-Developed Characters: Also, from my pre-review, you know that I feared them skirting over character details due to some attention being strung elsewhere (cough love cough). Adrift met this expectation in full for me. While not the flattest characters, there was still a lot more to explore and develop in their lives. However, the back-forth presentation led to some choppy scenes that left little time to really expand on the characters past drop the bomb lines. I'll admit, they are strategically placed, but the development is disjointed and over run by the Sparks' like presentation of love and connection. So much potential, again lost to love antics.
The Presentation: Yes, I liked the presentation breaking up the movie, but at the same time they went a little overboard switching between timelines. At segments of the movie, the crew left little time to become immersed into the scene, before pulling the rug out and tripping you back to a small detail. These switches got annoying at points and one or two transitions edited out could have made for more conducive scenes, see near the end during the hurricane moments.
The Length/Pace: Despite all their best attempts though, Adrift still cannot sail away from the slow currents of presentation. It's a slow movie, and drags at parts that made even my friend sigh in boredom as we waited for something to happen. One hopes you enjoy the cinematography, because you are going to get a lot of it as you wait. The hurricane scene doesn't come in until past the halfway point, and when combined with the predictable ending... it's only the drama left to fill in the time. Therefore, if you go solo or at least without a date, you're going to feel the 2-hour time length of this movie.
Adrift is not a bad movie, it's just one that needs a little wind to the sails to justify the two-hour runtime tagged with it. Sure, beautiful settings, a decent acting, and a twist give it some momentary squalls to blow through the time, but overall the movie floats on dead water, I guess to give you the full experience. I acknowledge the feats the main character accomplishes, but it's place for immersion is in the form of the books that document, instead of the big budget shooting that we got. Those looking for drama and love are the key audience here, but otherwise skip this film for something else coming in a few weeks, or is already here.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Drama: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.5
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
It's been 40 years in existence, and the galaxy far away keeps expanding into the unknown territory of stories, fun, and action. Despite a rocky start, Disney has been able to finally get the precious cargo of another Star Wars movie to its destination of the theater despite all the failings it experienced. Can such a history turn out to be valuable like an armada of Star Destroyers, or will it be as worthless as Republic Credits on Tatooine. Robbie K here with another review on the movie:
Movie: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Director: Ron Howard Writers: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan Stars: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
Acting: While certainly not the legendary volumes that the original cast brought years ago, I was impressed and happy with what the new cast was able to do. Alden Ehrenrich as young Han Solo has a level of arrogance and mischief that is recognizable, just not to the proportions Ford brought so long ago. Clarke, in all her splendor, is certainly fantastic, bringing her regal air to the character Qira, and with it an added complexity to try to keep you guessing. Harrelson, still playing the cantankerous role again, has it down to an art that mixes quite well in the intergalactic crime world. Yet the star is Donald Glover, who captured the Lando qualities perfectly and delivered it with the youthful energy so long ago. It works on levels to form a new band of thieves and helps bring the story semi to life.
Fun: Bottom line of this movie is that I had fun with it, and despite all the terrible set ups and track record that they have had, I enjoyed it. Solo's story is definitely an adventure, with a fast pace to keep you embedded into the thief's tale to find out who will make it unscathed through the fire. While a slightly darker tone, the movie has plenty of comedic relief and lighter moments to offset the dark, making for an enjoyable, semi-balanced movie that will appeal to many.
Balanced Comedy: Let's face it, Disney's movies have been working the comedic angle hard into most of their action movies to help ease the tension. Fortunately, Solo manages to keep the comedy perspective better balanced, using it at key moments to maximize the laughs and add some character to the scene. While much is in the timing and the dialogue, but there are plenty of nostalgic moments to bring a few other guffaws out as well. It works well with the movie and further establishes the smuggler atmosphere they were going for.
Action: If you saw my video vlogs, you know that I have a thing for action sequences, and after the last Star Wars movie turned away from this, I had my doubts. Solo's adventure has at least three stellar action moments to bring to the table, in the form of laser shootouts and high-flying adventure. The special effects shower in these moments, grabbing you by the shoulders and throwing you into the throngs of the dangers that await Han's arrogant, rebel without a care attitude. My favorite moment is certainly the flying scene shown in the trailer, but only you can decide which of the dances of destruction will wow you the most.
Character Utilization: Lots of characters means the struggle of balancing them all, and Solo does do a decent job of giving their cast a moment to shine in the CGI sun. However, for me, it didn't mean that they utilized them all to an equal degree. Despite the heavy emphasis on the trailers, many of the new characters are going to have disproportionate time spent on the screen. While they all play their role in the story, I was still hoping for more integration (like Rogue One), but the group still hasn't quite found this part down quite pat yet.
Paul Bettany: None of these characters get the shaft treatment than Bettany's crime lord character. An antagonist usually has more involvement in the film than just casting a looming shower, and with someone as talented and complex as Bettany, I was hoping to see his talent come to full light. Bettany's character needed more development and time, but they dropped the ball in his development department for favor of other trinkets and gimmicks. The former Vision star held so much potential, but sadly not delivered for me.
