“Let’s Play A Game” Again. Piecing the Story In Place Of the Gore-Y

Jigsaw

 

“Let’s Play A Game”, those simple words haunted the theaters for years, signaling the start of yet another slasher movie in the Saw series.  What started out as a unique twist to the serial killer saga was only the start to a face cringing, spine tingling, sometimes nauseating saga that hooked people in until around the sixth-seventh iteration when it finally ended.  That was until this year, where the saga was to be reanimated in hopes of bringing more bucks to the theaters.  Will this eighth installment have the ability to defy death like it’s protagonist antihero, or is it dead like the poor victims of his games.  Only one way to find out and that is read my friends, so let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Fast-Pace:  With all the slow movies I have been seeing, I give props to the Saw series maintaining their consistent pace.  From start to finish, the tale keeps moving, sparing no second for unnecessary details or attempts at prolonged character development. The mystery of figuring out the identity of the game master, mixed with the spread-out trials that promise a messy end are well-balanced to keep things going.

 

Decent Characters: A horror movie often has many brain-dead characters begging to be chainsaw fodder.  Fortunately, Saw movies continue to choose players who have a little more complexity and skills than many of the Spring Break teens favored. The tradition lives on, as each player has a little more buried within, still having a few obviously destined corpses, but others who have a shot at making it out.  And for those not in the game, but trying to solve the mystery, they too have some layers to them that may or may not be pertinent to the story.  It’s those engaging elements that are crafted in the story, making them more engaging to follow.

 

The Presentation:  Another component I still like is the presentation of the movie.  Many go for the kills, but the better component for me is how they separate the story into two settings.  One is still the players trying to escape the closes thing to hell’s torture chamber, while the other are the outside characters hunting down the “maniac” that continues to weave his traps. The ability to entangle these two components, balancing their timing to provide clues and hints to the story all while keeping you invested in the game.  Such a dynamic presentation provides those checks and balances necessary for a slasher movie, and keeping things as fresh as possible.

 

Twist:  As many of you know, Saw movies are all about the ability to throw that last wrench into the gears to blow your mind.  Despite my experience with predicting endings, this one got me.  The questions I asked were on the right path, but they were able to drop enough interfering factors to throw me off the trail.  Jigsaw once again impresses me with their storytelling, and their mastery of presentation.  I can’t say much more, but ask the right questions and you might get the answers.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy Deaths:  Those first few movies were convoluted in their traps. They had designed devices that were an impressive display of imagination, horror, and engineering that gave everyone a kick in terms of design.  While Jigsaw still has the impressive connections and storytelling, it unfortunately fails in the terms of the traps themselves.  They are surprisingly simple for the most part, and a little more reserved than I expected in this modern era. Yes, there is still plenty of blood in this battle for moral consequences, but they didn’t involve quite as much skin crawling madness.

 

Acting a little cheesy:  Despite the engaging characters, there are times when there are a few inconsistencies in the character’s intelligence, or often the case their acting.  While decent for the most part, the writers hit some blocks in terms of dialogue or direction they wanted the characters to go.  There are those moments the “tension” overwhelms them into hysterical messes that are cheesy rather than believable. In addition, the dialogue sometimes gets lazy, just going into expletives than conducive dialog.  A weak dislike yes, but I’m drawing on straws.

 

The potential for a series:  Like the original series, I had hoped for an ending, but then this movie showed up.  While I did enjoy it, I am worried that the way this movie ends sets up the potential for a new series to start.  Sure, this means more Saw goodness, but it also means the potential to dilute this movie into another run of the mill series that will become a product of lazy producing.  Hopefully that won’t happen, but these days series are the prize most companies seek.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Jigsaw is the piece of the puzzle that brings quality back to the lovely massacre series. Going back to the roots, the writers were able to bring back a brilliant presentation and characters you can follow.  All the nostalgic qualities rush in with the deadly traps, bringing that fast-pace, twisting tale that captivated us all those years ago.  While still not the first movie, especially in terms of death design and potential to revive the series, it was a welcome addition to the series.  So, if you are looking for the horror movie of the month, Jigsaw is your answer for the theater my friends. 

 

My scores:

 

Crime/Horror/Mystery:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

GeoPower! This Storm Is Stronger Than Expected

Geostorm

 

There are very few things scarier than a natural disaster.  The sheer power contained within these storms, droughts, and floods is something we as humans have difficulty containing.  Now what would happen if that power could be harnessed by humans, manipulated to our whim in order to keep our world acclimated and functioning perfectly?  Could such a thing be used for good, or would it merely be repurposed as a weapon?  This question is the key concept in my next movie review, titled Geostorm, the latest disaster flick to “storm” into the theaters.  Pun aside, Robbie K is back for another overview, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

The Sound:  My first like is the incredible sound editing Geostorm contains within it.  These editors “blew” me away with the fantastic renditions of Mother Nature’s torment, capturing all those destructive sounds and unleashing them into the theater.  Lightning filled maelstroms, horrendous fires, and bone chilling ice storms all drop with mighty blow, causing the theater to rumble in delight.  This effect may not seem like much, but it really rounds the experience out and immerses you into the havoc.

 

The Visuals:  No surprise here, Geostorm’s visuals are also beautiful displays of technology.  We know this genre is all about making disasters look real, and this film brings that power out with little hesitancy.  Watching destruction unfold is breathtaking, as the terrifying mayhem of the manmade storms unfold, helping you experience the horror without actually being there.  Geostorm’s displays, although limited in number, are the selling point of this film, especially during the exciting moments when our characters are trying to navigate their way through the destruction.

