The Road To El Soldado: Paved With Details, Character Development, and Edge

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster

 

Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise.  After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico.  Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path.  Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:

 

Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)

 

Director:

Stefano Sollima

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Stars:

Benicio Del Toro,  Josh Brolin,  Isabela Moner

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Darkness:  A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal.  The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of “heroes”.  In terms of character development, the movie’s edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.

 

The Story:  Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades.  Del Toro’s character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together.  Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in. 

 

The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers.  It’s just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides.  Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love. 

 

The Acting:  By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully.  Brolin doesn’t veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken.  No surprise, it’s Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round.  Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.

 

The Justice:  There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen… actually happen and these moments plain out rock.  I can’t say much more than that so let’s move on to the dislikes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  The movie isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts.  It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots.  Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.

 

Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie’s talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is.  You’ll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players’ parts in this film.

 

Some stretches:  The movie’s complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal.  Sometimes it’s turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it’s the rapid change of character, but Soldado’s road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes.  Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.

 

Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn’t the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving.  Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.

 

More Action:  The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted.  Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional.  Why this was the case?  I don’t know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue.  So, let’s get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre.  It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant.  Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established.  Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components.  It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained.  Good for kids?  Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work.  Worth a trip to the theater?  If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

 

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Slam Dunk With Drew

Uncle Drew Poster

 

Whatever top of blacktop you got to step on, you knew there was a game of basketball going on at some point. While I stunk at the game, watching my fellow classmates agilely school each other in the art of hoops was something that held a lot pizazz, energy, and fun. Tonight, a movie promising to revive that fun, alongside teaching some legends in the art of basketball Zen and entertain the masses.  Is this moving going to take home the prize or will it be nothing but an air ball? Robbie K here to review another movie and share his thoughts on the silver screen cinematic known as:

 

Movie:  Uncle Drew (2018)

 

Director:

Charles Stone III

Writer:

Jay Longino

Stars:

Kyrie Irving,  Lil Rel Howery,  Shaquille O’Neal

 

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy:  Uncle Drew is certainly in the art of playful insults, trash talking, and of course the elderly living life to the fullest.  The comedy is spread between a variety of styles, balancing them into an act that feels natural and realistic.  I had my fair share of laughs seeing the various slapsticks and certainly enjoyed the delivery by the various basketball stars. In addition, the movie is able to balance Tiffany Haddish’s style of comedy into the mix, giving you plenty of attitude, but not to the point of annoyance. 

 

The Character Development: Certainly not the biggest selling point, but the movie expands n what looked like a one-dimensional cast, and brought some more relevant players to the bench.  While not the deepest dives in a movie, it’s an attempt to give us more backstory and care about the characters.  In addition, a few twists come from these back stories so well done in those regards of adding to the tale.

 

The Soundtrack:  A mixture of old and new school track lists, Uncle Drew’s crew is ready to rock out to a sensational list of rap, hip-hop, R&B, blues, and a little techno.  They pair to the scenes well, add energy to the scene, and if all else fails works to get you dancing in your seat.  My favorite track is certainly during the dance off, got love those beats and moves coming together.

 

The Morals:  You want life lessons?  Drew’s got them.  You want bonding of family and trust?  Drew’s got them.  You want other lessons about confidence, respect, and the love of the game?  Again, Drew has them.  This movie is certainly about teaching much across the generations, unafraid to call out mistakes and inspire to see the world from different angles. These lessons are certainly a keystone for this movie, but it works given that attitude and energy of the film.

 

The Games:  Drew is supposed to be about the moves and being capable of schooling the young players.  Well thank goodness they showed off those skills in enough cinematic glory. There are at least two games that give the players their respectful bouts of basketball, blowing the screen up in impressive displays of agility, coordination, and attitude.  It explodes with the youthful energy, and brings some tension to keep the game interesting.  In addition, these scenes, like the movie, are fun and keep all this balanced to not break from the theme of the movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Depth:  The movie made attempts to develop characters, it just needed to dive further in and develop some more tension.  Much of the plot points are sub-par at best, deep scars that seem to resolve quickly and lack the full intensity of resolution Drew tried to make them.  For two hours… the movie could have utilized some time to give the deeper moments more… well depth.

