Acrimony Bologna

Acrimony

 

Robbie K back with yet another movie review this weekend, this time on a more dramatic film that promises to get the audience screaming “Oh no she didn’t!”  The legendary writer/director Tyler Perry brings yet another piece to try to entertain, in hopes of making a dent in the box office.  Will it work?  Please read on to find out as I analyze:

 

Title: Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

 

Director:

Tyler Perry

Writer:

Tyler Perry

Stars:

Taraji P. Henson,  Lyriq Bent,  Crystle Stewart

 

 

LIKES:

Presentation:  Acrimony’s delivery is nothing super unique, but it is also a little off the beaten path from what I have seen in the past.  Told during the perspective of a meeting, Acrimony’s main tale is told through the voice of Henson while the scene plays out.  The voice over works, as it acts like an internal conscience describing the feelings of her character, adding comedy and a little heat to an already boiling situation.

 

Acting:  Tyler Perry’s plays require good acting to bring his… unique characters to life and fortunately the main cast does a great job of bringing those too life.  All the supporting cast play their part well in this soap opera, but the main cast are the ones who really make it shineHenson no doubt carries much of the film and portrays the mental breakdown of a scorned woman quite well in regards to delivering the lines, holding the bewildered eyes, and even the mannerisms.  Meanwhile, Lyriq Bent has a fantastic transition over the course of the movie, with a fantastic ability to play the complex Robert and spur the crowd on.  The chemistry between these two is very melodramatic, but it fits well with Perry’s work to illicit drama into the mix.

 

The Twist:  I went in expecting the movie to be yet another drama, that was all about overreacting, cheating, and insulting one another. Truth is it was, but the movie was much more different than what the trailer presented.  Perry’s twist on presentation had things a little more engaging, a deeper psychological thriller that made you wonder how far down the rabbit hole the cast was going to fall.  I can’t reveal much more, but let’s just say this movie is darker than you might get from the trailers… you’ve been warned.

 

DISLIKES:

The Pacing:  My fellow audience members agreed that the pacing of this movie was way off.  Acrimony gets applause for being detailed, however the initial opening was a little long winded, unnecessarily delaying the journey to the climactic drama at hand. Even worse, Perry sometimes goes into such painstakingly details one might think they were reading a Tolkien book. This slows the movie down considerably and adds unnecessary length to the movie that could have benefitted from other areas.

 

Ridiculous:  Perry’s dramas are often melodramatic, lust filled, journeys that feign the idea of true love.  However, they usually are grounded in reality and keep the coincidences to a minimum.  In this case, not so much, as Acrimony takes the ridiculous moments and amplifies them to levels that we see in Lifetime.  The over the top crying, the aggressive acts, and even the stunts of the bewildered characters are so out there that it destroyed the reality basis of this movie for cheap thrills.  And while I appreciate the twist…. Its central focus was a little too farfetched to hold my favor, again belonging as a made for television movie in regards to quality and stereotypical soap opera behavior.

 

The Writing/Production Quality: Acrimony is not the flashiest or most impressive visual work to grace the theater.  It’s rather simplistic shots, lack of music/sound editing, and even the design of all the sequences themselves are not the prettiest production.  Even worse is the semi-lazy writing contained within this film.  There are some funny, edgy lines that are perfectly designed to represent the frustration of the main character. Other times, it’s just mindless swearing, that feels like nothing but a giant rage fest that feels more like a temper tantrum than a respectable expression of frustration.  While this may be the closer representation of the real world, it isn’t the most engaging dialog I’ve ever seen…or the most original.

 

The VERDICT:

            Acrimony is not what you are expecting in terms of plot, but nevertheless it delivers the package of being the melodramatic, Tyler Perry adventures we’ve come to know.  Despite a strong acting and presentation though, the movie really doesn’t deliver the same punch his previous work does outside of a shock factor and sewing future seeds for GIF videos. Still, if you are looking for a movie this weekend to get your drama factor on, this movie will satisfy it, but otherwise, go to a better movie like Ready Player One to maximize your funds. 

