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Blinded by the Light (2019)
This Film's For Hire! Blinded By Balanced Tales, Inspirational Moments, And Killer Soundtrack
Music icons are those that seem timeless, maybe not in the way of new hits, but in the impact they leave behind. Musical works speak to us on so many levels, potentially why we are able to play them as often as we do without getting sick of the tracks. Yet, do we really understand how music impacts people? Do we think about how music can motivate, inspire, and even more so revolutionize the changes that they incite on many people? That is the theme of the final movie I review this week, a film that is all about the impact that movies have and what they can motivate to do. So let us take a look as I dive into:
Movie: Blinded By The Light (2019)
Director: Gurinder Chadha Writers: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha Stars: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra
Good Pace Delightfully Funny Nice Look At Culture and Music Great Use of Music Emotionally Deep Decent Balance Of Most Stories Relevant
A Bit Preachy Perhaps A Little More Investment In Two Other Stories Hollywood vs. Reality Cliched stands out
With movies like this that go to make a statement you sometimes wonder if the movie will move or potentially fall to the pace of being artistic. In this case, the Boss' journey movie seems to movie at a good enough pace to remain entertaining but yet still accomplish the statements it wants to make. It's charm comes in the form of the heartwarming tale, that manages to be funny without even trying and yet deliver the messages of inspiration and art that it wants to do. The movie is a nice look at how music influences the world around us and can inspire those brave few who can be fueled to use their gifts for the greater good. In addition, the cultural lifestyle is certainly a major part of this film's energy, somehow managing to capture some components of a culture or two and yet paint in a way that is super relevant to many. The tale of the main character holds a lot of heart behind it and seeing that journey unfold feels like a realistic heroes journey that many dream to accomplish. But defying a culture is not the only tale, for Blinded By The Light manages to accurately represent the facets of life from the concept of love and friendship, to the aspiration of trying to live your dreams. It's emotionally deep and will speak to many members as the relevant tales begin to come to life and perhaps allow you to sort of walk alongside the characters as they face the fears. Yet, my favorite aspect is the nice integration of the Boss' music into the film, for like a musical the legendary tunes are solidly integrated into the sequences to deliver the emotional kick of the scene or perhaps just make a fun little cover in a bold attempt to please a character.
Despite all the fun I had in this movie though there are of course areas that acted as a somewhat limitation to the film. Motivational as this movie is, it can come off a bit preachy at times too, a little too forced in the inspirational tale and focus and perhaps steering away from the balance I was enjoying. In addition, the movie sometimes gets a little more reality vs Hollywood for me at the inconsistencies that real life deals vs. the magic of things working out in the Hollywood atmosphere. Not the biggest dislikes mind you, but something that does not quite fit in the same light as some of the other parts of the movie. I guess my biggest limitations come in the form of some of the story imbalances and cliché moments that start to take precedent the farther the movie goes in. In regards to the stories, there are a few plots that I'll admit could have taken a little more focus to help bring all aspects to full circle. One has to do with the love story and integration, yes a surprise given my previous reviews, and the other with the racial tension that was in this movie. I understand it's not the main focus, but it might have allowed for other Springsteen songs to get integrated in about these issues and maybe add a little more suspension and challenge to the movie. That's the other component that would have been nice to see is breaking up the cliché moments and adding a little more challenge to the mix. Blinded by the Light is a little too easily pushed through, and perhaps in adding the obstacles and suspense, the full emotional passion could have burst out in full strength and break up the predictability/monotony of it.
As you can see, the movie has more likes than dislikes for me, with many of the limitations pickiness to help give that movie the final push. Blinded by the Light turned out to be better than I anticipated, with a nice steady pace filled with a plethora of components that includes well aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and of course the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen. Yes, it's preachy and cliché and some stories could have been tuned up and given greater preference to really maximize everything. However, I applaud the balance and entertainment of this film and state that though it lacks the usual mechanisms for the theater (special effects, a big adventure, or a concert experience, I still suggest a trip to the theater for this one. If you can't get in to hear the Boss through the big speakers, then definitely set your sights on this one for a home viewing.
My scores are:
Comedy/Drama/Music: 9.0 Movie Overall: 8.0
Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019)
Where Did The Rest Of The Cast and Stories Go?
Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues. Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen. Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it's not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold. Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time. Let's get started:
Movie: Where'd you Go Bernadette (2019)
Director: Richard Linklater Writers: Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by) Stars: Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig
Good Acting Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness Cute Good Morals Fairly Good Pace Cyndi Lauper Tribute
A Little Melodramatic Dryer Comedy Some rather useless characters/Plots A Little More Connecting No Mystery Whatsoever The Abrupt End
The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play. Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story. Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiig not too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburne are all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario ) who is integrated into the films. Yet, it's really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role. Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy. It's pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette's journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies. Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well. And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that's a hoot right?
While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me. The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery. For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience. Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters. For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected. Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process. Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got. However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever. In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette's journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone. You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier. Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the "mystery" is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected. If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that's just me.
Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show. The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love. Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love. Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette's story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie. As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie. My scores for this film are:
Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.0
47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
The Cage Is Lowered and The Sharks Are On The Move
Shark movies! What were once the pinnacle of horror movies and science fiction story telling that left impacts and a sense of fear of going into the water. Like many things though, the demand for a new shark movie often leads to carbon copy projections that are all about cheese and little to please. Shark movies have now become more of the cheap knock offs that still remain cult classics and amass a ton of fans to watch them repetitively and spur more. Tonight, an unexpected sequel to one of these is my first review, hoping to bring the same suspense and thrills that the first one did. Can these sharks come back with the same bite, or are we seeing messy CGI disasters that SyFy channel has made famous? Robbie K reviewing:
Movie: 47 Meters Down Uncaged
Director: Johannes Roberts Writers: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts Stars: Sistine Rose Stallone, Nia Long, Corinne Foxx
Cute Cast Decent Pace Much More Shark Involvement Scary Setting Much More Suspense Than Expecting
DISLIKES Story Based On stupidity Predictable Shaky Camera Work Very Quick Wraps Ups Suspension of Disbelief Must Be Curbed
I can't deny that these movies know how to recruit good looking people to play their puppets of shark massacre and this movie continues that trend. Our bathing suit clad beauties are gorgeous to the eyes of those that like those forms and will be a major part of the first third of the movie. Superficial components aside, the movie itself succeeds in keeping up a decent pace, managing to craft some suspenseful movie magic that thriller seekers are searching for. This pace keeps things moving, holding little down time between shark strikes and navigating the maze-like caverns of the ruined city and therefore making time pass in the blink of an eye. How is this accomplished? Well it comes down to two things. First is the setting. 47 meters regime manages to really use the setting as a canvas of terror, painting your worst nightmares of the dark to new levels. Where the first one made the idea of being stranded on the ocean floor terrifying, this one pulls you into the confines of a cave, whose cramped corridors and dark rooms may deter you from ever going spelunking. The second factor is integrating the sharks much more into this film. Yes, in the first one they were there, but they were more of a setting feature that seemed to be looming rather than really tearing things up like Jaw and Deep Blue Sea. In this case, the sharks are certainly the terrifying behemoths you search for in the films, with a new design to go with their traditional voracious appetite. These creatures are more than willing to get their toothy maws into new scenes and really add to the terror at hand.
Yet with all the improvements in suspense and the terror painted by the CGI squad in terms of shadow crafting and claustrophobia there were some things that still did not deliver the full bite. The story for one thing swam backwards towards a weaker pace, built not on an accident, but on stupidity of teenagers doing things they weren't supposed to and trying to correct it. It does certainly pick up in the caves, but one thing is for certain that you can figure out who is most likely not going to make it and just what is going to be around the bend... mostly. Certainly, the scares are much closer in this installment, but sadly its lost to the shaky camera work that inadvertently censored a number of the shark on human action. Does it capture the frenzy of the moment? Absolutely. Does it add to the terror and give you that sense of being this close to the maw? Again yes, but in doing so it robs you of the clear-cut picture that the first one did better. What the first also did better was the close calls vs. the hasty kills as I like to describe. In the first one, several close misses kept you guessing as to when someone would be shark bait, but in this there comes a point where the near misses are practically eliminated and the punishments are dealt rather quickly. In addition, searching for a way out seems to drag a little at first, but again things seem to progress rapidly to the point of chuckling at the coincidence. This brings me to probably the worst thing for me on this movie, the suspense of disbelief. 47 meters continues to toy with the idea of everlasting air, swimming faster than the aquatic beasts and how many times someone can withstand contact with the monsters of the deep. It's the magic of movies and storytelling of course, but especially at the end the already ridiculous concept takes further dives into the deeper realm of nonrealistic stuff and eye rolling moments.
Okay, it's a shark movie and it accomplishes the task of sharks meeting humans. The sequel manages to achieve the goal of scarier areas that allow the sharks to hunt in a new style, bringing about two monsters for our players to dodge. It's got a good pace and some suspense to it that should help get the shark week blahs chased away. Yet, it does not quite have the story telling aspect that the great ones achieve and the predictability/suspense of disbelief are still needing some tweaking to help add the finesse and clean up the movie. Still, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and give this one a nod in terms of catching it on the tube. Yet, it's probably better to see this one at home, for it could be an upscale SyFy movie rather than a big screen blockbuster.
My scores are:
Adventure/Drama/Horror: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.0
Good Boys (2019)
Boys In The Comedy Hood Make For Fun, Cute Comedy
Middle school is a time that can be trying. As hormones kick in and bodies change, a lot of social status updates, and of course the concept of major bullying kicking into high gear that leaves one feeling different. Today's movie decides to analyze that, but in a different light that hopes to be entertaining while touching at the same time. From the minds of half the stoner comedies and off the wall humors, comes tonight's review of a movie that did not quite rope my interest. But like the times they portray, you never know what surprises you might find in the halls of school. Robbie K coming at you with a look at:
Film: Good Boys (2019)
Director: Gene Stupnitsky Writers: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky Stars: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon
Good Pace Cute Surprisingly Deep Good Acting Some Great writing at times Funny Decent Use of Cast Story
Lazy writing A Little Too Aggressive For Me Predictable Some Forced Dialogue Over Board On The Trailers Again
Summary: Looking back at the movie, this was a tall order to try to succeed in putting adult scenarios in the hands of kids. Yet, Good Boys accomplished this at times for me in the art of representing life in such a young cast. The film has the comedy pace, keeping things moving quickly, and managing to take time to flesh out the characters. It's surprisingly tasteful at times and wrapped in a cute atmosphere as the naivety of the three boys manages to dull the blow that comes with the adult themes in this movie, which worked for me in terms of adding a new spin to freshen things up. In addition, the film manages to accomplish a story telling element that does not involve just getting drunk or stoned, but instead adding that kid perspective to the mix to help keep things ground and allow the laughs to keep coming. If you have read my reviews, you also know I'm big on character utilization and surprisingly the Good Boys writers again succeeded in using the three young musketeers evenly. There is good development of each member, enough differences for them to stand out, but have that similarity that friends seem to have. The kids manage to sell that relationship and their acting is great as they capture the spirit of the awkward middle school friends trying to find their way in a new setting, or settings in this case. As such, I give them props for being able to make a relatable tale, managing to capture the nuances of life in this youthful setting, and in a way that helped grip me and some of the audience into the ridiculousness at hand. But you are really asking is it funny, after all it's a comedy and it needs to be funny. Well at times the writing is dead on with timing, design, and delivery to make me laugh hard. A few of my fellow audience members were unable to stop laughing, enjoying the Seth Rogen like comedy spewing from a smaller frame at a higher decibel. If you like the comedies of Superbad, Knocked Up, and This is the End, then I have a feeling you are going to love the formula they used in this movie once more.
