The Rules Didn’t Apply To This Movie…And It showed

rules-dont-apply

 

Today’s review is on the film entitled Rules Don’t Apply, a film that critics call the best movie of the year.  Haven’t heard of it?  Don’t worry, you aren’t alone as this movie flew under the radar thanks to the blockbusters coming out this weekend.  For those caring to know, it is a film portraying the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes and the many people caught up in his game of… craziness.  Does this movie live up to the hype of the trailers?  As always it’s my job to share my thoughts and report on the latest film to hit the theater trenches.

 

LIKES:

  • The setting
  • The portrayal of Hollywood
  • Warren Beatty’s performance

 

This weekend seems to involve taking trips into the past, as Rules Don’t Apply drops you back into the mid 1960s and all the cultural trends of the era. This film has costumes and sets that recreate the time period, helping immerse you into environment that existed 50 years ago. All the promising hope and youthful energy are unleashed, trying to bring about the fun times Hollywood brought with it in the golden age of cinema.  And if you could care less about the ambience, then you will get a good laugh at some of the ridiculous trends the era fostered, especially when the film pokes fun at it.

For you drama lovers though, a strong quality of this film is the portrayal of Hollywood and the obstacles it presents for our “heroes”. Rules Don’t Apply does a fine job of showing how Hollywood promises fame, fortune and excitement to the aspiring, only for the cold-hearted politics to rip that promise away in an instant. Be warned the tale is somewhat depressing, but I give props for a studio revealing the ugly face hidden behind the makeup and lights.

Yet the main strength of this movie is Warren Beatty’s performance as Howard Hughes. If you don’t know much about the man, read Wikipedia and you’ll find he had a generous and ambiguous allocation of funds and attention. Beatty portrays that unorganized way of thinking perfectly, showing the erratic pressured speech, the flight of thoughts, and troubled looks of a man with too much on his mind. And as time passes, and status’ change, Beatty adapts his look and talents to portray more of the madness during Hughes downward spiral. He was dynamic, he was funny, and he sold me on how much struggle the man went through all those decades ago.  

 

DISLIKES:

  • The actors’ chemistry
  • The lost potential
  • Soap opera theatrics
  • Boring
  • The editing

 

It was hard to pick a starting point for my dislikes, but the actors’ chemistry through me off in this movie.  Our potential star crossed lovers were more awkward than romantic and it felt like the two leads were forced to work together (like we saw in Twilight and The Star Wars prequels). Our young actors felt stiff together, the ability to act off one another not quite as polished or believable as I had hoped.  While I understand relationships can start out this way, the chemistry didn’t move past this until near the end of the film. Instead, the relationship and acting continued to move into the overdramatic region, ascending to levels that soap operas make famous. Much of the theatrics were more eye-rolling annoying than appreciative, and I prayed for something to end the nonsensical love story they were trying to sell.   Fortunately, the other relationships that main character Frank Forbes had to foster made up for the stiff romance story of this film.

I can’t just pin the poor relationship on the acting. No, the main dislike for me in this movie is the editing. Beatty may be a good actor, but his writing and directing need some work to help improve his storytelling ability. Rules Don’t’ Apply seemed to have difficulty determining what kind of movie it wanted to be. So instead they decided to mash everything together into a multi-genre menagerie that didn’t work.  Much of the film were snippets of Hughes’ endeavors hastily crammed together to provide some entertainment.  And while I laughed at times, the irrelevance to the plot became very irritating by the end of the film. And even worse, these interruptions destroyed the coherence of the plot and weakened the overall tale, especially in regards to the character development.  If this is entertaining to you great, but if you are like me…you’ll be bored by all the unnecessary components and the extended run time.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Rules Don’t Apply may be artistic and have one heck of a leading performance.  However, past that this film’s storytelling needs an overhaul/remake to get the job done. It’s unfocused editing, overdramatic acting, and slow pace did not entertain me as much as I had hoped. You are better off waiting for this one to hit home folks, where you can at least nap through most of the movie if you get bored.  But if you want a drama with lots of moving pieces…Rules Don’t Apply is the film for you.

