Artistic Dance, Predictable Plot

           

 So sorry this is late, but let’s face it there shouldn’t be any mystery behind the Step Up genre.  Over the last six years, these dance flicks have continued to pour out into the theaters and with today’s modern television have been eaten up by the public.  While the dancing has always been entertaining on various levels, the producers are still struggling to add diversity and that something new to keep the crowd interested.  Unfortunately for the last two installments, that new edge is 3-D, which may have you wondering, “Is this really needed for a dance movie?”  Well I’m back from a late showing to give you the scoop on Step Up Revolution and hopefully answer your questions of whether this sequel is worth a watch.

As many of you may have noticed, the Step Up series started out balanced in story, character development, and well choreographed dance moves.  However, like so many modern movies these days the story is usually sacrificed for some other movie magic that usually is overused more than the send text command on a cellular phone.  Yet to my surprise this movie managed to keep a slightly better balance than its previous two predecessors that will grab hold of other audience members.  Now I’m not saying it’s the best, but there is some character development and shallow love stories that will make Dirty Dancing fans pine over that classic romanticism.  This doesn’t mean it’s like a dance version of Twilight, no instead it’s presented more as a Romeo and Juliet theme where the girl and guys families don’t see eye to eye.  The lovers decided to hide their identities from their respective elders and instead of killing each other with swords, use their moves to help express the feelings and fight the bad guys.  Despite the nice presentation though, the story is predictable as ever and there really is no surprise about what is going to happen to whom.  I won’t tell you any details, but let’s face it in a movie like this you can pretty much guess the ending with little effort.

Of course if you’re like most fans of this movie you care less about the story and character development.  Instead the focus might shift to other aspects like dancing, music, and yes eye candy for both guys and girls.  Well this movie is definitely all those characteristics wrapped in a colorful, techno/rap wrapper with lots of flashing lights.  Fans of the previous installments will be impressed with the dance numbers this installment has.  Most of the dances have one of the stars leading a well choreographed mob in movements that would give a Michael Jackson music video a run for its money.  However, what impresses me are some of the sick stunts, the extras throw out in between that add that extra edge to the performance.  While some of these moves are rather silly, i.e. a few guys looking like they are going through electroshock therapy, there are a few flips that will make you think, “Hey he’s part Jedi.”  The breakdancing is quite good and when intertwined with the various dance styles in this movie, one can’t help but be impressed with the work and talent of these people.  However don’t jump the gun and think this movie is just a bunch of flips and protest art rebel gestures, no there is some poetic skills involved as well.  As the love story develops, there are various scenes that show off the more graceful side of dancing, i.e. ballerina moves that are elegant and beautiful.  Those who like this artistic style will again be impressed with the fluidity of the actresses involved, especially Kathryn McCormick, who continues to show us she can dance.

However what is dance without music and Step Up Revolution once again picks a soundtrack worthy of their moves.  I haven’t found out if these remixes are original or picked up from another D.J., but regardless they have been selected to help provide not only the beat for the dances, but also the emotion.  The moment Penelope opens up the trunk and hits play, you start to get pulled into the song and feel the emotions of the setting.  Although many of the songs have aggression and rage to their tones, there are a few that are softer and more trance like.  I warn you that if you don’t like Techno, Rap, or a combination of the two, you will definitely hate the music.  The tracks are uncensored and full of cursing, slang, and sometimes loud yelling, which may distract you from the art of the editing.

Finally if you are one who is going for staring at beautiful women or handsome men, well again you’ve picked the right movie.  Unlike some other recent movies, Step Up Revolution does a nice job showing off the bodies of the stars and helps get people howling without stepping over the line.  Most of these people can dance and are okay actors, but they were also chosen to rope in a wider array of audience members.  For me I cannot lie that McCormick is very cute, did a decent acting job, and impressed me with her moves.  Even Ryan Guzman and Misha Gabriel Hamilton did a nice job with their roles, and didn’t just flex their muscles and look sad for the women, as many modern guy stars tend to do.  Girls don’t worry though as there are plenty of shirt off moments to make you happy, and guys well there are plenty of bikini clad women to make you drool.

