We had 20 years to prepare…we needed more

ID 2

 

We’ve had 20 years to prepare…so did they. It’s a tag line that has rang through the theaters for the last year and this weekend the bad, intergalactic, space bugs from 1996 have returned with a vengeance. Hi Robbie K here, and today we review yet another summer sequel entitled Independence Day: Resurgence. As always, I’m here to share my thoughts, ideas, and opinions to inform whether this sequel is a success or a flop. Let’s get started.

 

The GOOD:

  • Action scenes better animated
  • Original cast rocks the screen
  • Comedy

 

Back in 1996, I remember being wowed by the “state-of-the-art” graphics the first installment brought in. Watching the planes take on the big bad pod ships used to have me on the edge of my seat and cheering in delight. Well twenty years gave us plenty of time to prepare better special effects and the battles are an even better display of computer processing power. The new combat ships fly much smoother, the explosions are much bigger, and the laser blasts are even more multicolored on the big screen. While the art design is a little hokey at points, the visuals are geared towards more exciting action moments, hoping to bring more detail to yet another 3-D showing. It’s flashy and over the top to say the least, but it certainly lives up to what the trailer promised.

But even better for this critic was seeing the characters from 20 years back in the seat. The original cast (for the most part) made up the quality parts of the movie. Jeff Goldblum dives right back into his character bringing both satirical comedy with serious “science” to try and save our cans again. Bill Pullman as the president also carries the same, over zealous, patriotic spirit that united our world to fight against the menace from the sky. But it was Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun (the crazy haired anatomy who supposedly died in the first film) whose roll I mostly enjoyed. The original cast just brought the nostalgia back to me and helped keep me grounded in the ridiculous plot unfolding. The new characters weren’t bad mind you, and the younger cast has a promising future, but their characters were more sex appeal than anything else.

Yet the thing that was most entertaining in this film…was the comedy. I know, not what you expect right, but Independence Day 2 brought more comedic punch than anything else. Spiner’s character is like something out of the Big Bang where curiosity, obsession, and nerdiness are unleashed with a Sheldon Cooper presentation. The quirky one-liners, extremely silly drama, and slapstick humor was indeed entertaining for me, albeit distracting from the goal of the film. There are plenty of other pot shot comments and moments through the film involving unnecessary tangents (like sailors getting drunk) to impromptu parenting that are all there to relieve the “tension” that was built up.

 

 

 

The BAD

  • Not as suspenseful
  • Lacks emotional punch/connection
  • The Story for Pete’s sake

 

Independence Day 2’s weaknesses start with the lack of suspense. I remember in the first movie being scared stiff as the clock ticked away to some unknown move by the creatures, or in that terrifying alien surgery scene. But in this movie…nothing of the sort happened. This usually is the case when 3-D computer visuals are the focus, and ID2 is another example of flashy special effects diluting the suspense they meant to bring.

But the suspense is not the only thing lacking in this movie. Again in the first film, I remember being sad or angry when characters were eliminated (poor Jimmy). You felt the punch in the gut, but scream/cry out in frustration. This film didn’t even come close to that for me. Key characters, who we had little time to get acquainted with, were lost in the most rushed ways that you didn’t have time to process the emotions before being whisked to another flashy display. Oh well, who needs emotion in a science fiction right? That seems to be the thought these days.

Perhaps the thing that robbed the movie of all these qualities though was the ridiculous story of ID2. I know the first installment was not the most realistic, and had plenty of plot holes and cheesiness to meet your fill. However, this sequel took all that and amplified ten fold. The plot essentially had too much it tried to accomplish, trying to make everything bigger, badder, and bolder while still trying to capture the nostalgia. In my opinion, they put too much emphasis on the bigger aspect, making the giant ship ridiculously giant to cover the entire Atlantic is just one example of the over the top antics that failed to deliver. They might have been able to deliver on the threat, but I feel they tried to jam too much into the film that they failed to bring any strong plot to the mix. And they way they ended, I shudder to think of how cornier the next installment is going to be.

