InFincible? Or Beyond Hype

Infinity Wars

 

The event is finally here, and boy does it have big expectations to live up to as the culmination of ten years of movies comes rushing in.  With perhaps one of the biggest expectations to meet, can Avengers: Infinity War meet everything we die-hard fans love, or does the over expectation syndrome come into play.  Robbie K with a spoiler free review coming at you to shed some light on the subject.

 

Movie:

Marvel: Avengers Infinity War

Directors:

Anthony Russo,  Joe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus (screenplay by),  Stephen McFeely

Stars:

Robert Downey Jr.,  Chris Hemsworth,  Mark Ruffalo

 

 

LIKES:

 

Character Development: It’s always nice to see character evolve and while the 18 installments before this movie have laid strong foundations, Infinity continues that trend.  Not everyone gets the full red-carpet treatment (with all the characters at hand), but those that do have some deeper trenches we did not expect. You’ll certainly feel things resonate if you’ve been following the story so far and a fantastic means to tie you into the story.

 

Story Twists:  We all have theories about this movie, most centered on who would survive the war for the Infinity Stones.  Despite everything foreshadowed in the trailers, you have no idea what is coming.  Infinity Wars is a universe filled with twists, throwing in suspenseful moments with ease and doing everything to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The trailers were certainly edited to leave out key details, and that mystery was very well appreciated as the revelations began to drop and the story began to click, up until the very end.  Be ready for some answers to lingering questions you may not have realized you have, and some surprises that will have you cheering in delight and excitement.

 

Acting:  A small quality to comment on, and way too many actors to hit up in detail, the acting still lives up to the potential we had set up. All the contenders easily reprise their roles, bringing delight, fun, heroism and heart wrenching moments to life with no hesitation. Mixing the team together, really did feel like an awkward, weird family trying to save the galaxy one minute at a time.  Despite all the characters crammed into this mega hit, the chemistry works fantastically.

 

Comedy:  Marvel’s writing continues to lean towards the comedic stick, trying to garnish the comic plots in a more expansive way to net more audience members in the box office.  Infinity War has plenty of moments mashed into the space epic adventure, a mixture of slapstick, insults, well-timed cursing, and comical references that keep the giggles, guffaws, and laughter coming.  Don’t worry of the darker atmosphere overshadowing the laughs, there will be plenty to try and keep things as bright as possible.

 

Action, somewhat:  The special effects are hands down impressive, especially seeing the stones powers better utilized than just exploding like previous films. All the sound editing and CGI are worthy of the theater spectacle, perhaps the biggest reason to come see in the theater.  Infinity War has some decent brawls that deliver the fist pumping, adrenaline rush you wanted to see as new tricks are unleashed and styles mix together. Especially near the end, there is one particular fight that feels much like an epic video game battle with all the bells and whistles ringing into one.  A little eccentric at times, but hey it is a comic book movie.

 

 

DISLIKES:

Lulls in Action: While there is good storytelling in this movie, an Avengers movie is known more for the fast pace and battles. There are some major lulls in the action, as the three story trails attempt to connect all the pieces in the quest for uncovering the stones.  These gaps are by far entertaining, but at times I felt another battle needed to be integrated, or others extended to keep the pace going. I liked the emotional warfare in this movie, but come on, a little more resistance.

 

The Black Order:  This is only a semi-dislike, but Thanos elite guards were not as “elite” as I had expected.  Gross and creepy looking, definitely. Deadly and threatening in design? Absolutely.  But in regards to their skills, these masters of destruction were kind of… weak and under developed.  It doesn’t mean they don’t get their 15 minutes to shine, but let’s just say these characters really needed more integration in the story for this reviewer to enjoy. 

 

Too Many Characters?: So many people mixed into one movie, brings with it the threat of potentially denying your favorite character the time you want him/her to hold.  It happens in this movie, so take what you can get and run with it as best as you can.  They do a nice job with most of them, but three of the characters got a bit stiff armed that I wasn’t expecting to see.  So, this element could have been tweaked to get a better immersive story in my opinion.

