A Saintly, Down To Earth Comedy, Very Emotional


            Robbie K coming back at you with yet another review, this time diverging from the blockbuster for something a little more down to earth. This review’s topic is on none other than St. Vincent, the latest Bill Murray installment in his long list of movies. For those who haven’t read it’s genre classification it is a comedy. However, since comedy can mean about a hundred different things these days, you might wonder what this film has in store. Well with the assistance of my buddy, I go back into the trenches of the movie theater to bring you the 411 on St. Vincent. Let’s get started.


If you haven’t seen the trailers, St. Vincent is about a bum named Vincent, who doesn’t seem to have a lot going on. As always though, fate has a way of changing things up, when a little boy named Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) move into town. Oliver is a bit of a bully target, and to avoid negligence Vincent is asked to babysit Oliver and as a result some interesting life lessons.


Now you might be thinking, Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray, surely this is going to be another comedic adventure that will have me rolling on the floor. Well my friends, you would be wrong, at least in the traditional sense. St. Vincent is a comedy that is more about wit and delivery, than acting like an idiot or saying lines that will end up on a T-shirt. The dialog is well written, with Murray giving his opinion on life in blunt terms, not giving a rat’s behind at what people think. His outlook on life is cynical and a little depressing, but at the same time funny as he forces poor Oliver into situations no boy should see. What’s even funnier is how the boy reacts, and his responses that you would expect any preteen to respond with. It’s real, it’s clever, and it’s believable, all elements that I expected from the trailers and a nice change from most comedies these days. Of course what really made the comedy better for me was its integration into the story. It wasn’t forced, it came naturally, elements I appreciate in this genre.


Speaking of the story, St. Vincent’s tale is one that we have seen countless times. Murray’s character is a fallen soul, who most likely has a tragic past that leads to his cynical view of the world. We are plunged into his depressing lifestyle from the get go, and one can only hope that you get to the good part soon. Like most beginnings, this reviewer found the introduction a little slow, but once Oliver became part of his life it took a turn for the better. Soon we get to uncover the true heart of gold Vincent has, and see the actions that classify him as a saint. These actions are again relevant to the story, and gradually developed to give Vincent depth throughout the whole film. I didn’t find a scene that wasn’t necessary in this film, and loved how all the other elements of the movie maintained their integrity as the story developed. As my buddy put it, many of the moments are sweet, exactly what you would expect in a surrogate grandpa/grandson relationship. Yet that relationship is only part of the movie, as a few surprise elements are thrown in that derail this momentum. The plot is very predictable, the surprises sort of expected, but the movie has enough character to override the unoriginal plot line. The ending in particular had this robot tearing up, with how heartfelt it was.


Now how much of these feelings were the story and how much was acting that is the real question. The cast brilliantly acts out St. Vincent’s story, with each member an integral cog to the picture. Murray is his typical self, and plays the arrogant jerk to the letter as he always does. You are torn between loving and hating Vincent for the whole movie, unsure if he is worth rooting for. Lieberher is good too, the sidekick role suiting him well as he brings that child naivety to life, with a little sarcasm thrown into the mix. Naomi Watts is beautiful in this film, not only in looks, but her tough as nails attitude that matches her Russian accent, which I think sounds pretty good. As for McCarthy, the woman has some really good lines, but she plays a more serious role in this venture that was a welcome change. She plays the hardworking mother well, and keeps the adventure grounded Alone they all rock, but the chemistry between them is fantastic, developing the group into a little family whose lives are unfolding. In particular Lieberher and Murray’s chemistry is top notch, both forcing the other to grow up almost like they were the missing cog in each other’s life, how convenient huh?


St. Vincent is a very emotional tale. While it is predictable, the delivery is incredible with acting and story balanced to make a believable tale. While I think some of the vocabulary and cursing are a little extreme, I think many will enjoy this comedy if you go in with an open mind. Again don’t expect this to be the mainstream blockbuster with quirky phrases, but instead a journey to self-discovery with some comedy on the side. A warning though, exercise caution if you are one of the following: planning on bringing young kids due to language, bothered by realistic problems, or an optimist who can’t handle negativity. My scores for St. Vincent are:


Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Don’t bother with the Board



Okay you know Hollywood is getting desperate when they are scraping into the board game barrel for a movie idea. Tonight’s review is on the latest horror story that involves another trip down the spirit communicating pathway. I’m talking about the movie Ouija, which from the trailers looked to be another simplistic scare story designed to make you fear the dark. Can this movie compete with the recently released Annabelle, or is it just another brick in the wall of moderately decent horror films.