 

My scores are:

 

Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

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Ready For Action, Visuals, Nostalgia

Ready Player One

 

Robbie K back with another review and tonight it is on movie I have been looking forward to for a very long time.  The latest book gone pop culture, tonight’s film is all about the references (and merchandising) as the world seeks out an adequate video game movie to come to life.  So, let’s get started with a slight alteration to the style, as I review:

 

Title: Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer:  Zak Penn

Original Author: Ernest Cline

Starring: Tye Sheridan,  Olivia Cooke,  Ben Mendelsohn

 

 

LIKES:

Acting:  Let’s get this like out of the way (as most won’t care).  The cast of this highly CGI world is on point in regards to making their characters come to life.  Sheridan in particular does a lot of the heavy lifting, balancing the geek, leader, and vulnerable roles all into a nice admirable package.  Cooke has the edgy, heroic nature down, a virtual Wonder Woman who combines brain and skills to deliver the sassy goods to the group. These two have wonderful chemistry together, two leaders who incite a rebellion of imagination, accomplishing it with grace that many young actors fail to deliver.  Ben Mendelsohn makes a good villain as well, a corporate wannabe who has only the eyes for cash and lacks the brains to go with the brash. 

 

World Creating/Visuals:  No surprise here, Spielberg’s team invested a lot of time bringing the world to life.  Ready Player One’s visuals are stunning, taking the imagination of Cline’s book and making it pop to life on screen.  The various planets all have dynamic visuals to bring each one to life, with exciting, pristine villas grounded by the rugged battlefields of volcanoes.  The real world of a future dystopian society is nicely created with their settings and with direction meshes well with our heroes’ journey through the cyberspace.  And as for the characters themselves, the team managed to recreate the various pop culture references in fantastic design but adding its own twist to correlate with the movie.  The heroes have that video game feel, immersing you further into the virtual reality setting as if you were part of the rebellion.

 

The Action:  The trailers promised action, and by George did it deliver… on most of the movie.  Ready Player One starts strong with some action-packed sequences where racing and FPS/Third Person battles reign supreme.  The theater shakes with the intensity and brings a promise that the rest of the movie is going to be just as fun.  The rest of the sequences semi-deliver on this promise, primarily the final battle that has some incredible parts.  Nonetheless, Spielberg’s department did a bang-up job bringing the rush that video games bring, primarily the selling point for seeing it in the theater. 

 

The Nostalgia/Reference Hunting:  However, the biggest selling point for me was the thrill of hunting down all the cultural Easter eggs/icons that they paid a fortune to portray. My eyes were busy seeking everything crammed in this movie, trying to see which 80’s icons made the cut.  While 80% are video game references, you’ll find various movie, television, and song references shading the oasis, most cleverly brought in to bring life to the scenes in a meaningful way.  I’ll admit, the replay value of this movie comes in trying to track down everything hidden, like the Easter egg prize they are all seeking.  The key demographic of this movie is going to be the fans, nerds, and gamers, as their eager eyes will enjoy seeing their favorites come together to battle the corrupt evil at hand. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Lack of Challenge:  Let’s get this settled, the movie is not the book, and to be fair a movie about the actions of the book might have been duller to the general audience.  However, the movie could have taken a page for challenging puzzles and cultural integration, because it didn’t quite execute this component as well.  Most of the quests for the key were diluted compared to brainteasing nightmares of the novel, that could have involved more research and diving than what we got.  In addition, some of the solutions were a little more like backdoor cheats than true solutions to the impasses at hand.

Character Development:  I agree again with my fellow reviewers that the character development suffered a bit as well.  Parzival and Art3mis get some decent backstories and growth, but the other characters are sort of thrown into the movie like hamburgers on a flat top.  They have those moments that sizzle, only to quickly become fully cooked and dropped back into the background.  Even worse, the legendary skills that were boasted in the book/movie are not really delivered for our supporting cast, such a shame really.  Not the worst character use, but also not what I had expected.

