Another Fine Tale by Disney


The Finest Hours, yet another heroic tale about individuals who defy the limits of nature to pull off miracles. Disney certainly enjoys capitalizing on these tales in the early seasons don’t they? Chis Pine leads the cast in this story about a small band of coast guards ordered to brave a massive storm to rescue a crew onboard a capsizing tanker. Can this inspirational drama stand out from the sea of other similar tales, or has Disney just pumped out another feat of mediocrity in an effort to obtain money? Let’s analyze shall we?


When it comes to a drama like this an engaging tale is required as the backbone of the movie. Fortunately the Finest Hours manages to accomplish this by taking a straightforward plot and presenting it in fantastic way. The film follows the whole incident from three different perspectives that intertwine across the full two hours. This dynamic approach gave you the full picture and continued to spice things up as they illustrated the dangers faced on all fronts. As such, there is sure to be some part of the tale that audiences will enjoy that will bait your attention in this straightforward tale. Unfortunately, the tale is very predictable and lacked suspense for me, especially knowing the outcome thanks to the trailers with only the ambiguity of who would survive the ordeal. At least the love component is not to mushy to become cheesy and annoying so that’s an added benefit.


Let’s jump to the acting now. Chris Pine grabs the part by the horns and takes it full throttle. His portrayal of Bernie Webber was a nice balance between bravery and hesitation as he tackles the challenges before him. While his accent is funny to hear at first, it eventually grows on you and adds some endearment to the character. Holliday Grainger’s portrayal of Miriam was okay, a nice portrayal of a strong, brave woman whose verbal and non-verbal acting brought the courageous nature of this woman to life. However, the trailers made her out to be more involved with the process and I was disappointed with her limited interactions in the film. But best actor in this film goes to Casey Affleck, who played the deepest role of the bunch as the chief engineer. The emotions to which he had to balance were challenging, but I feel Affleck kept the character grounded and realistic on all fronts, thereby making his feats all the more impressive. All the other actors hit their mark well, but there are too many to cast in such a short amount of space.


Perhaps the strongest quality of the movie though is the cinematic magic and special effects that brought the true suspense. The Finest Hours’ computer animation is on point, with the deadly snow storm brought to life with high-definition details and incredible sound editing. I was brought into the storm, feeling the misery and despair the foreboding nor’easter brought to our sailors as the fury of the sea was unleashed. In the belly of the tanker, the chaos of sinking ship was brilliantly recreated that didn’t involve the over use of pyrotechnics and explosions (take a hint Michael Bay). Special effects aside the cinematography was a key aspect in bringing the emotions to the scenes. Our cast of characters do a nice job delivering their lines, but it’s the nonverbal acting that really delivers the punch. The camerawork is stable through and through (again pay attention Bay) and captures all the detail despite the aggressive winds and waves. And the symphony soundtrack only adds an extra kick to subtly make the scenes complete.


The Finest Hours is certainly not the most original, or unique movie from Disney’s collective vault. However, while it is not the most entertaining tale, it does highlight the important qualities of faith, duty, honor, and a slew of other morals that people harp on. The visual effects of this studio are certainly the highlight of this movie, which may be further enhanced by a 3-D showing. Overall, I’m satisfied with the work Disney studios did and feel this a movie most will enjoy.


My recommendations for audience members who will like it are: older generations from that time period, fans of inspirational tales, and those who appreciate good cinema magic. I also believe this movie is worth a trip to the theater, thanks to the cinematic qualities.


My scores overall:


Action/Drama/History: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Another Legends Of Awesomeness



SKADOOSH! A word that seems to hold no meaning for many was the trademark word for an animated film franchise that’s beloved by many. Kung-Fu Panda is a tale about Po the clumsy, food loving panda who also is a master of martial arts. Over the last eight years, Po and his fellow animal fighters have tackled one overlord after another to save China. And this weekend yet another villain rears it’s anthropomorphic head to face our heroes. However can a third adventure maintain the fun its predecessors have or does it flop like so many sequels?


Kung-Fu Panda’s animation remains as phenomenal as ever, with Po and company zipping about in fluid motion. Both human and animalistic motions are flawlessly blended together to bring our anthropomorphic cast alive and in stunning detail and color. This quality remains even during the fast paced G-rated action scenes of Kung-Fu and comical chaos.

Of course fans of the series know that Po’s main angle is comedy in terms of entertaining our younger audience members. Kung-Fu Panda 3 has plenty of laughable moments as Po’s enthusiasm and clumsiness leads to many situations that filled the audience with high pitched squeals. Running into walls, screaming in overdramatic voices, and goofy, thought cute, faces are the ploys they unleash. Fortunately there are some well-written lines, great delivery, and a few advanced jokes that add a little wit to the mix.

And like any good animated feature, this movie also brings about some emotional moments to grab you into the story. Morals, especially those geared towards finding your self, are integrated into the excitement and add some more depth to Po. Seeing Po reunited with his kind starts pulling the heartstrings, and the interactions with his dad (combined with the powerful musical score) nearly brought tears to my eyes. While some moments are a little on the preachy/cheesy side, the story team did a nice job teaching the lessons that we can all stand to learn.