 

Acting:  Sometimes these disaster movies tank on the cast, resulting in whiny, nimrod characters who are asking to be sucked up into a twister.  Not the case for this film. Geostorm’s cast is actually fantastic in bringing their characters to life, and also brings an awesome team to the mix to diversify the genre.  Gerard Butler was a solid choice for the lead, combining action gruff with scientific strategy to craft a tough as nails character to lead the project.  This dynamic nature made a fun hero to root for while seeing him evolve past his flaws.  Jim Sturgess does a bang-up job in his role as well, playing the role of the neurotic congressmen forced to choose between family and job.  His character required a much broader class of emotions, and he manages to hit all of these with little trouble. As for the female leads of Abbie Cornish and Alexandra Maria Lara, these women were incredible displays of girl power in the modern world.  No super powers needed here, for these women have intelligence, ferocity, and heart as they tackle all the demands this movie placed on them, and all with a realistic touch.  I wished they had utilized them a little more, but they maximized their screen time.

 

The Story:  Despite how cheesy it looked, Geostorm’s story was better than I expected.  The characters have some backstory not lost to the storm, requiring them to grow much like the threat of total cataclysm. During the actual presentation itself, Geostorm is nicely divided into four sections each occurring simultaneously and playing important roles to the dilemma at hand.  Throw in a little mystery to figure out the culprits, and you have a more engaging story line than we typically see in these films.  All in all, they managed to execute this ridiculous concept quite well for me.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Storm moments:  Despite the promise of major cataclysm, Geostorm is surprisingly bare of storm sequences for much of the movie.  Many of these scenes are in the background, with only a few having that thrilling, on the seat edge. In addition, despite being thrilling, these moments get a little too ridiculous, the sheer unrealistic maneuvers violating the science without the technology to do so.  While I appreciate, the disasters fitting into the movie, they still needed a little refining.

 

The Predictability: Geostorm tries its best to throw you off the trail to the culprits, but the trailers and obvious foreshadowing will give you the answer within the first 30 minutes. In addition, the fate of other characters is not surprising at all, mostly because they figure things out minutes within the film.  Had it not been for the visuals and exciting pace, the story would have been drab and put me to sleep.  I’ll admit there was a nice little uncertain moment, reminiscent of a few other flicks you are certain to remember.  Past that though, it’s a predictable mess indeed.

 

Underutilized team:  Like many films, our protagonist becomes part of a special team in charge of fixing the problem.  Unfortunately, after the introductions, most of the team is essentially useless save two members who actually get more screen time.  While not as bad as the gang from Wonder Woman, this group just didn’t feel needed in the grand scheme of the picture and could have been utilized in a more conducive environment to add a little more suspense in the mix. Either that or cut the characters to help the budget.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite the cheesy idea, Geostorm was a welcome change to the natural disaster movie collection.  Stunning special effects, a Sci-Fi Esque story, and dynamic characters are certain to entertain fans of this genre and bring with it a nice twist.  However, if you are looking for a storm movie, you need to pick another tale as the disasters are a minimum or overly cheesy to be believable.  Throw in some weaker story elements and predictable plot, and you further weaken the storm they were trying to bring.  Overall not a bad film at all, and the special effects are more than worthy of a theater visit. Otherwise check this one out when it hits home release.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Boo 2 or Boo Hoo? Madea’s Familiar Tactics Will Treat Fans to Laughs, but Not To Plot

Madea 2

 

Hellur!  No, I’m not ill, it’s just a signature catchphrase of none other than Madea, the Mad Black Woman who brings her own sense of justice to so many.  Tyler Perry’s signature character has made her mark for so many years, teaching lessons in her own unique manner.  These movies have come in all sorts of scenarios, many being close carbon copies of the predecessors that laid the foundation.  This series continues to rope loyal fans into the theater though, never tiring of the gimmicks cooked up at Perry Studios.  Tonight, the sequel to Madea’s Halloween tale emerges, in hopes of mimicking the success it brought not long ago.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K, here asking you to read on to find out his opinions.

 

LIKES:

 

Familiarity:  When it comes to Madea, you don’t expect much deviation from the formula, a comforting factor indeed.  Perry’s writing doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, and that nets some respect in bringing the laughs that make so many laugh.  And if you’re a fan of this series, you’ll have nothing to fear in regards to the comedy at hand (as evidenced by many people howling with laughter in my showing.)

 

Plenty of Madea:  Some Madea movies don’t do give the mad lady her adequate screen time, choosing instead to go for a more drama (soap opera like) plot. Boo 2 is more than happy to give you a Madea fix, with much of the 100-minute run time staying on our “protagonist.”  She leads much of the banter, and her insults are more than enough to keep things engaging alongside her older colleagues.  So, for a movie promising Madea, this film delivers on this aspect as well.

 

Fast Pace:  Another positive for Boo 2 is that the movie doesn’t dawdle when it comes to getting to the laughs.  A small, simplistic opening makes way to the comedy at hand, taking less than 20 minutes to get to the first bout of Madea running her mouth.  Once that first joke flies, the movie continues at a steady pace and creating the effect of time flying (seriously had no idea an hour had passed). This leads to an entertaining environment that is simply fun on many levels, that’s right no complicated thinking in this film.

