Life, or Did They Mean Death?

Life

 

What is life?  That is a question that so many researchers have tried to answer over the centuries.  And what better way to try and answer that question than with a Hollywood movie production starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal.  My last review this weekend is on the movie called Life, a science fiction/horror film hoping to provide the scares of the March season. But will contact with this film give you the chills, or send you running to the ills…with disappointment. Robbie K here with another review. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • True Science Fiction
  • Evolution of the creature
  • Creepy and horrifying
  • Good characters

 

Summary:  We know most science fiction movies fall short of the genre, focusing more on the fantasy element and special effects (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.)  Life though hits the genre right on the mark, dropping us amidst an international space station where research about Mars is underway.  As the chaos unfolds, the crew has to use their training, knowledge, and science (and not gigantic guns) to try to outwit the beast before it gets them.

And speaking of the creature, “Calvin” as it is called has an interesting design at the start looking like a fungus.  Yet the spores quickly evolve into a deflated looking star fish, and from there began to evolved into a truly destructive creature.  Calvin’s metamorphosis is perhaps the creepiest aspect of this film, as his search for the crucial ingredients (food, water, and oxygen) drives it to savagery (it will make you look at star fish in a whole new way).

Outside of that though, some other factors that brought the thrills and chills start with the realistic setting.  There rendition of the international space station looks pretty close to our own world’s, minimizing the fantasy component to keep one ground in the horror the team tries to present, establishing a feeling that this could happen.  To go alongside this, the other factor is how alone one feels on the station. Much like the first Alien movie (to which this pays homage to), you feel the isolation of the station as if you are the prey Calvin seeks.  This added edge truly brings the horror aspect full circle

Finally, the characters also help amplify the horror component of this film.  It is nice to see the human cast not be a bunch of idiotic, shallow teens for once, but instead educated scientists fighting for survival (while also not being the single-minded buffoons that often take these roles). The cast was dynamic, each specialized but capable of covering their team members should something happen.  Such development led to characters you actually rooted for, instead of against them as we often see in horror films.  And the actors all played their roles fantastically, from Ryan Reynolds sarcasm, to Jake Gyllenhaal’s scary accuracy in someone with social anxiety.

DISLIKES:

  • Unneeded dramatic opening
  • More evolution of the creature
  • Predictable ending (though nice twist)
  • Savagery of kills

 

Summary:  A minor dislike I know, but Life’s dramatic capturing of the capsule in the first twelve minutes was really unnecessary.  All I gleamed from this opening was technical displays and a little excitement to get the mood going.  There are probably a few other scenes that could have been left out as well, but these were minor compared to the big stink they made with this opening sequence.

Unnecessary scenes aside, the other thing I would have liked was more development into the creatureDon’t get me wrong, the final form was creepy, but after all the changes happening in the beginning (which were a stretch mind you), the team suddenly brought it to a halt.  Yes, they tried to explain it via “science”, but this abrupt halt just broke pace/balance the movie was establishing, which felt a little off for me, right down to the end.

Speaking of ending, Life’s trailers hint at what the conclusion is, and based on my observations I had a good idea where it would go.  I wanted things to be different, but sadly the ending can be predicted within 30 minutes of the show time (assuming again you haven’t watched the trailers).  Albeit there was a nice twist to try and throw you off, Life’s directors didn’t go the full distance to prove my observations wrong.

Yet the biggest beef I have with this movie is the dark, disturbing, savageness the directors instilled. If you’re a fan of watching gore filled deaths, suffering, and depressing looks this movie will send “out of orbit”.  For me though, these moments only take away from a movie if done too much or in the wrong manner.  My biggest strike comes from the graphic death of a lab mouse (which broke my heart as most animal cruelty does).  That’s only the start of Life’s grotesque hunt as Calvin finds disturbing ways to attack the band of researchers in immense detail. Why the directors felt the need to focus on such disturbances…I don’t know, but in this case less would have been more, as the first Alien flick did long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Life is one of the better science fiction, horror films I’ve seen in years.  It drops the grandiose serial killers and idiotic victims, and upgrades to an adapting monster hunting intelligent people. This realism crafts a more suspenseful tale that kept me engaged, while crafting that horrifying atmosphere I love.  While most of my dislikes are small, the mutilation involved, alongside some scientific imbalances, really didn’t impress me in this movie and the predictable ending didn’t necessary wow me as well.  Is this worth a trip to theater?  If you are looking for a good horror film, then by all means hit the theater for it.  As for weak constitutions, skip this one and save some time.

