The Song Of Inspiration, Drama, and Repetition

The Song

            My last review again deviates from the normal blockbuster and instead turns to a lesser advertised movie. Instead of mind numbing action, stupid comedic gestures, or yet another animated movie, this one instead falls in the line of… yes you guessed it the drama. This review is centered on a movie called the Song, who you may have not seen advertised, because I didn’t. So let’s get down to it and give you the 411 on this cinematic journey as I will call it.


You might be asking what the heck is this movie about? The Song is a tale about a singer, surprise, named Jed King who is in the shadow of his famous father, who has a bit of sinful past. At the promise of not following in his footsteps, Jed puts his religion first in hopes of using that to keep straight. When love and a career begin to develop though, Jed is put to the trial of turning from the sinful life that the world offers.


So where does the Song come in? I wish not to ruin the surprise, but a part of it is that this movie has a lot of soundtrack to it, with a decent number of scenes involving some musical track. If you’re a country lover, then you’ll be pleased to hear that almost every song is in this genre. Most of the tracks sound exactly the same to me, the twang of the violin and banjo filling your eardrums with the sounds of Kentucky life. This annoyed me as the movie progressed, but mainly because 1. I hate country music, and 2. a majority of the numbers were the same song, only slightly mixing it up about halfway through. Luckily the numbers, for the most part, had a point to the story, often an outlet for the pent up emotions of young Jed, as a means of expressing himself. Some of these numbers made the point, but some of them seemed to be just whining with a certain beat that didn’t do much for me.


As I mentioned the music is integrated into the story, but how good was the story in this film. The first aspect is that this movie is a big drama film, filled with the basic plot elements of a soap opera. Right at the start the tale is depressing, filled with a quick bout of adultery, death, redemption, and then more death, and these characters have little involvement in the tale. From there it goes back into the classic set up with a quick set up of romance that last no longer than ten minutes. Once the relationship is set, the real drama begins, which becomes the theme of the entire movie. The second component of the movie is the life lessons taught in the film via internal monologue and dialog between characters. Jed’s journey through the stages of his trial is narrated by his thoughts, quoting from some poetry or verse summing up his feelings and actions. At times this is well done, but like everything requires a little balance, instead of beating the dead horse. Despite the delivery of the message, the lessons are grand though, the wise words delivered in such a manner to breach your conscious and make you feel the teachings. Well that, and the fact that Jed continues to make horrible choices, some of which had me saying “You idiot, or No don’t do that dummy!” Outside of that though, the story isn’t so much complex as simple and drawn out, with very little twist or surprise to the matter. Most of the things you can see coming a mile away, with the only thing keeping me in mystery being the ending. Yet, those that love emotional, tear jerking movies are going to be enthralled most of the movie.


Of course the thing that really brings this movie alive is the acting in the film. Alan Powell takes point in this movie, being the tragic “hero” in this tale. Powell’s character has a nice set of pipes, not the best mind you, but decent enough. How much is autotuned? I have no idea, but he does a nice job for the most part. Outside of singing though he plays the emotions of sincere, sad, happy, and angry quite well, but goes a little overboard at times. He can even play the pathetic role quite well, all while looking good, at least from the comments by the female audience members. Overall his acting is good, though I can’t say I enjoyed his character the most. Caitlin Nicol-Thomas also does a nice job playing the role she did as well. She’s got edge, flare, and plays the wild girl quite well. In both music and acting, the girl brings spice to the picture and offsets the comfort zone the beginning part of the movie sets. Of course of all the cast my favorite is the lovely Ali Faulkner. Not only is this girl beautiful, but I loved her character in the film, and even more how she brought her to life. Faulkner plays the entire spectrum, and brings both wholesome goodness and loyalty to the screen. Of all the characters, I felt she was the one who kept the acting in check, not going overboard with the screaming and crying as some of the others did. My only complaint with her, the depressed sighing got a little old at some points.


The Song is a great teaching movie, and is meant for drama lovers who want that soap opera method. However, if you are looking for something a little more… fulfilling and less preaching, then skip this movie and watch it on Netflix. Just give this picture a try at some point; you may just learn a lesson that will go a long way.


