Saved The Greatest For Last!: A Real Show Stopper

Greatest Showman

The Circus, a collection of assorted talent meant to wow and amaze the people the audience with their stunts.  At the head of this arena was P.T Barnum, a name associated with the Big Tent and imagination to continue bringing the magic to the world that so desperately needed.  So naturally, Hollywood would design a movie after him entitled The Greatest Showman, a musical piece that looks to be a big sensation this season.  But can Hugh Jackman

lead his cavalcade to victory, or is it just another flop the trailers bulked up.  Robbie K here to provide some thoughts, as we do yet another movie review.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Entertaining Pace:  You know I like a movie that moves, and Greatest Showman takes little time to get into the fun territory.  The excitement starts from the moment the opening credits begin, holding back little in order to get the magic started.  It’s a risky, but smart, move as their execution led to one of the most engaging movies of the holiday season.

 

The Acting:  I love a good cast coming together to bring the film alive, and again this film manages to accomplish this task.   Jackman takes the center stage as Barnum, capturing the imagination drive of the legendary ring leader and energizing the movie with his spirit .  The rebellious nature to take risks is portrayed quite well with him at the reigns, and the evolution his character goes through is spectacularly acted.  Michelle Williams was a great lead actress for the character Charity, bringing both beauty and class to role of a supportive wife doing her best to keep Jackman’s spirit in check with reality. Zac Efron and Zendaya, are wonderful supporting actors to the leads, they just needed a little more integration into the plot.  The rest of the cast knocks the movie out of the park, but I have more things to talk about so let’s move on.

 

The Messages: Greatest Showman by far has my favorite presentation of those pesky, yet important life lessons. Living your dreams, accepting yourself, and helping others are the key factors held in this movie.  This portrayed primarily from Barnum’s view, but the movie blends the perspective from the other performers and their judgement by the high society. A classy nod to the traditional, now outlandish, views, the movie does a great job clashing the concepts of society norms vs. uniqueness and the struggles of being brave to change the world. Seeing the emotional warfare unleashed on the performers tore at my heart strings, but made the relevant topic come to life in a fantastic way.  It’s a bit preachy at times, but given the quality and the use of multiple devices to bring it to life, it really does work .

 

The Numbers/Soundtrack: By far, my favorite aspect of the movie are the musical numbers.  Incredible is not nearly enough to describe the musical extravaganzas, each dance number being dynamic and fun with a well orchestrated choreography that combines Circus stunts with Hollywood footwork.  Outside of the thrilling movements though, these numbers are charged with emotion, bring the relevant messages to life with a powerful punch to penetrate the walls of hardened halls and bring with it joy, inspiration, or in some tears of joy. But if you don’t care about that component, then perhaps you’ll appreciate the story telling and relationship building of the numbers that help speed up the formalities of socializing. And if all that fails, well then just be stoked for awesome numbers with a good beat. I’ll admit that they all sound quite similar in many aspects, but there is enough of a twist to grant them their individuality.  Nevertheless, this is one soundtrack I plan to pick up.  Can you tell I liked the movie?

 

DISLIKES:

 

Wanted more:  For once I can say I wanted the movie to be longer.  Greatest Showman is a story that balances numerous things over the 105-minute run time with regards to love, loyalty, pressures of success, etc.  However, I wish that many of these qualities were either elaborated more, or held a little more struggle to provide a stronger development arc to the characters I loved so much. Most likely the extra content would not have felt longer due to the energy of the film, but this might have increase the run time to 3 hours so maybe it was a good thing. In addition, I wanted to have better integration of some of the other characters into the story, (i.e. Napoleon guy, bearded lady, and the wife) rounding out the experience of the film and giving us better backstories on our oddities. Those connections between the dots would have expanded the experience out and only further strengthen the story.

 

The CGI:  This component is not bad at all, but despite the spectacles you would have thought this production could have acquired some real live animals for the numbers.  The CGI work is good, fluid motion and semi-realistic design, but given everything they did with the live actors for the numbers, the CGI animals seemed a little like they were cutting corners.  Yeah, this is a picky dislike, it’s hard to find many big weaknesses in this film.