 

My scores:

Comedy/Drama/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0

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Pitt and Cotillard are an Emotionally Fulfilling Allied Pair

allied

            Robbie K back again to bring you another movie review.  This morning we discuss the latest “Thriller” called Allied starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.  Based on the trailers, this movie was supposed to be the best Thriller of the year, but we know advertisements can hype things up every once in a while.  As always, I’m here to share my thoughts and help guide your movie watching preferences.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • The recreation of World War 2 era
  • Acting Chemistry
  • Emotionally powerful

I always love when Hollywood use their budgets to design a breathtaking setting. Allied’s production team accomplishes the goal of recreating a World War 2 era European theater that drops you back in time to the culture of the 1940s. For historical buffs, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere the various settings the cast has selected for you, many of which establish the romantic atmosphere and amp up the emotion. Watching how spies worked without our modern technology was kind of cool, especially the intelligence involved in uncovering enemy secrets.  It’s beautiful, it’s intelligent, and it’s kind of cool.

However, not everyone goes to a movie for a good setting, but perhaps you go to ogle/appreciate your favorite actor/actress. Well Allied has you covered on this movie as well. Brad Pitt, despite all the media, portrays the spy quite well bringing elegance, distraught and romance to his role. Marion Cotillard has a little more diversity in her character having to play suave, sophistication, love, and suspicion all in one package. While alone these two are solid, the true magic is in their chemistry. These two sold it to me that they were in real love, not that fake, overacted bologna you see in most films.  There tears, the way they presented the dialogue, and even the physical act was convincing that these two had the hots for each other.  Fans looking for a powerful film about love and testing the borders of trust are going to love the emotionally packed climaxes. I can’t say much more without ruining the twists so let’s move on, shall we?

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not that exciting/thrilling
  • Slow

The biggest dislike for me is that for a Thriller this movie wasn’t that thrilling to this reviewer.  When seeing the trailers, the editors portrayed deep mystery, involving Pitt trying to uncover his wife’s secrets without leading her on.  I expected scenes of intense snooping where he is nearly discovered, or a convoluted plan to help catch the rat in the line of work. Hate to ruin this for you, but it wasn’t anything like that for me.  The plan is very simple (though realistic) and takes little effort from Pitt to execute.  This boring approach sets up a three-day time limit in an effort add a little more flare to the heated emotion.  While this is good in terms of character development, it is disappointing to not see the potential of the trailers unleashed in this movie, especially as we have lacked a good spy film in quite some time. And as for the action component of this film, this too is realistic, but also simplified into a few heated bouts that you have seen in the trailers.

As you can guess, the lack of suspense  makes this movie a bit slow. This was especially true in the scenes where everyone was talking in technical jargon to sound like a spy, which sometimes came off corny rather than inspiring. On a minor tangent, the use of subtitles was a little inconsistent, so brush up on your French if you want to understand the entire dialogue of the film.  I found myself fighting sleep in a few of these drier moments, actually hoping for more romance and family scenes to relieve me of these sometimes-unnecessary moments. Of course, if I’m really wishing for something, I wished that there was more action integrated into the mix as well, but no surprise from me right.

 

The VERDICT:

Allied certainly is one of the better romantic movies I’ve seen in a while.  It’s plot and great acting supports the portrayal of true love, and the extremes you’ll go to protect it.  Our directors certainly hit the mark in portraying the madness involved with deciding loyalty to your country over your wife.  Unfortunately, they misunderstood the word “thrill” in Thriller and took out the suspense and edge the trailers painted. So, is it worth a trip to the theater?  For the acting and romantic crowd, yes I think it is, but as a whole this movie is better left to RedBox rentals in my opinion.  My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Romance:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