Overall Step Up Revolution may be one of the better movies of this series.  With awesome moves, fitting soundtrack, and decent acting, it’s definitely refreshing for the audience.  However it is still a dance movie with a lot of skewing towards dancing and less to story, so don’t expect masterpiece.

Here are the scores:

Drama/Music/Romance:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

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More Sex and Cursing Than Alien Hunting

 What do you get when you mix a control freak, a partying father, a rebellious cop wannabe, and an English man with a sexual dream?  The answer is the cast for the latest comedy/ sci fi mixture titled the Watch.  However, don’t let the genre combination fool you as this is not about four big stars taking off into space to have intergalactic adventures.  Instead, it’s a rag tag bunch of comedians attempting to uncover the truth about aliens in their neighborhood and the struggles they face.  Now while this sounds like a horrible and tired plot, 20th century fox has managed to recruit some big named stars to hopefully deliver the laughing punch I’ve so been looking for.  Was the combination of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade strong enough to make the movie fun, or has their comedy grown stale and weak.  Read on to find out.

Let’s start by saying that these four stars hunting out aliens in a rural neighborhood is a bit of a stretch and sure to be interesting.  However, the shallow plot aside, there were a few deeper and unexpected things that this film had to offer.  One of these things just happens to be the amount of gore and bloodiness this movie has to offer.  Throughout the entire movie, there are a few rather graphic shots of both aliens and human getting dismembered, which should be a warning for those planning on taking kids.  Although the goriness is not the most gruesome, it’s still a little shocking to see someone’s heart get ripped out of their bodies for this movie.

What was even more shocking though was the amount of sexual material present in this film, which I wasn’t expecting as much.  Most of the jokes, dialog, and language focused on penis, sex, or vagina jokes, which for a sci/fi movie about hunting down aliens is not what comes to mind.  While some of the jokes were funny, or the delivery of the jokes, I grew a little bored as the same innuendos were constantly thrown at me.  Unfortunately there were also a few times where the staff got a little too carried away with the jokes or mannerisms and really grossed me out.  My threshold for sexual comedy is definitely lower, so I’m probably more offended by it, however you have been warned.  Perhaps what you shouldn’t be surprised by is the foul language that also goes along with the sexual dialog.  Like most R movies, the Watch is filled with constant use of the F word.  If you haven’t been desensitized to that word yet, you’ll get closer with this movie as both Hill and Vaughn say it without any limits.  The Watch doesn’t stop there though, as the writers decided to integrate the M F and C words into the mixture as well, though they haven’t quite gotten to the point of Kick-Ass cursing.  Again well timed cursing is okay with me, but used in excessive amounts just gets stale, bland, and rather annoying for this reviewer.

With the negative surprises aside, let’s talk about a few other things I caught in this movie.  Like most comedy movies, the trailer can ruin a good amount of comedic genius, and the Watch is no different.  The lines that I’ve seen in the countless trailers were old by the time I saw the film with the only difference being the addition of sexual innuendos and cursing, that were edited out.  On the positive side though there were a number of “interesting” and sometimes funny jokes that were not in the trailers.  Vaughn and Hill in particular had some ridiculous stunts and lines that were rather funny, and kept my friends and me laughing amongst the sea of drab.  What was even funnier for me thought was the way the duo spoke.  Fans of Vaughn’s loud, crazy, and sporadic rants will be pleased to see him rant like some overgrown juvenile as he explains his philosophies on various problems.  Those who liked Jonah Hill in 21 Jump street, will pleased to see his attempts to be cool and tough return once more, though this time he doesn’t have to rely on his costars to set him up.  Even Ayoade has a few well timed lines and his British accent and new foreign guy story provide some interesting scenarios.  Stiller though is still not the funniest guy, only having a few awkward scenes and one hit wonder lines to get the audience laughing.  Instead his character is there to kind of keep morals and focus on the mission of the watch and keep the chaotic actions of the Watch at bay.  He also helps drive the plot, character, and morals and helps add some emotional depth to the movie to help make more realistic characters, though there is not much focus on this in a comedy.  What was the funniest thing for me though were the various movie references that were mentioned in the movie.  If you listen closely enough and know your movies you’ll find at least four movie references that will make you laugh.