 

Joe:  By far the best part of the movie for me is Madea’s brother Joe.  While his sexually harsh jokes, lack of respect for others, and intense focus on drugs are not my main source of humor, this character has some of the best comedic moments of the movie.  His timing is well-executed, and his lines are just harsh enough to offset the bickering this movie holds within.  The piece de resistance though, is how well Perry delivers that gruff edge in his humor to maximize the punch of the line and keep the laughs fresh.  I found myself laughing the most with his scenes and was glad to see more Joe in this film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Unoriginal: Familiarity is fun and entertaining, but it is also lacking the original twist I like to see in the films.  Every Madea film has a slight twist to it, but this film is too much a copy of the first Halloween movie that the tactics are fairly stale. Had it not been for the comedic timing at some parts of the movie, the bantering would have gotten much staler as the old folks complained about the same things consistently.  This dislike also goes to the fact that Madea’s jokes are losing favor with me, especially when they drop the morals for incoherent babbling and arguing.

 

The College Kids:  If you read my last Madea review, you know the college kids didn’t impress me.  Sadly, this movie managed to make me loathe these characters even more.  Rather than giving the younger characters some admirable qualities, outside of superficial looks, Perry crafted them to be the same, shallow, annoying selves they were in the past, only much worse.  The fraternity brother are even hornier, stupid meatheads with little contribution to the movie.  Leah (Lexy Panterra) is reduced to a squabbling airhead, who does little, but flash off her own body with overacted gestures and a skin-tight leopard shirt.  Yet, the worst character goes to Tiffany (Diamond White) the arrogant brat who supposedly learned her lesson last time. After all the punishing blows, the hotheaded teen hasn’t learned a thing and has fallen back into the same annoying qualities I despised in the first film.  What’s even more pathetic, is that they don’t use her selfishness very well to drive a moral filled plot, but just as a tool for more jokes.  Sadly, this movie doesn’t give the satisfying punch that its predecessor accomplished.

 

No story:  Boo 2’s other major dislike for me is that lack of a story.  It’s true, the movie runs at a quick pace and is entertaining, but the trailers have tricked you into thinking there is a story.  This particular Madea story is the lamest story of the bunch, with only a hair thin plot to ground the comedy too. Past this skeletal frame, the movie is only about cramming the most jokes into the run time, which also took away from the Madea formula.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Boo 2 is a sequel that accomplishes the goal of making you laugh with the same familiar tactics Perry has capitalized on for the last decade.  It’s simple fun, fast paced humor will keep fans howling in delight, while also welcoming a new age in with its simplicity.  Yet, I found this movie to be the weakest of the installments, particularly due to the unbalanced characters and lack of story to guide the mischief better.  Safe to say this movie is meant for home viewing pleasure where you can enjoy the banter and insults with better snacks and bathroom privileges.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Not Foreign To Edge or Plot

Foreigner

 

Jackie Chan a legend in the cinematic world for many famous roles many will remember for years to come.  With epic Marshal Arts sequences, a sense of comedic delivery and great chemistry with a variety of actors, it is no wonder the man has been involved in so many projects.  And after a hiatus, the legend seems to be making a comeback lending his voice to Lego Ninjago and now returning in a live action film the Foreigner.  Does the man still have the magic, or was he better left sitting on the sidelines?  Robbie K here to review another movie and as always let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Edgy:  The trailers promised Chan would be returning with some sharper, and darker, edges and sure enough they delivered.  Mr. Quan is certainly one of the darker roles I’ve seen him play, as he seeks out his own brand of justice in a manner only a vigilante could.  No punches are thrown in this role, and this more intense role is a nice touch to Chan’s normal lighter roles.  Saying few words, Chan has the look down with sullen wise eyes filled with a hateful, hopeless stare, and scowl that seems permanently fixated in a faithless fury.  This darker role was fascinating to watch, primarily to see how far he would go to crush the opposition.

 

Fairly fast pacing: No surprise here, but the Foreigner moves at a fairly brisk pace, starting out with a literal bang and diving into the search to come.  Information is provided in a fairly linear manner so that you get all the answers you need, all the while maximizing the “action” at the same time.

 

Complete story:  Despite the quickened pace, this movie does manage to close all the convoluted loops established in this film.  The Foreigner has a lot of dramatic elements integrated into the action that include affairs, conspiracies, and betrayals that feels much like soap opera plot lines.  Rather than taking episodes to finish these tales, the writers provided all the answers one needs to be satisfied with the closure.  Not saying it’s the best closure mind you, but at least it finishes the tale quite well.

 

Chan’s moves:  While certainly not the freshest or more convoluted stunts he’s ever done, it is satisfying to see Chan still have some of his magic.  The Foreigner does a nice job of giving our star chances to show off his acrobatic skills.  After leaping around like an old squirrel, Chan next dazzles with his close combat choreographer, still executing his close style fist fights in a smooth dance.  And with the new edge, Chan’s darker combat is unleashed, losing the feeling of being planned to the adrenaline rush we love to see.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pierce Brosnan’s accent:  A minor dislike at best, I couldn’t get on board with Brosnan’s attempt at sounding Irish.  While certainly better than me, the former Bond star has a little more refining to do in order to sell the angry Irish man to me.  It was comical at times and took away from the threat he was trying to bring to the table, well that and the fact that he didn’t seem to have many skills himself. Sorry Pierce, you’ve got debonair down, but not the fury of the fiery reds.