I’ve never known Ouija to be a popular board game, but this isn’t the first time the simplistic board game has been put into a movie. Ouija seems to be remake of the films proceeding it, taking certain aspects of it’s predecessors and recycling them into one 90 minute mess. What do we get? The answer is a plot that has been pretty much told by the trailers, where one person dies playing the game, leading to her friends trying to uncover the “mystery” at hand. Ouija’s story is relatively straight and narrow that spends little time on developing any of the characters. Like most horror stories, there is a spiritual entity that has it out for the living,, the reason for it’s vengeance also often predictable. In this tale, they have attempted to put a little surprise in the works, but don’t be too hopeful, you can easily pick up on it before the big revelation. Despite the little surprise, Ouija starts a lot of things that it doesn’t tie up, which left me confused, disappointed, and rather annoyed. The motive for the spirit’s hauntings are ambiguous and vague, leading to an ending that left me wanting more movie to get a more complete picture.


Putting the shallow story on the side, let’s talk about the scares this movie has. For this reviewer there was little scary about the movie. Most of the jump out moments you can see coming a mile away, and the only thing that really scares you is the sudden blaring of music. Sure a few of the screams and creature designs are creepy, but once revealed the effect diminishes within seconds. As for creepiness, the setting is the justifying factor here, with the hidden dangers of the dark smothering you for most of the movie. Those afraid of the dark, or being alone for that matter are going to get a little freaked out. Unfortunately, the ridiculous choices and the lack of common sense take away from the little there is in this movie and makes it more funny than scary. The dramatic build up of scares is very unfulfilling at points, with strange occurrences happening for a few seconds and then nothing. Even the kills in this movie lacked edge, many of which were cheesy and done with in manner of seconds. You heard me seconds, and the problem is that for the most part they are all happening the same way. Such mainstream, dull death gets boring after a while. In addition everything becomes rushed near the end of the movie, diminishing the thrills for a rather hasty conclusion. Oh well at least it’s only 90 minutes of our lives right?


Perhaps the last thing to discuss about this movie is the actors. Well the biggest strength is that they are all pretty. I like to call this the SyFy syndrome, where the casting grabs the hottest people they can find to give us eye candy. Maybe it’s an attempt to distract reviewers from the failings of this movie, or maybe it’s a way to give us sweet justice by seeing hot, rich people, fall. Either way your eyes are treated to their beauty, but outside of that there isn’t much. They are not bad actors, after all they know how to look and act scared. It’s just that there is nothing spectacular about this performance, and it’s merely a movie one could have watched on T.V. and been just fine. The exception would be Lin Shaye, who once again dives into the role of a woman bordering on the line of sanity from the horrors she has seen. Shaye’s role is very small, but her talents maximize the little screen time she has. Be assured that there will be no Oscars handed out for the performances in this movie, but these stars have great potential for future movies so long as they get better characters.  I understand that this is a PG-13 movie, but since many PG-13 movies these days have a little more bite, I think this could have gotten some sharper fangs.


Ouija is not the Halloween hit you might be looking for this season. A rather bland story, scares that fall short, and a rather monochromic cast leads to a recipe for disaster. The movie had potential I think, but there wasn’t enough done to really make me terrified at the tale at hand. If you are dying for a Halloween film, I suggest you turn to the Book of Life, or revisit a classic horror film instead. I honestly cannot recommend seeing this film in theaters though. My scores for Ouija are:


Horror: 4

Movie Overall: 3.5-4.0

A Fiesta at the Theaters! Great Animation for the Halloween Season

The book of life

            It’s October and it is usually the time for Halloween themed movies. Unfortunately for us, Halloween has been reduced to cheap horrors, or repetitive thrillers that are a bit of a bore. This year has been slightly different, but this reviewer would like the studios to go back in the past and pull some more seasonal themes to entertain us. Well, someone got my vibe; because my last review is on a film that captures the festive fun that Halloween is for the young and young at heart. So sit back my friends and catch my latest review on the animated feature The Book of Life.


I’ll start this review with talking about the story. The Book of Life has a fantastic tale that centers on the typical complication of a love triangle between characters Manolo (Diego Luna), Maria (Zoe Saldana), and Joaquin (Channing Tatum). Now we know the typical elements involved in this type of plot, but this film deviates from the typical and gives a little more pep around the story. From the start you get the backstory on each character, and the individual struggles they each face. Then they take these qualities and exploit them by bringing in the two masters of the underworld, who make a wager as to who will win the girl. The result of this wager makes for an interesting romantic tale that is fun; emotional, and more realistic than half the dramas we get these days. However, the movie does not stop there, instead it ties in an adventure and blends it into all the aspects, making for a fun film. Another benefit is that the whole tale revolves around the Mexican celebration of the day of the dead, bringing a unique take on the classic Halloween tale and providing a little education as well. What results from this blend is a fun tale that keeps you hooked into the story and enjoying the ride at hand.


