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First Man (2018)
8/10
Artistic, Out Of This World Portrayal, But Not The Most Entertaining
13 October 2018
Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about. To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way. Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

Movie: First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle Writers: Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by) Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke

LIKES:

The Acting: A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars. His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel. Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space? You've got it! You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force? You've got it. You want? Okay I think you get it. First Man's team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion. One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

The Setting: I'm a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration. First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore. This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary. A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it. The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel. While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground. From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie. You'll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

DISLIKES:

Other characters: It's not that the other characters are bad, it's the fact that they aren't utilized as well as I wanted. Much of Armstrong's group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall. I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on. Why they did this I don't know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

The Heavy Jargon: I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well. The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren't easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don't subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you'll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences. It's beautiful artistically, but it's not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon. Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn't quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

Dragging Pace: The biggest thing for me... is this movie is slow at times. It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see. As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn't quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

The VERDICT:

First Man is different from what I expected. It's unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie. However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea. First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want. Worth a trip to the theater? I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return.

My scores:

Biography/Drama: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0
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A Royale Drama With Twists And Turns, but Beware, You'll Check in To The Theater For Quite Some Time.
12 October 2018
Dark movies offer the potential for a fantastic story, filled with twists, turns, and elements that you didn't see coming. My second review of the week is one such movie, with a trailer that teases one into taking a dive down another distorted rabbit hole to find a land of wonder and shock that will have you talking for days. With a cavalcade of stars and the hints of secrets, this drama looks to be the next big discussion to come. Does it deliver? Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

Movie: Bad Times At The El Royale (2018)

Director: Drew Goddard Writer: Drew Goddard Stars: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson

LIKES:

Acting: Central Pillar on this one, Bad Times At The El Royale relies heavily on the cast to bring the characters to life. Diving into the gritty roles is tough, but they nail their execution of complicate characters with plenty to hide. Their chemistry is solid, their conveying of emotions on point, and in regards to becoming one with the characters, I think they succeeded in this endeavor. One will find their involvement in these characters super.

The Details: A movie that is character centric like this one requires a lot of detail to get you invested in their lives. Mission Accomplished, because the El Royale is super focused on the background information and doing its best to describe the situations leading up to their pilgrimage to the infamous hotel. You want those dram infused plots and over the top issues, look no further my friends, because it has it all densely packed into bite sized pieces to easily digest.

The Tension: Not suspenseful, but somehow still tense, El Royale is like those exciting moments in a soap opera where a lot of things happen in a short amount of time. As a result, the tension gradually increases until the final act where it finally snaps and things really start to amp up, a great use of this technique, which when combined with the next like helps keep you into the film.

The Mystery: The trailers promised dirty, little secrets and that mystery of what is hiding in the closets of everyone also keeps you into the film. Each person has that slight little layer and it is the act of piecing this together that adds a little fun to this rather dense film.

The Twists/Turns: An even more impressive move, making some movies to really surprise me. While I didn't necessarily jump, this movie came close to startling me a few times with the twists that it decided to take. In addition to adding a little spice to the movie, these twists helped push the story to new dynamics, further strengthening the character dynamics and keeping you on your toes. So get ready for a little bit of gasping at the decisions they make.

The Music: Yeah, I'm a sucker for a good soundtrack and El Royale's juke box and guests contain some fun lyrics that represent the times and mood. Funk, Jazz, Soul, and a little Rock and Roll are there to tease your ears with a delightful melody that is cleverly infused into the mix. Not the high point I know, but what a great soundtrack nonetheless.

DISLIKES:

Imbalance of Characters: It's seven detailed characters and you want them all on screen. El Royale has done this quite well with most, but there are at least two of the cast that were rather lackluster in their full involvement compared to others. The director and story team seemed to have one group to base most of the story around, and while interesting, was a little disappointing to not get more into the characters than what we got. I guess that's where book formulations come in huh?

The Underwhelming Secret: While the individual secrets are engaging and interesting, the big secret of the hotel wasn't quite as impressive. Perhaps it is the presentation, or maybe it is just how it gets semi lost in the characters themselves, but the big secret is only marginal in terms of surprise. I think a little more scene development or at least get some dialogue that stands out a little more in this already heavy dialogue movie.

More Suspense than Tension: Again, the tension was welcomed, but a little substitution of suspense to speed up the pace would have been my preference. A little more chasing and close calls in the pursuit of truth could have added some of the spice I think the movie needed to bring the full, mind blowing revelations to life.

The Pace: By far the movie's big limitation for me is the length meeting the pace. You have to be ready to invest in characters, and almost like reading a book, be ready to focus more on the details and theatrics instead of the special effects and action that Hollywood loves. While I appreciate this, the movie dragged a little too much for me and sometimes got too in depth to keep me awake. In addition, there are times it crawled for me and the ending of shoving in those last bits of detail wasn't the best the ordering for me to be super impressed. As such, I would have liked to have more excitement or thirty minutes cut from the overall time to find that happy medium.

The VERDICT:

The secret to this movie is, that the El Royale has a fantastic set of players to move around it's weird, classic halls. With a character centric plot filled with tension, mystery and twists, the El Royale is a very close book in movie form I've seen. Yet, for those looking for a little more excitement and pizazz this movie is going to be tough to watch late at night because it slow and missing a little bit of flare I think it needed. So if you can handle 2.5 hours of heavy dialogue and drama, you've got the movie of the weekend for you, but if you need a little more Hollywood magic... you need to sit this one out.

My scores are:

Mystery/Thriller: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0
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7/10
Not as Many Goosebumps In This installment, but Fun Nevertheless
12 October 2018
The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible. With the first installment doing pretty well, it's no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine. Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit? Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:

Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

Director: Ari Sandel Writers: Rob Lieber (screenplay by), Rob Lieber (story by) Stars: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jack Black, Madison Iseman

LIKES:

Family Friendly: The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature. This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing. Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.

Good Pace: Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down. From the get go, you'll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most. Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.

Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine's descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research. The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.

The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it. The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books. A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.

DISLIKES: Under Utilization of Characters: The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping. Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he's there, but not much more I can say . They really diluted "Stine's" part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.

Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement. Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor. Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor. Nothing wrong with that, it's just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.

More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn't use their creatures to their full potential either. Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect. Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn't have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.

Predictability/Trailer Spoilers: My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch. These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie. Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.

The Story Component: It's not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment. Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript. Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something. Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.

The Verdict:

Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie. With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart. However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures. It's a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall.

My scores are:

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 7.0 Movie Overall: 5.5
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9/10
A New Face For A New Age: Musical Remake Is Born!
5 October 2018
Robbie K with the latest review on another holiday remake, this one hoping to bring the emotional punch that drama lovers well... love. Tonight two acting/singing icons are ready to lead the way, with plenty of reviews already praising the two in making this movie come to life. Is it worth the hype, or have we been tricked by another Hollywood stunt? Robbie K here to help guide your viewing pleasures, so let's get started on my review of:

Movie: A Star Is Born (2018)

Director: Bradley Cooper Writers: Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by) Stars: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott



LIKES:

The Acting: Hands down, the two leading characters have amazing chemistry together. Gaga's mature optimism but realistic grounding craft a strong character ready to brave the storm of drama to come. She brings the joy and energy to the film to help you get through the dark components of this film. Bradley Cooper on the other reprises his role of the sultry, depressed like, hero, who is easy on the eyes of the females in my audience and brings a sort of romanticism charm as well. Together, the duo tango in an amazing, dynamic dance of emotion that so many will grip on to.

Decent Pace: Another prime example of a drama being heartfelt, but also not crawling like so many of these movies do. The first hour was over in an instant, and the second act, while not as fast, managed to keep a good run as they maneuvered through all the quirks. It led to my interest being kept for the movie and able to handle the predictable plot.

The Story: The tale from the original is mostly there in a modernized form, reskinning the tale to have much more sex appeal than the original. Although not quite the same setting, the story still comes out strong, crammed to bursting with plenty of life aspects and lessons to hopefully resonate with the audience's journey. It's got a realistic pulse to it, which should charm many of the intended group, and keeps you enraptured as you live their lives through the screen.

The Music: By far, the biggest and best component of this film for me was the music. Like all my fellow reviewers, the magic of this motion picture score is the heart and soul of the characters' feelings. These poetic displays of artistry fill much of the screen time, some in the concert fashion, others as the fuel for a montage, it brings the full-on bite and drives home the emotion of this film. As an additional bonus, you'll get a mixture of styles though it is limited to country or pop, but still a little variety is better than none right?

DISLIKES:

Same Country Song: While not too overplayed, Cooper's contributions to the music fest were not the most dynamic, choosing to play the same song four times and adding little with each replay. True, I'm not a big fan of country, but in regards to soundtracks, I might try to pull a mamma mia and sample the music to boost soundtrack sales.

A Few Slow Parts: Scraping the bottom of the barrel for dislikes, there are a few slow parts that made me tired just watching. These moments were often prelude to another montage to buy some time, certainly a good trick to get you prepped, but maybe not the best in terms of pacing.

The Few Unnecessary Shots: While much of the movie is spot on and necessary for the story, there are those moments that are merely for show to get things hot. A Star Is Born had a few scenes that were meant to add to the story, but were grazed by as sort of a footnote to not be forgotten. Sure it works with the new paint job this modernized version brought, and it had a few people hot under the collar, but for this guy, it just added fluff I didn't need for the story.

Predictable: There are a few surprises to be thrown in, but for the most part this movie isn't too surprising or twist filled like I like to see. Not much I can say here, but don't expect too much deviation from the tale.

The Okayish Character Development: I'm not saying that this is weak by any means, but I'm saying compared to the original, I feel the story/character component is not quite as strong as the classic. The new face of this story is all about the sex appeal and the music and while they did this fantastically, I feel that there was more potential to dive into these characters. Key tensions are there, and you have enough of the background story to get the gist, but I still think the art of storytelling holds the strongest in the ways of old.

The VERDICT:

Did a Star is Born live up to the hype that reviewers and commercials built up? The answer is yes for the most part. The acting and music are perfect representations of this dynamic love story, capable of wooing you TGIT drama lovers and modern-day romanticists. Still, I think I like the original from what I remember and feel that the cool new look will appeal to the modern-day audiences more than anything else. Still, I had a good time with this movie and was very pleased at how much I liked the movie given my doubts from the trailers. So I would say this is the film for this weekend to check out, and have fun with the soundtrack if you so decide to do it.

My scores are:

Drama/Music/Romance: 8.5 Movie Overall: 8.0
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Venom (2018)
7/10
This Venom Provides Laughing Side Effects
5 October 2018
Marvel holds many cards in the world of Hollywood, and despite the hope of a united universe, Sony pictures still holds off in giving us a united front for our superhero crew. Tonight, a new contestant enters the park, not so much a hero as an antihero, this creature has pulled in a noble fanbase and inspired a number of other characters in the process. If you've got the hints you know what I'm reviewing, so let's get started as Robbie K reviews:

Movie: Venom (2018)

Director: Ruben Fleischer Writers: Scott Rosenberg (screenplay by), Jeff Pinkner(screenplay by) Stars: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Marcella Bragio

LIKES:

The Dark Aspect: You'll see a lot of jabs at this movie, but this installment at least gave us a taste of the darker side of the titular character. The movie dips into how not everything is gold in the realm of superpowers, as well as how grey everything can really be in the complex world of humans vs. the unknown. It also allowed for some more intense action scenes to come into play, including some finishes the fanbase has been looking forward to for some time.