 

The Verdict:

Surprise, surprise, Independence Day Resurgence is not quite the sequel we were hoping it would be. The over the top grandiosity and rushed pace fail to deliver a semi decent plot, and the comedy, while enjoyable, only further dilutes from taking this film seriously. While the visuals are certainly the strongest aspect, and the original characters breathe some life into the blandness, they took too much emphasis in my opinion. And that ending…a rushed, convenient sweep up that robbed me of any satisfaction whatsoever. Based on this review you can guess that the only redeeming quality for a theater visit is the special effects. This reviewer however, encourages you to wait for this to hit home.

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.0 (for the action)

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

Deep Acting, Shallow Plot: Not Bad Though

The Shallows

 

The terror of the deep! An maw of endless fangs! There are endless descriptions for a way to describe a shark, the aquatic predator that we devote a whole week of cable programming to. Tonight we get the latest addition to the shark attack suspense genre entitled the Shallows. In today’s modern world, shark attack movies have been trailing down the ridiculous path. It makes one wonder if we will ever get a serious shark flick able to compete with Jaws? So what is the verdict of this film? As always read on to find out.

 

THE GOOD

  • Beautiful scenery
  • A good portrayal of living to your limits
  • Decent suspense

 

The most majestic thing about the shallows is the beautiful scenery of the film location. Beaches with brilliant white sands lace a crystal clear lagoon, where reefs of varying hues make for a stunning view under the calm sky. Those who appreciate exotic lands and kicking visual effects will be happy with the high definition wonders on the big screen. Most guy audience members though will enjoy a different type of scenery in the form of Blake Lively navigating the waters in a fancy bikini. I think the camera men had a fixation on her behind, because the camera had a fixation with posterior end of our blonde heroine.

With the visuals behind, the Shallows has painted a vivid picture of someone on the brink of death. Lively’s character is pushed to her limits, forced to use ingenuity (and her convenient medical training) to survive on the desolate rock she is trapped on. It’s intriguing to see all the things she dos to get back to shore, as well as see how her body changes as its exposed to the elements. Are some of the things over dramatic or convenient at times? Yes, but hey you sometimes have to stretch the truth when facing a gigantic, man-eating shark.

Nevertheless, much of this movie’s appealing factor is the suspense, as Lively’s character tests luck and skills while traversing the reef. While seeing the same thing gets a bit dull (not to mention predictable) at times, the editing and music will build up enough tension to have many on the edge of their seats. I admit once or twice they led me into uncertain waters, unable to deduce what the fate of leading lady was.

 

THE BAD

  • Repetitive and drawn out at times
  • Overdramatic moments
  • The ending

 

With survival movies, comes the expectation of slowness and the Shallows is no exception to the rule. Her battle against the shark is somewhat exciting, but that suspense starts to wane as she does the same thing over and over again. The movie has plenty of “close call” moments, often involve our bikini clad warrior falling into the water and flailing about before the CGI monster attempts to devour her. Between those moments, it’s a lot of her just sitting on a rock, staring into the waters as she dehydrates in the sun. If that sounds exciting, then your heart will be pumping with glee.

In addition to the repetitive scenes, The Shallows also dove into the overdramatic depths. Blake Lively does her role well, but the director had a thing for overdramatic flare. From slow motion diving under the waves to the super molasses like movements through the water, it’s all drawn out to fill more screen time. It was the drawn out editing that probably gave the movie a majority of its length and it added very little to the story (which you’ve gotten like 70% of the movie from the trailers. Oh well, you get your 90 minutes worth.

Perhaps the cheesiest part of this movie though…is the ending. Okay, shark movies only have a few alleys to traverse in terms of the finale and many of them are melodramatic and ridiculous. This one though, well it was a little too much stretch of the imagination to stomach. After all the realistic survival instincts, our director/screenplay writers decided to defy physics with the dramatic climax that felt more of a quick wrap up. My fellow audience members all agreed on this, and wondered why such a hasty ending was their solution. It lacked emotion. It lacked satisfaction! And…it defied physics to my understanding. Oh well can’t get them all right, but we can certainly do a little better than this.

 

The Verdict

 

When you go to see The Shallows, you are going to get exactly what you expect. It’s a simplistic shark survival film with a pretty woman to fill the silver screen. Lively does a great a job with the center role, and she sold to me that she was suffering. Yet it was not enough to save me from a little boredom brought on by the repetitive fluff editing put in. Chances are you’ve seen about 60-70% of the movie from the trailers and unfortunately the ending doesn’t pack the punch. Oh well at least it is only 90 minutes right? Is it worth a trip to the movie theater? Nope, but definitely catch it on shark week when it is sure to premier.