My scores are:

Drama/Music/Romance: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5


Box Up This Kid Fun! Dark And Tim Burton Like


            I love stop motion movies, with the incredible worlds they craft, the often-unique art design, and the colorful characters that act in the worlds. With movies like Paranorman, and the Corpse Bride, I was eager to check out the latest movie in this genre entitled The Boxtrolls. Like always though, my skepticism remained at large as to just how good this movie would be when looking at some of the reviews and ratings. So what was it the grand verdict? As always, read on to find out.


For those who haven’t been drowned by the deluge of trailers on T.V., the plot from the trailer is a little boy winds up adopted by the box trolls, an underground living society of tinkerers and inventors. These creatures have been branded as monsters, and thus warranted for removal by the mayor of the town. It’s up to that boy and his gang of trolls to change the town’s perspective, all without getting caught by the hunters. Sounds cute right? In truth, the movie has a bit darker quality behind it that ,although shocking, adds some spice to the mix. Now before you get caught up in the dark, the directors have tapered the darkness to a younger audience group. This reviewer didn’t see anything too grotesque, disturbing, or scary that would scar a kid for life, the exception being the bloated form of one of the characters. It does, however provide some twists to the plot, helping to develop a few of the characters who seemed one-dimensional from the trailers. Some of these twists can be a bit sad to younger audience members who may not have the foresight to see through the predictable story. So I encourage you to tell your youngsters that everything will be all right should they get upset? Overall the story is cute and fun, matching the delightfully innocent nature of the trolls.


Of course many kids will most likely not get that involved in the story, but instead be looking for the humor and laughs. From what I observed in my showing, this movie is chock full of gags and jokes that will make the young ones laugh. Characters crashing into walls, the trolls falling into an accident as a result of their curiosity, or just the sounds and facial expressions of the characters are all in this movie. Those who are not as young of heart may not appreciate the ridiculous antics of this film, either due to the lack of adult based humor, or the fact that they have seen most of these scenes in the trailers. In fact the only thing they might find funny is how ridiculous the denizens of the town are, especially the selfish nature of the aristocratic caste and their obsession with cheese. Once or twice I found myself chuckling at their obsessions, and how everything went back to the stinky dairy product. Other than that, you’re out of luck with the comedy and should maybe think of focusing on your kid’s laughter to get the most out of the experience.


My favorite part of the movie though is the world and characters themselves. The trolls in particular are truly fun and colorful, each having a personality quirk that is symbolized by the very box they wear. Like the dwarves of Snow White, these characters each serve a purpose to the group, though we really only get to see a handful do anything in the short time limit. While they also look very similar, the team did put individual qualities to them, helping them stand out a bit. The humans in this movie are all comically built, many having some grandiose feature that seemed to match the nature of the town. Of course Eggs, the main character, and his female friend Winnie have the most diversity of the group, which is to be expected from the main protagonist. Even the town is fun, as both above and below ground aspects have that same Tim Burton like flare that got us hooked on stop motion long ago. The buildings are angular and boxed in, designed to look like a town built inside a castle, with a few regal qualities to smooth out the slums of this English like town. Underground though is where the real magic is. Here the creativity of the team shines the most, with the boxtrolls treasures being arranged in a mosaic of mechanical inventions that make them almost a self-contained ecosystem. It’s colorful, it’s fun, and it’s creative, all components I like to see in my set design. Everything comes together nicely, and the animation is almost flawless throughout the film, only occasionally stumbling or choppy at parts.


The Boxtrolls is definitely not the most unique movie I’ve ever seen. A predictable plot with obvious character directions take away from the excitement of the story, and the lack of adult humor limits the audience members who may enjoy it. However, this is a stop motion adventure that is fun, and well designed to keep you into the film, helping to offset the boring aspects of the movie. Again this is a bit darker than some of the other animated films for kids, but I don’t see it being a problem for most. Is it worth a trip to the theater? For this reviewer, I think it is fun, though I don’t know about the 3-D quality and how much it adds so you’re on your own. Yet, there is really nothing special that a home theater system couldn’t bring you into. My scores for this movie are:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Graphic Kills, Story Lacked Thrills… or a Point


            When you have a Denzel Washington movie you can be sure that fans are going to flock into the theaters to see the legend himself. Today I went back into the trenches of the local theater to watch Mr. Washington’s latest adventure entitled the Equalizer. This film based on a television series from the past, has promised some dark justice being served in the streets of New York City with the hint of action that many movie goers have come to expect. Yet is this just another knockoff Taken, or is there actually something that helps this movie stick out?


