Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Hart Tries To HadDISH out some laughs

Night School Poster

 

Robbie K back with a second review of the evening, this time focusing on Kevin Hart’s latest production of an adventure we’ve kind of seen in the past.  Yes, in the world of comedy, Hart’s movie may seem like generic pieces, but you never know what surprises are going to be in store from the little man with the big personality.  So let’s get back in the theater and take a look at if school is really in session as we review:

 

Movie:  Night School (2018)

 

Director:

Malcolm D. Lee

Writers:

Kevin HartHarry Ratchford

Stars:

Tiffany HaddishKevin HartBrooke Butler

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Chemistry: Acting is exactly what you expect from Hart’s films, ridiculous, funny, and over the top.  Yet somehow, this ragtag group of high school dropouts works well together to craft an impromptu family that is entertaining to say the least. Between the two leads though, well that’s where the magic really occurs.  Haddish is very brash, crude, and still as wild as ever in her delivery of dialogue.  Hart on the other hand rambles like he always does, wavering his voice to levels while once again acting like a bozo unable to have a serious conversation.  The dynamic between the two is top tier though, one part a peeing contest to see who is smarter than whom, and one-part teacher-student level that brings that emotionally satisfying side these films can bring.  Nevertheless, the chemistry between the actors works super well.

 

Funny:  With a Hart movie, I can never tell how much I’m going to laugh, but when it came to Night School, I believe about half the movie had me in stitches.  Hart’s antics are still funny at times, where the delivery and dialogue fit together so well that it left me in tears.  Haddish as well has some major laughs, but for her, I preferred the other angle that she brought.  No it was the supporting cast and their sequences that I think brought me the most labs, integrating them into odd scenarios that worked so well.  Slapstick humor that involved dislocation, awful attempts at flirtation, and babysitting antics that go wrong.  The result is the cheaper laughs that we all know and love.

 

Good Pace:  A comedy movie needs to keep moving and for the most part the film works well to keep things engaging despite the predictability to come.  It jams a lot of comedy to not feel boring and does everything it can to keep you laughing, so you’ll get your money’s worth out of this one.

 

Message:  A comedy with a message is not uncommon, but this film gets a special nod to tackling the difficulties with learning disabilities, honor, and hard work ethic that again are needed for the constant reminders. Night School may wish to poke fun at the adventure of a GED, but make no mistake that they portrayed the serious subject matter with the bite it needed to stand out.  Thanks to those messages, the directors did a nice job of using this to ground the silliness and actually bring purpose to the chaos at hand.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Unoriginal most of the time: The problem with these movies for most is the fact of it being more of the same. Night School does stand out because it has more serious moments, but aside from that the comedy styles are reflective of the other movies.  You’ve got to be super big on the rantings, ramblings, and babbling of Kevin Hart characters, with a high tolerance to things going too high-volume arguments that he is famous for.  It doesn’t have the full unique spin of some of his other comedies and it just fills the gap between the bigger films coming.

 

Trailers Ruined some Big Scenes:  Given the media blow out of this movie, you can bet that there will be some things ruined in this film.  Sadly, the bigger scenes have had enough exposure to lose the edge for me, with a number of big comedic moments beaten over the head before the movie ever started. Now fortunately there are enough new scenes to pick up the slack though, but still hate to see the comedic potential fall.

 

Dropped Plot Point:  I know, these comedies aren’t all about character development or story, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the trouble of introducing family if you aren’t going to take them further.  Night School has a number of these moments that they could have pursued, but nothing more prevalent than Teddy’s family who didn’t have much involvement despite their introduction in the beginning. Lots of comedic potential, but again dropped in favor of other areas.