 

The Ending:  I can’t say much about this, but the ending to Infinity War is almost as mixed as the characters in this galactic quest.  There will be many questions generated from it and even more theories as to how the next wave will proceed, which I guess is good to keep interest coming.  However, it kind of felt cheaply delivered and rushed over, in a manner that was sort of a cop out to be honest.  Based on that last sentence, this component is why the ending was not as well-received, not for the questions it generated.

 

The Fight at Wakanda: The biggest selling point of the trailers was that war on the Wakandan plains, where Wakanda soldiers join the elite squad to fight thousands of CGI aliens.  With all the storytelling elements building up to the climax, I had very high hopes this battle was going to be the climactic piece to bring it all together.  I’ll admit, there are some parts that are true creative genius, but much of the battle was glazed over, dull, and missing so much of the battle chemistry I had expected. Quick finishes to semi-suspenseful moments, and much shorter than I anticipated, this battle was certainly the element I was most disappointed with.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Infinity Wars didn’t quite live up to the hype that the marketing brought with it, but this does not mean it was a bad movie.  A very edgy tale awaits the theaters, with twists and character development waiting to evolve our characters to the next level, with a few flashy battles to liven things up and comedy to ease the tension.  Yet, this project may have been a little too big to tackle, leading to many things being glazed over in trade for others.  Try to lower your expectations and I think you will be okay, just try to accept that there will be answers to come, one just has to wait.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

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Report To The Supe Troop

Super Troopers.jpg

 

The comedy sensation of the year 2001 had people screaming in their seats and quoting the film a decade later.  So, with the age of scraping the barrel for ideas, why not get a sequel out at a random time to appease the masses.  That’s the case this weekend as me and numerous other residents hit the theaters to catch wind of another comedic boat to dock in the silver screen harbor.  Robbie K with another entry to help guide your viewing pleasures as I review:

 

Movie: Super Troopers 2

 

Director:

Jay Chandrasekhar

 

Writers:

Jay Chandrasekhar (as Broken Lizard),  Kevin Heffernan (as Broken Lizard)

 

Stars:

Jay Chandrasekhar,  Kevin Heffernan,  Steve Lemme

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace:  A comedy always treads on being too quick or too slow, and fortunately Super Troopers 2 manages to walk that tightrope quite well.  It’s fast paced antics keep the comedy flowing, but still throw in enough details to give you all the zany gimmicks you want.  While it’s true the run time was a tad longer than needed, the movie doesn’t feel drawn out due how well this movie moves.

 

Nostalgia:  Part of reviving a series is the ability to reignite the flames of passion and stoke the embers of remembering the original series.  On this task the movie succeeds as well, bringing with it an entourage of references to the original movie.  Old jokes, those quotable moments, even old relationships crawl back into the Montreal borders, never once going out of its way to offset the comedy.  Fans of the series are certainly going to pick up on these references, and for those who have not seen the movie for a while, do a refresher to get you familiar with everything from 2001’s installment.  It’s this component that is the driving force behind this movie and helps bridge the outdated into the new style of comedy.

 

Creative:  Despite all the course, stupid, and over the top antics, the movie is clever in its own right.  The worst sheriffs in the land, have gotten even dumber and rampant, but while logic is lacking, they do know how to insult.  Super Troopers 2 managed to bring nimrod humor to new heights, blending a bunch of cultural references and crafting them into well-timed writing (at times) much like Family Guy does.  Even more impressive, the movie manages to keep the comedy ever changing, blending a variety of styles into the 2-hour run time.  By bouncing between these various genres, the laughs kept coming and seldom left the theater in silence for too long.

 

DISLIKES:

Crude Moments:  The new wave may be about pushing the inappropriate line further and further away, but this reviewer isn’t a fan of this style at times.  Super Troopers 2 has fallen into the trend and showed a little more than I wanted to see, at times showing genitalia, uncomfortable sexual scenarios, and disturbing violence that I didn’t want details on. For me, save these moments for the director’s cut and stick to the clever phrases instead, especially with the acting not being that award winning.,

 

Crossing the Line:  Like many comedy movies, Super Troopers 2 sometimes doesn’t know when to quit and these guys get a little too aggressive with the comedy for my tastes.  A few of the insults dig deep, sort of trampling on cultures, racism, and even some celebrities who have passed.  If you don’t mind this inappropriate humor, ignore this dislike, but be warned these guys may go too far and offend you, so be prepared.