The Action... sort of: There are moments in Venom that feel well at home with MCU level style of battling. Venom has at least two winning sequences for me that have explosions, choreographed take downs of extras, and some sweet utilization of CGI to bring out Venom's fluid, whip like movements to bare. It's not the most dynamic, but it is miles above his first appearance back in Spiderman 3.

Sound Editing: Probably not what most are looking for, I enjoyed the sound effects brought by the movie team. You've got the alien slithering, the roiling growls of the hungry beast, plenty of speaker shattering booms, and enough effects to wrap together to make for the action scenes.

Tom Hardy: The star of the show and perhaps the best casting call for this movie, Hardy is certainly the leading component of his film. His ability to play an awkward, down on his luck, vigilante reporter is quite spot on, as well as the uncanny ability to play a crazy person as well. It came off naturally, held good chemistry with the rest of the crew, and certainly was entertaining to watch him interact with a digital, altered voice of Venom. I've said it before, but Hardy's ability to play any type of role continues to be present in his acting.

Comedy: Like most Marvel movies, Venom is loaded with comedy to get you laughing and ironically may be the biggest aspect of the movie. Both intentionally and unintentionally, the movie had me laughing, primarily at the banter between Venom and Eddie Brock through much of the movie. The insults are on point, the delivery of the lines, and even Venom's questionable morals are all entertaining for this reviewer and probably the biggest point one should go in wanting to see.

The End Credits Teaser: Not fully relevant to Venom, the post credit scene is worth the wait and hints at a huge potential for the next Sony-Marvel production coming in December. A little teaser to see if you want to take a trip into that.

DISLIKES:

The CGI: Still better than anything I could do, Venom didn't quite have the same definition and attention to detail that its Disney infused brothers do. The graphic are a bit messy, for although fluid, looks like living spaghetti trying to take form in many ways. Perhaps an homage to the early 2000s graphic style, Venom needed some upgrading to match the graphic expectations that the movie fans most likely desire.

The Story: Hinting and promising so much in the trailer, Venom's story department does hit the dark aspect that this antihero demands. Yet, it still took shortcuts for this film, skipping over a lot of build-up, character development, and even just plot development to get to the goods and comedy I guess. Other characters are very one-dimensional and shallow, relationships are very fickle and seem to switch faster than a light switch, and in many cases crosses into cheesy proportions that didn't work for me. Grandiose displays may be something that younger audiences like,, but the story element still needs some tweaking to get to the Disney level.

The Other Symbiotes: I get this was the start of the franchise, but the advertisements really hammered into us the potential to see other creatures more than Venom take some screen time. Sadly, they skimped on these as well, forcing to barely touch on these creatures before moving on to another poor plot point. Even the main antagonist in this film didn't get much time worth warranting, once more digging at the weaker storytelling of this studio. Even Venom took some time getting himself on screen, a sad use of merchandising rights when it could have been so much better.

The Anticlimactic Action: Venom does have some nice action scenes as mentioned before, but the problem is that they are often short lived or very carbon copy. The chase scene showed promise, and the first-time combat had its moments, but they utilized their tricks a little too quickly. The ending promised a potential to have a real, epic clash of the Symbiotic titans going, but again Sony cut the corners and left me wanting more to show off their powers. Venom was very underpowered in this film, and they did little to utilize the keys handed to them.

The props for the mid-credit scene: Actor choice for the surprise guest at the film is 50:50 to me, but the props to make him come to life... not very good for me. Should a Venom 2 make it to the big screen, I'm hoping their wardrobe department makes some better efforts to get the next antagonist in.

The VERDICT:

Go in expecting a comedy and you will love this movie and have the most fun. However, in regards to the full picture part of the film, it still has more to develop before it meets expectations set by Disney. Hardy and some mediocre action scenes can bring some entertainment, but it doesn't quite hit the home run outside of that. It's a bit cheesy at times, a little overboard in terms of the comedy, and doesn't quite deliver on the action, other symbiotes or even the story. Yet, it has enough special effects kicks to warrant a theater visit, but only if you can handle the limitations mentioned.

My scores are:

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0
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Little Women (2018)
6/10
Not So Little On Emotion!
30 September 2018
Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake. A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight's film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages. Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

Movie: Little Women (2018)

Director: Clare Niederpruem Writers: Louisa May Alcott, Clare Niederpruem Stars: Lea Thompson, Ian Bohen, Lucas Grabeel



LIKES:

Acting: Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way. The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama. Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jennings and Lucas Grabeel were my champions of the bunch.

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder. However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared. I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today. The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

The Setting/Prop Departments: I'm a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing. You'll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

The Cinematography: It's not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments. Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members. Nice work indeed. The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes. Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized. Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

DISLIKES:

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven't seen these in a while so I can't be sure. This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life. However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike. I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

The Age Defying: As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them. This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years. Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed. For a movie going for realism, they didn't accomplish this.

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough: The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies. Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially Lea Thompson's character. When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done. Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth's tale is probably the exception to the rule.

Jo: The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on. While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo's character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times. The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook. Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

The VERDICT:

Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be. The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn't quite have the same togetherness. Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process. So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you're best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion.

My scores are:

Drama/Family: 6.5-7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
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Night School (2018)
7/10
Hart and Haddish Trying To Dish Out Laughs
29 September 2018
Robbie K back with a second review of the evening, this time focusing on Kevin Hart's latest production of an adventure we've kind of seen in the past. Yes, in the world of comedy, Hart's movie may seem like generic pieces, but you never know what surprises are going to be in store from the little man with the big personality. So let's get back in the theater and take a look at if school is really in session as we review:

Movie: Night School (2018)

Director: Malcolm D. Lee Writers: Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford Stars: Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Brooke Butler



LIKES:

Good Chemistry: Acting is exactly what you expect from Hart's films, ridiculous, funny, and over the top. Yet somehow, this ragtag group of high school dropouts works well together to craft an impromptu family that is entertaining to say the least. Between the two leads though, well that's where the magic really occurs. Haddish is very brash, crude, and still as wild as ever in her delivery of dialogue. Hart on the other hand rambles like he always does, wavering his voice to levels while once again acting like a bozo unable to have a serious conversation. The dynamic between the two is top tier though, one part a peeing contest to see who is smarter than whom, and one-part teacher-student level that brings that emotionally satisfying side these films can bring. Nevertheless, the chemistry between the actors works super well.

Funny: With a Hart movie, I can never tell how much I'm going to laugh, but when it came to Night School, I believe about half the movie had me in stitches. Hart's antics are still funny at times, where the delivery and dialogue fit together so well that it left me in tears. Haddish as well has some major laughs, but for her, I preferred the other angle that she brought. No it was the supporting cast and their sequences that I think brought me the most labs, integrating them into odd scenarios that worked so well. Slapstick humor that involved dislocation, awful attempts at flirtation, and babysitting antics that go wrong. The result is the cheaper laughs that we all know and love.

Good Pace: A comedy movie needs to keep moving and for the most part the film works well to keep things engaging despite the predictability to come. It jams a lot of comedy to not feel boring and does everything it can to keep you laughing, so you'll get your money's worth out of this one.

Message: A comedy with a message is not uncommon, but this film gets a special nod to tackling the difficulties with learning disabilities, honor, and hard work ethic that again are needed for the constant reminders. Night School may wish to poke fun at the adventure of a GED, but make no mistake that they portrayed the serious subject matter with the bite it needed to stand out. Thanks to those messages, the directors did a nice job of using this to ground the silliness and actually bring purpose to the chaos at hand.

DISLIKES:

Unoriginal most of the time: The problem with these movies for most is the fact of it being more of the same. Night School does stand out because it has more serious moments, but aside from that the comedy styles are reflective of the other movies. You've got to be super big on the rantings, ramblings, and babbling of Kevin Hart characters, with a high tolerance to things going too high-volume arguments that he is famous for. It doesn't have the full unique spin of some of his other comedies and it just fills the gap between the bigger films coming.

Trailers Ruined some Big Scenes: Given the media blow out of this movie, you can bet that there will be some things ruined in this film. Sadly, the bigger scenes have had enough exposure to lose the edge for me, with a number of big comedic moments beaten over the head before the movie ever started. Now fortunately there are enough new scenes to pick up the slack though, but still hate to see the comedic potential fall.

Dropped Plot Point: I know, these comedies aren't all about character development or story, but that doesn't mean we have to go through the trouble of introducing family if you aren't going to take them further. Night School has a number of these moments that they could have pursued, but nothing more prevalent than Teddy's family who didn't have much involvement despite their introduction in the beginning. Lots of comedic potential, but again dropped in favor of other areas.

The Editing: There are two meanings to this dislike. First there were scenes that could have been left out or tightened up to help cut down on team and trim the extremely stupid back to manageable levels. However, the part that didn't work for me was the fact that some of the dialogue did not match up with the lip movements of the group. Obviously some reworks into the dialogue were done, so why did we not get reshoots or better editing to correct it. While not the biggest effect on the movie, this inconsistent editing is not the way to go for detailed reviewers.

THE VERDICT:

Let's face it, Night School is not going to be the most original, the most award winning, or even the cleverest ideas to come to the market. However, it is a very fun movie where the chemistry of the cast, the grounding of the comedy, and the pace are going to be very entertaining to the masses. I can say this is not my favorite of his films, but holds the middle of the ground for this guy because it is indeed funny. Yet, a little more editing, some originality, and perhaps a little more diversity in the comedy and it could have been a top-notch addition to the Hart library. Still, the movie is worth a visit to the theater with friends or in a group, otherwise, hold out to the streaming release in a few short months.

My scores are:

Comedy: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
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Smallfoot (2018)
7/10
One Small Step For Songs, One Giant Need For More Time
29 September 2018
Robbie K here with another review, this time hitting the latest animated movie to come into the big screen and help impress your little ones. While not Disney, tonight's first review offers the potential to teach, preach, and have your kids dancing in your seats as a new merchandising set debuts on the silver screen. What's in store? Read on to find out as I look over

Movie: Small Foot (2018)

Directors: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig (co-director) Writers: Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by) Stars: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya

LIKES:

Cute: Animated movies often take this approach, but Small Foot especially took the reins of selling the terrifying yeti as a cute, cuddly, anthropomorphized group that look fluffy and stylish at the same time. It's characters have that adorable round face, big shining eyes, and a happy, peppy attitude that feeds positivity to the audience around. As such, hearts will melt and smiles will shine bright as they watch the group come to life.

Animation: No surprise here, a big budget production from WB has fluid movement and articulated sequences that show off their computer work. Small Foot's design is also colorful, vibrant, and somehow a tribute to the fashion/culture of multiple ethnicities that represent their voice actors. I myself loved the styles of the yeti's and how chique their fur was structured to make them unique. Definitely not the most realistic, but it works.