 

My scores are:

Drama/Horror/Thriller: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

aDORYable:

finding dory 2

 

The Disney magic has been unleashed once more, and this time they bring us yet another sequel. Today’s review takes to the depths of the ocean, to a reef that ten years ago served as the stage for the adventure of three fish in a great blue ocean. Yes, today we review the ever anticipated Finding Dory. Will this sequel be everything you wanted? Has Disney cheated us out of quality once again? Please read to find out.

 

The GOOD:

  • The Comedy
  • The Cuteness
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Surprise…the Animation

 

Is it any surprise that Pixar has surprisingly managed to bring comedy to their works? If it is, then shame on you for not watching more of their films. Finding Dory has a little bit of something for everyone that had the audience (including yours truly) laughing up a storm. Kids will love the exaggerated, goofy, slapstick comedy and guttural noises, often repeating the words over again as if a second time will make it even funnier. Adults, however get the better end of the deal for once, with plenty of references that older audience members will relish in, while their kids will just stare at the pretty colors and cute fish.

Speaking of cute, despite some of the more adult references this film maintains that charm and magic that Disney brought with the first film. Dory is adorable, her innocence and sincerity by far the most endearing quality of the film. Her flashbacks to her younger self had everyone in the audience going awwwwww, and her moral compass brought the emotional tearjerker to the eye. Outside of the blue tang, Nemo is still as cute as a button and the new addition Destiny was sweet as well.

But all of this factors down to the legendary talk show host Ellen providing amazing voice work. Ellen’s dynamic personality carries over into Dory and keeps the film fun and energetic (yes like a dog). Her delivery is jokes is perfect and very Ellen like and the more emotional moments are laced with a strong talent Ellen has. Yeah, the other actors did a great job, each providing their own zing, spin, and emotion to the mix, but Ellen as the headlines was the thing that won me over. In particular, the interactions between Hank and Dory were by far the most entertaining of the bunch.

As for the animation, there are no surprises that Pixar did a fantastic job as always. The fish move just like fish, delicately floating in the sea until something massive attempts to make dinner out of them. The water itself is also fantastically brought to life, each component of it looking incredibly realistic in terms of texture and fluidity. These detail even carry over to the environment itself, as the reef, wreckage, and the marina are brought out into the high definition detail Pixar is famous for. If only the humans looked better, then everything would fall into place.

 

 

The BAD:

  • The Story
  • The Overdone comedy antics
  • Characters felt cheated out sometimes

 

Okay, I know I’m probably committing a sin by calling out some of the weaknesses to the film, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t provide a full report. Finding Dory’s story is one area of improvement that Pixar should have looked into a little more. Think back to Nemo’s tale, his dad transversed the whole ocean with Dory facing dangers and uncovering areas of the reef we only saw in documentaries. It was exciting, it was exotic, and it was incredibly detailed. Not the case in this one. Finding Dory had a lot of emotion and the comedy was there to make it fun, but it wasn’t as exciting as its predecessor. The dangers of the deep were a little more lax, and the aquarium while stunning, didn’t have the same edge we got all those years ago. Seeing Dory’s flashbacks were great in the character development strategies, but the obvious foreshadowing and diluted suspense had me feel something was missing.

In addition, while the comedy was fun for all ages, it got overdone at times. Yes, little kids can’t get enough of anything and from a market standpoint it makes sense. However, in terms of quality, blasting the audience with whale noises, silly sounds, and smacking into walls begins to lower the scores a bit. Most will probably be okay with beating the dead house, but for me I like a little more balance in the comedy than what I got in this film.

Jumping back to the story, I felt manay characters got the short end of the stick in this film. No surprise that Dory takes the center stage, hence the title, but does that mean that characters like Marlin and Nemo have to be reduced to a shell of what they once were. Again, think back to Finding Nemo, a good balance between Marlin’s adventure and Nemo’s struggles in the tank. In this film, Marlin and Nemo are more side characters with some humorous moments, but seldom important for the story. I’m sure this was to help give the movie a different feel, but they could have done better to balance their characters.