 

Over the Top moments:  Getting a pattern that my dislikes are about extremes?  Good, because Super Troopers 2 sometimes goes a little overboard in their presentation of just about everything.  There overdramatic pronunciation of just about everything was fun at first but got old for me as the banter continued.  The constant, cheesy fighting had its moments, yet they got too dependent on these squabbles to clean up the lazier moments.  All the dragged-out arguments, again funny at times, but soon began to add unnecessary length that a director’s cut at home could do.  Still, fans of the series live for the over the top moments, not caring how far down the ridiculous pathway it goes.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Super Troopers 2 may not be the original, but I agree with my buddy that it did a nice job modernizing its antics to the modern era. The comedy is rich in this movie, a blend of genres and tactics to keep things fun and every moving, showing that not all creativity has dried up in Hollywood.  However, that creativity comes at a price of very crude, sometimes inappropriate content that makes the movie a bloated mess of over the top moments.  While some things could have been left for a director’s cut, this reviewer respects the target audience who is seeking to relive the first adventure again.  So definitely check this one out of the new movies and enjoy the rancor jokes within.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Crime/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Don’t Get Caught Up In Traffic

Traffik

 

Drama/crimes, a series on the rise in the television land, but still looking to solidify its place in the theaters.  Yet, this weekend, another film attempts to bait us into another mystery, one that promises violence, drama, and potentially uncover a hidden threat that has lurked beneath the service. Robbie K back to write another review this time on:

 

Movie: Traffik

 

Director:

Deon Taylor

Writer:

Deon Taylor

Stars:

Paula Patton,  William Fichtner,  Missi Pyle

 

 

LIKES:

 

Setting:  The beautiful wilderness of this movie is the shining jewel for this reviewer.  Gorgeous views of the forest and plains are only further offset by the breathtaking houses that dwell within.  The team behind the camera certainly deserve major props for the fantastic capturing of the natural splendor our characters are in. 

 

Cinematography: Past the setting, the cinema team is fantastic at capturing the adventure on film.  Traffik’s drama unfolds in full splendor, the audience feeling the torture bleeding off our “heroes” as they dive deeper into the mess.  In addition, all the action that unfolds is easy to follow, as the stable camera work keeps its focus on all the details at hand.  It’s edited smoothly and does a fantastic job of immersing you into the events at hand.  So well done on that.

 

Edge: Traffik keeps the current girl power movement alive and does so with an edge that is sure to get a few of the audience members hooting and hollering.  The edge contained within this movie is dark, granting it a bite more piercing that the knives the villains use.  In addition, the movie has a great balance of morals vs. safety looking to help potentially motivate you to make a change.  It certainly isn’t the worst in terms of violence, but it still hits you hard as the darker moments begin to come alive.

 

Acting:  I won’t go into too much detail, but the acting is good enough to make the film semi-raise to life. The leads feel like a couple plagued by problems, but in love enough to at least put those problems on hold to help them recover.  As for the bad guys, they look and act like scum, each having that sleazy, demon spawned, heathen quality that all protagonists have.  Deadly in regards to attitude and savagery, the cast has crafted an assortment of character to help draw you into the seedy underbelly that awaits.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Drawn Out Drama:  Thrillers prove to be successful when they provide you know thrills and chills to leave you in suspense until the big moment.  When Traffik finally gets to the exciting parts, it’s been nearly 60 minutes of the 100-minute run time, which doesn’t bode well.  The first part feels like a soap opera with better graphics, the drama very shallow, immature, and cheesy to the point of eye-rolling proportions.  It’s an attempt to add some heat to the four central figures, but this cheap background story development didn’t fit for me in the grand scheme and only the delayed the component I was there for.