 

Ridiculous moments:  I get it, the concept itself is nuts, but that aside, Uncle Drew sometimes takes the levels a little too high to fit into the movie.  Sure, it’s entertaining and fun, but some of these scenes divert away from the attempts to be serious, or just become bloated bouts of banter that unnecessarily extends the movie.  If this is your style, get ready for plenty of crazy moments, otherwise just steel yourself for about ten minutes max.

 

Ending Credits: Small dislike, but the credits would have worked for me had they just been the bloopers, which contained lines I wish had made it to the film’s actual dialogue. However, the Haddish ending scene was just a grandiose attempt to bring her attitude more into the mix and didn’t need to be there.

 

Predictable: Much of this is due to the trailers showing too much off, but the movie has only a few twists to try to throw you for a whirl.  Much of the attempts are soap opera like stunts that did little to move me because they can see them from a mile away.  The movie needed a little more gup behind it to help get a little more slamming behind it.

 

Cliché:  Perhaps also in the predictable category, the messages are powerful, but they are preachy, presented sometimes in an overdramatic manner seen in Tyler Perry or Nicholas Sparks books.  It will hit deep in the heart for many, but keep your eyes open and you’ll see the overdramatic presentation I’m talking about.

 

The Length:  Two hours doesn’t seem long enough once the fun starts, the problem is the first part.  Props to them for not skimping on the recruiting scenes as it gave each guy there moment in the sun.  However, there were comedic ploys that got overused, or they went out of the way to execute to be honest, and for me that just added unnecessary length to the movie. There is at least 15 minutes to be edited out, but still it works.

 

Mookie:  I get it he was supposed to be annoying, and Nick Kroll did his job well to amplify the obnoxious presentation that was Dax’s rival Mookie.  Does not mean I wanted a character like this in the movie.  Mookie is an annoying piece of work, that serves its purpose of drawing ire out of every character and setting up for an intense rivalry. Yet, his scenes were very draining on my patience and I cherished the silence that followed his babbling of disgustingness.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Uncle Drew is certainly a great representation of black top antics and the spirit of street basketball, brotherhood, and pride. It works to cover multiple generations, and will certainly appeal to many in terms of its comedy, sports nature, and all out fun.  Yet, the movie still has some editing components to cut into, dropping the out of the way laugh attempts for some character depth that can spice up the predictable plot.  Nevertheless, the movie is fun and energetic and certainly appropriate for many to go and lace up for.  I’d say this movie warrants a visit if you are looking to have fun and strongly encourage group outings to thoroughly enjoy it. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Has The Series Fallen To Extinction?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Poster

 

Dinosaurs continue to be the fascinating topic of the prehistorical world and with it the carnage that comes with these gigantic beasts. In the 90’s Jurassic Park reigned supreme in this genre, and brought Crichton’s novel to life in ways we could not imagine.  Nearly three decades later, the technology continues to push the dinosaurs animation to new heights and potentially make the carnage all the sweeter.  Robbie K here, bringing another review on the last silver screen smash to grace the theaters this week.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie:  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

 

Director:

J.A. Bayona

Writers:

Derek Connolly,  Colin Trevorrow

 

Stars:

Chris Pratt,  Bryce Dallas Howard,  Rafe Spall

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation:  Let’s face it, the 90’s brought an incredible baseline of work, and the advancements in animation make these extinct creatures shine like no other. Computer animation brings fluid movements of running, mangling, and hunting, while the robotics creates the realistic sheen that hooks you in. A nice balance between the two styles really crafts the piece together.

 

The Acting:  Pratt is still great, a blend of sarcasm meeting heroic cowboy that sharpens him into a great lead to keep the series alive.  Howard dropped most of the edgy, monotonous tone (and the heels) and with it brings that more dynamic, caring approach to life to round out the roguish nature of Pratt.  As for the rest of the crew, they play their parts well, though I can’t say they were the best approaches direction of the characters I anticipated, primarily Toby Joneswho somehow played a stiff, one dimensional character with little bite.

 

The Pace:  Like the stampeding herd in the trailer, the movie moves at a good pace, always moving and at times trying to keep the action/suspense nature alive.  It shifts easily from one dynamic to another, attempting to keep the drama down and the chaos high.