Have Funna, Watching Moana

moana

            It wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without a Disney animated feature to grace the silver screen.  And this weekend the animation studios are at it again with another masterpiece sure to be nominated for best animated picture of the year.  The name of the movie this time is Moana, a tale of Polynesian mythology wrapped up in a nice, Disney magical package.  Will this movie net Disney the best picture of the year award, or is it just another filler until Pixar’s next work?  Robbie K happy to bring you another review this holiday season.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Fun, new setting
  • Comedy
  • Soundtrack was kicking

 

We all know Disney makes fun films, but Moana’s fun comes in form of the beautiful settings of the Pacific. Stepping away from the castles, this film will enchant you as you set sail on the majestic oceans and the mythical creatures that inhabit them.  The world is colorful and dynamically shaded to match the tones of the film, which give the film a little energy to spice things up. No surprise, the animation is fluid (as always) as realistic movements (both living and nonliving) are captured in this breathtaking CGI. While I didn’t see it in 3-D, this film’s design would have popped out more with the special effects, therefore earning a recommendation to give it a try if you wish.

But a Disney movie isn’t just about the scenery, oh no you have to have characters that make you laugh and you can latch onto.  Moana continues this trend, with the lead character (Moana) being the ever inspiring, girl power rocking, role model that most leads are.  In terms of laughs though, Maui has you covered on this field.  Dwayne Johnson delivers in the film, his bold, brash, and loud delivery matching the charisma of the demi-god. The hero has plenty of silly qualities to him, clever one-liners, slapstick antics, and a dancing tattoo which kept me laughing through most of the film.  Throw in an idiotic chicken and anthropomorphic ocean and the you get a unique team for tickling your funny bone.

My favorite aspect of this movie though has to be the soundtrack. This movie finally took a step back into the Disney renaissance world.  A fantastic orchestra work sets the stage for adventure, bold brass instruments blaring and drums pounding as the boat coasts out into the wild.  Other scenes have a more elegant touch to them to match the touching moments, rounding out the emotion of the film in a complete package. But many will fall in love with the original music our cast composes, bringing the upbeat, inspirational tone that will have young and young at heart hitting repeat over and over again.  The soundtrack was perfect for this movie, and yours truly loved the islander twist to spice the tunes up.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as exciting as other adventures
  • Unnecessary scenes
  • Missed potential

 

While Moana was fun and beautiful, it wasn’t the most thrilling tale to grace the library. The film lacked suspense for me, never finding myself at the edge of my seat fearing for our heroes. Perhaps it was the obvious foreshadowing, or the fact that very little of the threats seemed deadly, but more cuddly and silly.  Plus, the character development was a little lacking at times, so there didn’t seem the looming threat of Disney killing a favorite character.  Without the excitement, the adventure did grow a bit dull in terms of thrills, but fortunately the fun and animation make up for it. 

An even stronger dislike was how unnecessary some of the scenes were in the film for me.  A few of the moments, were impromptu sequences meant to instill a sense of urgency, an effort I appreciate.  However, the urgency had already been established and these scenes added little to the overall emotion or plot of the story.  Unfortunately, the biggest sting was entering one “supposedly” dangerous island that Maui builds up.  It had such build up and potential, and then they dropped it.  This island could have been a very unique and dangerous world that added some edge and diversity to the film in regards to bizarre flora and fauna.  Yet, they quickly skimmed over this part to get to an obnoxious character (the conflict with him rather lackluster), which left me a tad disappointed. Sadly, no other creatures or beasts appeared from the depths to enhance the adventure, nor any major challenges to gradually enhance the skills of our heroes. The bottom line of this dislike, is that the editing was slightly off track for this reviewer and could have been expanded upon to add more depth and excitement to the film.

 

The VERDICT

 

Moana is another fine example of how awesome Disney is at animation. Beautiful visuals bring alive a unique world that will make you crave to be on the majestic waters of the pacific islands.  In addition, it’s a very fun movie that contains both laughs and music to instill the positive energy that Disney films love to do around the holidays. Despite all of this though, it wasn’t the most exciting adventure for me and I really would have liked to see more of the mythology brought into the tale to further develop our loveable characters (and more of the cute pig too). Still, this film is worth visiting in the theaters for all ages and will spread some early holiday joy over you and those you love. 