 

More Action: Surprise, surprise, Robbie wants more action.  Ready Player One’s scenes are incredible at times, almost as if we have visors on our heads and living the game.  The problem for me is… they were too short at times and didn’t feel complete for me.  I didn’t feel this too much until near the middle of the movie when the film hit a slow snag and could have used one or two battles to liven it up.  However, the biggest thing I wanted, was seeing the millions of dollars of references used more than the fleeting glances we got.  The moves done were cool but watching Parzival and crew work together with the iconic game crew rather than background noise would have been nice.

 

I-ROk:  This character wasn’t utilized much in the book, so seeing him mentioned in the credits was a surprise. Sadly, they didn’t do much with this character, to the point where he was almost not needed.  The gaming community knows about epic hunters, villains, and rogues, but this movie failed to deliver on those grounds, instead getting a sarcastic flop.  While the main villain was expected to be a rather incompetent jerk, his prized mercenary should have had a little more bite to back things up.  Perhaps then the epic climax might have worked a little better, well that and maybe foregoing the van chase at the end… that wasn’t needed as much.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Ready Player One the movie is not the book, and the purists who want that book to real life are going to be disappointed with the changes that were made to liven it up.  However, Spielberg’s take on the film works in regards to action, visuals, and giving us the ultimate finder book of geek references.  While the story needed some more wit and character development, the main tweaks needed to be using more of their merchandizing, more of their characters, and pushing their villains to be more.  Had these elements been more explored, it would have given this movie more of the finesse it was looking for.  Still, this adventure deserves a theater run given the special effects. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Elementary My Dear Gnome

Gnomeo

 

Sherlock Holmes, an iconic literature/media character who forever scoped our ideas of English crime solving.  Portrayed in various forms, the entity of this crime solver continues to entertain the masses and provide a media outlet that is not only entertaining, but brainteasing.  Yet, I’ve never seen the iconic detective portrayed as a…garden gnome.  No, you didn’t misread my friends, this weekend the English detective has transformed into a moveable garden gnome in today’s review of Sherlock Gnomes, the great detective has been downsized to London’s gardens attempting to uncover the secret behind the abducted gnomes and bring piece back to the neighborhood they share.  What will be the verdict of this adventure?  As always, please read to find out my thoughts on the latest movies to hit the big screen.

 

LIKES:

Fun:  This sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet is very energetic and full of fun gimmicks to entertain.  The kid friendly atmosphere of the film is vibrant and full of color, while the references to a number of movies, shows, and other older themes keep the adult population in check.  A quick pace and lots of quips also help keep the thrills coming and help one pay attention through the whole adventure.

 

Clever: Fortunately, the British trend of clever comedy and storytelling carry in to this animated feature.  For one thing the adventure is well-designed, with a direction that combined the mystery of the BBC series with the imagination of Disney.  Seeing the clues cleverly hidden, the various cultures represented at each clue sight, and even the character relationships of Holmes are captured in the various sequences of the film. Integrate the relationships from Gnomeo and Juliet, and the cleverness takes another turn down respectable levels.  As for the humor, it is balance of slapstick-childish antics and dry wit that expand across all audiences.

 

Voice Acting:  While the animation is a treat on the eyes, it’s the voice acting that really brings the characters to the full life.  Emily Blunt and James McAvoy do a bang up job playing the star crossed lovers, and Julio Bonet as Mankini is just as delightful, though not as prominent as he was in the first installment. Yet it is Chiwetel Ejiofor and Johnny Depp who really hold the center stage in this movie.  Both men held all the mannerisms and prestige in their voice work, while solidifying the relationship felt between the two garden gnome detectives.  I could feel the tension between them and picture these two as a live version adaptation in the future should they decide to make it.

