Action Lover’s Creed

assassins-creed

 

Tis the season for presents, and for many boys and girls a video game often becomes the idolized prize.  So why not make a movie about this popular media franchise then huh?  Robbie K here with another review, this time on Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender.  The track record of movies based on video games isn’t so strong, therefore I was uncertain of the quality of this movie.  Will Assassin’s Creed break the trend or is it just another game over?  As always, please read on to hear my opinions.

 

LIKES:

  • Fast paced story
  • Impressive world creation
  • Action, action, action

 

Much like the video game series, Assassin’s Creed is a tale that moves at a brisk pace.  A tense opening gets the adrenaline pumping, before the film jumps into the thrilling journey of Aguilar and his brotherhood. The tale continues to speed through, keeping the excitement going with each passing minute.  Don’t fret, there are some slower moments to help you catch up and describe and reestablish the purpose of the action and keeps the flatter parts to a minimum.

Fans of video games know that many titles have incredible worlds for your adventurer to explore.  Assassin’s Creed’s world is one such setting, and the movie does a fantastic job recreating the Spanish cities.  Both live props and CGI are crafted together in extraordinary detail, bringing with it a sense of nostalgia and a historical atmosphere.  The culture is brought to life in the obstacle course of Inquisition age, and the special effects add an extra kick to ramp up the excitement.  The modern-day lab setting also has a cool vibe to it, primarily in the chamber where the machine lies.  I give props to the design team for the smooth transitions between worlds and figuring out a way to meld the action together.  And speaking of action…

Assassin’s Creed’s biggest selling point is the action sequences. Like the plot of the movie, these scenes are fast, adrenaline pumping spectacles that combine martial arts, acrobatics, and a few “runaway” horses. While many of these moments are a little repetitive, the stunt choreography is incredibly well done and well representative of the game.  Fassbender’s (and his stunt peoples’) training comes out in full force as you watch them traverse climbing towers and beat up the poor extras.  I myself loved the weapon fights and acrobatic moments, especially near the end, listening to all the sound effects ringing through the theater which amps up the scene and immerses you into the fight.  Action lovers rejoice, for this is the movie for you.

 

DISLIKE

  • Some weak plot elements/Plot gaps
  • Some shaky camera elements
  • Limited supporting characters

 

          The major weakness of this movie for me is the story elements.  For the most part the story does a fine job of balancing character development with a dilemma and goal. The quest to find the elusive Apple of Eden has elements of a treasure hunt, where the clues are located in the psyche rather than an extensive list of hidden object clues. And I kind of enjoyed the flashing back and forth between the present and past, which kept you ground in all aspects of the tales.

          However, even with this presentation the plot has some gaps and weaker elements that take away from the story. For one thing, the whole line work in the shadows focus was a bit of a flop for me instead turning to the action element. Sure, there was a bigger plot working in the background, (which was predictable), but the Assassin’s Creed probably should have been retitled Martial Arts creed.  In addition, the ending scene seemed a little too easy for the infiltration.  For such a threatening group, the Templar have surprisingly lax security and the Assassin’s work at the end was a little anticlimactic despite the set up for a sequel.  The whole family drama revolving around Fassbender’s character didn’t fit well for me, and felt little weird/unnecessary in the grand scheme of the movie. As for the supporting characters, their place resides at the end, but outside of that they did little to support the story and were almost unneeded in the grand scheme   These plot holes illustrate that the balance was off and their emphasis was more on the stunts and action.However, let it be known that its very difficult to handle the limitation of time in the movies. Assassin’s Creed complete tale had at least 12 hours to pan out, and I felt they did a nice job hitting the highlights.  They just needed to bring the presentation a little closer to work.  

In regards to the action, as I stated it’s exciting, it’s well choreographed, and it’s a brilliant display of stunts/technology. However, there are times when the camera work is a bit shaky, making for some dizzy spectacles or unnecessary shots.  The fact they shot this in 3-D seemed unnecessary as well, for it added little to the world other than blades or arrows poking out of the screen.  And while I enjoyed seeing Fassbender’s fights transition between modern and past worlds, they went a little overboard at times to the point it became boring. For the most part though, the action scenes are top notch.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Assassin’s Creed is definitely one of the popcorn flicks of the holiday season. The well-developed world, the fast story, and the constant moving action are certainly the highest selling points of this film.  The movie would have been so much more though, if they had been able to pull the story together and give more of a purpose to the whole aspect. In addition, the character development and integration of the supporting characters would have also been nice to see. So, is this movie theater worthy?  In regards to the stunts and world yes it will add pizazz with the theater technology, but in terms of the movie overall, hold out until the movie hits Redbox.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