 

More Dinosaurs:  The movie manages to expand their collection of thunder lizards to terrorize and amaze.  Both carnivores and herbivores will stomp into the group with majestic prowess, or perhaps stalk in with nightmarish grins as they attempt to obtain their next meal.  Regardless, the repertoire is impressive and many get their shining moment to actually warrant their inclusion.

 

The Originality of New Direction:  We’ve understood the cliché of Jurassic Park movies and how a band gets put on an island, forced to pit their instincts against the prehistoric predators. Jurassic World 2 decides to deviate from it and take a more moral dilemma approach.  The movie honestly has a lot more discussion of ethics vs business, mercy vs. survival, and selective vs. global compassion.  Much of the movie is geared towards these tug at your heart issues and trying to pick a side of the two extremes.  While political, the movie will certainly stir up emotions you might not expect in this series.

 

The Character Development: Surprisingly, Jurassic World 2 manages to beef up the character development of some of its leading groups.  Chris Pratt’s Owen really gets under the microscope to examine the connections to Blue, bringing with it a deeper connection to one who was so shallow in the previous installment.  As for Claire… she too gets a little more depth, but surprisingly took the back seat in this movie compared to Pratt, I guess her family was the driving point for evolving, and without them she lacks the motivation.  As for the rest of the crew, there are some decent looks into their lives, but haven’t quite gotten to the multiple layers you might want in a leading role.

 

The Nostalgia: Got to love when your childhood memories and references come back into the screen, and this installment is happy to bring back a few of these moments to have you smiling.  They haven’t quite mastered showing some of the bigger, iconic references, but they got enough for a good start.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

The New Characters:  I don’t know whose direction or decisions it was, but the new characters are a little too modernized for my taste.  Very emotional, angsty characters, the younger cast is a bit too extreme for me and felt like a forced comedic ploy that failed to pick up steam.  The villains themselves lacked much dimension as well, falling into stereotypical, boastful blowhards who have little beyond bragging rights.  Why such extremes?  I don’t know, but they failed to impress me given some of the other baddies to infiltrate the parks.

 

The Twist:  There are a number of these in this film, but one in particular about a character will bring with it a new level of soap opera dynamics.  By doing this they help establish some more motifs to all the madness at hand, but it really didn’t stand and hold place in a movie about creating and unleashing the torrent of dinosaurs.  Sorry guys uniqueness gets an A+, but in the grand schemes not needed.

 

Predictable/Pushed carnage: Since Lost World, the series has been more about the kills as the main source of thrills.  Jurassic World and World 2 were still on that gimmick, not so much setting it up to go with the suspense and storytelling element.  The movie sets up obvious ploys for killing and often relying on stupidity and foreshadowing to set up their kills with little regards to necessity.  I miss the suspense of that first movie and grow tired of the focus of how to make it gore fest, no matter how justified they are.

 

The Inhumane Moments: The director wanted to elicit emotional responses and he managed to succeed very well.  However, in this installment, those moments are sometimes a little too inhumane for my taste and a little unnecessary at times.  Fallen Kingdom is going to continue passing the baton of who the real monsters are, but for me this director has a little more sadistic side to the cinematography and plot elements he wants to show. Being an animal lover, no matter how savage they are, it was hard to see some of these moments come to fruition and enjoy the film.  If you’re like me, steel yourself, because there are going to be some over the top moments to punch you hard and leave you feeling depressed.

 

Didn’t Feel Jurassic: The movie held so much potential for another island adventure that showed danger, mystery, and more of that great survival of the fittest we thrive on in the series.  However, this part was rushed, simplified, and very lacking until the big run from the volcano scene.  The movie missed all that suspenseful, thrilling moments for the ethical debates, and the though the second act turned out stronger than I expected, it still didn’t hold the elements (or the bite) of the movie I longed for.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            In truth, Jurassic World 2 is a decent sequel that tries out some new things to try and evolve the dinosaurs’ reign on the silver screen. Given the new morale dilemmas, the character development and increase in gimmicks like more dinosaurs and better animation, the movie is obviously worth the trip to the theater.  However, the movie still does not quite have the feel of the movies proceeding it, lacking the thrilling adventure of defying debt, for more soap opera and convoluted antics.  In addition, the twist and heartbreaking moments may deter you from enjoying the movie at full potential.  As for it being appropriate for kids… it depends on their ability to handle the cruel treatment of animals, adult themes, and darker moments (Endoraptor is nightmare inducing) that are often loud.  So targeted age is probably 12 and up.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Is The Game Over? Tagging You Into This Review