 

The Music:  Finally, the same beats from the first film return in that toe tapping, move in your seat manner that the little one’s love.  Mostly covers of the great Sir Elton John’s work, Sherlock Gnomes sequences get a little more energy from the song director’s choices and I quite enjoyed the extra kick you got from these upbeat songs (that for once did not result in a dance number).

 

DISLIKES:

Character Usage:  Saw this coming, but Gnomeo and Juliet suffers from not utilizing all the characters well.  Most of the new characters get their decent share of screen time, but the veteran characters have fallen victim to a few silly moments, with Mankini being the only cameo I really enjoyed.  While the new characters do need the development, Sherlock Gnomes needed to almost forgo most of the other characters to avoid this dislike for me.

 

PredictableThe movie may be entertaining, but it is predictable to say the least. Disney has proven the masters of throwing in that heart stopping twist, but Sherlock Gnomes apparently falls victim to reason and intellect to let this happen.  So, I was a little disappointed to not have a few more twists thrown in to give it some more suspense.

 

More Elton:  One of my favorite things of Gnomeo and Juliet is the music from the Captain of the Keys Sir Elton John.  So why in the world would they limit their track to one original song?  Obviously merchandising and budget, but I would have loved more of the knighted performers tunes filling the screen instead of just the covers that came about.

 

More Adventure:  Normally I’m thrilled for a short run time, but this movie was one that needed a little more to really maximize the movie. Each of the obstacles/clues could have gone more in depth, as they passed through the obstacles quite easily.  Instead, the movie blew through the obstacles very quickly, giving little time to capitalize on the mystery/adventurous aspect.  In addition, adding a little darker edge would have won some more brownie points to help develop the mystery.

 

The Mary J. Blige song:  Respect to the artist for her performance is on spot, but in the movie…it doesn’t work for me outside of merchandising.  The song tries to alliterate on what could be a good character developing role, but they go nowhere with this thereby further making this song irrelevant.  And of all the obstacles that stood in Sherlock’s way, this was the one that took the most time. Again, had they taken this component further, it may have won more points for me.

 

The VERDICT:

            Sherlock Gnomes is one of the more fun, kid adventures I’ve been on in a long, long time.  It’s got a nice balance of comedy that fits well with the adventure and a soundtrack that further pumps up the volume of detective fun in this crazy sequel.  Despite all the balance this movie has though, it still needed some work in character integration and expanding on the adventure element of the film.  Don’t get too caught up wanting to root for your favorite characters from the first film, unless they were the titular characters.  Otherwise give this film a try and get out there with the family to see it.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Like Day And Night, This Romance Is Always Dancing

Midnight sun

 

Love stories seem to come a dime a dozen these days and this reviewer has seen his share of carbon copy plots.  Yet, despite these time worn tales, audience members continue to flock to these films in hopes of recapturing the spark or romance and seeing our heroes thrive.  With this modern audience though, there needs to be gimmicks thrown in as well, to not only spice things up but keep the movie memorable.  Midnight Sun is one of these movies (as well as the source of my review) and this novel turned movie is hoping to entertain in this jam packed weekend.  Will it work?  I’m here to help answer that question, so get ready for another Robbie’s movie review, only condensed.

 

LIKES:

-Funny

-Charming

-Realistic

-Decent Acting

-Nice Twist

-The Musical Score

 

A love story of course has to have love, kissing, and all that other stuff that makes audience members go “Awwwww”  or clap in delight.  Midnight Sun has got that, but what this reviewer likes is the extra charisma infused into the movie.  For one thing it’s got comedy, not the over the top, ridiculous slapstick YouTube is filled with, but instead has a wittier side with well-timed flirting, awkward moments blown up, and Rob Riggle’s natural comedic ability. The comedy is very charming, much like the movie, with a natural feel that keeps the mush grounded and the story an entertaining adventure away from the big budget productions.