 

The Editing:  There are two meanings to this dislike.  First there were scenes that could have been left out or tightened up to help cut down on team and trim the extremely stupid back to manageable levels.  However, the part that didn’t work for me was the fact that some of the dialogue did not match up with the lip movements of the group. Obviously some reworks into the dialogue were done, so why did we not get reshoots or better editing to correct it.  While not the biggest effect on the movie, this inconsistent editing is not the way to go for detailed reviewers.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Let’s face it, Night School is not going to be the most original, the most award winning, or even the cleverest ideas to come to the market.  However, it is a very fun movie where the chemistry of the cast, the grounding of the comedy, and the pace are going to be very entertaining to the masses. I can say this is not my favorite of his films, but holds the middle of the ground for this guy because it is indeed funny.  Yet, a little more editing, some originality, and perhaps a little more diversity in the comedy and it could have been a top-notch addition to the Hart library.  Still, the movie is worth a visit to the theater with friends or in a group, otherwise, hold out to the streaming release in a few short months. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

One Small Step For Music, One Giant Need For More Time

Smallfoot Poster

            Robbie K here with another review, this time hitting the latest animated movie to come into the big screen and help impress your little ones.  While not Disney, tonight’s first review offers the potential to teach, preach, and have your kids dancing in your seats as a new merchandising set debuts on the silver screen.  What’s in store? Read on to find out as I look over

 

Movie: Small Foot (2018)

 

Directors:

Karey KirkpatrickJason Reisig (co-director)

Writers:

Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by)

Stars:

Channing TatumJames CordenZendaya

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  Animated movies often take this approach, but Small Foot especially took the reins of selling the terrifying yeti as a cute, cuddly, anthropomorphized group that look fluffy and stylish at the same time.  It’s characters have that adorable round face, big shining eyes, and a happy, peppy attitude that feeds positivity to the audience around.  As such, hearts will melt and smiles will shine bright as they watch the group come to life.

 

Animation: No surprise here, a big budget production from WB has fluid movement and articulated sequences that show off their computer work.  Small Foot’s design is also colorful, vibrant, and somehow a tribute to the fashion/culture of multiple ethnicities that represent their voice actors. I myself loved the styles of the yeti’s and how chique their fur was structured to make them unique. Definitely not the most realistic, but it works.

 

Strong Messages:  What would a kid’s movie be without important life lessons and adult politics present to provide a double layered story?  Small Foot is just that, working to teach the audience the importance of trust, the questioning of theories to pursue truth and make life better, bringing cultures together to make for peace, and a variety of other messages that the world can stand to learn.  It’s powerfully done, with all the magic thrown in to help bring the message to full light and let it fully settle in.  Where other films are a little more subtle, Small Foot decides to just blare it full blast to get the message across, even promoting a few songs to teach the lessons.

 

Funny at times:  I think this states it enough, but Small Foot attempts a lot of comedic styles to entertain all ages.  Many of the running jokes are tributes to vine and internet videos that should be familiar to the modern era.  Some are brilliantly timed, and others are included haphazardly, there to be funny for the kids alone.  I myself like the cleverer references or clever wordplay, which there is actually a decent amount, so kudos to them.

 

Songs: While it seems the modern trend is to turn everything animated into a musical to get soundtracks out and money in.  While that trend gets annoying at times, have to say that the music of Small Foot was very entertaining and fitting to the scenes that were designed with them. Beautiful, passionate songs led by Zendaya gave me the goosebumps and held such emotional fire to motivate your desire to learn new things, while the Corben’s twist on Pressure was clever, fun, and humorous to break things up.  Nevertheless, this would be a fun setlist to play in the car and one worth investing in.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lacking The Disney Magic: We know there are plenty of reasons why this is the case, but for me Small Foot is lacking the same power that bigger budget productions hold.  Small Foot may be cute, but it didn’t push the boundaries of creativity, character cultivation or design.  It’s not bad by any means, and while there is some originality, all the pieces don’t quite line up.

 

The Overdone Comedy: Again, I like many of the things this movie offers in terms of laughs, but Small Foot has difficulties with finding that balance between too much and too little.  The movie loves beating running joke horses to death, while skimping on jokes that were more diverse and bridged multiple ages.

 

More Songs:  Can’t believe I’m saying this, but in truth, the movie actually needed a few more songs to round out the experience.  Zendaya’s song is amazing, but for me not so much to fashion most of the screen time songs around it.  At least three different renditions were played during the film, plenty of opportunity for some of those more humorous songs to fill instead.