 

Anti-Climactic Excitement:  It took us long enough to get to the faster, more intense parts, so now it’s time for you to be on the edge of your seat, right?  Wrong!  Traffik held potential, but it didn’t deliver on its promise of thrills and chills.  The action was short lived, the stunts rather minor, the pace felt off, and even worse… most of the guys were incredibly stupid/or had bad aim with whatever devices they had.  Outside of the yelling and intense orchestral score… these exciting parts were a little boring, with only the slightest hint of wonder left in how deep the rabbit hole went.  There was one scene with some bite, but the rest was a predictable mess that was unnecessarily drawn out.

 

Sheer Stupidity of The Characters:  It’s one thing to have teenagers make dumb decisions in these kinds of movie.  Adults on the other hand… need to have more common sense than the characters I watched on the screen.  The party of “heroes” made laughable, predictable choices that completely defied logic and offered no hope of nobility for much of the movie.  Any attempt to redeem their lower parts was simplistic and only a few heroic moves were capable of rising to the challenge.  Second, the villains were hormonal charged, sexually aggressive, nimrods who made a lot of weak mistakes that were out of character.  Given all the illegal activity they’ve been doing, these criminals surely have more brains than this right?  Worst of all, the main woman essentially caused all these problems by being too nosey, violating privacy in a world that was obviously bigger than it seemed.  No matter how many chances she had to bail herself out, she kept making the choices to drag her and her friends back in.  Very stupid development.

 

Predictable:  The movie tried to throw in twists to spice things up, but they did not come close to fooling me in this movie.  Much of this is due to our characters being completely stupid in their choices, but other things were ruined by the foreshadowing the movie blatantly threw into the mix.  Don’t hold your breath for surprises guys, for this movie didn’t have them.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Traffik held potential, but in all honesty this thriller was more dramatic than anything else. This big budget soap opera was very slow in pace, drawn out relationship antics that held little to no originality as it tried to build tension.  When it all came to a boil, the movie still couldn’t deliver the full power it promised, leading to sloppy excursions with characters that became surprisingly dumb or over assuming.  Still, should you decide to catch this one in theaters, you have some nice settings and camera work to bring the movie up on the screen, and a little edge to get you through it.  My recommendations are to rent this bad boy at home and get yourselves ready for the movies of the summer. 

 

My scores:

 

Thriller:  5.0

Movie Overall: 4.0

Pretty Lesson Wrapped In A Mundane Package

I Feel Pretty

 

Comedy takes on many forms and faces, sometimes absurdly clever and other times simplistic slapstick meant to be over the top.  It’s a genre that offers the most variety, bringing many people into the theaters to make the movie-going experience fun.  Given the volume of movies pumped out by the studios though, I find it hard to get stoked for movies that look questionable.  So, tonight’s review held much mystery as to what was in store.  Nevertheless, Robbie K is back in action to share his thoughts as he reviews:

 

Film: I Feel Pretty

 

Directors:

Abby Kohn,  Marc Silverstein

Writers:

Abby Kohn,  Marc Silverstein

Stars:

Amy Schumer,  Michelle Williams,  Emily Ratajkowski

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute, Not Crude:  Schumer’s quality is usually how much vulgarity one can cram into a 2-hour film in hopes of bringing nonstop laughs. I Feel Pretty washes that crude nature away, focusing instead on a cuter movie that’s more awkward than bluntly grotesque.  Such a change was refreshing to see, and for once not too distracting from the story/morals of the film.

 

One component of the Story:  I Feel Pretty’s story is very basic, but one component in particular stands out and that is the lesson of inner beauty and self-confidence.  Like a distorted version of Shallow Hal, the movie is designed to isolate the importance of believing in oneself and how one can succeed if done right.  Yet go too far, and one crosses the line to arrogance, becoming the very thing they hated being judged by.  These lessons were fun, structured, and in the final scene delivered well with writing that actually had fire, fury, and emotional punch to deliver the teachings they wanted to present.

 

Ethan:  This comedy had me chuckling at times, often due to a well-placed quip, or awkward scenario playing out.  Yet the most consistent source of laughs was Rory Scovel as Ethan.  The male lead had in both my friend and I’s opinions the best delivery of his lines, writing that was the least over the top, and reactions that were appropriate for the mess Schumer’s character landed in.  Even his nonverbal comedy hit the mark, the simplistic facial expressions enough to emphasize the shock factors this movie brings.  In addition, Ethan was a major adorable factor for the relationship, grounding the ridiculousness the relationship held.