The Watch is definitely a typical comedy that has some good chemistry and well delivered lines, however it is still just a mediocre comedy.  Fans of crude humor will find the vulgarity very entertaining and will enjoy the hour and half.  The chemistry of the team and their diverse backgrounds also help keep things fresh, but not even four pronunciations of the F bomb can keep the word from growing stale.  Is it worth a trip to the movies?  I say no, but it has Netflix/Redbox potential for later dates.  Yet if you have to go see it, well grab your frat brothers or poker buddies, because that’s the prime audience.  My scores for the films are the following:

Sci-Fi/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

Action Packed Finish to An Awesome Trilogy

             

  About four years ago, Christopher Nolan impressed us all with his version of the Batman vs. Joker rivalry in the Dark Knight film.  He wound up setting the bar pretty high for super hero movies and managed to push the limits of suspenseful darkness.  So when he announced the third movie in the series, he had some pretty big shoes to fill for many fans of the batman film franchise.  Did he accomplish that goal?  This reviewer is here to give some insight into that question and try to verify the truth of what the ads say on TV.  So gear up for my review on the Dark Knight Rises.

Like most Batman movies, The Dark Knight rises (DKR) is about a villain once again trying to bring Gotham city to its knees and spread chaos.  The villain they chose for this movie is Bane (Tom Hardy) a normally drug induced DC version of the Hulk who just smashes stuff.  Seeing this guy as the main villain didn’t raise my hopes too high, but to my surprise they did a nice job with his sinister side.  Nolan’s version of the muscle mad men actually had a brain some coordinated fighting, and even some speaking roles.  Unfortunately for me the threat of Bane gets waned from his voice, which sounds a lot like Sean Connery trying to make a threatening speech.  However, once he stops talking and starts taking action, his menacing power returns once more and the audience are once again reminded at how criminal insanity of Batman can be a scary thing.

Perhaps the best additions to the movie are Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who added some spice, pizzazz and subplot to the movie to help deviate from the linear Batman fights bad guy plot.  Hathaway played her role fantastically and captured the seductive, sleek, and controlled thief to a much needed level.  She certainly did her homework for this movie and for me filled some pretty big shoes, or should I say very high heels, to bring the legendary cat burglar to life.  Yet why Nolan and the storyboard team decided to make her an idiot when it came to Batman’s identity, she couldn’t tell between Wayne’s normal voice and his grunting, I’ll never know.  Regardless girls will be impressed with Hathaway’s females rule atmosphere on the movie, and guys will be happy to see her walking, fighting, and driving in tight spandex.  Like most of his movies, Levitt does another fantastic job playing a big role and what a role indeed.  Nolan had the character Blake act as a bridge that linked together many of the stories, many of the characters, and many of the scenes itself.  Levitt once again managed to do a good job adapting to each situation and provided the emotional edge required to bring the audience into the moment, which is something to be admired.

The rest of the actors did a good job in the film and fit into their character roles well for the shifting story.  However let’s get to some other important things about this movie that people are interested in hearing.  Let’s start with the story of DKR.  For the most part it’s essentially Batman trying to stop the bad guys from once again destroying his city.  However, what differs in this film is the character developing plots and scenes that are meant to bring us closer to the characters.  Where the first movie was about identity and the second one was about justice, this third film was about redemption and the future.  Nolan has somehow used his gifts to help tie past into present and somehow pave the way to the future all while keeping the story interesting.  A few “twists” helped add some shock value to it, but if you are a fan of the series and pay attention you can predict most of the things.  All of the characters in this movie though, minus the extras of course, are involved in the story development and each adds their piece to the redemption puzzle.  Unfortunately, Nolan still likes to make half of his characters clueless to the fact that a simple change in voice is enough to fool their otherwise brilliant minds.