The story isn’t the only thing influenced by the Mexican culture though; the artistic style of the movie is also heavily influenced. The Book of Life is sort of a modern day Nightmare Before Christmas where CGI takes the place of stop motion animation. The tale is told through the use of wood puppets, hence the puppet like appearance you’ve seen in the trailers. These dolls are similar to Tim Burton’s world, filled with sharp angles and rounded features to give characters diversity. However, unlike Tim Burton, this director chose to liven things up a little by veering from the dark colors and adding wide splashes of color. This is not only to catch your eyes, but also to mirror the celebration that Day of the Dead is about and that life doesn’t end as long as you are remembered. In the Underworld especially the color comes out, and the festivities are brought to full light in the magical realm of the dead. On the contrary, the land of the Forgotten is dim, bleak and miserable, mirroring the feelings of oblivion that arise. Regardless, the worlds are diverse and fun, filled with ancient Central American influences that were a welcomed change. Even the characters have a unique pizazz to them, each main character standing out in their own way. I in particular liked the Queen of the underworld, impressed with the blend of partying, happy, and death all wrapped into one package. The ruler of the Forgotten Land was also diverse with sharp, dark edges in shades of purple, neon green, and crimson to portray the darkness of his soul.


What else makes this movie fun? The next aspect is the comedy, which for the most part is well timed and well delivered. There isn’t much unique writing or witty humor in this movie, but more in how it is delivered. Countless puns are shouted in ridiculous voices, often followed by a character face planting into an object. What’s even better is that the comedy is also diverse and spread out instead of following the typical style of beating a joke to death, the exception being Joaquin’s obsession with mustaches. In addition to the comedy, the music also brings some thing to the film. Most of the numbers are covers of famous songs, some done horribly to be funny and others that are very relevant to the setting. A couple of the original numbers made my emotions go on a ride, as happiness, sadness, and even love all came together in the instruments and voice. Now most won’t find it as powerful as Frozen, but for this reviewer it was nice having the music built around the movie, not the opposite way around.

Aside from the singing, the voice acting is incredible, each of the cast capturing the essence of the stereotypical Mexican character. Now there are too many to write about so let me pick my three favorites. First is Christina Applegate, the girl has got sass, spunk, and compassion all at work in her tour guide character. She sells the story as she uses the wooden puppets to craft the tale while keeping the kids in line as they try to diverse from the tale. Applegate’s motherly side comes out at times when the kids get scared, and she comforts them just as good mother’s do. Then there was Zoe Saldana who has the feisty Mexican girl zest that shows everyone girls don’t need men to save them. Her voice is suave and full of passion, and exactly the buffer needed amidst the rowdy, rough voices of the cast. Finally the Queen of the Dead was my favorite character, and Kate del Castillo does a nice job bringing the character to life with flare, kindness, and the ability to hold her own.


So what is weak about this movie? It was hard for me to pick things out, but it starts with the predictability. At first the movie had me thinking it was going another direction, but that was offset moments later when we returned to the main path. You soon begin to guess what will happen to who, and overall who will win in the end. A second weakness was how simplistic the trials were to meet the guardian of the souls. I was expecting a little more danger and strategy to the trials, or at least more trials to prove his worthiness, but sadly that adventure was limited. In addition, the use of music to solve all of the problems was also a bit cheesy. It was definitely a good character development, and something I appreciate, but sometimes music can’t defeat everything. Also we got a good look at the land of the dead, but I felt we should of seen a little more of the world and our character navigating the environment it held. Oh well a movie can’t be perfect right?


What can you take away from my sporadic rambling? The Book of Life is one of the better-animated films I’ve seen in a while. It’s Halloween fun, with colorful worlds and characters that balance out the predictable and limited tale. Everything I had hoped for in the trailers came to life for me in this film, and I thoroughly enjoyed the work this team crafted.  I strongly recommend seeing this movie in theaters, possibly in 3-D. I haven’t had this much fun at the movies in quite some time, and I believe most will enjoy the adventure at hand. My scores for this film are:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 9.5

Movie Overall: 9.0




Feel The Fury of Action, Excitement, and Bland Characters


            World War II is a time of tragedy, dismay, horror, and for Hollywood an opportunity to make movies. We’ve seen this historical time period represented in so many ways that you wonder what battle, or aspect we have left to cover. This weekend, the historical archives have been rooted once again, to deliver to us the tales of tank battle warfare. My review is on Fury, the action thriller released this weekend to most major theaters. With all the premovie showings and Hollywood exclusives, I was curious as to what the design team had in store for me. What’s my verdict? Sit back, relax, and read my review.


