A Chip off the Mundane Block

Chips

 

Robbie K here, starting the evening reviews with yet another comedy to grace the silver screen.  Tonight’s film is a rehash of the golden era of television (the 70s) cop comedy Chips.  What does forty years of sitting in the dust mixed with the modern era of comedy bring to the table?  Well my friends that is where I come from, and as always, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the latest “masterpiece” to grace the silver screen.  So, let’s roll out shall we?

 

LIKES

  • Decent Story
  • Good Acting Chemistry
  • Some bike stunts

 

Summary:  Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this comedy.  Yet to my surprise, Chips actually stepped up to the plate in terms of plot.  It feels like an extended episode from the show, that was part action, part crime mystery, and a majority comedy.  It was simplistic yes, but it works to bring the entertainment value and energy that the sitcom brought long ago.  While the story was decent, the real shining value is the chemistry between the “dynamic duo” that really makes this movie.  Dax Shepard for once didn’t annoy me, as his character was balanced, surprisingly deep, and quite useful in the story, compared to some of his other roles.  Although still awkward and idiotic, his antics were toned down and complemented by his partner in crime played by Michael Pena.  Pena still shows his dynamic acting style, portraying both rough edged street smarts with sexual promiscuity.  The stubborn mule Pena plays is blind-sided by his weaknesses, and only Dax’s character can deter him from the trap that is his mind.  It was very entertaining (and impressive) to see the energy both brought to the mix, alongside decent character development, kept the movie going.  In addition, there were some decent stunts (primarily bike riding) that added zest to the comedy and maybe a little suspense.

 

DISLIKES

  • Lazy writing
  • Rushed Development
  • Not as Funny as hoped
  • Perverted at times

 

Summary:  Like many comedies, Chips suffers from some lazy writing at times.  I give Shephard props for capturing some antics of the classic show, but his modern style does not give props in terms of unique writing.  Let’s face it, most modern comedies are all about the cursing, and while it was slightly diluted, there was unnecessary use of the cursing that wasn’t funny to me.  In addition, there were plenty of moments that could have been comedic gold, but the direction took a different path that was rushed and lazy, leaving little wit, surprise, or delivery to maximize laughs.  And the perverted aspect, much like the cursing, got pretty old/disgusting quickly.  No offense to anyone’s bodies, but there were a couple of scenes where I couldn’t burn the image/concept out of my head, leaving me sicker to the stomach than laughing.  As for the Kristen Bell moments, they played a key character development, but her limited screen time was shallow stupidity than entertaining, but hey she did look good doing it. Outside of the comedy, the character development also could have been a little deeper and the suspense a little more if they wanted to expand upon the genre.  Yet, when the single objective is comedy, the story often will take a hit.

 

The Verdict

 

Chips has the nostalgic feel to it in terms of its plot overall, and a few cameos, but that is where it drops off.  I again applaud Shepard and Pena’s chemistry and how they expanded upon characters who were better known for their tight uniforms.  Unfortunately, the modern telling is much like the theme of the genre, simplistic stupid moments with a curse laden dialogue and perverted moments.  If this is your style, then this movie is the one for you this weekend.  For the rest of my readers though, this movie is worth waiting for Netflix before feasting your eyes on this piece.  While better than I thought, it would be, it still is no masterpiece.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

Will This Christmas Flick Deliver A Holiday Gift?

Last Christmas Poster

 

There is always something about the Christmas time of the year that brings out the good will in movies.  Somehow the monotonous television specials, the move theaters itself, and even the atmosphere are all given a renewed glow that seems to lighten us up.  Yet, in a flooded market trying to capitalize on the big time of the season, we can sometimes get things crammed in that don’t need to be crammed in.  So in November at this early stage of the holiday months, getting a Christmas movie makes me wonder how the quality of the film will be if coming out this early.  As always, Robbie K coming in to give you his thoughts on whether or not the movie will match what the trailers suggested it would be.  As such, let’s get started as I take a look into:

 

Movie: Last Christmas (2019)

 

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting

Comedy That is Not Overdone

Fun and A good atmosphere

Good Message For The Times

Fast Run Time

The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Dryer Sense Of Humor Required

