Great Cast, Mediocre Action: It’s Okay Overall

X-men A

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and the sound of burgers grilling, people laughing, and new movies coming out fills the air. Hi, Robbie K here with another movie review on the last “masterpiece” to hit the silver screen. Today’s review is on the latest Marvel creation X-Men Apocalypse, a movie that has been culminating for some time. As always I’m here to share my opinions and hopefully guide you in your latest movie quest. Let’s get started.

 

THE STRENGTHS:

  • Comedy
  • Nice balance of most characters
  • Awesome Special Effects
  • One cameo in particular

Fans rejoice, as the writers have once again loaded this movie with well-placed comedic antics. Apocalypse has more than its share of comedic gold in the form of a well-timed swear, an awkward facial gesture, or my particular favorite…throwing jabs at the failures of this movie series (cough X-Men three cough). It was refreshing to see comedy that didn’t rely on people trying too hard or being a complete idiot and therefore was a major highlight for me. And the scene with quicksilver had to be comedic moment that had me in stitches.

But you didn’t just come for the comedy, you want to see your favorite superpowered mutant on the screen kicking butt right? Well surprisingly Apocalypse does a nice job at letting many mutants throw their hats in the ring. Fan favorites like Xavier, Mystique, Magneto, and Quicksilver are a major focus of this film, but the generation of Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler rock the screen with their unique talents and personalities. The actors portrayal of these characters is spot on, and the chemistry amongst all the mutants creates a family/ squad that you latch right on to.

As for their powers, Fox’s design team again succeeds in bring them to life with flashy lights, theater shaking sound, and in vivid colors that help you discern who is doing what. In truth the portrayal is old hat by now, but Apocalypse shines in combining powers that make for entertaining and somewhat impressive displays of teamwork (if only they had used it more.)

In truth though the real show stealer was a five minute cameo of a certain enraged hero we all know and love. This was where the real bread and butter was for me that brought all the aspects I love together and unleashed in sheer force. While I wish this cameo had been more integrated into the film (and longer), it sets precedence for yet another movie in the long run and I can accept the short cameo for what it is.

 

 

 

THE WEAKNESSES:

  • Mediocre Action
  • Overdramatic
  • Rushed at parts
  • Some characters gets stiffed

If there was one thing I was disappointed in with this movie it was the action. Most likely it was because I set my expectations too high, but the trailers fooled me into thinking this movie was going to be really exciting. With the exception of the opening scene, I wasn’t impressed with the direction they took in the battles. Instead of fast paced, high adrenaline displays of powers clashing between good and bad, I instead got long winded, short lived bouts that were more flashy (and sometimes cheesy). Again the powers are impressive, just most underutilized and not in the manner I had envisioned from the trailers. Even more disappointing is that the action was diluted by Apocalypse’s overdramatic rants, who although looked the part did jack squat in terms of fighting until near the very end.

Despite the slow, drawn out moments though, the movie itself felt a bit rushed at times. I remember most of the X-men tales making the revival of Apocalypse more difficult and often making our heroes try to stop his rising. Not the case in this film, in fact it’s so simplistic that one wonders what was even the point of him sleeping in the first place. That’s just one example, and there are lots of other moments that could have gone further had they not tried to build everything around the relationship between Magneto, X, and Mystique. Yep the same tale comes to life again and the age old family triangle takes a strong grasp in this film (and leads to some cheesy spectacles.) Guess Fox can’t come up with any other story to fill the time huh?

And it’s because of this focus that I feel some characters get stiffed in their moment to shine. Other than looking gorgeous Psylocke practically does nothing and don’t get me started on angel’s rather poor display in this movie. While the balance of all these characters was for the most part well-done, there was still a lot more potential to unlock in a lot of our characters, most likely addressed in the inevitable sequel to come. Maybe they’ll focus a little more and we can get some battles like what we saw in X-Men and X2.