For those who haven’t seen the trailers, The Equalizer’s plot is about Robert McCall, a retired special forces agent, who chooses a simpler life of working and reading after some major life event. Of course, the dark world that he dove into seldom leaves it’s denizens alone, and McCall finds himself back into the bowels of darkness to correct the problems at hand. And just like the trailers promise, this movie is indeed dark in nature. After a rather drawn out introduction into the world, the first mission, as seen in the trailer, rips off the training wheels and throws you into throngs of violence. Using the power of quick observation, a knock off of Sherlock Holmes, Washington brings his skills of improvised weapons use on to the screen. While this is clever, and quite awesome, the downside is the amount of gore that follows his moves, and the areas to which those devices are inserted. Should you go see this film, there is hardly any censorship in this film, but instead an eyeful of sharp objects being slowly jammed into the unfortunate victims. What makes it even worse, is the sounds the victims make, especially during the prolonged moments where the victim seems to be savoring the kill. Some of course will like this, but for this reviewer there is a limit to how much hostility one can take in a movie. Unfortunately this scene is not isolated, as the carnage and suffering only get more intense with each body added to the count.


Intense suffering aside, the next component that you might be wondering about is the action that is promised in the film. So what about it? Well it depends on what you define as action. If you are thinking of action like Taken, where our “hero” moves through the setting with superhuman reflexes, firing bullets with one hit kill accuracy that many gamers would kill for, then you will be disappointed. Instead this action is a bit more conserved, focusing more on using his mind then tearing up the bad guys with force. Sure McCall has some moves that you want to see, especially close up, martial arts moves to disable the weapon from their hands. Yet the fight scenes often involve slamming someone’s face viciously into an object, and are over in a matter of seconds from the beginning. Such brief spurts of action, were fine, but for an action movie I had expected a little more excitement and a little less torture. At the end, the battle was a little more to my expectations, though still filled with gruesome kills, some of which, I have to admit, were pretty sweet to see, sort of like Home Alone meets the Punisher. No matter what the scene is though, Denzel Washington brings the edge that you expected to see, so much that a few in the audience yelled, “He is such a bad…” well I won’t finish that quote.


What else is there to say about this movie? You can pretty much guess that it is all about Denzel, with just about every scene having the legend in it. Luckily his acting is still top notch, and brings a lot to the movie in just his character. As for the story, well it’s alright in some places, but for the most part it’s rather plain. The main plot itself has very little sustenance, with what seemed to be a slight attempt to interlock the cases with a big mafia group. It failed for me though, and the mafia group became nothing more, than more bodies for Denzel to pile up.  Denzel’s character has little story development, the fragments we get hastily explained and sometimes ill-timed that it loses any value. Perhaps the only thing that really develops his character, is his “fight” to fall back into the soulless monster he was prior to the movie as he doles out justice. Yes, one will feel a mixture of emotions at the bad guys getting their just desserts, but aside from that there isn’t much emotional stimulation behind this film. As for the dialog and humor, they are not strong enough to make up for the story. References to classic literature being integrated into the morals was a plus for me, a nice twist to the typical, overdramatic scenes we often get. Yet these heart filled moments are offset by yet another curse laden dialogue that seems to become the common trend. Guess they will never learn huh?


Overall The Equalizer is an okay film, but failed for me on on a lot of levels. Fans who will enjoy this the most are those who think Denzel can do no wrong, and those who just want dark, twisted kills. The legendary actor still impresses me with his commitment, but for this reviewer, Mr. Washington cannot carry this movie for an entire two hours. My scores for this film are:


Action/Crime/Thriller: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

This Is Where It Left Me

This is Where I Leave you

            My final review for this weekend deviates from the Thriller path into one a little more down to Earth and family oriented. Instead of running from fictitious beasts, or hunting down two ridiculous, this movie focuses on familial drama and complicated relationships. Have you guessed the movie yet? Well of course you have, it’s none other than This is Where I Leave You, another film with a cavalcade of stars to act out the drama at hand. Now many of you have seen the trailers and most likely laughed at some of the clips they had to offer. Of course we all know the trailer editors are masters of seducing audience members. So I’ve returned to my lair of the local movie theater to give you some insight into the latest comedy of the month.