Where to start? I guess on the first big strength of the film, the action. This movie contains a bountiful number of intense battles in the German countryside. These exciting and suspenseful bouts of metal behemoth chaos are filled with enough explosions and special effects to make Michael Bay jealous, though in this case they are actually relevant. Audience members will be brought into the full experience with the incredible editing of the audio effects, as bombs, bullets, and the likes soar through the theater. You might be thinking, big deal I have plenty of movies that give me a similar experience. What’s so great about this movie? For this reviewer, most movies don’t bring you into the full tank experience. Fury plops us into the mechanisms of tank warfare, showing us the inner workings and the teamwork required to full operate the instrument of death. Each team member, or cast in this case, plays an integral cog in the maintenance of the metal monster, and one gets to feel they are working alongside them the whole time. In addition, the battles have strategy behind them as well, each fight having a different element and target than the last. While the colored bullets of green and red were a bit ridiculous, Star Wars anyone, it didn’t take too much away from the thrill that was Fury’s action shots.


Action is only one element of the experience though, for it’s the motley crew assembled that adds more depth to the movie. Leading the cast is popular heart throb Brad Pitt playing Don the commander at large. Pitt does his role well, the stalwart general who puts up with little crap to the point of being a jerk seems to be a natural part for him to play. Yet, somehow he plays the paternal role to the group and has that softer side that makes him likable. Batting second in command is Shia LaBeouf who finally left the artificially created Autobots to fight a war on his own. LaBeouf surprised me with his performance, a character who was grounded yet not afraid to fight off the enemy. His pipes from Transformers were put to good use in this film, his screams actually relevant to battle instead of calling for Optimus. Such a mature role was a welcome asset to the film, and I look forward to seeing more of these in the future. Logan Lerman has also graduated to a more mature role, and was a good character to play Norman the typist dropped into the horror that is war. Lerman’s character makes a lot of transitions through this movie, and the young actor did a nice job portraying the struggles of a rookie in war. While the evolution into a Nazi killing machine was rather sudden, I think Lerman handled the emotions well and kept them in control. As for Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal, they too did a nice job as supporting character, playing the more aggressive and blunt tank soldiers that represent the animals men can become in the heat of battle. Regardless, the chemistry between this team was phenomenal, almost as if they were truly brothers of war and they were a team forged by battle.


As for the problems with the film, they start with the character development. Fury’s character development was rather poor at points. Yes, we got to see emotions and outlooks of each member towards the Nazi’s, but aside from that the history of the soldiers was left in mystery. Pitt’s panic attacks went unexplained, the pictures and backstory’s of the other crew, pretty much nonexistent. In truth only Lerman’s character had any real development, and that was due to him evolving into a true solider. This ambiguous nature made the characters a little one dimensional for this reviewer, and in truth a little hard to latch onto. In addition to this weakness, the next flaw in the movie is some of the scenes they put into the fray. Fury has a span of almost forty minutes of pure, boring, unnecessary downtime. As my buddy pointed out it was to relieve some tension and give some character development, but it failed for me and left me half asleep at points. Some post editing could, or scene directing I felt is needed to make a more relevant, and quicker, attempt to get some depth to our team. As for the ending, it leaves you a little cheated, proud at what unfolded, but at the same time disappointed by the inconclusive ending. There are a few other things that are a bit picky, but let’s wrap this review up shall we?


Fury is a great war story, filled with excitement, emotions, and brotherhood. I warn families to exercise caution with taking their younger family members to this, because it is bloody, filled with vulgar language, and intense. The battles themselves are merit enough to see this one in theaters, but the flaws I mentioned do take a way from the movie itself. It’s no Saving Private Ryan, but Fury is a nice change up from the genres that seem to flood the theater. My scores for this film are:


Action/Drama/War: 8.5-9.0

Movie Overall 7.5-8.0

Not The Best Of Sparks


            Nicholas Sparks, a man whose books seem to sell millions and whose movies rake in even more money. How can something that is so formulary and repetitive, continue to be so popular? Still every year a movie of his comes out, masses of couples flood to the theaters to get wrapped up in the carbon copy that his movies. Of course here I sit, writing another review on his movie in an attempt to find the good in his latest installment entitled The Best of Me. So here I go, giving you the 411 on my first movie review of the weekend.


Okay let’s face it, a Nicholas Sparks movie is all about crying one’s eyes out and getting caught up in the perfect vision of love that he makes. No surprise, this movie brings those components into the chemical mix. Fans will get caught in the roller coaster ride of kissing, giggling, hugging, and whatever else passes for romance. Like always, the relationship moves fast without too many hitches, a simple incident being blown over in a matter of seconds, like that’s real right? With the magic of the cinematic score, the passion is captured on screen, despite the fact that some adultery and cheating are occurring. While lost on emotionless robot like me, there were plenty of members in my theater that cooed in awe at the emotional display on screen.