Needing More Time To Tell A Detailed Story

The Semi-Superficial Romance

The Overdone Ending

Lacking That Big Punch

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s face it, I was not the most excited seeing the trailer for this film, but I was hoping that there would be some Christmas magic to assist with bringing it to life.  Well my wish came true in the form of acting, with all the leads making for an entertaining, dysfunctional group.  Emelia Clark was of course my favorite, especially taking center stage, bringing the roundabout character of Kate!  Henry Goulding’s charm works to offset the theatrics of the supposed messy character, his calm level headedness bringing its own magic that lvies up to the theme of the movie.  And as for Emma Thompson, well another new light for the woman who wears so many faces.  Outside of the quaint characters with major flaws, Last Christmas attempts to find the means of being different while still sticking to its guns from the trailer.  For those looking for a typical American based comedy, you’re in for a surprise as the movie turns to British roots for a comedy style that is a bit drier and catered to a more finite audience.  Despite not being the comedy line craziness that most are expecting, the movie maintains a fun atmosphere, capturing the meaning of the season and sort of infecting you in the Kate’s journey with this strange man.  This atmosphere of feeling good compliments all the previous mentioned likes and somehow gave me some energy to stay immersed in the film.  Of course a Christmas movie has to have a good message right?  Well, Last Christmas delivers its morale laden plot right in your face and manages to keep the time honored tradition in line with the movie without being too cheesy or over the top.  Yet for me, the music is the key to why I had fun.  Last Christmas does not saturate in the Christmas themes, but instead blends both traditional songs with some other tracks to keep things lighthearted and in rhythm with the messages.   If all of this does not sound good and you are being forced to go on a date, the fast run time should keep you satiated and not lose too many minutes of your life.

 

So let’s get into things that people will most likely not like or expect.  First off the movie is predictable.  A fine attempt at a twist, I had the surprise figured out well before stepping foot into the movie (yes the trailers were that obvious).  It’s a fine attempt, but the bread crumbs were a little too traditional so I can’t say I was moved like many of my fellow audience members.  As stated earlier, you need to have a drier sense of humor, and while I appreciated the wit, at times a nice wet joke sequence could have helped lighten the mood a little more.  Thus again, be warned this is not your average rom-com.  While the time limit may be beneficial in terms of getting out of there, it also limited the detailed story I think most were looking for.  Last Christmas held potential to balance all these elements it wanted, but like much of today’s trends the stories were sort of rushed and irrelevant plot points were hastily tied up when not needing to be included. This included the semi-superficial romance that while cute and endearing at the beginning was also not the romance aspect I expected they would go, (there are many Hallmark movies that do better than this one).  Again its sincere and  a bit more sentimental, but it needed more time to get the full effect for me.  When the ending does finally arrive, it finds almost the perfect place to stop, but then like the ending of Return of The King, the movie goes one step too far to show how things are going to be okay.  This ending montage approach is nice to show the future, but about five minutes earlier would have been better for me.  Finally, I think the thing most are hating is that the movie is lacking a big punch that Christmas movies need for the theater visit.  This movie sort of lacks that and I think from some of the thing said by fellow audience members, I have to agree that it needs that final ounce of oomph to get to gold star status.

 

The VERDICT:

 

What you see in the trailer of Last Christmas is almost what you get with this film.  The cast shows good chemistry and brings their bag of tricks to the mix to make for a fun cast of characters that I think will charm most.  It’s nice that a Christmas comedy managed to still have heart and fun, not overdoing the humor and giving me a film that had good life lessons and positive atmosphere to enjoy, with a fun accompanying sountrack.  Still, the movie fails for me in terms of bringing that big Christmas punch that I expect from these films, suffering from superficial gimmicks, semi complete story lines, drier humor, and a relationship that is sentimental but not what I thought it would be. Overall, the movie is enjoyable with a group, but I think it would find a better home on Hallmark or a local streaming.  However, if you are looking for a feel good Christmas movie this early, check this one out.

 

My scores for its genre are:

 

Christmast/Comedy/Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

 

Managed To Make It Midway To A Quality War Film

Midway Poster

 

War is hell a wise person once said, and in many ways we the general public have no idea what it was like on those battlegrounds where so many sacrificed so much.  Fortunately for many of us, the movies have offered a glimpse into the world, opening our eyes to the world that cares little of its soldiers in regards to decency and humane treatment.  Many of these films are often about the action, and while not as prominent as they once were back in the day, they still offer some intense views of history.  Past this introduction, this weekend, yet another historical remake is flying in to make a landing, in hopes of wowing the group once more with its depiction of the great war.  Robbie K here with yet another review as we look into:

 

Movie: Midway (2019)

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Modern Technology Prowess

Multiple Aspect providing different viewpoints

The Intensity Of Some War Scenes

The Decent Acting

The Intelligence Aspect

 