 

Overall:

 

            Finding Dory is still a great addition to the Pixar library. It’s fun for all ages, very sweet, and packs the same animation punch this studio is famous for. Unfortunately the story is not as exciting as the first travel into the blue void and some of our characters get the short end that is disappointing. Overall though, I’m happy with the adventure and I hope that many will enjoy this movie as much as I did. Worth the 3-D showing? I can’t say it makes the total experience, but the visuals promise even better detail in 3-D. Is it worth a trip to the theater? Yes…yes it is.

 

Scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

 

The Stunts Draw the Eye, but The story Asks Why

now you see 2

Robbie K back again, and this time with the third review of the week. This installment focuses on yet another sequel to grace the silver screen and one I never expected, or wanted, to come. My review is on Now You See Me 2, as you can guess from my posting, an attempt to follow up on the successful thriller from 2013. But can this film follow a truly great act? Or is this merely another money making scheme whose name overshadows the quality. Let’s get to the review to find out.

If you remember the first movie, it was a crime/thriller with an underlying mystery that came to a well-concluded end. How do you top that?  Naturally, come up with an even more intriguing mystery and throw in a little vengeance on top of that. Now You See Me 2 takes place merely a year after the last installment and focuses on uncovering the mystery of the Eye, the organization that recruited our “heroes” in the first installment, who may have set them up for failure. The plot is certainly intriguing, and the team manages to throw those famous curve balls we saw in the first film. While the mystery isn’t quite as good as the first one, and the thrills are a bit stale, it makes for an intriguing story nonetheless. My mind was constantly trying to decipher how deep the rabbit hole went and just who was in cahoots when it came to dismantling the team. In addition, they added some of the character development that the last installment lacked, some of which was good and some of which was cornier than a corn maze at a harvest festival.

Outside of the mystery, the vengeance part is so-so in terms of quality. Multiple people have a vendetta against our crew and they go through extraordinary lengths to get it done. However, one of the new characters Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) was not the villain to do so and was more annoying than menacing. Regardless the plot against them wasn’t as suspenseful and a mediocre attempt to try and keep you on your seats as if there were harm to your characters. I applaud them at the good attempt, and appreciate the somewhat emotional twist at the end (which made some of the events in the first movie irrelevant), the vengeance plot was merely a scaffolding for impressive stunts.

But it’s the stunts and magic that really draw the eye in this film. Like the last installment, number 2 has plenty of convoluted plans that show some serious imagination and cleverness. Fans will be pulled into the confusion of how the gang ended up where they were, only to be wowed by the thorough explanation of how the trick was pulled off. When you pull in the fantastic use of CGI, the stunts only get more impressive as our magicians disappear in ways you only dream about. But again the realistic factor sometimes gets drowned out when a convenient opening appears for our group to take (e.g. a box magically collapsing, a trap door in the middle of a crowded street, or a mirror suddenly appearing). These moments are again cool, but a bit eye rolling when they wrap it up with one sentence, which boils down to “we wanted something cool, but we could only do it sloppily.” Overall though, these stunts prove imagination is not dead, and that originality can come in the simplest forms.

In terms of the casting, this is another major strength of the movie. Eisenberg reprises his role as Atlas who still has the chip on his shoulder and ego issues. The snarky comments are fun and funny, but for once I felt it was a bit diluted compared to some of his other roles. Woody Harrelson as the hypnotist was a grand addition and provided some of the funniest moments on the screen with his banter and dialogue. The jokes get a bit tired, but all in all his role in this film has greatly improved. Dave Franco took a bigger role in this one, bringing humor, looks, and a charming story that I really enjoyed. And Mark Ruffalo, well a little sappier and less humor, but it works on a different level than his original character. As for newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan), at first she was annoying and too over acted (an attempt at using the shallow comedy for laughs), but then she grew on me and started becoming a much more integral cog into the mix. As for Radcliffe, the actor is still solid in his abilities, but the direction of his character was more whiny brat than anything else and somewhat of a waste of his talents (think Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 movie). Despite the flaws though, the cast really supports one another and makes for an entertaining team.