As for the other emotions, well as is always the case it is a combination of sad and happy. A majority of this movie tends to bend towards the sadder side of things, with many incidents befalling our cast in the short 110 minutes. I give kudos to Sparks for integrating the hardships of his past into his writing, but his obsession with morbid outcomes and death are a little eye rolling for me. The Best of Me is again another movie where people die, often in predictable ways that somehow end up being good in the end. Realistic no? Inspirational/motivational, yes, because once again he manages to strike a chord that has you tearing up, getting goosebumps, or whatever reaction you have. I didn’t get too much of a response, but that’s because of two things: 1. It was predictable and things I see thirty minutes a way, I become stoic too 2. The unrealistic timing of all the things happening at once. Honestly, how drama like this isn’t seen as ridiculous is beyond me, but if you think this is real enough I encourage you to give science fiction a try.


Now to the story of this tale, which has very little twist and turn outside of the tear jerking sequences. This movie is predictable, the entire set of incidents pretty much are set up in the first half hour of the movie. The lead character Dawson (James Marsden) has some decent development, his bland and reserved nature explained to a decent extent that makes him the tragic hero. Of course some of his decisions and actions are a bit stupid, ill integrated, and frankly rushed at points. Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) was not the best character for this reviewer. Her back-story was sad, but she was a bit too pathetic, and needy in this film as she clung to her past. While I can relate to some of her issues, this wasn’t one of the strongest leads for me. In fact the older renditions of the characters bored me, the chemistry between Marsden and Monaghan very stiff and forced. Instead the entertaining part was the story told through the younger counterparts played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. Spread among their older self’s lives, the past story is much more entertaining filled with not only better acting, but better plot points that had deeper emotions to them.  Overall though, the plot has a lot of similarities with his other works, almost as if Sparks is running out of creative twists to take the movies in.


The few factors that entertained me in this movie start with the character Tuck (Gerald McRaney), an old man who saves Dawson at the beginning. Tuck is the Yoda of this movie, a guide who provides valuable lessons with a nice sarcastic bluntness. His dialogue is simple at times, and delivered at just the right moment to maximize laughs. However, his quotes also pack a lot of emotional heat to it as well, designed and written in a form my own mentors have shared with me. He was a great character to tie everything together, and he had a lot of guts too. Second was the fact that the past and the present were interspersed. While I wished it had been done better, I always like to see a little mixing of past and present to build a better plot, though again it needs work. Finally the visual and audio moments are well put together, combined into a blend that packs the most power behind it.


Let’s wrap this up! The Best of Me was an okay addition to the library of Sparks dramas. Fans of Sparks are going to most likely love this installment, the simplistic romance and tear spurring moments playing the biggest part to their entertainment. For this reviewer, this was one of the lower quality installments in his movie.   The plot was too discombobulated, the characters one dimensional and bland, and the unrealistic series of unfortunate events happening at once offset me on this. A love story such as this is a good girls night out movie, but I suggest revisiting an older film of his and wait for this on Netflix.


My scores the Best of Me are:


Drama/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5

CGI Dracuation!

Dracula Untold

            Dracula. It is a legendary tale that has been told throughout the ages in form or another. Many movies have focused on the original player, with the seductive glare that can woo any woman into doing…whatever it is he plans to do. Most of these renditions have been the same formula, the vampire lord pining over a woman only to be stopped just by someone. Sure there have been a few twists thrown into the mix, helping to adapt him into the modern era, some of which have been good, and some that let’s face it have tanked. This weekend, yet another spin on the tale has been released, promising to bring action that this denizen of the night hasn’t had in a while. Did it work? Read on to find out.


So picture it, medieval Transylvania in the time when the Turks were trying to invade the world in the name of their glorious Sultan. Standing in their way is a handful of soldiers, whose leader is an elite trained soldier that once was a salve to the very beast. Wait a minute doesn’t this sound like a movie we’ve already seen before? One with Greek soldiers standing in the way of… the Turks? Well don’t worry this movie isn’t 300, but it has a lot of similar elements that may have been the motivation for this movie. Let’s start with the action first.


Dracula Untold is supposedly an action/adventure, and in a way it is. A creative still frame opening introduces the tale leading us to a rather bland opening. Yet when the trouble starts and the bad guys are on our doorsteps, the boss comes out to play. The first fight is an impressive display of sword fighting, a fast paced version of a Lord of the Rings fight that is fairly short in the grand scheme of things. Not to worry it’s only the first battle, surely the rest of the movie will give us our money’s worth. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Dracula Untold’s fights are rather short lived, each one serving as another medium to test the lord of the night’s powers. The graphics are impressive, but the fighting is rather simple, and one sided to the point that it becomes a bore. Sure the first fight with super powers was good for me, the action designed more like 300’s battles, minus the slow motion slashing and decapitation. I wanted more fights like this one, though with some better camera work, but the movie became nothing more than again a CGI wonderland where artificial bats swarmed the screen. Was it fun? Yes. Was it worth the money? Not really, though the big screen gladly welcomed the deep sounds and high definition death.


