Inspirational, Balance, But Not Deep Enough

Race

 

They say those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I guess this motto is the reason Hollywood continues to make historical figure movies at least once a year. This weekend, the life of track legend Jesse Owens comes to the silver screen in the movie entitled Race. While the Oscars may eat up these kinds of movies, they sometimes get overcredited with being the best movie over the year. So once more I dive into my local theater to review the latest in cinematic productions. Let’s get to it then.

 

When it comes to historical biographies such as Race, you look for a portrayal that elicits pride, passion, and other emotions that will inspire the audience. And once more Hollywood manages to bring all of that to bear with cinematic magic. Race is packed with well edited sequences that show the struggles Owens faced in his day as he trained to become the champion. The racial fervor of the times is brought in full force with extras intensely screaming with furious scowls painting their faces. Captains and financers of the Nazi regime are even more chilling, as they radiated the menacing energy we’ve come to know from history, adding suspense to the film. The emotion it brings will truly unnerve some people, and I’m sure some group will get offended by the portrayal of some Race in this movie (despite the inspirational theme in this movie).

But the negativity is only one side of the coin, and Race does an even better job with their more lighthearted moments. The training sessions are just the ice breaker to preaching the morals of hard work and determination. Once at the meets, things get turned up a notch with blaring music and beautiful shots raise your emotions to new heights. With each shot of the gun, each stride across the track, I felt roped into Owens world. And the finale… well lets just say the morals they preach would be grand for today’s society could stand to learn from. Of course being based on actual events, this suspense can be missing if you know Owens accomplishments already, which is unfortunate in these types of movies.

Yet even the best editor can only do so much and we switch our focus to the actors now. Stephan James gets two thumbs up from this reviewer for his portrayal of Owens. He was able to capture the work ethic of Jesse, delivering powerful lines to motivate the audience, but not to cross the line into cheesiness and overdramatic presentation. In addition he adds a nice comedic edge that balances his character out into a new light. Jason Sudeikis also did his role justice playing Larry Snyder, the coach of our Olympian. Rarely do you see Sudeikis in a serious role, so it was refreshing to see him tackle this part. He has emotional fervor, bringing fire to the screen as he defends his morals and encourages his athletes to give it his all. Sure the screaming rants were a little over done, but all in all it worked for me. However, don’t think his comedy has been drained away, Sudeikis still brings his comedic timing to the picnic and reigned his ridiculousness in for this film. These two have great chemistry and together really sold the story.

Yet with all the good I’ve mentioned, we should probably talk about some of the limitations to this film. The first is of course the predictability of this story. YES I know when it comes to historical biographies you have only so much to work with, but it still slightly takes away from the suspense and mystery. A second limitation was that it tried to cover more than it had time for.  This title has doubled meaning and I felt it didn’t go in depth enough for either topic especially in terms of his integration with the teammates. Yes we did see some of this near the end, and it was probably more important to portray the pressure placed on his shoulders, but still I would have liked to see a little more. As such there were a few moments that could have been left out of the movie to either make the run time shorter or make room for some other plot lines. Outside of that though, it is quite a fun and entertaining film.

 

Overall, Race does it job to illustrate the past and inspire you to accomplish your dreams. The phenomenal editing and great casting truly preach the morals and lessons that history has to offer us. Yet it is a simplistic movie that lacks a lot of special effects are uniqueness to require a theater visit.   As for the accuracy of this film, I can’t say as I need to revisit his biography at some point. Historical fanatics are going to enjoy this the most, but those who appreciate good acting should check this one out. My one hope is that this movie doesn’t add further fuel to the fire and cause another fight on social media or some other avenue.

 

My scores for this film are:

 

Biography/Drama/Sport: 7.5-.8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Dead-On Comic Book Movie

Deadpool

 

 

Valentine’s day weekend, one that brings many emotions in one built up day. Naturally the holiday would bring movies about love, joy, and dating right? Well this year Marvel and Fox decide to bring a wild card into the mix to defy the usual trend. Today’s review is on Deadpool, a movie that certainly looks as interesting as the comic book character it is based on. Does this movie live up to the potential we’ve been waiting years for, or does it fail like many of Fox’s hero movies. I’m Robbie K and I’m here to share some thoughts.

 

As many comic book fans know, Deadpool’s stories involve a lot of crude antics and comedy. This movie continues that trend as Deadpool’s rebellious attitude comes out in full force. From the start, the writers poke at plenty of stereotypical comic movie aspects such as CGI characters, cameos and the exalted sense of justice these movies love to preach. Amidst the chaos that is Deadpool’s origin story, our directing team made sure to add ridiculous (and graphic) deaths to the mix that are quite comical when our “hero” adds his sarcastic touch and snide comments to the scene.

This brings me to perhaps the greatest part of this movie, the writing. Deadpool’s team certainly did their homework for this film, bringing a variety of lines and dialog that were fitting of our crew. Deadpool’s obsessions such as bashing opponents, vengeance, violence, and oh yeah sex are all brought to their fullest potential in his words. Snide comments, innuendos, and more direct descriptions fill the two hours of this movie, and nothing is sacred in the white eyes of this mercenary. And the moments where he breaks the fourth wall and speak to the audience are incredible, packed with many reference filled verses that had me cracking up (especially the after credits scene).

Of course lines are nothing without an actor to bring them to life and Ryan Reynolds does the part justice. Reynolds brings the right amount of snippiness to the role, adding just the right touch of sarcasm and elation to bring out the full humor. I’m surprised to be saying this, but T.J. Miller works well in a movie…for once. Miller’s blunt delivery and stoner facial expressions are perfect for the… sidekick of Deadpool. His bouts with Deadpool are some of the funnier exchanges I’ve seen in the movies in a long time. The avocado line may be a little old thanks to the trailers, but there are some treasures hidden outside of the trailers that were very entertaining.