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

Edge of 17 won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, but represents the culture well

Seventeen.jpg

 

Teenage years can be tough, but with generation gaps one may not understand the new morals and traditions the modern era establishes.  Enter Hollywood, who may help bridge the gap by making a movie to hopefully shed some accurate light on the subject.  This brings me to my review this morning, Edge of Seventeen, a coming of age film starring Hailee Steinfield, Woody Harrelson, and a slew of other actors.  Robbie K here, bringing you another movie review, so let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Realistic portrayal of teens
  • Witty comical writing
  • Good moral lesson

 

If you want a realistic movie, then Edge of Seventeen is for you. It dumps special effects and original tales for a better portrayal of the culture around you.  This film drops you into the life of a “typical” teenager and all the drama that comes with the hormonal changes of those trying years.  One will get to see the concepts of sex, relationships, family, and self-worth as you follow Nadine’s journey into growing up.  Those who are ticked off by today’s morals need to skip this film, but those with an open mind may enjoy the psychology involved with the decisions made by youths.  While I’m certainly no teenager, I felt this movie did a nice job representing the turmoil some youths feel, primarily in the social pressures established from trying to grow up too quickly.

Fortunately, the movie isn’t just about portraying the different morals of teenagers, but instead tries to teach lessons about life. While preachy at points, the movie does a nice job illustrating that the everyone has troubles we all must deal with. Nadine brings a lot of teenage angst and rebellion under the guise of life sucks, without realizing others may be suffering just as much.  And the screenplay writers do a bang up job teaching her, and hopefully the audience, important lessons about empathy, open minded thinking, and not relying on social media to rule your life.  Two thumbs up in my book.

While the realism brings about a lot of drama, cause let’s face it the modern world is a bunch of drama, it also brings about very intelligent writing.  Edge of Seventeen has plenty of meme worthy faces and one-liners, the comedy as a whole is quite witty. Steinfield’s lines, while simplistic, are timed well as she delivers them with emotional affect needed.  Hayden Setzo as the geeky Erwin, brings the awkward teenager character to life, equipped with nervous stuttering and awkward moments that are truly entertaining.  The biggest source of laughs come in the form of Woody Harrelson as the mentor/uninterested teacher whose sarcasm and insults are the definition of intelligent writing. All of this provides a bunch of laughs, or at least chuckles.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow at times
  • Nadine is quite annoying

 

Yes, this is a common complaint of mine in films like this, but hear me out.  I and some of the other audience members, found the Edge of Seventeen a tad slow at parts of this movie. Nadine’s journey to growing up gets a tad repetitive at times, adding some unnecessary moments that could have been left for the director’s cut. Some of the repetitive drama points or seeing her crying on screen were emotional yes, but sometime unnecessary and helped trim some time off the filmAnd because of the sad, somewhat depressing tone of the movie the film dragged at a bit at times as well, especially when there were few positive moments to relieve the negativity.  Yes, I get this is the point and the perspective most teenagers take, but Hollywood magic would have been welcome here.

And as for Nadine, never have I both enjoyed and loathed a character on screen at once.  Being a teenager can be rough, but this character crossed the border to annoyingly crazy a fair number of times in the movie.  Whether it was the whiny element to her voice, the whimsical use of the F bomb, or perhaps the repetitive complaints of the problem, there was always something irritating about this character. Eventually other characters were introduced to help temper these moments, but some of the extreme brat like behavior, and how blind she was to it, was a little over the top at times.  Maybe this is how teenagers act and maybe it isn’t, but the team could have designed a little more balance to Nadine in my honest opinion.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Edge of Seventeen is certainly an artistic movie worthy of some attention for realistic portrayals of a culture and some grade A acting chemistry.  Witty writing and relevant references make this film an enjoyable piece of work for many and the morals add a teaching element for future classroom movie days.  Yet the pace could have used some picking up and the annoying primary character need some fine tuning to help smooth out the rough edges of the movie of this otherwise predictable tale.  Nevertheless, this movie has the potential for nominations, and could be good for some to visit the theaters.  Yet I suggest skipping this film for the theaters and holding out for Netflix/Redbox for viewing pleasures.