That being said, there are a few things of this movie that did not quite impress me as some others in the audience. For one thing, despite the story actually being in this film and grounding, there is a little predictability thrown in that did not impress me. Relevant as it was, the typical plot falls left me a little bored, waiting for either unique comedy or a deep scene to save me from the chaotic adventure. And while I got some magic moments that were golden in terms of timing, character development and delivery, there are other times where the comedy genre writing took over. Good Boys still suffers from excessive cursing, which although funny out of the lips of a child, is still not my favorite thing to watch and not the most unique writing component. At times I felt the comedy forced, or the lines pushed a little too much on me, in an attempt to squeeze that last bit of crude and crass out for shock factor or a simple laugh. Other times, I felt some of the comedy was a little too aggressive or over the line for me, mainly in the form of drug or sex humor that skirted under the trailer radar. This brings me to probably the sour note in the film, the over abundant advertising that really gave many of the big scenes away. I agree with others there is a treasure lying in wait for the adventurer to go to the theater, but some major elements have already been effectively beaten to death if you watch the trailers enough. The convenient store scene, the swing scene, and the teenage girl scenes I knew were coming and left me feeling bored after how much I had already seen them.
Good boys turned out to be better than I anticipated, managing to ground a relatable story as the foundation and building the comedy around. It's pace, charm, and cuteness from the sensational actors is that factor the R rated comedy needed and those aspects will bring much of the laughs. Throw in the deeper elements to help tone the aggressive edge down and my fellow audience members are correct in saying it's a nice, versatile picture. However, it still suffers from over aggressive cursing, lazier writing to fill in moments between the more aggressive styles, and worst of all, big scenes already presented frame by frame in the commercials. Still all in all, this film is fun, though I'm not quite certain this one is the most theater worthy film, and may remain a better home viewing picture.
My scores are:
Adventure/Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)
Can't Be Angry With This Sequel
Sequels to animated films are seldom as good as the first movie. Many times the story was not needed, or the masterpiece is diluted for a gimmick that just doesn't work. Fortunately, there are some that have paved the way for the potential to add to the story, continuing the world we love, but at the same time making a movie stand on its own. Tonight, Sony Pictures continues to try the luck with their surprise success of Angry Birds and see if they can get another round of bills to line the pockets. And for reviewers like me, we are back in the trenches to see how it fairs and do our best to highlight the observations. So let's get in there and review once more as I take o:
Movie: Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)
Director: Thurop Van Orman Writers: Peter Ackerman (screenplay by), Eyal Podell Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones
LIKES: Voice Acting Fun Funny Stories Intertwining Good Morals Cute Good Use of Characters Quick
DISLIKES: Predictable A Little too political at times Not Quite As Unique A Little Too simplified Trailers Ruined Much
Like the first film, the movie's cast really shines taking the pun filled writing, simplistic dialogue, and joke filled lines and making it work. Sudeikis as Red is still the sarcastic champion we loved, Josh Gad comes back in all his adorable energy and opera like singing, and Danny McBride is still the same loud, gruff voice that often fools people into thinking he is Seth Rogen. But the new gang to join adds their own spice to the feathery/leathery cast. Jones has got her usual energetic motions, Sterling K brown is posh and yet funny, and Awkwafina is the same carefree slacker that somehow works in a variety of settings. It's an awesome blend of talent that manages to add some dynamic flow to bring the characters to life. Past the acting, the story is along the same lines as the last one, a very fun, straightforward adventures with a few good moral lessons baked in to give it another layer. Taking two stories to try the break up the linearity, the movie should move enough to keep everyone's attentions, all while jamming in enough fun and laughter to have you rolling in the seats. Yes, like the first installment the film is all about captivating on the cuteness and jokes to get its gimmicks out and enjoyment. Yet, the smartest component for me, is that the movie manages to utilize most of its characters very well. Red and the squad still get adequate screen time despite how many characters they introduced. And the new characters still get used well, allowing for maximum merchandising.
In regards to some areas of improvements for me, well it starts with the predictability of the film. The movie suffers from the simplicity they strived for, not doing well with pushing the boundaries of unique or creativity. Sure, the app to movie transition gets propped, but unlike the Disney and DreamWorks group, they have not quite adapted well in the earth-shattering stories or worlds that the bigger studios dream up. Instead, the movie tries to push a few political boundaries, which is a noble challenge, but got a little too extreme for this reviewer as the various movements we hear about get their own skin in this movie. It still fits well, but it just wasn't necessary and I would have liked to see the energy transferred into the creativity mode instead. Yet, the biggest area that I did not enjoy was how much the trailers ruined the film for me. Many parts have been not only revealed, but smeared in your face with the multiple airings. While still funny, I think there could have been a lot of surprise and kick to it had it not been so advertised. As such, if you and your kids have seen most of the trailers, you have seen much of the movie as there is not quite as much runtime as I had expected.
The movie is a decent follow up to a movie that was surprisingly deep and fun. It still has the same colorful energy, fun atmosphere and voice acting that just capitalizes on the silliness to be had. The story, while layered, still is simple for most to follow and the characters are utilized beautifully for all fans to enjoy and get the most out of the characters in this world. Yet, Angry Birds Universe is still a shell of some of the worlds built in the animation land, and struggles to break the creative barrier and expand upon its world. It's a little too simple in terms of movie overall, and thanks to the trailer ruining much, the film holds little in coming to the theater outside of seeing the predictable ending. Still, it's a fun adventure to behold this weekend with your little tykes and smile wide at their delight in the film. Otherwise, hold out for the home release my friends.
My scores are: Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
This Is US Atmosphere With Furry Legged Friend: Art of Racing In the Rain Review
Books to movies hold the potential to be some of the best films to hit the screen. With stories laid out for the directors, one would think that an adequate investment could bring the words to life. Yet, as often the case, the movies can only do so much with a budget to get the mindset and perspective the books bring, often not being able to match the magic of the written word. Still, they are a popular option to the masses and often the focus of my reviews. So Robbie K back with a 4th review this week on the latest book turned movie as I look into:
Movie: Art Of Racing In The Rain (2019)
Director: Simon Curtis Writers: Mark Bomback (screenplay by), Garth Stein (novel) Stars: Kevin Costner, Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried
The Cars The Acting The Musical Effects The Dog Himself
The Pace The Dragged-Out Components The Depressing Atmosphere
To quote my friend Austin, the title sort of gives you an idea of what to expect with this film. It's a beautiful movie that takes life's problems and gives us a unique perspective on how to handle it. With some great dramatic acting, musical overtures to emphasize the emotion, and a wonderful four-legged star to pin your hopes on. Yet, like modern day ABC dramas, especially This Is Us, the movie is super depressing and left many in my theater with teary eyes and sniffles. While I'm sure the book holds much of this too, I myself would have rather handled this content in a book, as my biggest issue (outside of the depression I felt) is the pacing having difficulty balancing the hope and sadness. Still, if you are a fan of dramas like this and want the spiritual, sob fest for a film, then this is the movie for you this weekend. Balancing all of this, my scores are:
Comedy/Drama: 7.0-7.5 Movie Overall: 6.0 - 6.5
Scary Stories To See In The Theater
Growing up in the 90s, there were plenty of tales designed for kids to try and scare us without crossing the line. Are you Afraid of the Dark, Goosebumps, Tales from the Crypt (both cartoon and regular), and even the Sci-Fi Channel held their own in bringing the horror to the modern-day audience. As such, a good scary story in any form can really leave an impact that stays with someone for much of their lives. Enter today's review, where the theme is the impact that stories can have on us and a little extreme case involving bringing your darkest nightmares to life. Robbie K is back with the third review of the week and we bring you a look at:
The Pace The Comedy The Creature Design The Suspense At Times The Acting The Narrative Approach
DISLIKES: Not Scary Predictable The Disturbing Moments At Times Throw Away Characters
Let's finish this up. Summarizing the review, Scary Stories certainly is a tale to tell in the dark, or the theater in this case. It's a good tale that tributes back to the 90s horror decade, with a narrative that binds so many things together to make you laugh and potentially jump. I liked the balance a lot and the diversity of the creatures and means to which our "heroes" are trying to solve the legendary mystery. Yet, the film still does not have quite the bite and scare factor for this reviewer (remember desensitized) and I would have liked a little more of it and the narrative put in and finding a way to break the mold on the predictability. Nevertheless, this is one of the better horror tales that I have seen in a long time, and as I said give it a shot in the theater.
My scores are:
Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.5
The Kitchen (2019)
Cooking Up Character Centric Plots and Good Acting
Crime tales are ones the American public drinks up, with the promise of a dark tale with tons of drama to drink up. Yet, not every tale has the makings of a legendary film like the Godfather, trying too hard or going too political that it becomes a giant statement that is not entertaining to many. So today's movie had me concerned that a political thriller was on our way and potentially a slow-moving film like Widows before it. Can an all-star cast and the mistakes from the last attempt be learned, or are we going to be stuck with a carbon copy cinematic mess? Robbie is back to give you another review and this time on:
Movie: The Kitchen (2019)
Director: Andrea Berloff Writers: Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series) Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss
Setting Story telling Component The Drama and Twists Acting The Sound Track
DISLIKES: Predictable A Little Boring Longer Than It should have been Political overshadowing The Non-Centered Antagonist
For a movie set in a specific time and place, The Kitchen accomplishes the task of stepping back into the past. Costumes, editing of footage, and props once more teleports us to the America of the past and brings you into the harsh streets of the Kitchen and it's denizens. While the setting helps add a story telling element, the reality is the Kitchen has a decent story component to it. Like the Godfather, but not as monumental, The Kitchen is a story of family, power, and threats as the various pieces move about in the fight for territory and respect. A character centric story, the movie focuses much on the three primary characters, each going through their own struggles as they try to push their own agendas into the mix. It's those dramatic, character developing arcs that seem to criss cross quite nicely, leading to subplots that actually do well to connect into the grander story line, and brings a few twists to the mix to jazz up the linear plot and help give that dynamic of the mafia family. It works well, and the acting in particular manages to bring the characters to full life, each bringing a unique style to the character that helps add the personality a film like this needs. McCarthy was my favorite, but Haddish was amazing, casting her sass in a new light that was less funny and more threatening. Without these ladies bringing their A game the movie may have suffered a lot more. Of note, the sound track was probably my favorite thing, classic 60s-70s songs coming in hard to give the emotional flare and toe tapping mixes that I love to see in a film, after all who does not like a good Fleetwood Mac song?