Tag Poster

            Childhood games and traditions may seem silly, but with them comes a pact that helps solidify the friendships that start with them. Based on true events, today’s review is based on events of a group of guys who played Tag for almost three decades and the craziness that came with it. Another comedy arrives this weekend and yours truly is here to help get your movie going experience on, or not depending on the movie.  Let’s gets started as I review:

 

Movie: Tag (2018)

 

Director:

Jeff Tomsic

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by),  Mark Steilen (screenplay by)

Stars:

Jeremy Renner,  Ed Helms,  Jake Johnson

 

LIKES:

Good Pace: A movie about a childhood game requires a good pace to capture that energy and Tag succeeds in securing this.  The movie constantly keeps the gang on their toes, as the crew makes attempts to discover the whereabouts of Jerry (Jeremy Renner) and then execute their plans.  Most of the scenes are high adrenaline bouts of running, with obstacles courses, clever dodges, and a few other moves.  It keeps up the fun of the movie and does little to venture off the course of bringing you back into your youth.

 

Surprisingly Deep: While it is a comedy, Tag somehow manages to take a break away from the silliness by getting into the character stories. As a balance between fun and depth, the movie does a unique job presenting the background history, by using the temporarily lapses in the excitement to interview the crew.  Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) is an interviewer who gets dragged into the adventure, and to further understand the trend, asks the group how things evolved.  Through this story, the characters evolve, and the relationship dives into something much more emotionally charged than I ever expected.

 

Funny:  Is the comedy funny?  Yes it is, and the movie does a nice job of broadening the comedic styles across the board to not only help each character stand out, but keep the comedy fresh and fun.  I myself enjoyed the physical comedy of the group, which felt like a more ridiculous version of Home Alone’s stunts.  In addition, Hannibal Buressdry, monotone delivery was perfect to offset all the yelling, high drug and angry comedy that the rest brought.  Matched with the energy of the movie, the comedy helped rejuvenate the youthful energy of the movie and keep everything fun to watch.

 

Good Balance of Characters: My concerns for actors getting underutilized was misplaced for once, and Tag was able to keep everyone practically involved in the adventure.  Much of this has to do with the presentation of backstory and modern-day planning, but everyone who gets pulled into the game stays in the game… in a nonthreatening manner that is. And thanks to the blend of comedy styles, every character is very well utilized to further expand the game at hand.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Crosses the line sometimes: Some of the styles in this movie are very dark and mature. It’s these elements that sometimes cross way over the line, jumping into topics that aren’t worth joking about.  Super competitive people will relish in the tactics used to win, but for me, the writers sometimes went a little too far in impeding the sanctity of things that needed to be impeded on.

 

Sexual Innuendo Banter: Innuendos are a great device when deployed sparingly and timed right.  Tag accomplishes this goal well, but there are a few moments where the aggressive comedy diverges from the path to just stuff more sexual antics into the mix. One of these times was completely unnecessary, a lead that was doomed to fail and could have been edited out. When the banter about this stuff continues to occur, it got old due to how irrelevant it needed.

 

Over the Top At Times: The whole movie is over the top, I get that, but sometimes it flew sky high into the childish and moronic territories. The game of tag has a lot of stakes to winning, and when competitiveness gets in the way, the adrenaline rush causes one to do stupid things. However, this movie takes it a little too far, leading to yes amusing antics at times, but other times very destructive habits that again crossed a line not only into illegal areas, but stupid territory again.

