His Reach Fell Short!

reacher-2

Seems this weekend is all about prequels/sequels coming to the theaters. Robbie K here reviewing Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, which promises to have some mystery, action, and comedy to entertain us.  But will Hollywood deliver on its promise, or will we get another lackluster sequel from the generic mold?

 

LIKES:

 

  • Fast Pace
  • Comedic Timing
  • Solid casting

 

In my experience, crime stories tend to drag out a bit before getting to the juicy drama and violence.  While this film is a little slow and convoluted at the beginning it does cut through most of the boring fat to get to the action packed meat. The pace continues to pick up through the movie, as constant pursuit from the enemy keeps our small band on their toes throughout the country.  While some of the slower character building moments are integrated into the intense game of hide, seek, and run, they are often short, entertaining sequences that are there to set up for the impending “excitement”.  Rest assured, Reacher’s latest journey connects the dots in rapid succession to get you to the answers as quickly as possible.

And like the last installment, you might be hoping for some witty comedy to help relieve the tension of the constant chase.  Good news, the writers adapted the book to provide Reacher’s famous dry humor.  For those who don’t know, this movie’s style isn’t slapstick and stupid one-liners to be endlessly quoted.  Instead Reacher’s comedy is dry where timing is the main punch line rather than mindless babbling.  Seeing Cruise react to some of the scenarios or deliver a sarcastically flat response were the funniest components of the film.  I felt the comedy was well integrated into the tale and not abused to keep the laughs as fresh as possible.

Of course the comedy and story would be nothing without a good cast, and Reacher has a great lineup to keep you entertained.  All of the cast feels like a solid military crime family, each playing that stereotypical, no nonsense attitude cinematic soldiers seem to have. While not as tall as book Reacher, Cruise’s rogue nature mixes well with Smulders modern age warrior woman to craft a realistic, crime solving MP duo. Ms. Yarosh as the edgy teenager from a broken home also played her part well and added a twist that both worked and annoyed me at times.  And as for the hunter, Heusinger played him well but I don’t think the character direction worked for me (more on that later).  Still the cast overall make you feel part of a government conspiracy, which gets a plus in my book.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Action is short lived
  • Annoying character tendencies
  • Little mystery and suspense

 

The trailers paint for action, but sadly that action has been greatly reduced to Reacher being in small scuffles that usually detail some poor extra getting knocked unconscious in a single punch.  Occasionally you get some gun play involved and a chase scene displaying Cruise’s agility, but even this lackluster at times. While a former veteran appreciated the realistic battles, I was hoping for a little more excitement and tension to grace the screen. This nearly happened at the end, but that scene crossed into a drawn out, ridiculous torture that while justified, did little but make my eyes roll.

While the action scenes may have been annoying at times, there were a few characters who ground my gears. Samantha in particular was an irritation, as her portrayal of an edgy teenager, whining about everything did little to entertain me. Samantha’s arrogance can be entertaining at times (and was important for character development), but there were a good number of shots that had me hoping Reacher would slap some sense into her. And as for the hunter, well he doesn’t win the award for scariest motive, merely a mercenary with delusions of grandeur to feed his obsession. His skills are certainly impressive, but his drive is lacking and kind of stupid.

Yet the biggest disappointment had to be the lack of mystery and suspense in this movie. In the first installment Reacher had to dig deep to find the perpetrator by pushing his skills to the limit and using ingenuity.  In this film though, the quest was almost too easy for Reacher, with all the pieces falling to conveniently into place that is uncharacteristic of a crime thriller. The source of the corruption was sloppily revealed in the form of pointless character I cared little about and lacked the twist of the original. Of course the surprise isn’t helped by obvious foreshadowing introduced in what would be perceived as unnecessary scenes.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Overall Reacher’s latest adventure is a more diluted version of its predecessor.  For me the cast is the strongest aspect in this fast paced adventure who will set the stage for the adventure. However, the lack of a challenging mystery was a major disappointment that didn’t have the action to make up for it. If you are looking for some realistic crime/adventure you might check this out, but I recommend most wait for RedBox to pick this flick up.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6

 