Hands down the movie gets props for me for the realism it holds and the sustenance it brings by avoiding that overdramatic mess we tend to get.  Midnight Sun has that two teens in love vibe to it, but what impresses me is how the love story isn’t the only focus of the movie.  Instead there is a making the most summer vibe, adding a little adventure for you to ride along with. The acting presented by  Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger is enough to sell this new-age, teenage love without crossing over into the overacting or melodramatic proportions. This exciting, new relationship is fun to watch, and the added twist only helps engage the audience into this stereotypical relationship to help add some originality to the twist as well.

Hands down, bringing everything together was the musical score.  Part hot topic hit list and part orchestrated score, Midnight Sun has a great blend of these tracks that fit the scenes perfectly and add the extra emotional punch to pull at your heart strings. One may not expect music to add much, but in this movie it really works to add that extra element of flair.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

-Predictable

-Under-utilized characters

-Acting sometimes fades

-Tangents that weren’t developed

 

Despite all I liked about the movie though, there were still some areas of improvement to help boost the quality of the film.  First of all, the story’s nice twist works for originality, but it still is predictable as heck.  The movie essentially spells out what is going to happen, straightening out the twists and keeping it on safer, though more emotional, grounds. It took away the suspense component for me, but it did not breach the integrity of the emotional dynamic of the movie.

A bigger disappointment though, is the underutilization of the other characters that are supposed to support this adventure. While I recognize this is a love story about the two, the movie goes out of the way to make some strong introductions to characters that are supposed to be key players as well.  The dad gets his due, but I was rather disappointed with the lackluster integration of the best friends that after getting introduced don’t really contribute to the adventure as was promised. Most of the appearances are reduced to cameos or brief quips, with their potential stories fizzling out before it has a chance to build up.  While the musical moments have a nice flair to them, the other tangential adventures don’t provide much to the film outside of a few life memories one should experience. The potential to expand on so many relationships, which is a key part to life, was lost to some other plot points that I would have liked expanded.

As for the acting, well like the subplots, there are times where it flounders with both Thorne and her male counterpart seeming to fall out of character.  Those awkward pauses are a bit flatly acted and a little hard to believe in the love between lovers.  Fortunately, the writing and romantic gestures are enough to offset tis inconsistency, but still the performance feels like something off of Freeform at times.

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Midnight Sun has panache that makes it an enjoyable tale to watch.  It’s got class, fun, entertainment and a musical soundtrack that brings all those emotional moments together.  It’s true the movie is a predictable mess, and could have used some more expansion into the adventure/friendship component that makes life fun.  Yet that promise of excitement with the spark of new romance can lead to enjoyable experience, assuming you don’t watch all the trailers and ruin it. In regards to the theater component, I recommend holding off on this medication for a theater visit, but scope it out on rentals asap. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

War Ready For Action. Needs Repairs For A Story

Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Giant Robots or Giant Monsters, which of the two titans is the better combatant for the silver screen?  That question has continued to test audience members discussion boards as behemoths like King Kong and Godzilla try to usurp the title from Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Tonight’s movie though, doesn’t make you choose, because it combines the two in an epic throw down that will hopefully please both sides of the spectrum.  Pacific Rim Uprising rears back to make some noise this weekend, and yours truly is here to report his findings on the latest silver screen smash to guide your viewing needs.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

Special Effects:  Most will be tired of the CGI haven these movies have become, but yours truly appreciates the work that went into unleashing the havoc.  The design of the new robots gets a round of applause, with sleek angular designs, some new tricks, and a fluid movement that fit well with the Japanese monster movie feel.  Monster wise, the Kaijou aren’t as prominent as the first film, but once breached, the monsters have got their own unique design that is odd, but again fitting in theme, with movements that again work with the pace of the movie.  And of course, all the lights, punches, and collapsing buildings are beautifully brought to life in all their dazzling, speaker rustling greatness. 