Now let’s talk about the action.  Of the three Dark Knight movies, this is by far the most action packed.  The movie has a number of chase scenes that are stunningly detailed and designed to fit into the dark world.  Although the bike sometimes looks fake, the graphics team still had me excited as the Dark Knight overcame obstacles and obstructions that would make many cyclists jealous.  The new bat plane even had a good chase scene, but aside from that well it mainly just hovered and looked pretty for the audience.  Instead the action was used as a story telling device in this movie mainly as a ploy to help describe the chaos of the city.  A couple of the scenes even used the action to help elaborate more on Bane and Wayne’s pasts and motives for being and what drove their characters to do the things they did.  Regardless the fist on fist fights were rather fitting for a Batman movie, though don’t expect them to be jumping off walls, using swords, or summoning anime bolts of lightning.  If you do, well guess what you’ll be disappointed.  As for the mob fight scene you see in the trailer, it’s okay, but like so many movies the budget forced them to essentially resort to ant swarm syndrome, where the camera just zooms out and you see a whole bunch of people running into one another.

I guess the only last thing to share is some of the weaknesses in this movie.  For one thing the time of the movie is a little overbearing, as almost three hours for a batman movie is a little tedious for me.  The editing department could have tightened up the movie a little better and eliminated a few scenes that were meant to raise hope, but instead just had my butt falling asleep.  There were also a few times in the movie where the situation was incredibly dire, yet the team decided to make some of these scenes a heartfelt dialog moment.  Although the dialog was well written, it still was hilarious because it was so inappropriately timed.  Perhaps what was also the most hilarious thing to me was how careless they were with a few pieces of equipment.  What I mean is in what real life situation can you remember dragging a bomb on the ground by a cable and it not exploding?  I guess in the intense moments one may not realize it, but for my friends and me we couldn’t help but chuckle at the silliness of the situation.

To wrap this up, The Dark Knight Rises may be one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen.  Action fans may find this one to be the best of the trilogy, as there is enough to drive the story and be entertaining.  The phenomenal cast Nolan recruited combined with Nolan’s directing talent did make an entertaining story that will stir up a plethora of emotions and thoughts.  However, three hours of a movie that drags in some places may be a thing to think about when planning on seeing this film.  So did Nolan fill the big shoes he set up with the Dark Knight?  I say for the most part yes, but I still think the Dark Knight was the best of trilogy for me.  The scores for this movie are the following:

Action/Adventure/Crime:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

                I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but it is worth a trip to the theater to see.  However, if you go make sure not to take kids who are easily scared, as their crying and whining will be a distraction to many audience members.  So until next week, this is Robbie K signing off and telling you to continue enjoying the movies.

The Age has Thawed out Some

    In 2002 Fox introduced us to the prehistoric comedy world of Ice Age.  Over the last decade, the adventures of Manny, Sid, Diego, and Scrat have continued to entertain both the young and young at heart.  This weekend the fourth installment of the series released, not counting the Christmas special mind you, and I’m here to report on it.  Let’s get started shall we.

The plot for Ice Age 4 Continental Drift is essentially a continuation from the two shorts that played before the movies.  Scrat’s journey to eat an acorn results in creating a crack that begins dividing the super landmass of Pangaea into the continents.  Unfortunately for Manny and the gang, the divide separates the trio from their home and out to sea.  Now on a quest to get back to his family, Manny and the gang must face the perils of the sea such as waves, giant crabs, and of course a furry band of pirates.  What comedic antics can they get into?