Boo Hoo! Madea’s Halloween Needed More Editing

madea

            Hellur there, Robbie K is back again and if you haven’t guessed my next review is on the latest Tyler Perry “masterpiece”.  Madea, and all her loveable qualities, has been making audiences laugh for almost twenty years. Although many of her movies are essentially double dipped versions with a slight twist, the crossdressing writer continues to get people to flood into theaters almost every year. So, let’s see if the mad woman can conquer a Halloween themed movie, shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Madea smacking on young kids
  • Some clever jokes and timing
  • A change in setting…sort of

 

I’ll come out and say that I’m not a die-hard fan of the series like others, but I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy her brand of justice.  Madea’s Halloween has plenty of moments where juvenile, annoying teenage characters meet her wrath.  Smacks in the back of the head, fists flying into rubber noses, and intense threats are just some of the tactics the old woman uses to scare the daylights out the brats. It’s silly fun that will keep many laughing most of the movie, but Perry sneaks a few morals into the mix to give some of the scenes a point.  Older generations will surely enjoy seeing the immature generation get some sense beaten into them.

And when Madea isn’t laying the smack down, she also manages to get some clever jokes into the mix.  Amidst the mindless ramblings that come out of our characters 90% of the time, Madea gets a few good lines in to maximize the laughs. Often this is in the form on an insult or a rebuttal to an accusation, but Perry has some witty moments that had me riling. Her brother Joe had me laughing even more, primarily due to his well-timed confession though I wish he could have a cleaner mouth at times.  Ms. Hattie and Aunt Bam also contribute some of the laughs, rounding out the comedy to appeal to as many people as possible.

Finally, it was nice to see Madea leave her home for…somebody else’s home. Madea’s Halloween hasn’t moved too far from her hood, but it integrated a new theme into the setting to freshen things up. The spoof on killer clowns, the integration of a frat house, and putting some ghost themed tricks into the mix finally broke the mold on the family drama that every other installment has. Halloween trades the tearful, preachy character moments for more laughs, giving it a more positive energy that doesn’t make you want to take a nap.  This new approach will be refreshing for most and may be the new formula to Madea’s success.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Annoying characters and antics
  • Rambling gets old
  • Editing

 

Tyler Perry certainly knows how to develop annoying character, and Madea’s Halloween does not get an exception.  As mentioned earlier, the teenagers are annoying representations of today’s youth, portrayed as being obsessed with booze, sex, and back talking parents.  The main girl Tiffany takes lead in this category. Her extreme rebellious attitude leads to over dramatic and overacted antics that rubbed my nerves raw. The rest of the cohort doesn’t fare much better, with the exception of one, that serve little more than becoming fodder for Madea and having audience members say “Oh no she didn’t!”  And I’ll get bashed for this, but Ms. Hattie was too much for me in this movie.  In her past appearances, the small woman’s high pitched voice was timed well to be fun and funny, but she was too much for me in this film.  Her antics were too overdone and her voice just rubbed me the wrong way. If you like her though, then good news, she’s in this movie a lot. 

Something else that started rubbing me the wrong way was the rambling.  Madea and company have many moments where all they do is gab, usually involving three to four people talking incoherently about drugs, sex, stupidity, drugs, sex, stupidity, police, crime, and stupidity. Then Madea comes in and shares her experience and the rambling starts again.  Yes this is Madea and it has come to be expected, but usually there are some other things to break it up.  Not the case in this film and the lack of balance quickly led to the ramblings getting stale and losing its comedic edge for me, though this wasn’t the case for a lot of the audience.

As for the editing, it is greatly skewed in this movie and quite poor to be honest.  At least three times the movie was just extended sequences of rambling that did little for me other than add forty-five extra minutes to the movie, though it did have others laughing their heads off.  Even more disappointing is that the Halloween theme is kind of lost to Madea’s rambling and so much potential for jokes is lost to the old hat antics, which is just so sad.  But with how much fun most will have with this movie, I don’t think this will be an issue to most.

 

The Verdict:

 

Madeas Halloween is surprisingly fun and refreshing compared to her other works. It’s filled with her characteristic rambling, corny insults, and the same types of jokes that have been played for years.  Unfortunately for this reviewer, the Halloween potential was lost to annoying characters and rambling, which only extended the run time for me.  While this is certain to win top box office this weekend, this reviewer thinks this movie is best left to TBS/TNT showings. 