 

My scores:

Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

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“Go-Go” Power Rangers! You Special Effect, Dramatic, Power Rangers

Power Rangers

 

In the 90’s Saban unleashed onto our homes five teenage heroes dress in multicolored, state of the art underwear.  What followed was legacy of aspiring actors fighting men in ashen grey costumes, before turning their attention to unique costumed antagonists that tried to stop their quest. And to this day Power Rangers continues to be a hit amidst the adolescent world as Nickelodeon continues to inspire them to fight as the rainbow warriors.  So of course, we needed a movie to really seal the deal, based on the original series that started it all.  Robbie K here to cover another movie.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Nostalgia
  • Comedic
  • Decent Character Depth
  • Special Effects
  • Action

 

Summary: If you were a fan of the series like I was, then you will certainly be looking for that nostalgic adventure you had as a kid.  Well the movie is able to bring some of that back as traditional characters (in new, hot, youthful skins) return to fight the forces of evil. But past the new cast, you’ll be go go going crazy for all the throwbacks including: Zords, monsters, Rita’s dramatic speeches, cameos, and of course the suits.  It’s fun to relive those childhood moments, making one laugh at all the memories that come rushing back in this new adventure.

But if nostalgia won’t make you smile, then certainly the comedy of the movie will be an entertaining factor.  Power Rangers surprisingly is funny (and not in the cheesy way the classic series was).  Each of the teens has their moments where they put their foot in their mouth or get a taste of humility as they eat pavement.  But it is Billy who steals the show, as the autistic youth delivers well-timed comedy that grounds all the drama brought by this new generation of rangersYes, you heard me drama, this origin movie has far more drama than the series had back then and with it some surprising character depth.  Where the 90’s was cutesy love and bullying, this movie goes deeper down the teenage angst path.  It works at times and helps expand on what once was limited roles.

As for the action, Power Rangers is also decent in this category as wellThis film has some fast-paced karate chopping action, that quickly melds into robot on monster smashing.  The special effects are semi impressive, not so much in terms of realism, but capturing the spunk of Power Rangers.  The Zords in particular are much smoother, and the modern twist on their design matches the edgier theme of the movie.  And of course, there are lots of thrilling explosions and sound effects to bring it all to the front.  While not as cheesy as Saban’s classic fights, the battles in this film still have that energy we all fell in love with.

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Drama/Issues
  • Darker Theme Feels Out of Place
  • Rita Repulsa direction/Goldar
  • Missing some weapons
  • More Action

 

Summary:  Despite the deeper lore of the series, the teenage issues were also a little eye rolling as well.  I know not to expect a masterpiece, but this Power Ranger plot felt like an after school special meeting a special effects show.  I’m sure this will speak to many of the modern generation, but these issues just felt out of place compared to those in the 90s.  Plus, the rebellious, delinquent protagonists aren’t necessarily the ideal role models for the younger generations. Perhaps it was also the darker atmosphere that also detracted it from me.  Despite added suspense and danger, the darker moments made the movie less fun for me at times. And to be honest, some of the darker moments were a bit disturbing at times, so please exercise caution if your kids are easily scared.

Speaking of scary, the new direction they took with Rita Repulsa was not the most comforting thing to see.  This portrayal was much more nightmarish, replacing Rita’s grandiosity with pure insanity and lust as she feasted on “gold” from every source.  While the edginess wins points for danger, the creepy (somewhat adulterated) portrayal of Rita did not impress me, nor did the overacting (again dramatic) walks/speeches she made through the movie. In addition, I wasn’t a fan of the new Goldar, wondering why they replaced the cheesy (yet creative) chimera design for a CGi…golden…Velveeta monster?  Yes, the monsters certainly lacked that design we all loved, for again darker, edgier forms.

In regards to the action, well as always, I wanted more.  Power Rangers runs just a little over two hours, but only about twenty minutes of that is actually action.  It would have been nice to have a little more investment in the combat scenes to really deliver the promised punch the first 90 minutes promised.  For one thing, it would have been nice for all the weapons, not just a random appearing sword, to make an appearance as they fought for the sake of the world.  That minor detail aside, the kung Fu scenes could have been longer, and the Zords could have had a little more coordination than just one or two taking a punch.  In addition, the edgier Rita needed some more time to show off her skills (other than speeches and walking through CGI streets).