Unfortunately for this film not that many, as the humor of Ice Age has been seriously diluted.  While the first installment was balanced in both kid and adult humor, this Ice Age has shifted towards the kids.  The witty arguing amongst the herd is essentially gone, and been replaced with sentimental words, unintelligent screams, and a few squeaks that just aren’t humorous anymore.  The only exception to these limitations would be Sid and his grandmother, both of who still have a little comedy to help spice up the movie.  Sid’s stupidity, ignorance, and nice guy attitude leads to some rather entertaining scenarios that still had me laughing from time to time.  However, the writing team really took a lot of his interaction with the other creatures out, which also weakened his once comedic strengths.  Instead the team kind of focused on Granny’s character.  Wanda Sykes voice was well casted for the role having that classic granny high pitch voice to help make the character stand out.  Combine this with the sharp tongued whit of Sykes and you make a pretty entertaining character who had a bit of comedy for everyone.  Kids in particular will enjoy her constantly smacking the other characters, while adults will enjoy her senile dialog and dementia mannerisms that result in crazy stunts.  Fans of the opossum’s comedy are going to be really disappointed as the dynamic duo has one, maybe two moments of screen time to try to make us laugh.  As for Scrat, well the screaming, accident prone squirrel is still just as clumsy, but this time he is trying to find the island of acorns.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been too creative with his comedy in this flick, and the predictable shallow stunts have grown stale over the last ten years, at least for me.

What the movie lacks in comedy though is replaced by cuteness.  Ice Age 4 is definitely a kid friendly movie and is made to be an adventure with big fuzzy animals.  Most of the “scare” factors like exploding lava, surprise roars, and suspenseful race against nature scenes have been taken out.  Instead they have been replaced by cute groundhogs, fuzzy hedge moles with big eyes, and family friendly creatures who waddle or walk in a funny way.  I admit that the groundhogs were very cute and reminded me of the Ewoks from Star Wars, but for the most part the cuteness was lost on me.  Parents will be happy to hear that the scariest part of the movie was the monkey captain, who somehow made a few of the younger audience members cry.  If your child is easily frightened, then you might want to be ready to comfort them.

Perhaps the two strongest things I can say about this film are the animation and music.  The animation is just as fluid as ever, with all of the characters brilliantly modeled and crafted to interact with their environmentWhat impressed me even more is how the natural animal movements are still accurately captured in the animation and adapted to perform human activities instead.  While the younger audience members won’t care, but those who are looking for solid animation and design will appreciate the animation in this movie.  As for the music, well the instrumental work is well edited and integrated into the movie to help once again bring out the emotion at each scene.  However, the song that I really enjoyed was the We Are song written specifically for the movie.  The upbeat and energetic melody of the song was fun to listen too, the lyrics were well written and easy to get stuck in your head, and also a little humorous at times as well.  The song also has a variety of voices, a lot of the cast, singing the song to help give it some extra edge to the song.  This song may have been the reason they brought on half of the new voice cast for the movie, as three of the new voices are singers and not actors.

Overall Ice Age 4 is a good family movie to take your young children to.  With lots of slapstick silliness, cute characters, and lack of scary scenes, Fox has made a good summer time movie.  However, fans of the earlier installments, or those easily annoyed by cuteness will want to avoid this movie.  Without the fun interactions, cleverly written dialog, and balanced comedy though, the voice work and animation just aren’t worth a trip to the theater.  Factoring all of these things in, my scores for the movie are the following:

Comedy/Kids/Animated:  7-7.5 (mainly for animation and kids)

Movie Overall:  6

 

Glorified Documentary, with magical Editing

After last year’s disappointing concert movies, Never Say Never and Glee 3-D, I had lost hope for the genre.  With mediocre visual effects, miniscule segments of the artists’ numbers, and an overwhelming number of shots of the fans, these movies are more annoying than entertaining.  So when Katy Perry, the record setting pop artist of this generation announced her movie was coming out, well I just rolled my eyes.  Yet I boldly walked into the teen and preteen girl audience and gave the movie a shot.  What did I think?  Read on to find out.

Like most concert movies, the plot of Katy Perry Part of Me is about the life of Katy Perry.  The audience gets a glimpse into the blue haired singer’s origins and her rise to fame and fortune.  Now like most concert movies the simplistic plot is usually fragmented and skimmed to allow the producers to cram as many songs into the movie.  These samples as I like to call them often involve the performer showing off a few moves, or serenading a random audience member, while focusing more on the screaming audience.  Too my surprise, this movie decided to break that mold, or rather shift to a more balanced concert movie that is quite enjoyable to see.