 

Character Usage/Development: Lots of voices, means lots of time management needs, and Small Foot does okay to some degree.  The problem is, that they just don’t integrate the characters as well as I think they could have  done.  So many potential plot points, hindrances, and obstacles could have been introduced to add more to the story, but musical theatrics and cuteness took over.  Much more was needed on many fronts to really tie all the characters together and launch more stories to the mix.  This is probably due to lower run time, which was appreciated, but perhaps will set up for some type of Netflix series.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Overall, Small Foot is a fun ride that will appease the target audience easily enough.  Music is fun, the jokes are a variety of references to get on board with, and it has that cute atmosphere you got from the trailers.  And if you’ve got the little ones enjoy it with them, but realize this one doesn’t quite have the magic behind it like it wanted.  It’s a little off balance, did not take the potential of developing characters, and needed more of the gimmicks to help give it that push it needed.  So overall, most are going to either avoid or reserve this one for NetFlix/Redbox.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Hell Of A Good Time

Hell Fest Poster

 

It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are changing, the air is becoming crisper and cooler, and the sounds of blood curling screams can be heard in the air.  Yes, it’s Halloween time and with it comes tonight’s review on the latest Horror movie to grace the silver screen.  Tonight, looks to be a joyful slasher film, where MTV meets thriller as a group of teens try to take on some lunatic force once more.  Yes, it’s time for Hell Fest, and yours truly is here to give you some thoughts on your movie going pleasures.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Hell Fest (2018)

 

Director:

Gregory Plotkin

Writers:

Seth M. Sherwood (screenplay by), Blair Butler (screenplay by)

Stars:

Bex Taylor-KlausReign EdwardsAmy Forsyth

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Not award winning, but still okay, the teenage cast of Hell Fest may be slightly annoying, but the direction and acting have led to characters seemingly likeable.  While not much past screaming and acting like teenagers, the group gets applause for making me believe in their terror and being the teenagers, they were designed to be.

 

Surprises:  It’s a straightforward movie, but Hell Fest did it’s best to keep you on your toes as to what would happen.  A blend of fake outs and take outs, the thrills will keep rearing their ugly heads in the 90-minute run time.  As such, you’ll be happy with trying to get an idea who will not survive the night, so kudos to that.

 

Fast Pace:  A predictable movie like this needs to have as many antics going for it to make it worth the trip.  Fortunately, the pace is fast, ever moving, and loaded with enough gimmicks to keep you entertained for the already lower run-time.  So those with short attention spans should be okay on this aspect.

 

Funny:  Face it, the stereotypes today can be very humorous if relevant or poked at in just the right manner.  Hell, Fest accomplishes this tasks, making sure to work their charm into the movie to help alleviate the stress of the horror.  A clever pun, good delivery of lines, and some well-time jokes are balanced well into this mix.

 

The Setting: My favorite aspect of the movie though is the special effect work, more so in regards to making the world come to life.  Hell Fest’s prop department really brought the themed event to full life in all its terrifying glory.  The mazes are impressively detailed, a variety of themes to please most fans of the scary theme park ordeals.  Wardrobe accomplished their task of making a beautiful display of nightmarish costumes, again in a variety of styles to play on the fears of the main characters, extras, and the audience.  As for the sound effects and light shows that Hell Fest has, again, it’s an impressive piece of work that integrates you into the experience first hand, and perhaps the most fun aspect of the movie.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development: I know I expect too much from this genre or type of movie, but a little more background information, depth, or something else would have been nice to see in this movie.  Our crew is having fun with you, but a little more resourcefulness and brains, or some personality could have helped hook me into caring about the characters a little more.  As I said, it’s MTV looks, but a little more internal work is in order.

 

Predictable:  The movie doesn’t try to deviate too much from the linear presentation it tries to throw.  The trailers have presented the movie well, but sadly the linearity and unoriginality don’t win it points for a higher score.  If you just want the straight and narrow though, you’ve got a real winner in this film again.