 

The Hollywood Treatment:  From the quotes we know the aspirations of P.T. Barnum, but like many biographies, one has to wonder how much of this is the Hollywood shine.  While uglier sides of Barnum do come out, I think the movie flew by his money making, business side because it didn’t fit into the story’s other moments or perhaps meant fewer musical numbers for our auto tuned cast to come up with. Still, I’m a sucker for seeing an uplifting tale, where the positives are the focusing point of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT

            Hands down, The Greatest Showman is one of my favorite films of the Hollywood season.  The movie is constantly entertaining the audience, utilizing the acting, the special effects, and more importantly the music to sell the moral points hidden in the 105 minutes.  Such a positive tale of friendship, self-discovery, and acceptance is a perfect match to the Holiday season and I for one cannot wait to see this film again.  Yes, Hollywood glamor is at work, and the movie could have expanded on both characters and plot elements to connect the dots a little more, but I was very pleased by this film.  Therefore, I highly recommend this one for the theaters, not only in terms of quality, but also because the songs rattling the theater adds to the experience that only the most expensive surround sound systems can begin to match. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/Musical:  9.5

Movie Overall: 9.0

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You Might Get Down In The Dumps With Downsizing: Artistic Politics Meets Indecisive Plot

Downsizing.jpg

 

Political issues continue to storm the world today with the constant media flood of negative events and the violence/greed that plagues the world.  One would think that we would learn from these mistakes, but sadly the human psyche is difficult to change given the effort that is required to actively change your lifestyle. So perhaps a movie will be an inspiration, because that seems to be the theme of my next movie to review Downsizing starring Matt Damon. Depending on which trailer you’ve seen, assuming you have seen the trailer, you might not know what to expect from this movie. Robbie K is back again to provide some thoughts on the latest release.  So let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

-Cinematography:  For those who appreciate the art of camerawork, editing, and world building, this movie is a beauty to say the least. Downsizing’s impressive visuals start with bringing the shrinking to life, blending the use of giant props with camera angels to give you the illusion of being small. This gimmick is nicely balanced, dropping the relativity factor in now and again to keep you in the world without crossing into Honey I Shrunk The Kids Territory. Aside from that, the visuals are stunning from the modernized apartments and slums to the beautiful rich European countryside.  It all makes for a stunning display to help you appreciate the majesty of the world.

 

The Acting:  Downsizing is a movie that does not rely on flashy stunts and slapstick humor, but it does rely heavily on the actors bringing the issues to life.  Much like the Martian, Damon holds a lot of the movie on his shoulder and he does a nice job playing the broad spectrum role of Paul. Despite some character directions they took, Damon plays the balanced role well and keeps you engaged in his discovery of the brand new world that downsizing brings.  Christoph Waltz on the other hand is the entertainment factor of the group bringing his charisma, arrogance, and fantastic delivery to bring the selfish, materialistic slime ball role to life.  He offset the drier tone of the movie, and helped keep things a little more exciting in this rather long run time. And the third key player is Hong Chau who has the humanistic role down pat.  Chau captures the cultured mannerisms of an activist and mixes it with the blunt honesty many people have these days.  Her character is certainly the moral compass, and Chau does it in a mostly natural way devoid of cheesy, impressive speeches that Hollywood writing is famous for.

 

-The Morals:  I said earlier this movie was political, and that perhaps is the central component of downsizing. Like a glossed up version of an Inconvenient Truth documentary, Downsizing is a movie  all about the evaluation of cultural trends from equality in living to the global crises that plague our world.  Downsizing hits all of these in a very tasteful manner, working them into the story via natural dialogue and the nice cinematography to support it via the world they have created.  Those who love talking politics are going to love the artistic discussion this movie provides, and how it makes you think about all the issues present in this movie and where the world is heading.  This movie is certainly Oscar worthy in terms of the ethic content it contains.

 

DISLIKES:

-Boring at times:  I know, I like action, which this movie wasn’t expected to have. However, I like a story that has a little more drive and feels less like a new bulletin brought to life.  Downsizing’s plot is very thin outside of the morals it presents, with little progression outside of moving from one setting to another.  The character development is interesting to say the least, and I feel the movie got too caught up in the artistic presentation to really flesh out the story.  The pacing is just off for me, with documentaries having more drive than this movie did for me, and that depreciate the theater value for me.