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All Aboard For Interstellar Love and Visuals

passengers

 

Space! The final frontier…and the setting for so many movies in this day and age.  Welcome to another Robbie K movie review.  Tonight’s focus is on Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as they voyage the stars in a pretty cool (albeit odd) looking ship.  Based on the trailers this science fiction adventure looks to have romance, drama and mystery, but is this the case?  Can these two mega stars bring a love story to life?  As always read on to hear my take on Passengers!

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Acting
  • The love story component
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Beautiful score

 

No surprise here, the acting is one of the leading components in this movie.  Jennifer Lawrence’s edgy mood is very welcome in this setting, painting a character that is vulnerable yet strong when faced with the dilemmas. Her emotions are so well-balanced in this film, painting a realistic character that many will anchor too.  Yes, her cracking voice is getting a little stale, and she is playing similar characters, but it works so well.  As for Pratt, again the man impresses me with dynamic characters. Pratt substitutes his normally silly persona for a more serious nature, and it works well.  He sells his idolization of companionship, radiates misery from the isolation and betrayal, and still manages to come off heroic at parts.  And the chemistry between these two is a reaction gone well.  Pratt and Lawrence sell their passion for one another, almost as if they are actually in love with each other. Not easy considering Hollywood relationships these days.

Speaking of the love story, Passengers’ strongest story component has to be the relationship of the characters.  It’s a very dramatic tale packed with emotion that fluctuates between blissful happiness and heartbreaking revelations.  As stated, the actors’ chemistry helps sell the story, but the writers did a nice job designing this tale to be not only passionate, but believable.  Yes, my friends, Passengers isn’t a Nicholas Sparks fairy tale, but actually highlights the work involved with a relationship, nice work guys.  And for those who want passionate love making scenes, it’s got a few to spice up the film, but not so much to fall into the overdone (or pornographic realms).  Well done guys, well done!

Yet my favorite component has to be the beautiful visuals and music score that was designed for this film.  Hollywood certainly knows how to create eccentric looking ships on the outside, but seldom do they create a large world within.  The attention to detail is astonishing, each section meticulously designed to fit with the theme of the station. Even the engineering components have a logical explanation in regards to their purpose in the ship.  And these settings are further amplified by the orchestral score that accompanies it.  While many symphony tracks sound the same, Passengers adds a little something to help it stand out, especially during the spacewalk scenes where the music established both the beauty and spirit of adventure.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow at the beginning
  • No mystery
  • The science fiction dilemma is semi rushed
  • Fourth character almost unnecessary

 

We know some movies take time to build steam, but Passengers certainly struggles to get its ion drives going.  The opening sequences are devoid of any edge, serving to introduce the ship and the dilemma involving one of our characters.  However, this montage probably could have been cut down a bit to get to the exciting parts of the story (and cut down on the run time).  In addition, the boring opening could be due to the lack of the mystery.  Despite the teaser line put in the trailer, you’ll get 95% of the answers in the first twenty minutes of the film.  I had so looked forward to uncovering a conspiracy regarding their abrupt waking, but sadly the explanations are lackluster. The only mystery that remains is the technical explanations for what happens, which most viewers will not give a darn about.

In regards to the science fiction component, Passengers is both good and bad in this category.  The good is the ship, the technical jargon, and the looming threat of insanity in the void of space.  However, the bad far overshadows the good for me.  Passengers dilemma starts out pretty low key and remains low key for much of the film. Then at the drop of a hat things escalate to danger levels in mere minutes, a solution comes even faster, and the resolve is predictable and quite corny at parts.  Even the introduction of a fourth character played by Lawrence Fishburne can’t save the rushed plot development.  Fishburne’s role is touching at points, but the writers diluted his role to merely providing quick answers and a trinket to get the job done.  Such a shame that the mystery and dilemma could not have shined like the love story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Passengers surprised me by how much I enjoyed watching the movie.  While a bit slow at the beginning, I enjoyed the love story and sense of adventure our characters shared as they hurtled through space.  In addition, the beautiful visuals and strong attention to detail further impressed me, designing a set worthy of special effects awards at the Oscars.  Outside the love story though, I was disappointed with the lack of mystery and rushed dilemma they placed in this movie.  For once, I think the movie needed to be longer, to help make a more suspenseful film and get a little more kick to the relationship.  This film is worth a scope for romantic audiences and those who like beautiful visuals.  However, in regards to story over all, save this one home viewing. 