 

THE VERDICT

Overall X-Men Apocalypse is another impressive display of technology, combined with decent writing and a cast to bring it to life. Unfortunately the overdramatic theatrics, mediocre fight scenes, and stiffing some characters for the same story we’ve heard a hundred times are getting old. However, the movie is still entertaining , still a blockbuster hit, and has all the qualities that a theater visit will amplify. Recommended audiences are fans of the movie series, fans of the actors, and those looking for another superhero movie. Regardless this critic recommends you catch this film on Redbox at least, especially to get a glimpse at what Fox will do next… which I pray will be to pick a timeline and stick with it.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Wonderland Looks god, but is Missing Some Magic

Through the Looking Glass

            Hey, Hey, Hey it is Robbie K and I’m unleashing a second review for this holiday weekend. Today’s movie is one that promises wonder, excitement, madness, and of course Disney magic. Yes, today’s review is on Alice through the Looking Glass, an unexpected sequel given that both of Lewis Carroll’s stories had already had films dedicated to them. Nevertheless James Bobin and Disney studios are giving it another go to bring Wonderland (or is it Underland?) to life. So why don’t we get started with…

 

THE GOOD:

 

  • Beautiful world and creature design
  • Plenty of Comedy
  • A decent beginning
  • Good acting

 

One thing I always love to see in these movies, is the design teams’ ability to

bring Wonderland to life. Through the Looking Glass once more grabs hold of us and drags us into the trippy imagination of Carroll in glorious detail. Brilliant colors, twisted towers, and distorted scenery are all present in spectacular effects that immerse you into the world. And filling the landscape are bizarre creatures who add their own touch of magic to scenes, each befitting of the environment they are in. The new minions of Time and The Red Queen will entertain young ones and are a welcome addition to the CGI world. Unfortunately, they (alongside the classic characters) are somewhat underutilized in this movie (more on that later).

 

While the world is thrilling and impressively designed, it is not the only thing entertaining in this film. Through the Looking Glass has plenty of laughs within the two hour run time that will have both young and old laughing alike. For this reviewer, the writing had some well-developed puns and jabs that had the theater chuckling. The Time puns are somewhat clever, but do get a tad stale at times when they abuse the simplistic comedy. Alice, the Red Queen, and The Mad Hatter also get some unique one-liners in as well, the timing more comedic than the actual lines themselves. But it’s actually the acting that truly brings the punch. Cohen as Time was a perfect casting call, as he was able to deliver great accents, annoyed looks, and some original material were the funniest aspects for me.

 

In terms of story, how did this original tale fare in my books. The opening was well developed, a fantastic introduction that reintroduced to the lives of our characters while setting up the dilemma at hand. Once Alice steps back into Wonderland, the mystery begins and the suspense builds as you try to uncover all the secrets at hand. It’s the second half of the movie where the problems hit. Speaking of which, let’s hit on….

 

 

 

 

 

THE BAD:

 

  • The second half of the film
  • Under utilized characters
  • Missing some of the magic

 

The second half of the film was not nearly as developed as the opening and felt a bit rushed in my opinion. After a great set-up, the solutions began to come too fast, and there seemed to be little challenges standing in the way of Alice and company. Even the Red Queen’s threats felt a bit shallow at points and she was nowhere near as menacing as the first (I missed her powerful beasts). In addition, the time travel tale began to unravel and they found a convenient loop to bring the final dilemma at hand. A nice try for originality, but the execution needs some fine tuning to deliver the satisfying finish.

 

In addition the characters were not nearly as integrated as the last film. Old classics like the Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, and the Door Mouse had key parts in the last film. But in this sequel many of them dropped into the background where they managed to make a few fun comments or look cute before disappearing again. The White and Red Queen got a little more time thanks to their story, but as mentioned earlier their characters seemed a bit diluted compared to what we saw eight years ago. But don’t fret because Time, Alice, and the Hatter are the key players in this story and as such will be the ones you see the most of, which isn’t a bad thing just disappointing that our characters couldn’t all be in the show longer.