 

Trailers reveal too much: Yep, you heard right, the movies once again suffer from too much advertising.  Hell Fest had much revealed in the confines of the public messaging service, and if you have seen enough commercials, you’re going to lose the magic this movie wants to bring.  Because of this the predictability goes up and the scares go down.  Speaking of which…

 

Not Scary At All: Because of the ludicrous presentation of the teens, edging back on the scares, and the trailers, the movie is actually not that fear inducing.  Yes, the villain is certainly creepy, the camera work helping a lot on this and there are some cringe worthy kills.  However, Hell Fest relies too much on the jump scares, with obvious set up and ploys so deliberately laid out that one would have a hard time trying to ignore it. Nevertheless, this movie is not going to be much for the fans of the truly terrifying, and most likely worth a skip. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Hell Fest is a fun installment into the horror genre that brings laughs and cheap thrills to the mix.  While there are certainly creepy aspects to the film and the setting/costumes are perfect for creating the place where horror and fun come together, it lacks that bite that good horror movies know how to execute.  Still, it is a fun experience and worth checking out as a group, but if you really want the nightmare inducing thrills and the nightmare inducing images, this movie most likely won’t creep you out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Does The Clock Go Tick Tock? A Review On The House With A Clock In Its Walls Review

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Poster

 

 

Robbie K back with another movie review, this time on the latest kid movie that hopes to bring families together and add some magic to their lives.  Yet, in this day and age, much is unsure about if the movie can survive when champions like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and Star Wars holds.  Hopefully I can answer some of these questions, as we provide an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: The House With A Clock In Its Wall (2018)

 

Director:

Eli Roth

Writers:

Eric Kripke (screenplay by), John Bellairs (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Jack BlackCate BlanchettOwen Vaccaro

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting Chemistry

Good Visuals/Setting

Nice Make Up and Costumes

Charming and Cute

Fun Adventure

Decent Mystery

Good Merchandising

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development

More Use of The Magic Antics

Anticlimactic

Darker Than Intended

A few times oversteps Comedic Boundaries

A Little More Investment In Other Aspects

 

In regards to this movie, it’s an adorable, fun adventure loaded with comedy and adventure to get little ones excited at the possible magic.  Much of this has to do with the impressive visuals, design, special effects, and of course the costumes that they sport.  As the world is built up in terms of all the fun merchandising, the main trio are fantastic, utilizing amazing chemistry they really bring the impromptu family dynamic to full force, complementing each other to strengthen the quirks of each member.  To help tie so many things together, there is a sense of mystery to be had that brings the adventure part, helping bring out the character development that you want, but never really leaving the search for the supposed clock that dwells within.

Yet, with how much fun I had with the movie, there are still some areas of improvement that would make the film even better for me. For one it’s the character development, which while there, holds so much mystery behind it and could have further strengthened the key pillar for me.  As this movie is primarily about the training of magic, I believe I would have liked to see more of the world and spells that the warlocks knew.  They again hint at the wonders they have, but unlike Harry potter, the lacking budget limited the visual portrayal of the powers, leading to disappointing action sequences.  In addition, exercise caution, because this movie dives into darker, more occult like bouts that could be a little too much for the younger age groups, primarily in disturbing them or causing nightmares at the least. These darker themes sometimes overstep their boundaries, and the comedy too can follow in those footsteps to get a bit annoying.

Overall though, the movie did accomplish the goal of storytelling, fun, and magic balance and really leaving me fulfilled with how much fun it brought.  Despite all this though, the movie’s dive into darker territory may limit the audience who can attend as well as limits the amount of magic one gets to see. There is a lot of potential to take this anticlimactic finisher and expand upon everything, but the Clock will need to keep ticking to find even better use of technology to expand upon the tricks of the trade.  So therefore, exercise caution in taking your little one, but unless you are looking for the best movie this week, this film is better left reserved for the RedBox.

The Fall Of A Nation: Crazy Visuals and Extremes Of Violence, Instead of Good Stories

Assassination Nation Poster

            Robbie K back with an abbreviated movie review as we cover a movie with a lot more bite, slander, and just about any sort of graphic violence you can think of.  Tonight, we review:

 

Movie: Assassination Nation (2018)

 

Director:

Sam Levinson

Writer:

Sam Levinson

Stars:

Odessa YoungHari NefSuki Waterhouse

 

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Has Guts To Tackle Issues

Fast Pace

Special Effects/Costumes/Make Up

Solid Political Points

 

DISLIKES:

Too Dark/Graphic

Too Forceful

Little Story

No Good Characters (everyone rotten)

Ridiculous Hyperbole

Lacking Action

 

 

VERDICT:

 

Assassination Nation, gets points for its brazen, fearless addressing of the political hot topics that are hitting the media.  The girls are portrayed well, subjugated to a lot of hard-hitting scenarios that will leave many uncomfortable.  In addition to solid acting, the movie works well with special effects and a fast pace to stoke the chaotic fires that light up from the start of this movie.  It is going to speak deeply to people who like extreme, political stand points, with each character holding some outlying personality quirk to jump on board with.