L3-37's preachiness: I love droids and I love women, and this droid therefore held high hopes for being the best artificial intelligence to date. Point to them for making a robot that speaks her mind, pilots a ship, and has some skills in infiltration because they nailed those components. Yet, there rebel rousing, preach to the masses dialogue was not impressive in the grand scheme of the movie for me. I was looking for her to really contribute to the plans concocted by the team, but instead they chose to turn her into more of a walking talk box that while passionate is semi-useless outside of merchandizing.
The Story/Sequel Set Up: Fans of the legend series will know the roots of this story lie in the original trilogy, which while not the best of the books certainly had its pizazz. Solo definitely scavenged these books, took the bones and built them up to this tale. The story works in regards to highlighting aspects of his life and sticking to the origins decently enough to merit the tale. What I didn't like though, was how the story was very piece meal at times, a rushed montage of various episodes from his life that had it been given a television series would have been more fleshed out. They did a nice job of reaching a decent run time, but this movie was geared too much in setting up for what can be another movie series. Plenty of hints dropped at what lies in store, but unlike the original trilogy, the movie doesn't feel quite complete, but instead dependent on a second movie to bring things to full circle. Not my favorite way of doing things, but Solo manages to still be a semi-complete talked... for now.
The Ending: After all the excitement and close calls, you hope the ending brings that final conflict to really tie things together. For me, the ending to Solo was not that at all, another rushed conclusion to try to tie up one arc and open the door for the next. I'll admit, it had some nice revelations that again hint at further movies or spin-offs to come, which gets a plus in that regards (despite still not bringing a strong antagonist back into the canon). Yet, the ending decides to go down the other skill of smugglers and tries to trick you with obvious ploys and foreshadowing to take that twist away. Even worse, the ending "fight" is short lived and rather dull compared to the glimmer of the previous scenes mentioned. Applause goes for the attempts at diving deeper into the character, but it still could have used some spice to pep it up.
Solo turned out much better than anticipated, bringing a very charming and fun movie that certainly delivers on the promise of exploring a beloved character. It's got comedy, action, love, and darkness to drive the tale, and really makes an adventure that will take you to lightspeed. Yet, the movie is still part of the cog of another series, limiting itself so that they can open up more films or the spin-off to tell the complete story. So, while fun, the movie still doesn't fill complete to me and that is not my favorite formula. Still, I recommend a weekend trip for this one for most of the family and friends who like the series.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Book Club (2018)
Mark This One For the Theater
Books, a medium for imagination, a collection of thoughts and ideas to motivate, and even more so, a springboard for Hollywood movies. Tonight's review is all about how books can certainly motivate one to do crazy things, perhaps set out on an adventure that can change your life. With a fantastic cast, this movie hopes to appeal to the modern-day audience to perhaps bring in the bucks for some laughs. Robbie K back with a written review to help you with your movie going purchases. Let's get started as we review:
Director: Bill Holderman Writers: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms Stars: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen Mary Steenburgen
Acting: These ladies are legends for a reason, and this movie shows off their acting talents despite the simpler roles they took on. Each one of leading ladies brings something to the table whether it be sass, sheik, sincerity, or sarcasm. Crafting believable characters, my friend and I certainly enjoyed getting to know these women who took center stage. The chemistry between them is great when together, and alone each of them carries the torch to light their way through the dark. Of the four, Candice Bergen is my favorite, as her delivery on everything was quite stellar and she had the funniest dialogue to me.
The Lessons: I'm a sucker for a good life lesson in a movie, and Book Club manages to do a great job bringing out some important life moments that warrant a little more thought. Each of the ladies goes through their own struggles, mostly involving some aspect of life starting to dull, or practically fizzle out, as they age. Book Club's cast hits the wall placed by the advancement of time, but then begins to show just how persistent sparks can be if one takes the chances. Seeing these moments certainly in inspiring and ignites some hope as they preach the words contained within this surprisingly touching script.
The Run Time: Movies like this can be very taxing when running too long, but Book Club manages to shrink the length of the novel down to a nice 100 minutes running time. With this concise time, comes a better pace and that leads to more entertaining maneuvers and jokes being brought in. Therefore, the boring pieces are fewer than anticipated and that means more amusement to keep me hooked into the film.
Realism: As romantic as chick-flicks are, they often go further into fantasy than most Medieval based films do. Book Club manages to turn down the movie magic and cheese factor to deliver a respectable tale. Don't get me wrong, there are some stretches of human qualities that aren't quite believable, but still better received than a Nicholas Sparks plot.
Used all 4 Characters: With a cast as important as this, and the price tags to go with them, I worried that they were going to skip over some of the women to favor the more popular characters. However, the team did a nice job of digging into each character's life and making sure to keep their journey relevant. The directing team kept jumping between stories, always making sure to come back at the right point to renew interests and help give the characters time to reset before jumping back into the fun at hand. It's a method I have enjoyed in the past and one I encourage to continue to be balanced as best as possible.
The Comedy: Most fans won't find this aspect as much of a like as I have, but this is because the comedy is geared towards a particular audience. Still, this reviewer found the writing and delivery in this movie top notch for maximizing the laughs at hand. As mentioned above, Book Club's comedy comes from of course the innuendos and double meanings the trailer made famous, but it also holds sarcasm, playful romance play, and other interactions that are reminiscence of friendship. While the comedy is a bit forced at times, the cast and directing succeeded in grounding the jokes to make it feel more natural and less planned.