Yet, the movie still suffers a bit from some other components that did not quite entertain me. First off, the movie suffers from linearity and predictable components. From the moment the tides change you can see the ending coming a mile way, the Shakespearian plot elements beginning to fall into place. As such, waiting for the ending was a little boring, stuck in the artistic and political components that it was a little slow and drawn out for me. It felt much longer than the actual run time and I did not quite get into the film as much as I wanted too. Perhaps a few shoot outs, a job gone wrong, or even some sort of defense to get the plot moving. Instead, the political moments of the tale comes breaking right in to take center stage. The Kitchen is not the most preach from soap box delivery I have seen, but the focus on the various battle of sexes and girl power motif could have been curbed a little more to not deviate from the story components I enjoyed. In addition, the movie suffers from the non-centered antagonist, choosing to go more towards a symbolic route, that possessed various characters that were more of a throw away than meaningful inclusion. Had there been a bad guy to ultimately focus on, we might have had an easier time keeping things moving.
Overall, the Kitchen is a good portrayal of being able to dive back into history and uncovering stories that are believable, dramatic, and the crime family aspect we love. The three leading ladies are truly the stars that made it special with me alongside character centric stories that will appeal to those who like books or character focused shows. Yet, the movie is still not quite the spectacle I was hoping for, getting caught in the symbology and politics that lead to rush plot elements and lacking suspense. Thus, this film holds favor at watching at home or out with a girls night group rather than on the big screen.
My scores are:
Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Can you Say, Fun, Family Friendly Adventure?
Childhood television shows hold a special place in our hearts, bringing us back to the days where adventure lied in every episode. Eager minds waited for the next episode to come, fooling ourselves that something different was going to happen to our hero and push them to the edge, only until we realized it was predictably the same ending. So movies that come out to potentially extend a hand back into the past and relive those moments are very intriguing and we may just find ourselves flocking to the movies to figure out what they writers could have in store for our heroes. Well, today that movie trend tries once more, this time in a pop culture icon who had mixed reception depending on the age you started with her. Robbie K here with another review on the former cartoon now brought to life in the trend of live action movies. Yes, I review:
Dora the Explorer And The Lost City Of Gold (2019)
Director: James Bobin Writers: Chris Gifford (based on the series created by), Matthew Robinson (screenplay by)
Stars: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña
Short Fast Paced Good for Kids Funny Feels Like A Dora Episode Nostalgic Boots
Predictable Simplistic Lackluster Ending Under Utilized Cast Still Too Kiddy Preachy
For a movie that is based on a kid's program, the Nickelodeon studies managed to keep the kid-friendly atmosphere alive and appropriate for the younger audience members. Utilizing the young adult morale issues for the generation to latch onto and have a rapport with. Those who aren't looking for the preteen dilemmas and high school shenanigans though will enjoy the humor in this film. The director and writers knew that the older population would be looking for something more enjoyable and the movie hits that mark by making fun of itself and trying to rationalize how Dora had the adventures she did. It's this self-punching humor that had me laughing up a storm and if you get the references remain into the movie at what next piece of humor you would get. And for fans like me who had younger relatives obsessed with the explorer, you pick up a few references that bring back the nostalgia of the animated adventures and the ridiculousness at hand. As for Boots, the little monkey is adorable and funny, bringing a dynamic set of jokes to the mix and relieving some of the other plot devices.
Yet the movie fails on the story aspect, working too hard to hit itself with the absurdity of the whole story. The adventure is predictable with lots of obvious foreshadowing laid out in the first third of the act. Trekking through the jungle lacks the bite Indiana jones and others had, again diluting to simplistic sequences that were perfect for the little kids it targets. The end of the path holds a rather disappointing, lackluster finale that leaves much to be desired in terms of wow factor, though it manages to nail that morale heavy lessons we all want in a Nickelodeon themed movie. Much of the disappointment for me was the underutilized cast, many of Dora's friends, rivals, and even other characters like Swiper were overshadowed by the fabulous explorer and her can do attitude. In doing so, the supposedly threatening group to antagonize the trip were one-dimensional throw away that served mainly to give slight suspense to the film. Yet, there was still plenty of time for them film to put those preachy lessons right at the end, with music, forced dialogue, and everything else to the delight of families.
Dora's real-life adventure is a cute dive to help bridge a lot of audience members. I concur with the rest of the reviewers that it is better than you expect, primarily in the humor, pacing, and fun references that are all contained in the short 100 minutes run-time. Sadly, the humor and kid friendly atmosphere left much to be desired in the form of story, acting, suspense, and overall finale for the adventure. I applaud them for making this thing short and fun though, and would say that this is a decent family film if you are looking for one to close the summer on. Yet, if you need a more quality film overall, look elsewhere, as there are several other films that will assist your viewing pleasures.
My scores are:
Adventure/Family: 7.0 Movie Overall: 5.0
I Came, I Shaw, Hobbes Conquered
Seems like eons ago when we were blown away by the cars and ferocity that was Fast and Furious. Many installments later, the serious sort of left its dark heist roots and hit the highway to the ridiculous imagination of pushing cars and crew to the max. Despite losing a valuable cast members and several other characters, the series emerges once more from the garage with a new paint job though it's core is very much the same. Tonight yours truly looks at the new comedy duo to take the next leg of the furious race. What lies in store? Read on to get my thoughts on:
Movie: Fast And Furious Presents: Hobbes and Shaw (2019)
Director: David Leitch Writers: Chris Morgan (story by), Chris Morgan (screenplay by) Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba
Funny Great Pace Fitting Story Great Acting for franchise Action
Jokes Too Far Ridiculousness Gets Out Of Hand Predictability Some Story Gaps The ruining by the trailers
If you have been a follower to the series, you've learned the formula by now and it is one that despite how tired it may be, still seems to work. Hobbes and Shaw is an entertaining ride that runs on adrenaline and comedy as the main fuel. The comedy is in many forms, though primarily in the banter between the star characters, but also has some surprises in the form of cameos and unexpected side roads that are well timed. It delivers an atmosphere of fun, which in turn leads to a great pace to keep you engaged in the film and to the adventure at hand. The actors who bring this to life all work super well, the chemistry between Statham and Johnson is awesome as the rivalry and alpha male syndrome of two extreme males is super believable and exploited well. Meanwhile, Elba as the supervillain is fantastically balanced, despite being in this series, as he is both lethal and wild at the same time. Vanessa Kirby as well is a welcome addition, as she brings one-part female inspiring character and one-part romantic interest. She's a great anchor point for the story and an engaging character overall that seems to balance the macho meatheads of the other two. In terms of story, Hobbes and Shaw shows promise for picking up the pieces of the last installments while opening up some new rivals for the speedsters to follow, with little to no layers beyond what is presented and plenty of preachy morals that the series has thrived on over the last five movies. Finally the action. Hobbes and Shaw has pumped high-octane fuel into the engines and ramped it up to a new level as technology meets good old-fashioned fists. From nearly start to finish, the movie does not let up on the exciting moments and despite how cheesy it can be, it fits the action junkie want so beautifully.
Yet, the movie (like most of the latter installments) finds issues with balance and uniqueness that once was present in the film. The jokes, as entertaining as they are, go a little too far, the banter in particular bloating the run time at points where we could have moved on to something better. In addition, the movies continue to push the boundaries of reality with the ridiculous aspects, relying on suspension of belief and focus on adrenaline doing everything superhuman to accept these feats. Surprisingly toned down from other movies, Hobbes and Shaw is still not for those who can't stomach the cheesiness of this franchise. Sadly, the effort and interest in these action sequences is not being used in their storytelling originality. Hobbes and Shaw is still a predictable tale with things laid out for you at the start of the movie with dramatic dialogue that is obvious foreshadowing. In addition, some details given suggest some story gaps and perhaps a little more attention to detail to help. Yet, much of the movie is ruined by the trailers, which have given away much of the action sequences you are probably going to see. Sure, the full spectacle is still awesome, but be warned you've seen much of the stuff already laid out.
Outside of a few other minor dislikes, like a few characters built up in trailers, but then laid to the side for future movies, Hobbes and Shaw turned out to be better than I anticipated. It's still a cheesy special effects ride that continues to rope money in, but it works quite well to bring the entertaining action spectacle to open August up. I really enjoyed the familiar aspects of comedy, pacing, and acting, though I still think they have not obtained the balance or adventure that Fast Five was. So in terms of a theater visit, for those who are fans of the series you should hit this up ASAP to get your fill of action and machoness. Yet, those who do not enjoy the spectacles of CGI and stunts, should skip this one and hit one of the five movies coming next week.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Once Upon A Long Winded Review
Hollywood, the glamorous place that holds the dreams of so many aspiring to be rich, famous, and fashionable. It's a place that has changed faces much like the stars change make up, and to keep on top of modern trends to keep the ever-consuming monster satiated. Yet, in the shiny metropolis lies stories that aren't so flashy or happy, dramatic tales that are sad and filled with anguish that some can't handle. Yet, for directors like Quentin Tarantino it's a medium that holds potential to open the eyes of the blind. That story, or at least a comedic rendition of it, lies in this movie of our review with hopes of being a contender in the quality film industry. Robbie K here ready to give you a taste of another review as we take on:
Movie: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
Director: Quentin Tarantino Writer: Quentin Tarantino Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
The Setting The Costumes Special Effects The Writing The Tempered Down Tarantino Effects The Acting The Nostalgia
The Occasional rants of cursing The Disproportionate Story Telling Needed More Margot Robbie The Pacing The Run Time The Ending... sort of
The wow factor for this movie is the homage Tarantino paid to the glorious mega studio in so many aspects. In particular all the movie magic of effects, wardrobe, settings take you back to the classic world where so much changed, as the 60s/70s. In the fantastic setting of retro Hollywood, smart writing that is blend of drama, comedy, and smart dives into the psyche of those famous people we admired. By tempering down the Tarantino cascade, it allowed for a different film that wasn't overwhelmed by the flash in the pan effect this director flourishes in. To help further bring this message to life, the acting of the three tiled characters gets big acknowledgement, with heart throb DiCaprio bearing much of the load of the tortured actor trying to find his way in a changing world. Pitt's character was my favorite of the supporting character that was a blend of looks and comedy that went well with the supporting story, while Robbie's dive in the star trying to gain new light sort of provided the intensity relief. Yet, all of this is overpowered by the bouts of nostalgia from the various entertainment venues this time period had. Radio shows, famous songs, television programs, and all the memorabilia that referenced this was the real factor that made the movie a fun adventure filled with messages and meaning.