 

 

The Verdict:

 

Power Rangers is certainly a fun stroll down memory lane, filled with plenty of nostalgic references to make you feel sort of like a kid again.  With a new edge comes character development and special effects that for the most part work.  Yet, there are still some balance issues that need work, including stepping back from the darkness and increase the emphasis on action (and story).  Still not a bad origins story.  Worth a trip to the theater?  For the special effects and adventure, definitely, but there are other movies better worth the price of admission. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

A Chip off the Mundane Block

Chips

 

Robbie K here, starting the evening reviews with yet another comedy to grace the silver screen.  Tonight’s film is a rehash of the golden era of television (the 70s) cop comedy Chips.  What does forty years of sitting in the dust mixed with the modern era of comedy bring to the table?  Well my friends that is where I come from, and as always, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the latest “masterpiece” to grace the silver screen.  So, let’s roll out shall we?

 

LIKES

  • Decent Story
  • Good Acting Chemistry
  • Some bike stunts

 

Summary:  Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this comedy.  Yet to my surprise, Chips actually stepped up to the plate in terms of plot.  It feels like an extended episode from the show, that was part action, part crime mystery, and a majority comedy.  It was simplistic yes, but it works to bring the entertainment value and energy that the sitcom brought long ago.  While the story was decent, the real shining value is the chemistry between the “dynamic duo” that really makes this movie.  Dax Shepard for once didn’t annoy me, as his character was balanced, surprisingly deep, and quite useful in the story, compared to some of his other roles.  Although still awkward and idiotic, his antics were toned down and complemented by his partner in crime played by Michael Pena.  Pena still shows his dynamic acting style, portraying both rough edged street smarts with sexual promiscuity.  The stubborn mule Pena plays is blind-sided by his weaknesses, and only Dax’s character can deter him from the trap that is his mind.  It was very entertaining (and impressive) to see the energy both brought to the mix, alongside decent character development, kept the movie going.  In addition, there were some decent stunts (primarily bike riding) that added zest to the comedy and maybe a little suspense.

 

DISLIKES

  • Lazy writing
  • Rushed Development
  • Not as Funny as hoped
  • Perverted at times

 

Summary:  Like many comedies, Chips suffers from some lazy writing at times.  I give Shephard props for capturing some antics of the classic show, but his modern style does not give props in terms of unique writing.  Let’s face it, most modern comedies are all about the cursing, and while it was slightly diluted, there was unnecessary use of the cursing that wasn’t funny to me.  In addition, there were plenty of moments that could have been comedic gold, but the direction took a different path that was rushed and lazy, leaving little wit, surprise, or delivery to maximize laughs.  And the perverted aspect, much like the cursing, got pretty old/disgusting quickly.  No offense to anyone’s bodies, but there were a couple of scenes where I couldn’t burn the image/concept out of my head, leaving me sicker to the stomach than laughing.  As for the Kristen Bell moments, they played a key character development, but her limited screen time was shallow stupidity than entertaining, but hey she did look good doing it. Outside of the comedy, the character development also could have been a little deeper and the suspense a little more if they wanted to expand upon the genre.  Yet, when the single objective is comedy, the story often will take a hit.

 

The Verdict

 

Chips has the nostalgic feel to it in terms of its plot overall, and a few cameos, but that is where it drops off.  I again applaud Shepard and Pena’s chemistry and how they expanded upon characters who were better known for their tight uniforms.  Unfortunately, the modern telling is much like the theme of the genre, simplistic stupid moments with a curse laden dialogue and perverted moments.  If this is your style, then this movie is the one for you this weekend.  For the rest of my readers though, this movie is worth waiting for Netflix before feasting your eyes on this piece.  While better than I thought, it would be, it still is no masterpiece.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

Beast

It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago.  Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts.  Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece.  So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground.  With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.

 

LIKES:

  • Follows the Classic Plot Well
  • The Setting is beautiful
  • Costume
  • Animation (for the most part)
  • Casting is well-done
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere

 

Summary:  You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling.  Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist.  To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate.  And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals.  Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition.  Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic.  Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around.  All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.

 

In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled.  Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the sameEmma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist.  Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me.  I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case.  Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight.  The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Music
  • Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
  • Times Forced Acting
  • Coincidental Moments
  • Missing Charm of 1991

 

Summary:  The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story.  This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original.  Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked.  Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast).  Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).

 

Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes.  Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bayAgain, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?

 

Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced.  Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration.  And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie).  Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.