 

Aimless Plot:  Part of the reason I found this movie boring is due to the indecisiveness of the story they wanted to tell.  The movie is filled with political food, but they never stick around long enough to flesh out an entertaining plot before addressing the next moral issue.  Eventually a humanitarian vibe takes hold in the background, but it never becomes a progressing plot, because we have to tackle the issues of divorce next. Even worse, a rather pathetic love story started to take root, but it happened to late in the movie to really make it worthwhile.  This is an example of too many plots in a single production and a little sad that the director couldn’t figure out which plots to really focus on.

 

Depressing:  I mentioned earlier that it depends on which trailer you saw as to what to expect.  A majority of the initial trailers I saw painted this movie as a fun drama of minuscule proportions with a little socialism and romance to tide things over.  Unfortunately, the movie is not as much fun as I had hoped. Clever writing, witty comedy, and solid delivery are there, but the impending messages of the film heavily crush the fun to be had to sell the point. Combine this with my other dislikes and you understand why this may not have been the movie to release so close to a time of joy.  Ho, Ho, Ho, human race not a go!

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Downsizing is a fantastic representation of the art movie making can be in regards to presenting political issues in a unique angle.  The beautiful cinematography and acting really bring these issue to life, and it is one of the smarter films to grace the silver screen in a long time.  Yet, the movie suffers from too many issues brought into one installment, which is only further weakened by the aimless development of these plots because they have to cram another issue in. There was so much potential to be cultivated and yet… it failed to take fruit and become the fun drama I think the trailers portrayed in the beginning.  I recommend you hold out on this one for home viewing, or at least wait until the holidays are over to avoid depressing yourself into sullen madness. 

 

My scores are:

Comedy/Drama/Sci-Fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

Like a Bad Dad Jokes, This Movie Is Stale From The Start

Father Figures

Father’s, a staple in many families to teach wise lessons, take care of booboos, and hopefully impart some wisdom and love in their families.  Unfortunately, many Hollywood film fathers fall on the opposite side, portrayed as selfish losers, who flee when that woman announces a bun in the oven.  If they stick around, well they don’t often shine in the brightest light.  And it is this trend that has provided kindling for my movie review tonight to rise from.  Father Figures starring Ed Helms and Owen Wilson released this weekend, in hopes of providing the comedy spirit of the season amidst all the other released.  What lies in store?  As always read on to find out.

 

LIKES:

 

-Consistent Pace:  Most movies can be enjoyed, or at least less annoying, when the pace is consistent and moves to minimize unimportant tangents.  Father Figures is one of those movies that does a bang up job keeping the plot moving, going from point A to point Z in a linear fashion with few side trips.  As such, the film remains entertaining, given the limited comedic strategy involved in this film.

 

-The Ending:  Perhaps one of the few twists I didn’t predict all the way through, the ending is a great finale to salvage some parts of the film. After all of the silly, unemotional sequences in the film, the ending scenes really bring things into a feeling rich brilliance that sort of seals the deal on all the relationships.  Cheesy?  Absolutely, but the editing, the score, and the acting all mesh together to bring the journey to a very satisfying end that might be a little bit of a tear jerker in this desert of drab humor.

 

Katt Williams By far my favorite aspect of the movie is Katt Williams as the Hitchhiker. The trailers only highlight the comedy this character brings to the screen.  His timing is better than the two leading characters, with a delivery that comes out more naturally and fluid to maximize the laughs. In addition, the directors managed to develop a new comedy scheme for him, using him as a volunteer psychiatrist who somehow seemed to have all the answers, but be awkward about it.  They didn’t abuse his character, which perhaps resulted in why he was my favorite part of this movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  Let’s start out with a minor dislike and work our way up.  Father Figures’ comedy is dependent on two things:  Your love vulgar comedy lines and trying to make it relate to the story.  Unfortunately for the second factor, the story is very predictable and with it the comedy is also predictable as well.  You’ll see both jokes and plot twists a mile away, leading to a rather mundane holiday comedy that has nothing to do with the holiday spirit.  And despite all the opportunities for twists to the adventure, the movie failed to act upon the potential, instead choosing for shallow comedy shout outs.