Yet, the movie does have some cleaning up for me that would potentially make it more favorable to the general public. First of all, while Tarantino's energy has been tempered, it's not eliminated and the moments where it comes out in full rush did little for me. Minor dislike aside, the story telling, while good, is a little imbalanced, primarily in Margot Robbie's character who felt more like an incongruent tangent that only touched on the graph of this film's main plot. Because of this sort of unbalance, the movie seemed to fall in to a frame of being too slow, the pace for a nearly 3-hour film was dragging and very tiring. Much of this had to do with the bloated sequences of lots of driving, or dragged out bits of conversation that could have been left for a director's cut. Throw in the incongruent story of Margot Robbie's character and you get extra time that is not really need. Perhaps it would have been worth it had the ending gone the way I had expected, the buildup of the incident ending in that comedic violence that is both satisfying and not quite the terror I had expected. Thus, the long-winded journey did not quite have the finish that I think he was getting at.
Overall, Once Upon In Hollywood is smart writing, diving into the lives of the fleeting fame that is Hollywood and how the transitions can affect one person. The special effects and settings will be the ultimate nostalgic for fans to dive into, and the acting is certainly going to have candidates in the Oscar running. Yet, the films suffers from bloated storytelling and disproportionate focus on each aspect leading to a very drawn out tale that may not be for everyone. Thus, if you are looking for the entertainment factor, this one is not worth a trip to the theater, but if you want the artistic love letter to the thing that brings so many hits, then check this one out.
My scores are:
Comedy-Drama: 8.5 Movie overall: 8.0
Stuber or Stupor?
You know how there are all those stories about Uber rides gone wrong and being entertained. Well, as I've said in plenty of times before, Hollywood will look to all paths to find a script to put on the big screen. Tonight, my friends and I checked out the newest comedy that is all about an Uber ride gone wrong, between an unlikely pair of comedians. Looking like a major comedy fest, the goal as always is for a review to help you determine if it's worth a trip to local theater to see. Robbie K back in the theater trenches to give you the 411 on the latest movie. Let's get going!
Movie: Stuber Director: Michael Dowse Writer: Tripper Clancy Stars: Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino
Pacing Fun Morals Baked In Funny At many Parts The slapstick At times Actors
DISLIKES: The Dead Story Points The Rushed Components Shaky Camera work at times The Predictability Some Comedy Being Overdone The Trailers Ruining Much Of the Movie
The truth about Stuber is that it is a simplistic comedy that the trailers have sold well. A fast pace helps keeps the laughs in as the "story" begins to work its way toward the final destination. There are components they are trying to balance into the laughs, and the morals placed in for character development are nice to see to help expand the character. Yet, the golden aspect of this film is of course the comedy to which many will most likely enjoy in some form or manner. Stuber is one of those movies that throws as many jokes at you as possible and hope that at least one or two of them sticks. The slapstick in particular has some great punch to it, primarily because of the commentary and sound effects that accompany it. So simplistic and yet so funny, Stuber makes it's mark due to the two comedians that drive the movie to the final destination. Bautista's yelling and direct line delivery are much like Drax without the Marvel banter and drawn out jokes that accompany the clumsiness they bestowed his character. Kumail Najiani on the other hand is all about dry sarcasm and delivery of the lines to capitalize on the comedic timing and adding that spice to the words. The chemistry between the two is great, though I hope it's not abused, and it will be a selling point for many.
Yet the movie is much like my fellow critics said in that there are some dropped plot elements. For those that don't care about anything but a good laugh, this section will turn you off, but for those for looking at movies as a whole read it on. Although a good attempt, the story has a lot of dead points that barely roll over the finish line to really give the movie sustenance. A fantastic pace for comedy, the movie's short run time and fast movements are not good for developing the other parts of the movie, which is a shame given the potential they were building. Amidst the action scenes and lots of slapstick, a shaky camera awaits to try to bring you in the moment, but only serves to make dizzying sequences that are not too fun to see. In addition the story is super predictable, with lots of foreshadowing in the jokes and simple conversations early on in the movie. The balance in comedy is definitely skewed from one side or the other going too far down one angle, and quickly tipping the other way to not funny enough. Stuber suffers from constantly teetering from one point to the other and never learning that too much of something is not often a good thing. Why was this the case? Truth be told, it's because the trailers have revealed many of the scenes that fill the movie, with a good chunk of the funny parts already been beat into your eyes and memory from the countless trailers and commercials. If you have been fortunate enough to avoid these showings you'll be okay, but otherwise, stick to the mantra of there are some parts that are still waiting to be found.
The VERDICT: Stuber is fun, stuber is simple, and stuber is entertaining to those who want nothing more but to laugh. The acting combo of Bautista and Najiani are golden, filled to the brim with sarcasm and blunt delivery that should be entertaining. Filled to the brim with jokes, the movie's main limitation is the difficulty with balance, struggling to fit things into the comedy in such a short time span. Still, plenty of comedic gold awaits those looking for the simplistic adventure of slapstick and not caring about the movie/story overall.
My scores are:
Comedy/Action/Crime: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
One Day Meets Beatles: Yesterday's Charming Balance And Music Saves The Lackluster Finish
We all know music and many of us love it without so much a whim so long as we get the tracks we love. The artists who work to make music often are recognized more for their abuse of money and fame, rather than the motivation behind their music. So what would happen if you could be that artist you admire so much? What if you could take credit for their work and nobody had a clue they even existed? Well that's where tonight's movie comes in, and yours truly is here to cover the film to let you know whether or not the film is worth a check out. Let's get started as tonight we look at:
Movie: Yesterday (2019)
Director: Danny Boyle Writers: Jack Barth (story by), Richard Curtis (screenplay) Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino
Charming Fun Good Covers Decent Comedic Relief The "cameo" The Artistic Messages The Love Story The Acting
Trailers spoiled Much Kate McKinnon's Extreme Character Other Secondary Characters Lost A Little Preachy Not Quite The Revelation/Tension I thought
Much like Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle's work once again manages to capture a charming tale that holds so much in the simplistic story telling. Yesterday was able to bring a lot of fun into the tale, taking the idea of living life as a rock star and using the covers, which are of a good quality, to maximize much of the Beatle's legacy without the masters themselves being present. Despite the seriousness of the movie, Yesterday is funny, selecting a drier, English wit that is occasionally spritzed with some American antics including several cameos that are fun to see. However, Boyle's accomplishment also is finding a way to incorporate the true film art style by sampling some artistic messages into the love story at hand. Yesterday's alternate reality is awe inspiring in terms of pulling the blinds of fandom down to reveal the moral testing sacrifices that the music celebrity world requires, managing to test the boundaries of love without diving too far in Hallmark territory. And it's actually thanks to the acting that I was able to become entranced by the magic of this film. There are plenty of actors to talk about, but in reality it's Patel and James that take center stage, each presenting balanced performances that work in tandem and craft the tale that many will enjoy, again making a believable romance story.
Yet there are a few limitations for me that I have to say I was surprised to see, at least for some of them. One thing that is not quite a shocker is how much the trailers have given away in the mass franchising, with many key parts and comedy hits revealed in the television spots. Amidst the predictability, Yesterday starts to lose some of its balance in terms of several decisions they made with the characters. One thing is Kate McKinnon, the comedic queen holds the same personality quirks that people loved, but for me her style of comedy was forced and a little too extreme for the tone this movie set. It's SNL like presentation worked sometimes, but like a few Sheeran moments felt out of place from the components I liked. And much like many films, Yesterday's secondary characters we are introduced to sort of feel lost to the layered storytelling, dropped in the background for more comedic one liners. Sure a bit realistic, but again I'm about utilizing the characters as much as you can. Oh well, I guess that decisions goes with the themes of the movie about fame vs everything else, which although artistically presented sometimes got a bit too after school special for me. However, the biggest "let down" so to speak was the lack of mind-blowing, or even suspenseful, revelations that the trailers suggest lied in the wings of this mystery. Yesterday's concept is interesting, so you were hoping for some secret to be revealed that would not sweep the film off of the beautiful presentation he put together. Not the case, for the concept sort of fizzles out in favor of pursuing the character arc stories that were built in the 2 hours.
Overall, Yesterday worked for me and was fun to watch. A beautiful balance of love, music, and charming artistic quality, Boyle proves to still have the eye for alternative storytelling. It's an entertaining film with a lot of heart that many should enjoy and I feel the acting performances and direction give you the characters you want to invest your time in. There are some forced moments into the movie, primarily in altering the comedy to add a little more moisture to the drier comedy, but it's really the lack of that giant revelation punch at the mystery that really stood out for me in terms of areas to improve. Still, the charming tale is one that can be enjoyed in theater, but the fact it doesn't have enough flash bang boom components means that a home viewing is most likely in your future.
My scores are:
Comedy/Fantasy/Music: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
Coming Home To New Spooks And Stories
Another week, another chance to impress us with a horror movie. This week, the Conjuring Universe continues its ride to the box office bucks in as much style as it can before the big films come. Yet, like many extended universe movies, you have no idea whether the next installment will succeed, or just make your wallet bleed. Welcome to another Robbie's Movie Review and tonight we see if the latest spooky film will ride the ghost train to the bank. As always, happy to share some opinions so let's get out there and get it done!
Movie: Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Director: Gary Dauberman Writers: James Wan (story by), Gary Dauberman Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace
Acting Creepy New Types of Ghosts More Looks Into The Haunted Room Decent Pace Some Surprising Story Elements
Predictability Story Is A Little Fractured The Boyfriend Arc Not As Scary As I Had Hoped A Little Anticlimactic
The latest movie in the conjuring universe starts to go back to its roots and polish up things. Annabelle's latest story brings the creepy nature of the movies back to the home and that adds the realistic notion of scares that make fans like me love the series. In the sanctity of the home, one hopes to be harbored from ghosts, but Annabelle's minions prove that not even the familiarity of a home can save you. Nevertheless, the movie manages to bring new types of ghosts and scares that potentially will become movies of their own as the forbidden treasures of the Warrens surface and hint at the secrets in store. Surprisingly, the movie still manages to find some storytelling elements in it as well, but this time through the eyes of a new cast, whose younger members accomplish the goals of terror filled teenagers and adolescents trying to cover up their mistakes. The backstory and character development can be touching, but never quite engulfs the main goal of scaring.
Sadly, the movie suffers from the usual horror trade of imbalance and predictability. The use of foreshadowing, the same tactics for trying to build scares, and the trailers have spoiled much of the suspenseful parts for me and given the rushed component this sometimes blew through the scary parts too quickly to allow the audience to stew in the intensity of the moment. In addition, the movie held too much in terms of story lines, primarily in the number of artifacts they tried to use. Ambitious as it was to brings many guests to the party, Annabelle's focus on all the spirits led a fractured story component that did not quite have the majesty of the origin story we got a few years back. Ghosts aside, the story of the humans with more of a pulse did not come fully together, falling into some simplistic stories that did not quite have the bite I was hoping, especially in regards to the boyfriend arc, which while funny was not entirely necessary to the film. As you can probably guess the movie as a whole not quite that climactic in its finish.