 

Isla Fisher’s Character: This has nothing to do with the actress herself, but the direction they took her in.  Anna is a firecracker to say it nicely, but the direction had her a little too obnoxious and bipolar for my liking.  At times it came off well, but other times it was just annoying to see her aggressively yell, curse, or sometimes strike a person for no reason. It never got any better for me, and some of my fellow movie goers agreed that her character may have been the weakest link of the group.  Still, you want that firecracker wild woman, you are in the right area.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            Tag is a movie that doesn’t sell you short on the simplistic, fun, youthful adventure that it is.  It’s a ridiculous, over the top comedy that is incredibly entertaining and should keep you in the film for the entire ride.  With a great ensemble and multiple styles integrated together, one should find a few laughs held in the confines of this game.  Despite the surprising depth to the movie, the ridiculous antics, cursing/dirty comedy still cross the line and Fisher’s character didn’t help to maintain the balance they would have strived for.  Still, the movie succeeds in recapturing the spirit of youth, and is worth a trip to the theater as a group or date movie.  If you can’t catch that together, then save your money for the rental service and wait for next week’s flick.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

Incredible Follow Up

Incredibles 2 Poster

            It’s another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another “masterpiece” to win the hearts of many.  After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay.  Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations.  Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures.  So, let’s get started.

 

Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

Stars:

Craig T. Nelson,  Holly Hunter,  Sarah Vowell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  If the trailers didn’t paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many.  Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family’s drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.

 

Balanced First Act: Pixar’s team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2’s first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion.  It’s primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.

 

Relevant:  While I can’t relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people.  For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others.  Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.  Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society.  By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.

 

Animation/Action:  The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling.  While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix.  Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random.  Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar’s approach to action.

 

Comedy:  Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix.  The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs.  Jack-Jack’s cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though…Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn’t do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.

 

Inconsistencies in Story Components:  The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects.  During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components.  No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won’t care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you’ll start to realize these moments.  At this point, I’ll state that some of the new characters didn’t have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.

 

Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack’s antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of.  The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me.  In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack’s-Jack’s power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity.  I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.

 

Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction?  Me too!  Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight.  The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story.  Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with.  Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don’t know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It’s a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had.  With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film.  However, the movie still didn’t quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn’t maintain that balance I loved.  Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way.  Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in.  Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

Ocean’s 8 Is Not Quite An 8

Ocean's 8 Poster

 

When it comes to crime thrillers, most will immediately identify Ocean’s 11.  This movie was big back in the day, modernizing the crime film, and solidifying some of the mainstays of the decade’s biggest stars.  Many films have followed suit, but none quite establishing the legacy the Oceans series did, and this weekend, they will attempt to do it again, but establish a different group to lead instead. Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Ocean’s 8

 

Director:

Gary Ross

Writers:

Gary Ross (screenplay by),  Olivia Milch (screenplay by)

Stars:

Sandra Bullock,  Cate Blanchett,  Anne Hathaway

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun: No doubt about it, I had fun in this film.  Watching the new adventure unfold brought a renewed energy to this series that contained many elements and styles to have you chuckling or smiling in delight.  The new 8 has captured a portion of the original trilogy’s mood, but twists it into a more entertaining tale than you might expect.

 

Balance:  My pre-review stated concern that the movie’s dynamic was going to be solely comedy and political power for women, but my concerns were wrong.  The writers managed to interject key comedic moments that had wit and timing behind them to capitalize on the laughs.  Even more impressive, is how they showed off how awesome these women were, but didn’t quite rub it in our faces via preachy monologues and aggressive, anti-male lines. The result was a more respectable, and acceptable screenplay.

 

Fast Pace:  The movie didn’t drag like I was concerned with, moving a fairly quick pace and utilizing the screen time to make it fun.  My first-time check was almost 1-hour in and could not believe so much time had passed in such a little amount.  Such a speed adds a little energy to it, keeping you entertained and further adding to the enjoyment of the movie.

 

The costumes:  My lord was wardrobe on point, crafting incredible outfits for our stylish sisters to wear (when they aren’t dressing like bums). Ocean’s 8 is a grown women’s fantasy closet, with numerous designs to reel the targeted audience in and keep it lodged in for the full 2 hour run time. Throw in some very fancy, gorgeous accessories and jewelry, you might understand why many in my showing were oohing and aching for most of the movie.  Such a suave style fits well with the characters of the movie and it adds personality to an already colorful cast.