So the action wasn’t top notch, but maybe there is something else to this movie. Well let’s talk about the story Dracula Untold. I can say this tale is one of the more unique spins on his story, blending elements of many films to craft a decent adventure. This film has sort of a dark justice feel to it, with Dracula obtaining his powers for a noble cause of protecting his family, which the trailers have already told you. Yet that simplistic story has more layers to it, evolving as more situations unfold. You can see a lot of the revelations happening a mile a way, but path to getting there is filled with a few twists that may surprise you. Yet what really grabbed my attention was the internal battle between Dracula, or Vlad, and his curse. You know the inevitable ending, but you just don’t know when he is going to reach that breaking point. In this film, the director has captured the struggle of facing off the curse, and just how tempting the world can be when you are denied certain things. Alone this struggle can be boring, and a little drawn out, but when overlaid with the main tale, it becomes a powerful combination that kept me enthralled in an otherwise ridiculous story. Well it was that and the fact that you never quite know how dark they would take the film.


So what else does this film have in store? In truth the acting is well done, each of the merry band of knights and maidens a strong fit for the film. Of course most of the screen time is on the big cheese himself Dracula, played by Luke Evans. Evans does a nice job with his role, as he essentially plays Bard with more edge. He keeps his emotions in check and does a nice job balancing his work. His wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) is a lovely supporting character and is second on the screen time. She is beautiful, smart, and not annoying as Hollywood makes some of their female leads out to be, and Gadon did a great job playing the part. Why I had hoped for a little more girl power, she did a great job doing her part for the war. Again the rest of the cast does a solid job for the most part, but it’s time to wrap this up before my next film starts.


Dracula Untold is not a bad tale, with some well-designed action, a unique twist to the plot, and a good variety of elements to keep things interesting. However, the action is short lived, the moves are a bit stale, and there are a few plot elements that are a bit stretched or short sighted to say it is a must see in theaters. Make a note that this is a bloody movie, that there are close-ups of bloody kills and death that may not be for those with weak constitutions. The fact that the movie is dark and loud too, might be an indication not to bring babies, or other young adults to the theaters. Overall, my scores are:


Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

Cute, Kid Friendly, And PG Oriented


            Sorry for the delay, but after a busy weekend of work and mad dashes to the theater I’ve got a second review. We turn our sights on a movie with a little less bite, and more kid friendly bark. My next write up is on Disney’s latest book to movie project entitled Alexander and Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day. Quite a mouthful I know, and from the trailers this movie didn’t promise much for this reviewer. Yet there was still hope that there was a treasure buried beneath the silliness in the trailers. What is my verdict? You know the drill to find out.


Alexander’s adventure has been told in numerous forms, so I was “interested” in what spin Disney could put on the fun little adventure. To my surprise the adventure was fun, as the team decided to pass the bad day courtesy of Alexander unto the family. The troubles they face have been upgraded and modernized to make it more relatable, as proms, driving tests, plays, and jobs are all fair game in this installment. What was great about the tale is seeing the problems streamline, building through the day and bleeding into the other problems. What this lead to? Simple, the characters interact with each other and sort of become a family that one would see in the sitcoms of the 60’s-90’s. Such dynamics are nice to see every once in a while, despite the statistical chances of everything bad happening at the same time. Oh well, a movie like this is also filled with those heartwarming moments and family values, which may give you some goosebumps, or at least make you feel warm and happy.


Of course the story is not what most people are going to be seeing this movie for, or if it is, then you might just be shocked at Disney’s presentation. My guess is that you are going to see this movie in hopes of giving your kids a laugh. Well my friends I can surely say that most of your young ones will enjoy the antics of this film. Alexander’s journey is filled with ridiculous comedy that is juvenile, super silly, and age appropriate for your family. A car crashing through parking meters, a woman biking through traffic, and a father boxing a kangaroo are just some of the wacky things that had kids in my showing cracking up. Unfortunately for me, most of the gags have been shown in the trailers, and if you’ve seen them as much as I have… well there isn’t much that is fresh for the adults. However, there are still a few jokes here and there that might get a giggle from you older adults. Regardless, make sure to tell the little ones to not repeat some of the actions in this movie, just in case they have that urge.