Yet despite all the imbalances, Annabelle's latest trek is about the middle runner for this reviewer. With enough creeps in the realistic setting, one may find themselves afraid of what lies in the dark, becoming quite sensitive to sounds. With new ghosts, some new tricks, and a few new spins on the formula it works for those looking for a good ghost story. Yet, the movie sort of strayed from the story/scare balance of the first one and the characters don't quite have the same drive some of the stronger series installments (Conjuring and Annabelle Creation) has in terms of characters to latch onto or a story to ground it all. Still, it's got enough special effects to garnish a theater run, but only barely. Instead, this one may be better reserved for home, where the setting can help add some horror in itself.
My scores are:
Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Femme Fatale Fashion
Spy films! A chance to tell engaging, deep, intense tales utilizing the most unexpected people. For years Bond has sort of led this revolution, but other films attempt to get into their own secrets that are less flashy and more involved with the espionage component. This weekend, the latest jab at the spy film comes in the form of a femme fatale, where fashion and lethality mix together in an attempt to make the latest thriller for people, perhaps the female population in particular, to enjoy. Robbie K here ready for another review, this time on:
Director: Luc Besson Writer: Luc Besson (screenplay) Stars: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans
LIKES: The Acting The Cast The Character Development A Few Action Scenes The Costumes and Wardrobe
DISLIKES: The Pace The Convoluted Story and Means The Lack of Action/Stiff Action Emphasis of Sex The awkward Love Triangle The Politics Again
Summary: Spy films are always about the character bringing the bang to the buck for me and that requires good acting. Sasha Luss was a great front woman for this type of film, decent balance if dialogue, the carrying of the femme fatale energy, the suaveness, and the layered emotion were executed quite well over the course of the film. Helen Mirren as sort of her mentor/boss, another fine display of the legend's talents to bring so much to the film. The cast of the characters works very well together, fashioning a convoluted band of spies who are complex and untrustworthy, perfect for a movie about spies. Yet amidst the carbon copy roles of the arrogant and monotone spies, Anna actually has a little more to her character hidden in that façade of boredom and eternal calm. As the story unfolds, Anna starts to reveal more of the dolls nestling in this KGB spy, each layer a different element that you weren't expecting, until the grand finale reveals the inner desire nestling within. Impressive to have that sort of buildup in a spy thriller, but welcomed for me. Fortunately she also manages to have some stimulation thrown in to the mix, and Anna's got an impressive amount of gunplay accuracy and some hand to hand combat that rivals Black Widows earlier days that helps liven up the movie. To be honest though, I loved the costumes and wardrobe of the film, with the designers doing a fantastic job of bringing the emotion to the scene through the styles and aliases that Anna wore. It's slick, sexy, and stunning in all form that goes so well with the themes of the movie and the character they are building, plus a few members commented how they found the clothes stunning as well, so that aspect is good too. Here is the problem though, the pace of this movie is not quite as thrilling as the trailers made it to be. Anna's presentation is slow, utilizing the ideas of executing acts and then going back in a set of flashbacks to explain how it got there. It's unique, but after the third time of doing it, it feels like the Lord of The Rings series of constantly retelling the same tale. These multi-layered plot elements should engage those loving spy complexity, but the average audience might find themselves snoozing or walking out (the former I had to fight). Now while the action I think shows off the girl power motif, the problem for me (no surprise) was the lack of action and more so how stiff the sequences became. Anna's fights are very choreographed, lacking that element of raw action that great sequences hold, and that makes the attempt at injecting suspense a little lacking. Instead the raw passion went into the sexual moments, steamy bouts of animal passion that sort of display the art of seduction to the business at hand. While parts make sense, I would have liked a redirecting of the energy to some other elements that I had hoped Anna could show off. Yet, the attempt at character building puts an awkward love triangle into the mix as well, one that sort of elevates the underlying means of the a tale, but again could have been redirected in a better light. This leads me to probably the source of my limitations, the politics. Spy films are known for the political components they are trying to usurp, but this one took the modern-day political means into a new light and it did not work for me. The blatant statements towards modern issues becomes the central focus and in taking time to craft a character that bluntly states it, the rest of the story components sort of faulted for me.
Overall, Anna has the style and suaveness in the character, crafting someone who has the attitude of the girl power movement and a spy with a little more heart nested in the stone-cold shell. While the movie has a lot of great acting to it, it cannot offset the pace and convoluted presentation, nor the stiff action/focus on sex that did little for me. Anna's espionage thriller may have a lot of visual appeal, but it does not quite have the same spy spark that I look for in my spy action thrillers. The lack of bang, and the okay story make this difficult to recommend for a theater visit, but if you are looking to get your spy flick, or want to be impressed by costume visual prowess, then have a go at this one this weekend.
My scores are: Action Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Unnecessary But So Good On Levels. Two Thumbs Up On So Many Levels
Pixar, one of the two big animation studios vying for the spot of number one in the great world of movies. In competition with Walt Disney Studios, though supposedly working together for the big company, the studio that blew our minds long ago is back with another "new" movie. Having difficulties launching new ideas, Pixar seems to fall back on their time-honored films in an attempt to expand upon their timeless characters. While often good, how far the movie can go is always the question, but these guys have managed to find the magic time and time again. So I am here once more to review the latest installment to see if Pixar can keep in time with their storytelling. Robbie K here and get ready for another review this time on:
Movie: Toy Story 4 (2019)
Director: Josh Cooley Writers: John Lasseter (original story by), Andrew Stanton(original story by Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts
Animation Voice Acting Fun Funny Good Pace Evolution Of Bo Peep and Woody Three-Dimensional Villain Super Emotional to Grip You
Trailers Revealed A lot/Predictable New Guys are Okay/Gimmicky The Ending Makes The Points In Three Pointless The Older Characters Are Not Utilized Well
Summary: It's Disney and It's Pixar, you know the animation is going to be awesome as beautiful, and improving, graphics are integrated with color and sound design to bring the world to life. Throw in the voice acting and once more the movie has crafted the usual media to bring their characters to the forefront of Disney heroes and heroines. And through their magic they have crafted fun characters, their army finding a way to bring comedy and emotion to the movie and produce a fun paced movie that entertains many ages and preferences. Yet what impresses me in this movie, is how well they developed some of their characters once more. Bo Peep, a character who had little involvement out of snarky comments and a crush in the first two installments, is back with a complex story that is balanced, poised, and realistic to really latch onto. Woody's ever evolving tale matches perfectly with it, a lock and key that push these characters to new levels and somehow bridges the issues of the first installment. Even more impressive is Pixar's way of adding depth to the villain, somehow managing to put more layers in outside of just megalomaniac personas that are famous in Disney movies. This utilization of storytelling and character development, is the example of Disney's ability to make emotionally gripping tales that pulled me into the adventure once more, keeping my interest and I believe pulling younger members in as well. It's those emotional moments that somehow seem to complete the movie and leave you with yet another satisfied conclusion, until they need more money and make the fifth movie. Yet, the movie still runs into the art of predictability, not entirely, but certainly enough has been ruined by the copious trailers to have given much away. And much like the trailers and specials, Toy Story also has a new cast of characters to merchandise off to the younger wards. The new characters are fun, and serve their purpose of bringing laughs, quotes, and new ideas for toys. They contribute their points, but unlike the original bunch, the involvement with them is not quite as engaging as previous installments. Through in that the older characters we have grown up with over the last two and half decades are rather poorly integrated and you have some disappointing components to me. I'm from the school of if you are not going to keep them integrated into the story meaningfully, why put them in to begin with, and this was especially true for Toy Story 4. Finally, and probably picky, the conclusion of this movie sort of overwrote all the hard work of Toy Story 3 for me. Certainly there are new lessons to learn at a new stage of the journey, but given the time frame between three and four, I would expect them not to so quickly displace what the gang did in three. But hey that's just me.
Overall, the movie is still a work of art, showing that despite ending the movie well, they can find way to keep it going. Toy Story 4 has heart, class, and does such a good job of expanding its main characters to continue the supposed hero's journey. The new characters are fun, the world is still colorful, and it's all presented in an entertaining and meaningful pace that I thoroughly enjoy. Sure the tale is still predictable, the characters are imbalanced, and the ending did offset three for me a bit, but the truth is the movie is a fantastic tribute to the art of the animation studio that is Pixar. No surprise it is worth a trip to theater so take the family, or yourself and get out to enjoy it as the emotional tale of the summer hits theaters this weekend. Otherwise, it's definitely one to go on the must see at home list for me.
My scores are:
Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.5 Movie Overall: 8.0
Child's Play (2019)
Time to Reboot Andy
The campiness of horror movies can sometimes be amazing source of entertainment. Humorous plots that are ridiculous, blended with just enough disturbing concepts to etch itself in your brain can be quite a cult phenomenon. So years later, and many revivals, it looks like one of those movies is going to attempt to reboot itself to try and modernize its moves. Welcome to Robbie's Movie Reviews and today we are looking at none other than the demented doll himself, the serial killer of craziness, and the toy of terror. That's right we look at:
Movie: Child's Play (2019)
Director: Lars Klevberg Writers: Tyler Burton Smith (screenplay by), Don Mancini (based on characters created by) Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Hamill, Gabriel Bateman
Campy Comedy Style Surprising Feels For Chucky The Familiarity The Voice Acting
Predictable Other Actors Some of the Graphicness The Lack of Direction
The Child's Play series has not been consistent in the scare department, but the series certainly stays the course of being campy. It's fun, and much of this has to do with the simplicity of the film and the 80s style comedy masked in modern wrapping paper. The dialog itself is corny, but the delivery and timing work, especially hearing the edge return to Chucky as the movie progresses. Yet unlike the other movies, the murderous doll surprisingly has a little more development than the previous sadistic doll we know and love. Resetting his origins, I actually felt a little sorry more for this iteration, which some may or may not like. This Chucky is will eventually fall back into some classic quirks, but with a little more depth to what once was such a simple role. And as the movie has taken many modern twists, I found that the familiarity of the series still remains in the movie from the simplistic story to the corny kills, it holds many nostalgic moments that should pull some of the fans back into the series. Finally, the voice acting that they casted is a fine display of the creepy atmosphere that horror movies need. Hamill accomplishes the goal of injecting that stalker like atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine and make Chucky come to life at the same time. Much like his work in the 90s, the former Jedi knows how to add so much to a role that one would normally find limited. And it may be that acting that carries much of the movie alongside the use of the demented doll. Yet the movie has some flaws that my friends and I noticed that could be strong limitations for audience members. First off its predictable. While my initial guess at the twist was wrong, Child's Play has had much revealed in the trailers and what has not can easily be guessed. From the collective rest of the acting crew, who is more so predictable knife fodder, the characters are so monopolar that one can't help but be detached to most of the gang recruited into this arsenal. Sadly, most of the actors don't seem quite interested in the movie, with many again presenting uninteresting characters that just do little for me. Sure the young Andy has some potential, but others are just extreme targets for Chucky to hunt, speaking of which. The kills that Child's Play comes up with are like something out of a demented playbook, and this movie has begun the path that will surely grow more ridiculous with time. Over the top, immaculate kills are part of that nostalgic campiness, but at times they are a little dragged out in the torture department, leading to cringe worth moments of disturbing death. In particular is one kill that defies my big rules, so if you have read for years, be prepared for that component. No, the big thing this movie suffers from for me is the lack of direction it seems to have. Is it comedy? Is it slasher? Is it nostalgia? Is it horror? I can't quite tell, but the various spread made it seem like an awkward blend that is interesting to describe. Like an over budgeted Are You Afraid Of The Dark Special, this Child's Play is not quite achieving the directions that it wanted, leading to an awkward enjoyment that is not quite awful, but not super good either. The verdict of this film is that it has its ups and down and is sort of a mediocre display of chills and thrills. Comedy wise it's managed to pull the series back to grounded levels from the last installments, and it has returned to the gruesome kills that made the series famous. Yet, Mark Hamill's acting cannot quite bring the lack of direction together and the modern focus on aggressive death might be a little too extreme and unnecessary. Still, the movie starts out decently okay and perhaps can start upgrading itself to the next models for increasing the quality for a certain sequel to come.