DISLIKES:

 

Disjointed Plot

Too many Perspectives

The Semi Forced Love Story

The Choppiness of the scenes

Semi-sloppy use of big names

The Action Scenes

 

SUMMARY:

 

Modern technology allows us to make things more realistic and engaging, and should in theory lead to better fights.  In a way Midway accomplishes this by bringing the chaos with speaker booming effects, special effects that light up the screen, and dances with planes that once relied on plywood models.  It is certainly the selling points of the trailers and should appeal to the modern audiences expectations as realism and style come together.  This film though took a different approach compared to the previous theaters of war, not focusing so much on the action from America by itself, but instead dividing the focus between both parties involved.  This dynamic is impressive to see because it helps show the strategy involved in something you have only read about in a history textbook, allowing for a different appreciation of the tactics in war.  In fact, my favorite aspect, as well as my good buddy, both agreed that seeing the intelligence component involved with determining how to fight the Pacific campaign.  Much of the film is dedicated to showing how codes were cracked, departments coordinated, and risks were taken to determine the best places to strike and this new perspective was very strongly placed.  When the battles did finally occur, there are several moments where you get pulled into the intensity, feeling like you are part of the squad and in the cockpit during this operation.  Nice editing on these parts, and quite an adrenaline rush at the times it works.  Finally, the acting is not an issues in this film, as all personalities of war are brought in and everyone executes there roles quite well when they are on stage.  I’m not saying Academy Award Level, but it’s believable and appropriate for this film’s approach.

 

For all its worth though, there are several limitations for this reviewer that make the film a little less impressive compared to its predecessors.  For one thing, the film feels disjointed, as our time hops and evolution of war occur a little too frequently to necessarily keep track of everything.  All the pesrpectives, while again interesting, also have too much going on, leading to breaking up a lot of scenes just as they start cooking with gas.  The result is a rather contained movie that struggles to find the approach it wants, with choppy scenes that sort of scatter the coordination rather than unite it.  This is especially true for the romance story they try to put in here, which was unnecessary giving the presentation and could have been left out.  Throw in several attempts at character development, the potential bonds that can form between a number of characters, and even the squad mates themselves and you again get sort of piece meal presentations that did not achieve what Pearl Harbor did long ago.  Once more, this reviewer feels part of this is due to how many big names they have, trying to get the most out of the big price tags that come with them.  Midway’s crew acts just fine, but there were so many missed elements and character interactions that I feel many of these people were unnecessary.  Certainly they were able to point out all the contributions they did, but to deny the full fledged chemistry and quality, well that was the disappointment for me.  Finally, the action scenes.  An action junky like me always crave for cohesive battle scenes that utilize their groups well, something that the early war movies, and even some films like Saving Private Ryan knew how to do.  In this one, all the perspectives and heroes were scattered that the action scenes felt again very sloppy and short, chopped up moments that ended too fast or how long it took to start.  Again realistically it accomplishes the portrayal, but at this point and with what the trailers built up… I wanted more out of a modern day, technological behemoth like this one looked to be.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Let’s wrap it up then shall we?  Midway accomplishes the idea of putting modern faces in traditional stories, and this theater of wars proves that trying new things does not always come together for this reviewer.  Sure, the technological advantages are good and all the actors recruited do their parts to bring the group of heroes to life and retell the legacies of men who faced the demons of war.  I’ll also again give them props for focusing a lot on the strategy and intelligence required to pull off the miracle that we did.  However, all of these perspectives and approaches to the story made for what looked like a difficulty to focus on the story they wanted to tell.  The result is again a disjointed movie that struggles to bring A games to any perspective, and relies on B and C graded stories.  Your truly would have loved a little more action to come together, as the trailers promised, but at least the intelligence parts work together to make for an engaging plot.  For special effects it qualifies for a theater visit, but outside of that, hold this one for home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/War/History/Action:   6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Way To GoGo Jojo! Follow This Rabbit To Ridiculous Fun

Jojo Rabbit Poster

 

The comedy genre is always a toss-up as to the quality, especially given the political hype that the world is revolving on.  Yet, despite the mediocrity of the movies that come out, you get that really funny diamond that sparkles and leaves its glow on the cinema world.  Today, a movie that has had interesting trailers hopes to make for one of those unique movies.  Tonight I finish my weekly reviews with a spoof that looks to be controversial and a good time as we tune into the ridiculous concept.  Let’s get ourselves set for the final review on:

 