 

My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Makes you Want To Laugh And Sing

sing

Tis the season for movies, and this week there are plenty of films for all to see.  My first review this week is the latest animation film geared toward the younger audience group.  Assuming you’ve seen the title of my review, you know I’m talking about Sing, Illumination Studios’ latest production.  As an answer to Disney’s Zootopia, Sing is trying to take the anthropomorphic animal story and a little twist to bait you in.  But was that twist enough, or is it another generic animation. Please read on to hear my opinions on the latest blockbuster.

LIKES:

  • Very Fun
  • Decent song and dance numbers
  • Character development
  • Touching moments

The thing you always hope for in a kid’s movie is a fun adventure for the audience (both adults and kids). Sing does its job of providing laughs and energy, having a variety of jokes that will tickle your funny bone from time to time.  Little kids will find the slapstick antics of characters farting, tripping on stage, or crashing into some sort of scenery. Adults on the other hand will embrace the funny voices, well timed delivery, and popular culture references. Whatever your style of humor, Sing will surely entertain most audience members.

For a movie titled Sing, you hope for a little singing and dancing, right?  Good news, there is some of that in this movie. Sing’s song and dance numbers keep with the cute theme of the movie, filled with explosive colors and energy.  The singing is…okay in the film, but the music director picked a wide variety of tracks (from a multitude of genres) in hopes of roping all ages into the film.  Their twists on some of the classics is certainly enjoyable, though doesn’t quite come together like the originals.  Dance numbers are again cute, but are primarily comedic relief than a true wow factor you might have expected.

My main like of Sing though, is the emotional moments the directors packed into the film.  The cast of aspiring singers each have their own problems (shocking right) and our heroes must face them semi-head on throughout the 90-minute run time.  While the outcomes are certainly predictable, the dialogue, music, and animation are more than enough to maximize the emotions of the moment. I found my heart strings being tugged at a few of the story arcs, but enjoyed the attempt at teaching the audience some important lessons.  Nevertheless, there is some simplistic character development to help around out the adventure.

DISLIKES:

  • Different theme than presented
  • Many numbers were shortsighted
  • Dropped potential characters
  • Story, while touching, was kind of bland

 

When I saw the trailers for Sing, I was expecting American Idol meets Zootopia.  To an extent, we do get that, but it’s only in the auditions part of the movie.  You’ve seen most of the audition numbers in the trailer, and the studio didn’t expand much past this.  As a result, the music numbers I would hope blow me away were reduced to simplistic quips that while comical and cute, weren’t that impressive. Surprisingly they are missing some genres like country, rap, and others that some audience members might have been hoping for.  I guess the soundtrack will have to make up for the short bytes.  In addition, the contest aspect really wasn’t pursued, as the story takes a different approach to make it a completely different movie than you were expecting.

This approach, as well as the short numbers, also reduced the screen time of some of the other animals you might have been hoping for.  So, all those animals you see auditioning, don’t get too attached, because chances are they aren’t going to stick around long enough for the adventure. In addition, some of the supporting characters have limited roles, their story lines hastily wrapped up and lost in the musical numbers.  And the result of all this is again an entertaining story, but one that is kind of bland and lacking suspense.  The incomplete use of characters and the lack of the contest aspect took away the suspense of rooting for your favorite animal, diluting this film’s potential to really drive the emotions home.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            If you haven’t guessed from my review, this film is fun, fun, fun.  It has energetic song and dance numbers, some cute wholesome comedy, and yes some predictable emotional moments that we all like to see this time of year.  However, the decisions to not pursue the contest, limit the engagement of the other characters, and the lack of hard-hitting numbers took away from the movie for me.  Therefore, this reviewer recommends, and predicts, this film will be best enjoyed by families with little ones (who will most likely flood the theaters to see it).  However, this reviewer recommends holding out to see this one at home instead of in the movie theater. 