Limited Audience: You knew this from the trailers, but Book Club's intended viewers are much narrower in scope than other movies. Targeted towards the female population, this story is going to speak more to them than anyone else, which will limit its ability to entertain all the masses. In addition, some of the jokes were lost on me because I don't have the anatomy needed to find it relevant, leading to some less stimulating jokes for me. As a reviewer, I have to take these things in, so sorry if I offend.
The Pacing: I said the pacing was decent and not too mind numbing, but Book Club does have those moments where the pace seems to crawl. Character building, yes, but in terms of keeping me hooked, these slower moments did not accomplish more than extending the run time.
Singled Out: While I like jumping around to each woman's story, the movie failed to integrate them together as much as I had expected from the trailers. Most of the time they are on their journey of self-discovery (proving one has to find the change themselves), only convening to get the next book in the chapter. Like the show friends, or a lot of other shows, I had hoped for the girls to kind of pair up a little more, perhaps integrating into each other's story and expanding the adventure. However, they chose to keep them well isolated up until the last third where things started to run together.
Overall, Book Club is cute, fun, and an adventure that I enjoyed more than expected. Perhaps due to the low expectation, or the clever writing and balance the movie is certainly one of the more enjoyable chick flicks I've seen in a while. Fans of these legendary ladies, or a girls group looking for fun should totally check out this film in theaters, and have one of the more enjoyable girls night outs in a while. As for the others who are not in the target audience... you are out of luck and best waiting for this on Redbox, if anything. Still, given all the lessons and humor, this movie deserves the following scores in my opinion:
Comedy: 7.5-8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
Deadpool 2 (2018)
A Dead On Sequel
Deadpool movies are so hard to review. It's not because their super complex, thought provoking, or even artistic symbolism, but it's more due to the fact of balancing ridiculous antics with serious hero quality. With the first movie being a breath of fresh air to the massively stuffed superhero movie genre, the sequel had a lot to live up to for pleasing the fanbase once more. After one of the most amazing advertisement campaigns to date, did this movie break the fourth wall of entertainment once again? Robbie K here to do his best to help you with your movie viewing pleasures. Let's go!
Movie: Deadpool 2
Director: David Leitch Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick Stars: Josh Brolin, Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin
Acting: Given all of Ryan Reynolds ups and downs, the young actor shines so well in the reboot version of Deadpool. His sass from previous comedy stunts (like Two Guys and A Girl) mixed with his physique/delivery of superhero, leads to a well-developed lead who carries the movie heavily on his costume equipped shoulders. Brolin comes in again as the villain, bringing his grit to a less CGI rendered height that works well to offset the hyper, ADHD like energy of Deadpool and with it comes great comedic banter. Much of the supporting cast nails their roles well too, capable of dropping lines and rocking CGI stunts.
Domino: Of all of these though, Domino was my favorite character. In the age of rising female heroes, Domino is a well-developed character who brings so much to the weird table this film sets. Zazie Beetz really shines in this movie as a female partner in crime to counter the crazy of Deadpool. A great character who has a quirky power, this "lucky" girl brings bite to fight Deadpool's humor, decent skills with a weapon, and surprisingly some enlightened looks at life that bring some zing to the movie. This character was a fantastic addition to the movie that should help expand the audience.
Story: A Deadpool comic is often not the most developed in the story department, and given the direction of the cinema... one never knows how a sequel story will end up. Happily, I can report that this sequel did a nice job in the story department, managing to bring a decent plot that helps our characters evolve yet sticking close to the humor vibe of the movie. It's nice to see a ridiculous character grow, but still stick to the core qualities and Deadpool 2 did a much better job than I could imagine.
Special Effects: Deadpool's ridiculous stunts means needing to find some way to make the impossible, possible on the screen. Hat's off, or in this case masks off, to the department who made all the bouts, mutants, and futuristic technology come roaring to full force to immerse you into the action. Speaking of which,
Action: The action of Deadpool 2 is a mixed bag for me, but there are plenty of components that worked well with me. At the front line, are a number of bouts that have that chaotic, adrenaline fueled themes to it, mixed with snarky comments and unrelenting jokes that keep things fun, exciting, and a great opener. Seeing the moves, they choreographed/crafted, showed promise for some epic finales to come, always a good idea to cast the net and get them caught up early right. More on that later.
Comedy: In truth, the strongest weapon in Deadpool's arsenal is the comedy that this film is drenched in, and by drenched I mean caught in a deluge. This sequel picks up where the last left off and with it comes a cornucopia of styles all hectically crashing together in a giant abstract masterpiece. Nothing is safe from Deadpool's adulteration, as the red garmented maniac brings vulgarity, ridiculous finishes, pokes at stories, comics, movies (including the franchise itself), and of course slapstick that transitions to so much more. I kept laughing my head off in this movie and loved the writing, cleverness, and of course mid-credit scene that victoriously finishes the movie off and delivers the answer to the wishes and prayers of the fan base. So, so good.