My scores are:
Horror: 7.0 Movie Overall: 5.5 - 6.0
Men in Black: International (2019)
New Age, New Strengths, and New Weaknesses
They don't exist outside of Déjà vu! They are protecting us I supposedly only one suit that they never take off. And they have faced more interesting specimens of the galaxy than we can ever imagine. I'm talking about the Men IN Black and they won't let you remember about all the stuff you may or may not have seen. Welcome to Robbie's movie reviews and today we are going to be looking at yet another movie hitting the silver screen. Today is the latest iteration of a beloved 90s franchise that has seen it's ups and downs. Can the latest installment/reboot find the stride, or are we once again stuck with another rushed production that should have had more time or never existed? Let's take a look at:
Movie: Men In Black International (2019)
Director: F. Gary Gray Writers: Matt Holloway, Art Marcum Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani
Decently Paced New Aliens and Designs Nostalgia Simplistic Story Funny Kumail Nanjiani's character
More Aliens Predictable Plot Missing Some Wrap ups Other Acting Is A Little Forced Missing That Natural Humor Underutilized characters Not Campy Enough The Political Messages... again
A Men In Black Movie is all about being an entertaining spectacle of comedy, story, and latching on to our heroes and finding some moving pieces. This new installment may not have our favorite agents we started with (in physical form at least), but it holds a few treasured components that kept it entertaining for me. For one it's a movie with few slow parts, moving from one component to the next with little time for impasses to really drive character development, but maximize laughs and entertainment. The New aliens and designs are refreshing in the component that they are bringing back the creativeness that brings renewed energy into the series, especially in regards to some of the new criminal aliens who have edge and artistic designs mixed in. With all the newness you might be fretting that the old feeling has been lost, and to be honest I found some qualities that still remain to be fun and remind you of the older days. For one there is plenty of nostalgia lining this movie, maybe not in the full integration of other movies have done, but certainly a few nods to the adventures our first band had. Simplistic story still stays strong as well, with little twists and turns to spin your head or make you think, but not so simplistic to be absolutely stupid or boring, for the most part any way. The key thing that stays here though is the humor, finding the same formula of modern times by cramming jokes in as many styles as possible. That variety is good, bringing some dynamic choices to the mix to try and cater to a number of audience members and hopefully leaving you in tears. Yet the winner for me is Kumail's character Pawny. The Middle Eastern actor's character left me in stitches bringing his usual brand of comedic delivery with well time interruptions that were perfect for me. In addition the character remains pertinent to the story as well, only having a few times where his manners were forced on me. An excellent character for this reviewer.
Yet for all the good they did for me, the modern reboot of the series has not achieved the goals that the first series did for me. For one thing, more aliens could have been introduced, or even better integrated into the mix. All the introductions and new designs should have had a little more time to brew to perfection and perhaps be relevant to the inclusion outside of a joke or two. Villains, supporting characters, even the main heroes felt underutilized to me, simplistic shells of main characters that hold secrets, but like the organization remain hidden. As such, I did not get quite attached to these two new agents like I did K and J, and that leads to a less engaging story for me overall. In regards to the story itself, well that too is sort of lacking. Don't get me wrong, it's got the components famous in this series, but they were not as well put together because of the new approach. It's predictable for one thing and leaves little surprise in how things are going to pan out from obvious foreshadowing. Story elements started being hinted at, but then the plot lines fell flat or remained sort of untied, perhaps in suggesting a future installment. The fact that the characters are quite as engaging leaves flat pieces to play out, who become more focused on comedy than being a hero. Most of all, the story is just missing that campiness overall that the 90s made famous and that took away some of the things that made the first trilogy special. Without that factor, that natural humor was sort of lacking, forced upon me much like the ghostbusters from a couple of years ago. They almost try too hard for me and at times that obvious digression from the story to make a joke id not impress me as much. This is especially true with the political humor, once again trying to force emotional surges into the movie to deliver the real-life issues. Sometimes the writing was perfect and well-integrated, but often it fell to deaf ears because it was not needed, potentially left to the interviews and subconscious meetings than anything else.
Overall, the film turned out to be fun and entertaining. The modern twist is far from perfect, but it shows the series can age well with the right guidance and motivation. It still needs balance and shying away from the forced jokes, alongside crafting characters that I actually care about instead of the comedic, political husks I was getting. Men In Black International though has plenty of old and new blended in and the new little guy Pawny should certainly make up for a number of flaws given his character ironically has more layers than the leading cast. Due to the special effects, this one lands in the see in theaters territory, so check it out, but in terms of the quality movie overall, you can probably check this one out at home to be honest. So my scores for the movie are:
Action/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Who has Humor, Action and Edge with a Modern, Though Unbalanced Twist, SHAFT!
Television shows hold a history for many, teaching life lessons and telling stories that would stick with the public for ever. Sometimes catchy theme songs are the main things that stay behind, but for others, legendary episodes remain in the minds. So with the drought of originality still plaguing Hollywood, the goal is to bring some of these television shows to the silver screen venue to try to make them fresh again. Robbie K is back to look at the latest movie in hopes of helping guide your movie pleasures. Let's get started as we look at:
Movie: Shaft (2019) Director: Tim Story Writers: Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Richard Roundtree
Acting Action Nostalgia Mystery Humor
DISLIKES: Lack of Suspense Aggressive Sexual Humor Lazy Writing At Times Weak Character Development The Grandpa Inclusion
Shaft's character is legendary and requires a key actor to bring it to life. Samuel L Jackson is the guy to do it, bringing his hard edge and direct, forceful acting to really bring the cop with no fear to life. He balances so much into the role, like seeing Nick Fury in a rated R role, that is certainly entertaining to watch. Jessie T. Usher as the new generation of Shaft helps sort of balance the aggressiveness of Jackson, acting as a grounding force to tie all the group together. He's charming, funny, but then evolves a bit into something more that works well in the atmosphere of the movie. As for Roundtree, his reprisal is a nice throwback, but it has been tweaked to have a bit of modern aggressive edge on it as well to remain in the new rules of the movie. The rest of the cast play their parts well, but not integrated enough too much to take time at this time. Instead let's jump into the action, the modern day has choreography and technology capable of making those epic shoot outs a little more exciting. Shaft achieves this fairly well, sometimes using it for humor and other times having that flair that the show made famous. If you've read through all this review so far, you can see that nostalgia seems to be a key factor to enjoying this film, to which I was able to find a few references to the series, with other audience members finding even more. That component will be a key entertainment value to many and a selling point for the movie. Now in regards to the other two components, they have to do with the story and atmosphere of the movie. Shaft's main story component is about the mystery of the case at hand and how it will connect our characters together. Shaft's multilayered mystery feels like a blend of the loose cannon cop's greatest adventure all connected to one, you'll find yourself trying to sort out the threads of scandal seeing the true source that connects them all. During the course there is some attempts at developing the characters, but those moments are reserved for the comedy aspect. The laughs of this movie are brought by the edgy delivery of Jackson's lines, the continued adulteration of JJ's life, and the fiery passion of a mother trying to handle the stress of life. It's very well integrated through the movie and is utilized decently to actually progress things rather than a simple laugh. It felt natural and true to the character, which I find important. Yet the movie's pluses may have led to some of my dislikes as well, primarily in the part of being too aggressive. Shaft and company are not shy to using aggressive styles of humor and while it works at times to perfect levels, there are times where it gets too much for this reviewer. Various descriptions of sex and genitalia only goes so far for me, and the rather boorish description of various genitalia is a little more offensive than fun at times. In addition, my description of lazy writing is at full front here, with Shaft getting too dependent on the use of these expletives to remain entertaining for me. Working on the character development could have taken point instead, working harder to start expanding on back stories, histories, feelings and other qualities to help connect these characters. It start happening at some points of the movie, but more potential existed in those characters than what we got, again lost to comedy and modern time violence. As for the grandfather inclusion, I'll acknowledge the inclusion of the original for sake of honoring the man who brought the series, but I wanted more. Given the showcase in the trailers, I had expected a little more inclusion, and while the ending brought the excitement I was looking for, the original Shaft probably could have had a little more inclusion overall.