 

Lazy Writing: I’m all about a good stupid laugh or two, but many know how much I hate for curse laden dialogue with little point.  Certainly not the worst of the offenders, Father Figures relied too heavily on the cursing to do the heavy lifting.  A good F bomb or two can get the emotion of the scene wrapped up, but the constant use soon becomes a space filling ploy with little else being accomplished.  In addition, much of the writing is repetitive, not necessarily like a good running joke, but the fact that the same lines that keep coming up over and over again.  

 

Victim of Trailers:  My friend Tim subscribes to the thought of avoiding trailers to avoid ruining the movie.  That’s a good philosophy for this film, because even seeing one trailer spoils a lot of this movie in more ways than one Father Figures fails to deviate from its advertising in a good way, and depending on how many times you have seen the trailers, determines how stale the jokes are going in.  My theater didn’t laugh much in this film, and a few stated this is because they had seen it on the trailers already.  In fact, most of the deviations from the trailer came in the form of scene deletions and/or alterations in lines to be more R rated.  I don’t know if they were that desperate to decrease the run time, or if the scenes didn’t fit into the grand scheme, but nevertheless, those differences did not help the movie.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

If you thought Father Figures looked bad from the trailers, you weren’t too far from the truth to be honest.  The movie has little in terms of unique comedy/plots and is merely a holiday pass over for those not looking to watch half of the other things releasing this week.  Katt Williams and an emotional ending cannot save this film in terms from mediocre jokes, predictable plots, and stale comedy via the trailers. While it gets points for cuteness, the movie is not really worth the trip to the theater and is best saved for a RedBox rental or if you have cable a television premier on TBS.  

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

 

Third Time is the Semi-Charm: Pitching A Final Shot

Pitch Perfect 3.jpg

 

It started with a song that roped a group together, and it has blown up into one of the most popular comedies to serenade the stage.  The movie is Pitch Perfect and the trilogy comes to a close tonight as the Bellas take center screen once more to sing their “potential” swan song.  After copious media advertisements, does the third installment have the vocal chords to shatter our ear drums in delight?  Or does it fall to bad singing in the shower.  Robbie K here to once again give you his thoughts on a movie.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

Back to its comedic roots: Pitch Perfect has always been globally popular thanks to the comedic antics of the cast at hand (primarily Rebel Wilson). Pitch Perfect 3 returns to those roots and brings back clever writing, inappropriate remarks that are well-timed, and banter that somehow works despite how silly it is.  Much of the overacting from the second film is gone, and it proves that balance and timing go a lot farther than comedic meme stuffing.

 

The Character Development Story: The third installment has a lot going on to wrap up the show, but the story most endearing and true to the series is Beca’s development.  Like the first film, the plot is all about testing Beca again in the qualms of life, choosing which aspects of her life she is to pursue in her road to success and happiness.  While comedic, and a little rushed at times, her growth as a character is touching, blending the painful growing up moments with the emotional zing that hits you in the heart.  This component is by far the most solid ground of the film.

 

The Music: It wouldn’t be a Pitch Perfect without music and this movie comes back in spades with the remixes of a number of songs.  The acapella numbers certainly are the most impressive and energetic of the bunch, though they still lack in regards to choreography, shimmer, and comedy that we have seen in the past.  Additional songs with actual instruments also have a nice twist to the franchise, especially the new riff off scene that is sure to stick in your minds.  For me though, there needed to be more and I missed the competition component of the film, despite how much they made fun of it.

 

The Conclusion: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a solid conclusion, and Pitch Perfect 3 does not disappoint with the final sequence.  It captures the spirit of the girls, brings their relationship to life, and solidly wraps up this journey that has been progressing over seven years.  Does this mean the series has to be rebooted?  No, there are plenty of docks to launch from should, and probably most likely will, Hollywood want to pick it back up.  Nevertheless, count this reviewer happy with the ending of this film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Hosts:  I’ve always loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins banter in the films, as the writing is unique, the delivery exaggerated but fun, and the randomness just perfectly timed.  This film though really weakened their characters for me, turning them into annoying, unnecessary extras who seemed forced into the story.  I admit, I chuckled a few times, but the writing was much weaker for me with these characters and it might have been better left out to make room for other plots/characters.