 

My scores:

Comedy/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

This Beastly Adventure is Fantastically Fun, But Something Is Missing

beasts

            Harry Potter, a series that so long ago took us on an adventure none of us would ever forget.  Years later, it is still the talk of the town and despite the books essentially ending, the Hogwarts Express money train is still charging ahead to bring out more ideas.  This weekend J. K Rowling brings you another installment in her ever expansive world in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Seeing that they were making a movie on what was essentially an encyclopedia of made up creatures, I couldn’t help but wonder how good this movie would be.  What is the verdict?  As always read to find out.

 

LIKES:

  • A J.K. Rowling story
  • Funny and Intense
  • Fantastic visual effects

 

After the recent 8th book and half of the movies, I feared Rowling’s quality had been wrung dry from the constant demand of her fans.  Glad to see I was wrong.  Fantastic Beasts recaptured the magic we fell in love, bringing back the storytelling she started all those years ago. This film has mystery, suspense, and a character driven element all beautifully integrated together, crafting an adventure that is certain to enchant.  While the main quest seems to be a simplistic game of hide and seek with gigantic creatures, this tale has many more depths to further draw you into Scamander and friends’ life (potentially expanding into more movies should they decide to pick up the option).

Story aside, the film has the other elements you die hard Potter fans want in an adventure.  For one thing there are plenty of laughs to go around: such as Scamander awkwardly solving a problem (e.g. doing a mating dance that is a bad rendition of the Thriller dance) or his No Mag friend Kowalski having a few one liners and slapstick to get a laugh.  These moments keep things fun and fresh and help relieve some of the darker points of the movie. The intense moment isn’t so much in the movie itself, but for me in the hopes that Scamander will find his creatures before any are hurt or killed (which you know Rowling is famous for doing). At times there are other suspenseful elements to the mix, but unfortunately the suspense was not at the level the other Potter tales have.

  However, the biggest win for me are the visual effects of the film.  Many of the spells you’ve seen before: white lights for blocking projectiles, or colorful lights before a door opens.  However, my favorite spells involved repairing broken objects, which we have seen before but never to the city rebuilding scale. But all the magical quirks pail to the design of the diverse beasts that inhabit Scamander’s suitcase. Many of the creatures are exactly what you expect from Rowling’s imagination, a combination of deadly and cute in a variety of colors and shapes. Their animation is flawless and their integration into the tale, for the most part, makes up most of the adventure.

 

DISLIKES

  • Something is missing
  • The evil element was lacking
  • A little cheesy in dialogue

 

Despite all the fun I had in the film there still is something missing that the first installments of her series had.  One element was  a lack of grandiose palaces and magical alleys that we love to get pulled into, or perhaps it was that most of the spells were simplistic and old hat.  Or maybe…it was wanting more creatures to involved in the tale to bring further suspense or drama. One thing is for certain though, the “threat” of this film was more diluted than I had anticipated. Fantastic Beasts primary baddie still has the mystery behind it as you try to uncover what thing runs afoul in New York.  However, when it is finally revealed, it disappointed me as it lacked the menacing quality most Potter villains possess. Oh sure the circumstances about its’ origins scream Rowling, but the design, execution, and threat were dropped in this film.  And yes there is a twist that was very welcome, but it wasn’t enough to save the unimpressive bad guy after all the buildup.

As for the dialogue and script, this too is another element that could have used some tweaking. At times our characters deliver lines that bring back the nostalgic feeling of the first installments, being both entertaining and empowering to fans.  However, this film felt a little more overdramatic and preachy, dropping the clever for emotional, cheesy bologna that took away from the scenes rather than add to it.  While this dislike is minor at times, there are some really hokey moments that had my eyes rolling.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

Overall, Fantastic Beasts is a grand adventure, with beautiful special effects and a dynamic tale that is sure to entertain the masses.  However, there is still something missing from this movie that makes it pale to some of the predecessors Warner Bros have made in the past.  Regardless, this reviewer encourages you to go see the magnificent specimens of merchandising (the beasts) in theaters by the effects alone as this film was better than many of the latter movies for me.