 

Scores:

Animation/Comedy/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

B-E-A-UTIFUL Acting!

collateral-beauty

 

We all know Charles Dickens’ classic tale the Christmas Carol and all the lessons it teaches this time of season.  It’s a story that has been told through many mediums that continue to entertain the masses.  This weekend, we get a similar tale to grace the theater entitled Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith and a slew of other characters. The question is though, does this twist work?  Hi Robbie K here, privileged to share some thoughts on another movie.  Shall we get started?

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Acting
  • Equal Screen Time
  • Good use of Music
  • Fantastic morals

 

With a star, studded cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Hellen Mirren, and Edward Norton you expected good acting.  Well good news, the acting met the expectations placed on the cast.  Smith of course takes the lead, delivering another grand performance of someone suffering in life (7 pounds and pursuit of happiness). He sells the anger and hurt, while maintaining his emotional balance to prevent falling into overacting territory. Edward Norton, again delivers a sound performance and probably has the most diverse energy of the cast.  Newcomer Jacob Lattimore surprised me with his performance, which although a little skewed, had the teenage angst and aggression representative of time.  But the champion actor is Helen Mirren, who continues to prove that age brings experience.  Mirren was the funniest of the group, but managed to sell the morals of the movie the most without going too far.  She engages so well with the entire cast, and does a good job as the keystone of the movie…you know past Will Smith.  The entire group again does a fantastic job altogether, and even better are all balanced through the movie, each member getting close to equal time (which is sometimes unheard of).

While the acting certainly helps make the story come to life, the editing of the movie helped amplify the emotions of the film. The cinematography is beautifully executed, combining the enchanting scenery with the raw pain of our suffering characters.  You’ll get plenty of close ups on tear stricken faces and troubled stares as our characters face the ordeals at hand.  But it’s the background symphony music, that helps add that edge to get the tears flowing. Beautiful piano work helps sell the scene, subtle at times before unleashing its full power as the lessons are learned.  The culmination of audio and visual are fantastic tools to seal the deal for the morals this film has to offer.  And speaking of morals, the writers did a nice job twisting the tale to focus on dealing with life’s problems.  Aside from Will Smith’s trial of accepting his daughter’s death, the other characters each have their own trials to face that involve self-assessment, acceptance, and a willingness to try and make things better.  Preachy as it can be, these important lessons are taught with the fantastic lines and strong acting premise.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as deep as I thought
  • Felt Incomplete
  • Lackluster
  • More spirit interventions would have been nice

 

Despite all the good I reported, Collateral Beauty still has some rough edges that need some smoothing out.  For one thing, I felt there could have been more emotional punch to this film.  I felt the lessons in my heart, but I wasn’t borderline crying in this film.  It felt like they held back on the emotional punch. Whether this is due to some production quirks, some shallower plots, or the fact that the trailer delivered much of the film could have diluted it.  The movie also felt incomplete at parts, as if other scenes were needed or perhaps scenes deleted to take out the incomplete feeling.

In addition, the movie is a bit lackluster from the various tellings of the Christmas Carol.  This film doesn’t have the terror or suspense that Dickens’ three spirits contain, although they are much more entertaining.  This movie, despite teaching values, was just not as unique as I think it wanted to be. There were no grandiose twists, no outstanding spirit designs, and no key features to help make this movie stand out from similar morale tales.  I think I also wanted more spiritual interventions as well, another round to drive the point home to Howard.

 

The VERDICT

 

Collateral Beauty is certainly an example of great acting, as our stars have incredible chemistry, integrate through most of the movie, and have the emotional balance we would want in such a cast.  In addition, the morals are taught well thanks to the strong dialogue and wonderful audio/visual techniques to amplify the emotions.  However, there was something missing that just didn’t make this movie as emotionally deep as I expected.  Still, this is a movie that will move many and a good, fun movie for the holiday season.  Is it needed to be seen in the big screen?  When looking at the technical qualities and the unique aspect of the film…no this movie is worth a Redbox rent. However, in regards to the moral lessons and heartfelt story, this one is worth a visit. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Dare to Go Rogue?

rogue-one

            Robbie K here, back with another movie review on the latest and perhaps greatest movies to grace the silver screen.  Today, I review the newest installment in the Star Wars Legacy, entitled Rogue One. As you know, this movie isn’t one of the traditional episodes and is a new attempt at stand-alone films made by Disney to fill in the gaps and fill their pockets.  Does Rogue One fit into the galaxy far, far away, or should it be cast into a black hole never to be spoken of again.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • The Editing
  • The special Effects
  • Comedic Relief
  • Acting
  • Darker/Emotional Story
  • The Action