Perhaps the first thing I’ll share is the presentation of Katy’s back story.  Instead of jamming her story into a ten to fifteen minute introduction, this movie decided to gradually uncover her past throughout the movie using the situations from the tour as the bridge back into the past.  When Katy met up with her grandmother with a gift and talked about her show, the scene would shift to a young Katy Perry and her tendency to act out and get attention.  If she was having trouble finding motivation or ran into a rough spot, they would use that situation to tell a story of how she started out in the record world.  While the interviews sometimes throw the order out of whack, overall it is presented in a manner that helps develop her character.

Regardless of whether you are in Katy’s past or present, the audience is able to get the full emotional force of the lessons she tries to teach.  Contrary to belief, Ms. Perry didn’t obtain her success over night, but had to face some rather tough challenges.  This movie shows the journey she took to overcome those challenges and while sometimes overdramatic, is well filmed and edited to help bring out those emotions.  What’s even more impressive is the use of twitter tweets to help show Katy’s inner thoughts over the course of her challenges that helps the audience gain a deeper understanding of her mindset.  Perhaps the best part about these struggles though is the message Katy sends to her fans that is close to her heart and soul, which is to work hard and never give up.  No matter what obstacle came in her way she persevered to keep her dream alive and maintain her integrity to reach her goals.  This goal is indeed admirable and one that many will take to heart, but what the movie fails to also drive as strong is the amount of support she had.  Yes she faced some tough struggles and times, but as her friends and family constantly said in their interviews they were there and ready to catch her should she fall; a luxury not everyone can say they had.

Now the Katy Perry fans out there might be wondering if we get to hear her music in the movie, or if like Glee it’s snippets that don’t do the artist justice.  Too my surprise and entertainment not only do we get to hear her music, but actually get to dive into one of her concerts.  Yes, fans those who wanted to see Ms. Perry’s international tour, but couldn’t get a chance in this movie.  Over the hour and half, the audience gets to see many of her songs, both popular and less known, performed on stage.  While this may not sound any different from a concert movie, Katy Perry’s concerts have more magic and spunk than a typical singer.  Kids, and kid at hearts like me, are certain to enjoy the flashy lights, upbeat lyrics, and creative dance numbers that she has come up with.  While younger audience members will just be caught up in her music, those who appreciate imagination, creativity, and dreams will love the work that is in this concert.  What I can only dream of happening at a concert has been made into a reality by Katy and her crew, which further adds an entertainment value that cannot be left out.  Some of these numbers are interlaced with shots of her life outside the stage, which was well edited to fit the situation.  Another thing people might not realize though is the order and timing of the songs.  Instead of just performing the songs in any random order, this movie chooses the songs for the mood of the movie.  At the beginning, the songs are supposed to rope you into the fun and entertainment, yet as Katy’s life is further unfolded the songs begin to match the mood and the emotions of the scenes.  For me, this helped make the song more powerful and helped me get into the music, concert, and her life even more.

Surprisingly Katy Perry’s concert movie was not as bad as I expected.  The imagination, emotion, and determination of the singer is incredible and a message everyone should take to heart.  However, it is a glorified documentary and could have been good on VH1, instead of coming to the movie theater, but hey 3-D has to go somewhere.  However, the editing and direction of this movie is impressive and as such my scores for this movie are the following:

Documentary/Music:  8.5

Movie Overall:  5.5-6.0

As always leave feedback on how I can improve or send an email at rgkarim@mail.roanoke.edu.  Thanks!

A Savage Soap Opera

Another weekend, another set of movies to review and this time I’m starting with the latest “action” flick to grace the theaters.  The movie I’m talking about is Savages, which stars Taylor Kitsch as Chon, Aaron Johnson as Ben, and Blake Lively as O, who are three lovers involved in an odd romantic situation.  Perhaps what is even more unique about their lives is the business the three of them work in, which is none other than making illegal drugs to sell to various people in California.  Although life seems to be great for the trio, and fairly hippy like, a wrench gets thrown into their gears when a big time drug cartel led by Elena (Salma Hayek).  O’s two lovers then decide they must do everything in their power to rescue her, or die trying as they set out into the drug underworld.