Movie:  Jojo Rabbit (2019)

 

Director:

Taika Waititi

Writers:

Christine Leunens (novel), Taika Waititi (screenplay)

Stars:

Roman Griffin DavisThomasin McKenzieScarlett Johansson

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

The Pace

The Emotional Spectrum Covered

The Comedy/Writing

Taika Waititi as Hitler

 

DISLIKES:

 

Animal Death Unnecessary

Inappropriate at Times/Crossed the Lines

The Ending Awkwardness

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s get the parts most aren’t interested in out of the way first.  The acting of JoJo Rabbit is perfect for this type of film, as various grade A actors bring their ridiculous sides out and had the audience laughing throughout most of the film.  Jojo’s adventures is certainly odd, and it’s nice to see actors fall into stride without having to force the humor.  Yet it’s really Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie who steal the show as they not only master the comedic delivery, but somehow tap into the vulnerability of the child psyche leading to more emotional performances.  I had feared that this artistic movie was going to be slow, but Jojo’s pace was pretty good for this reviewer, finding times to slow down for the dramatic moments, and then ramping up for the more fun moments.  Waititi’s work continues to impress me in how he strikes balance with things and this movie is again a shining example of this.  Very similar to the child actors, the movie itself goes through the roller coaster ride of emotions, dropping to lows that made members of my audience group tear up and cry, before climbing back up into the fun times of the comedy.  At this point, I’ll say the comedy was my favorite element of this film.  Like the early works of Family Guy and Spongebob, Jojo Rabbit is able to make stupid, so much fun and entertaining.  The young aspiring Nazi has a fantastic view of the world, delivering dry sarcasm and potent jabs that are funny to hear coming out of a ten-year old’s mouth.  Such clever writing and delivery, combined with the slapstick, makes all these crazy ideas work, alongside the fact that the movie finds a way to pick just the right moments to take a break with the serious moments.  And of course, seeing the director play a very flamboyant and warped version of Hitler had me in stitches, as the invisible best friend of JoJo brings a new imaginative look to the historical figure.

 

Given all the good of the movie, there were a few things that crossed the line for this reviewer and took away from the movie.  First off is the unnecessary death of animals, a cardinal rule of mine that gets points off.  Sure it may not be the worst thing about a film, but for me its bothersome, especially when done the way this one was.  Second comes into some moments where Waititi cross the line a little too far for me, going down inappropriate stereotypes and strong lines that made me a little uncomfortable.  Fortunately these moments are few and far in between, but still, saving this for the director’s cut would have been a step in the right direction.  My worst complain though, is the awkward finale to the movie, which though makes sense from an earlier question in the movie, the final scene is a little too silly and awkward to wrap up what was a solid storytelling adventure.  Why he went this way?  Only Waititi can answer it, and although cute, this reviewer would have enjoyed a little more symbolic moment (which happened three minutes before hand) as the final shot.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Jojo rabbit is a darker comedy, but so long as you can accept this and the ridiculous nature that comes with it, then you can expect to enjoy this comedy.  It’s acting is on point, the emotional levels packed within are touching and entertaining, and the comedy had me laughing extremely hard at the mocking this story told.  Just like Thor Ragnarok, Waititi continues to prove his skills as a director and writer, finding ways to really bring comedy into a film, but never dump other qualities that a film needs.  This art form he brings is why I recommend this movie be enjoyed at the theaters, and I hope you laugh as hard as I did.  However, I’ll warn people that the darker comedies, and focus on the evils of Nazi history may be too much for some audience members, so consider this before buying a ticket. Overall, this movie was a hoot and I implore people see it and have fun at the treasure trove of comedy that lies within.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama/War:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

I Don’t Think You Will Sleep Through This One

Doctor Sleep: The IMAX 2D Experience Poster

 

Stephen King is on a role this year with two stories turned to movies, among other products, and potentially raking in even more cash. The age of taking author’s works and putting visual spins on them continues to thrive and sometimes we get an interpretation that brings our nightmares/expectations to life.   On the other hand, the limitations of movies can sometimes lead to bad projects that are disappointing more than anything.  What will happen in this interpretation?  Well I’m here to share my opinions to help you get the most out of your movie going experience.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie: Doctor Sleep

 

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan

Stars:

Ewan McGregorRebecca FergusonKyliegh Curran

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Feels Like A Visual Form Of Book
  • Nice Haunting Atmosphere
  • Pacing For The Most Part is Good
  • Great Antagonists
  • Fantastic References To original/With modern twists
  • Story Telling As a Whole