 

My scores are:

Comedy/Horror: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

The Board Would Say Yes to this Movie Being Creepy and Better Than the First

origins

            You remember the movie Ouija? It was a stupid, boring film, with the only redeeming qualities being a short run time and a pretty cast (sorry if I have offended anyone).  However, there must have been enough interest in it to warrant Michael Bay to produce another movie about Mattel’s popular spirit connection game.  Based on the trailers though, it seems they might have learned their lesson when making this prequel and taken things back to the scary side.  Robbie K here, and tonight I’m reviewing Ouija: Origin of Evil. Let’s get to work.

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy
  • Well-developed story
  • A Halloween thriller

 

The last movie tried its best to scare us with corny jump scares, one spirit we barely got a glimpse of, and a too beautiful cast of spoiled teens to kill off.  Good news, they threw all of that out, only salvaging the forgotten names of spirit’s family and the creepy house it took place in.  Set in the 70s, the scare factor of this film comes in many forms, which will surely send tingles down your spine, or at least give you a disturbing feeling that something is lurking in the walls of your theater.  The creepy little girl will bear the brunt of load with raspy whispers, an innocent (but oh so sinister) smile, and that high pitched voice that always is disturbing in possessed kids. Origins also has plenty of things lurking in the dark, bodies distorting to the paranormal, and a few jump scares to balance the load. The directors build up the scares in this flick, while keeping your skin crawling.

Even more surprising is how the scares are integrated into a surprisingly decent story for a horror movie.  Origin’s plot starts out like most other films as a family struggling to make it after a life altering event.  Somehow they stumble into the Ouija board and, what do you know, bad things start to happen as they mess with the spirit world. It’s not original, but it is miles better than the original plot. The mystery behind Doris’ transformation is pretty messed up and can be described as a mashup of poltergeist meets malicious science.  While cheesy at times, the tale fits in well with the Halloween spirit, including an ending that will thrill you darker ending fans.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Hardly get to see the ghost
  • Not much suspense
  • Rather rushed at times

 

In a horror movie, less is often a good thing as the imagination can paint a much scarier picture than make up can.  Still with all the alliteration, I would have liked to have seen more of the malicious spirits that dwelled in the walls. Oh sure you get a decent, if not awkward scene of the black specter, but I had hoped the digital shroud of darkness would morph into something more gruesome.  Either that or at least more screen time that extend past milky white eyes.

The limited screen time of the ghost pales in comparison to the lack of suspense in the movie.  Much of this is due to the fact that the ghost just paraded around in the skin of a young girl, which while creepy wasn’t as threatening.  The spirit’s goal was also never really explained, and what little light was shed did little to impress or hype up the story.  A few bouts got the heart pumping, but they fizzled out like a Fourth of July firework in the rain.  And since we already know how the events will turn out, the only thing I looked forward to was seeing how everything came together.

As for the story, it has a good, malicious backbone, but needs some finessing to help bring it to the full potentialThey burn through much their plot at rapid speed, spending little time to draw out mystery or provide opportunities for the characters to develop. All so they can cram in more of the little girl defying physics and looking malformed .  While creepiness is what you are going for, the lackluster climax packs little punch and leaves you wondering just how many times can a character get thrown across the room without breaking a bone.  But despite the rushed plot and dull edge…Origins plot is still miles ahead of the game if not a little inconsistent should you remember the original’s plots.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despite all its faults, Ouija origins is the creepy Halloween horror of this season.  The eerie atmosphere, insidious ghoul, and disturbing manipulations will get your skin crawling and the story isn’t half bad either.  Improvements aside, Origins still has some work to do in order to reach the greater heights it strive to achieve.  More plot development, a little more threat tagged on with the spirit, and some deeper suspense are required if they choose to make a sequel.  And if any developing directors read this review, make sure to cast the little girl again…she is a valuable asset.  Is this worthy of a theater visit?  I suggest you wait on this one, and revisit a classic this Halloween.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