Now if you’re like me and you saw the trailers, this movie was made to look like an Army of Two tribute where two guys go in and overthrow Hispanic drug lords.  Unfortunately I was fooled by the trailers yet again, since this movie is more a soap opera than anything else.  Yes my friends those looking for shoot them up action are going to be disappointed as the only action in this movie comes from a couple of sniper shots, and few explosive blasts that look like something a teenage Michael Bay would dream upThe movie instead decided to swap the action with bloody torture scenes instead, which were a little grueling to watch as they really left no bloody details out.  Now many might be ready for blood since the modern horror movie movement has desensitized most audience members.  Unlike those movies though, the blood and dismemberment looks real and isn’t a result of some cheesy, imaginary kill that takes away from the fake blood.  There are also a few graphic rape scenes/sex scenes the crew was happy to show, which were a little more uncomfortable for this reviewer.

Although a key aspect of this movie is torture and blood, there are some other features to this movie that are worth mentioning.  For one thing the acting for most of the cast was excellent, most of them capturing the emotions and mannerisms of their characters.  Kitsch for instance captures the soulless, ruthless, outlaw type of a soldier returning from war.  Using his pent up emotions to drive his actions, Kitsch played the cold blooded hunter ready to take any steps to obtaining his price.  Unlike John Carter though, most of his scenes involve him wearing a shirt, so sorry ladies you’ll have to make due.  Helping to counterbalance the aggressive fighter is Ben the negotiator, whose morals for making drugs are noble and admirable.  Johnson had the right characteristics for the part; the calm eyes, the mellow persona, and the nervous energy during crucial decision were all well combined to give his character a conscience.  Like the chemistry in X-men first class, Kitsch and Johnson are another dynamic duo that work well together to create tension and suspense in the scenes.  As for Lively, well this role was a little more mellow and drug dependent for me, as her poetic lines and sullen mood were a little bland for my tastes.  As for playing the victim, well she did a decent job playing a victim on the brink of giving up hope, yet at times she was a little one dimensional for a character.  The bad guys however were actually well designed and crafted to help drive the plot and bring the audience’s hatred to a boil.  Lado (Benicio Del Toro) in particular was a villain who had the look and actions worthy of an enforcer, yet also had another side that gave his character a twisted edge that made him even deadlier.

The character development was not the only thing that was well done.  For me, the drug underworld was brought to life in this movie in both setting and storyline.  The seedy nature and treacherous faces of the cartel were integrated and portrayed to show just how fragile the trust between members is.  At any point you wonder who the heads are going to kill next, or wonder what means they are willing to take to get their goals.  Like a chess match between two champions, the strategy and resourcefulness of the parties involved is realistically portrayed, though sometimes overstretched, to help keep the power struggle interesting.  Yet, with this realism comes some graphic and heartbreaking kills that can take its toll on your emotions.  Numerous shots to the head, various characters killed without remorse, and a soulless execution of savage acts gets a little old and tedious as the movie goes on.  If the ending had been stronger and a little less vague, perhaps this violent killing over illegal drugs would have been a little more tolerable.  Yet, the monologue at the end leaves the movie open for another sequel, and left me a little disappointed.

Savages is definitely a movie that lives up to its title with its bloody tortures, shots to the head, and emotionless threatening games.  The glorification of the synthesis and selling of illegal drugs for the right reasons is also a little disturbing to see.  However, the great character development, setting, and portrayal of a drug cartel are definite strengths of this movie.  As a result, my scores for this movie are the following:

Crime/Drama/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

My suggestion, rent it and avoid the theater as there are no special effects or storylines that make it worth a trip to theater.  So until next time my friends enjoy the movies and as always leave feedback to help me get better.

A Spiderman With A Lot Of Character!?