 

Editing:  While dramas are sometimes a bit overbearing to me, I could handle most of the character antics in this film.  However, the storyboard team dropped the ball a few times for me in how much they crammed into this film.  Some of the relationships were not needed, merely extra branches to take up space in attempt to fill up time.  While the tangents expand a little on our two lead characters, they could have been left out, or kept in small bits of dialogues instead of full out sequences, especially when it came to the wife scenes.  Drama lovers will certainly enjoy this element, but the rest get ready to yawn.  Speaking of which…

 

Not as action packed:  I thought the Foreigner was going to have more bite with Chan finally emerging from his retirement.  Instead of the energy that Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon brought, the Foreigner slowed the pace down a bit.  Those extensive bouts of fist punching are brought to a minimum in terms of time, reduced to some covert moves that would make Rambo proud in their pyrotechnic awe.  The few bouts we do have maximize the new tone and provide some satisfying stunt work, but for me… it paled to the classics I grew up with.  Still not a bad display for the aged master, I just would have liked more of that and less drama.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Foreigner is a great restart to Chan’s career giving him a new edge I haven’t seen before.  It’s a film that does its part as an action drama, trying to craft more of a story with the action to support it in the long run.  And while the tale is decent, and complete, it’s still a bit too slow and drawn out when there could have been more fighting.  The result is still entertaining, but with enough drab parts to outweigh the extent of action we got.  Chan may still have some moves up his sleeve, but I’ll take revisiting the classics any day.  Nevertheless, there is enough kick to warrant a theater visit for this one, primarily in regards to those satisfying, climactic fights that occur.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Groundhog Day Meets Massacre: Death Day Is Fun Halloween Movie

Death Day

            Halloween weekends are certainly a bag of tricks and treats themselves.  A variety of genres try to compete for the number one spot on the box office, and horror movies continue to try to prove their worth. My weekend reviews start with another film in the slasher collection that looks interesting to say the least.  Like all horror films, the truth behind the vague trailers can take a number of forms and levels of quality, so I wasn’t sure what I would get on this viewing.  What is the verdict?  As always read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Surprisingly Deep Character:  Most slasher films fail in terms of a gripping character to follow the journey with, in order to provide fodder for our demented killer.  Surprisingly, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has depth hidden within her superficial looks and sorority attitude. Seeing her character evolve over the film changed my attitudes towards her, especially as her sorrows began to emerge onto the field. And even more impressive is how balanced her multiple aspects were balanced into the story, to maintain the development that was so nicely done.

 

Censored:  There are those slasher movies that go over the top to maximize the vomit inducing kills and dismemberments. Happy Death Day, fortunately, is not one of those movies.  For a movie about repeating the same day over with a “deadly” conclusion, it keeps things rather clean and to the point, avoiding the mind scarring scenes that will be famous on YouTube. The PG-13 rating should assure you that this is a rather mild horror and won’t leave you sleepless like some other films can.

 

The Mystery:  If you have seen the trailers, you have probably been allured/intrigued as to who is behind that freaky baby like mask.  That aspect carries on into the film as you try to piece the puzzle together and solve the Scooby Doo like case.  It was the adventure of seeking those answers that kept me invested in the movie, searching for any slight hint to give away the surprise. Keep your eyes open, your minds active, and your thoughts running and you’ll get it within 25 minutes, but otherwise enjoy the ride the director created.

 

It’s fun: Movies that involve repeating the same day over and over again gets stale fast, because of cheap editing tricks to make the scene seem fresh.  Fortunately, Death Day keeps things fun and fairly fresh in the 1.5 hour run time.  This movie has plenty of chuckles thrown into the mix, many poking fun at the horror movie genre.  Tree’s dialogue itself has that aggressive, sorority girl element to it, filled with passive-aggressive compliments and sarcasm that are well-timed.  Throw in some well-developed secondary comedy from secondary characters, and the fun just keeps on rolling with each passing day.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  My friend and I both agreed that this movie lacked any real bite in terms of the scare factor.  Oh sure, a creepy, knife wielding, baby face mascot wearing killer would have anyone afraid to walk a dark corridor in the real world.  With the silver screen barrier though, the movie’s horror element doesn’t do much to build suspense or make you shrivel in your seats. Aside from a few jump scare moments, the comedy aspect of the movie will take over more than the scare component.  Sorry you fear feeding fans, no dice on this one.

 

Little Over the Top:  Ridiculous factors are all in good fun when they are timed well and not overdone.  Happy Death Day sometimes lost its regulation with the overly ridiculous moments, leading to these eye-rolling proportions that were just eating up time.  Some of the death scenes themselves fall in this category, alongside a few repeat sequences of Tree’s journey across the quad.  The running jokes themselves also get a little stale, especially when it comes to the rival sorority sister who was directed to be a little too aggressive my taste to take seriously.  Oh well, got to love those superficial characters that are meant for comedy alone right.