Despite the PG comedy what else do you have to look forward to in this movie? Acting wise it’s fine for this movie, just go in expecting everyone to act incredibly silly and over the top, with the exception of Alexander ironically. Let’s start with Alex (Ed Oxenbould) does a nice job with the rendition of the character. Not so much whiney, Oxenbould brings a lot of the messages home, and despite being preachy, does it without so much emotional drama. I guess being a kid allows him to play this part well, and it was nice to see a rendition that wasn’t as big a brat as the one in the books. Steve Carell on the other hand surprised me with his character in this film. In what can only be described as his Life With Dan role, meets the office. Carell is both serious and silly in this film, teaching life lessons but acting like a big goof at others. It is funny at points, but it lacked the kick from his other works that I thoroughly enjoyed in the past. Jennifer Garner is still as cute as ever, but I wasn’t impressed with her role in this film. She did a good job with the mother role, very protective and guilty of putting career before family. However, I felt she took a major back seat to the rest of the family, and a little cheated in her stories overall. As for the brother (Dylan Minnette), his character is a big jerk, who is a bit of a stupid jock driven by the possibility of being with girls. Minnette did a nice job playing this role, but he was bit, I don’t know, too stupid for my liking. If that is how the character was supposed to be, then he nailed the part. If not, then we have some work to do in the future installments. Finally the sister played by Kerris Dorsey was a brat, but again a little overdramatic at times. Dorsey does a nice job sounding sic, and can really bring out that stereotypical, self-centered teenage girl role. I was hoping for a little more diversity, but again this is a Disney kid’s movie and complex characters usually don’t exist. Overall the family dynamics are good, and the cast works very ell with each other, but again there really is little that is Oscar winning of this acting.


Alexander’s film is definitely the kids film of the weekend. It’s sweet, cute, and very simplistic that everyone can have some fun wit it. Yet it’s a little too biased towards kids for any of the older audience members. If you are really looking for a movie the whole family can watch, which is quite rare these days, then pick this movie. However, I would hold out for Disney’s upcoming animated features in the next few weeks. My scores for this movie are:


Comedy/Family: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

Going, Going, GONE!!!!!!


            My second review this week is on yet another book translated into a movie. In what is sure to be the leading movie in the box office this weekend, this next film is all about drama, suspense, and thrills. Pre opening reviews showed promise for this thriller, most critics stating how good the production of this film is. Can it be true? Have we actually achieved another good rendition of a book? I’ll do my best to not spoil everything, as I review Gone Girl.


In a thriller, we expect a certain quality to hook us into the tale. Unfortunately, many movies either go so extreme that the story is ridiculous, or lose our interest because they can’t keep the flames alive. Not the case in Gone Girl. This story grabs your attention from the get go, forgoing a prolonged introduction and diving right into the scene at hand. We’ve all been hooked into movies with missing people, the inquisitive mind wondering if that person is alive and what nightmare they are going through. In addition to this curiosity, Gone Girl does something else that keeps you into the madness; it slowly reveals the aspects of the plot. Scene by scene we are treated to another piece of the puzzle that sets up the history of the characters and the secrets they hold. The order to which they present is logical and strategically planned, culminating in a mass of scenes that are well designed and emotional. For this reviewer, all the scenes made sense, and all of them were relevant to the story, a thing that is very rare to see these days. Of course the brilliance of this movie is the changes in direction this movie takes. Not too drastic a turn, Gone girl’s plot elements are fantastic for keeping you involved, changing up just enough to keep things interesting all around. I think what I loved the most is the cleverness behind the entire movie and the strategic plot development that takes place. Those who have read the book know what I’m talking about, but for those who haven’t I assure you that a majority will be pleased.


Of course the drama is only one aspect of this movie, in truth Gone Girl’s tale is truly brought to life by the acting. Ben Affleck surprised me greatly in this film, for once not annoying me with his choice of style. Young Affleck plays the part of sociopathic disturbance quite well, bringing about a quiet intensity and intense edge. What I thought would be a rather boring role was a surprise with the emotional roller coaster his character goes through. Sad, angry, mortified, all of these qualities are nicely mixed together in his performance, and well acted to the point where I believe he is this character. Playing his opposite is Rosamund Pike who also surprised me in this role. Pike’s sexy voice is seductive, smooth and elegant yet strong enough to induce doubt in the relationship. She also did a great job playing a character I really hated, the flashbacks of her enough to drive me crazy and define her as the five letter word for a female dog. Pike made a great commitment to her role, bringing all of her qualities to life with a natural flare and edge. Tyler Perry steps out of his Madea dress, and back into the serious role as he plays the ace attorney. No surprise, Perry is good at playing the stereotypical expert lawyer, filled with arrogance and overzealous discipline to keep the game of strategy going.


However there are a few things about this movie I didn’t necessarily like. First thing is some of the over the top dark moments. I appreciate the dark humor in this movie, the movie showing the fickleness of humans one of the most entertaining aspects. Yet, they overstep their boundaries in a few scenes, going into the land of the demented and gruesome in some of the characters behaviors. One scene in particular is rather graphic, the blood covering the scene in a rather disturbing display. Those who love such an edge, such as what is seen in Game of Thrones, will be desensitized to this madness, but others want to be prepared for the carnage. A second weakness is the length of the movie. Again I state that all of the info presented fit well into the movie, and most if not all was needed. Did it need to be over 2 hours long though? I don’t think so.   At times you don’t feel the length of the movie, but there are some points that bring the fatigue on. Some editing would have been welcomed, but I can live with the extra scenes if I had to. Finally the language is not my favorite either. I know I’m a bit sensitive when it comes to language, but this movie said a word that I can’t stand, and even though it is completely appropriate, it still gets me a little bit.