This Is Where I Leave You is a mess of family issues all coming together in one giant wreck when the father of the group dies. At the request of the dying man, the family is to spend seven days together to provide the opportunity to reflect and spend some quality time. However, being forced into one living quarters for any “significant” amount of time is sure to bring some issues out in the open, especially ones that have been stirring for quite some time. Although it is dubbed a comedy, this film I felt was more of a Drama than anything as a variety of issues surfaces over the course of the movie. Each sibling has some underlying problem that seems to be one dimensional at first only to evolve into a much more complicated mess. Fans of such soap opera dynamics will instantly fall in love with this movie, as relationships, jobs, and personal qualities all come up to the chopping block of family intervention. Fortunately for you drama lovers, these issues are not simple high school level problems, but much bigger and deeper offering many sub-plots for you to get wrapped into. Yet for this reviewer, so many issues in one movie were a little overbearing or too conveniently timed to fit into the whole mess. Some of these issues are dragged out across the story, only to be suddenly wrapped up in the end in a rather bland conclusion, if concluded at all. Despite some of the antics and drama being annoying though, what kept me enthralled in it was the relativity. Surely everyone who sees this movie, not counting kids mind you, can find some character to relate to. While not exact in every detail, I was able to place his own drama in the mix, further grasping my attention to what was coming.


Now with all the drama, you might be a little scared that there is a lack of comedy aspect to this movie. My friends you have no need to fear, this movie is filled with comedy moments in the form of dialog, situational, and a little sarcasm thrown in as well. I warn you now that this movie is not the kind of comedy that is filled with repetitive one-liners, out of control stupidity, or farfetched actions. Instead it’s very natural comedy that is dryer in nature and cleverer than the typical milieu we get these days. The dialog is simplistic and realistic, and often what you would find in a typical family outing. Insults are well timed and personalized, occasionally throwing in some more general jokes into the fray. Fights amongst the brothers quickly grow out of hand, and childish behavior rears its head in some of the most embarrassing scenes. And as you have seen in the trailers, there are a few touch ups some of the family members have, so inappropriate at times that you can’t help but laugh at the awkwardness. Of course one of my favorite antics was the little boy in the house, who was modeled to be cute, as he shared his potty achievements with the adults. Such simplistic comedy goes a long way in my shoes, and relating it to my own family members. Some of the sexual antics are a little out of my enjoyment area, and unfortunately a few curse words are overused at times.


As for the acting, there are just too many characters to mention, so I’ll stick to my favorites and wrap this up. First off I loved Tina Fey in this movie. Sassy, strong, and caring, all of these qualities were evenly mixed to make her the guardian sister of the group. I was thoroughly entertained by her in this movie and enjoyed her not acting like she was in an SNL skit. Adam Driver was a welcome addition, his ridiculousness helping him stand out from the group, though he was a little annoying at points. Still Driver did a nice job with his lines, and covered the emotional spectrum quite well. However, the biggest surprise was leading actor Jason Bateman. For once his monotone acting didn’t annoy me, because his dry humor was shoved down my face. Being the center of the story, Bateman brought his character’s story to life, his emotions adapting to the situation and breaking that emotionless cast we typically see him in. His chemistry with the others was good, and overall was a much better character for me.


This is where I leave you is a movie that I feel many drama lovers will love, and is a nice change from the flood of generic movies we get. Clever writing, realistic characters and some interesting lessons will keep many entertained in the fall until November hits. It is definitely not the greatest movie, and I didn’t laugh as hard as in some other films, but I say give it a chance. My scores are:


Comedy: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall: 7.5


Mystery, And Some Thrills, Though A Lack Of Edge At Points

A Walk Among The tombstones

            Liam Neeson, astute gentleman, legendary Jedi, and assassin who can hunt anyone down who takes his family. Yet Hollywood seems to focus on the latter, not deviating from the stoic man who can rip armies of murderers asunder and come out swinging. This weekend, yet another story is told about our leading action actor, entitled A Walk Among The Tombstones. Seeing the trailers earlier this summer, I got chills at the darkness and mystery the tale promised. If you know me by now though, there is always the skepticism of being let down by the actual film. What does this movie have in store? Read on to uncover the details.