Characters and Crime can’t Account For The Slight Action Time

account

            Ben Affleck’s career is certainly resurging, as the Good Will Hunting star continues to land one major role after the other. This weekend, Affleck hangs up his cape for a less tech savvy suit, and a few high powered rifles.  No I’m not crazy! I’m just talking about the accountant, the latest massively advertised crime/drama to flood the theaters.  The trailers paint this one to be an intense thriller, and it’s my job to report if the movie delivers on its promise.  So let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Convoluted crime story
  • Comedic relief in the dialogue
  • Good action…at times
  • Affleck’s portrayal

 

We all know the crime/drama genre and love when there are deep, convoluted relationships lurking the shadows.  So it is no surprise that the development crew wrote in plenty of characters to spread the deception around. The Accountant’s “merry” band of clients and assistants all have their backstories to which set the stage for the main drama at hand. Affleck’s character in particular is the center of the complexed conspiracy web, using his incredible gifts of math to decipher the clues at hand, all while flashing back through his life.  Meanwhile, a dynamic treasury office duo tries to uncover their own truths, going on their own man hunt for the accountant. Fans of this genre will be entertained, and I for one liked how they closed all major loops in this tale. As for the action component, it is also fitting into the genre. The Accountant trades high explosive, CGI crafted car chases for calmer gunplay and a few martial arts to sweeten the deal. Edgy yes! Exciting? Kind of.

Outside of a fitting story for a crime genre, my favorite part of the Accountant had to be the comedic relief provided.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is a thriller, but the writers have managed to put some gold in their writing.  Affleck’s dry comedic presentation sells the simplistic lines, and much of the writing is on the timing of the situation. And the best part is, that the comedy isn’t forced, it just happens.  This in particular is due to Affleck playing the role of a person with autism very well, capturing the obsessive nuances and awkward conversations representative of the mental state.  I tip my hat off to the portrayal of Asperger’s syndrome, and like the role model they made in this film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Anna Kendrick’s limited role
  • Formulaic Approach
  • Semi boring action

 

The trailer made Kendrick out to be a major player in the film, promising to be his responsibility for most of the film. And to an extant she fulfilled that role, providing her own quirky comedy and character development of her own.  Unfortunately, they crammed her role into only about a third of the movie and quickly dropped her , once her influence was done.  While this goes down the realistic side, they wasted a lot of potential down many avenues (especially for the price tag associated with her). This held true for the other characters (who again played their parts in the story), but could have been integrated much better in the grand scheme of things.

Another dislike came in the formulaic delivery of this story.  Yes, originality is very hard to come by, but The Accountant followed the traditional path a little too closely.  Where the comedy was natural, the surprises seemed a bit forced for me. They tried too hard to put a twist in the movie, and ended up ruining most of the surprises (I figured out the major twist in the first fifteen minutes). In addition to being predictable, the story also took a bit of time to take off despite having a loud opening.  The Accountant drags at the beginning as it tries to set up the crime and give you backstory and continues to crawl until the action occurs.

Speaking of action, I stated earlier that the action is very fitting (therefore good) in this movie. The Accountant is certainly a skilled protector, whose wicked aim and master of the martial arts could give the caped crusader a run for his money.  However, the realistic delivery can get a bit boring at times and lacks the suspense that other, more elaborate scenes create. While some of my friends jumped during the showing, Affleck’s character was a little too skilled and monotone to be exciting. And the battle at the end, may have the corniest finish I’ve seen in a while that is certainly laughable, but just plain silly to be honest. 

 

The VERDICT:

My friends called it right in saying that the Accountant is entertaining and fits the crime/drama well, but it just doesn’t have the edge like others of its kind (Godfather, Scarface, Sopranos). While the plot is fitting of the genre, the actor is good in portraying autism, and the comedy is well placed, it just lacks that special edge that was promised. Perhaps a little more integration of the other characters and a bad guy who can match his genius would have added a little more excitement to the mix or at least give some less predictable plot spins. I can say it is worth a theater visit, but you might get your money’s worth waiting for it to come home. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Crime/Drama: 8

Movie Overall: 7

All Aboard! Dramatic Complicated Movie Ahead

girl-on-train

 

Drama, it’s a category that sells like hotcakes in the entertainment field.  Soap operas have been abusing this genre for years, and this weekend another big budget blockbuster will attempt to capitalize on affairs and deceit.  I’m talking about Girl on a Train, another book turned movie that looks to be a mirror of Gone Girl from a few years past. Does this movie hold true potential for suspense, or is it just old hat tricks?  Robbie K here, hoping to provide some insight into those questions.