The truth is Shaft is going to be geared towards those seeking to go back in time and relive the criminal hunting cop's adventures. A modern edge certainly helps make it relevant in the 21st century, adding new style, comedy, and mystery to raise the stakes and try to entertain, while securing fine acting in its cast of characters. Yet, the movie suffers from imbalance, more so in terms of aggressive humor and lackadaisical writing where cursing and sex phrases are the key. I'm not saying that ruins the movie, I was just looking for more of a balance for what I got. Nevertheless, the movie has enough fine points to warrant a trip to the movie, though only at about a 50% as much can be enjoyed from home. Nevertheless, here are my scores:
Action/Comedy/Crime: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Late Night (2019)
Live From New York, It's A Late Night Surprise
Celebrity status, it's something we idolize yet at the same time dread given the lack of privacy that comes with it. Like anything it is about balance and looking for ways to stand up for what you believe in and yet not become the political enemy. In this modern world, that is hard to do, so why not make a comedy about it and try to bring it all to life in a new drama. Welcome to Robbie's Movie Reviews, and tonight we cover a movie with a diverse cast and some hopes for some type of buddy comedy with some potential to be different. Tonight I cover:
Movie: Late Night (2019)
Director: Nisha Ganatra Writer: Mindy Kaling (screenplay by) Stars: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow
Smartly Written Decent Pacing Witty and Funny At Many Times Balanced At Many Points Compassionate Surprisingly Deep At Times Acting
Cliché Predictable Some Upended Story Lines Key Opportune Moments for Character Development Dropped The Political Components
Comedies sometimes struggle to find a balance for me, trying too hard to be funny and sacrificing the plot for the sake of meme worthy laughs. Fortunately, Kaling's writing has more intelligence embedded in, finding a way to poke fun at our modern world and yet make it relevant too. It manages to find it's pace well, and allows timing and delivery to outdo the quantity of normal jokes. Late Night's wit might be a little dryer, but then finds a way to liven it back up, pulling me back into so much needed labs. It's got a lot of balance into the mix as well, finding that fine line between cursing, sexual humor, and political pokes without making me want to bash my head in from over use. And while it may be hard to believe, Late Night still manages to get through to the compassionate side of things finding some deep moments and face the issues that plague the world. It helps make more endearing characters to play out this political comedy, which is kind of important for a movie like this. The cornerstone though, is the acting. So much of the extras in this film do their job well, secondary characters are important to the story and do well to support the main cast. It's the dynamic duo of Thompson and Kaling that really was the entertainment value for me. Thompson plays her part so well, managing to inject her classiness into the role and yet hold so many more levels to dive into and discover. Kaling's normally over the top and aggressive political nature are better controlled, left to bring a semi-relatable character whose underdog tale of determination is inspiring to watch. Their odd couple like relationships, when spread amidst the other cast members, makes for two very dynamic characters, who get to semi-evolve through the story and become an enjoyment to watch. And yet, the movie suffers at a few turns for me that take away from the writing that Kaling's work brought out. First come the cliché' moments, a story with incredibly predictable plot dynamics that only fall short of a Hallmark special. I would have liked a little more surprises in store, in particular with some of the outcomes of the plot development impasses that came to play. Some of the side plots to the film tried to do this, but time constraints or maybe budget led to limitations that left some of these endings a little unrealistic and unfulfilling. These moments could have increased the potential of the characters, allowing for some better character development than what we were getting at times. Late Night still has those heartened times that are awesome to see, but other times felt dropped on the cutting floor and left to be seen later as if the growth of the character happened off screen. And much like Kaling's writing, the political moments manage to sometimes cross the line and drop into becoming price moments of empowerment that have become a staple in so many forms of media. If that's your stick, you'll love these moments, but if you are like me... well to see the balance and wit dropped for the sake of a political monologue filled with overdramatic cheese factor is disappointing. Overall, I turned out to like the movie better than I anticipated, pleased to see story, characters and comedy integrated together in a workable formula. The chemistry between the actors worked very ell for me, happy to see Kaling having a fantastic relationship with the legendary English actress that could work well in future projects. Still, the movie falls victim to the modern trend of having to be directly political for the sake of being political. It's those moments where these factors get in the way of story and wit that don't quite wrap it up for me. So overall, it's worth watching, but perhaps better left to watching on Netflix streaming vs. a theater worthy venture.
Comedy/Drama: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.5
Dark Phoenix (2019)
Burning Through Plots To Try And Finish
X-men, a series with so much storytelling and incredible characters that the comic book itself stands alone as one of the greatest franchises to exist in the comic book world. Yet, the movies have had a rough patch in terms of execution, hitting some highs and some lows in their design and sequences. So tonight, the last of the franchises before Disney takes over, tries to send it off in the a blaze of glory, focusing on the last saga that is a beacon in the mutant world: The Phoenix. Can Fox put the shining beacon of power in the right light, or will it be yet another grandiose display of loud sounds? Robbie K here to bring his observations and help you out with your movie pleasure. Let's go!
Movie: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Director: Simon Kinberg Writers: John Byrne (story "The Dark Phoenix Saga"), Chris Claremont (story "The Dark Phoenix Saga") Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Acting Sophie Turner Special Effects The Action/Pace At The End The Messages
Quicksilver Not Used Pace For Much Of The Movie Rushed Story Cheesy Story Lackluster Dramatic Moments Action Scenes Fairly Short Under developed Villains Not Quite The Epic Finish
Say what you want about the X-Men, but they have picked a heck of a cast to bring into he mutant world. McAvoy continues to do his part justice, making sure to bring the full fiery emotion that the part requires. Fassbender and Lawrence do their parts well, but seem to have become the back-burner group for this movie, lost to some simpler writing and a quick dynamic shift to the main character. Jessica Chastain does her job well, but I can't say they utilized her to the full potential (more on that later). No, the real star is Sophie Turner, the mutant with so much power that she's not quite sure how to handle it. Turner does the job well in regards to getting the suffering, the uncertainty, and even the hard-edged femme fatale that they wanted. Her character is decently developed in these aspects and I think Ms. Turner accomplished her tasks well. To sort of go with the grand power of the mystical icon, X-men had to pull out the special effects and again they accomplished this goal quite well. Theater shaking sound effects, plenty of colorful and vibrant special forces that scream dark edge comic books. That utilization accomplishes bringing the fiery force of Phoenix into a spectacle that works well to bring these exotic characters to life. My highlight comes at the end of the movie when the big action scene happens, fully unleashing the powers of the other X-men and starting to get into the excitement I've been waiting for this series to discover again. Much like the books though, Dark phoenix is ready to deliver the typical messages found in this saga and the ones contained in this movie sort of accomplish this goal. Yet, much like many movies, this installment still suffers from balance issues and finding its identity in the transcription from comic to screenplay. For one thing, a fan favorite of Quicksilver is grossly underutilized, the famous scenes that had fans raving, almost being missed completely. And much like the quickness of the speedster, the movie's pace suffers as well. Dark Phoenix is very jargon and argument heavy, with more talk than walk seen so to speak. So much of the excitement is done in a few snaps of the finer, mostly tuned to dramatic arguments and repetitive plot points than anything else. The story not only seems rushed, but often very cheesy in its presentation as the classic saga is boiled down to the primal elements that try to speed the "evolution" so quickly it left me filling slightly unfulfilled and unimpressed. Attempts to interject emotion were lost to predictable foreshadowing and sequences where only a few showed any interest. Perhaps the action scenes make up for it? Not really, unlike some of the earlier counterparts, Dark Phoenix's fights are short lived, more grandiose displays of talking and delivered forced dialogue with only a few impressive moves to tickle the proud political statements, while leaving action junkies like me wanting more. Perhaps if we had better fleshed out character and villains there would be some antagonist ready to drive the plot and really gives us the gauntlet that the Dark Phoenix saga was aiming for instead of the lacking end game to this genre. Overall, Dark Phoenix shines as the modern-day movie of girl power and hastily wrapping a floundering series up in a nice bow. It's not awful thanks to the acting, end scenes and messages, however the story just does not feel like the final installment, but instead like the opening issues of a series that try to whet your appetite. Had Fox not been bought perhaps the movie would have held a trilogy on its own or at least more time to the story and action. Yet this epic finish is really one that is best left for him, minus the theater experience of the flashy effects. My scores for this adaptation of cheesy, grandiose goodness is:
Action/Adventure/Sci-fi: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.0
Rocketing To The Stars In Artistic Wonder
Musical biographies, an ability to take a peek in the lives of the stars many idolize from the music and screens. In hopes of getting their music and the drama, these films require trying to find a balance that will please many who flock out to see the great wonder. While usually they take one side over the other, you'll find that rare treasure that finds the balance. Today I finish my weekly reviews with the epic film that has been built up for the last several months. Legendary Elton John and company have put out a film to try to capture the legendary rock icon on his journey to greatness. What's the verdict? Robbie K here to review:
Movie: Rocketman (2019)
Director: Dexter Fletcher Writer: Lee Hall (screenplay) Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Acting Make Up Costumes Setting/Special Effects Musical Numbers The Emotional Lessons/Moments
Slow At Times Not Quite As Censored Movie Dramatic Moments Over Concert Approach Real Vs. Exaggerated Not The Same Music Impact for me
To recreate a living legend you have to hire the right person and Taron Egerton killed it with the recreation of Sir Elton John. The mannerisms, the look, and the showmanship are all captured brilliantly in his performance, playing the tormented soul that is the Rocketman. While the rest of the cast supports and plays their parts well, it is the focus on Egerton that draws everything into the movie. Hollywood brings the full arsenal of creation into the film, doing wonderful work on the make up as Elton ages, with not only facial changes but hair line. The recreation of his costumes mirror the performers quite well in terms of detail in all the spectacle that they were. Going along so well is an impressive set design and shooting locations that drop us back in time and places that he made famous. It's these special effects that help bring you into the full moment of the movie as well as increasing the spectacle of the numbers. Rocketman's musical numbers go on the trend of utilizing the song and dance routine typical of a musical and cueing them to potentially hint at the points/events of their creation. If you love those moments from High School Musical and show tunes of the theaters, then the numbers should get you real good, with similar techniques inspiring and highlighting some of his eccentric works. It's a different style compared to Bohemian, but the traditional route should get lovers of the genre smiling and potentially singing in glee. And to top it all off, this movie really hits one in the heart, as you learn about Elton's demons and the lessons he had to learn along the way. The ending in particular gave me goosebumps, and really puts a perspective on someone I never even remotely knew compared to all his numbers. Yet, the thing about Rocketman is the approach they chose did not quite have the spunk and energy of Bohemian Rhapsody's melody. The pace is slow at times, drawing on the drama to fill the gaps rather than the comedy/energy of the numbers. For those who love the deep dive into the darker aspects of life, you've got it in this film, though I could have done more for the censorship myself, especially if it could have led to more concert and musical numbers. In addition, the analysis of overdramatic vs. real is always a question, especially given how the drama moments take a firm grasp on this movie. I myself like more of the musical spectacle and seeing that creative process, rather than getting downtrodden at the demons that plague us all. And while I appreciate these moments quite well, and attempt to learn from this, I missed the full-blown musical edge that I've gotten in some other films, especially because those numbers were not interrupted like in this film. As such, the numbers did not affect me as much as those in Bohemian Rhapsody, despite the mental moments they addressed. Overall, Rocketman is a beautiful movie, focusing on the artistic side of things vs the full-blown concert relieving. Utilizing the pain and struggles of the artist, the movie is grounded in the plot of discovery, recovery, and all out creation from the motivations life throws at us. The special effects and showmanship will have musical numbers and John fans amazed, watching the recreation of the wonders unfold in modern day dynamics. As much as these moments moved me though, the movie is by far for those with a passion for the drama vs the music itself. Therefore, this movie is definitely a theater visit, but don't go in expecting a repeat of Bohemian in terms of straight up musical grandiosity, they may not quite enjoy this as much, especially when the numbers are interrupted. Still a fine musical biography to say the least and worth it for those who like Jersey Boys, Get Up Off That Thing, and musical numbers from theater.
My scores are:
Biography/Drama/Music: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
Octavia Spencer is the Word!