We know that Liam Neeson can act the part of the sullen, rogue agent who defies all the rules and limits other cops seem to have. Once again, he is back still able to bring the smolder filled face of justice to the dark underbelly of whatever setting he’s in. This film though goes one stop further down the dark hole, having Neeson dive into the darker pits of his soul to face the internal and external demons. He pulls it off flawlessly, almost as if he faces the very challenges in real life. Helping to support Mr. Neeson, is a variety of people, though we will only focus on a few others to spare room for other aspects. Providing comedic relief, and an outlet from his character’s darkness is Astro, who has had a growth spurt since Echo. Astro has got a mouth, and thinks he is tough kid who knows the way of the world, yet gets a lesson about just how little he knows. He’s funny, he’s cocky, and Astro pulls off the immature role to the letter. Yet it’s the two killers of Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson) who really mix well with Liam. Harbour’s ability to play the insane serial killer is quite well executed in his delivery of threats and the tone of his voice. As for Thompson, he captures the menacing glare down pat, and knows some stage combat, but aside from that not much in store.


I’m sure you’re saying though, I don’t really care about the acting. How is the story? Well in a one word summary it is dark. It is also one of the more disturbing plots I’ve seen, that didn’t cross into the soul destroying area. A Walk Among the Tombstones brings tension to the audience throughout the entire film in the hunting of the two disturbed beings. The hunt is in the form of heavy detective work involving talking to suspects, retracing footsteps and trying to piece information together. For once, the mystery has a bit of realism to it, forgoing the convenient pieces of information, for a process that involves actually working for clues. As the movie progresses, the ambiguous nature and seemingly simple motive starts to reveal itself. With each new clue, the mentality of the perpetrators becomes clearer, almost like one is watching an episode of Criminal Minds. Yet the unstable psyche and constant calls of the psychos continue to reestablish the terror of what will happen next. Sure, you have a good idea of what the outcomes will be, but there is just enough uncertainty to have you doubting your thoughts.

Mixed into the bag is some character development amongst the various players in the game, each with their own set of dark secrets that explains why they are scarred for life. Some of these points are relevant, but the mistake here is that they are played over and over again as they build up to the revelation, one of which you already know from the trailers. Other plot elements though are not so relevant or as big as they thought. Some hasty connections were an attempt to add another layer of depth to the story, but I felt the audience could have done without them. Still it gives the cast a little more depth, and provides some emotional depth to an otherwise monotone cast. Perhaps the strongest element of the character development though is the inspiration they have. Albeit a little cheesy in the presentation, there is a good message to those who may have a similar history as Neeson’s character. The emphasis of facing your demons instead of running from them is a lesson many could use a refresher course in. Yet the message is drawn out, much like the background, and sometimes adds unneeded length to the movie.

As for the suspense of the movie, as mentioned I before it is the psychotic mindset of the killers that keeps you in suspense. The only problem with this though is that, with the exception of the last part of the movie, the damage has already been done. Unfortunately for the cast, many of the crimes have already been committed, which dulls the intensity of their acts and makes the film a little boring at first. On the opposite side of spectrum, is that some of the actions are a little too well done, especially at times of torture. As stoic as I am against the usual antics, this movie crossed the line a couple of times to really disturb me. Thus, if you are one who gets REALLY AFFECTED BY SCENES OF SUFFERING should turn a blind eye to this film, or at least until they become a little tolerant.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is a nice crime/drama to bide your time with. Those looking for a little pre-Halloween terror will get your fill with this movie, though in truth there are not a lot of technological aspects that make it theater worthy. Still if you are Liam Neeson fan, jump into this crime drama and be ready for a calmer film than his legendary Taken film. My scores for this film are:


Action/Crime/Mystery: 7.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Runner Is Vague, But not a Blunder


This weekend is a big weekend, with at least three blockbuster movies releasing in my neck of the woods. I start my reviews this weekend with perhaps the most anticipated of the bunch, the Maze Runner. Once again Hollywood has decided to take a book series and run with it, in hopes that it will be the next big series to change the world. Yet like always, the question remains: Is this another glorified mess from the trailers, or have they done a good job? Well with two of my good buddies, I headed to the theater to start my weekend of reviews.