 

The Dropped Characters: The hosts were just the start, as Pitch Perfect’s cast loses a couple of members at the start that I hadn’t expected to see… well dropped.  While I appreciate dropping the crappy romance tales of the second movie, and even seeing the girls grow up, some of the decisions in this movie I didn’t agree with.  Letting these characters fade into the background, started to become plot ploys, that were forced, simplified, detours to unite the gang or quickly fill in gaps.  I guess it’s better than having them just stand in the background, but it’s not much of an improvement to see fan favorites once again become background characters. 

 

The Weak Rivals: I mentioned this earlier, but Pitch Perfect 3 once again makes washed-out rival bands whose potential is sucked dry after one scene. Why? I can’t answer that question, but the three bands that we are introduced have an awesome riff-off and small partial numbers that are the only quality participation on their part.  The promise of combined tracks, duets, and heated rivalry was broken, again letting these characters dropped into annoying story ploys that are more bark than bite.  It does get points for creativity, but not many given what they were substituted for.

 

The Other Parts Of The Story: I love the character development in this arc, but the other plots…not so much.  Pitch Perfect 3 has a boat load of subplots trying to compete for attention.  Sadly, many of these are again rushed messes, trying to give the movie a little bit of everything to please the audiences.  Some cute romances, some “surprise” life events, and some backstories are the more positive of these, but the Fat Amy tale was out of place for me.  I liked learning about her history, but the crime element of it didn’t seem to fit into a music movie, though it certainly agrees with the comedy…primarily pitch perfect 2’s comedy.  These parts weren’t the worst thing mind you, it just felt like too much in one film for me that took up more time.  Time that could have been spent on more musical spunk.

 

The Verdict:

Overall, Pitch Perfect Three is still the fun, girl power film the dedicated fans will enjoy.  The humor has been toned back to Pitch Perfect One level, the numbers are still just as toe-tapping, and there are plots that work so well to wrap everything up in a honorable manner.  Yet, the movie still has trouble with its plot balance, and utilizing its characters to the fullest still eluded them in this film.  I like this one better than 2, but the original still rings the bell as the champion of this series.  Worth a trip to the theaters?  Yeah, I think it is, but there are other options that are probably better.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Music:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Welcome To The Jungle

Jumanji

 

The drums beat heavy in the air, the impending sound of doom resonating with their deep sounds indicating another threat on the horizon.  Those tribal instruments were just one component of the adventure Jumanji was back in the 90s, well that and about a thousand other things that made for a fun adventure.  Now, decades later, the jungle is to be unleashed once more to the modern generation in hopes of reviving the adventure once more, perhaps for more sequels.  Robbie K here to give you the 411 on the latest movies, so let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

The References:  It’s always fun to get pleasant memories of your childhood refreshed with a nostalgic reference.  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, tips its hat towards a couple of Easter eggs that will take you back to the nineties.  The animatronic animals, the familiar sounds of wild life hidden in the bushes, and a few shout outs to previous characters were well placed to revive the spark the prequel made long ago.

 

Acting:  Okay, this film isn’t going to win any major awards for best actor/actress, but that doesn’t count it out for quality, entertaining talent.  Dwayne Johnson is still a rugged, stud adventure type with a smolder and skill for comedic sarcasm.  Kevin Hart has the rant style down, focusing on energetic, loud delivery with a little cursing to sweeten the pot.  Jack Black provides the awkward comedy, yet manages to take it one step further by acting like a girl trapped in a man’s body, including all the mannerisms that modern teenage girls exemplify. Karen Gillan is edgy, angst filled, yet somehow reserved to bring a fighter not fueled by raging hormones of stress.  While it doesn’t sound that different, there are a couple of things that impressed me.  The first is that the chemistry between these actors, which seemed very natural as they bounced their insults and dialogue off of one another.  The second component is how the actors seemed to portray not only the qualities of their avatar, but also of the kids trapped inside them.  Much like Jack Black, the actors all had to balance teenage adolescent with epic adventure role and it worked very well for me.