Spiderman is a series that has had its ups and downs.  From comic books and cartoons, to movies and TV shows, the webbed wonder has constantly peaked and fallen over the decades.  This 4th of July, Stan Lee’s heroic web slinger returns in a new movie that has faced countless scrutiny ever since the first trailer was shown last summer.  So now you may be asking, “Robbie was this movie good to see in the theater?  Did it revive a series that I thought died with the third movie?  Was it full of action?”  I will do my best to answer these questions, but to find out about this movie you must keep reading.

The plot of The Amazing Spiderman is essentially just a reset of the classic storyline about Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) a wise cracking high school with a tragic past.  After losing his parents at a young age, Peter grows up under the care of his aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who have hidden a secret from him for many years.  The only who may hold the secret to his past is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a man with a mission to change the world and regain what was lost so long ago.

I guess to start this review off I’ll say that I indeed did enjoy this movie, and its unique approach to the classic tale.  The crew did a nice job developing Peter and gave him more of a story and life outside of being a nerd/hero.  In this tale you see countless scenes of confusion, identity, love, and much more that for the most part was absent in the preceding movies.  Unfortunately this character development takes a lot of time in the movie and at first made the movie slower than I expected.  Luckily the dialog of Parker helped bring some life into these roles, as the writers infused some spunk, wit, and smart alekness that is very entertaining.  Yes, Parker has finally gotten that rebellious nature back and most will find his humor funny to see.  Despite the slow pace though, the amount of detail they went into Peter’s story was quite well done, though a tad rushed.  Many of the comic book arcs are rushed and compacted into this movie and while it helps provide a lot detail in a short amount of time, it can be a tad overwhelming to those unfamiliar with the story.  Also the humor is a little more science oriented than the others, so some of the people may not understand the humor.

However what really brings the story to life is the phenomenal cast in this movie.  Garfield was a great choice for Peter seeming to have an innate talent for being a back talking teenager with a lot of emotional drama.  As a result, Garfield doesn’t have to try too hard to play the character and this Peter is definitely more fun than the last.  However, what is a leading man without a leading lady and miss Emma Stone was a great pick for the independent Gwen Stacy.  Stone has that ability to play a wide range of emotions that assists with making Gwen feel like a normal teenager instead of a large crybaby like they made Mary Jane.  Yet these two lovers aren’t the only two characters worth talking about.  Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father, was a good match for the carefree/serious nature of Gwen.  Leary’s concerned father persona and rough natured voice were attributes well suited for a cop dad who cared a lot about his little girl.  As for the main villain The Lizard, the British actor Ifans was another good choice.  In a manner similar to Jekyll and Hide, Mr. Ifans had the pleasant nature and vernacular of a proper scientist, yet still had a cruel malice to make the CGI lizard an even bigger threat.  The other actors did a good job too, but I need to talk about a few more things before we wrap this up.

I guess the action lovers are wondering if this movie is up to standards and for the most part I will say yes.  At first the only action shots are a couple of bully fights and a few web swinging gallivants across the city.  However, when things start to heat up, the stunt team picks up as well combining acrobats with quick paced moves to keep the action fast.  Eventually the team got creative with Parker’s web shooting skills and was able to make countless traps and moves that would give any video game a run for its money.  My only complaints with the action are that it took a while to get to the cool stuff, and a few times it was a little hard to keep up with the quickness of it.  Yet the team does stand true to the comics and keep Parker’s wise cracking nature alive as he battles his enemies.  The computer work for the battle scenes is also well done, though not the most realistic work I’ve seen. Regardless the web mechanics are fluid; the camera keeps up nicely with the digital hero and captures a lot of detail.

The Amazing Spiderman is definitely a good revival of the series and has a lot of things the previous movies were lacking.  With decent action, good acting, and some rather in depth character development this may be one of the better Spiderman movies I’ve seen.  It’s definitely the best movie of Marvel, but it’s also not the worst, so ignore the scrutiny that the film has been getting and enjoy yourself.  Is it worthy of a theater trip?  Yes, but I would suggest avoiding 3-D if you can.  My scores for the movie are the following:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5-8.0

This is Robbie K signing off!