I’ve never read the books, but knowing general trends Maze Runner has some big shoes to live up to. The premise is quite simple, a boy gets sent up to a center of the maze with a handful of other boys, and no memories of where he was before. This familiar bout of amnesia, is apparently normal, and within seconds he is integrated into a culture reminiscent of Lord Of The Flies. Of course, like always, Thomas is the one who defies the normal rules, and starts the journey of change that starts the trilogy. While the story is nothing we haven’t seen before, the Maze Runner has some suspense and unknown elements that keeps you latched into the film. Throughout the film, my mind worked to uncover and guess the twists they had at the end, knowing the general nature of the set-up, yet not quite able to figure out the specific details. It is this element, at least for a Maze Runner newbie like me, that kept me into the movie.


Despite the underlying mystery though, there were some other elements in the mix that made the Maze Runner an interesting experience. For one thing the movie is well shot and edited together. The entire journey is captured well, each angle well suited to give you the greatest detail in as little transitions. The same techniques remain during the dramatic argument scenes, which, when combined with the audio of booming drums and blaring horns, brings out the emotion and tension the boys are feeling. Yet, the best part of the camera editing are the action scenes, especially concerning the maze. It is always nice to see a movie defy the trend of shaky camera work, forgoing the “realistic” first person perspective for actually showing us the scene at hand. Whether it be running or fighting, the camera is surprisingly stable and well focused on the matter at hand and brings some excitement to a rather slow plot line.


Yes, unfortunately the story of the Maze Runner is a little drawn out and at points, rather vague and inconclusive. At first the ambiguity is fun, the multiple, unanswered questions keeping you wondering what path the movie will turn down next. These elements are integrated quite well with character developing moments, allowing more character buildup to help set the stage. However, for this reviewer it’s nice to get some answers at points in the movie instead of more questions. Maze Runner for me provided vague solutions to the unknown, leaving more questions with that answer. Now this can be good if there is a nice wrap up to the madness, but for this movie that wasn’t the case for me. I know, many are going to say that there are three books and answers come later, but this reviewer wanted a little more wrap up to at least some of the questions that developed over the two hours. To tell you the truth, I felt kind of gipped at the end of the movie, saying at the end, and I quote one of the characters, “Really?”


Despite the ambiguity though there are two other elements that help keep the movie going. First off the action is fun and relevant to the plot, the maze portions in particular being an intense fight for survival. Despite being a little savage and gruesome at parts, the evolutionary drive to remain alive is balanced with strategy, running, and fights with primitive tools. The action doesn’t seem extra, but is built into the story quite well, spanning the fighting spectrum between the male rivalry to fighting the raging the Grievers. Of course the action is only as good as the acting as well, especially when it comes to interacting with CGI settings. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is the staple to the casting, surprising me with his performance of a male version of Catniss. Unlike the leading lady though, Thomas fought the culprits without being as whiney, a plus in my book for a leading character.   O’Brien had a nice balance to his role, passionate and fiery, without crossing into an overacted, melodramatic mess. Lead Maze Runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee) was also a nice supporting character, bringing the wing man role to life and adding a little grounding to Thomas’s flamboyant attitude. As for characters like Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Alby (Aml Ameen), Chuck (Blake Cooper), and Gally (Will Poulter), they were good too and each did a nice job playing their respective characters. Though with the exception of O’Brien, the real strength was the chemistry between all the group was the greatest quality of the acting and the community they formed.