 

All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.

 

The VERDICT:

 

With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many.  It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart.  While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy. 

 

My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

The King Has Returned

Kong

 

Giant monster movies are always toss up when it comes to quality.  They either really impress us, or turn us into monsters as we tear the movie apart.  Tonight, the “King” of monster returns to the silver screen, in what looks to be a high-definition adventure made for the theater technology. With an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman this could be the giant monster flick we have been hoping.  Robbie K is back with another review, hoping to shed some light on Kong: Skull Island.

 

LIKES:

  • Human perspective
  • Awesome Visuals
  • Awesome Soundtrack
  • Action
  • John C. Reilly

 

SUMMARY: Most monster movies are often focused on the monster (or man in a rubber costume) wreaking havoc on the environment, only occasionally panning on a human actor. This rendition of Kong shifted that balance back to the humans, putting the tale more from there trek across the killer island.  Don’t get heated though, because Skull Island has plenty of moments centered on the big ape and all his…naked glory.

Kong isn’t the only visual the movie has to offer though, as the team is able to create the nightmare that is skull island in fantastic displays of CGI and real life setting. The environment has a culmination of setting that capture both the beauty and horror that an isolated, prehistoric ecosystem has to offer. The flora, and inanimate stone structures, aren’t the only impressive visual though.  Skull Island’s fauna are also stunning to watch, imaginative creatures that fit well into habitats they call home.  Both my friend and I agreed the team did an awesome job crafting monsters that dwell in your darkest dreams, giving them bark, bit, and in some cases slime to truly be deadly.  Visuals aside, the soundtrack also has some diversity to it.  Our humans theme song seems to be songs from the 70s that will have you classic rock groupies smiling with glee. While those who like powerful symphony work, will enjoy the edge the orchestra brings to the more exciting parts.

Speaking of excitement, Kong: Skull Island brings the action to the full front.  Unlike Godzilla (2014), Kong doesn’t skimp on the monsters actually doing something other than walk around. Much of the movie involves the humans lighting the creatures up with their guns as they dodge lethal appendages.  Yet Kong himself has his moments to shine, in heart pounding, special effects laden sequences that will have you screaming in delight.  I myself was impressed with Kong’s sweet wrestling moves, including the epic finishes our WWE guys only dream of copying. Sound like too much action? Not to worry, John C Reilly has got you covered with well-timed, well-delivered comedy to lighten the mood.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Story is okay
  • Uneven characters
  • Rushed Scenes
  • Cheesy Moments

 

SUMMARY: The story of King Kong has been told in so many iterations, but most of these renditions give the beast a lot of character outside of wrestling champion. In this telling, the story takes a major dip in favor of the action.  As laid out in the trailers, Skull Island’s main premise is survival, with a majority of the plot focusing on our human casts journey to get off the land. Oh sure, they try to inject a few other morals into the mix (including vengeance and love) and they do try to give Kong some other qualities in an attempt to develop him.  However, many of these extra points shallowly developed, lost to the special effects and battles waiting in the jungle. I missed the deeper nature to Kong’s character, but I give props for venturing off the traditional path.

In addition to the simplistic story, Kong’s Skull Island also has some editing/developmental issues for me.  First off, the uneven characters. Our band of humans is a little skewed, with some getting decent development to others being just another pretty face (that may or may not get devoured).  It’s the problem when hiring big casts, but this reviewer would have liked a little more backstory to add some emotional turmoil to the mix.  The shallow character development paints predictable targets on most of their backs, leading to rushed moments where a character is abruptly, and in some cases pointlessly, eliminated.  Sure, it keeps in theme with the island is always hungry, but Skull Island’s team needed to go in a clean-up these hasty moments.  Ironically, the one thing (outside of the action) they focused on was the anger/hate between Kong and Jackson.  Yours truly found the intense stare off and peeing contest between the two to be a touch overdramatic and drawn out. Suspense building? Maybe. Ridiculous? You bet it is.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Both my friend and I agree that Skull Island is one of the better portrayals of the King of the Jungle. With impressive visuals, dangerous environment, and fantastic battles, this is the monster movie we have been waiting for. While there are some story elements that need tweaking and some balance restored, the film gives me faith for future giants vs. human films and the inevitable sequels to come. With all the special effects and action, yours truly recommends this one for the theater, and could see it having some extra oomph in 3-D. And despite what you may expect, one should stick around when the lights go down. You might just find yourself stoked for what is to come.