 

DISLIKES

  • The Run Time
  • Expecting More Integration of Shining’s connections
  • Not Scary
  • Graphic Violence That is Haunting But Disturbing

 

SUMMARY

 

When the revealed the cast of this film I was interested in seeing how they would adapt into King’s Universe.  The result is positive for me with the three main characters really taking a shine to the multi-layered characters each contributing to the terror in some way.  McGregor takes much of the lifting in his evolution of tortured spirit, keeping that quiet intensity famous of his younger counterpart, but somehow pulling out other tricks when the time is right to give a psychiatrically tortured counterpart.  As for the antagonist, Rebecca Ferguson is wonderful counterpart to McGregor, keeping that same creepy tone, but this time bringing a savage/psychotic edge that fits well in the horror genre, think villains from Walking Dead before it went too far.  As for the talents of Curran, well she was the perfect balance that sort of inherited both sides of the Shining coin, executing her vulnerable side well, but also managing to bring girl power to an even medium.

Acting aside, the rest of the movie thrives in the element of bring King’s imagination to life.  To be honest it does feel like a visualization of the book, the intricate details, outlines story, and connecting points a wonderful example of the art of literature translation.  King’s words always paint a picture of sheer horror, immersing one into a nightmare realm that goes into the darkest corners of the minds and dreams.  Doctor Sleep’s haunting chills line just about every minute of this film, bringing with it characters that fit into it, primarily the antagonists that Danny faces.  Such fitting characters and truly nightmarish villains make a wonderful centerpiece to get hooked onto.  Yet, the movie does not just focus on making the characters the star, instead finding way to integrate the Shining into the film while sticking to the originality of the tale.  Seeing various nods back to the original tale, though with modern face lifts, and having them there to support the tale, again getting an applause from me. With such details, you might think the pacing will suffer, but Flanagan accomplished the task of keeping all these details and plot dynamics balanced, but not sacrificing the entertainment value that movies are expected.  In conclusion to this like section, the story telling is told well at an engaging pace that makes for one of the better horror movies and book translations in a long while.

 

Yet for me, it’s rare to see a perfect movie that I love everything about and this was true for Doctor Sleep as well.  For one thing the run time is a little long for a later night showing, I know my fault, but despite how well the balance of this tale is, there was some pacing that made the 2.5 hours a little too long for me.  Perhaps it was from working a 15-hour day, or maybe it’s due to wanting a little more of the Shining’s plot components brought in, given how long the opening was about the time lapse between the two stories I might have wanted a little more integration into the mix to help fully get my horror element on. In addition, the movie did not do the most in the scare factor for me, going more down the  drama/thriller category than the actual horror element.  I’m not saying others will not get scared, but it all depends on what you like to jump at creeps vs jump scares.  For me though, the aspect I know was needed, but I did not like is the torturing and graphic violence components.  I can say I like action movies and over the top stunts, but in this movie the violence is all about inducing the disturbing, skin crawling factors that these books are famous for.  Weak constitutions to graphic displays of fear inducing dismantling need to rethink diving into this, for there are several scenes where this factor comes into full swing with little mercy.

 

  The VERDICT

            I have to agree with my friends who saw the film, Doctor Sleep is one of the better novel interpretations that I have seen in quite a while.  My favorite aspects of this film are how much like a book it plays out, yet never sacrifices the entertainment factors and visualization components that films need.  A haunting atmosphere to play in, with great characters to bring out the solid story, I feel many King and horror films will be impressed with the presentation of this tale.  While the run time is a little longer than expected, and the scares are at a minimum compared to the first film I watched a long time ago, the true component to warn people about is the graphic violence/torture that may haunt your memories for some time.  It’s true I would have liked a little more of the Shining aspect, but overall a solid story telling from King and company again.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, as it has theater quality effects and good storytelling for most audience members to enjoy.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Horror:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

Is This Fire Burning In The Right Way?

Playing with Fire Poster

 

In the age of modern movie goers, no idea is to silly, wacky, or ridiculous to warrant a trial on the big or small screen.  With celebrities jumping all over the place, one never knows what role they will dive into next.  Today, one of the popular stars and master of theatrics (at least in terms of sporting events) is diving back into the kiddy pool in hopes to bring an early season comedy.  Can Mr.  John Cena  make the latest kid flick be awesome or is it going to be lost to the cascade of cinema pieces this weekend. Robbie K back in for another review as we check out.