Overall the Maze Runner is a decent addition to the movie based on book library. There is a nice design to the movie, and a lot of good character building to set the stage in this morbid tale. Acting wise it is enjoyable, but in reality it’s the action surrounding the story that got me the most. I still wished though that there was some better wrap up than what we got, despite the opening it provided. Overall a decent movie to watch this weekend, and has elements worth a visit to the theater. My scores are:


Action/Mystery/Sci-Fi: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Cute, Family Friendly, But Not The Emotion I had “Hoped” for

Dolphin Tale 2

            The Dolphin, a creature that is so full of life and spunk that television cannot help, but make countless forms of entertainment about them. In 2011, one of those stories touched the hearts of millions in the form of Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail. Such a story was inspirational, but mainly a cute animal movie that kids and animal enthusiasts loved. So what else could Hollywood do, but take the momentum and make another movie about the same dolphin. That’s right, this review is based on the latest story inspired by true events, Dolphin Tale 2. What wonders are in store for this movie? As always, continue on to find out.


Like any kids’ movie, Dolphin Tale start out fun and exciting to get the audience involved with the tale. Yet, like it’s predecessor, things take a turn for the worst to establish a point for the near two hours you are about to invest. Dolphin Tale 2 covers the emotional spectrum a little more completely than it’s predecessor, and tends to focus on the sadder aspects of life. I warn parents now that this movie has a few themes that might be a little too much younger age groups. The movie is quite depressing at points, with the characters a little more negative than I had expected.. Why such a depressing tale? It is to go with the theme of hope that things will work out with the perseverance and faith the characters have. The directors have decided to teach us valuable life lessons again; all in hopes of inspiring you to push past the dismay life may throw out at you. Despite all the depressing challenges though, parents can reassure themselves and their kids that everything will be better and the inevitable outcome the movie has.


With the ending so predictable, and a lot of depressing scenes in the movie, you may be asking if there is anything worthy about this movie. Truth is that amidst the chaotic, life lesson teaching moments, there are some comedic relief moments that will brighten up the movie. The pelican Rufus has a few funny moments, though has taken a back seat to the human characters in the film. Mavis the turtle, a new addition to the group, has a couple of cute scenes as well, though it’s nothing that will have you rolling on the floor in tears. It’s really Morgan Freeman who had me laughing the most, delivering his dialogue with that matter of fact approach that brought out the most humor. Like something out of Grumpy old men, Freeman’s lines seem part complaining and party insulting, but are actually laced with sarcasm that further brings out the humor, and in truth was the best actor of the bunch for me.


The rest of the human cast did decent job acting, with Nathan Gamble having the most screen time of the bunch. Gamble’s portrayal of Sawyer is balanced, but needs some fine-tuning at points where he seems almost bored of acting. Some of his emotionally heavy scenes lack the drive I wanted to see, and sometimes came out more whiney than sad. Harry Connick Jr. reprises his role as the doctor, and I think handled the maturing role well of his character balancing science with parenting. Connick didn’t overact too much during the part, though seeing the movie magic, serious; army drill sergeant command was hard not to laugh at points. The lovely Ashley Judd brings her talents back to the screen again, somehow playing the balanced roles as she always does. I loved her smile, her energy, and her logical sense in the film where everything felt so natural as you watched perform. Then there was Cozi Zuehlsdorff reprising her role as Hazel. In this movie Hazel was rather annoying for me, her character a little too needy, overbearing, and at times weak that had me rolling my eyes. I don’t know if it was the direction or the acting, but her lines came out a hybrid of what seemed happy and desperate. Then we she tried to take a serious, more mature role, she came out more like a stuck up brat. Hazel’s character overall just didn’t do it for me, but did help drive the story at parts and provide a little zest to the rest of the cast.


However, the cast members most of you are probably interested in are the dolphins Winter and Hope. Well Winter, like Sawyer, gets massive amounts of screen time, though in this installment her energy is a lot lower. Fans will get a number of scenes of the dolphin sulking under the board, with close ups of her eyes and missing tail. She is still just as cute as you remember her, but she lacks that playful edge many of us enjoyed. As for Hope, the cute little dolphin has the energy Winter is missing and her small size magnifies the joy she brings. However, she is only present near the last thirty minutes of the movie, and doesn’t have as much involvement with the cast as you might “hope” for. Her part felt rushed to me, and the big challenge they had to face was solved in a matter of minutes. The accomplishment surely makes her involvement in the movie worth it, but I was expecting more with the build-up from the trailers.