 

Comedy: By far the strongest component for me though is the laugh fest hidden in the foliage of the artificial jungle world.  Jumanji 2 was one of the funniest adventures I’ve seen in a while, filled with a plethora of comedic styles to tickle your fancy in a variety of ways.  Insult humor, one-liners, meme worthy antics, and even sexual innuendos are all crammed into the 2-hour run time.  Spreading the humor throughout kept things fresh for me and changing up the style only further kept me laughingHowever, the component I loved was how tasteful the stupidity was, managing to combine wit and slapstick into a blend that is just a hoot to watch.  I feel this style will work for a wide variety of ages, though beware of the occasional curse bomb to light up the screen.

 

 

DISLIKES;

 

A Little Corny/Stretch:  Welcome to the Jungle is a stretch in many regards, however there are times where the movie treks of the already ridiculous path.  Some of the action scenes have stunts that defy physics, or performances that are pushing the limits at times.  These inconsistencies are easy to ignore for the most part, and really don’t ruin much with all the fun to be had.  Yet, these components are a little cheesy at times, fake looking even more so, and dilutes the message in a preachy fashion.

 

The Bad Guy:  The main villain has a cool power to use, but sadly the villain doesn’t utilize it very well.  In addition, the primary antagonist and his cronies are a little anticlimactic in terms of threatening the jungle, being more roar than bite.  A few lousy maneuvers, a threat here or there, and some lame NPC minions just didn’t do it for me in regards to development and design.

 

Missing Adventure:  As fun as the video game twist was on the movie, I missed the component of the board game that made the original the adventure it was.  Remember the terror of the unknown as the dice rolled and the swirling green mist formed into a message?  How about seeing the horrors of the jungle out into the real world and our heroes having to do everything to keep the board safe?  Yeah, those thrills are what Jumanji was about as the beasts were unleashed in special effect glory.  This movie focused a little too heavy on the biker gang motive and sort of ditched the jungle component for me.  I missed the animal part of this adventure and the blending of these threats together, and the adventure they crafted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Welcome to the Jungle is a very fun movie and I was not disappointed as I could have been. It’s funny, with a great cast to bring the crew to life and a great energy to keep one entertained throughout the whole movie.  Yet, the comedy seemed to be the main focus, because the balanced laughs really overshadowed the adventure component the first movie had within it.  Still, many ages will enjoy what this movie has to offer and will be quoting this movie for quite some time after it leaves theaters.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, though save your dough and don’t see it in 3-D.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Fantastic Fun Ferd The Whole Family!

Ferdinand

 

In the shadow of the epic saga, there lies an animated field where flowers grow, birds sing, and bulls romp around smelling the fauna.  No, I’m not drunk, I’m talking about Ferdinand the Bull, the latest kid’s animated feature to stamped on to the silver screen. Blue Skies Studio has been advertising this film like crazy, in hopes of nabbing the younger audience this weekend.  Yet with Disney knocking these films out of the park is there any hope for the other studios to put out quality work?  Robbie K here happy to answer that question, as we hit yet another Robbie’s movie review.

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation: It’s an animated movie and as such you want the animation to be well good.  While not the most realistic looking film to drop into our laps, Ferdinand still has a wonderful style that brings the world to life.  The cartoony looks of the character, a common theme in Blue Sky production, adds to the fun of the film, and will be a welcoming sight to your little ones.  The world has dynamic shades of color to mirror the tone of the setting, and a majority of it explodes to life in a manner that kid’s movies only can. And of course… the anthropomorphized animals move beautifully in all aspects from the simple act of speaking to even break dancing. 