 

The Story:  While certainly not the best to grace the screen, the movie’s predictable plot has a few twists and spins on the mix to keep things interesting.  In a movie where smashing and fights are the key, you don’t always get the deepest tale, but it works in explaining what happened in the ten years and the whole grand design of the plot.  Unlike its predecessor, the movie managed to cut off a lot of fat to present this in a neat, less than 2-hour, package.  As such, you have all the elements to put a reason behind the fighting and keep as many characters as involved.

 

The Acting:  Believe it or not, the acting is a step up from other films in this genre.  The main stars of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny all work in that dysfunctional family united by challenging times way.  Still, they all manage to bring some power to otherwise simple characters that are semi-engaging to watch.  Of all of them… I think Boyega gets my vote for having the best acting of all, being pushed across all realms to make a balanced character.  As for Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, they are the comedic relief and do it well, but also manage to have some involvement in the story (nice directing) and not trying to sell themselves anyway. 

 

The Action:  I’ve gone through all the stuff you might care about, but let’s face it, this series is more known for its action and that’s what you want.  Well, for this reviewer it a step up compared to the first installment.  Timing the movie, about 70% of the film involved some type of action, a majority involving the metallic behemoths fighting one giant obstruction after another.  The battles have more variety than part 1, managing to help one differentiate one battle from another.  What makes me even happier to report, is that the team listened to reviews and actually utilized their other robots more, instead of dropping them out in five minutes flat.  While still not the greatest utilization of secondary robots, it was miles better for me in the long run, making the last 30 minutes of the movie, an action-packed climax to close the story out.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Comedy at Times:  The movie is ridiculous, I get it, but the comedy sometimes is a little too ridiculous and distracting from the overall tone of the movie.  A random aside here and there works, but when over utilized as it is in this film, well…then it gets rusty and breaks down.  In addition, there are some asides that felt awkward at the moment they chose to unleash it, jumping in amidst the action scenes when they would have fit in other realms.  These culminations weren’t my favorite use of comedic relief, as I think it crossed into corniness a few times.

 

Shallow Character Development:  Monster movies are seldom about our main characters growing a lot, but we’ve had previous installments capable of achieving this balance.  Pacific Rim Uprising is not one of these movies.  While Boyega’s Jake has a little more complexity in terms of everyone knowing him, the rest of the cast have less depth to them past a few traumatic backstories to garnish them up.  This is highly evidenced in the other pilots outside the main crew who after getting named are reduced to the shadows given the grand complexity of the film.  Uprising proves too busy to invest in its characters, but most may not care as long as they get a good smashing.  Still better than the last few transformers though. 

 

Obsidian Fury:  As cool as the name and design, I had hoped the new bot would have more point to it, but this is again where the movie fails on at least a story level.  The antagonizing robot brings a pretty epic fist fight, but plot wise it felt out of place, a tangent leading down a path that was as cold as the artic frontier it somewhat takes place in.  Yes, there are some purposes it serves, but as the movie’s plot progresses, its relevance became less and less for me, until it was just a convenient distraction.

 

Trailer Syndrome:  One thing this day of advertising is famous for, is revealing too much in shorter movies like this.  Pacific Rim Uprising’s biggest spoiler is that much of that awesome last battle has already been shown in the trailers.  Catch all three of the trailers and you pretty much have pieced 75% of that sequence, with the other 25% feeling very nostalgic/overdramatic.  I had hoped for some more dynamic moments to bypass that syndrome, or less advertising, but I didn’t get my wish again.  So, avoid the trailers and you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a monster/robot movie.  It gives you the CGI thrills, spills, and chills in terms of design and the sound editing beautifully complements it.  While the story is not the deepest, it works for the most part, allowing plenty of time to cram in the action you oh so wanted to see.  Yet, the movie still has to work on its balance learning to not cram so much into the film and maximize on elements that the movie is going to be known for.  In addition, stop revealing everything in the trailers and it means less elaborate scenes you have to shoot to make up for it.  So, looking for a monster vs. robot’s movie?  Look no further, because this film is a success in terms of the action and big battles that are theater worthy.  As a film as a whole though, the movie still has a lot of repairs to make, before it becomes war ready.  Oh well, we at least have a soundtrack to get you revved up. 