 

LIKES:

  • Wonderful Cast
  • Delivers promised drama
  • A decent mystery

 

This film’s ensemble certainly deserves credit for bringing the tale to life. Emily Blunt leads the team off playing a part that was both emotional and complex. Blunt can portray pain well, bringing suffering out of the screen in a believable performance that seldom crosses into overacting territory.  Her emotions are in good balance, fluidly transitioning between each mood to capture the crazy edge required by her character. Haley Bennett has less emotion to cover, but portrays depression quite realistically in terms of emotional bluntness seen in the disorder.  As for Rebecca Ferguson, the third leading lady must have a jealous house wife inside of her, for she nails the distrustful nature down to the letter.  While these ladies take center stage, the rest of the cast do justice to their roles and create a world fitting of the mystery thriller story. Speaking of story…

Girl on a train is a tale that is filled with promised drama and mystery, perfect components for a suspense/thrillerOur three…”heroines” for lack of a better world, weave complicated relationships within the city. Some are good and some are bad, but all are dramatic and over the top to hook you into the characters’ lives. While I normally am annoyed by characters inability to let things go, this approach works for this film as it led to important character development while shedding light on the mystery at hand. As for the suspenseful mystery, it’s not the most unique puzzle to grace the silver screen. However, it is one with many layers and depth that require you to pay attention in order to uncover the truth behind the alibis. it. Such depth added to the suspense and kept into the movie as I waited to find the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

 

DISLIKES

  • Predictable ending
  • Convoluted presentation
  • Pointless scenes
  • Characters dropped at points

 

Having a mystery with many levels makes for a grasping tale, but sometimes getting too creative can be an issue. Girl on a train’s presentation is a bit convoluted, as the tale integrates past with present via a series of intertwining. I’ll admit it was an original presentation, but the flashbacks offset the momentum of the ship and sometimes transitioned back into the film so well you might have not realized you were back in the present. The result can be quite confusing and should you turn your attention away for a second, or go to the bathroom, you might become a bit lost. Fortunately, the ending is nicely wrapped up for you, but the rather predictable conclusion doesn’t make this complicated presentation worth the trouble.

Another dislike comes in the form of unnecessary scenes, primarily the ones involving sex. Call me whatever you want, but seeing forceful sex imposed on women, or seeing women seemingly bored with the art of making lust, does not make a good movie friends. I get it, sex sells as made evident by many films, and I will admit some major clues are dropped in these heated moments. Doesn’t mean I need to be drowned in all the naked, groaning details in such a short time span. Needless to say, the film earns its R rating for something other than cussing and violence.

Finally, some of the characters I feel got stiffed in this film. The trailers built up so many characters, but unfortunately they failed to deliver on some of them outside of dropping some key information before fading into the shadows. This hurt the movie in two ways.  The first is these supposedly spooky characters fizzled out, weakening the suspense of the film and making for boring characters. Second by doing this, the mystery becomes much easier to solve and further sacrifices the thrilling “surprise” at the end. Don’t worry though, you’ll still get that drama you so crave, even if you can get the answer in thirty minutes.

 

The VERDICT:

      Girl on a train certainly feels like a Gone Girl wannabe in terms of its dramatic atmosphere and complicated storytelling.  Yet it still lacks some of the things that made its predecessor so good, including better editing, more suspenseful characters, and not having flashbacks run interference.  Still it provides a good mystery to open the month up with the relationships many will sink their teeth into. Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I can’t say it is, but check this one out at home when you get the chance. 