 

Movie: Playing With Fire (2019)

 

Director:

Andy Fickman

Writers:

Dan EwenMatt Lieberman

Stars:

Judy GreerKeegan-Michael KeyJohn Cena

 

LIKES:

 

  • Funny
  • Fast Paced
  • Good Writing
  • Lots of Comedy Styles
  • Cute/Adorable
  • Touching

 

DISIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Seems A Bit Rushed
  • Imbalance Of Styles
  • The Trailers Have Touched A Lot

 

SUMMARY:

 

Playing with fire brings the heat in terms of just being a fun, family geared movie that is charming on many levels.  The funny nature of the film is not the most original, but brings a happy energy to the theater and makes it enjoyable to watch.  Throw in lots of comedy styles like slapstick, misquotes, and bathroom humor, well you get a concoction that is going to entertain the young and young at heart.  Fortunately for those with short attention spans, the film does not smolder too long, but rather unleashes the torrent in a fast-paced tale that should keep most engaged in the short run time, so again great for the kids.  While not the most unique writing, this reviewer enjoyed the writing of this family film and felt that it balanced cute and touching moments in that same wrapping that is shiny to watch.  Playing With Fire is going to burn its way to the heart of many, utilizing those perfect angles, piano lead songs, and cliché writing to really warm the core of its viewers.  Is it cheesy?  Absolutely!  Yet, it works when looking at the cute package the film as a whole is.

 

Despite all this though, here are some of the things I usually dock in terms of points.  One, the movie is predictable, which I’m guessing most of you predicted.  Playing With Fire is not really into pulling punches, and from start to finish you know where the film is heading, with my only hopes of a comedic joke sending me crunched over laughing so hard.  As I said earlier, the film moves at a brisk pace, which while entertaining also cost the movie some time on telling a fleshed-out story.  Cena and squad’s stories could have had a lot more time to push characters further, give them some layers, and still mix with the cute atmosphere.  I think it’s going to appease most audience members, but given that other kids movies have found the balance of pace and telling, I feel this movie could have tried a little harder.  Something else imbalanced is the styles of comedy, or perhaps more so the audience this movie will appeal to.  Playing With Fire is all about families with young kids, so don’t expect those looking for a raunchy comedy or clever comedy to potentially love this film.  Finally, the biggest thing I’m always worried about is trailers ruining a movie, and Playing With Fire has burned the avenue down with how much has been shown in the numerous trailers.  If you’ve seen the trailers repetitively, as I have, then you’ll have many of the funny moments and story elements ingrained in your brain, which means less bang for the buck and even fewer surprises in this already surprise limited movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            If you’ve seen the trailers, you can pretty much expect what the trailers promised for this film.  Playing With Fire is all about being a cute, straightforward film that will tickle the fancy of the young and young at heart.  Within its family friendly environment comes writing that feels like a 90s sitcom/drama, filled with diverse comedy styles and touching moments to get the warmth of the holidays in. While this is all expected though, for movie scoring it would have been nice if the film could have burst out of the straight track and twisted into something better.  It’s predictably and rushed storytelling sort of cheated me out of a complete picture, while the lack of more adult based humor will potentially bore others who have outgrown the family friendly humor.  Finally, the fact this movie falls victim to trailer syndrome will further dilute the experience.  This film is worth a trip for the families, but in terms of special effects and overall picture, this could have done well on straight to cable release. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Family:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Incomplete Artistic Liberties Derail This UnderGround Railroad Story

Harriet Poster

    Historical dramas are another fine genre to grace the new age, but with them you get artistic liberties that sometimes does not go the way they planned.  Yet, we keep trying to make the next ultimate movie to bring these people to modern times, and help teach their contributions to society through the magic of film.  So what does tonight’s film have to offer?  That’s where yours truly comes in and thus Robbie K is here with another review as we check out:

 

Movie: Harriet (2019)

 

Director:

Kasi Lemmons

Writers:

Gregory Allen Howard (screenplay by), Kasi Lemmons(screenplay by)

Stars:

Cynthia ErivoLeslie Odom Jr.Joe Alwyn

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Recreation Of History
  • The Cultural Songs
  • The Dialogue
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pacing is Off
  • A Little Too Montage Moments
  • Other characters to be integrated
  • Weaker Antagonist Characters
  • The Vision Piece Of The Puzzle
  • The Action Component or lack of

Summary:

 