 

DISLIKES:

Rather Bland:  Surprisingly, the lack of crude comedy resulted in the movie feeling rather bland at times, almost like a forced, water downed version of usual style.  The slower, lackadaisical parts were hard to keep my eyes open for, making the movie drag at parts that could have been left out.  In addition, the lack of gimmicks that she is known to bring were quite absent in this movie, making this movie feel quite off for both my friend and me.  So, don’t expect to be in stitches the whole time in this film.

 

Ruined by Trailers: It happened again, despite the few times I saw this trailer, I hadn’t expected practically all of the funny parts to be revealed in the movie.  I Feel Pretty was sorely ruined by the trailer, leaving little sustenance in the actual movie itself aside from some cute romance, a few chuckle worthy moments, and of course some attractive models.

 

Over the Top Comedy:  While not cruse, I Feel Pretty still suffers from overusing comedic ploys as the sole means of laughing.  The movie lacks much clever comedy, or even a dynamic array of comedy to mix things up, forcing one to sit through mindless banter, half-mumbled complaints, and dare I say boring dialogue for most of the movie.  Even her drunk moments lack that bite to shake things up, again resorting to whiney, bouts of crying that did little to make us laugh.

 

Messy Story:  A strong message brings about a solid foundation to build a story upon, but again the movie got lazy, failing to expand beyond what was shown in the trailer.  Character development is practically missing in this movie, lost to the mockery of inner beauty to outer beauty.  Ethan may be sweet, but his history is a mystery, with little evolution past the quirky, heart of gold man ready to sweep in and start a relationship with the protagonist.  As for the best friends, I can only laugh at the fact they were even introduced, for these women are practically absent during much of the film.  And in regards to the impasse of work, even that was rather anticlimactic and weirder than anything else.  The summary of this dislike, too many loose ends and lack of comedy to offset these weak story arcs.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

I Feel Pretty held so much potential, but once more the comedy realm has failed to expand upon gimmicks.  The film holds an incredible moral lesson, and the final scene drops the hammer to shatter the glass of believing in oneself.  That’s it though, for the cute nature and the quirky relationship… this game just does nothing to help with the shortcoming of the film.  It’s bland, with over the top (stale) tactics doing little to correct the rather messy story.  Throw in the trailers containing the gold nuggets buried deep in the movie, and you realize there is not much to warrant a trip to theater with this one.  It’s target audience is a girls’ night out for a group looking to relate to a comedy. Otherwise you are just wasting your time.  My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Nearly A Ten-Hut

sgt. stubby.jpg

 

 

Animated films, wholesome fun media that is capable of telling the greatest stories and building the best worlds.  In addition, they also cover a wide range of age groups, sometimes establishing an unfair expectation that they are meant for only that age group, sometime leading to misunderstandings and conflicts.  This weekend, another animated film comes out, one with little advertising, but potentially delivering a tale that can stir on tears and cheers.  Robbie K back with his final review of the weekend on a cute and cuddly film known as:

 

Film: Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

 

Director:

Richard Lanni

 

Writers:

Richard Lanni,  Mike Stokey

 

Stars:

Helena Bonham Carter,  Logan Lerman,  Gérard Depardieu

 

 

LIKES:

Kid Friendly:  An animated film that presents kid friendly has to in fact be kid friendly, and Sgt. Stubby reports for duty on this front.  Its adorable mascot is not only the key advertisement component of the film, but a keystone in the cute factor of this movie.  Stubby will pull your little ones in and keep them and the young at heart laughing. You may think that a movie about war can’t possibly be child friendly, but the editing and craft have been strongly turned up to filter out any scary aspects of war. Thus, if you’re looking to teach history and going for a family feel Stubby will help you out.

 

Good Pace: No worries about slow parts with this film, Sgt. Stubby and his platoon are able to present their story in record time, which is good for covering two years of a war, as the movie is presented below 90 minutes.  Given all the child friendly antics and low run time, it’s like this studio was right on target for making a good kid’s film.