 

My scores are:

Mystery/Thriller: 7

Movie Overall: 6

 

Say Checkmate to Katwe’s Inspiration

katwe

            Robbie K here with another movie review and this time one focused on the game of…chess?  Disney Studios latest creation Queen of Katwe is a tale on a Phiona Mutesi’s journey to becoming a chess master. As there are few movies where the board game is the focus, I was interested in seeing what the entertainment giant could do with such a tale. As always, I’m here to give my thoughts on the tale. Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Good Chess Montages
  • Major Character Development
  • Inspirational

When it comes to sports movies, we always enjoy seeing scenes that involve the game right? The same thing can be said for a movie about a board game loved by so many. Disney will do their fans justice and give players plenty of shots at our players bouts on the board. Phiona’s numerous challenges are shown throughout the two hour time limit, each showing her evolution into a chess champion. If you’re not a fan of the game, don’t worry too much as the sequences move fast enough to keep it exciting and are often accompanied by her fellow chess players reacting to each move. 

But Robbie, I hate chess and therefore will certainly hate this movie! No problem my friend, Disney’s got you covered. Queen of Katwe is far more than just moving piece on a board. A large part of the plot is focused on Phiona’s life, especially on the struggle she and her family faced.  Drama lovers will eat up the family tension between mother and daughter, or perhaps get caught up in how many people looked down on the young girl and her obsession for a title. I myself appreciated the other characters’ tales running in tandem with Phiona’s tale, especially watching the coach and her fellow players grow alongside her.  The intermingled tales, alongside great actor chemistry, brings a complete tale that makes you feel a part of the Katwe Pioneers.

Amidst the drama and chess though, one will certainly find some inspiration buried in the film. Like all Disney movies, our writers have gone through great lengths to motivate their audiences to accomplish great things. Queen of Katwe is no different, as it uses orchestral work, ideal camera shots, and well written dialogue throw the emotional punch. The coach in particular preaches these lessons, using various analogies and life experiences to make his point across. Whatever message comes across to you, know that Queen of Katwe has a future place in many classrooms and Sunday Schools.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Editing/Plot Gaps
  • Intense focus on close ups instead of the game
  • Family extremes are a little too extreme

 

The major dislike for this reviewer is how unbalanced the editing was in this movie, especially in terms of the plot. As mentioned, Phiona’s tale has a lot of moving pieces, some of which have a lot of buildup and focus such as tensions with her sister or the fears of her fellow teammates). After such focus you would expect a decent wrap up right? To me, many of these plot points were dropped or hastily concluded, probably to allow more “suspenseful” game scenes or another celebration montage to premier. While this helps expand the diversity of the movie, this move weakened the story and made some of the drama kind of pointless in the end.

Plot points aren’t the only editing blunder though. Queen of Katwe’s chess scenes also suffer at times, especially in terms of making dramatic tension in the game.  If you remember movies like Bobby Fisher, you got caught up in the game as you followed each of the protagonist’s moves, with someone explaining the maneuver. The Queen however, sometimes lost that suspense either due to the quick pace they played, or that they chose to put their focus on the player’s faces.  Yes, if you wanted to see numerous close-ups of people looking tense, disappointed, and occasionally happy, you’ve come to the right movie, as our director thought this would bring more suspense. For me though, it only provided more drama and less of the game I wanted to see.

Finally the family extremes were a little too much for me.  You will find in Queen of Katwe that most of the characters are stuck to one major quality, some of which are good and others that get used a tad much.  What do I mean by this? One example is Phiona’s lack of smiling or expression at all, her lines and flat attitude doing nothing to help me relate to the character. Her mother on the other hand, lost her cool at the slightest drop, yelling at everyone, pouting, or dropping to her knees at the drop of a hat. I understand this had much to do with the harsh life, but to be subjected to these and other extremes for two hours didn’t help entertain me as much.

 

The Verdict:

Queen of Katwe gets props for the inspirational power contained in its writing and cinematography. Phiona’s tale is one with many complex pieces that revolve around character developing drama and the thrill of the game. I have no doubt many audience members will find motivation in this movie and use this to teach generations to come.  Unfortunately the editing and direction take away from this tale, and proves yet again that too many things in one movie reduces the quality. Is it worth a trip to the theater? I can’t say it is, but check this one out when it hits shelves in a few months.