 

Some unfinished story elements:  While I’m surprised with how much of a story this movie had, no matter how cliché it was, there were still some underdeveloped aspects to the tale.  One was a few of Tree’s character development arcs, that started to blossom, only to die out like her character does.  A few of these could have further expanded her character, bringing in other characters to help draw it out and adding that dynamic element I like to see.  In addition, a few other plot elements were squeezed into the film in a rushed manner, sometimes feeling out of place until they were able to draw it back in with a well-placed plot element.  Had the scares been better…this element would sting less, but the story element is a big part and could have used some fine tuning.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Happy Death Day is one of the more fun slasher films I have seen in a long time.  It’s a movie that will appeal to many with its fun pace, decent comedy, intriguing mystery, and character that keeps you invested in their life.  While this was much better than my expectations, the movie still suffers some from imbalanced comedy gestures, unfinished story elements, and most importantly lack of scares.  Therefore, go in there expecting a drama/comedy with a slasher twist and you’ve got the right approach to this movie.  Yet, if you are looking for the next psycho thriller… hold your horses for a Redbox rent to capitalize on your investment.

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

For Fans of Series: Pony Power. For General Fans: A long Hour

pony

 

Cartoons have drastically changed over the years, and in many cases not for the better.  However, amidst this new wave of modern art stand a few series that have soared in popularity enough to acquire mass marketing.  One of these “treasures” is My Little Pony, a collection of toys that have kept their hooves into the pulse of relevance and captured the hearts of many ages.  This weekend, the series proved popular enough to warrant a movie, in hopes of keeping the magic strong.  Robbie K here, accompanied with my friends, with another review, hoping to help guide your viewing pleasures.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  It’s a movie about talking ponies, of course it is going to be cute.  This film capitalizes on the big sparkling eyes, high pitched voices, and snappy one-liners that are all the rage in kid’s animation. But amidst these ear-splitting tactics, the theme of friendship may also warm your heart and make you say Awwwwwww, much like many of the young viewers did today. Side note, the cute also coincides with a family friendly theme as well, so one doesn’t have to worry about mature surprises.

 

Pony Adventure:  When TV shows are given a block buster movie, one fears that it may deviate far from the show, unless you’re a kid in which case you don’t care.  Good news, this movie feels like an extended My Little Pony episode, filled with all the adventure like elements that have made the show fun. The simplistic goals, the musical numbers, the feel-good atmosphere, and the grandiose villain whose bark is worse than its bite.  It’s all packed in the 1.5 hours and amplified with an atmosphere that feels like a kid’s version of lord of the rings.  All this positivity will certainly bring you into the kid mindset and add a little more joy to your experience, or annoy you depending on your tolerance to this series.

 

The Animation:  One thing I love about Hollywood budgets is the ability to capitalize on technology. My Little Pony took the technology and ran with it, crafting an incredible display of cartoon animation to keep me hooked into the movie. The movements of the heroes are fluid, the flying in particular was impressive to watch as it added excitement to the mix. The attention to detail to accurately capture lip movements is also impressive, as it adds that anthropomorphic touch they were going for.  Outside of movements though, this film is a colorful display, brimming with various hues and shades that brings out the unique character design even more. 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Annoying at times:  If you aren’t younger than 8, or a die-hard fan of the series, you will most likely get a little annoyed at times.  The movie goes a little overboard with its gimmicks, primarily with Pinkie Pie’s overzealous energy, that hits that tolerance wall and shatters it. These elements are to be expected, but when you combine it with younger audience member’s inability to remain quiet… it pushes those buttons even faster.

 

Shallow Elements:  I didn’t expect much character development as this was done in the show.  However, the elements you are going to base the story on, I expect there to be more commitment to this.  My Little Pony the movie was able to execute a few characters quite well including Tempest and her little crony alongside Princess Twilight.  The other characters though…well they dropped the ball on their development pretty hard.  Many of the new additions to the universe come in with a flashy opening, often in the form of an inspiring song that holds promise for a colorful character.  But then that flash fades and the characters are hastily tossed to the background until the end.  The multiple incidents of glazing over the characters didn’t impress me, and proves again that too many characters in a movie, do not make quality films.

 

Not Theatrical Special:  Despite the shortcomings of the characters, the story team managed to craft a salvageable story.  Unfortunately, it didn’t’ feel theater worthy to me. Sure, the animation and voice acting were incredible and worthy of the bigger budget.  Then the predictable plot hit me and I realized this story didn’t stand out enough to be considered unique.  In addition, the movie seemed geared towards the music instead of the other crucial elements, which only further made me feel this wasn’t the theater worthy masterpiece they wanted.  Such a shame given the groundwork already laid by the shows team.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            My Little Pony the Movie should have been, My Little Pony the Extended 5 part special.  It is a cute, fun, well-animated adventure perfect for the younger audience members, but outside of that there isn’t much.  While it does capture the feeling of the series, there wasn’t enough in this movie to warrant a theater viewing.  Die-hard fans won’t mind much of my dislikes, but for the general audience your money is better spent on a more balanced movie that won’t make you pull your hair out or try to take a nap. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0  

The Mixture Between Us

Moutain.jpg

 

The mighty majestic mountains that line the world.  These monolithic displays of nature are icons for so many forms of expression such as poetry, video game stages, and yes even movies.  Such symbolism is perfect to craft such an obstruction for heroes to face, all while teaching valuable lessons.  And thus leads me to my next review, on a movie that centers on the immobile giants that watch over the world.  The Mountain Between Us is the name of the film and its trailers have certainly stirred up a storm in the world of reviews.  Robbie K here hoping to guide you through the mess to help guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

The acting:  Like the mountains they are stuck in, the lead actors in this movie are giants themselves, displaying their talents to high levels.  Idris Elba once more blows my mind out how well he executes his roles.  He sells the suffering surgeon well, playing the internalization well and the survivalist even more.  Kate Winslet as ever brings her character to life, taking the fiery spirit she has within, and unleashing it in a manner that is wild, yet honed as the movie progresses.  The two certainly have the portrayal of suffering down pat (they can really shiver) but on many levels they play well off each other, especially in the beginning.