 

Decent Animation:  Certainly not Pixar quality, but the Sgt. Stubby still is not too shabby in terms of quality of bringing the WW1 era to life.  The canine of wonder is the best animated of the bunch, while the human soldiers are representative of something from the Clone Wars series.  Decently smooth, and representative of the situations, but just not quite as dynamic or mind blowing as Disney’s megalith.  In regards to design, again the developers have the cute motif down, but outside of that, not the most unique or diverse character development I have seen.

 

Helena Bonham Carter:  Voice acting wise, the movie is decent with the three leads of course being the most impressive.  However, it is the narrative provided by Bonham Carter that really holds the most emotional sway of the movie.  Such heartfelt emotion in so few words, this leading lady more than helped set the cloud of emotions over each scene, establishing a different perspective that adds to the movie and expands the relatability of the events to more audience members.

 

The Emotion:  Dog movies have a way of digging deep into your core and potentially depressing the heck out of you.  Sgt. Stubby brings a mixed bag of emotions, at times lifting your spirits to new heights of love, happiness, and joy, while other times bringing you to near tears as man and man’s best friend face the beast of war.  I myself nearly teared up several times at the sequences’ powerful display of powerful symphony work, visual developments, and of course Stubby’s human like composure to just about everything.  You will certainly become invested in this movie on this component alone, with the cuteness being the icing on the cake.

 

DISLIKES:

Smoother Animation:  A movie about an American hero certainly should be rewarded with more fluid animation.  Again, this isn’t the worst (certainly better than I can draft), but it would have been nice to have them pull some work out like competing studios are capable of.  The blocky movements and lack of intense action-animation scenes are what take away from some of the scenes for me, which could have been remedied.

 

More Impasses:  For a war, Stubby’s journey seemed a little easy at times.  Sgt. Stubby introduced a number of obstacles that gave them some challenge…for like five minutes, only to have the solution pop in mere seconds later.  There were few close call moments and that lack of suspense made it difficult to remain on the edge of my seat.  The cuteness is great, but from a storytelling element, this film failed on the emotional growth components.

 

Lack of Action:  War, what is it good for?  Usually a good number of action scenes, and some high-intensity stakes.  However, the cute factor and kid friendly nature really dilutes the excitement of this movie, perhaps even to the point of making it less impressive at what he accomplished.  Sgt. Stubby almost needed to be presented as a real-life form that could open up to more action, more intensity, and really bring Stubby’s achievements to full intensity.  Perhaps then it would have roped in more people.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Sgt. Stubby is certainly the cutest adventure to come to the theaters this year, and the sheer emotional roller coaster is more than enough to get all ages worked up.  Yet, this movie is really lacking that adventure magic, particularly the action, impasse, and structure to drive the growth of the characters.  Young ones will certainly enjoy this movie, but given the elements that it needs improving on, the film is going to have a hard time making ends meet in the theater.  This reviewer still thinks this movie is really stimulating, but it may be best reserved for home viewing to be honest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Family:  8.0

Movie overall: 7.0

Do You Dare See This Film

Truth Or Dare

 

Another weekend, another horror movie to arise in the dim lights of the theater.  This weekend, the big advertised thriller of young age adults versus the paranormal has reared its superficial prettiness in hopes of generating big bucks.  While the trailers have painted a very skeptical picture, but you never know what lies beneath the snippets edited in the trailers.  Robbie K here with the third review of the weekend, bringing some thoughts and observations on the latest films to hit the silver screen.  Let’s get started with this review of:

 

Film: Truth or Dare

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

 

Writers:

Jillian Jacobs (screenplay by),  Michael Reisz (screenplay by)

 

Stars:

Lucy Hale,  Tyler Posey,  Violett Beane

 

 

LIKES:

Good Pace:  Horror movies are a mixed bag of either being too slow or too fast.  Truth or Dare is fortunately one of those that seems to hit just the right speed to allow for everything to pan out as it should be.  This reviewer appreciated the brisk pace brought about by the pressure of the game, adding some slight edge and mystery as to when the next challenge would arise in a rather predictable plot.  Yet, the movie still took the time to allow their characters to semi-flesh out their issues and dive a little deeper than their superficial looks.  A nice balance is always nice to see.