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Three Slashes For Wolverine. Slash, Slash, Slash Hooray!

logan

 

The X-men series is a story that on many levels is close to my heart in the form of comics, games, and the 90s animated TV show.  In the movieverse though, there have been some triumphic downfalls and surprising successes in Fox studios’ telling of the mutant force. This weekend, Logan attempts to breathe life back into the series, with what looks to be a different take on the hero genre. What’s the verdict?  Unless you have clairvoyance as a super power, you are going to have to read to find out.  

 

LIKES:

  • Fresh Twist
  • Comedic Relief
  • Strong Character Development
  • Strong Villain
  • Action we Really Wanted

 

Summary:  Fox seems to have realized that twists can be a good thing (Deadpool) and have decided to integrate the anti-hero switch-up into the mix. Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) journey dives into the darker corners of the X-Men world, to a place where allies are few and hope is practically nil.  This more forlorn setting opened up avenues for greater storytelling, primarily in developing Logan as a character (which seems to have been the goal for most of the X-men movies). One will get to dive into his inner character, facing the specters that haunt the supposedly invincible Wolverine from media past. It is in this regard that X-Men finally got the villain quality right in regards to Logan being his own worst enemy.  Logan’s inner doubt is perhaps one of the strongest villains this universe has known, and provides a constant challenge to the development and well-being of not just him, but the other characters of the film. And it is thanks to this that Logan has a lot more emotion packed in than other superhero films have had in the past.  To my surprise, Logan has a nice balance of comedy to relieve the darker moments, timing most jokes perfectly to emphasize the simple dialogue.

Biggest relief from the “darkness” though comes in the form of the action, which finally delivers the promised fights we’ve been waiting for.  That five-minute clip in Apocalypse was a sample of the high-adrenaline fights in this movie. Logan traded flashy CGI light shows for a choreographed chaos that involved blending martial arts with classic Wolverine claws.  The intense dances of death, mixed with the exciting score and sound effects, will make up for much of the lackluster fights of the past and match the expectations are imaginations set all those comic books ago.  And while I wanted more action (because I always do), Logan does a nice job spacing the fights out to be mostly relevant to the plot of the story. A small side note, I wished there had been a little more diversity to the fights, but it’s a small critique.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring at Times
  • A Weak Villain
  • Language at times
  • Animal Grunting
  • The Psychic moments
  • Unnecessary Gore?

 

Summary:  You’re probably laughing at my contradictory statements, but Logan is a movie that is kind of boring at times.  Character development takes time, dialogue, and more “peaceful” moments of not tearing someone’s throat out to do right.  Unfortunately, Logan’s dark atmosphere mixed with these dialogue rich moments can drag at times. Their cross-country journey has more than a few unnecessary sequences, where detailed tangents added little benefit other than a few whimsical jokes or build up to a fight down the road.  It’s not that these scenes didn’t need to be deleted, just shortened to be more relevant (and time efficient). But much like a Western, which this movie feels like, these slower, moral filled moments are the deserts that span between oases.

What also didn’t help was how the villains in this film were still kind of lame.  Inner Logan is deadly, but the ranger with the metal arm and his employer’s other “elite” projects still fall into the lame category. Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) is all bark and little bite, barely doing anything but making threats and occasionally firing a gun, when his more effective lackeys were spent. It’s fortunate these bad guy roles are limited, including the mediocre twist to the mix.

The other biggest dislike is the unbalanced aggressiveness this film has with it.  I know, Wolverine is an aggressive character. Does that mean we have to reduce his normally clever dialogue with an unhindered use of the F word?  Apparently in this film it did, and the lazy dependence on the cursing still remains a tiresome ploy for me.  In addition, this film really dipped into the animal grunting and roaring of not only Logan, but Laura (Dafne Keen) as the two continuously (and at times annoyingly) scream. Also overdone were some of the aggressive psychic moments that became drawn out sequences of torture that is both fulfilling and unnecessary at the same time.  And as for the violence, Logan steps this game up (which is why the fights rock), but the level of gore involved has been upped as well.  Those thinking of taking younger audience members need to note the R rating, because you’ll be subjected to maiming, decapitation, and other blood filled moments that for me really didn’t need to be to that level.

 

The Verdict:

 

Logan is an improvement over many of the X-men films in regards to storytelling, action, and character development.  Yet it’s failings for me come in the form of some editing quirks, unbalanced dialogue, and overly aggressive gore. It matches the themes of the modern graphic novels, but I felt with some balancing the movie could have been even better.  I feel the movie is worth a trip to the theater though, but please think twice before taking kids to see it.