 

Voice work:  In an animated work, it’s up to the voice work to also bring the characters to life and Ferdinand accomplishes this goal quite well.  John Cena is surprisingly a great voice actor, bringing some range in his emotional spectrum I didn’t quite expect from the gigantic tower of a man. Kate McKinnon in all her glory, is the comedic punch to the film with a very energetic delivery that gets toned down a few times to roll her character back in serious mode.  Of course the other supporting voices lend their roles well with Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, and Gabriel Iglesias all contributing to the fun at hand in their own special way, and yes fluffy was my favorite. And as an added bonus, most of the characters have decent screen time, meaning you don’t get shortsighted like many films do.

 

The Fun:  This movie is exactly what the advertisements promise, a fun, simplistic adventure that brings a lot of enjoyment to the screen.  Ferdinand’s antics are simply cute, like a big puppy trapped in a big body that is awkward and klutzy. What starts as simplistic slapstick though soon evolves, recruiting some rather witty jokes, a poke at some cinema references, and a dance off that will be legendary on YouTube for some time.  All these little gestures combine to maximize the laughs, and while much of this is geared towards kids, there are some jokes that adults will appreciate.

 

The emotions:  While this movie is certainly more on the humorous side, it’s also got a great delivery to tug at the heart strings.  Ferdinand’s moral code is inspiring, his perspective of love, loyalty, friendship, and courage fantastically told in the camera work and cinematic score.  I didn’t tear up, but the things the digital bull did carved a smile on my face for a majority of the movie.  It’s nice to see such balance in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

A little too simplistic:  One thing that is difficult to compete with Disney is their unique worlds and ideas they build.  Ferdinand, despite being fun, is not that unique of an environment compared to the magic of Walt and is lacking that creative spark that has become famous in modern animation.  In addition, the movie doesn’t have the most complicated twists to the mix, which works for the younger audience, but could have added a little more pep to the step.

 

McKinnon’s jokes:  While McKinnon is a fantastic voice actor and infuses energy into the mix, there are times where she goes a little too far in her joking.  The writer’s capitalized on her SNL talents, but sadly they went a little too far.  Kate’s character Lupe is very sporadic, extremely silly, and at times very irritating.  Imagine a drunk toddler with an ADD twist, and you’ll get a good idea of what her character is like, including regurgitation and memory lapse for the whole family.  Yes, there are those golden moments where it works, but for me, well Lupe’s over trying was a downfall for me in the long run.  Thank goodness for those grounding moments, because without them… well I wouldn’t have been pulling for them.

 

More hedgehogs:  Final small dislike, wanted more hedgehog power to bring up the magic.  They were my favorite characters of the bunch, and I would have liked to see them shine a little more.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ferdinand is fun, wholesome, family entertainment that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.  With great animation and voice work to guide the way, this movie will be a fantastic trip for you and the whole family. Despite the fun to be had though, it still needs some tweaking in a few areas to really bring out the masterpiece.  In comparison to a Disney film, it has a lot of work to catch up on, but most families should not mind with the fun adventure to be had.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Yeah, I can say it would be, especially for a nice holiday church outing. 

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall  6.5-7.0

The Story Is Big On This One

Star Wars 8

 

Well it’s finally here!  The epic movie that television has bombarded us with for the last three months has finally appeared from light speed to grace us with another epic installment, or so we hope.  Episode 8 has held the promise of the return of story telling, matching the epic lore of the originals told to hopefully breathe life in a series that has struggled.  Rumors even say it surpasses Empire Strikes Back, the movie that holds the throne of Star Wars quality.  Can this be true?  Has the Force grown strong once more?  Robbie K here to shed light on the rumors and hopefully provide some wisdom.  Get Started, Let’s!

 

LIKES:

 

The Cinematography:  My wise friends stated right off that this movie may be the best filmed of the bunch.  The Last Jedi is a beautiful example of camera work meeting state of the art technology, helping bring the world to life with spectacular visuals.  The various angles keep you engrossed in all the details, and paints a very dynamic battleground to which our cast fights in.  And unlike episode 7, the sound score is back to Williams’ creative work, a blend of old and new that fits into the scene and adds the life to an already vibrant setting.