Strong Messages: What would a kid's movie be without important life lessons and adult politics present to provide a double layered story? Small Foot is just that, working to teach the audience the importance of trust, the questioning of theories to pursue truth and make life better, bringing cultures together to make for peace, and a variety of other messages that the world can stand to learn. It's powerfully done, with all the magic thrown in to help bring the message to full light and let it fully settle in. Where other films are a little more subtle, Small Foot decides to just blare it full blast to get the message across, even promoting a few songs to teach the lessons.

Funny at times: I think this states it enough, but Small Foot attempts a lot of comedic styles to entertain all ages. Many of the running jokes are tributes to vine and internet videos that should be familiar to the modern era. Some are brilliantly timed, and others are included haphazardly, there to be funny for the kids alone. I myself like the cleverer references or clever wordplay, which there is actually a decent amount, so kudos to them.

Songs: While it seems the modern trend is to turn everything animated into a musical to get soundtracks out and money in. While that trend gets annoying at times, have to say that the music of Small Foot was very entertaining and fitting to the scenes that were designed with them. Beautiful, passionate songs led by Zendaya gave me the goosebumps and held such emotional fire to motivate your desire to learn new things, while the Corben's twist on Pressure was clever, fun, and humorous to break things up. Nevertheless, this would be a fun setlist to play in the car and one worth investing in.

DISLIKES:

Lacking The Disney Magic: We know there are plenty of reasons why this is the case, but for me Small Foot is lacking the same power that bigger budget productions hold. Small Foot may be cute, but it didn't push the boundaries of creativity, character cultivation or design. It's not bad by any means, and while there is some originality, all the pieces don't quite line up.

The Overdone Comedy: Again, I like many of the things this movie offers in terms of laughs, but Small Foot has difficulties with finding that balance between too much and too little. The movie loves beating running joke horses to death, while skimping on jokes that were more diverse and bridged multiple ages.

More Songs: Can't believe I'm saying this, but in truth, the movie actually needed a few more songs to round out the experience. Zendaya's song is amazing, but for me not so much to fashion most of the screen time songs around it. At least three different renditions were played during the film, plenty of opportunity for some of those more humorous songs to fill instead.

Character Usage/Development: Lots of voices, means lots of time management needs, and Small Foot does okay to some degree. The problem is, that they just don't integrate the characters as well as I think they could have done. So many potential plot points, hindrances, and obstacles could have been introduced to add more to the story, but musical theatrics and cuteness took over. Much more was needed on many fronts to really tie all the characters together and launch more stories to the mix. This is probably due to lower run time, which was appreciated, but perhaps will set up for some type of Netflix series.

THE VERDICT:

Overall, Small Foot is a fun ride that will appease the target audience easily enough. Music is fun, the jokes are a variety of references to get on board with, and it has that cute atmosphere you got from the trailers. And if you've got the little ones enjoy it with them, but realize this one doesn't quite have the magic behind it like it wanted. It's a little off balance, did not take the potential of developing characters, and needed more of the gimmicks to help give it that push it needed. So overall, most are going to either avoid or reserve this one for NetFlix/Redbox.

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
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Hell Fest (2018)
7/10
A Hell Of A Good Time
28 September 2018
It's that time of the year again, the leaves are changing, the air is becoming crisper and cooler, and the sounds of blood curling screams can be heard in the air. Yes, it's Halloween time and with it comes tonight's review on the latest Horror movie to grace the silver screen. Tonight, looks to be a joyful slasher film, where MTV meets thriller as a group of teens try to take on some lunatic force once more. Yes, it's time for Hell Fest, and yours truly is here to give you some thoughts on your movie going pleasures. Let's get started!

Movie: Hell Fest (2018)

Director: Gregory Plotkin Writers: Seth M. Sherwood (screenplay by), Blair Butler (screenplay by) Stars: Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, Amy Forsyth

LIKES:

Acting: Not award winning, but still okay, the teenage cast of Hell Fest may be slightly annoying, but the direction and acting have led to characters seemingly likeable. While not much past screaming and acting like teenagers, the group gets applause for making me believe in their terror and being the teenagers, they were designed to be.

Surprises: It's a straightforward movie, but Hell Fest did it's best to keep you on your toes as to what would happen. A blend of fake outs and take outs, the thrills will keep rearing their ugly heads in the 90-minute run time. As such, you'll be happy with trying to get an idea who will not survive the night, so kudos to that.

Fast Pace: A predictable movie like this needs to have as many antics going for it to make it worth the trip. Fortunately, the pace is fast, ever moving, and loaded with enough gimmicks to keep you entertained for the already lower run-time. So those with short attention spans should be okay on this aspect.

Funny: Face it, the stereotypes today can be very humorous if relevant or poked at in just the right manner. Hell, Fest accomplishes this tasks, making sure to work their charm into the movie to help alleviate the stress of the horror. A clever pun, good delivery of lines, and some well-time jokes are balanced well into this mix.

The Setting: My favorite aspect of the movie though is the special effect work, more so in regards to making the world come to life. Hell Fest's prop department really brought the themed event to full life in all its terrifying glory. The mazes are impressively detailed, a variety of themes to please most fans of the scary theme park ordeals. Wardrobe accomplished their task of making a beautiful display of nightmarish costumes, again in a variety of styles to play on the fears of the main characters, extras, and the audience. As for the sound effects and light shows that Hell Fest has, again, it's an impressive piece of work that integrates you into the experience first hand, and perhaps the most fun aspect of the movie.

DISLIKES:

More Character Development: I know I expect too much from this genre or type of movie, but a little more background information, depth, or something else would have been nice to see in this movie. Our crew is having fun with you, but a little more resourcefulness and brains, or some personality could have helped hook me into caring about the characters a little more. As I said, it's MTV looks, but a little more internal work is in order.

Predictable: The movie doesn't try to deviate too much from the linear presentation it tries to throw. The trailers have presented the movie well, but sadly the linearity and unoriginality don't win it points for a higher score. If you just want the straight and narrow though, you've got a real winner in this film again.

Trailers reveal too much: Yep, you heard right, the movies once again suffer from too much advertising. Hell Fest had much revealed in the confines of the public messaging service, and if you have seen enough commercials, you're going to lose the magic this movie wants to bring. Because of this the predictability goes up and the scares go down. Speaking of which...

Not Scary At All: Because of the ludicrous presentation of the teens, edging back on the scares, and the trailers, the movie is actually not that fear inducing. Yes, the villain is certainly creepy, the camera work helping a lot on this and there are some cringe worthy kills. However, Hell Fest relies too much on the jump scares, with obvious set up and ploys so deliberately laid out that one would have a hard time trying to ignore it. Nevertheless, this movie is not going to be much for the fans of the truly terrifying, and most likely worth a skip.

The VERDICT:

Overall, Hell Fest is a fun installment into the horror genre that brings laughs and cheap thrills to the mix. While there are certainly creepy aspects to the film and the setting/costumes are perfect for creating the place where horror and fun come together, it lacks that bite that good horror movies know how to execute. Still, it is a fun experience and worth checking out as a group, but if you really want the nightmare inducing thrills and the nightmare inducing images, this movie most likely won't creep you out.

My scores are:

Horror: 7.0-7.5 Movie Overall: 6.5
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6/10
Does The Clock, Tick/Tock
22 September 2018
Robbie K back with another movie review, this time on the latest kid movie that hopes to bring families together and add some magic to their lives. Yet, in this day and age, much is unsure about if the movie can survive when champions like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and Star Wars holds. Hopefully I can answer some of these questions, as we provide an abbreviated review of:

Movie: The House With A Clock In Its Wall (2018)

Director: Eli Roth Writers: Eric Kripke (screenplay by), John Bellairs (based on the novel by) Stars: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro

LIKES:

Acting Chemistry Good Visuals/Setting Nice Make Up and Costumes Charming and Cute Fun Adventure Decent Mystery Good Merchandising

DISLIKES:

More Character Development More Use of The Magic Antics Anticlimactic Darker Than Intended A few times oversteps Comedic Boundaries A Little More Investment In Other Aspects

In regards to this movie, it's an adorable, fun adventure loaded with comedy and adventure to get little ones excited at the possible magic. Much of this has to do with the impressive visuals, design, special effects, and of course the costumes that they sport. As the world is built up in terms of all the fun merchandising, the main trio are fantastic, utilizing amazing chemistry they really bring the impromptu family dynamic to full force, complementing each other to strengthen the quirks of each member. To help tie so many things together, there is a sense of mystery to be had that brings the adventure part, helping bring out the character development that you want, but never really leaving the search for the supposed clock that dwells within. Yet, with how much fun I had with the movie, there are still some areas of improvement that would make the film even better for me. For one it's the character development, which while there, holds so much mystery behind it and could have further strengthened the key pillar for me. As this movie is primarily about the training of magic, I believe I would have liked to see more of the world and spells that the warlocks knew. They again hint at the wonders they have, but unlike Harry potter, the lacking budget limited the visual portrayal of the powers, leading to disappointing action sequences. In addition, exercise caution, because this movie dives into darker, more occult like bouts that could be a little too much for the younger age groups, primarily in disturbing them or causing nightmares at the least. These darker themes sometimes overstep their boundaries, and the comedy too can follow in those footsteps to get a bit annoying. Overall though, the movie did accomplish the goal of storytelling, fun, and magic balance and really leaving me fulfilled with how much fun it brought. Despite all this though, the movie's dive into darker territory may limit the audience who can attend as well as limits the amount of magic one gets to see. There is a lot of potential to take this anticlimactic finisher and expand upon everything, but the Clock will need to keep ticking to find even better use of technology to expand upon the tricks of the trade. So therefore, exercise caution in taking your little one, but unless you are looking for the best movie this week, this film is better left reserved for the RedBox.
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5/10
A Nation Of Hyperbole: Extreme Style And Politics Vs. Balanced Story
22 September 2018
Robbie K back with an abbreviated movie review as we cover a movie with a lot more bite, slander, and just about any sort of graphic violence you can think of. Tonight, we review:

Movie: Assassination Nation (2018)

Director: Sam Levinson Writer: Sam Levinson Stars: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse



LIKES: Acting Has Guts To Tackle Issues Fast Pace Special Effects/Costumes/Make Up Solid Political Points

DISLIKES: Too Dark/Graphic Too Forceful Little Story No Good Characters (everyone rotten) Ridiculous Hyperbole Lacking Action

VERDICT:

Assassination Nation, gets points for its brazen, fearless addressing of the political hot topics that are hitting the media. The girls are portrayed well, subjugated to a lot of hard-hitting scenarios that will leave many uncomfortable. In addition to solid acting, the movie works well with special effects and a fast pace to stoke the chaotic fires that light up from the start of this movie. It is going to speak deeply to people who like extreme, political stand points, with each character holding some outlying personality quirk to jump on board with. Yet, the movie fails to impress me because of how in your face, political warfare it is, making sure to be extremely liberal in its approaches to address all the wrong in the world. If that's not enough, for me I had issues with getting behind the characters who had little that was good about them, and seeing the dark, intense montages of stupid antics, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse did not make for the most engaging material. As all of these aspects were blown to large proportions, the darker, gore filled edge they injected brought the shock value, but failed to add to the story. And finally, when the moment came to use that ridiculousness to make our "heroines" fight the good fight, the action turned into short lived, anti-climactic skirmishes that mostly looked to blood instead of moves. Overall, the movie succeeds in its mission to shock you into engaging with the political qualms that this film is loaded with. If you are ready to put yourself into that setting and test your patience and character with the extreme ideas and scenes in this film, then this is the movie for you. Otherwise, skip this shallow plot film and revisit a classic, because there is better use of time then the gore fest this movie is.