 

The Dog:  While not the main human actor, the dog is by far the character I cared about the most.  This animal, while of course like many of his canine brethren, was cute to me and impressive in the work it had to do. Trekking through the show, climbing mountains, and a variety of other things the dog certainly caught my eye for much of the screen.  In addition, because I’m a big animal fan, the dog was the character that kept me engaged in the film. Every scene transition, or new challenge I couldn’t help, but think “What happened to the dog.” That component is perhaps the biggest hooking element in the movie to keep you into the film.  What is its fate?  Can’t tell you, you’ll have to watch.

 

The Scenery: While it is no substitute for the real thing, The Mountain Between Us is a great example of stunning camera work. My breath was taken away by all the panoramic shots of the wilderness from the ever expanding sky in the peaks, to the silent wonder of the forest littering the valleys below.  It brings out the deadly force that mother nature holds and stunned me by the majesty of the visual prowess cameras can pick up.  So while it is again not the same thing as hiking these majestic peaks, it is the next best thing.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Diluted Suspense:  If you are like me, the trailers might have you believe this was going to be the most suspenseful movie of the year.  Unfortunately, I was fooled again. This film has some moments that got my anxiety building, but a majority of it is an almost peaceful trek through the snow.  While they are certainly cold, our character’s journey through the frozen wastelands lacked many elements to build up the intensity.  Perhaps the lack of a cinematic score, or the fact that obstacles seemed cleared too easily thanks to convenience, this movies frozen fury was almost a little too fragile for me. Or maybe it was the other focus of the movie that downgraded the suspense for me…

 

The Love Theme: Yes, just like the symbolic title suggests, the main wedge is the character’s backstories preventing them from moving to the obvious sign of starting a romance.  Much of the film tries to get the two to address their rather quick development of passion for one another in some rather lackluster ways.  I wasn’t sold on the romance for the most part, and the actors themselves didn’t seem quite charmed by each other outside of one rather pointless scene. The friendship factor at the beginning was much stronger, and would have been the route I had taken in developing the story.  Again, I don’t necessarily hate love, but I would like it better portrayed for my investment.

 

Disproportion:  Timing the movie, as good geeks do, it took only 8 minutes to get up on the mountain.  While I appreciate the fast pace, it gave little time to get to know the characters or at least give them a decent introduction to the madness about to be had.  This opening was rather shallow and quite disappointing in the grand scheme of the movie.  Yet it’s not quite as bad as the dragged out ending of this film.  While not as long as Return of The King, and all its false exits, The Mountain Between Us sort fizzles out in the end.  This tangent was not necessary, a quick closure to try and tidy up some loose ends of a weaker component of the film. Worst off, the chemistry started to falter, making this an awkward mess with a rather cheesy, albeit poetic, ending.  Not sure why these last 25 minutes needed to exist, but it could have been better spent in the beginning and end of the movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mountain Between Us is a beautiful spectacle of what the world can provide in terms of a stage, certainly blowing my mind on the visuals.  Alongside this majestic scenery comes some quality acting and a hooking factor in the form of the dog.  Yet these tools alone couldn’t save this movie from being semi-dull. With the tension dropped to a PG level for symbolism and awkward love, alongside disproportioned parts, I can’t say this movie delivered all I wanted.  The visuals might be the main theater worthy component, but this reviewer suggests holding out for RedBox to catch it.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Runs to Artistic, Emotional Crime, but Lack On Thrills Of Predecessor

Blade Runner 2049

 

There are plenty of movies in Hollywood, only some of which ever reach legendary status that seals their place in history.  These sacred films were usually ended in a manner that didn’t require a sequel, but leave it to the big studios to not leave things along.  Tonight, Blade Runner 2049 premiers to the public, alongside some high review scores and plenty of praise.  Despite the decades long gap, this movie holds promise to be just as good as the sequel.  Robbie K is here to share some thoughts on the latest flick and help guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

True Sci-Fi Crime: The trailers don’t lie when they say Blade Runner 2049 is a crime noire film.  It opens with the reference back to the first film and soon uncovers a mystery that will run the course of the movie. As this occurs, the other parties are seeking ways to hinder our “hero” (Ryan Gosling) from uncovering the truth.  Like a glorified episode of half the crime-dramas on television, Blade Runner 2049 is all about capitalizing on a prolonged crime and mixing as much drama into it to help add character development.  All of this is nicely wrapped up in a science-fiction spin, integrating the floating ships, robots, and large computers as the theater it unfolds in.

 

Emotionally Artistic:  The thing that many reviewers seem to appreciate is that the movie brings a lot of emotional punch to the audience.  Our directors managed to interject a lot of feeling into Gosling’s supposedly emotional character.  As his story continues to unfold, you’ll be submerged into the psychological nightmare he is forced to face.  While the traumatic stress is certainly enough to pull some heart strings, it’s the artistic portrayal of determining one’s self that adds fuel to the fire. Self-Identity, a thing many struggle with, is well-addressed in this film, trying to uncover the truth about his self, all while solving the crime.  Throw in a rather deep, albeit weird, romance story and you will round out the emotional plotlines many seek.