Yet, the movie fails to impress me because of how in your face, political warfare it is, making sure to be extremely liberal in its approaches to address all the wrong in the world.  If that’s not enough, for me I had issues with getting behind the characters who had little that was good about them, and seeing the dark, intense montages of stupid antics, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse did not make for the most engaging material.  As all of these aspects were blown to large proportions, the darker, gore filled edge they injected brought the shock value, but failed to add to the story.  And finally, when the moment came to use that ridiculousness to make our “heroines” fight the good fight, the action turned into short lived, anti-climactic skirmishes that mostly looked to blood instead of moves.

Overall, the movie succeeds in its mission to shock you into engaging with the political qualms that this film is loaded with.  If you are ready to put yourself into that setting and test your patience and character with the extreme ideas and scenes in this film, then this is the movie for you.  Otherwise, skip this shallow plot film and revisit a classic, because there is better use of time then the gore fest this movie is.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

What Does Life Itself Hold In Store?

Life Itself Poster

 

This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion.  Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same.  Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight’s movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

 

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

 

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman

Stars:

Oscar IsaacOlivia WildeAnnette Bening

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You know from Fogelman’s work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like.  Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position.  The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs.  These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

 

The Realism:  It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life.  This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in.  If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

 

The Twists:  You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping?  Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn’t do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together.  What many movies (like Valentine’s Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work.  This film, not so much.  Instead, it’s a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa.  These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does.  It’s not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

 

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances.  Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character.  And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time.  It’s stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

 

The Guts:  Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics.  This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them.  And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you’ve got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things.  Well done their guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Let’s get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don’t fight sleep.  Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character’s tale.  While this wasn’t too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span’s limits to not walk out.  Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you’ll be dreading this film.

 

Missing The Story/Development:  Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character’s lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment.  Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn’t quite have the same magic that they really were going for.  A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time.  What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

 

Depressing:  Let’s be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories.  Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down.  When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish.  So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don’t fall victim to the antics.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren’t enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect.  There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don’t have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints.  Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead.  Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Does This White Boy Have The Moves?

White Boy Rick Poster

            Biographies seem to be popular this year, focusing on a number of people and their “contributions” to society.  Today’s biography is more about the horrors of a system than a contribution, but these moments are certainly entertaining.  Hi, Robbie K here with another look at the world of movies and what lies in store for the price of a ticket.  Let’s get started, as I review:

 

Movie: White Boy Rick (2018)

 

Director:

Yann Demange

Writers:

Andy WeissLogan Miller

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyRichie MerrittBel Powley

 

 

LIKES:

Good Acting:  Richie Meritt and McConaughey are the central pillars of the movie, holding much of the plot on their shoulders and doing a wonderful job bringing their characters to life.  Meritt in particular has to cover a very complex character, borderline between punk kid and individual of poor circumstances.  He finds that balance very well, makes for an engaging character and really gives you the full experience of the nightmare that Rick went through.  As for McConaughey, he is still the sleazy role, but it’s curbed this time for a respectable character you want to follow.  Their chemistry impeccable and the heart of the movie as they integrate with their well casted supporting crew.

 

The Setting:  It is not as far back as Unbroken, but we get dropped right into a reconstructed 80’s hood, where the danger, drugs, and depression lie in wait like a hungry pack of wolves.  All the costumes, cars, and buildings were retrofitted to have the look and it works quite well to get you into the setting. 

 

The Drama/Portrayal: White Boy Rick has a lot of details about the young man’s life, and you’ll get to see much of it in this installment. Drama lovers are sure to become entangled in all the messes of Rick’s life, with those liking the Law And Order scenarios enjoying this one the most.  This film will give you a lot of the 411 on rick’s life and bring about all the emotions that come with it.

 

The Music: Surprisingly, the film had a fantastic soundtrack to report on, a mixture of funk, hip-hop, and a little soul to mirror the themes of the movie. It’s upbeat and has toe tapping beats to keep you going, and actually brings a little edge to the scenes themselves. Bravo to the casting director for their selection because it really worked.