Overall Now You See Me 2 is a fun, entertaining sequel that I enjoyed. The stunts are exciting, the plans convoluted, and the acting is top notch on most grounds. While the story isn’t quite as thrilling, and there are components that didn’t work for me, it still outshines most of the stuff that hits the theaters these days. I recommend a theater visit for this one as well, but you’ll probably get the most out of your money if you rent in about three months. Regardless, enjoy the show and may it be as entertaining to you as it was for me.

 

My scores:

Action/Comedy/Thriller: 8

Movie Overall: 7

Time to Conjure up a Sequel

Conjuring 2.jpg

 

The horror genre, a movie category that tries to be good, but often ends up a joke during most movies. Occasionally though, we get a film that provides a good thrilling scare and is actually worth the admission price. For me, The Conjuring was one of those movies able to provide the chills I was looking for with a story to match. When I heard a sequel was coming, I feared that its good name would be diluted by the Hollywood haste to make money (remember Annabelle?). Hi Robbie K here, and today I review the Conjuring 2 and share my thoughts on the latest film. Let’s get started.

 

THE GOOD

  • Story
  • Integrated scares
  • Acting/Recurring Cast

 

Seldom do we get a horror movie with an actual story, instead focusing on how to make people jump. This is not the case with this film my friends. Director James Wan and his team have managed to craft a tale that is both entertaining and interesting to watch. Conjuring 2’s story takes place a few years after the first with the Warren’s continuing their investigations of the paranormal. Meanwhile, across the ocean, the Hodgson family begins to experience their own paranormal activity that will eventually warrant inspection by our detectives. Sounds simple I know, and in truth it is, but Wan’s delivery is fantastic.
He manages to build suspense in his tale, using a gradual series of scares to build the tension and slowly reveal the truth in the haunting. And to throw in the few twists they did, only added more depth to the story. But Wan goes one step further and decides to bring some character development into mix, helping to add depth to all involved to help us connect with the film. The Warren’s story was great to expand on, discussing the origins of our detectives, while also dropping in a little bit of love to sweeten the deal. And if that weren’t enough, he even manages to keep all of the scares pertinent to the story, integrating them into the plot rather than dropping a random scare moment that Hollywood is famous for. By having the scares have a purpose, they removed the corny aspects and added an edge that made the only that much better.

Of course, having a great cast to act out this story is the final piece of the puzzle. The repeat performance by Wilson and Farmiga was just as strong, the chemistry between them solid that I believed they were a couple. Newcomers to the series Madison Wolfe and Frances O’Connor played their roles as a terrified family to the letter, while also having another side to them that made you feel sorry for them. Finally Simon McBurney as Maurice Gross added some finesse to the cast, with a little comedic relief when the going got tough. But while fantastic alone, the chemistry between everyone was on point and only made things that much better.

THE BAD:

  • Still another horror movie
  • Dropped some plot points/unexplained
  • Predictable scare tactics

 

It was difficult to find weaknesses in this movie for me, but there are a few things that took away from the movie for me. First is that this is still another horror movie that fits in well with other films of the same genre. We’ve had some unique horror films in the past, but this one is just a good old fashioned haunted house story. Again this is a picky weakness, but the originality could have used a bit more tweaking in my opinion.

A bigger weakness is some of the plot points and presentation in the film. Wait a minute, I just said the plot was good didn’t I? Yes it is, but it’s not perfect and the Conjuring 2 has a few moments that I was still wanting closure on. I have to be sparing to not spoil anything, but one major detail lacking is why one particular thing has a vendetta against the family. A second limiting plot point is how two of the characters sort of drop out of the story without so much as a blink when they had played a key role in the film. But even with these limitations, the story itself was mostly complete and had a good closure, again I’m grasping at straws here. In addition there were some melodramatic moments that were a bit drawn out and somewhat cheesy to me. Oh well can’t be perfect right.

Finally the scare tactics are still predictable as ever and didn’t really get me with the exception of one time. Camera angles giving away something, music eerily going silent and the occasional getting out of bed to walk in a dark hallway give away the horror from a mile away. But while I’m used to it, other members of the audience were still howling in fear, so again this may be a moot point.

 

THE VERDICT:

Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a sequel quite worthy of being called just as good as the original. Wan and his group has shown that a horror movie can have a story and still be scary despite the beliefs of Hollywood. The engaging characters, the well timed suspense, and the integrated scares are surely the best selling points. With few weakness to point out, this reviewer can’t help but recommend this one for a theater visit for you horror fans out there.