 

Acting:  A character is only as good as the actor who portrays it to life and Blade Runner 2049 is a shining example of quality acting.  Gosling as the lead was a good choice, his ability to play a man with an identity crisis is quite believable, primarily in the way he seems to stand on the border of sane and psychopathic.  While not his best role, I enjoyed seeing the anti-hero part played by him again.  Harrison Ford reprises his edge well enough, but I felt they didn’t utilize him as well as they could.

 

Ana De Armas:  I was happy to see more of Ana in this film, seeing her branch down some more emotional pathways, all while driving the character development of Gosling’s character.  Yet, I can’t lie, that she was beautiful in the various outfits she shifted into during the film.  I got the best of both world in this film, and appreciated the costumes that she sported in her awkward scenes.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not so thrilling:  The first Blade Runner had some suspense to it, the constant thrill of the chase as Ford tried to hunt down the rogue androids.  It kept the pace going, all while integrating the elements I mentioned in the likes section.  Blade Runner 2049 though wasn’t that thrilling to me.  The action was rather bland, the emotion with it almost as flat, and had little suspense outside of how much torture some of the characters could take. I expected a little more spice to the mix, but don’t let the trailers fool you, the thrills were more like spills.

 

Long: If a movie is going to be nearly three hours, it needs to either move, or have an exciting climax.  I found neither of these elements in this movie, but instead a very drawn out movie that seemed to drag.  While the message and artistic license are appreciated, the editors could have really dropped half the footage to get me out of the theater faster.  Perhaps if the ending hadn’t been predictable I would have been more intrigued, but I found myself fighting sleep at times because from these elaborate, and often unnecessary details.

 

Predictable Story and Under Utilized Characters: Blade Runner 2049 might have been a well-built Sci-Fi Crime story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t predictable.  Most of the “twists” I got in the first hour, leaving me nearly two to go until they revealed it.  In addition, my expectations of where the story was going were also shattered as other characters were underutilized for more sappy looks and near depression.  This especially goes for Ford and Leto, who I felt got the short-end of the stick in this film. Throw in some of the loose ends, more like bait for the next film, and it left me unsatisfied with where the story was going.

 

Loud:  Many films are loud in a theater with blaring music and special effects to make the seats shake.  This movie though, just had obnoxious sound effects that were high-pitched groans, mixed with a soundtrack that while unique was not the most pleasing to me. Brace yourselves for this interesting sound soiree, because you are going to hear it a lot.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Blade Runner 2049 is artistic, a visual display that is packed with emotion, Sci-Fi charm, and a crime noire element.  It has much of the same feel as its predecessor, but I felt it lacked the suspense and thrills that the trailers promised back in the teaser. Sadly the predictable story, underutilized characters and audio assault didn’t justify the nearly three hour run time for me.  Don’t see this one when your energy is low folks, or you just might be fighting sleep.

 

My Scores:

 

Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

A Cruise Of Crime is Made Okay

American

 

 

American politics is a theater that continues to garner more attention than even the biggest award shows.  The players in their games can be just as interesting, especially in how far they go to accomplish their tasks.  My second review of the weekend focuses on one such person named Barry Seal, a famous American pilot who was a cog in so many aspects. What does this movie have in store for us?  Robbie K here to fill in on the latest biography and give you insight into another silver screen story.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

The Setting: Technology’s progression allows us to do many things, and one is recreating the past. American Made is a shining example of Hollywood’s ability to recreate the trends of the decades, from what towns/cities looked like to the fashion and cars that filled them.  You’ll be pulled back in time with this film, and become integrated in the world and fully diving into the world crafted by Seal’s actions. In addition, it’s also fun to see old news’ broadcasts integrated into the mix, further amping up the story.   And for all you nostalgia lovers out there, feel free to have fun remembering the adventures you back then.

 

Cruise’s Acting:  Say what you want about Tom Cruise’s personal life, but the man can certainly play his roles well.  Cruise comes in spades with this film, capturing arrogance, coyness, and that adventurous spirit all in one sitting.  His skills will bring out the emotions of the time period, the fear of being that pivotal chess piece that so many depend on.  Cruise’s chemistry with all his co-actors is favorable, resulting in a performance that feels natural. In addition, his dynamic abilities to transition between sub roles, further brings the character to life, an essential for a key role.

 

Thorough Tale:  Biographies are only as fascinating as the story presented, which often requires details.  Our directors/screenwriters have got you covered in this movie, sparing no time cost to hit all the deals that Seal was involved in.  Their presentation keeps guides you well in this movie, using captioned slide transitions and Cruise’s comedic dialogue to set the time and place of the next adventure.  It’s an easy tale to keep up with and hits so many qualities of Seal’s life in tandem to his antics (including family, friends, and even sanity).  I felt that of all the books brought to life, this was one that hit the closest to home.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Magic vs Reality:  The challenge with these films is determining what is real and what is overdramatized.  There are plenty of moments where that question comes up, as the cast of characters appears with grandiose gestures and presentations to corrupt the system. As the story progresses, the whole conspiracy gets even larger and the drama amps up to levels that are hard to believe.  The over dramatization gets a little cheesy at times, and made me roll my eyes at the extremes the legal system went to and how untrustworthy they were. Fans of this style though, will easily be hooked into the escapades of the movie.