My scores are:

Action/Comedy/Crime: 5.5 Movie Overall: 4.0
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Life Itself (2018)
6/10
What Does Life Hold?
21 September 2018
This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion. Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same. Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight's movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

Director: Dan Fogelman Writer: Dan Fogelman Stars: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening

LIKES:

The Acting: You know from Fogelman's work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like. Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position. The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs. These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

The Realism: It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life. This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in. If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

The Twists: You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping? Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn't do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together. What many movies (like Valentine's Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work. This film, not so much. Instead, it's a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa. These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does. It's not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances. Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character. And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time. It's stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

The Guts: Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics. This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them. And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you've got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things. Well done their guys.

DISLIKES:

Slow Pace: Let's get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don't fight sleep. Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character's tale. While this wasn't too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span's limits to not walk out. Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you'll be dreading this film.

Missing The Story/Development: Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character's lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment. Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn't quite have the same magic that they really were going for. A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time. What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

Depressing: Let's be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories. Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down. When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish. So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don't fall victim to the antics.

The VERDICT:

Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren't enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect. There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don't have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints. Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail's pace and doesn't quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead. Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

My scores are:

Drama/Romance: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.5
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7/10
Does This Boy Have Game? A White Boy Rick Review
16 September 2018
Biographies seem to be popular this year, focusing on a number of people and their "contributions" to society. Today's biography is more about the horrors of a system than a contribution, but these moments are certainly entertaining. Hi, Robbie K here with another look at the world of movies and what lies in store for the price of a ticket. Let's get started, as I review:

Movie: White Boy Rick (2018)

Director: Yann Demange Writers: Andy Weiss, Logan Miller Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley

LIKES:

Good Acting: Richie Meritt and McConaughey are the central pillars of the movie, holding much of the plot on their shoulders and doing a wonderful job bringing their characters to life. Meritt in particular has to cover a very complex character, borderline between punk kid and individual of poor circumstances. He finds that balance very well, makes for an engaging character and really gives you the full experience of the nightmare that Rick went through. As for McConaughey, he is still the sleazy role, but it's curbed this time for a respectable character you want to follow. Their chemistry impeccable and the heart of the movie as they integrate with their well casted supporting crew.

The Setting: It is not as far back as Unbroken, but we get dropped right into a reconstructed 80's hood, where the danger, drugs, and depression lie in wait like a hungry pack of wolves. All the costumes, cars, and buildings were retrofitted to have the look and it works quite well to get you into the setting.

The Drama/Portrayal: White Boy Rick has a lot of details about the young man's life, and you'll get to see much of it in this installment. Drama lovers are sure to become entangled in all the messes of Rick's life, with those liking the Law And Order scenarios enjoying this one the most. This film will give you a lot of the 411 on rick's life and bring about all the emotions that come with it.

The Music: Surprisingly, the film had a fantastic soundtrack to report on, a mixture of funk, hip-hop, and a little soul to mirror the themes of the movie. It's upbeat and has toe tapping beats to keep you going, and actually brings a little edge to the scenes themselves. Bravo to the casting director for their selection because it really worked.

The Pace: While slow at times, the movie does a nice job moving through the various years of Rick's journey to get you to the end game. It is a longer movie, but for the most part it doesn't feel that slow, or rough to get through all the nuts and bolts of this adventure. Drama lovers of course will not find any of this remotely boring, but if you are not that type and along for the ride, you should find much of this movie entertaining.

DISLIKES:

The Stereotypical Design: White Boy Rick's title brings with it a wave of stereotypical portrayals in just about every character in the film. Whether it be the impoverished, the wannabe gangsters, or the gangsters themselves, the movie really hammers the portrayals to such extremes that it gets a bit cheesy. Perhaps this is how the real-life characters were, but if not, the magnification of these personality quirks got annoying for me at times. Even Rick himself crossed that line sometimes, so brace yourselves.

The Lazy Dialogue: Sometimes quite poetic, White Boy Rick's dialogue is mostly focused on being either really complacent (full of really dumb pronunciations or Rick being an idiot to be funny), or really lazy (F bomb laden rants). For such a deep story, I had hoped for a little more movie magic to buffer out the scratchy, lackluster lines they came up with. McConaughey managed to have some beautifully scripted pieces to work with, and the secondary characters got their fair share of poetry in, but for the most part it was a little too stuffed with normalcy/realism to be impressive for me.

More use Of The Secondary Characters: Rick knew a lot of people, and his family seemed to be a gigantic rock to which he based his decisions on. While the movie captured the key details, I felt they didn't quite utilize or introduce the characters that well for me. Names were dropped at random, their inclusion was sporadic and I felt many of them had more of a role to play than what was presented. Many of these kingpins and servants could have been epic antagonists to spice up the story, but again my lack of research and not being with Rick means I don't know who these guys really were.

Disjointed Story: While the movie has covered a lot of Rick's life story components, the presentation I believe was off for me here too. Each of the issues Rick faced felt compartmentalized, individuals segments that were prematurely closed and then randomly open at intervals that were inconsistent. Yes, you still get the effects presented with the story, but so many pieces without a strong, underlying foundation, led to a weaker representation of what could have been an epic drama. Overall it's not horrible, but it could have been so much better.

The Verdict:

White Boy Rick is one of those movies that has its fair share of drama to exploit and dive into. A fantastic setting with great central acting will be the keystones to bring these events to life and pull those liking drug/crime story lovers into the mix. The problem is, the movie sort of lost itself in the presentation, not giving clear focus on Rick's character or stories that he had to share and instead giving you snippets into his life. With how much was going on, there could have been a gold mine of a story instead of just some nuggets they portrayed. Still, it gets props for completing the information, and perhaps a director's cut could improve upon it in the future. As such, this History meets Lifetime Movie presentation can be held until it comes to Redbox, and would highly encourage you to take that route.

My scores are:

Crime/Drama: 6.5-7.0 Movie Overall: 5.5
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7/10
The Spirit Will Not Break, The War Drama Will
16 September 2018
A few years ago, the story of one man surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp inspired millions to believe in the power of the human spirit, the thought of never giving up, and perhaps a religious inspiration to accomplish tasks. Unbroken held a lot of potential, but it wasn't met with the best reviews despite the emotional sequences it brought. Years later, an unexpected sequel is out, to help expand upon the warrior who survived so much. What challenges await and are they worth watching? Robbie K here to give his thoughts in an abbreviated review of:

Movie: Unbroken: Path To Redemption (2018)

Director: Harold Cronk Writers: Richard Friedenberg (screenplay by), Ken Hixon (screenplay by) Stars: Samuel Hunt, Merritt Patterson, Will Graham

LIKES:

Fantastic Acting: Samuel Hunt reprises his role well and captures the spirit of a man broken beyond his bonds, his portrayal of suffering from a number of afflictions is spot on, and seldom does he move into the overacting area. His opposite Ms. Patterson also a lovely complement to the character, bringing a driving force to help with the character development and bring some new dynamics to the movie. Chemistry is great, and the secondary actors accomplish their roles of supporting the dynamic duo.

Setting: It's the classic era and the world has been beautifully built to replicate the happening times of the late 1940s to early 1950s. The costumes, the make-up, the cars, and the houses all scream the dazzling decades and bring you into the full experience of time traveling to Zamperini's second journey.

Powerful Portrayal: When it comes to mental illness, the community needs representation to help others understand the struggles they face. Unbroken 2 nailed this portrayal, bringing with it the flashbacks, the reexperiencing, and the nightmares that torture the poor souls who suffer from it. In addition, Zamperini's coping mechanism was not overdramatic, but an accurate representation of the poor nursing habits used to apply a band-aid on the real problem. You'll become immersed in his struggles and perhaps gain some empathy in the process.

Not too preachy: Religious movies sometimes become fancy, big budgeted services that spend their time preaching sermons. While the end of the movie crossed into that territory, a majority of it balanced the word of God with the representation of the protagonist's fall. This balance allowed for one to appreciate the character development, while getting the moral-heavy messages they wanted to teach. The balance is nice and doesn't detract from the story, therefore increasing its entertainment value.

The Music Editing: Awesome musical scores, allow for orchestra work to amplify the scenes emotional kick. This is especially true in the ending scenes, which provides some very powerful dynamics and leads to the scene being exponentially better as it brings out the visual effects of the scene.

DISLIKE:

Predictable: Not many twists, turns, or surprises here, the movie is a bit one sided in its delivery and therefore a tad dull at parts where the movie starts to drag. Being based on history and religious movies, it's no surprise this is the case.

More downfall than hope: The trailers pain this movie about redemption, so maybe you want to see the effects of the redemption. Unbroken 2 though, decides to stick towards the downfall component more than the up-rise, choosing to show his actions in the medium of ending descriptions. I would have liked to see a closer 50:50 portrayal; of his story, getting the best of both worlds instead of just super downfall. At least it sets up for the powerful ending right?

Limited audience: The first installment was able to tell history, sell the drama, and inspire faith thereby expanding to a number of audience members. However, this installment has narrowed the application to the audience members to mostly the religious drama folks. It's not bad, but as a reviewer, the fact this movie is not able to entertain as many as they thought.

Much ruined by the trailers: If you have seen the trailers enough times, then congratulations, you've saved yourself nearly 12 dollars depending on where you live. Unbroken 2 has had much spoiled by the advertising, and if you recall the trailers like I do then you want have much to discover in this performance. Such a shame to see the media ruin the movie like it did here.

THE VERDICT:

It's inspirational, it's beautifully acted, and has some of the most balance religious aspects of the genre. Unbroken 2 is a solid addition to the character development of its protagonist and brings the story to a semi-full closure in regards to the nightmare he endured. Despite all the aesthetics and inspiration, it brings though, the movie is limited to a finite audience, it's predictable plot and lack of historical flair makes it less appealing, especially when it has much spoiled by the trailers. As such, this movie is best reserved to church group outings or left for home viewing.

My scores are:

Biography/Drama: 6.5-7.0 Movie Overall: 6..0
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The Predator (2018)
7/10
Joining The Aimless, Action-Packed Hunt?
15 September 2018
In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America's action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to... well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight's review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest. Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

Movie: The Predator (2018) Director: Shane Black Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay

LIKES:

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay): It's a star-studded cast loaded with talent And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down. While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks.