Over the top moments: Deadpool I know is all about breaking the 4th wall on just about everything he can. And certainly, in this installment, the writers did their best to break that mold as often and intense as possible. Given the laxer ratings, Deadpool 2 shows no qualms with crossing the line. Primarily the cursing, Deadpool 2 doesn't know when to quit in terms of vulgar cursing and certainly goes down inappropriate avenues I didn't particularly enjoy. A minor one at best, be warned that anything is possible with a mad mercenary.
Comedic Stints Go on and on: Like this review, Deadpool's comedic banter sometimes treks on for too long. Those liking to see two smart alecks duke it out in a battle of insults, fake outs, and sarcasm for minutes on end will be delighted with the writing of this movie. I admit I did like it at first, but near the end this ploy had soon started to wrinkle like Wade's face.
Action: While I certainly liked the action for much of the movie, I can't help but admit I was a little disappointed as well. Sure, the humor is awesome, the inappropriate battle moves fit well, and it felt like a Deadpool sequence come to life with little to no punches pulled. Yet, I'm still spoiled on some of Marvel's glorious cinema wars and had hoped we'd get some match ups to give them a run for its money. The epic climactic fight didn't quite have the on the edge, clap in your seat, scream in excitement epic fights that the trailers had hinted at. Those moments were fly-overs in an extended montage.
Predictable: My buddy is right in saying that the movie certainly goes a different route than presented in the trailers. However,... the movie (perhaps as a stunt itself), dropped too many hints to lead you down the path to the answers that awaited. I was able to figure out all the twists with ease, and not have my mind blown as I thought it would. Another small dislike, but hey got to be honest at times.
Character use: The trailers promoted the heck out of X-Force, making sure that we got our eye fill on just about every angle of Deadpool's own team to rival the goody two shoes X-men. And while the characters got their time to shine in comedy moves, their overall contribution to the film was cheated out in my opinion. Maybe that's what the comics have done, or perhaps it was a brilliant comedic ploy. However, don't promote characters so heavily if you are going to dilute them so much. Even his fellow mutants from Xavier's got a bit of underplay, another example of too many pieces leading to sacrifices being required to not make the film too long.
Truth is I loved Deadpool 2 and while I had some issues, (which are pickiness of course), the movie accomplishes the goals of being a comedic spoof of superhumans that brings that bite to eat we hungered for. It's fast paced, it's witty, and it still keeps the story going on a level I didn't expect and this provides the breath of fresh air again that the first one did. Still, it's not a perfect movie for me and I still hope to get some more action and character usage in the next installment should Disney not limit Fox's creativity on it. Worth a trip to the theater? Absolutely, though be warned that the movie is not designed for younger audience members, those with weak constitutions to blood, violence, and vulgarity, or those not ready to step over the abyss into craziness.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Comedy: 9.0 Movie Overall: 8.5
Breaking In (2018)
Breaking Into Drama More Than Thriller
It's Mother's Day, a time for celebrating your maternal parental figure who cooked meals, did chores, and saved you from thieves. Okay, maybe not that last one, but it is the theme of our movie review tonight. In an attempt to capitalize on the holiday, tonight's review hopes to bring the drama and thrills to entertain the masses, and potentially bring a new meaning to the Mama Bear title. Robbie K here with another analysis on film, attempting to guide your movie viewing pleasures. So, let's get started on the review of:
Movie: Breaking In
Director: James McTeigue Writer: Ryan Engle Stars: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral
Acting: The movie is a very character centric tale, primarily attempting to portray a mother caught in a dire situation. Gabrielle Union accomplished this goal, managing to bring the heat and fire of a mother scorned, who is refusing to let these thieves harm her babies by any means. The balance of emotion with deadly edge and vulnerability, led to a well-designed character who holds much of the movie on her shoulders. The thieves led by Billy Burke, all play their roles well, each with a certain quirk to lean heavily on, as this modernized Harry and Marv attempt to claim their goals. As for the kids, they do a decent job, just not the most integrated roles outside of crying and a few clever moves.
The Realism: Thrillers can sometimes bend reality too much, but Breaking In keeps its feet on the ground pretty well in the realism department. While there are slight stretches at times, the writers managed to keep the superhuman feats to a minimum, and all injuries rather debilitating. In addition, it's very similar to the home team advantage, allowing knowledge of the property to contribute to her strengths of outwitting these dangerous men. Say what you want about the mercy of the characters, but give it a round of applause for avoiding the super human magic movies love to cast.
The Time: Not much to say here, other than the movie is around 90 minutes long so as not to be too long in your Mother's Day plans. So, hooray for condense story telling.
The Setting: The coolest like for me in this film, is by far the setting this game of cat and mouse plays. This house in the middle of the country is gorgeous and elaborate, lulling your sense of envy out to admire just how much one can do with real estate, interior design, and amazing technology and landscaping. Yet, to use that house as a massive chess board weapon is even cooler in my opinion. Breaking In is all about exploring the house and surrounding terrain, utilizing the knowledge of the manor to outwit the opponents and obtain the riches within. It's the shadows and interconnected twists that really bring the suspense out, and open up the possibilities of what can happen next.
Pacing: The movie has issues with keeping a consistent pace for me in this movie, resulting in at times a sluggish speed that was difficult to stay awake for. These moments are not entertaining, thrilling, and add little in terms of character development, which means it's more a waste of time and editing than anything else. And even when things are supposed to speed up, they only ramp up slightly and quickly fizzle out.