 

Which brings me to the final weakness, missing the magic. We have a lot of great things in this movie, but something about it feels off from Alice’s other adventures. Maybe it was the rushed ending of the story, or maybe the lack of key character integration, but Through The Looking Glass is missing the oddness its predecessors have. And with the lack of threats from rampaging beasts and a tyrannical queen, the dilemma was much less suspenseful than I wanted. I also feel this story took a turn down the PG lane, which may not have been the best move creative wise.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Through The Looking Glass certainly has a spectacular look and has some of the adventure we loved in the first installment. In addition the actors play their parts well, and the writing is great in terms of adding a comedic zest to the cuisine. Yet it still is missing some of the magic and wonder that Tim Burton brought us and makes this film duller than I had expected. I think that the visuals took a little more precedence than the second half of the story, as well as not integrating all the characters into the tale. Thanks to this…I have to recommend this one for a Redbox rent at home instead of a theater visit. Should you choose to hit the movies for this one, I encourage a 2-D showing to save some money.

 

 

 

My scores are:

Adventure/Family/Fantasy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

 

Bland, Stoner Mess!

Another weekend, another day in the movies. My assignment this time is a sequel to a movie that brought joy to many and disgust to many others. I’m talking about Neighbors 2, a movie I never expected to be made this soon, if at all. What does this film have to offer? As always I’m happy to offer my opinions and guide your movie choices. Let’s get started.

 

The Good

  • The movie is what it is
  • For women Zac Effron has his shirt off a lot
  • For guys, a few shots of sorority babes

 

 

Neighbors 2 is exactly what you expect from the trailers and doesn’t even try to be something else. It’s a stoner comedy that plays on the simplistic, superficial jokes that seem to be in every comedy these days. Drug humor, sexual humor, and party humor are jammed into this film like the N word in Django and scarcely deviates from this path. Can’t say I was the most entertained by this, but if this is your cup of tea then you will surely enjoy it like my fellow audience members.

But if routine comedic gestures are not your cup of tea than the superficial qualities are sure to rope your attention in. Zac Effron leads the charge in this department, once more playing to his limited strengths of body acting. Girls will swoon over the six pack abs, firm butt, and tight shirts that hug him like leotard on a ballet dancer. They banked on this card enough to even give him his own dance scene to help give the females a little more of what they want. Don’t worry though guys, there are some scarce shots of gorgeous female characters in their lingerie to get your own salute on. Unfortunately, most of these cute girls are scarce in the film with one or two getting adequate screen time.

 

The Bad

  • Lazy writing
  • Incredibly Stupid
  • Annoying characters
  • Some disturbing moments
  • Little character growth
  • Stale

 

While Neighbors 2 doesn’t try to be something its not, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily good. For one thing the writing is a lazy piece of work with stripped down dialogue and banter that lacks cleverness, wit, and good delivery. Most of the time our characters are spewing expletives intertwined with aggressive sexual comments. Some lines do cross over into the funny zone, but a lot of the rambling is stupid, repetitive and goes nowhere for minutes on end. Maybe the delivery could have saved it, but even this failed as all the actors overacted to a horrible, horrible degree. It wasn’t fun for me and as they continued to beat the dead horse the tactic only grew more stale. The only thing that this movie managed to push the envelope on was the disgusting factor. A few moments were a bit too graphic for me, things that won’t be leaving my mind anytime soon. I won’t ruin the “surprise”, but let’s just say it has to do with female anatomy.   Also the censorship of the trailer was lost in this movie and dropped into curse laden rants that again were too much for me.

 

In terms of the story, I appreciate the continuation and attempt to have our characters grow in the short 90 minute run time. However, they failed to achieve their goals on multiple levels. Remember in the first one how the two main frat boys managed to evolve a little into semi adult guys? Well in this film nothing like that is seen. The girls are all annoying brats who try to talk tough, party hard, and whine about the same stuff repetitively. You would think that Rogan and Byrne’s characters would experience some maturing moments to make up the sorority’s failure. Wrong again! The “old” couple manages to make some slight strides, but they are rushed, underdeveloped messes that added nothing to the roles. Truth be told… only Zac’s character had any development at all and was the only story to semi latch onto.