Another weekend, another set of movies to review. Hi, Robbie K here and back with another round of observations to help guide you through your movie viewing pleasure. Today's first review starts with focusing on the latest "scary" flick to cross into the theaters. Welcome to another Robbie Movie Reviews and today we take a look at:
Movie: Ma (2019)
Director: Tate Taylor Writer: Scotty Landes Stars: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis
Star power Good Acting Surprisingly Deep Story Realistic Good Villain
Not Scary Predictable Suspense of The Reality Not Suspenseful Rushed Ending
Those Who Like These May Like This Movie: Life Time Movies Greta ABC family originals like Pretty Little Liars
SUMMARY: Ma is surprising in many ways in terms of its story telling, focusing more on the characters than the actual scares. Look closely and you will find this packed with a treasure trove of actors and actresses that will participate to varying degrees. For some it's merely a small cameo or background scene, while others will have a more direct involvement with the story. For those more integrated into the story, the acting is very good for a horror movie, crafting representative teenagers, concerned parents trying to recapture youth, and concerned parents well to make a believable ensemble. Yet, it's Octavia Spencer who brings everything together shaping Ma into a villain that is not so extreme to be laughable, and really capturing all the characteristics of the disturbed woman to the T. Bringing so much to the table in terms of energy, entertainment, and that pillar of strength the movie relies on, I loved the casting of this talented actress. Still, Ma's tale is also impressive based on how focused on the plot they were. This tale has layers to it, managing to spread the story through three sections in the form of the kids, their parents, and Ma, interweaving them to give a complete story that feels much like a book or television series. My friends and I agreed that the tale was realistic, which brought part of the fun experience, and in grounding it to the reality it made for a good villain that was engaging to watch. Yet with a great story the movie sort of falters in the scare factors that come with this genre. We agreed that Ma is creepy, the realism and stalker obsession perfectly portrayed to make one feel uncomfortable. Sadly the scares could not live up to the promise of the trailers, focusing a little more on the dramatic dynamics than the scare factors. Much of this comes from the predictability of the movie, thanks in part to the trailers, but Ma just needed that last-minute finesse to smooth out the scares. In regards to the story elements, Ma plays well to its own rules, but at times begins to suspend the reality in regards to filling in the missing pieces. Ma's actions should have left some obvious clues for people to look, but those moments were ignored. That small nitpick aside, the movie's main drop off for me was the lack of suspenseful finish and the rushed ending that came with it. After all the planning, build up, and moving pieces, the ending did not quite have the epic finish I expected of Ma's insanity. Sure, much of it stuck to the character of Ma, but it just didn't have that epic conclusion I expect in this genre. In regards to Ma, it's a pretty decent drama and thriller, but not so much in terms of a horror. Great character development and acting are the pinnacles of this movie with enough relevant issues to get many invested in the villain. However, if looking for the scary film, you are not going to get quite the suspenseful thriller you have been looking for. The movie is definitely more for the dramatic audience members who like the Freeform and Lifetime movies, but enjoy a little more grounded components to them. Nevertheless, the movie still has quality, but probably could be visited on a latter note at home. Thus my scores are:
Horror/Thriller: 7.5 Movie Overall: 7.0
The King Is Getting Better
The start of summer is the start of big movies and this weekend opens up with the "king" of blockbusters in the form of big monsters. Over many years, the giant monster movies have intrigued many and disgusted others, but they exist nonetheless to unleash their own brand of big budget chaos to the world. Yet with mixed results, can this genre find the right audiences or are we still plagued by the modern era of too much bang and not enough buck? Robbie K here to share some words on the latest movie to hit the silver screen.
Movie: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty Writers: Michael Dougherty (screenplay by), Zach Shields (screenplay by) Stars: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown
Character Design Pacing After The first 30 minutes or So The Animation The Action The Climactic Ending sort of The Sound Track/Special Effects
DISLIKES: The Pace Of the Movie's Opening The Story The Focus On Humans...again Action Scenes Were sometimes short lived The Shaky Camera Work The Imbalance Of Monsters... kind of
Fans Who Like These May Like This Movie: Kong Skull island Godzilla like movies Pacific Rim Series
Big budget films about monsters require a lot of things to appeal to the mass audiences and much of it has to with special effects and action. The King Of The Monsters manages to focus much on this, becoming a special effects extravaganza that did not yield to the limitations of speakers and screens. The animation is on point, and many of the creatures look stellar in their design, throwing away the prosthetics and papier Mache for stellar high definition CGI graphics. Smooth monster animation that looks to stick to anatomical movements are beautifully unleashed and it helps bring these monsters one step closer to being real. Eventually the monsters start battling and the action scenes have a number of special effects in both sound effects and visual styles to unleash Armageddon on the big screen. Those who love seeing chaos unleashed with little else binding them, and getting a little more human involvement as well, should be pleased with the destruction at hand in that fastest way possible. This is especially true in the final battle, where the behemoths battlegrounds hold much to be destroyed, assisted by theater shaking sound editing, an epic symphony score to add edge, flashy blasts from the atomic driven beasts, and plenty artificially generated beasts to fill your eyes. It's climactic and satisfying, and something I was hoping to see since the trailers showed. With special effects focus though, the movie sort of stumbles on other categories that still need some work for this reviewer. The opening of the film is rather boring, a jumbled mess of convoluted introductions, explanations about what is going on and the human focus that will lead to all the mess. For a movie about monsters, much of the screen time still focuses on the terrors of humanity, focusing on how much we suck in our attempts to control everything. Unlike Kong, Godzilla's second arc still has trouble grounding its size to a deeper plot, that involves interacting with these creatures more than from the safeties of the bunkers. Even if you don't care about the story, the action scenes are also in need of some work, even the climactic ending. For one thing, many of the fights are very short lived, over in mere minutes after buildups of more talking from humans. The Fight with Rodan might have been my favorite, having the most integration of human and beast combination that brought me into the zone, but other times it was a jumbled mess of quick shots of stuff blowing up before panning back to humans. Other times, there were shaky bouts of camera work of close up monsters and falling buildings. This improved at the end, but it took a long time to discover something other films have already mastered. Finally, the number of monsters represented was not awful, but again trying to put too many in for them doing very little is a component that annoys me. Mothra and Rodon were kind of there, hitting there moments at the right times, but not maximized. Other creatures we get to see passing shots of, but they were unnecessary when we could have had more epic monster battles. As you can see, the King Of Monsters is certainly going to hold the special effect event of the summer, or at least pretty close to it. It's problem is, that it's imbalance issues continue to mix the movie up in a messy sorts that some will love and others won't. The monster aspect gets points for chaos, destruction, and special effects that these movies thrive on so monster fans should be stoked by these aspects. The action again is mixed for me, part awesome with the special effects and yet part disappointing because of the fast pace, focus on humans more than monsters, and shaky camera work that could have been expanded upon. Perhaps the next installment can figure out the chemistry to the monster movie balance and bring back the magic of the dying genre. Still with all the special effects and monsters in this film, despite how imbalanced they are, the movie is worth the visit to the theater. So check it out when you can.
My scores are:
Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
The Fun Adventurous Side Of Pets
Animated films offer the opportunity for imagination to really come to life. As they bring CGI and other animation tactics to the table, the stories that follow have a big job of trying to make a film that is entertaining to all ages without dipping down one end over the other. While there are many animated studios out there ready to give it a shot, not every studio finds a way to achieve those goals, becoming a cash grab instead of a quality adventure. This week, an early showing of the The Secret Life Of Pets 2 came to screen and I had my suspicions that this sequel might have been just that. Robbie K back with another review, checking out Illumination Studios' latest work. Let's get started:
Movie: The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019)
Directors: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val (co-director) Writer: Brian Lynch Stars: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford
LIKES: Voice Acting Animation Comedy Pacing Adventurous Stories Emotional Moments
DISLIKES: Predictable Short Run Time Not Quite Original More Impasses/Character Development Under Utilized Characters
People who like these may like this movie:
Secret Life Of Pets 1 Sing Ferdinand Homeward Bound A Dog's Purpose
Summary: Animated films often require good voice acting to bring the characters to life, and this series' cast succeeds in bringing the plot to full life. Hart and Haddish bring their chemistry back to life in the form of Snowball and Daisy, their wild, sarcastic sass coming out beautifully in animated form. Oswalt's addition managed to bring Max to the same level as last time, fun and familiar friendliness. As for the others again they get the job done when utilized to make the same craziness that the first movie used long ago. Animation wise, it is the same caricature like style that Illumination loves to use, with grandiose character flaws and elongated, angular faces that make up their characters. As for the pets, they still have that anthropomorphized component that is so sweet to look at, each having some quality to represent the voice actors that play them. While those components are nice, the thing I enjoyed more about this installment was the pacing of the movie. Utilizing the adventurous story and splitting it into three separate segments helped keep things dynamic, moving, and fun, and avoiding those slow parts the first movie had. It's this theme that kept me entertained and seeing each subplot having its own time to play out, all the while giving the characters their focused time. Eventually all of these moments tie together, bringing the surprisingly emotional side of the film the conclusion that fit well in the theme of fun and love of pets. It definitely should strike chords with a few audience members, especially those with ties to pets. Yet, the movie still suffers from some things that do bring some limitations for this reviewer. For one thing, the movie is still predictable and pulled no surprises in terms of story presentation. Illumination's focus on kid friendly films seems to divert from the options that will shock and amaze, due to the potential of being too sad. As such, the tale's originality and magic don't quite live up to the potential that Disney has made famous in their plethora of tales. It's cute don't get me wrong, and does have some heart pulling moments, but these are only scratching the surface that bigger studios do better. Also taking away from the tale is the short run time. Around 80 minutes long, the movie has a lot to cram in the short time, leading to very quick dives into the fun portions of the movie. However, this is also the undoing as the movie's quick pace leaves little time for impasses, obstacles, and challenges to help give significant character development. In addition, the movie could have focused a little more on some of the gimmicks they were promoting if given more time. While the characters are fun, they don't have that full dynamic and emotional range that other animated characters hold. Given that animals somehow are more emotional than humans, it would have been nice to see more of this come out, but again, this might have not fit in with the fun slapstick and writing that was built for the audience. Fan favorites from last installment may also find it disappointing to find their characters left in the kennel, particularly those who liked Pops, Mel, the Dachshund, and the Falcon as they have little outside of comedy stunts. Perhaps more time and planning could have done a bit better in adjusting these characters to have the full punch in each story. It's no Secret this movie will do well when it opens because of the intended audience. It's cute, funny for many ages, and has that colorful animation to keep attention on them. I myself enjoyed this one better than the original due to the pacing and adventurous side of things, but I still was hoping for a little more balance and originality than what they put in. It is not the best animated in terms of pushing the limits of imagination, but it does its job and I'd say to come hit this up in theaters when you can. Otherwise, check it out later when it comes to home entertainment.
My scores are: Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0