Lack of Character Development: If its character centric, it needs to be character developing and this movie fails on that aspect for me. While Union's character (Shaun) is able to get some new levels of strength and love for family, the rest of the characters advance very little from their already limited group. While the kids were most likely not going anywhere, the thieves really could have used some better backstory, deeper qualities, and perhaps a little more reasoning behind their actions. These shallow qualities reign supreme though and lead to one-dimensional characters that are flat, boring, and only creepy at times.
Predictable/Unmotivated Story: Such hope filled me from the trailers, the small drops at a potential deeper story that could end up providing some twists and surprises that could be hiding in the dark halls. Indeed, they dropped these lines in the movie, however they did not elaborate on them at all. No more explanations about the dad outside a few cheap lines, no backstabbing politics that you couldn't see coming. And most notable, no real build up to make an attempt to wow. The story is just so linear and simplified that it just left me feeling robbed of my money for an incomplete script. If you want this safe route, you'll love this plot the, but if those looking for edge... don't hold your breath.
Thrilling?: This dislike is questionable depending on what you consider thrills. If you like the straight up, low key threats, and mild running and hiding, this movie is for you. Yet if you were expecting holding your breath moments, intense stand offs, close calls, and manners similar to Don't Breathe... then you'll be bummed like me. Breaking In is more an elaborate drama that feels like a heated, soap opera moment, and while things can get a little tense, it fizzles out at the empty threats of the thieves at hands. While mothers will be ready to claw the guys eyes out and worry for the kids, other fans may just be waiting for the movie to end when they realize how low key the thrills are.
Breaking In held such potential, but like many films it just didn't deliver on those promises that well edited trailer brought. While the setting is good, the acting is decent, and everything is presented concisely... the movie just could not deliver the thrills for me it wanted. Much has to do with one-dimensional characters and an unmotivated pace, which makes it difficult to see this movie thriving outside of Lifetime or another local cable channel/streaming service. Can't say it's worth a trip to the theater for me, so hold out for now and get ready for the bigger blockbusters to come into play next week.
My scores are:
Thriller: 6.0 Movie Overall: 4.5
Life of the Party (2018)
It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To
She started out as Sooki St. James cooking up a storm, she stole the show and puppies on Bridesmaids, and she joked her way into our hearts with Mike and Molly. Yes, she is Melissa McCarthy, and she is the star of tonight's film. With mediocre advertising and unfortunate timing, this movie is going to try to rake a few scraps of the box office to hopefully survive another weekend of run time. Was it worth a trip to the theater? Did it deliver what was promised? Robbie K here to help guide you with a written review to expand on his thoughts and help spend your money wisely. Let's get started as we look over:
Movie: Life of The Party
Director: Ben Falcone Writers: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Debby Ryan
Cute: The movie is unfortunately timed near some of the biggest Disney movies of the year, but it is also nicely timed on the weekend of Mother's Day. As such, this film goes alongside this theme, capturing the essence of the mother-daughter bond among McCarthy and her brood of eager college seniors. Like a remake of Troop Beverly Hills and the House Bunny, Life of The Party has that adorable energy packed inside, attempting to captivate the target audience.
Flashback Syndrome: The movie tries to hit on a few big aspects of college life, doing a fair job to take you back in time to those glorious, or perhaps not so glorious college days. Life of The Party touching on awkward roommates, fraternity rituals, class studying, and parties makes for some dynamic opportunities for fun and adventure to rope you in.
Good Music: A movie like this is always an opportunity to introduce, or reintroduce, some hits that are often in theme of the movie scenes. With partying displays in this movie, the music director did a nice job selecting a track list that works so well with the ups and downs of the film. And given the trends of the songs these days, you can expect some comedic antics to be heavily reliant on the song for setup (see 80's dance off).
Messages: I'm a sucker for good morals being displayed in a movie, and fortunately a movie about the wilder sides of college life has some kernels of wisdom deep beneath the partying service. D-Rock's journey back to college involves copious amounts of work, striving to face her own demons, and more importantly the importance of empathy winning out in the day. Yeah, there are some juvenile and rambunctious aspects that heavily coat these core values in a greasy layer of slime, but the writers eventually accomplish delivering these valued lessons.
Shallower Aspects Take Precedence: While there are solid core values, the shallower aspects are heavily emphasized in this movie. Life of The Party's title is no lie and the film is a big budget advertisement for wine, beer, and frat parties that state this is the real core of college. In addition, many of the other girls have highly mocking flaws that get little evolution, further highlighting the "important" aspects of higher learning.
The Lack of Story: As said in my pre-review vlog, movies with McCarthy can be fantastic if there is a purpose to ground the humor. Life of The Party is not one of those movies, going more for the how many jokes can we throw into a 2-hour run time. While I didn't expect much from the trailers, I had hoped the plot would not be as paper thin as this movie held within it. For one thing the movie tried too hard to put so many aspects in the movie, making much of D-Rock's problems disjointed and uninteresting. The other girls get hints of getting more development, but most get dunce caps in character development, merely being comedic props/ploys for more jokes. Even McCarthy's character has inconsistent development, a roller coaster ride with sharp rises and falls that rapidly solve everything.