 

Skimped on other factors:  While American Made touches on many aspects of the film, there was an imbalance in how much they would focus on those other aspects.  The family aspect was so heavily influenced at the beginning, but then gets diluted down to background noise and occasional shots.  Same thing goes for a few business partners he contracts as well, a rather focused opening, but then runs out of gas. While I give them props for keeping things concise, the disjunction between these aspects is a little disappointing to me, especially how one would affect the other.  In addition, these rushed elements took the suspense away from me.

 

The wasted sequences:  The most annoying thing for me though, were the tangential flashes that occur in this movie.  Seal’s memories are fascinating to see, but there are a few of them that were pointless to have sequences for.  An example is him randomly saying he had kids, only to flash to a scene of her in labor for a brief comedic relief.  While a noble attempt, it was nothing a well-placed line could have done as well. There are other examples as well that all could have been left out, thereby further reducing the run length.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            American Made is a great biography that has some flare other biographies have lacked for me.  Cruise leads the way in terms of strengths for this movie, but the world and tale itself are an entertaining venue to watch.  Yet, there are plenty of overdramatic moments and wasted shots that have made this a glorified Netflix/History Channel worthy production.  If you are looking for a good biography though, scope this one out, otherwise wait for next week’s releases before going to the theater. 

 

My scores;

 

Action/Biography/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Flat on Many Levels! Needs A Full Code To Bring To Life

Flatliners

            Death, the inevitable destination that we are constantly reminded of in the various forms of media.  We spend all our time trying to postpone it that sometimes we miss out on life itself.  This weekend’s remake though focuses on hastening to that endpoint all in the name of science.  I’m talking about Flatliners, a movie that many may be “deathly” afraid to see for one reason or another, however this reviewer is back in the theater to bring you some information on the latest silver screen picture.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Pretty Cast:  You get this from the trailers, but Flatliners is another example of pretty faces taking full front in a movie.  Like MTV meets a horror film, this cast will make young and old hearts beat as the characters dress in either preppy fashion or tight clothing to get the blood pumping.  Made up faces sparkle in the light, despite the ever-pressing doom hanging over them, and even in their worst they still look incredible.  Very important qualities in a movie.

 

Morals Wrapped in HorrorA better reward of this movie is the impressive delivery of some important lessons, one of which was rather personal to me.  The first is not to play with the defibrillator to study death, a lesson we all thought we knew, but guess we could use a refresher. Second is to take responsibility for your actions, and make up for them in an honorable manner.  Third is all about forgiveness, something that everyone can use a reminder of in terms of accepting apologies of those that are sincere.  While a bit theatrical at times, Flatliners delivers its lessons solidly, integrating it into the plot and making it fit well into the story.  This gooey, moral driven center is the sweet reward of the movie and perhaps my favorite component of the movie.

 

Decent Characters: Horror movies often have idiots for characters, or so blatantly shallow you can’t help but root for them to meet their end.  Not the case in this film.  Flatliner’s crew, despite the stupid desire to meet death, actually feel like relatable characters.  Their friendship, their flaws, and their fears were relevant to me, and were well-acted by our beautiful cast. As such, these characters are little easier to latch onto and invest your time into, following them through the nightmare they unleashed. For me, it was Diego Luna I grasped on to the most, his character being a keystone into connecting the elements of the plot.

 

Short Run Time:  Always nice when a horror movie doesn’t drag out too long, lost in the unnecessary details that often aren’t needed. Flatliners did a decent job trimming the fat, keeping things concise (if a bit rushed) and essential to explaining our character’s backstory, while still keeping the plot moving.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  Perhaps it’s me seeing so many movies, but Flatliners again failed to shock me.  Outside of the looks they wear when they stop their own hearts (as well as the questionable medical techniques), the movie doesn’t remotely focus on scares of any sort.  There are few vivid images that start down the path, but these fizzle out and become lost in a rather vague concept.  Throw in the rather lax attacks of the entity and well… there isn’t much more to build on to explain the calm pace this movie takes.

 

Vague Creature:  The trailers portray something being unleashed, but Flatliners does a poor job explaining what it is.  A spirit?  A demon? Their minds breaking from all the stress?  The answer is left for you to decipher, but don’t expect much in terms of the evil taking any form. This not only robs the movie of potential scares, but also makes the story confusing and more towards a drama than anything else. While this gets points for making you think, I still would have liked a little more imagination into my monster, or whatever it was.

 

Rushed Elements:  While the characters are better than most horrors, they still are mere shadows to great story works. Flatliners’ dilemmas are hastened through on many levels, a rather pathetic climax with a resolution obtained more easily than the Hulk Smashing through a building.  Some characters got their just desserts on development, but others got off a little easier than expected.  But development would mean a longer movie, so I can’t be too upset.

 

Predictable:  It’s hard to throw surprises in these days, but Flatliners was a little too familiar for my tastes.  In addition to the scares, much of the tale was easy to see coming, and following that pathway just takes away from the originality factor.  With this gone, the special feeling of this movie is further reduced to just another weekend filler.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Flatliners is another example of modern, horror movies with superficial glimmer that is merely gold paint. A pretty cast and good morals don’t offset the fact that movie is just not scary enough, nor original enough, to garnish a theater visit.  The abstract monster that dwells within us all gets you thinking, but come on, we want something to make us lose sleep at night.  Therefore, this mediocre remake gets the following:

 

Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0