Overall Gone Girl is a fantastic tale, filled with an engaging story that keeps you on your toes. Fantastic acting helps bring the world to life and the dark elements to it are more than welcome. However, it is almost a two and half hour investment and a bit long winded at points. Worth a trip to the theater? I think it is, though there really isn’t any quality to this movie that is augmented by the bigger screen. What are my scores? Find out below:


Drama/Mystery/Thriller: 9.5

Movie Overall: 8.5-9.0

She’s That Doll!



It’s Thursday night and you know what that means. Yes, it’s time for another movie review. The month of Halloween begins with a blockbuster kicker, with the first horror movie of the season, Annabelle. With James Wan pulling out of the director chair, his legacy has been left open for other directors to take over. Well open season is over, for the infamous doll of the Conjuring has now got a movie of her own. Can Wan’s big shoes be filled, or has the train of good horror movies run out of steam, leaving us again with Hollywood knock offs.


Let’s get down to the question you want answered. Is Annabelle scary? Well for this reviewer the answer is… kind of. Like it’s predecessor, this movie is a combination of jump out at you scares and creepy, paranormal activity. Blended together in decent harmony, audience members will get a nice variety of ways to make you squirm in your chair, and possibly scream. For this reviewer, the creepier aspects involved objects turning on randomly, or the random trail of pictures dropped by a devious shadow. Such random acts seem silly, but it’s the subtle play of light, a thing you catch off to the side that really penetrates your core. We’ve all been spooked by something in the corner of our eye and this movie plays on it.


  Like Wan, director John R. Leonetti also is not afraid to have his monsters come out during the day. Yes, no manner of light can keep the creatures at bay, again removing a barrier that we normally turn too. Yet this movie takes it one step further and takes the creature out of the residence. Most movies keep the spirit isolated to one area, but Annabelle’s wrath escapes out into the open, following our heroine and her cohorts around. This may not affect some, but for a few latecomers to the theater, they were not happy to lose that comfort. Such alterations in haunting strategies is what the horror world has needed, giving it a little extra kick to the scare factor that many films in this genre have been lacking.


Of course the creepiest thing in this movie is none other than the doll herself. As I mentioned a year ago, Annabelle has the design that will chill just about anyone to the bones. In this movie we are given an exponential increase in that factor, the seemingly innocent doll being scarier than the thing tied with it. Her cold lifeless stare has a menacing glare to it behind those, pristine blue eyes. The charismatic grin holding a comfortable welcome laced with malice and evil and all of it is wrapped in a porcelain white package. What adds a little more scariness to it, is seeing the doll wind up in the strangest places. As the trailers state, it starts with a simple change in poster, but gradually turns to her ending up in the weirdest places that will make you cautious in your own room. Throw in the fact that her features morph over the course of the film, eventually into movement and well you get some factors that might have you screaming “Oh snap!” into the air.


With all these factors you might think this movie is the scariest thing I’ve seen. Unfortunately that is not the case. The first reason is a big one, the trailers have shown you most of the scary scenes. That’s right, a majority of the jump out at you moments and creepy happenings have been laid out for you in all their details. Sure there is a little editing to cover things up, and you haven’t heard the spine tingling music that adds a little spice, but you’ll see most of the moments coming. A second factor to the lack of scariness is that once again the camera foreshadows when things are going to jump out at you. The cessation of motion, the sudden quietness, they are still the classic factors to give away the “surprise” they had planned. Finally the third factor is the actual denizen that is using the doll. For the last year we’ve wondered what invisible tormentor was behind Annabelle, and in this film it is revealed. While the revelation was incredibly creepy, the actual look of the beast paled in creepiness to the doll. Yeah, the make up and special effects are good, and it’s hiding in the shadows helps add a little edge, but one can see the aspects that inspired it’s creation.


What else does Annabelle have to offer? Well the story is not that bad, for writer Dauberman has done a nice job tying in character development with the horror aspect of it. However, the plot of this genre has lost the ability to be unique, and we have seen this tale told in previous movies, though the ending is halfway decent. As for the acting, they did a good job for this film with Annabelle Wallis being the main star of the show. Wallis does a great job playing the wife driven to the point of delusion, balancing her expected screams and whimpers with a decent dialogue. She impressed me even more with her delivery of her lines, the wavering voice a nice touch to emphasize the terror she faced.


Annabelle is a decent prequel filled with the elements that made The Conjuring the ride it was. While the movie has been ruined by the trailers, this reviewer would say to give this a shot. Again, it’s not the best installment I’ve seen, but it provides a good opening for the month of horror. My scores for this movie are:


Horror: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0