 

My scores for this movie are:

Horror: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5

Warcraft: Will This Review Start a War?

warcraft

            Video games, a revolutionary medium for telling stories, creating worlds and immersing the player into new realms. Over the years these worlds have grown more and more realistic, graphic evolving to the point that cut scenes look almost as real as the players themselves. You would think these games could stand alone, but nope Hollywood has to contract out in order to fill theaters with another possible masterpiece of its own. But seldom do these games live up to the hype and countless times we get a mere mockery of the very thing we love. So with the poor track record, you can guess I didn’t have a good feeling about today’s review on Warcraft. Hi, Robbie K here ready to share some thoughts on the latest movie to bust in to theaters. Let’s get started.

 

I may not know the most about Warcraft, and I certainly haven’t invested hours of my life into the popular WoW franchise, but I’ve faced my share of fantasy movies. Warcraft certainly belongs in that genre, utilizing technology and the finest makeup magic to design the world of Azeroth. My friend and I were able to pick out references to the game throughout the movie to have fans wheezing, smiling, and cheering in enthusiasm. Spells erupt in brilliant colors, Orcs muscles bulging and rippling like the Mr. Universe contests, and armor looking like it was crafted from foam or plastic toys.

 

But the aesthetics are only a superficial gleam the trailers had to offer. The opening ten to fifteen minutes set the premise well, a fine introduction that mirrored a Blizzard opening cinematic. Then like the lightning bolt on Harry Potter’s forehead it took an abrupt turn and traveled down another arc, which then turned into another story until it cascaded into a messy tale. Like a three year old coloring, the story team couldn’t decide what the hell they wanted to do with this movie. Romance? Vengeance? A tale of war? You get it all people and in a very rushed format that left little time for any quality development before many of them were executed in a manner similar to Game Of Thrones. The story felt very compartmentalized, and many plot lines were abruptly started and stopped, often resulting in pointless scenes that served only to increase the run time.

 

In terms of battles, I can only say they were half spectacular despite the technology they had at hand. Most of this was due to the fact that the directing team thougt it wise to mix live actors with a half CGI cast. We’ve seen this technique before in movies, but that was in the day where they actually practiced, perfected, and coordinated stunts better. This film decided to forgo that process and instead give us semi exciting fights where only a handful of warriors could fight, while others were mere magic fodder. Many of the extras got a cheesy stab or slash in before being pummeled by the hulkish Orcs and much of it evolved into swarm battles reminiscent of the video game. Seeing as Blizzard have made some of the finest video game cinematic moment, you would think they would have taken the initiative to make the entire cast cinematic. Oh well the inevitable sequel might learn that lesson for next time.

 

    In terms of acting, can’t really speak much on this either. Lothar was kind of a mess in terms of a character. Travis Fimmel looked more like a drunk knight than a noble warrior, and his delivery was more comical than honorable. Dominic Cooper did a slightly better job, but his performance was a little stiff and a bit overbearing. Ben Foster as the wizard Medivh, well he was okay, but the direction turned him into more a mage who seemed to have a drinking problem and yes I know the story. Truth be told it was the voice acting and only non digital orc that were the most impressive of the bunch. Toby Kebbell as Durotan the chief orc was a character with multiple layers of complexity and a voice work to match. Paula Patton as Garona was also a welcome addition, though the directors choice to make her have broken English wasn’t necessarily the right direction for me. Overall the cast wasn’t the worst thing in this movie, but it certainly wasn’t the best. Again invest in digital characters.

 

Warcraft has received a lot of high ratings, but I can’t see why it is getting 8-10 ratings. It certainly makes for beautiful fantasy world and the nostalgic touches in reference to the game I’ll nod my head out. But when you can’t pull a story together and have the well directed action to support that world…well I dock points for that. Fans of the game most likely lead the reviews in this one, and perhaps they feel it sticks to the story more. But the rushed plot and pointless (albeit emotional scenes) were distracting at best. The endings to the battles were also a little corny and dare I say stupid, but if meant for comedic relief it’s there too.