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Shut In, Shuts Out Some Quality

shut-in

 

Another Friday, another excuse to release a horror movie in the sea of mediocrity. Robbie K here, and today I join two other souls to review Shut In starring Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay, a supposed thriller movie that flew under the radar.  But is Shut In going to deliver the thrills, or like many just give you chills from the AC.  Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Realistic
  • Good psychological portrayal
  • Nice Twist

When it comes to horror movies, there is a fine line between boring and corny scares. Shut In treads this line well dropping the monsters, grandiose serial killers, and aliens for a more realistic source of fear. You, the audience, will be subjected to the worst monster of all, the human psyche forced to figure out what is real and what is an illusion as Mary tries to uncover the mystery at hand.  This film drops all the theatrical gore and maiming of the stereotypical horrors and forces your imagination to paint a scarier reality that gets under your skin. The team also loves the use of darkness to play with your mind, utilizing both sound and video editing to maximize the feeling of isolation in the domestic setting.

Even more impressive is the portrayal of schizophrenia or parasomnia in this case. Hollywood often designs sequences to be trippy, horrifying, or overdramatic.  In this movie though, the hallucinations are accurate to those described by mentally disturbed patients.  You’ll see nightmares illustrating guilt, terror at the inability to distinguish fact from fiction, and the lack of peace associated from hearing noises that go bump in the night.  Shut In is certainly all about getting locked in, but not so much the house as in your mind.  The result of this approach, is some added suspense to get you invested.

But the real surprise is the twist that pops in the end, which is somewhat hinted in a few scenes.  While certainly not the biggest surprise (hello Arrival), Shut In’s revelation takes the tale down a different road and leads to a semi satisfying, albeit dragged out, conclusion.  And unlike some films in this genre, the twist actually fits in well with the realistic tone of this movie instead of dropping it into the dimension of corny, convenient write ins. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not that scary
  • Not that suspenseful
  • Could have been a Netflix Movie

 

Despite all the realism and psychological shocks in this movie, Shut In didn’t really frighten me that much.  For one, the team decided to use the usual array of scare tricks (e.g. camera angle of an abandoned hall, music going silent, and dialogue that foreshadowed the coming jump scares) which after the third time grew stale. In addition, there wasn’t an entity that got under my skin or would give me nightmares.

In addition, the supposed suspense was lacking for most of the movie. The underlying mystery was certainly intriguing to say the least, but I didn’t find my heart rushing, my eyes darting, or my butt at the end of the seat.  The suspense did pick up once the twist was revealed, but the sequences drowned out and diluted the threat thereby reducing the adrenaline rush.  Does this mean it was bad?  No, it just wasn’t the spine tingling chill the trailers made it out to be.

Yet the thing that probably took away from the film the most, was how much it felt like it belonged on Netflix.  Outside of acting and good use of speaker sound effects, Shut In really doesn’t have much uniqueness to warrant big theater release.  It’s very simplistic with formulaic scares, that lacks the bite you hope a movie brings.  As I made this realization, I found myself bored. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall Shut In has the realistic horror element most films lack in this genre.  The added psychological element helps keep things intriguing alongside the mystery of the little boy, and Naomi Watts is still a stunning actress to watch.  Unfortunately, Shut In uses stale tricks to scare you and is bland in the grand scheme of things, not counting the twist.  The good news is it runs at a short run time of 90 minutes, so you’ll get out of the theater rather quickly. If you are reading this review, you can guess this movie is best left to Netflix or Redbox. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Thriller: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

 

Quality Sci Fi has Arrived

arrival

            Science fiction is a genre that gets a bad rap by many often because it is mixed in with science fiction/fantasy (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, and etc.). However, there are occasions where, if you give the series a chance, you’ll find a film that is a work of art.  Tonight, a few friends and I checked out Arrival to see what all the hype was about.  Is this movie truly worthy of the praise, or is it just overhyped advertisements?  You know the drill, read on to find out…please.