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

This Gringo Was Not The Heffe

Gringo.jpg

 

Dark-Comedies are an acquired taste, but once you develop it you have the ability to appreciate more satirical comedy.  David Oyelowo attempts to bring this genre to life this weekend in the movie Gringo, a film that has some bite I didn’t expect from a movie this early in the year.  But what zany adventures will unfold when a black man is stuck between the high stakes world of pharmaceutical development and the cartels?  Well that is what this film attempts to answer, and it is my job to give you the 411 on the latest movies to storm the screen.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times

-Fast-Paced

 

Gringo is a movie that likes to go over the top, with characters that are all about going to one extreme or the other. However David Oyelowo is the character that has a little more dynamic than the other.  Oyelowo is fun to watch, for me being the funniest character with his loud, rambunctious delivery of lines that are loaded with high-pitched panicking screams. Yet he is able to turn that energy around, and focus it to give a character that is worth looking into as he tries to navigate the hostile world he wound up in.  Like his character Harold, Oyelowo keeps things very relatable and invests his time to making a good adventure.

But what is an adventure without a little ethics debate to come into the light.  Gringo does this just right as the conversation of doing the right thing vs. the selfish thing constantly rears its ugly head in the cartel wastelands that this film takes place in. Harold’s journey not only tests his own morals, but inspires others to address their own life choices, from settling on abusive boyfriends to what one will do to get money to accomplish their personal goals.  It fits okay into the movie, but there are some hard hitting dialogue moments to help reassure that the best stuff doesn’t mean the best life.

As stated earlier, dark comedies are a little dryer than other, more modern comedies so you have to be ready for more delivery and timing to do the lifting.  Gringo has some legit comedic moments, really taking an awkward situation and turning it into a tear inducing riot of laughs.  These moments often have a nice, clever zing to them, that Oyelowo maximizes using his natural accent and mannerisms.

And all of these components are able to be placed in a decently paced run time that minimizes the slow and maximizes the thrills.

 

DISLIKES:

 

-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end

 

You’ve read my reviews, but you know that lazy writing that relies of cursing doesn’t get my stamp of approval.  Gringo has extreme characters that don’t use the most advanced language, relying once more on F-bombs and sleazy pick up lines to do the talking.  While pertinent to the story, for once, and sometimes entertaining, Gringo utilized these tactics too much for my tastes.  Even the yelling of Oyelowo got old, with many of his pleas soon running dry like the desert he ran through.  As such, this movie didn’t really have the comedic punch I wanted, but more a thrill seeking, dark adventure with a little comedic buff thrown in.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that a lot of the funny parts had been advertised to death in the trailers, resulting in the overplayed scene being boring by show time. And once the last scene started to end and all the stories came together, things sort of wrapped up in a chaotic package that wasn’t in time with the movie.  Not the worst mind you, but not what I quite expected from the trailers.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Gringo is okay, and designed for a select audience that wants the darker things in life to be ridiculed.  This film is a legitimate mixture of drama, crime, adventure and comedy, taking these aspects and twisting it into a semi-entertaining story with some moral obligations to address.  While I enjoyed Oyelowo and the well-timed zingers, I still can’t say this was the best, most unique comedy to hit the screen.  The extreme characters, mundane dialog, and chaotic organization (ruined by the trailers), didn’t deliver the expected feel I got from the advertising and as such left more to be desired.  So I recommend skipping this one and hitting something else in the month of March.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

 

Thrills Are The Hunters, but Story Is The Prey

Strangers.jpg

 