 

Acting:  It’s decent, what else can I say.  Ocean’s 8 is not going to have award winning nominations, but Sandy B and her team get props for not only bringing each character to life, but also creating a new family that show the makings for future development and tension in the future.  Kudos also go out for utilizing each character fairly well, not necessarily perfect, but much better than most films, even integrating cameos to interweave with the leading ladies.

 

James Corden:  A final nod goes to Corden’s appearance in the movie. His introduction brings with it a new sense of comedy that feels much like his talk show moments we’ve fallen in love with.  New story elements are teased with him, but Corden somehow further amplifies the fun and had the audience laughing the most of the film.  A well-timed and integrated move my friends, and one I hope will come in future installments, should they decide to go that direction.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Carbon Copy:  The first movie was epic and really broke ground, but this movie… not so much.  Ocean’s 8 feels more like a big game of steeling dress up items than a true crime/drama, it lacks some of the unique elements and the energy isn’t quite there to feel original.  The result is a formulaic film that emphasizes new qualities in a criminal team, that is a major set up for future installments.  Yes, it falls victim to franchise mode, which causes the movie to suffer elsewhere, like…

 

Semi-Use of Nostalgia: Acknowledging that this is a movie meant to establish its own stride, Ocean’s 8 tries to utilize nostalgia to help spice things up.  I can say they hit some great moments to it, integrating it to help further the plan, but other times was just a nod that didn’t have quite the same emphasis as the bigger moments.  George Clooney’s reference in particular felt very lazy to me, but potential sequels may correct this component or at least shed some light on things.

 

Weak Character Development: Like the other Ocean’s movies, the criminal team didn’t quite get a hard self-reflection/revelation that other films in this genre has.  Ocean’s 8 tries to get things rolling, primarily in Bullock and Blanchett’s character’s guidance, but much of it is a generic, diluted mess that doesn’t feel invested by the writers.  As for the other characters, yeah they are rather superficial sub-plots, much of their desires not even remotely fleshed out contributing to an incomplete writing or foreshadowing for more franchise moments coming. This is franchise planning at its “finest” the plan for more movies to explain, instead of letting the first movie do some heavy lifting.

 

Lack of Plausible Opposition/Tension:  Ocean’s 11 had plenty of parts that kept you on your toes and your interest engaged, perhaps even convincing your mind that the team won’t make it.  Ocean’s 8 has severely diluted the tension, with very few obstacles to come close to standing in their way.  Perhaps it’s the fun nature, or a subtle nod that women are better planners, but I felt the “exciting” climax was not quite as suspenseful or engaging as the predecessors.  This film needed a little direr strait to get you caring about them, perhaps again awaiting another film to bring more opposition to the mix.

 

The Trailers Ruined Twists: Watch one trailer semi-closely, and you now have the surprises robbed from you, including the two bigger treasures hidden in this film.  Ocean’s 8 marketing was good, but perhaps it did a little too well to ruin some plot points. If you haven’t watched it, you are in luck, otherwise get ready to be less surprised based on what you remember.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Ocean’s 8 isn’t as horrible as may predicted it to be, and much of this comes from the fear of heavy bombardment in female comedy/principles.  Yet, the group did a great job balancing those components in, striving to find balance between nostalgia and newness, comedy and seriousness, and women vs. men’s parts in plans succeeding, seeing these women dressed up in fantastic features strengthened the fun this movie brought, helping to keep the energy flowing. Yes, it requires some more uniqueness to be put in, and the character development certainly needs an overhaul, especially if they add another woman to the brigade.  Even more, this potential series need s to tighten its focus and bring some suspense to the movie to maximize its effect.  Still, this movie is worth the theater visit, primarily with girls groups, mostly due to the bond the ladies bring… and it’s the only crime film out right now.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5 -6.6

Wanted Luxury And Got Decent: Checking In For A One Night Stay

Hotel Artemis Poster

            What does crime, medicine, and dramas all have in common? Well outside of certain episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy, not much to be honest.  However, today those three genres mix together to bring you another movie that will hopefully bring with it some suspense, a little creativity, and some originality that Hollywood needs.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and today we review:

 

Movie: Hotel Artemis

 