 

My Scores:

Biography/Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Being Peculiar Has Never Been So Much Fun…or Disturbing

peculiar

            Another weekend, another chance for Hollywood to take a book and turn it into a film.  The review today is on Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, a story that certainly screams for someone with an odd sense of direction to make.  Therefore, someone like Tim Burton is perfect to lead the production of this book and bring that weirdness to the screen.  Robbie K bringing another review, hoping to help guide you on your movie viewing needs. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES

  • Tim Burton weirdness
  • Decent visual effects
  • Felt like a book
  • Ella Purnell and Eva Green

 

After Big Eyes, people were missing Burton’s weird touch in the cinematic world.  Thankfully, the strange director has returned and delivered in spades, bringing his usual bag of tricks into the mix.  Peregrine’s home alone looks like something out of a bizarre dream, with its residents mirroring Burton’s twisted sense of fun (e.g. mouths on the back of their heads or experimenting with the dead). Even the antagonists certainly look like something pulled from the occult particularly the long limbed, multi-tongued sightless Hollows that hunt our heroes.  The underlying theme is that Burton’s edge is all over this movie and brought out in decent visual effects. Burton’s team use a combination of make-up and computers to create these weird wonders, with the make up being the more realistic and impressive component.

Another positive was how much it felt like a book as opposed to a big budget movie production.  Miss Peregrine isn’t a movie about explosions, action, or sappy romantic outings, but rather it focuses on the story and character development. I found myself enjoying the formulaic presentation especially the climax at the end that brought everything to a close.  It was nice to see a movie not get lost in the big budget special effects and focus on the characters instead of the stunts.  And the writers get credit for a dialogue that fits well with the story.

With such a large cast it is hard to analyze all their acting styles, so I’ll focus on Ella Purnell and Eva Green. Purnell’s character Emma brings the most magic to the film as Burton abused her air bending ability to unlock the secrets of the looped world. Ella’s combination of smug fun, determination, and compassion make for a winning combination that one can’t help but latch onto. Eva Green was awesome as always, bringing her brooding, hard edge to the forefront and curbing into a role that was centered on caring for her kids. It was nice seeing her in a role that wasn’t an antagonist, and she fit so well with the cast.

 

DISLIKES

  • Didn’t match up with the books
  • Wasted potential on powers
  • Cheesy visuals at times
  • A bit disturbing at times

I can’t lie, I haven’t read the books, but based on the summaries from Wikipedia (and the fact there are multiple books) it’s safe to say that the film does not follow the novels.  There is a lot of similar elements, but the movie took a lot of liberties with the story to cram it into a two hour run time. Much of the changes were to give a friendlier atmosphere for younger audience members, but my research also reveals some other major changes that may highly irritate fans of the series.  One major change involves deleting some important conflicts described in the books. Another major change is that they combined plots from other books to not only bring the story to completion, but give a decent ending in case the movie tanks. And yes, they even changed the villain in this movie so they could have a role for Samuel L Jackson.

But with all the changes for the movie, one thing that they seemed to not expand on were the powers of the kids. The kids have some really cool peculiarities, but most of them didn’t get to show it off much outside of a few parlor tricks. Oh sure, they got a few well timed moments to use their powers to accomplish something, but outside of two of them, they didn’t do much. Even the Hollows failed to do much, despite the fact they had the weirdest director to abuse those powers, which made the movie a bit lamer. And when they did get to use their powers, they often came out cheesy, often presented in a manner that would maximize the 3-D viewing. This was especially true for the Hollows whose lumbering forms did look freaky, but again very fake and designed specifically for the 3-D visuals.

   Finally, the disturbing dislike. Yes, Burton’s imagination crosses into this realm often, but this particular flick took it a little far at times. Seeing children playing with hearts, or having eye balls ripped out only to be eaten might be a little bit of a stretch for some. True it does fit with the darker theme of the movie, but it’s a shame to see the mature boundary moving to a younger age. In addition, the Hollows might be a bit scary for some younger members.

 

THE VERDICT

When it comes to book themed movies, Miss Peregrine’s is certainly one of the odder to appear in a long time. Burton’s twist is back in spades and he has crafted a very intriguing film that will appeal to many audiences. However, Burton’s crew dropped the ball on a few things including plot points in the film, disturbing twists, and use of the kids’ powers. I can’t recommend this one in 3-D though, as I don’t think the effects will add much to the film. Still, I think this film is worth a trip to the theater, just exercised caution.

 

My Scores:

Adventure/Fantasy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0