Movies continue to prove their abilities to act as windows into different worlds, and in this case the budget they have is impressive in recreating the troubled times of our countries past.  Harriet’s dive back into the Civil War comes with impressive recreations of a time forgotten, bringing the simplicity of the plantations and the surrounding towns to full life to immerse one into the culture.  Costumes play a major support adding a subtle edge to the movie that will integrate you into the culture a little more.  This is perhaps the biggest strength of Harriet, showing cultural components of the time period and while the visual elements are impressive the writing only augments that to bigger levels.  Harriet loves showing off the song traditions of that time period, in the power of religious hymns and soul music that not only served to inspire, but acted as a means of signaling to others.  Erivo’s voice holds the power you expect of this music, and while I would have liked more diversity in the song I give props to the use and execution of the power melodies that Tubman held in this film.  Fortunately, this thing is not a musical, and the rest of the spoken word contains a powerful dialogue that makes for a wonderful platform of explaining the story.  Harriet’s dialogue contains the raw passion of the times, bringing out the emotional fury of the times, while also the passion of the people.  It’s deep, metaphor filled writing is the stuff novelists love to unleash, and it will surely be on quotable boards in future classrooms.  As to who unleashes that writing, well the actors get the props and skills from this reviewers to bring that fire to the film.  Erivo leads the group into dealing out how much hurt and anguish the people of this time had, and showing how it fueled their drive to bring people to freedom.  It’s a bit overdramatic I’ll admit, but when honed with the words, you get those models that made the women behind me comment in agreement and potentially act as the focal point of the movie.

 

Yet, for all the passion that the movie has there are some things that I was not impressed with.  For one thing the pacing feels a little off for me, starting out slow and meticulous at the set-up, only to go fast in the journey to freedom, before going slow once more.  The stop and go approach has never been my preference, and based on the expectations from the trailers I had hoped for a little more conflict and impasse to add spark to the mix.  Sadly, the montage approach was used where only small segments took the form of the rescuing scenes and intense moments that was a little disappointing to be honest.  Now let’s take in the characters that were built up in the beginning.  Most of them practically don’t exist, guess that’s why it is called Harriet I guess, and it led to many characters feeling only as afterthoughts and not really involved in the story.  I would have liked to see some of these people work alongside her, have more character involvement, than small exchanges, especially when they went to all the trouble to introduce and try to build them up.  But, the drama aspect takes over and leads to very dramatic, bluntly ended affairs that were almost not needed.  It’s like these intense moments were just the seasoning on a burger, rather than the meat, leading to flat ended plots that were a little boring to say the least.  This is especially true for the antagonists, men I thought would be ruthless hounds in their pursuit of Harriet, with legendary skills that would push Harriet to the heights of her abilities.  Instead, we get egotistical, weaker characters that do little to contribute to the story outside of, looking like grandiose fools and do a little hurting on the side.  I’m with a lot of fans here in stating that if you are going to blur the line of reality and fantasy, do it in a little more style with characters that actually made the journey worthwhile.  Another thing I’m mixed about is the vision aspect of the movie.  Harriet’s connection to the Lord is one I’ll always envy from this film in getting communication back, but the way this movie did it made it like a super power that acted as her means of movie.  An original twist?  Yes!  What was needed for this movie?  I don’t think so and can’t say this vision was my cup of tea.  Finally, I had hoped that the trailers showing Harriet wielding guns and an army was going to add a little more flair to the mix, helping with the pacing and adding that edge that we discussed earlier.  Perhaps then the movie magic decisions would have been worth the effort.

 

The VERDICT:

            Depending on what you are going in here for will determine how much of Harriet you like.  It’s certainly the dramatic flair of modern cinema, taking lots of liberties to make history a little more pleasing to the attention span of today.  If you can appreciate the liberties, the full-on passion and professional writing for powerful monologues then I feel you’re going to enjoy the attitude of this film.  Throw in some impressive visual recreation and acting to bring all this to life, and well you’ve got the world of dramatic Civil War.  However, if you are looking for historical accuracy or at least a dramatic world that has a lot more edge and character involvement, then prepared to be ignorant or disappointed.  Harriet’s  artistic liberties were appreciated, but in the long run it did not come altogether for me and I was left wanting a little more investment to bring this magnificent woman’s story to life. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Biography/Drama:   6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

Is This a Dark Fate For The Series?