Director:

Drew Pearce

Writer:

Drew Pearce

Stars:

Jodie Foster,  Sofia Boutella,  Dave Bautista

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Character Dynamics
  • Sofia Boutella and Sterling Brown’s Characters
  • Realistic Setting
  • Action Scene

 

Summary:  Hotel Artemis is a movie largely dependent on its characters, which fortunately are brought to life by the fantastic talents of the various cast members recruited for the project.  Leading roles by Foster, Boutella  and Sterling K. Brownare by far the most in depth and worthy of billing, but even the supporting characters like Bautista and Charlie Daywho bring their usual styles to the mix to alleviate some of the more somber moments.

As the actors bring it to life, the character dynamics start to awaken, establishing the realm of crime in the near-future LA and just how fickle trust can be in the underworld.  Those dynamics by far are the driving force of the movie, trying to help figure out how each of the pawns are connected and what will drive them in this high stakes hospital.  Perhaps it’s the setting itself that forces this evolution of characters, as the dingy oasis from the riot outsides places numerous pressure on the group.  As the outside world grows wilder (documented by occasional news blurbs), the characters are forced to interact and face their own dilemmas.  It’s a well-done drama that doesn’t pull any punches in the 2 hour run time so that it may establish so much.

I mentioned in pre-reviews that this movie looked to have some action to further spur the story on and for the most part… that is not the case.  Yet, there is one action scene in particular led by the sexy assassin herself, that is just epic, tense, and a great fit into the story that feels pertinent to the tale as a whole.  I wished there was more of these moments, but that wasn’t the direction they wanted to go.

 

DiSLIKES:

  • Slow at times
  • Charlie Day/Quinto Rants
  • Underutilization of characters/actors
  • More Action
  • Darker Violence
  • Background flops

 

Like some of the more popular dramas on television, Hotel Artemis’ drama is all about try to build tension through the characters and have politics, emotional fervor, and affairs be the selling point. This takes time to adequately develop, and given all the convoluted ties in this movie, it means a pace that isn’t quite adrenaline fueled. Hotel Artemis has its slow points, that easily could have been tightened to reduce the run time or potentially add some more tension/urgency to the mix.  Had there been more action to speed it up, the pace may not have been as much of a low point for me, but I fought sleep a couple of times.

In addition, a few of the directions that the characters were taken were not my favorite renditions I wanted to see.  Primarily in Quinto and Day’s characters, these players in Artemis’ game are more annoying than engaging, leaving me disappointed with the little contribution they played.  Day just rants and curses like someone hopped on coffee, Red Bull, and methamphetamine, while Quinto is just a big baby.  Not quite as fitting given the other portrayals of the crime gang.  Even worse, a few of the characters are super left out, reduced to a few, unmemorable lines or weak character ploys to get to the climax faster.  Jeff Goldblum’s character was one of these guys, and my fears of too many characters came true.

Which brings me to perhaps my biggest dislike of the film, the rushed background stories and flops.  The Nurse’s story is one of the heavy hitters, mysterious and emotionally charged, you expect it to be the epicenter of the movie.  And while it was a key connector, much of the backstory was not that impressive, alliterated, and lacking any major surprise/mind blowing component.  When the big revelation comes… you almost miss the clues and by this point I was done with all the planning, I needed the climactic finish.  Fortunately Nice and Waikiki’s tale had a little more to it, but even then it was only a superficial scratch to what lied below.  All the potential was kind of flown over, therefore this was the disappointment factor for me.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Hotel Artemis is weird and dark, no doubt about it, and truth be told it is a crime/drama with characters that are the central pillar to the story.  Despite a fantastic cast acting their brains out and a character centric plot, Artemis’s main flaws come from not having enough time to fully utilize everyone they wanted, and it resulted in plot teasers that could be expanded on in the future (perhaps in a sequel no doubt).  Such complications were only exacerbated by the slower pace, that begs for more suspense, tension, and action to bring it to life.  Truth be told, this could have been better done as a television series than a solo movie, given them hours to further map out the conspiracy web. Overall, not worth the trip to the theater to be honest, but worth the rent if you are into the alternative Sci-Fi/crime scene.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall 6.0