While all of these animation tactics work to bring the movie the life, it would still be nothing without the voice acting. Jack Black’s goofiness works great with Po and is perfect for the comedy aspect of the film, while also transitioning into a more serious tone when the scene calls for it. The new comers to the series are well received in this movie. Bryan Cranston as Po’s father was a different role for him and interesting to see considering his last few roles were much more intense. J.K. Simmons as the bad guy was a perfect choice as his gruff tone and history of being a stubborn hard head fell right in line with his animal. Our other cast members reprise their roles with the same ferocity and fun they had back in the other films.

In terms of what could be improved in this movie there were a few things I would have liked to see. First is that the opening segment was a bit rushed, the rise of the master villain happening much faster than I expected. As a result the training and morals of Po were also a little hasty in development and lacked the same emotional punch of the first two. I felt they also put the other animals in the background again with only Tigress really getting the screen time worthy of billing. Comedy wise some of the ploys did get old after a bit, some of the new jokes getting overused like so many memes in the Internet generation. The action I didn’t think was as good as Kung Fu Panda 2, especially when it turns into the grandiose display of color than actual martial arts prowess.

Overall Kung-Fu Panda 3 is another notch on the belt of awesome goodness in Dreamworks productions. It is fun, funny, and maintains the fun story elements that we fell in love with all those years ago. For a third installment this is one of the better ones I have seen, and is a strong start to the family movie genre in 2016. I strongly encourage everyone to take a trip to the theater for this adventure.


My scores for Kung Fu Panda 3 are:


Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Action, Emotion, but a few Shaky Components



Robbie K here reviewing the latest films to hit the box office. Today’s write up is on the new “true story” war film 13 Hours that looks to be a tribute to soldier heroism. As always it is my job to analyze, study, and grade the movie to help assist you with your viewing selections. Let’s get started.


When you think of war you think of action and sure enough this movie has plenty of riveting moments to rock the auditorium. Although the exciting stuff doesn’t happen until about halfway through the film (thanks to a lot of talking and pokes at how stupid our government can be) the scenes themselves have everything you want in a movie. Bullets fly, extras spasm from fake gunshots, and fiery explosions bombard the screen as chaos unfolds. Being this is a Michael Bay film, the explosions are excessive alongside the pyrotechnics, but fortunately not to the point of a Transformers film. One thing I liked was the realistic feel of the battle, using strategy and position instead of movie magic to destroy the bad guys, although they did seem to have infinite ammo.


While the action is the main part of the story, the movie has a lot of character development to help bring some relevance to the violence. The first half of the movie focuses on building up the tension for the climax, giving us some insight into the backstory and personalities of our heroes. It’s slow, but Bay kept the suspense throughout the film to keep me interested. In addition they even do an excellent job of illustrating the weaknesses of our military and their inability to make decisions. Those with strong political beliefs are sure to get riled up once or twice in the movie. Our actors as well were believable as soldiers with John Krazinski capturing all the emotion and tension of a military man. James Badge Dale also does a “bang” up job portraying the leader of the Special Forces unit, bringing a blend of honor, courage, and ironically rebellion in his steely gaze. Yet the true magic is when these two, and the other four soldiers come together, to create what feels like a unit of brothers is formed.


Of course the true majesty of this movie is the editing. The special effects crew crafted a piece of work here that truly is worthy of an Oscar nomination. While the pyrotechnics were a bit overdone, they felt well placed and appropriate for the scenes at hand. Even more impressive is what the sound/music team has crafted together. While booms, crackling guns, and dying scream my not be the most unique thing to grace the speakers, this film does a great job executing them, making sure to not overpower the dialog and military jargon. For me it was the music that brought the main emotional fervor to this film13 hour. The graceful piano work combined with the camera work nearly brought a tear to my eye at the end, mirroring the emotions of the scenes. As for the camera work well that aspect is unfortunately not as good. On the positive side, Bay captures the war from all angles capturing the full effect of the hell this event was. Seeing men erupt into fountains of blood, or losing limbs is something that isn’t easy on the eyes and brings out the true carnage. Yet Bay can’t seem to hire a stable camera crew to his films. Once more the team has tried to immerse you into the chaos, but I found this ploy to be annoying, nauseating, and a bit distracting.


Overall 13 hours is a solid military action movie filled to the brim with that pride filled portrayal of America’s military. The action is solid and the emotional development adds an extra layer of depth that sometimes lacks in this genre. However, the movie isn’t that original and uses the same ploys to glorify military prowess, though this movie does a better job of showing how ugly war is. Editing wise, the movie is solid, though I wished they dropped another half an hour off the runtime. Yet in the grand scheme of things this movie was well done and a nice adventure to start the year off right.


Is it worth a trip to the theaters? I would say yes for the technical aspects of the film. Those who have weak constitutions to blood, death, violence, or realistic military warfare should skip this film. One thing I can report, this movie was very popular to older audience members, some having many choice things to say at the end, which I don’t wish to repeat. Also those who have PTSD involved with military may not be able to handle the more emotional parts of this movie, as about five men left the theater in a hastened gait.


My scores overall are:


Action/Drama/Thriller: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5