 

I could go on with the list of likes, but I have a word limit.  Rogue One was a film that delivered on so many levels and it starts with the editing and special effects.  Although a bit choppy at the beginning with the introduction to new characters, Rogue One’s team eventually tightened up their editing.  Most scenes were integral to the components of the film and helped provide pertinent details to paint a complete picture.  Unlike some of the other films, the special effects were very appropriate for the movie, polished and crafted to make the worlds come to life and amp up the action, (and yes 3-D worked for this film).  Yet what this reviewer liked was the smooth integration of some nostalgic movie clips, and the beautiful (although fake looking at times) CGI recreation of some characters.  Disney met the challenge of bridging the 40-year gap with flying colors, melting new and old into a visually stunning film.

 

Special effects aside, the plot elements have returned to the art of storytelling that fans have craved for years.  Rogue One is a much darker story, bringing elements of the Empire Strikes back and Revenge of the Sith and crafting it into a new form.  The result is a suspenseful story filled with dangerous thrills and dynamic challenges that push our heroes to new limits.  What was once black and white heroics vs evil, instead becomes a grey area that paints just how ugly war is and the choices some make to ensure their goal is accomplished. Fortunately, there is some lighter comedic moments to help break the tension, most of which are appropriate to keep the film fun despite the darker elements.  In addition, Jen and her team get some good character development as well, and helps you get locked into the emotional roller coaster they create.  The characters are indeed an odd assortment that make for an awkward like family…set to destroy imperials.  Their actors did a great job bringing the oddball cast to life, not only in the rebel look, but also in the spirit of defiance necessary for a mercenary.

 

By far though, my favorite like was the action Rogue One had.  This film took what we wanted in Episode 7 and amplified it by 100.  In the beginning, there are some choppy, but well-choreographed guerilla fights that help test the waters and slowly introduce you into the theme of the movie.  The last hour of the film though kicks it into high gear and brings you a set of sequences that will make any nerd scream in delight.  Like a video game brought to life, the battle of this film has all the magic of the first trilogy, with the special effects of the prequels.  You will feel like you are placed in the heat of battle and perhaps find yourself gripping the seat arms at the intensity unfolding on the screen.  It’s adrenaline pumping, nonstop thrills that also have some emotional depth to it and in the end, you will not want to leave your seat because you want to watch it again.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Choppy at the beginning
  • Forrest Whittaker’s part
  • Humor got a little cheesy at times
  • A little closer combat moments
  • Some deeper character development

 

Despite all the good this movie has, there are a few (albeit nitpicky) dislikes I had for this movie.  First the editing and story were a bit choppy at the beginning, as they tried to set the stage rapidly on a variety of worlds.  This made the opening a bit slow and uninteresting, but have faith it gets better.  Unfortunately, the main dropped potential is Forrest Whittaker’s role.  After the big publicity stunt Disney pulled in his revelation, Whittaker’s character doesn’t do much aside from a well written monologue.  Fans of the Clone Wars series may feel gipped that the commander is more bark than bite, especially with all the hype placed on him in the beginning.

 

Outside of this though, the other dislikes are very minor for me.  There are a few comedic stretches where a pun or line just didn’t fit in, which kind of derailed the moment’s intensity. In regards to the action, while I always want more because of my action junky attitude, it would have been nice to see some more staff and club wielding from our heroes.  Had Disney not focused their trailers on this it wouldn’t have been an issue, but outside of a few stints, you can expect more blasters than anything.

 

Finally, the last dislike comes from wanting a little more character development to the team.  In this film where there are lots of components to balance, they did a remarkable job on Jen’s story.  However, the rest of her team gets stiffed in regards to their origins/development role, which was a bit disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand their places in the film, the time constraints, and that Jen is the leader, but certainly they could have shed a little more of the spotlight on them.  Perhaps Disney is planning to this via books or their television series so there may be a New Hope in the future.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despite all the uncertainty, marketing errors, and doubt, Rogue One is one of the best installments to the series in years.  It has the plot components of the original story with the graphics of the new era, and truly feels like the war we’ve always wanted to see.  Yes, it is darker and more violent than any of the others, but it still falls into the same level of Star Wars goodness we’ve hoped for years to come.  For me it certainly blew Episode 7 out of the water, and I look forward to what the other stand-alone films have to offer.  No surprise (and as if I could stop you) Rogue one needs to be seen in theaters (perhaps in 3-D and twice).  So, enjoy my friends and may the force be with you this holiday season.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