The horror genre continues to try and limp its way back into the limelight, and outside of the promise of a cheap gimmick, they continue to barely hold a place in Hollywood.  Yet the dark stories they try to sell us are often enough to hook many in tackling the potential scares to see how the cast will do against the supernatural odds.  Strangers: Prey At Night is going to attempt to bait many to come into the theaters this weekend and yours truly is back with another review to help you determine is this the movie for you.  Let’s get this started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

Thrilling Pace

-Quick Run Time

-Creepy atmosphere

-The 80’s soundtrack

-Wraps Up, kind of

 

The Strangers doesn’t pull any punches in regards to getting the horror themes started.  A looming threat of death keeps the movie at a good pace, almost like the most dangerous game coming to life with a soap opera twist.  As the “heroes” try to move amidst the maze of trailers, the ever-looming dread lurking in the shadows of the Strangers hunting their prey.  This fast pace keeps the film moving, and due to a wise decision to not get too ingrained in the horror elements, the movie is over pretty quickly.

Is it scary?  The answer to that is surprisingly yes, but more so in how creepy the movie is.  The realism of how people can go crazy and take pleasure in death to set such an elaborate trap gets to me, the chills that such sickness exists to this manner is the biggest element.  As the feeling of being stranded sets in, the movie does a nice job throwing some jump scares into the mix to try and keep you on edge.  So yeah, it has factors that scary.

As for the rest of the movie quirks, well the little gimmick of the soundtrack is entertaining not only in hearing legendary songs rock the theater walls, but also in how the songs match up with the mood of that scene. It makes for an interesting spin, and I liked the cheesy element adding a little class.  And I always do enjoy horror movies that do an ending right and The Strangers wrap up nicely, while leaving a little mystery, shock, and suspense to sweeten the deal for those who don’t want a fairy tale ending.

 

DISLIKES:

Crappy Character Development

-Lazy Writing

-Unrealistic Response

-Unnecessary Drawn Out

 

The Strangers has plenty of things to improve on from the scary base it tries to establish.  For one thing, I like a horror movie where I get to actually know the characters that are potentially going to diet, you know with a backstory and development.  Not the case with this movie, the Strangers both hunters and hunted, are almost one-dimensional with little to no backstory.  Therefore, you are just seeing strange people running around at night and potentially dying…great job guys.

The character development also isn’t the only lazy thing about this movie.  The Strangers has no heart behind it, with so much of it being simplistic, gory thrills and little wit to the adventure at hand.  There were too many coincidences happening from the strangers mysteriously finding them to a clever tool laying nearby.  In addition, the characters were a little too stupid as well, resulting in unrealistic situations that extended the adventure, but were eye rolling more than anything.  When it came to giving motives and more sinister methods, again they failed to elaborate on this, with the only answer being “Why Not”.  Clever guys.  In addition, the prey seemed to be demi-gods, able to not only survive pretty debilitating injuries, but somehow inconsistently respond to those wounds depending on how long they have to run.

And given all the drawn out torture, cutting, and destruction of ligaments in this movie, you would think the rest of their bodies would fail, but nope…they were just fine.  And as for the torture, sometimes it was a little too spread out for me at times, and when given the realistic twist, was a direction I didn’t want to go down.  Oh well, got to love deranged directing right?

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Strangers attempted to pay homage to a genre that has undergone many face lifts to keep up with the modern era, but it is grossly imbalanced to fully deliver on the promised nightmares it wanted to induce. Sure, there is suspense, a quick pace, and some creepy factors to get under your skin alongside the bloody carnage of torture.  Yet, the Strangers was just lazy on so many levels, relying on too many well-timed gimmicks, one-dimensional characters, and unrealistic responses that just didn’t sell the movie.  So those looking to enjoy a ridiculous man hunt with gore filled torture should go all in for this movie.  However, I recommend skipping this one and rewatching the 2008 version of it instead. 

 

My scores are:

Horror:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0