Drags: The movie did not have a good pace for me, feeling very sluggish for most of the films. Primarily at the first part of the movie, Life of The Party makes minutes feel like hours as one hopes we can arrive at the fun times, but only get paper thin qualities that are chuckle worthy at best. It was not the most entertaining movie, and therefore left me feeling bored at times, which brings me to the next dislike.
Forced Comedy: The movie's primary dislike, is that the comedy is very forced for me for much of the movie. For one thing, the writing was not as clever as I had hoped, designed to relentlessly drown you in cheap laughs, meme worthy one-liners, and girl drama that is more eye-rolling than comedic. Second, the delivery of the movie is okay for the most part but seemed to be directed at overdramatic presentation that was geared to characters' stupidity or ignorance. Finally, the tactics lacked any real diversity, leading to a tidal wave of blandness that diminished with every telling. So, fans of the theory if it isn't broke don't fix it will get their money's worth with this rigidly stiff presentation.
In regards to this film, Life of The Party does not deceive you with the trailer, delivering what was expected as shallow laughs, loads of silly humor, with a nice cute center. Sadly, the movie really needed a touch of creativity to lighten it up, bring some wit to the deluge of low key jokes, and most importantly expand upon the characters that are the key selling point. It's not the worst film of hers to come out, but it is also not her best and I can't recommend this one for the theater viewing and to hold until Redbox. Still, a mother-daughter bonding experience can be an exception if you are looking for that opportunity this weekend.
My Scores are:
Comedy: 6.0 Movie Overall: 4.0
All Aboard For Family Friendly Comedy, But Falling Overboard At Other Times
Another weekend, another remake, and this one is a doozy as Hollywood goes back to the 80s in the terms of its inspiration. The movie to be copied this time is that classic starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, involving amnesia, backwater families, and of course a lot of stereotypical humor. And surely from that (or reading the title) you can guess what I'm reviewing. So let us cut the chit chat and get started as yours truly reviews:
Title: Overboard (2018)
Director: Rob Greenberg Writers: Leslie Dixon (story), Bob Fisher (screenplay) Stars: Anna Faris, Eugenio Derbez, John Hannah
Chemistry: Let's face it, this isn't going to be the next award winning performance, and you aren't going to see realistic portrayals of emotional turmoil, so don't expect that. While the comedy acting is forced, the thing I enjoyed of this movie is the chemistry between the whole cast. Fans of Overboard know about the plot of a character getting amnesia and being made to believe they live in a drastic change to their world. The convoluted lie requires coordination and the cast I felt did a nice job selling as if they too believed in this lie. Each actor/actress felt like they knew each other well, and made this bizarre, extended family/community that was involved in the adventure. As for the leads, well they played the ridiculous characters quite well, but there is only so much you can do with a ridiculous script.
The Pace: Remakes can sometimes feel like a drag depending on the direction they take, but surprisingly Overboard makes a nice go at keeping things entertaining. There is enough energy in the film to help make the adventure fun, and I myself was surprised when I looked down and realized an hour had passed. So despite how rushed and out of sorts things may be, the movie at least doesn't feel like a slug in molasses in terms of pacing.
Cute and Fun: Perhaps the biggest selling point for the movie is just how family friendly this movie is. My showing alone spanned all ages and ethnicities, each enjoying the fun the film brought and the lessons it can of course teach us. Numerous coos and awwwws of adornment filled the theaters, and I admit I found myself loving the charming nature of the movie. This is definitely one for a group or family outing, because it's just a fun movie to watch if you're open to ridiculous antics that don't involve too much vulgarity or over the top stupidity.
Comedy: Again, Overboard is a bit forced, but a major strength of the writing is the blending of comedic genres to help get things going. While the slapstick and forced meme worthy comments are a bit much, the writing actually has its clever moments in regards to comedic delivery, movie references (and not just the first overboard) and poking fun at cultural/ethnic trends that are actually respectable and classy. Making fun of over the top telenovelas, or about the inability for people to work are just some of the pokes in store for this movie, and it's quite entertaining to watch. Overboard has a little something for most in is execution and that dignified comedy gets an A+ in my book.
The Music: Finally, the energy of the movie is also attributed to the music that is pumped through the max amplitude speakers of the theater. It's not that diverse, primarily international electronic music, with a little Latin salsa flair thrown in as well. Still, the infectious beat and high energy nature of the tracks adds a little pizazz to the movie and may have you dancing in your seat.
The Over Top Moments: The over the top comedy is cool at points and entertaining to most, but it gets a tad old after a while. Overboard's antics got a bit stale, and the forced moments, primarily the delivery, soon become appealing only to the extreme kids at heart and kids. They start to back off near the end when the morals and story develop, but at the beginning it is a little difficult to stomach the torrent of grossly delivered lines. Sorry, if you are a fan of this comedy, no means to insult.
Story Not Quite As Put Together: In the original, the story was still ridiculous, but they were able to flesh out and develop the characters and relationships to an astounding degree to tightly wrap things up in a nice bow. While this telling is complete, the integration of everyone into the story is just not quite as complete as the original, nor was there as much as resistance to the integration into the new life. I missed that gradual development and felt while this one was more fun, it wasn't quite as complete as the other movie.