 

The Pace:  While slow at times, the movie does a nice job moving through the various years of Rick’s journey to get you to the end game.  It is a longer movie, but for the most part it doesn’t feel that slow, or rough to get through all the nuts and bolts of this adventure.  Drama lovers of course will not find any of this remotely boring, but if you are not that type and along for the ride, you should find much of this movie entertaining.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Stereotypical Design: White Boy Rick’s title brings with it a wave of stereotypical portrayals in just about every character in the film.   Whether it be the impoverished, the wannabe gangsters, or the gangsters themselves, the movie really hammers the portrayals to such extremes that it gets a bit cheesy. Perhaps this is how the real-life characters were, but if not, the magnification of these personality quirks got annoying for me at times.  Even Rick himself crossed that line sometimes, so brace yourselves.

 

The Lazy Dialogue: Sometimes quite poetic, White Boy Rick’s dialogue is mostly focused on being either really complacent (full of really dumb pronunciations or Rick being an idiot to be funny), or really lazy (F bomb laden rants).  For such a deep story, I had hoped for a little more movie magic to buffer out the scratchy, lackluster lines they came up with.  McConaughey managed to have some beautifully scripted pieces to work with, and the secondary characters got their fair share of poetry in, but for the most part it was a little too stuffed with normalcy/realism to be impressive for me. 

 

More use Of The Secondary Characters:  Rick knew a lot of people, and his family seemed to be a gigantic rock to which he based his decisions on.  While the movie captured the key details, I felt they didn’t quite utilize or introduce the characters that well for me.  Names were dropped at random, their inclusion was sporadic and I felt many of them had more of a role to play than what was presented.  Many of these kingpins and servants could have been epic antagonists to spice up the story, but again my lack of research and not being with Rick means I don’t know who these guys really were.

 

Disjointed Story: While the movie has covered a lot of Rick’s life story components, the presentation I believe was off for me here too.  Each of the issues Rick faced felt compartmentalized, individuals segments that were prematurely closed and then randomly open at intervals that were inconsistent. Yes, you still get the effects presented with the story, but so many pieces without a strong, underlying foundation, led to a weaker representation of what could have been an epic drama.  Overall it’s not horrible, but it could have been so much better.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            White Boy Rick is one of those movies that has its fair share of drama to exploit and dive into.  A fantastic setting with great central acting will be the keystones to bring these events to life and pull those liking drug/crime story lovers into the mix.  The problem is, the movie sort of lost itself in the presentation, not giving clear focus on Rick’s character or stories that he had to share and instead giving you snippets into his life.  With how much was going on, there could have been a gold mine of a story instead of just some nuggets they portrayed.  Still, it gets props for completing the information, and perhaps a director’s cut could improve upon it in the future.  As such, this History meets Lifetime Movie presentation can be held until it comes to Redbox, and would highly encourage you to take that route. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

The Spirit Remains Unbroken, But The War Drama Does

Unbroken: Path to Redemption Poster

            A few years ago, the story of one man surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp inspired millions to believe in the power of the human spirit, the thought of never giving up, and perhaps a religious inspiration to accomplish tasks.  Unbroken held a lot of potential, but it wasn’t met with the best reviews despite the emotional sequences it brought.  Years later, an unexpected sequel is out, to help expand upon the warrior who survived so much.  What challenges await and are they worth watching?  Robbie K here to give his thoughts in an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: Unbroken: Path To Redemption (2018)

 

Director:

Harold Cronk

Writers:

Richard Friedenberg (screenplay by), Ken Hixon (screenplay by)

Stars:

Samuel HuntMerritt PattersonWill Graham

 

 

LIKES:

Fantastic Acting: Samuel Hunt reprises his role well and captures the spirit of a man broken beyond his bonds, his portrayal of suffering from a number of afflictions is spot on, and seldom does he move into the overacting area.  His opposite Ms. Patterson also a lovely complement to the character, bringing a driving force to help with the character development and bring some new dynamics to the movie.  Chemistry is great, and the secondary actors accomplish their roles of supporting the dynamic duo.