 

My scores:

Action/Drama/Sci-Fi: 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Before The Editing Falls!

before-i-fall

Today’s review is on Before I Fall, a cryptic title that can symbolize so many things in the world of Hollywood.  If you have seen the trailers, they portray this movie as another endless time arc installment where days continue to repeat until a solution is found.  But outside of that, it was uncertain if the aim was horror, drama, thriller, or just straight up Sci-Fi.  So, to solve this question, I’m back in the trenches to give you my thoughts on the film, in hopes of answering your questions.  Let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Great looking cast
  • Fun Soundtrack
  • Decent acting
  • Nice Story
  • Good Lessons

 

Summary: Okay let’s start with the shallower likes of the film with how great the cast looks. Before I fall’s primary actors are beautiful, cute, and many are adjectives that people can use to describe themThose looking to enjoy 90 minutes of eye candy will get their fill as Zoey Deutch and her teenage friends fill the camera with their flare. If looks aren’t your style, and you go to the movies for music (ironic no?), then you’re in luck because the movie has some fun tracks laced in that again are very fitting and for me toe-tapping as well.

Okay enough of the small likes, let’s get to the good stuff.  Movies with an all teen cast are often susceptible to becoming overacted messes that are more annoying than anything else. Not the case for this film. Before I Fall’s leading ladies have created believable relationships that describes the high school experience.  The “deep” bonds of a click that are strong, yet so fragile, is a common element in this movie, as well as the hardships teens feel in the pseudo-adult world of being a senior.  I felt the love, the hates, the struggles, and the anger all nicely balanced in this film, and kind of connected with some of the issues they had.

While the acting is decent, the story is the stronger quality for me that drove emotion home.  The answer to the question, for those who haven’t read the book, is Before I fall is more drama mixed with the Sci-Fi quality of looped time (e.g. Mean Girls meets If I stay with Ground Hog’s Day repetition).  I don’t know how the combination works for you, but for this reviewer it wasn’t that bad given my initial expectations of horror.  One of the things I appreciated, was how the diverse the days were.  With movies that involve repeating the same day, often the scenes grow stale by the third iteration.  While this happens at some points (the classroom scene), Before I Fall did a nice job changing up each day as Deutch’s character discovers the problems in her life and grows as a person.  And being a guy who appreciates character development, this movie’s strongest aspect is indeed strengthening a fairly shallow character and teaching us some life lessons in the process, before the big “twist” (again assuming you haven’t read the book).

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Lacking in some areas
  • Scenes hastily thrown together at times
  • Preachy
  • Drawn Out

 

Summary: Film adaptations of books are always lacking given the time constraints and budget a film has.  Before I Fall has a lot of things tied well together, but there are still some weaker components that need some amping up. The protagonist’s life is surprisingly complicated for a teenage role, with many demons waiting to face Sami.  I applaud their attempts to cover all these issues, and while they did a decent job, I felt some of the qualities were lacking.  Many scenes felt rushed, or haphazardly thrown into the mix, lacking the needed development the book most likely had.  This lackluster development resulted in fairly simplistic scenes that takes away its theater quality.  What also took away from the theater quality was how preachy components of the movie.  Hearing Sami randomly go into bouts of loving/appreciating her friends, went down the eye-rolling path for me, as they layered on the cheese heavily. But if you are about the deeper bonds of passion, and straight to the point dialogue, this dislike won’t really affect you.  But overall, this reviewer felt many of these dislikes led to an incomplete picture, with lots of drawn out moments to one of the two predictable endings that, while emotional, wasn’t the big excitement I had hoped for.

 

The Verdict:

 

While I haven’t read the book, Before I fall is indeed a nice refreshing taste on the teenage drama genre.  The film seems to be a culmination of many movies brought into one story, with a creative use of the time-looping theme to explore lots of avenues that are missed in movies these days.  Throw in some decent relationship building with some good lessons and you have what feels to be a semi-decent portrayal of the book.  Yet, the film still needed some fine tuning in the editing compartment to bring full life to this rather simplistic (and clichéd) tale. Overall, this reviewer feels this movie is best left to a home viewing, but encourages you to send your teenagers and pre-teens to this film if you are looking for something.

 

Scores:

 

Drama/Mystery:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0