Not unique: The only other thing I can say is that movie is still missing that unique theater experience. It's a comedy that tries to hit a little bit of everyone's needs, but the result is a broad, generic comedy that doesn't quite live up to what it aspired to be. While fun and entertaining at times, the comedy didn't have all that bite it wanted, so that toio loses points, but hey it is a remake.
Overboard is not a movie that is worth the extreme hate it is getting, which is mostly due to the comparison with the original. True... it's not as well put together as its predecessor, but within this remake is a fun, entertaining moral filled fest for the whole family. It's a great family movie that will hit the funny bones for a lot of people, and it has that energy to keep you engaged for the nearly 2 hour run time. Still, this movie isn't the most unique film in the whole arsenal of comedy, which makes recommending it in theaters difficult. I suggest going for a fun family night out, and a definite rent in the future, but definitely don't hate on it without giving it a try.
Comedy/Romance: 7.0 (more family than romance) Movie Overall: 5.5
Tully, or Not Tully, That Is The Question
The artistic movie is one that makes one think, makes a bold statement, and often pushes the boundaries on the normal cinematography. Some of the movies that fall in this category are Juno and Young Adult, two movies that are all about pushing one to address morale and social issues that are becoming ever abundant in this world. This weekend, the studio continues its trend, with another film that looks to address some social quirk in hopes of shedding the light on the topic. Robbie K is back with a written review on the latest movie called:
Director: Jason Reitman Writer: Diablo Cody Stars: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass
The Acting: Charlize Theron continues the fantastic work of bringing characters to life, curbing her usual sullen mood and silky-smooth voice and transforming it to something truly wonderful. She brings the suffering of postpartum depression out in full fold and crushes it with her amazing talent, and for once the extreme characters she normally plays are gone, replaced with someone you can grip on to. Then bring in Mackenzie Davis as Tully, who brings vibrant energy, rational thought, and a new outlook to mix things up and brighten the mood. The chemistry between the two leads is a defining strength of this movie, which keeps the conversation going and the pace moving.
Good Pace: Most of the movies by this directing/writing combo is often slow and too drawn out for me. This was the opposite case for me in this film, as Tully managed to tell the tale in a very concise manner, at a speed that was engaging to watch. A nice crafted story to make things work, this movie shouldn't induce any sleep for most.
Beautiful Makeup: I don't know if Theron had to put on weight, or a there were good prosthetics, but the work-up is beautiful in this movie. Theron looks pregnant for the whole 20 minutes she is carrying her baby, and the after body goes through a metamorphosis reflecting the post-partum body. It's impressive, accurate, and quite well done to immerse you further into the character's life.
Realism: The thing about these movies, is that they tend to be on the more realistic side than most blockbusters. Tully continues this trend and does a swell job of crafting a tale related around a serious disease, collecting various struggles, hazards, and emotional torrents of this delicate time. While there are still some movie magic moments, the film I think hits the highlights to exemplify the suffering these women have after birth, and more so in the valuable lessons life has to offer.
Morals: There are plenty of scenes to entertain and show off Theron's talent. However, this reviewer loves the three powerful moments where lessons are taught. Tully's story drops some beautiful dialogue down to address the imbalances that modern society manages to look over. Keeping your ears open, Tully will attempt to break your glass ceilings on issue such as parenting, happiness, and marriage, providing some sound advice to help balance the numerous responsibilities involved in these parts of life. I for one loved how casual it felt and hope to see such natural dialogue in the future installments of this universe.
Twist: The movie has a nice "twist" to help get some responses out of the audience. While this reviewer called it at about forty-five minutes into the film, most will like what Cody's writing has in store. Get ready for a nice symbolic mix-up that mostly fits into the film, because you're going to appreciate the integration it has to offer.
Hasty Conclusions: Tully is filled with analytical moments in an attempt to dissect all aspects of motherhood. While these components are relative and essential, the film fails to decently tie up some of the problems her family has. True, it's about her growth and taking steps to improve on herself and family, there were a few solutions that came too easily or were left as only a glimmer of hope. I'll agree the ending is wrapped up, but it's just not as wrapped up as I had hoped.
Limited Audience: These movies may be artistic, but they are also very limited in who will get the most out of this movie. Tully's audience is going to be for those who have experienced the hardships of motherhood, battled the grasp of post-partum depression, or have lost their way in marriage/life. Outside of that, the general audience is going to close themselves off to the artistic approach of this movie
Twist Offsets Energy: For once, Cody's writing managed to actually excite me in its education about life and unique approach to tackling it head on. As Tully and Theron go on their adventures to clear the clouds of distress, I started to feel better and enjoyed watching the nanny piece life back together. Then the twist comes in and offsets that journey, an accurate representation of life, the surprise disheveled the great pace and approach for a predictable tangent that hastily wraps it up. I applaud creativity, but after enjoying such a good pace, it stunk to see it ripped out and offset the vibes it put out.