 

The Acting:  A large cast of characters, requires acting to bring them to life, and the Last Jedi has recruited a phenomenal crew to accomplish this goal.  I can’t go into great details, but here we go.  Mark Hamill brings the fire back into Luke Skywalker with both classic and old Luke style clashing into a complex character. Daisy Ridley takes the simplistic Rey from last time and unleashes her character in full “force” expanding her into a fantastic character that is full of spunk.  Carrie Fisher another victory when on screen, that has the vim and vigor of the wizened princess we loved.  Newcomers Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran were welcomed additions to the cast.  Dern’s chameleon like abilities continue to craft respectable and honorable characters that fit well in Leia’s legacy, with a nice edge to keep things tense.  Tran on the other hand is the hopeful character, that has nice delivery of inspirational dialogue, with a dab of rebellion on the side.  Everyone worked quite well and I wish I had more time to compliment everyone, but trust me it’s good.

 

The Comedy:  A nice quality to have, the comedy in this movie is a nice relief to the darker atmosphere on this side of the galaxy.  The Last Jedi’s writing is a combination of good timing and wit, that beats in time with all the characters.  The ever changing ploys also keeps things fun to watch and had my mentor and I guffawing through much of the movie.

 

The Storytelling:  Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Last Jedi is the presentation in terms of plot in this movie.  Director Rian Johnson dug deep into the lore and ignited it in full form in installment eight, bringing with it rich details that answered much of our questions.  Much of the tale is character development, pushing them hard to expand upon their hastened roles of seven into more complete soldiers to partake this journey with.  The three tales were balanced quite well, spaced out to keep things relevant and each connecting to the big plot as a whole, much like the classic tales were in. These tales are not only adventurous, but filled with strong lessons that this series is famous for preaching.  And yet the biggest part of this I like are the twists integrated in this film.  Many surprises lie in store for this movie, and many of them fit nicely to take the story deeper down the dark hole.  These surprises are perhaps the most engaging parts of the movie, the likes of which weren’t expected much like Empire.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Salvaged Plots:  Despite the strengths I have mentioned in the plot, this modern trilogy still has issues with being too close to the classic series.  A blend of episodes five and six, much of this film is a retelling of those classic arcs that is a little disappointing on their dependence to the old and not trying out new elements. At least it is executed, well right?

Unnecessary Tangent:  One of the story points almost didn’t feel needed, or at least one section of the tangent wasn’t that big of a hit for me.  The world of Canto Bight makes statements, has a connecting point, and a memorable scene, but this small adventure felt out of place in the grand design.  It will bring merchandise opportunities, one of which is a book, but this world didn’t hold much value to me outside of a few laughs and some cool beasts.  Perhaps a little more struggle, or intensity could have redeemed it for me, though it still isn’t too bad for me.

 

Suspension of reality:  I get it, it’s Star Wars and that is Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Still, there has to be some consistency in regards to how you are going to ignore the physics of real life and the lore that came before.  There are moments you will roll your eyes at in terms of the inabilities of the technology, or how uneven the skills seem to develop.  While we could ignore these if they were minor, the movie’s key situation relied on this suspension and it was a little too big of a stretch for me.

 

The Action:  Star Wars is a series that relies on action to pick things up and make add the fire that makes the story shine like the stars.  With a rather intense start, Last Jedi had potential, but soon that potential was lost to the void.  Much of this movie is dialogue, development, and connections, and with it one of the slower paces of the series.  Yes, there were a few moments to help pick up the pace, but much of this was short lives or lacking that laser packing punch I loved in the first installments.  Say what you want about the prequels, but they had some incredible fight scenes that livened things up and the Last Jedi really needed this element for me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Last Jedi is indeed proof that the universe still has life left in the void of the galaxy Lucas created.  It’s got emotion! It’s got character development!  It’s got twists!  All of this is important in developing characters and making them fly off the screen.  Throw in great acting and beautiful cinematography and you have a really, well done film.  Yet, this generation still is not escaping the salvaging of the classic plot points, while their unique aspects need a little tweaking in terms of relevance.  However, the biggest improvement has got to be the action, working to bring the ship to ship combat back to full strength, and really getting those lightsaber battles back up to snuff.  Still, it’s a fantastic film to catch in theaters and definitely a worthy installment to Lucas’s world.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  8.0