 

Setting:  It’s the classic era and the world has been beautifully built to replicate the happening times of the late 1940s to early 1950s. The costumes, the make-up, the cars, and the houses all scream the dazzling decades and bring you into the full experience of time traveling to Zamperini’s second journey. 

 

Powerful Portrayal: When it comes to mental illness, the community needs representation to help others understand the struggles they face. Unbroken 2 nailed this portrayal, bringing with it the flashbacks, the reexperiencing, and the nightmares that torture the poor souls who suffer from it.  In addition, Zamperini’s coping mechanism was not overdramatic, but an accurate representation of the poor nursing habits used to apply a band-aid on the real problem.  You’ll become immersed in his struggles and perhaps gain some empathy in the process.

 

Not too preachyReligious movies sometimes become fancy, big budgeted services that spend their time preaching sermons. While the end of the movie crossed into that territory, a majority of it balanced the word of God with the representation of the protagonist’s fall.  This balance allowed for one to appreciate the character development, while getting the moral-heavy messages they wanted to teach.  The balance is nice and doesn’t detract from the story, therefore increasing its entertainment value.

 

The Music Editing: Awesome musical scores, allow for orchestra work to amplify the scenes emotional kick.  This is especially true  in the ending scenes, which provides some very powerful dynamics and leads to the scene being exponentially better as it brings out the visual effects of the scene.

 

DISLIKE:

Predictable:  Not many twists, turns, or surprises here, the movie is a bit one sided in its delivery and therefore a tad dull at parts where the movie starts to drag.  Being based on history and religious movies, it’s no surprise this is the case.

 

More downfall than hope: The trailers pain this movie about redemption, so maybe you want to see the effects of the redemption.  Unbroken 2 though, decides to stick towards the downfall component more than the up-rise, choosing to show his actions in the medium of ending descriptions.  I would have liked to see a closer 50:50 portrayal; of his story, getting the best of both worlds instead of just super downfall.  At least it sets up for the powerful ending right?

 

Limited audience:  The first installment was able to tell history, sell the drama, and inspire faith thereby expanding to a number of audience members.  However, this installment has narrowed the application to the audience members to mostly the religious drama folks.  It’s not bad, but as a reviewer, the fact this movie is not able to entertain as many as they thought.

 

Much ruined by the trailers: If you have seen the trailers enough times, then congratulations, you’ve saved yourself nearly 12 dollars depending on where you live.  Unbroken 2 has had much spoiled by the advertising, and if you recall the trailers like I do then you want have much to discover in this performance.  Such a shame to see the media ruin the movie like it did here.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            It’s inspirational, it’s beautifully acted, and has some of the most balance religious aspects of the genre.  Unbroken 2 is a solid addition to the character development of its protagonist and brings the story to a semi-full closure in regards to the nightmare he endured.  Despite all the aesthetics and inspiration, it brings though, the movie is limited to a finite audience, it’s predictable plot and lack of historical flair makes it less appealing, especially when it has much spoiled by the trailers.  As such, this movie is best reserved to church group outings or left for home viewing. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6..0

Joining The Aimless, Action Packed Hunt

The Predator Poster

 

In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America’s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to… well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight’s review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest.  Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

 

Movie: The Predator (2018)

Director:

Shane Black

Writers:

Fred DekkerShane Black

Stars:

Boyd HolbrookTrevante RhodesJacob Tremblay

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay):  It’s a star-studded cast loaded with talent. And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down.  While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munnand Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks. 

 

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways.  Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen.  These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

 

The Story (kind of): Okay, it’s not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years.  It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series.  As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

 

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs.  The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator’s cannon.  References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

 

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch.  It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

 

The Action:  I’ve hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film.  The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast.  Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don’t quite live up to the snuff.  Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development:  It’s a Predator movie, I know it’s not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group.  Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end.  However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood.  It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

 

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don’t like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator’s lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight.  It’s a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

 

The Story:  While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants.  It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones.  As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film’s inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go.  The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy:  Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh.  Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn’t see fitting to be in this franchise.  As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading.  Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown’s Character:  I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil.  Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown’s talents were not the best utilized in this film.   I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in.  Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise:  As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects.  Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment.  Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you’ve got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

 

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points.  Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn’t do as much as you hope it will.  The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all.  Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings.  On the one hand it’s got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people.  The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0