Tully turned out to be better than I had expected. The script is strong, pushing for change in a natural way and fostering growth along a number of important life lesson battlegrounds. A great chemistry makes for engaging characters and the twist is there to mix things up. However, Tully still suffers from hitting a limited audience group and outside of still being an exhausting movie, the ray of hope in the gradual solving of problems gets offset by the twist and leads to a rather hasty conclusion. Still, the movie is much better than expected, though you might be better off waiting for this movie to hit home viewing unless you are going as a focus group.
My scores are
Comedy/Drama: 7.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Bad Samaritan (2018)
A Samaritan to the Crime Drama Formula
With the success of the Avengers last weekend, it is hard for other movies to try and take follow such an impressive record. Still, another week comes with movies that are going to try and fight for their place in the silver screen. My first movie of the week is the latest Horror/Thriller to try and keep you on edge. Robbie K here with another round of writing to help you guys with your movie choices. Sit back and read on as I review:
Movie: Bad Samaritan
Director: Dean Devlin Writer: Brandon Boyce (screenplay) Stars: Kerry Condon, David Tennant, Robert Sheehan
Decent Pacing: If you've read my work, you know I like movies that movie, which Bad Samaritan does. I'll admit it takes a while to lift off in an attempt to set the stage, but as the robbery goes bad and the thrills start, things start to pick up. From then on, it seems to move, only hitting rough patches of diverging slowness for small amounts before looping back to the story.
Acting: Another plus here, the cast has quite an art to helping keeps the audience invested in the story with performances that are quite believable and well developed. The secondary characters are fine for their limited appearances, but the two leads are by far the pillars of strength keeping this movie up. Sheehan as the protagonist plays the man at wits end quite well, a nice force of morale integrity with a drive to make changes his world needs. It's a nice puzzle of emotion and he was able to bring all the pieces together to make a protagonist you want to get behind. Yet it's David Tennant who will most likely grab your attention. The former Barty Crouch Junior has taken his insanity up a level, still having that strategic genius of a serial killer, but this time being much louder and less subtle. Seeing how deep his madness goes is probably the only mystery at hand, as one tries to figure out what caused such devoted madness. The rivalry between these two is the relationship that drives the whole film, and certainly the thrilling component of the movie.
Thrilling at Times: The movie has a dark edge to it, and dark often brings thrills and suspense to the screen. Bad Samaritan has those moments that are real on the seat sequences that you crime show lovers enjoy. All of them attempt to make you jump and potentially look suspiciously over at your fellow audience member, but most of these moments are short lived. What does bring suspense though, is that feeling of unknown as to what Tennant's character will do next. That uneasiness is truly the source of the thrills in the movie and perhaps one of the more realistic scares of the year in movies.
Predictable: What drowns the movie's suspense is how linear and predictable this film is. Bad Samaritan holds few surprises in this regard, much of the plot can be seen from a mile away and seldom surprising me outside of how short some of the suspense moments are. It's much of the same story that crime shows love to take full advantage of in their relentless need for repeats.
Lacking Villain Development: The extent of his madness is visible in this film, his back story, not so much. Bad Samaritan's villain is just shown as crazy, with only fleeting memories of animal torture (another thing I hate) to give you any sort of understanding. Eventually, the bomb is dropped into the incident that developed his psychopathic tendencies arose, but it's only in the form of a three-sentence part to wrap it all up. This lack of details and impasses to uncover his history means one thing... boring. Part of the fun of a thriller is getting more insight to the monster at hand and it just didn't deliver in this movie.
Underutilization of secondary characters: Sigh, the protagonist had so many connections set up at the beginning, each an important cog to Sheehan's character's life, but also a valuable pawn in the killer's game of chess. Unfortunately, these pieces are super underdeveloped, dropped in for only small time talk before quickly being used for more life altering madness. Most of these stints are just flown over, but a couple do try to bring that nasty bite to get you feeling the pain they want you to. Had more of these guys been brought into the game, Bad Samaritan may have again developed the edge it needed.
The Stupidity/Mistakes: Bad Samaritan falls into the usual trepidations of characters making stupid decisions and paying heavily for it. These bad decisions are essentially the core of the movie, and while a few could be appreciated, some of these moments were sheer displays of how dumb the writing was at times. How did this master of seduction/schmoozing screw up so much for this kid to best him? Why would they be so stupid to leave obvious clues? Why were the cops so ruthlessly dumb/ignorant? It's just those background noises they want you to annoy, but in this movie that is hard to do given the set up they make. The inconsistencies are a tad annoying to me at times.
The Ending: Sigh, another movie that is left to tease and feel unfinished. Bad Samaritan's final moments are rushed display of mistakes, coincidental serendipity, and a sudden cut to black worthy of the Sopranos. It opens the possibilities for another installment yet could provide lackluster closure to those who want it. Nevertheless, this film didn't quite end as strongly as one would hope, leaving many questions unanswered, and many ties still unknotted.
Bad Samaritan is an okay movie, capable of finding ways to make you jump and trying to keep you engaged in this manhunt. With good acting and a good pace, the movie certainly feels like a crime show that has a film worthy budget. Yet, the movie still holds some rather big deficits that rob it of the thriller aspect it wanted to bring. More character development and suspense are going to be needed for further installments, but it at least sets the stage. Worth a trip to the movies? Can't say it is for me but give it a shot at home to not worry about being robbed of your money for an anticlimactic ending.
My scores are:
Horror/Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.5