 

My scores are: Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Popping out or Pooping Out: Popstar is a Clever, Though Overacted, Piece of Work

Popstar

            You see them on E network. You read about them in the popular tabloids. The life of a star is on display for everyone in this world and we eat it up like pies in a fair contest. Heavy are the heads of those who wear the crowns of stardom and many will do anything to keep the light on them. This weekend, Samberg and his crew release a movie that attempts to poke fun at the silliness that is music artist drama. My review is on Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Let’s get started

 

The GOOD:

  • Clever presentation.
  • Lots of jabs at Hollywood trends
  • Lonely Island Songs Filling The Air

 

The first thing I loved about Popstar was it’s clever presentation in the form of a documentary, or in this case a mockumentary. Popstar is a tale about Conner, a former pop sensation who is trying to go solo in an attempt to keep his fame high. To help promote the album, the arrogant, naïve boob hires a crew to capture his life on tape to portray to the masses (the audience). In this format, we didn’t just get to see Conner’s screw-ups, but observe the thoughts of those involved in his entourage. Various celebrity cameos riddle the interview scenes, making hilarious comments that show the fickleness of the Hollywood scene. This dual approach kept things interesting, and provide a variety of comedy styles that shows some people still have originality.

Popstar’s plot also allows for opportunities to jab at Hollywood stars, who enjoy a few too many benefits due to their status. I can’t tell you how many times I smiled when they threw a celebrity under the bus, or parodied an incident that some dopey star has done in the past. You know that what is being done is stupid, and Samberg’s overacted antics only make it more ridiculous. But it’s satisfying to hear someone bash a celebrity for acting so juvenile. While I can’t say they hit everyone, Samberg and company cast a wide net to cover a lot of musical entertainment follies while also extending into the obsessions of the general public. Yes…you the audience also get to be jibed as they emphasize just how absurd fans can be about everything and hurtful they can be thanks to the Internet. And what better to way to poke fun then a Lonely Island musical number in all its…interesting qualities. The vulgarity and aggressive nature of their songs remains just as colorful as their albums.

 

THE BAD:

 

  • Offensiveness
  • Banter gets old
  • Overacted at parts

 

Despite how much fun the movie is though, someone is sure to take offense to some of this movie’s more assertive jokes. The opening number about Not Being Gay is sure to rile up some community’s twitter account that will black ball Samberg. I agree that there are some moments that cross the line, but audience members need to put their big people pants on and realize most of this is a joke, or don’t see the film. Still Samberg and his crew need to watch where they travel to in terms of their comedy, especially when it further stains the image of America to foreign countries.

As I mentioned earlier, the comedy is very diverse and spans a number of styles that keep it fresh. One of those happens to be the banter routine, where Conner and some poor schmuck get caught in a rousing game of idiot tennis. Much like the T.V. shows that plague cable these days, Popstar has plenty of these moments, where the characters go round and round on an issue. Some of these arguments are pretty good, especially with the writing. However, there are other times where these banters are annoying, or a bit too stupid to be enjoyable, (which happened around the third or fourth time), as they rant on and on (much like this review). This was especially true in the TMZ parodies, which was a farce that needed to be two minutes and dropped like a scalding cup of coffee.

And much like the banter, sometimes the acting itself goes too far into the overacting territory. One certainly sees the SNL roots at times, particularly in Samberg’s moments of overemotional whining or screaming. Some may like this silly style of acting, but when it is drawn out…well that’s when I lose interest. Even the supporting actors trail in this territory, but fortunately the writing bails them out and we move on with the film. There are even a few stunts that didn’t fit well into the movie, depriving the more emotional parts by hamming it up with a cheesy interlude. Fortunately, much of these weaker parts are short-lived and the low running time only further helps.

 

The VERDICT

 

I was pleased with this movie and for the most part found it entertaining compared to half the comedic crap that comes out of the woodwork. Popstar’s creative presentation and diverse comedy style will surely bring a little something for everyone. Sure there are moments that things get out of hand, and there are lots of moments I wish were cut out or edited down to say the least (especially more mature male organ parts). However, Popstar indeed stands out and certainly deserves a chance for those wanting a laugh. Worth a trip to the theater? Heck no, it lacks pretty much everything I praise for a movie. But I encourage a rental when you get the chance.

 

My Scores:

 

Comedy/Music: 8.0

 

Movie Overall: 6.0