 

Raunchy Party In The Office Tonight

christmas-party

 

Christmas office parties, a time-honored tradition that often brings us together to play some silly games, eat some preserved cheeses, and potentially get in a few holiday shenanigans.  So why not use this as a medium to make a holiday comedy to entertain the masses.  My review tonight is on the simplistically titled Office Christmas Party starring Jason Bateman, TJ Miller, Olivia Munn and Jennifer Aniston.  Will this comedy bring a twinkle to your Christmas season, or will it ruin your holiday like a bad cold? Robbie K here to share his opinions on the latest films to hit the big screen.

 

LIKES

  • Very funny
  • Clever at times
  • Kicking Soundtrack
  • Character Development

 

When you have a comedy, chances are you hope to laugh.  Good news, Office Christmas Party will deliver the laughs promised in the trailer. This film has a little something for everyone including crude genitalia jokes, one liners, slapstick comedy, and bathroom humor.  Our Hollywood writers continue to put out incredibly stupid lines that we eat up, but managed to time it very well to keep the laughs going.  Fans of TJ Miller and Kate McKinnon will get their fill of awkward rants, screaming dialogue, and ridiculous faces associated with the dialogue. Those who want a little more cleverness behind their comedy will also get their wish, for the office is packing a few puns and pokes geared towards the holiday season. These moments, as well as a few fart jokes, were my favorite, primarily seeing Jennifer Aniston whip out some angry moves on some extreme extras.

Yet what’s a comedy without a little music to amp the stupidity up?  Office Christmas Party has you covered here too, with a list of tracks to keep your feet moving in the aisles.  Hilarious raps mirror the theme of the scenes, while upbeat techno songs pave the way for high speed chases and epic party montages. It fit well with the overall theme of the movie, and having a character DJ bump most of them was another example of creativity.

And surprisingly the comedy has some character development that extended past a character getting laid or getting an ideal job.  This particular film did a decent job expanding on the cast, giving them some backstory that explained the challenges they were facing.  TJ Miller and Aniston’s family dynamics have some emotional moments to them, while Bateman and Munn have a conflicting lifestyle approaches that involve compromise.  Yes, it’s simplistic, but it’s a lot better than some of the other comedies out there who rely on shallow laughs.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Sometimes crosses over the line
  • Plot hitches/Concepts dropped
  • Jillian Bell’s Character

 

No surprise, R rated movies keep pushing the line more and more in order for more disturbing “unique” ideas to arrive.  Office Christmas Party crosses the inappropriate line at a few points often involving sexual humor, a few religious jabs, and carefree use of a gun.  These ideas, while funny to some, were a little too much for me and a little insensitive to some of the issues that are hot topics.  Fortunately, these are few and far between, but they may leave a mental imprint that can be hard to shake, and could have been left to an optional director’s cut.

Speaking of director’s cut, the editors of this film seem to be relying on an extended cut to help fill in some gaps.  There were times I felt they built up a particular concept or plot element, trying to amplify the trouble they could get into.  However, these elements were suddenly dropped, never to be followed up on.  Some of the bloopers also hint at these moments, supporting a potential added content to the movie.  While this isn’t the biggest dislike, I felt the editing could have been slightly reworked to add implement these points or at least smooth out the rough edges. 

Finally, Jillian Bell’s character was not my favorite.  It is more a personal issue, but her characters usually annoy me more than anything.  Her acting continues to be over the top and feels as if she is trying too hard to be funny.  Why she can’t have a more balanced role, or at least better writing, continues to baffle me, but again her screen time is fairly limited.  Perhaps it is also the fact that her character was pretty pointless, and really didn’t integrate into most of the party scenes.  Another example of not shooting first and thinking later.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Office Christmas Party fulfills its intended goals, as a mindless laugh fest meant to brighten your holidays.  It’s a very fun movie and has a little more character building dynamics that expand the movie past ridiculous levels of stupid. With all the comedic styles, most audience members should enjoy this film, but you’ve been warned that there are a few over-the-top moments that might be more offensive/uncomfortable for the more sensitive viewer.  Worth a trip to the theater?  In terms of having fun at the movies I think it warrants a visit, but otherwise hold out for it to hit Redbox.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  7

 

Movie Overall: 5.5

Insidious Meets Inception: Original But Not Spectacular

incarnate

            Ahh Christmas, a time of giving, good will, peace, and evil spirits. Wait… what?  Yes, it seems that the first weekend of December is a time to release films involving demons, ghouls, and whatever apparition you can think to open the holiday season.  This weekend, the name of the film is Incarnate, starring Aaron Eckhart, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and David Mazouz (among others).  Haven’t heard of it?  Don’t worry most haven’t, but nevertheless I’m here to inform you on the latest films to hit the silver screen. Here we go!