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways. Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen. These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

The Story (kind of): Okay, it's not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years. It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series. As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs. The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator's cannon. References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch. It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

The Action: I've hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film. The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast. Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don't quite live up to the snuff. Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development: It's a Predator movie, I know it's not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group. Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end. However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood. It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don't like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator's lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight. It's a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

The Story: While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants. It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones. As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film's inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go. The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy: Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh. Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn't see fitting to be in this franchise. As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading. Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown's Character: I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil. Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown's talents were not the best utilized in this film. I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in. Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise: As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects. Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment. Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you've got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points. Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn't do as much as you hope it will. The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all. Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

The VERDICT: Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings. On the one hand it's got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people. The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity. Still, it's worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

My scores: Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
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A Simple Review For A Simple Favor
14 September 2018
A good mystery drama, is often based on a good book, and tonight's review is no exception to the rule. Catching on the wave of popularity, another book turned film is upon us as it hopes to bring drama, mystery, and thrills to the audience as it competes with three other movies for first place in the box office. So, yours truly, alongside his friend, have checked into the theater and collected our thoughts on the latest film as we review:

Movie: A Simple Favor (2018)

Director: Paul Feig Writers: Jessica Sharzer (screenplay by), Darcey Bell (based upon the novel by) Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding



LIKES:

Great Acting Solid Pace For Most of Film Twists Engaging Story Comedy Timed At the Right Times

Summary: The movie's engaging characters are the stars of this mystery, each one having a deep, dark ravine that houses many secrets in it shadowy crevices. These characters convoluted profiles are only strongly supported by the fantastic acting of the leading ladies. Lively is sexy, seductive, and mysterious, drawing on her darker roots to bring out the alluring visage that is Emily. Kendrick's character is a mixed bag of tricks that combines the traits of her previous roles into one character who is a good rival to Lively's collected nature. Golding acts as the medium between the two, his suave from Crazy Rich Asians still present, but the romantic aspect now replaced with darker skeletons. As the lead actors work their magic, the solid pace keeps you invested in their work, moving briskly enough to keep the mystery fresh, but no so much to fly over details. A Simple Favor's simplicity is effectively gone when it comes to the story, as the twists begin to wiggle their way into the mix. Presented in an engaging manner, there is always a tinge of mystery hanging in the distance to keep you together, with the promise of piecing them together at every step to challenge your brain. It's dark, it's deep, and it holds all the pieces to suck drama-mystery lovers into the deep pool that is this story. But don't think it's all dark pits of despair, because the comedy introduced in a spoof like manner brings some needed relief to spice things up.

DISLIKES:

Pacing at the Beginning Cheesy At Times Predictable Comedy Throws Theme Off At End:

Summary: As the movie is better paced, the first hour hits a little bit of the breaks as it sets the plot up. Drawn out dialogue, mundane montages, and some fashion style shows offs are going to be the primary focus, but power through this and you can find the deeper tale at the end of the bland rainbow. While there are plenty of twists and turns n this film, and a deep mystery, A Simple Favor does occasionally lose its balance and trek farther into the drama territory. Much like modern day time and TGIT television, this film is not afraid to go into the soap opera/overboard themes to bring the entertainment. While some of these are well received, a few of these plot devices are a little too convenient or over the top to really not roll your eyes at. Fortunately, they do curtail these things better than most films, but it does not escape the predictable nature that these devices make. I was able to guess most of the surprises, missing only the finite details the movie filled in that helped cement everything in the subplots of the film. Yet my biggest dislike is how near the end, the movie almost becomes a spoof/comedic farce that is all about wrapping up the drama/mystery in a silly manner. While the ending is fitting of the movie, the energy just felt off for me and the comedy situation just didn't need to be so overdone to make me laugh. It's enjoyable, but perhaps needed that slight focus on the drama/thriller to tie up the ends and provide the closure this movie deserved. Oh well, can't be perfect right?

THE VERDICT:

Overall, this is a mystery/thriller that performs adequately at its job of being engaging, interesting, full of drama, and providing those over the top punches. A Simple Favor's cast certainly is the solid pillar it's based on, but the story itself feels like a well-designed integration to pull most audiences into the mix. It sadly goes down some avenues that I didn't enjoy, primarily in the soap opera tactics, and the comedy is sometimes a little overdone, but for those who love the thrillers of the television world, you are in for a treat for what it holds. Worth a trip to theater? Absolutely in regards to the acting a chilling plot, but not for those looking for a special effects extravaganza.

My scores are:

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 7.5 Movie Overall: 7.0
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Peppermint (2018)
7/10
Is this a Sweet Action Film? Read This Review To find out
8 September 2018
The action genre has many tools to its arsenal, primarily as to who will be driving the bus on the violence mobile. Directors of action movies have to have unique visions to bring excitement to their work, making sure to fit the stunts with the theme of the movie. A balance must be stricken though, because too much becomes over the top eye rolling issues, and too little it disappoints. So, today's review is to analyze and see if the latest action movie strikes that balance, or merely falls into the sea of the mundane that many films are. Let's get started, as Robbie K reviews:

Movie: Peppermint (2018)

Director: Pierre Morel Writer: Chad St. John Stars: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz

LIKES:

Jennifer Garner: While not the best track record, the young Ms. Garner continues to impress me with her ability to play a lot of diverse roles. Finally getting back to her edgier roots, her step back into the action genre works for someone with a grudge, a focus, and a sense of justice. Throw in some pretty nifty moves with the prop guns, and you've got a decent hunter of justice to get shine, as she leads the way for feminism idols.

The Special Effects: The ability to turn fake carnage into realistic sequences continues to be Hollywood's forte. Peppermint's scenes involve a number of well executed sound effects meeting well shot stunts to drop you into the chaos unfolding. As the bullets fly, the effects group manage to unleash the fury of the moment, bringing flash, bangs, and plenty of flying debris to further add edge to the scene. Not the most spectacular or original work, but give them props for their tricks of the trade.

The Pace: Peppermint's pace is not bad at all, not so fast to miss stuff, but also not slow to make you slink in your seat and nod off. Like a balance between Equalizer and Taken, the movie manages to establish equilibrium between set up and fighting, giving us time to appreciate the planning, before getting lost in the action craziness. It's this balance that keeps things moving and out of the desert of boring, dry scenes that sometimes are designed for fluff. Throw in a decent run time and you've got a solid piece of entertainment.

The Story: It's straight forward, it's simplistic, and it is fitting of what was presented in the trailer. Peppermint's tale is all about seeking justice for a group that did things wrong and got away with it. Along the way, we get a little character development in the group, but the story fits well in the thriller/action universe that this series brings. It will speak true to those with families, and like those famous episodes from NCIS or Taken the series, the movie will speak to those drama lovers who love the sense of justice delivered aggressively.

The Action: Peppermint's action is pretty decent. It's tailored to show off the lethality of Garner's character as she brings pain and suffering through a variety of combat styles. Gunplay, close quarters combat, and a little strategic maneuvering will show the brawn and brains of the leading lady. It takes a little bit for the scenes to catch their stride, much like the Equalizer, but once the adrenaline gets infused the combat ramps up and starts to approach the speed and intensity of Taken. The part must people will enjoy, is some sweet, epic finishers that scream the justice you want for this woman, primarily in the satisfying camera work getting the full effect. Even better, they do a nice job of keeping things realistic and spreading it out through the movie.

Dislikes:

The Character Development: The story may not be the most complex, and that is okay, but something that gets me a little burned up is the potential introduction of character backstories and development and not following through. Taken and Equalizer have obtained the balance of transforming their characters as the situations change, but Peppermint's protagonist stays pretty consistent with less room to grow. Most likely due to the set up for a series, this film needed a little more time and divergence from the mission to give her a new outlook and potentially begin evolving her characters to new realms. Perhaps in the next movie if this goes well.

The Other Characters: Like Taken, Peppermint lacks a serious integration of the other characters. It is an improvement, but the movie does a poor job integrating the other members involved in this sting operation, merely reducing most of them to nameless extras who do little but pout. Such potential to really design some players in the game of corrupt justice, Peppermint's group unfortunately cannot escape the anonymity of not being the protagonist.

The Acting: Garner does a nice job, but I didn't like that her character could not show past one emotion post her training. The other heroes of these types of movies can adapt their personality to start showing the multiple sides to their character, but in this one... the internalization is not the most dynamic character to come into play. There are again hints, but they should have expanded more instead of focusing on the action and the series to come.

The Action: I did enjoy the action, but for this guy, I like the faster, adrenaline focus that Taken brings instead of just the edged victory that this movie brought. Some of the scenes were a little stiff, or over too quickly, snuffing out just as the momentum finally built. So, while it struck a nice balance, the junkie of thrills in me was hoping for a little more intensity and speed when it came to combatting the Cartel. This is especially true when it comes to the finale, starting to meet its stride, but then drops the action with the snap of a finger and goes back to the drama. Emotionally charged and gripped with character? Yep! Exciting for me? Nope! It just needed a little more spunk to really be equivalent to the other movies in this series.

The VERDiCT:

Overall, Peppermint meets its goal of an action drama movie with a stunning lead to take point for not only women, but justice itself. It's a straightforward movie, and it will get the action stirring for most of the audiences that go to see this show. Special effects with an edge, a fast pace, and some action in just about every scene, you'll certainly find some excitement in this 90-minute gun fest. Still, it doesn't quite reach the levels of Taken or Equalizer, rather somewhere in between in terms of action, characters, and edge. It's potentially going to be a series itself, where they will expand more on the character, but otherwise this movie is an entertaining venue worthy of the theater. However, this one can probably also be watched at home as well.

Action/Drama/Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
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The Nun (2018)
Praying For A Good Film? Check this review out
7 September 2018
We have various universes we emerge ourselves in when it comes to the cinema world. Star Wars, Marvel, Lord of the Rings are all series that have a massive following, so why not make an interconnected horror franchise to do the same. Enter the Conjuring who after a very successful opening, the paranormal world has roped many creatures in for its steady story presentation. Tonight, the latest entry comes in full force,, hoping to bring many bucks in and continue the series. Praying for a good movie? Robbie K here to drop the next review in and get you set up for the weekend movie visits.

Movie: The Nun (2018)

Director: Corin Hardy Writers: Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), James Wan (story by) Stars: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet



LIKES:

The Story: The movie accomplishes the first goal of essentially setting up the main demon from Conjuring 2's inclusion into the universe. Fans of the series will be pulled into the lore further with the Nun's origins, learning more about how the demon emerged into our world, his goal for inhabiting our spiritual plane, and what his powers involves. It's got multiple layers, a few twists and turns, and some character development to go along with it, but all in focus of connecting the stories.

The Setting: It's an abbey, even more it's a medieval abbey that has plenty of secrets in the shadows of the stone hallways. The Nun utilizes these aspects so well, and that adds creepiness to the entire scene. Most of the scares for me came from the unseen or passing glimpses in the shadows, while other moments come from the desolate feeling of isolation the hallowed halls provide. It's a great use of setting and imagination to deliver the thrills in very conservative ways.

The Makeup: I give props to the department for being able to craft some awesome pieces to bring their imaginations to reality. The Nun's team craft a horrifying demon, utilizing a blend of computer, paint, prosthetics, and various other crafts to bring Valak to life. Even the various forms of the demon's tricks have a wonderful design to them, each holding that special blend of terror that it wants.