Overall Dolphin Tale 2 is a cute movie and does give off good vibes as the ending draws near. However, there are plenty of kid’s movies on the market to fill your time until it comes to home release. My recommendation is to skip this film for now and wait on the next Disney movie that might have a more engaging tale:


My scores are:


Drama Family: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

No Good Thrills

No good deed

            Robbie K here with more reviews coming at you this weekend. This time we focus on the latest Thriller entitled No Good Deed starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. Thrillers these days are a bit of a wild card, often filled with very linear plots that are sacrificed for brutal and bloody kills. Yet occasionally one movie comes along to break the trend and stand out from the crowd. With Mr. Elba on point, I had hopes that this movie would be one of those exceptions. Was it? Read on to find out.


The plot for No Good Deed, as told by the trailer, is that Colin (Elba) is a felon wanted for murder. Somehow, through an impressive display of skills, he escapes his confines and winds up at the home of Terri (Henson) who is conveniently the only adult at home. Now the sociopathic Colin is out to use Terri for his own means, which remain a mystery. I know the plot is cliché and the truth is this tale is one that we have seen time and time again. Throughout the whole movie you know where the plot is going, trying to stomach the idiotic choices Terri makes at the beginning of the movie to make the plot logical. However, surprisingly there is a nice twist that helps make things a little cleverer, and a little less convenient timing.


Despite the surprise twist though, the story for the most part was boring, including the suspense that was supposed to be in the movie. For a thriller, No Good Deed lacked any real edge to the movie, often due to the fact that both Colin and Terri made some rather poor choices. Very few times in the movie did I actually feel myself somewhat tense up, and that wasn’t until the very end with the “exciting climax”. You would think there would be gradual build-up of tension, but in this movie everything has already come to a near boil, with Colin on edge from the very start. Such lack of development in the character makes for again a boring tale that makes you seriously consider if this is a thriller.


Instead the character development comes in the form of Terri, the supposed damsel in distress. The directors put major focus on the woman, evolving her character from the dependent wife to an empowered independent woman over the span of an hour and half. Terri’s fight to survive is explained in a very simple, though realistic, back-story that sets the stage for her cleverness and ingenuity. Her trial is faced not with super powers, or fictitious weapons, but intelligent decisions, strategy, and well placed items that happen to be blunt and/or sharp. Her inner strength should empower the audience, it did in my theater at least when a majority clapped at certain points in the movie. It is nice to see a woman with such strengths outside a Disney movie, helping to divert from the typical damsels you see in these films. Unfortunately the only thing that counters this is the well-placed items that provide endless, and comedic, opportunities for her to hit Colin with. Parts that were supposed to be serious, I was laughing at the cheesiness of the scene thinking, as to quote my fellow movie goer, “It’s a good thing that one lady had all that crap laying around!” Regardless, Terri was the more interesting part of the tale when it came to suspense and thrill.


However, even though Terri is the more suspenseful part of the story, it is Elba that is the strongest component of this movie for me. I have enjoyed Elba’s past work, impressed with his ability to play his characters, though most of them are the same person with a little twist. Elba does a great job at playing the deranged convict, capturing the quite intensity and innocence that a narcissistic killer uses. His deep voice helps bring the menacing threat he imposes, allowing his character as a whole to be the threat. Even when he loses his criminal cool, Elba doesn’t go into an overacted rage of unleashed emotion, which is reminiscent of the Hulk. Elba’s strong delivery is what keeps you engaged in his character, despite the lackluster build up and story to help support the character. His chemistry with Henson was rather good, which I suppose was a needed thing since the two of them were pretty much the whole film. While not the greatest, they did a decent job playing off each other’s attitudes, in particular Henson’s reactions to Elba’s creepy silence.


Overall No Good Deed is a rather boring thriller, with very little suspense and twist. The acting is solid between the two main actors, but it is not enough to justify an hour and a half of theater time. My recommendations are to skip this movie and wait for next weekend’s big releases, or go watch another horror movie that gave you chills. My scores for this movie are:


Thriller: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.5