 

LIKES:

  • Plot based horror
  • Eckhart’s acting
  • Decent Thriller

 

The horror movie genre is not known for having the greatest plots, and often has a frail story to give purpose to the scares.  Fortunately, Incarnate has a more original tale to help it stand and one that isn’t too shabby.  I can best describe it as Inception meets a horror movie, where Dr. Ember (Eckhart) is able to dive into people’s subconscious to exercise demons.  While certainly cheesy, this twist adds a bit of mystery and thrills to add some excitement to what has been a tried and true formula.  This tale has some decent character development and establishes some rivalries that help keep you engaged into the movie as Ember tries to put his demons to rest.

Of course, much of the movie relies on Eckhart’s acting skills. Most know that Eckhart has a limited emotional range he can reach, and he still hits the same gruff, solitary moping that he always portrays. It works in this film, as Ember’s back story promotes his depression and single minded goal of eradicating the darkness at hand.  He sells the suffering and rage built up in him all while making you empathize the trials he has to face.  In addition, his confidence and ability to break the rules makes his character the antihero you love to follow.  Not bad for a main character to which the movie relies on.  The other characters work very well in their roles, there just wasn’t much to go on.

Finally, the movie treads more down the thriller (and somewhat action path) then the horror path.  Incarnate’s tale focuses on the character drama and story than the actual scares, though it does have a few good jumps at times.  The horror element comes in the theme of the evil spirits and possession, but outside of that really focuses on trying to entertain you with thrills and engaging characters.  So, if you’re looking to be scared out of your pants… sorry to disappoint.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not scary
  • Very rushed pace at times
  • Shallow Character development
  • Other characters shafted
  • Demon design

 

Again, the movie is lacking in scares and the jump scare moments are very predictable/unoriginal in this tale.  Most of the time it’s the sudden blaring of music that will have you jump, eventually being dropped to the background.  In regards to the creepiness, this film can’t help you there either with only the deep seeded voice and a few soulless eyes being the tools to unnerve you. Like I said, the movie focuses on thrills and plot than scares.

And despite that focus, Incarnate’s directors and writers had a good start, but they didn’t take it to its full potentialFor one thing, the pace becomes very rushed at times, a few sequences being so dramatically built up only to quickly end in a bang, crunch, or loud scream. The rushed pace robs the film of the suspense it desires, but also limits the amount of character development. Yes, we get insight into Ember’s backstory, but other parts of his past are left unexplained.  As for the other characters, there tales are either nonexistent, or so simplistic/formulaic that the characters didn’t need to exist in the film. His fellow workers, the mother, and even the demons would have benefitted from some more thinking time, before putting this film out to press. Perhaps the potential sequel will enlighten us more on their lives should it come to pass.  In addition, some of the plot explanations behind the science were laughable.

Speaking of the demons, don’t expect any top notch, award winning monsters that will make you pee your pants or stay up late.  Much of the creatures are reduced to blood shot eyes, or human avatars with dark black eyes that are a little freaky.  I had hoped that there would be a little more sustenance behind these creatures, especially with their importance to the story.  The big, bad leader of the bunch gets a lot of hype, and good news is you get to see it at the end… or parts of it.  Rather than reveal the entire demonic spectacle, they decided to show very little of the demon’s true form.  Why such small portions with such hype?  I don’t know, but it was annoying and kind of stupid in my opinion.

 

The Verdict:

 

Overall, Incarnate was a nice surprise in how much story there was in the holiday horror.  Perhaps it was my low expectations going in, but the film had some good thrills to get this last month going.  However, it needed more time, development, editing, and creepiness to truly obtain the masterpiece they were shooting for.  Perhaps the impending sequel will make up for the limitations, especially if the cliffhanger at the end is any indication.  Regardless, Incarnate is a film left for the RedBox, and your money is better reserved for the films coming out later this month. 

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0