The Pace: A movie like this needs to make sure to put a good pace to keep things going, and this film succeeds on that account. It's quick, engaging, and lacks slow parts, which is a plus for the horror series veterans who want scares. Speaking of which.

The Scares: Nun's tactics are very fitting of the franchise, a blend of jump scares with creeps to try and get you to jump in your seats. Mostly going for jump scares, the film holds plenty of the former, working hard to use loud sounds and sudden appearances to capitalize on the small cast that they have. It works very well for fans of this tactic, and in this universe will continue to rope you into the nightmare inducing visuals at hand.

The Acting: A limited cast means that the actors have more weight on their shoulders to make the story stay on point and come to life. The Nun's three leads are successful in this endeavor, each having some overall contribution to piece this tale together. Demian Bichir is the hard natured priest with the dark past, acting as the pillar to ground the suspense on. Taissa Farmiga follows in her sister's footsteps and brings more of the story driven component and doing a fine job adjusting to each situation at hand. As for Jonas Bloquet, he's the comedic relief, which is utilized quite well to not offset the horror tone they were going for.

DISLIKES:

The Story...at points: The movie fits well into the craft, but there are parts that are eye rolling. While I did expect the movie to go down the path to some extent, some of the plot points were a bit too much of a stretch to fit well into the horror tone. A bit too convenient at times, these sorts of plot points are okay at best, but they detracted from the story a bit for me and weren't quite as fitting as the other solutions of previous films. In addition, the back story of the three characters is not the strongest either, leaving only half finished characters to grapple on to.

The Speeches: Grandiose at times, the speeches sometimes go down the preachy route in some attempt to inspire and enlighten amidst the dark. While words of wisdom and faith are well received, the delivery of some of these dialogues is more cheesy than effective for me, the sudden pauses in trekking down the demon just to get some morale boosting going. The presentation is just off compared to other movies, and like the plot components felt out of place in this universe for me.

Valak's powers: The demon is strong, of this we have no doubt, and the soulless stare that it holds in the dark is bone chilling indeed. Yet, Valak's powers were surprisingly limited and boring at times, resorting more to pushing telekinetically than anything else. I guess I would have liked a little more variety in the monster, but the battle between creature and man is not the most impressive thing to creep in.

The Predictable Scares; Sadly, the edge of the movie was cut out by the mistakes made above, yet the worst is the predictable scare tactics. The Nun had little surprise to its scares, the camera work laying obvious groundwork for what was about to happen. Having the music turn off is also a dead giveaway and as such I wasn't too scared for when things were executed. This installment doesn't quite pack the punch of the first movie into the universe, and sadly they are starting to grow stale in their abilities to scare.

The VERDICT:

The Nun is a fitting entry into the Conjuring universe that helps place more pieces into the puzzle and sets up to answer all the questions thrown in by the other films. It's story works on most levels, and will get the fans connected with the universe that has taken years to build. In addition, all the special effects, setting, acting, and scares themselves grant you the familiarity of the series that will have you hooked. However, it doesn't live up to other installments in the films, with predictable scares and underwhelming powers not painting the scariest creature from this universe. Yet It's the weaker plot moments and predictable scares that are acting as the true exorcism to quality. It needs a little wrapping up and tightening to give it the full strength, but this movie still is a welcome addition to the Conjuring series. Worth a trip to theater? Hmm, I can say yes, but it's not the biggest bang for your buck to be honest.

My scores are:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5 Movie Overall: 6.5
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Kin (I) (2018)
6/10
I'm A KIN To Skip it
1 September 2018
Robbie K with one final movie review tonight, this one on a new since fiction/action that looks to be a good fit for many ages. Tonight, I review the movie Kin, and in a shorter version of the review we will hit the highlights of each. Let's get started.

Movie: Kin (2018)

Directors: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker Writers: Jonathan Baker (based on the short film "Bag Man" by), Josh Baker (based on the short film "Bag Man" by) Stars: Myles Truitt, Jack Raynor, Dennis Quaid

LIKES:

-Myles Truitt -Good acting chemistry -Dynamic plots/sub-plots -Special Effects -Meets Goal of Multiple audience members

DISLIKES: -James Franco's Villain -Plots only semi fit together -More use of Actors -Slow At times -Overdramatic -Lackluster Action

The Verdict:

Kin held potential, a science fiction movie that promised some coming of age antics meeting a little action to kick up the excitement. The actors met their goal of playing characters relatable to preteens and teens, with solid chemistry between each other to establish that awkward family this movie paints. Myles Truitt especially gets props in his debut, making a believable kid caught in bad circumstances. His story contains many sub-plots running tangent with the main plot, all connected by an artificially crafted alien super weapon that holds so much destructive potential. These dynamic plots lead to questions that will keep one focused on the movie, and the special effects that help progress these plots is not half bad either, with the sound editing the most theater like quality of the bunch. Sadly, the movie hits quite a few road blocks on the way to the end, some of which are more like destructive potholes ready to bust a wheel on the cinema car. James Franco's villain just doesn't amount to much other than looking like he has STDs and a need for a bath. The talk vs. bite is not that exciting and there was potentially future enemies who hold much better quirks. He is only one part of the plot, and while I applaud all the questions they kick up, I can't say I get on board for the end game being forcibly mashed together in a rather promising, yet lackluster, finale. Fortunately, that isn't the worst, but a good candidate for that title is the characters left out of the shots when they held such promise. Quaid himself is a shining example, following the trend of Brian Cranston in Godzilla and cutting out the big name like an ugly blemish. In addition, the direction of the characters made for crossing into repetitive, bouts of pre-teen problems that tend to be eye-rolling and annoying. You might think the pace could accomplish the goals of getting through the story, but at times, it drags like molasses on a hot summer day. And just when you think the excitement is there to break the slow pace, the exciting climax is only okay. While this lays the final groundwork for a potential sequel, but in terms of excitement, only the loud noise was truly impressive to this small choreographed display of tech.

The VERDICT:

Kin held so much potential to highlight the future with the present. However, yours truly felt they dropped the ball on a lot of plot elements, blowing holes into a story that was starting to get its second win. A second movie could be created to carry on the creativity. It still needs some tinkering to calm the erratic display of plots, and it requires really working on the story and forgoing the drama effects. In addition, the action could use some work to break up only a slightly developed action movie for younger viewers. So, you can guess I don't recommend this one for the theater, but check it out on a rainy day for rental.

My scores are:

Action/Sci-Fi: 6.0-6.5 Movie Overall: 5.0
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Searching (III) (2018)
9/10
Searching for A Good Movie? Your Results Have Matched 1
1 September 2018
It's been advertised like crazy in the theaters and it seems to be limited release, so I can say I was happy when I saw my first film tonight hit my theaters. Tonight's installment promises to be a real suspense/thriller, and bring with it a new story that will have everyone talking. Yet, do the trailers tell an accurate mini tale, or like the Internet this film is based on, does it hide something else that will prove to be lackluster. Robbie K here, and tonight I first review:

Movie: Searching (2018)

Director: Aneesh Chaganty Writers: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian Stars: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee

LIKES:

Good acting: John Cho is primarily the central character, carrying the weight of the cast on his shoulders and working some major magic. His character was designed well, a realistic portrayal of a father panicking to find his child and balance all the emotions that go with it. As for his co actors, they too play their parts well, each integrating themselves heavily into the role and crafting a believable performance that fits so well in the movie. All characters are essential to the film, and this is a shining example of character utilization.

Realistic: Dramas often lose the grip on the reality, going down some wild tangent to bring a unique twist to the movie and go down the super dramatic path. While Searching is certainly a drama, Chaganty did a fantastic job guiding the story and keeping the film feeling like something from real life. It's as if we are actually in a new story and this display of believability and planning is a solid reason for how I remained engaged into the film. No distractive, annoying characters that overshadow here... it's a straight up balanced role.

Story layout: The movie is certainly a mystery, but within it is also some serious character development and a suspense that keeps on evolving. I agree with my fellow reviewers that Searching's story layout remains true to its purpose, but manages to slightly rotate the tale to give it a refresh and snag your intention. In addition, the plot is laid out quite well, with strong attention to detail and careful planning that paid off in the long run. Replaying the movie in my head, I was able to understand where all the clues were and applaud the set up Chaganty and the crew had set up.

The Twists: I mentioned this above, but the twists deserve their own category in how well they worked in this film. The movie used the surprises in very creative ways, and didn't overdo them to take the film too far down a weird road that makes no sense. Therefore, one should enjoy the surprises in store.

The Pace: Dramas can be slow, but Searching's speed is steady, progressive, and entertaining from start to finish. The editing was fantastic to balance inclusion of the necessary details, but not get lost in the trees that make up this complex forest. It managed to develop the characters at just the right moments and build on the foundations, but yet make sure not to derail from the tracks of the story itself. As such, this pace keeps the whole tale intriguing and not a snooze fest.

DISLIKES:

Predictable: This is grasping for straws, but I was able to figure out who the culprit was fairly early in the game. The movie sets up enough clues that seem subtle, but the choice of dropping them at those times gives it away. In addition, the cliché presentation leads to some linear techniques that given the history of the genre point to the right conclusions. Not the most major dislike, but something to consider.

The Laptop Presentation: Is it unique? Yes! Does it integrate you into the full experience? Yes! However, I fear that the presentation will be copied and grow stale. It's not so much a dislike in this film as it is a warning to not go nuts and use this style for every film coming out in the new age.

The VERDICT:

Searching is a movie I didn't expect to like as much, but while it is a tried and true story, it's got a fantastic presentation that freshens it back up. The acting, story development, and pace all align to make a great movie and thanks to these qualities makes the movie feel like a new original. It's attention to detail is fantastic, and the pace is exceptionally balanced like other aspects of this movie. While not perfect or the most groundbreaking piece of work, this glorified crime-drama certainly hits its mark and brings the results you might have been investigating. I'd recommend this one for the theater and strongly encourage to not watch too many trailers to maximize the twists to the T.

My scores: Drama/Mystery/Thriller: 9.0 Movie Overall: 8.0
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4/10
Little Stranger Presentation
31 August 2018
Horror movies are difficult to balance story with scares, but nevertheless the monster madness reigns strong in all its forms. Tonight, one of those movies wants to try and break the mold of the milieu in hopes that it will remain a pleasant surprise in the flood of summer films. Robbie K here, ready to bring another review and help you with your viewing pleasures as we cover:

The Little Stranger (2018)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson Writers: Lucinda Coxon, Sarah Waters (novel) Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Josh Dylan

LIKES:

Thought Provoking: Little Strangers is a very smart, elegant horror movie that uses a lot of unseen techniques to try and terrify you. This psychological thriller drops lots of clues, leaving you scratching your head as they try to figure out what in the world is going on in this film. This smart approach will engage conversation and have you constantly reviewing every scene to piece everything together. Symbolism and artistic minds rejoice you have found your movie.