 

Pretty Cast:  Pretty faces go a long way in this business, and Truth or Dare is chock full of attractive puppets set to potentially meet their doom.  This Abercrombie and Fitch models will be pleasing to many eyes, which does a lot of heavy lifting in the beginning to accommodate the typical montage.  And even throughout the drama, the looks will garnish more attention than the acting itself.  Still, the costume and casting get two thumbs up for fashioning a target audience relatable ensemble.

 

Decent Acting:  While the looks are certainly a big picture, the acting is still semi-decent alongside the directing.  Most of the cast actually deserves some props for fashioning characters that didn’t make me cringe or wish they would dieHale in particular was my favorite, using her talents to craft a very versatile character capable of being relatable to. Once more a portrayal of morals vs self-preservation, the lovely young woman more than delivered a stellar performance that evolved as her character adapted.

 

A Unique Concept:  The Truth or Dare game that is deadly might seem cheesy, but it wins points for originality in my book.  A simple child’s game (that can get out of control sometimes) as a device of death opened up creative avenues of potential fatality that kept things interesting.  While a little over the top at times, (though not as bad as Final Destination), it was cool to see this dynamic stay consistent and the strategy for how to get around the traps set forth.

 

DISLIKES:

Character Development:  The movie had a good start and a device to drive growth, but sadly that growth was fairly diluted for much of the characters.  Most of the cast were still shallow teens with drama that did nothing more than paint massive targets on their backs, falling into the slasher formula that many seem to enjoy.  While the game did drive some things to change for the two leads, the movie could have benefitted from a little more branching out.

Story Takes Some Dives:  The story actually held some gold nuggets in terms of quality, but that quickly dulled into fool’s gold as the plot elements dippedThe twist behind the games lethal forces, the other players who had the more sinister characteristics, and even the solutions were hinted at times only to be dropped.  More suspense and thrills could have been accomplished had they expanded on this category.  They started to clean it up at the end with the solution to the problem and the tension that came with it, leading to a rather engaging ending, but the middle of the movie could have used this treatment.

Rushed Deaths:  Some of the kills in this movie are intense bouts of our “heroes” racing against the clock to stop the game’s effects.  These kills are the more engaging, changing the odds to a more even split on their survival.  Others, are merely cheap wrap ups that the teenage group seem to drink up, which is a little disappointing at not delivering on the potential that was there.  Perhaps for the shorter attention span of the modern age, but still could have been better than what was presented.

Idiot Syndrome: Where A Quiet Place held realism, fear, and logic, Truth or Dare sadly falls victim to the famous idiot syndrome where the characters brains are absent after the first scene.  While this isn’t true for all characters, many of them seem to have their logic components absent during much of the film.  Why this annoying trait can’t be teased out a little more makes no sense to me, but the old stick continues to make for an annoying component that takes away from the characters, degrading them to MTV reality status.

 

The VERDICT:

            Truth or Dare falls victim to the cliché of teenage horror syndrome, in that is a gimmicky display of airheads going up against an unstoppable supernatural force.  True, it does have an original medium to terrorize our actors through, pretty cast with decent acting, and a good pace to entertain, it falls shy of being an epic horror.  It’s good for the teenage and young adults target audience, but for an audience as a whole this movie is better left for renting than anything else. If only the MTV syndrome could have been avoided, because this quality is what dilutes an otherwise engaging premise.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

A Rampage of CGI, Comedy, and Over The Top Moments

Rampage

 

`           Video game movies have a steady record of failing to meet expectations placed on them by the gaming community.  Yet this year alone, two video game franchises have been unleashed on the screen with decent success and quality.  Perhaps, this is the start of a video game movie renaissance, but in the world of movie magic, you never know what lies behind the community.  So naturally I’m back in the trenches to provide to you another review as I cover:

 

Movie: Rampage

Director:

Brad Peyton

 

 

Writers:

Ryan Engle and(Carlton Cuse

 

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Naomie Harris,  Malin Akerman

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  In a movie about giant monsters going on a rampage, it’s up to the actors to try and put on a performance to make us believe they are nearly destroyed by these artificial creations. Fortunately, the Rock is able to deliver his magic again, not the best performance mind you, but believable enough to craft a relationship with the artificial monkey.  Naomie Harris isn’t too bad either, capable of expressing fear at the possible end of the world, but not so much past those components.  Akerman has the vicious corporate tyrant face down, and the ice-cold stare of a woman perturbed with the hand fate dealt in her science experience, though flops at the end to maintain that edge.  Finally, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a champion at bringing comedic spark to the mix, a sarcastic modern day cowboy whose mannerism and wide smile will craft a more charming version of Negan.