Comedy isn’t the only aspect of this film though. Deadpool has plenty of violence to go around and in the many forms the crazy man brings. The opening sequence alone is adrenaline packed, using the slow motion combat that Snyder’s films always seem to have. Fortunately the slow motion isn’t abused and we get some well-choreographed sequences that we’ve been thirsting for.   However, I wanted a little more of that rush and was disappointed at the lack of full on sword fights and martial arts action. In addition some of the torturous scenes, while humorous, didn’t have the action I always pictured when I read the comics.

Still they certainly captured the R rated nature that this series is known for. There is lots of blood to say the least and you will not find it an odd site to watch the screen turn red as some poor extra is stabbed or shot. In addition the use of those ever so lovely swear words are also present, though not overdone like other R rated movies. As for the sex scenes everyone is talking about, if you made it through movies like fifty shade of grey then you have nothing to worry about, unless you can’t stand the site of a bare butt. Even the soundtrack speaks strongly in this movie, taking a lesson from the boys of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack with just a little more rap involved. Despite how fitting it is though, some of these get a little annoying at times and some editing could have been done to provide more room for action.

Deadpool certainly is one of the better movies out of Fox’s workshop in a while and sets the bar high for the next Marvel movies. It’s crude, it’s rude, and it’s violent, but most of it is hilariously entertaining. While I was looking for a little more action, it certainly gave me my thrill fix for the month, and I look forward to more clever works from this team. Deadpool is definitely worth a trip to the theater, but make sure you exercise caution before rushing your preteen to the theater as it may be a bit more mature than you expect.

 

My scores for this movie are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 9.0

 

Movie Overall: 8.0

Pride&Prejudice and a lot of flaws

Pride

 

Hollywood recognizes no boundaries when it comes to making movies of literary “classics.” This weekend they have dived back into the infinite pool of plots and bring their magic to the silver screen. Today’s review is on Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, a spoof on the revered novel by Jane Austen. As ridiculous as it sounds, this tale of zombies invading 19th century England is an enjoyable tale that is clever, fun, and quite thrilling with a little imagination. But can the movie match the majesty of the novel, or does it fall flat on it’s undead face? Here are my thoughts on the film.

 

The story is very similar to the book, maintaining the clever integration of zombies with society and giving it that ridiculous twist. Our team managed to hit the high-points of the film and portrayed all of the major events that enthralled us in the novel. However they took some major creative liberties to spice the film up, effectively weaving a new story altogether. Fortunately all of the elements are designed around poking fun at the Victorian regality, all maintaining the underlying theme of Pride and Prejudice. The movie is funny at many points, and the ridiculous twist to the literary classic were very enjoyable.  Yet though they hit the key points, the editing of this film was rather poor in my opinion. Many scenes felt rushed, quickly stung together in a series that was logical but seemed to skip some details as they sloppily transitioned into another sequence. To me it seemed the editors had forgotten scenes and quickly pasted them somewhere that was deemed appropriate. Not the greatest move guys.

 

Fortunately there was great cast that portrayed our characters and looked the part of royalty. Lily James (my favorite) dropped the glass slippers for boots and weapons as she brought a feistiness to the film. Her character was a nice balance of honor, pride, and skill as she brought a whole new definition of girl power to life. Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, and certainly has the roguish nature down pat, including a dazzling display of stage combat that would fit well in fantasy movies. However, he displays very flat emotion and was a bit boring for a main character. Jack Huston on the other hand captured the part of the villain perfectly, capturing all the shadiness, deceit, and ire necessary for a good antagonist to have. Other characters, including the zombie extras played their parts well, but many of them were underutilized and underdeveloped, which which was disappointing to see. 

 

Despite the limitations to their cast though, the design, costume, and makeup teams were on point in this movie. The setting itself was beautiful, the movie filled with rich, elaborate manors littered with English history. Various shots of the countryside and fields of the estate only further brought me into the world, making me feel as if I had stepped back in time to this…alternate reality. Costumes further brought the mood to life with elaborate dresses that were fitting of the times, but laced with a cool edge that many heroes are associated with. And for those who appreciate the more physical qualities, many costumes showed off our characters’ figures quite well and that’s all I’m saying. And of course props to the makeup department for once more proving Hollywood have the art of making people undead to a science. Grotesque visages superimposed with natural skin never ceases to amaze me, and this film continues to show just how important makeup artists are to bringing the horror of zombies to life.

 

All of this aside though, the thing that truly roped me into seeing this film was the potential for action. Unfortunately I was disappointed once more. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has little of the adrenaline pumping moments I had expected. A few fights are impressive, but were short lived to mere seconds before abruptly ending. Despite the foreshadowing and story buildup, many of the action sequences are reduced to quick bouts of a character violently stabbing and stomping the victim into a squish, pulpy form (much of which is censored). And to be honest, I was quite bored in this movie, reduced to eating popcorn to stay awake at the many dull moments. So I warn those looking for a thrill to avoid this movie, unless your definition of thrill is rich Victorian dialogue geared at love.

 

Although Lily James leads the cast in this comical twist to literary classics, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fell short for me. The story was dull, and the editing robbed much of the suspense and quality I had expected from the trailers. Throw in the lackluster action and well there isn’t much I can say to recommend it for the theater. Therefore skip this film and wait for Netflix unless you are just “dying” to see it.

 

Cheesy puns aside my scores for this movie are:

 

Action/Horror/Romance: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0