The Setting: An 18th century mansion with wide echoing halls, dark rooms that house secrets, and silent halls that creak for no reason. This is the setting of the scares of this movie, the realistic mansion bringing that creepy edge that is sure to give one the creeps. But outside of scares, Little Stranger brings the past back to the present, immersing you in the classic culture that was 20th century Europe. Throwing all of this together... one gets a chance to really immerse yourself in the adventure at hand.

The Acting; A very character centric film, Little Strangers depends heavily on the cast to bring the psychological thriller to the forefront. Domhnall Gleeson has much of the dialogue, a creepy sensation that does not feel directly threatening, but is cold, obsessive, and perhaps calculating enough to make you think twice. Ruth Wilson is also a bit of enigma, more dynamic than the other characters, Wilson brings the sanity vs. experience to a great balance, continuing to have you question the truth of what she is experiencing. As for the rest of the crew, they warrant a nod for their skills of bringing the culture to life, there was just more needed.

Short Run Time: It's only about 1 hour and 40 minutes and based on the dislikes below you can understand why I'm happy for the shorter time frame.

The Dance Scene: It's not the biggest, boldest, display of dance, but it at least breaks up the movie a bit to help potentially direct the film towards a new lead. Might not be much, but I give them props for the cute display of etiquette and dancing.

DISLIKES:

Vague: To thoroughly enjoy this movie, you have to be wanting a more symbolic vague ending than an actual conclusion. Little Strangers will fulfill those symbolic loving fans, as it tries to keep you guessing. I don't mind thought provoking, but I'd like a little more closure than what I got, though I guess that is the topic discussion starter. Still, the open-ended nature of the film didn't quite work for me as well as they had hoped.

Not Scary: A horror movie that isn't thrilling or scary is hard for me to swallow. The Little Stranger feels more like a political play or psycho thriller than true horror. As such, those looking for the popular, movie magic infused scares are going to be strongly disappointed at the grounded approach they took.

More Character Involvement: All the time they invested into this film, with all the characters placed in the little board of psycho/horror, they would have dived more into the psyche of them as well. The movie strongly favored Faraday, dipping back to his past to hint at what is brewing in that quiet demeanor. For the other denizens though, the backstories of them are reduced to dry dialogue and vague stories that one must pay massive attention to or miss a big clue. Why the characters weren't further elaborated, I don't know, but perhaps their involvement could have gone to the next level.

Boring: The movie is slowly paced, and without the novelty scares and creepiness, the articulated dialogue and elegant presentation are not the most engaging. Outside of solving the mystery and vague symbolism, there was not enough to keep my attention or energy invested in the movie. As such, it was difficult to concentrate and truly embrace what the movie had to offer.

Unnecessary Scenes: The movie has a number of scenes that are bloated displays of dialogue and dryer banter that is only semi-pertinent. I'll stomach these moments designed for time all day, but unnecessary details (primarily those that strike my pet peeves) are not things I enjoy seeing. One particular scene crosses into the heartless territory, with its inclusion reduced to only a few lines to explain why it all happened. With the vague approach and symbolism though, I was ready to walk out once this detailed moment occurred. Unnecessary and almost impractical moments like these, can stay buried in the minds of the authors and writers.

THE VERDICT:

The Little Strangers feels much like a book into movie format, really focusing on the psyche and internal mind rather than the horror aspect. I'll admit, it's artistic, more unique and better acted than many horror movies, but it lacks that hook to keep me invested in the movie. It's not scary, it's not fun, and really has some editing and toning needed to give the answers and closure I wanted. So, don't go in there expecting a regular horror and you may just enjoy it, but otherwise, I didn't feel this movie had all the elements it needed to warrant a trip to theater.

My scores are:

Dram/Horror/Mystery: 4.0 Movie Overall: 3.0
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8/10
It's the Finale Countdown
29 August 2018
History teaches us many lessons, but sadly we sometimes are still too stubborn to learn when it things come wrapped in a convenient, shiny package. Still, there are movies still trying to use their bucks to teach lessons in the tales they have to share. Tonight, yours truly attended the showing of the latest historical, biography, drama that hopes to make a mark. What is in store? As always please read to find out as I review:

Movie: Operation Finale (2018)

Director: Chris Weitz Writer: Matthew Orton Stars: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Mélanie Laurent



LIKES:

Pacing: For the most part, a drama like this is often slower than the movies I prefer, yet Operation Finale managed to meet this expectation. A brisk pace that allowed for detail, the audience was more than capable of finding that balance to tell it's tale and not leave me falling asleep.

The Class: A Holocaust movie always runs the risk of diving into the dark, deep end of the horror pool, which can be hard to watch. Again, Weltz and his team found the balance of making references to the horrible event, but adding a filter that alludes to the event without showing too much. The result is crafting a piece of work that respectfully shows the events, but not in the distasteful display that many movies relish in. As such, it doesn't downplay the significance it, but rather integrates into the story.

The Relevance of Characters: A stuffed group into 2 hours is not easy to do, but Operation Finale made sure to integrate as many of the characters as possible and give a point to their inclusion. No matter how small the role, each character has contributed to the operation in some manner to warrant their time on the silver screen.

The History/Moral Lesson: The movie set out to teach lessons, and it certainly did. History comes in a variety of forms, but this movie certainly felt like a visual book (yes I get the irony), still it's an integrated piece of work that achieves the story telling history strives to obtain. And like history, the moral lessons involves are poetically delivered without all the preachy planned speeches Hollywood writers love. It's the realism and musical score that drive all these lessons home, and a fantastic future for using this movie for teaching classes.

The Acting: The movie's bread and butter though is the acting. Character integration required a lot of dynamic play off of each other, and our cast was up to the challenge of bringing it to life. At this point, all the secondary/supporting characters get a nod for their work, each member feeling like a part of the team that held their own emotional charge towards the common goal. However, the key pillars of the movie are Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac the leads of the film. Isaac trades his X-Wing uniform for a more modest suit, and adapts the strong emotional power of an Israeli Jewish man forced to confront a lot of baggage. It's realistic, powerful, and the anchor to which much of the movie relies on and he rocks it. As for Kingsley, the man is a legend for a reason and he beautifully opens the door of the antagonist role and the complexity that can come with it. Another balance of emotional prowess, the man will keep you guessing at what lies within the dark mind of the German War Elite. The two together play a game of cat and mouse, and while not filled with gun play, or car chases, it's this emotional tug of war that is immersive and kept me into the drama at hand. Bravo to the casting director for bringing these powerhouses together.

DISLIKES:

The Pace at times: Pacing is mostly good, but there are some slower moments that didn't have quite the oomph that the rest of the movie did. These parts bloated the movie more and didn't quite deliver the punch for me. Small dislike, but it leads me to the next limitation for me.

The Length: The movie worked to portray a lot of angles on this historical event. Operation Finale didn't quite need to be over 2 hours for me, with probably at least 20 minutes being edited out with ease. I see where it is going with the length to try and pay homage to those who lost their lives to the greatest tragedy, but in regards to the story it didn't quite need the extra time. Especially, when it comes to my next dislike.

The Other Character Stories: A lot of characters were introduced at the beginning, each played up for their emotional struggles to bring the former Nazi to justice. And after a prolonged intro, many of the characters kind of stopped there. Operation Finale showed potential for very deep characters, and while the leads got the most dive into the psyche, the rest of the cast kind of got a fly over. More integration and struggle would have been much appreciated for me to help further bring the group to life. It's not that the others were bad, but by explaining them a little more, the movie might have better utilized the 2 hours it had to have. While the secondary crew accomplished their mission, some more tweaking could have strengthened things.

THE VERDICT:

For a historical drama. Operation Finale was one of the better ones to grace the silver screen in recent years. While nothing like the legendary historical dramas that came before it, this film struck a balance I appreciated between historical presentation and dramatizing moments. The two lead actors soared with their chemistry and by working around this entropy favored performance, brought the heart and soul of the cinematic work to life. Still, the movie needs a little tweaking in investing in other characters to justify being greater than 2 hours as well as editing a few things out. Still, this movie is probably a great example of classic story telling, and that element justifies the theater visit despite a lack of Big Screen effects. Still, give this one a try when you can, I think you will enjoy it.

My scores are:

Biography/Drama/History: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.0
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A-X-L (2018)
6/10
Robot Rumble that is Quite Humble
25 August 2018
The bond between man and dog is sacred, but what happens when it is a robotic dog that you happened to find? That odd question is answered, ironically, tonight with the movie review that I bring. A charming piece according to the trailers, this film is going to try and make a mark in the last stages of August. Can such a bizarre concept actually work, or will it fall to skeptical eyes as the summer wraps up to pave the way for Fall's lineup. Robbie K here to bring you another review in hopes to helping you out with your movie choices. So, let's get reviewing on

Movie: A.X.L. (2018)

Director: Oliver Daly Writer: Oliver Daly Stars: Thomas Jane, Becky G, Alex Neustaedter

LIKES:

Cute/Family Friendly: The movie accomplished it's mission to be family friendly, as this film does everything to mimic a Disney movie without falling into lawsuit territory. A.X.L's a quirky movie that should be a walk in the park for most, minus a few loud and darker moments so parents be warned. Nonetheless, it's got a little something for most young at heart audience members with that K-9 meeting human approach, fused with a little teen drama as well.

The Bike Scenes: The trailers have shown you our main guy Miles (Neustaedter) tearing up the dirt hills of California. Like the DCOM motorcrossed the few sequences dedicated to the sport are quite a sight for the audience members to soak up. Decently stable camera work, fantastic sound editing, and a good orchestra/soundtrack to give it the extra oomph it needed. While short lived, these moments are the fuel to get past the slow opening.

Decent Acting: No award winners outside of the teen and kids choice awards level, but the cast of A.X.L. are not the worst crew to ever grace a screen. Becky G is my particular favorite, the character given to her getting a little more chance to branch out than most of the others. She's balanced, edgy, but equipped to handle much of the chaos without breaking character. Neustaedter isn't bad, but his monotone performance needs a little molding to get a better character, instead of the sulky, long-haired look that much of CW's cast seems to share. Alex MacNicoll plays the overdone antagonist well, but not much expands past whining, moaning, and hormonal antics that aren't worth the time to invest in. And as for the rest of the group, they succeed in their roles, they just again needed more time.

The Unique Animation Of A.X.L.: It's a combination of puppetry/robotics with CGI, the digital dog certainly had interesting choices made when it came to animating him. At times it worked for me, the puppetry managing to bring the playful sprit out in full force. The CGI is decent too, smooth and accurate for representing a cyber dog, yet not quite the magic experience that Disney likes to show us. This hybrid doesn't seem logical, but in terms of creative display, it works for me.

DISLIKES

The Predictable Plot: If you have seen the trailers, you should be able to piece the ending together within the first half hour of the movie. A.X.L. struggles with surprise, choosing to stick to soap opera antics and simplified plots to entertain. If you don't care about the plot and want to look at the pretty people, then you are set, but otherwise not much to make you gasp in this film.

The Characters Need Expanding: Pretty self-explanatory, our young adult/teenager group are diluted characters that steadily start to fill in with each passing minute. They work for the superficial looks and the sentimental message they were going for, but there was so much more to find out about them. Hinting at backstories, merging the group together, it needed a lot more theatrics to really craft the group that I wanted to see.