 

The Comedy:  With Dwayne Johnson, you can always expect the film to have some comedy, and no surprise…Rampage delivers on this.  Sure, the concept of the movie itself is hilarious enough, and even the acting/writing can be unintentionally comedic to leave you chuckling.  However, the intended comedy comes primarily from the one liners packed into Johnson and Morgan’s lines. Their rapier delivery is sharp, well-timed, and has just enough emphasis to maximize the sting these insults and lines bring.  Throw in some of the vaudeville with George the CGI monkey that is cute, yet edgy, and you get some surprising laughs that you might not be expecting.

 

The Graphics/Special Effects:  No surprise, a movie about CGI behemoths needs good computer work and Rampage delivers on these hand over fist.  Smooth animation, well-crafted realism, and some originality help bring these monsters to life on the big screen in a way that leave many with mouths agape.  These titans of terror, have fantastic sound editing to go along with their visual prowess that brings everything together to unleash the full might of these beasts.  As for the carnage itself, the special effects department delivers on this as well, combining pyrotechnics and manmade visuals to craft their visual representation of the classic arcade game.  The effects themselves pay much homage to the platform they were built upon and in the last 40 minutes of the film, one will feel as if they have dived into that classic game.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Cheesiness: Despite the concept itself being a major stretch, the movie had hopes for making the most out of it.  They did to a level, but there were a lot of components that were still too ridiculous or forced to bare. Some of this includes the way the dialogue was delivered, the random plot elements thrown in, and even some of the chaos itself dropped a little over the top for me and my friends. And because of this stretch of the imagination, other components suffer such as the story, speaking of which.

 

The Story: Okay it’s based on a video game that had thread thin plot to being with, but that’s no excuse to improve upon things in this day and age.  Improvements were made to an extent, but the story lacks a lot of sustenance that could have helped craft a more engaging story.  The character background information is minimal at best, built enough to provide introductions and some sense of internal conflict, but lacking in other departments to really make dynamic characters to grasp onto. Even worse, the pace of the movie is off, emphasizing how weak the story is at times and making it drag as it attempts to build up tension for the climax at the end when the hammer finally drops.  Had these elements been tinkered with, perhaps we would have been more engrossed in the movie.

 

More Action:  You’ve stuck it out through the ridiculous plot, been teased by the small, and often pointless skirmishes, and you’ve gotten through the lacking characters.  Now it’s time for the epic battle, right?  Wrong.  Rampage’s end game starts out so promising as the video game spectacle of army vs. beast unfolds in epic quality with the theater rattling in high amplitude sound.  Then it kind of fizzles out, focusing on the human component for nearly fifteen minutes with no sign of the beasts.  Had this part been more thought out, intricate, and exciting itself this would have worked, but since this wasn’t the case it failed.  When the beasts begin battling each other, this too needed more thought put into it to bring some originality and creativity to the battling behemoths.  Given all the prep work for it, my friends and I were disappointed to not have more gusto behind this clash of the titans.

 

The VERDICT: Rampage turned out better than I had expected, but the film still had much more to bring to the table to deliver on the expected promise of action.  Comedy, acting and graphics were spot on in this big budget special effects piece, however they needed to use this budget to add more to the grand bout of carnage and fury.  A lackluster story that succumbs to cheesiness and mundane tactics, Rampage needed to dig deeper to unlock the primitive energy locked up within.  Perhaps a sequel will improve upon it and they will put more action into the next installment, but for now it’s an okay starting point.  Should you see it in theaters?  For the effects lone yes, but this guy recommends holding out for some other spectacles coming in the near future.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0