Terminator: Dark Fate Poster

 

The Terminator timeline is like a game of connect the dots that suddenly gets more dots and has to be redrawn.  No matter how many times we think the story is over, the team’s quest for more bucks finds ways to try and give “unique” stories, but still keep it in the universe.  After the reception of the last film, I can’t lie that I’m surprised a sixth installment is coming.  Yet here we are, ready to review the latest entry into the Sci-Fi franchise.  What’s ins tore?  Well Robbie K is here to shed some light and potentially alter your future.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

 

Director:

Tim Miller

Writers:

James Cameron (story by), Charles H. Eglee (story by)

Stars:

Linda HamiltonArnold SchwarzeneggerMackenzie Davis

 

 

Likes:

  • Good Acting
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development
  • Surprisingly Deeper
  • The Graphics At Time
  • The Pace
  • The Action

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictability
  • The Unnecessary Politics
  • The Computer Graphics
  • Bloated At Points
  • More Action Needed
  • Convoluting The Timeline Even Further

 

SUMMARY

 

A Terminator movie has never been known for Academy Award winning performances, but this reviewer will not lie that he enjoyed the acting.  The classic champions of the franchise succeed in reliving their characters, bringing a new light to the simplistic roles, but yet being familiar.  Meanwhile newcomers like Davis and Reyes succeed in fitting into the new roles that the franchise wants them to take.  It’s not the most complicated of the roles, but the it works for the premise of the film.  The writing stems from those characters being the simple cat and mouse game with a little gun play involved, but in this installment the comedy seems to be there once more to offset the darker tones, with simple jokes integrated into natural conversation that make fans like me laugh.  All of this boils down to more dynamic characters, where people are much more than simple fodder for the terminators, but instead starting to show more heart and wisdom then what I think I have seen in any film.  This opens up into a surprisingly deeper film, finally achieving characters that we want to see, instead of the generic one-dimensional shells that are no better than the robots they are fighting, which is something I enjoyed.  Yet, this does not mean the Terminators have deviated too much from their normal delivery of the Terminator films.  The computer graphics have continued to improve, helping beef up action sequences, and help design one of the deadliest series to date.  These qualities are the thumbs up of computer technology in this film and things I absolutely love to see.  When it comes to the pace of the film, Dark Fates keeps things moving, refusing to linger too long as they chase/hunt continues and the defense plans need to evolve.  For guys like me, this pace is welcomed, because it keeps things exciting, but yet does not move so fast that the character development is rushed.  The heavy dialogue moments are then interrupted by some decent action sequences, with the first and last moments holding the planning and execution of scenes I like.  Fights are vicious, fun, exciting, and have the darkness to allow for some seriously awesome moves and struggles that are fitting of this series.

 

Sadly with all the stuff I enjoyed of the film, there are still some things the series is working to find balance in for me.  First, the predictability of the story is probably one of the most obvious things I’ve seen in a long time.  Attempts to hide the truth are poorly diverted, with too many nonverbal cues and obvious bait liners present to point the trend along the entire time until the “big’ reveal at the end.  Like, many films, Terminator 6 has fallen victim to the political messages of the time, with some lines, and the twist, a little too focused on these issues that did not seem quite a needed in this tale.  All these political entanglements with attempts to throw us off the scent led to the film being a little bloated, the over 2 hours run time that not needed when there were some things that could have been cut.  At this point you might be saying, who cares about the story, I’m in this film for the thrills and chaos.  Well even at this point Terminator’s team still has a few things to tune up.  For one thing, the computer work may have thumbs up in design and sound editing, but they still have not mastered the ability for the smoothest/most realistic looking action.  There are some movements and transitions that still look a little corny to me, and I laughed at the obvious actor placement that they threw into the mix.  In addition, there could have been either a few more action moments or maybe a little more evolved action to again make the entire time investment worth it.  Terminator’s opening moment sets the bar high, and it would have been nice to see the momentum carried on, or at least the finale having even more bite to go hand in hand with the storytelling.  Overall though, this film is all about further convoluting the timeline and potentially opening up for the next chapter that is “different” but yet the same.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Going into with lower expectations, I’ll admit I enjoyed Dark Fates on a variety of levels.  Old and new cast team up to start the legacy of the film off right, brining character development that is deeper than anticipated and style that is aggressively awesome.  With fast pace and action to keep things moving, alongside some impressive video and sound editing, this film delivers on the special effects boom.  Yet, the film still cannot find the full balance it needs, bringing predictability and politics to what should be a film that is willing to take a step into new realms.  Throw in some work with the special effects and better finesse of the action scenes, this bloated part of the film could have been filed away to make a better film.  Still, worth a trip to the theater for this one, especially for fans of the series. 

 

My scores are: 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0