The Story: Same thing here, A.X.L's plot seems to be a rushed production that was finished to meet a summer daylight. Things happen very quickly, getting little time to simmer before running all processors at max performance. The story is really straightforward, and when you combine this with the lackluster characters you just get a rusted plot line that seems expanded from a short film. Perhaps they have their eyes set on the prize of a franchise, or perhaps they hope to tell more somewhere else, but this film didn't quite complete the film on a good level, potentially looking to the future instead of settling on the present.

The anticlimactic ending: Nothing hits me harder than seeing a supposedly suspenseful film drop the ball on the climactic struggle. This film managed to promote a lot of potential excitement only to snatch that away with a semi-emotional finale that lacked any suspense or thrills. A rushed finish only went so far with me, again working to hastily wrap up the story in the given time (110 minutes). The silver lining is that this finale will be geared towards the youngest group, but for the rest try to enjoy the charming finish it holds to in the last 10 minutes.

The Verdict:

Truth is A.X.L. won't be netting any awards but that doesn't mean that it's a piece of garbage. It's special effects and pretty cast nature will be the selling point alongside some fantastic sound editing. And while the whole movie lacks the bite of an action film, it certainly does get that family friendly nature it wanted. And while the twist of a ticked off robot dog is there, the rest of this predictable plot needed some tuning up, primarily the ending conflict. In all honesty though, A.X.L. suffers from trying to wrap up in movie instead of looking to expand the tale into a television series or some other media. Worth a trip to the theater? You can guess probably not, as this film could have gone to nickelodeon and done better.

My scores are:

Adventure/Family/Sci-Fi: 6.0-6.5 Movie Overall: 5.0
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6/10
It's Happy Time for crude humor and a deep mystery
24 August 2018
The Muppets, a cute, colorful, energetic display of puppetry that showed you could have imagination, wit and creativity all combine in an epic show that lasted for generations. True, the puppets have dealt with lots of adult issues, but never did I think Jim Henson would see his creations dive into the world of tonight's film. Traditional lines are blurred as the modern meets the classic, twisting it into a new creation that holds loads of "potential". Can the dark, murder mystery with puppets be awesome, or is it a Robot Chicken parody that falls flat on its' face. Robbie K here to bring his thoughts on the first movie of the week, as he reviews:

Movie: The Happytime Murders (2018)

Director: Brian Henson Writers: Todd Berger (screenplay by), Todd Berger (story by) Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph

LIKES:

The Soundtrack: A soundtrack can make or break a part of the movie, and surprisingly this film succeeds in this aspect. The music director picked a great variety of songs that help add some pep to the scenes, while also adding some comedy to the routine as well. A well-timed pop song comes in at the most awkward times, while other songs mesh well with the theme of the scene.

The Acting: Not award-winning roles, but the human cast succeeds in playing their roles and working alongside a puppet cast. Melissa McCarthy certainly gives justice to her immense screen time, and Maya Rudolph cleans up the scenes very well with her style of comedy. The other secondary humans accomplish their goals as well, but it is these two who hold most of the human work. In regards to the voice acting, too many voice actors to call out, but man did they bring their characters to life and capture the spirit of the Muppets as well. Obviously the main puppet gets the most credit, but the others all bring the energy of puppets.

The Humor (at times): You know there is a lot crammed into this movie in terms of jokes, and while not everything was a hit for me, it certainly had its moments that shined like, glittery pieces of felt. Happytime murders gets props for clever pokes at popular culture, melding the modern-day crime obsession with the comedy of the kids puppet shows. It's these moments of clever content meeting the well-timed punch, while delivering with awesome voice acting that had me laughing the most.

The Mystery: For a giant farce, the movie surprisingly has a good mystery at hand. Predictable at times, the Happytime Murders have a cold hard case of murder, crime, and drama to try and uncover. It dives deep and provides all the details in a nice format to help you solve the crime at hand. Surprisingly, this was the component that kept me the most intrigued, almost like the rest of America and the trend of consistent crime dramas.

The Puppeteering: You knew this was coming, but Happytime Murders gets my biggest nod for continuing the art of telling stories through puppet work. Jim Henson's vision is alive and well, and the spirit of the arts is working strong in the number of stunts/scenes they put the main puppet through. Dynamic motions are in Phil's arsenal and with it they pulled out all the stops to make them flow in design and execution. I agree, it's not the grandest work that we've seen come out of Henson studios, but it is still a fantastic display nonetheless.

DISLIKES:

Crossing the Line: The humor components are funny at times, but other times go a little over the top in their journey for a laugh. Happytime Murders gets a red label for a reason and heed their warnings about not taking kids, for there are many things they should not see. Sure, the impressionable minds will pick up on the curse laden dialogue, but some lines will be a little grosser than funny for some Again, I'll admit that they had me laughing at moments, but other times made me cringe in discuss.

Underutilization of characters: This is mainly towards the human characters, but Happytime murders really struggles to maximize the human cast more than they do. This is especially true for the detectives and Elizabeth Banks, for these characters had some hard-hitting scenes, but often were left in the background. Why not use them more? I guess they needed some more puppet time, but still... maybe some better integration.

Deeper Dive Into Story: The mystery is there, and all the clues are in the details, but this movie did slack a little on the story. It was almost as if they had taken a mystery/crime series and mashed them together to make a piecemeal mystery. There was deeper storytelling and use of these puppets waiting in the wings, but for the laughs and all the clever puppet design, these elements were sacrificed. Perhaps a second installment will dive into more, but much of the limitations come from the fact that they didn't balance the other characters more than they did.

The Trailers: Another example of a movie ruined by the trailers, Happytime murders suffers from the combination of a short run time and much of the funny being spoiled in the advertising. If you have seen at least two of the trailers, you have much of the heart of this movie revealed in regards to the comedy. In addition, there are some hard clues in the trailer itself, so you've been warned to skim around the trailers as you best see fit.

The VERDICT:

Happytime murders accomplishes its goal of being the inappropriate R rated Muppets show that some have longed for. The clever, creativity, and adulteration are certainly a unique spin, and it brings its brand of comedy out in full force. In this age where computers rule and puppeteers are left in the dust, this movie certainly proves this art can still be entertaining. The bad news is that the movie's short run time is one of the key weaknesses to the dislikes I mentioned, primarily in the trailers ruining much of the surprise and the storytelling needing more time to actually expand out. Nevertheless, I admit this movie is fun to watch at times, but... it probably doesn't merit a trip to theater.

My scores are:

Action/Comedy/Crime: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0
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Mile 22 (2018)
7/10
Going the Distance On Action!
18 August 2018
Action movies to many seem like a dime a dozen, but adrenaline fans like me always look for the thrills to come in any form. Tonight, I finish my week of reviews with another slam-bang, explosion riddled feature that hopes to excite the audience that plans to go see it. Yes, tonight the poorly advertised Mile 22 is in theaters and with it the hopes that Mark Wahlberg can bring another gun heavy movie some positive energy and laughs. What's in store? Robbie K is here to help you out with another movie review. Let's get started:

Movie: Mile 22 (2018)

Director: Peter Berg Writers: Lea Carpenter (screenplay by), Graham Roland (story by) Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais

LIKES:

The Pace: It's brisk, it's fast, and it is perfect for an action film. Mile 22 has few breaks once the excitement goes, with the last 35-40 minutes being nothing but high intensity violence and mayhem. True, there is a middle part meant to build the suspense and lay the story, but this slow part soon ends, and leaves you ready to take on the special effects fest.

The Use of Characters: This movie has a lot of characters, and therefore a lot of responsibility to utilize them. Mile 22 succeeds in bringing all the team together to try and accomplish the goal. Whether it is the support team, the villains, or the ground team, almost everyone introduced has a significant role to play and gets there moments to shine. Certainly, some more than others, but Mile 22 accomplished the integration mission.

Make-Up: Minor like, but I give props to the group involved with the transformation of the agents from pristine elite to looking as if they have gone through hell and back. The artificial blood, the contusions and abrasions, even the various bullet wounds are all nicely crafted to looking realistic and bringing the edge to the movie.

Mark Wahlberg's character... sometimes: The lead of the team holds a lot on his shoulders, but one thing that his character brought was the comedy and action point of the film. His character has some issues that he lives with, allowing him to talk at a thousand miles an hour and being funny at the same time. It's the same type of Wahlberg character, just a little more amped and over the top, sometimes to the point of annoyance, but then he redeems himself and somehow comes through.

Action: The battles in this movie are semi-carbon copy sequences of what feels like a video game from Tom Clancy's work. Yet, despite the similarities, these fights are still dynamic enough to feel different and blend together to unleash an exciting sequence. Gun battles are strategic and suspenseful, supported by plenty of pyrotechnics to help shake things up with a nice light show. When close combat evolves, it's modern meeting traditional martial arts moves, including using grandiose kill moves using out of the ordinary tools. Things mix together well, and really go out in the exciting climax you wanted.

DISLIKES:

The Violence: A minor dislike and more of a warning, Mile 22 is not for the faint of heart or the sensitive. It's action is certainly fast paced, but the film has plenty of detailed shots involving graphic finishes and bloody blasts. Like an episode of the Walking Dead, a few characters have close ups of some projectile or tool going through their body, and sometimes a little drawn out. Therefore, seriously consider taking little ones or those who don't stomach things well to this film.

The Lackluster Story/Character Development: They tried, really they did, but Mile 22's characters are superficial, puddle deep, in regards to details. Some hasty character introductions, a few lines of dialogue to talk interests, and a hasty montage are the extent of most characters inner workings. As such, you're not really connected to the characters outside of their other works and celebrity status. Even the story itself has needed work, for its presented in a very ambiguous manner that seems like a mad chess game with deadly tools of destruction. Given some action films forgo a story, Mile 22 really needed some plot development to actually care about the characters.

The Twist: It was a surprise, it integrated what seemed random moments, but I was not a fan of the ending. One part is because this ending felt out of place with the majority of the film, the left-wing tangent just didn't do it for me. In addition, the ending was just very truncated, abruptly dropped out in five minutes and left on a very open terms. If you like that kind of surprise, yay, but perhaps some closure was needed to end it in the right place for me.

The Camera Work: Action movie can be tough to film, but why in the world do some people struggle with camera work in this genre. Much of it works for me, but the close-up fights are a mad array of camera changes, trying to get all the angles of the fight. While it added some edge to the film, the chaotic camera actually robbed the detail and at times were useless images that only alliterated to the moves being executed. Fortunately, these moments are few, but the close combat fight could have been even better if they had worked on camera dynamics.

The VERDICT:

Mile 22 delivers on the action, not shying around the destruction and violence to really bring the adrenaline thrilled themes it promised. It's ending is the highlight of the film, and it has all the bells and whistles to support the grand design of destruction. Yet, the movie really wont' strike well with many looking for more past the action craze that it brings and doesn't dive far into the qualities some people relish in story and characters. In addition, some of the camera choice may not work for you given the unstable camera work. Overall though, worth the trip to the theater because of the special effects focus, otherwise holdout until it hits homes.

My scores:

Action/Thriller: 7.0-7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0-6.5
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