 

 

 

The Verdict

 

Neighbors 2 is okay and certainly fills the role of lackluster summer comedy. Unfortunately the lazy writing, lack of originality, one-dimensional annoying characters, and stale comedy left me bored more than anything. Chances are that die hard fans of the series will flock to the theaters to see this, or maybe those who want someone good looking to fill your vision you might choose this film. However, this reviewer recommends skipping this film and waiting for it to spring into DVD collections.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy: 6.0

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0

War is Exciting, Action Packed, Hell

Civil War

 

This weekend Marvel Studio’s gravy train continues to ride strong as Captain America Civil War is dropped off into a sea of theaters. I find it ironic that the thirteenth installment is the one selected for our team to tear into each other, either that or extremely well planned. Regardless, of the timing, the film had big shoes to fill in terms of the comic universe. And once more I’m here to share my thoughts and hopefully help guide your movie experience. So let’s get started.

 

The Good:

  • High Velocity Action
  • Surprisingly Good Character Development
  • Most characters were highly involved

 

Civil war finally took a step back into the action territory and boy was it well needed. The battle between Captain America and Iron Man certainly doesn’t skimp on excitement packing the 2.5 hours with a number of diverse action scenes. An exciting opening operation gets the momentum going, but quickly evolves into chases, cataclysmic explosions and an exciting duke out between our heroes. All of the sequences are brilliant displays of cinematic magic that fully immerse you into the fight and painted a suspenseful picture.

Even better was that most of the characters were well-integrated into the movie. Old favorites like Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow get plenty of time on the big screen, newcomers like Black Panther, Spiderman and Bucky also have plenty of moments for all to enjoy. Each of the characters has their own story tied into the grand plot, with plenty of relationship and origins that further ensnares you into the tale. Unfortunately the Vision kind of got short handed in some of the bigger battles, but at his philosophical searches keep him relevant to the movie. Regardless, this reviewer has to admit that they did a good job with this film.

 

The Bad:

  • One disappointing plot point
  • Shaky Camera Angles and some hokey moments
  • The run time.

 

Despite the excellent character developments and plot points, there was one major plot point I was disappointed in. Near the 90 minute mark Civil War introduces a plot point that promises suspense and an epic conclusion. Unfortunately I misread the direction and felt cheated of a finale I was hoping to see. Yet the deviation from the expected provided a nice twist and the ending was much more character focused, which deserves two thumbs up. In addition, this ending offers the potential for some more edge in the remaining Marvel movies.

Yet one point that was really hard to swallow was the shaky/cheesy special effects at time. If you’ve read my reviews, you know I’m not a fan of chaotic camera work that shakes, rattles, and rolls to bring you into the moment. At the beginning, much of Civil War’s battles felt like they were on a rumble strip and robbing some of the stunts of their full glory. Perhaps these moves were to mask the stunts people, but that trick got old after a while. In addition, Disney’s big budget studios cut some corners on their animation and planning department. Now I know it is a movie about guys in colorful underwear wielding fictional powers and technology, but some stunts went a little overboard and looked a bit cheesy at points that aren’t Marvel’s normal quality.

As for the long run time, it comes mainly from me thinking most movies don’t need to be longer than two hours. Civil War does things right by keeping the plot moving and using the action to keep things exciting to liven things up. However, near the end of the movie the film dragged a bit could have been left for another time. Fortunately the extra half hour brings some emotional kick that makes up for the extra time. Yeah I’m probably committing blasphemy by saying that, but there were some edits to be made that could have shortened it a bit.

 

 

The Verdict:

       Civil War continues the Marvel magic and provides the action sustenance you have been craving for. The team did well balancing all their characters, integrating all the tales into a story that stands out strong in the superhero universe. Civil Wars ability to act as an origin, while setting the stage for future events only further strengthens this film. However, there were still some slight issues, mainly in the run time, special effects, and a few misbalances that take some points off the score. Oh well, things to improve on for next time right? I recommend that everyone give this one a try in the theater and enjoy the bang the theater brings.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0