 

LIKES:

  • Strong acting chemistry
  • Awesome Science Fiction story
  • What a twist

 

You want to make a strong movie; you need strong cast to act the tale out.  Arrival has all that and a bag of chips with the crew assembled for this movie. Amy Adams leads with a stellar, or interstellar, performance that was one of her strongest performances in a long time. She played scientific and emotional, crafting a character that was very admirable to watch as she worked to decipher the alien language. Jeremy Renner plays the supporting scientist, whose expertise adds another dynamic to the mix to not only provide some clues, but also a potential friendship to Adams life.  The two together feel like a scientific team striving to help the world, and their chemistry mixes well that you would expect of the lead actors. In regards to Forest Whitaker, his military colonel performance is strong, rugged, and a bit suspenseful to help add some antagonism that also fits well with his costars.

But the acting isn’t the only thing you are looking for in a Sci Fi movie right?  You want a good story that blends reality with some advanced science concepts, right?  Good news, Arrival delivers on this aspect crafting a fairly realistic tale that is believable and not loaded down with special effect explosions.  The tale has mystery behind it, which will hook you into the film and carry you for the ride as one tries to figure out the aliens’ purpose. An added suspense is brought in by the time constraints placed by our overzealous military humans who strive to attack if a message cannot be conveyed.  As for you character developing folks, don’t worry there are plenty of sequences to illuminate the mystery behind our group, helping to add some depth to what would otherwise be a stereotypical role And the twist, well our story writers managed to surprise a number of people with a revolution that was both mind blowing and emotionally satisfying.  I was able to pick out a few “big” reveals, but they paled in comparison to the main revelation in store for you.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Alien Design
  • A few unanswered questions
  • Slow at points

 

   It is really hard to find errors for me in this film, so much of this is simply picky things that really won’t ding the scores.  The first is the alien design.  Our mysterious visitors were not that impressive for me, lacking any threatening features. Without revealing anything, they seemed to be a simplified copy of another creature seen in a movie series a few years ago.  Nevertheless, the things they did were really well animated and cool to watch, and despite not looking impressive were certainly intriguing to watch. Again a small weakness

In addition to all the good things I said about the movie, Arrival is a movie that will warp your mind and keep you asking questions.  Yes, it is a movie you have to pay attention to and will keep you thinking as you try to fathom the plot.  With the constant moving pieces and the multiple stories, you might wonder if they cover everything.  And for the most part they do as our writers make sure the film comes together in the end to deliver the messages and punch it has.  Pay attention America and you might just learn something.  Despite everything coming together though, there is one question my mind craved to know (which I can’t reveal) and I have to wonder what the whole point of the visit was when the ending finally came.  Again another small dislike for me.

 In fact, the only dislike that I may have to dock off is the pace of the movie.  Arrival isn’t the fastest moving film, and there are times where the movie seems to unnecessarily drag at times.  The movie sometimes dives a little too deep into the details (e.g. traveling to the ship, traveling the ship’s hallways, or seeing some of the character developing scenes). While these moments certainly bring the setting to life, the repeated scenes and extra details may not have been as necessary as they thoughtWhen the ending wraps up nicely though, these extra details feel welcome.

 

THE VERDICT:

I got to hand it to Arrival for delivering on the promises the trailers built up. The film is a true science fiction masterpiece that is intriguing, thought provoking, and suspenseful in one package. Those who aren’t big fans of alien films ought to give this one a whirl not only to have a good mystery, but also for the emotional backstory of our lead character.  Despite the slow pace of the film, our team brought a fantastic story together, one that I hope will be recognized for the intelligence behind it.  And if you are looking for a good twist, well get ready to have your mind blown.  Small weaknesses aside, this movie is definitely worth a trip to the theater for many people.

 

My scores:

Drama/Mystery/Sci Fi:  9.5

Movie Overall: 9