A Kid’s Quest For Family, Friendly Fun

The Kid Who Would Be King Poster

 

Kid’s movies are a mixed bag of tricks depending on the studio behind it.  Without major studios, the films often take a stray to gimmicks that parents roll their eyes at, while kids squeal in delight.  Today, another studio tries to hit the box office big time before the big budget films take reign.  As such, I’m here to give thought once more on the latest film to hit the silver screen. Robbie K here reviewing;

 

Movie: The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

 

Director:

Joe Cornish

Writer:

Joe Cornish

Stars:

Louis Ashbourne SerkisDenise GoughDean Chaumoo

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

Merlin

Funny

Blending

Action

Balance

 

SUMMARY: Kids movies with a young cast sometimes lose balance, but this cast does a nice job reigning in the antics, but capturing the magic of being a kid.  The young band of modern nights have a direction of portraying bullying, helping to bring relevant issues to light and bringing the suffering to realistic levels.  And while these characters are rather well curtailed, it is the young Merlin accompanying them that impressed me the most.  This new take on Merlin brings comedy, nobility, teaching, and a new flair to the legendary figure that works well for the feel of this movie.  Utilizing the magic of Patrick Stewartfor the adult figurehead, the merlin role’s direction was quite fun to watch in his integration.

Yet, the true success of this film comes from the blending of the attributes that the trailers portrayed for so many commercials. The Kid Who Would Be King is funny a blend of kid humor with some wit that makes it fun for both young and old. Blending the modern and the archaic worlds together is an interesting spin that really worked for me.  Seeing the various medieval references transitioned to modern Britain was an entertaining craftmanship that should again appeal to many. The adventure crafted ran at a good pace and managed to make an age appropriate tale.  For the action scenes, this king’s adventure surprisingly does this well, finding again the balance to make exciting sequences against the CGI figures, but not crossing into super violent or dark skirmishes that can lead to parents complaining of inappropriate scenes.  If you’ve read this you know this, the movie has surprising balance to it, making a rather good go for a non-Disney film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Morgana’s under utilization

A few antics overdone

The Suspense of Reality

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie may have creativity, balance, and decent acting, but it still struggles with surprises. This quest for Camelot has a predictable tale, foreshadowing the surprises far down the road and bringing with it lackluster twists they tried so hard to do.  While kids will be wowed and potentially fooled, older adults don’t have much to be shocked by, and can instead be gauging if the scene will scare their little ones.

Even sadder is the main villain’s semi-integration to the film.  While she had her say in things, I felt more could have been done to bring the witch to full glory and malice.  It could have been better inclusion into the battles, or more watching and development during her exile, but Morgana’s a villain could have used some more magic to become the central antagonist, as opposed to who took that center stage.

Instead the kid friendly elements of funny antics took center stage for much of the movie.  While I agree there is balance, this quest still succumbs to some antics being used too much for the older audiences.  The fun hand antics and running jokes are cute and well timed, but it’s a little overdone and susceptible to being the next focus of the meme revolution. Small dislike as it is, this slight limitation added some unnecessary length and turned away from some of the storytelling elements they were starting to pick up on.

Yet the biggest thing that was distracting for an older reviewer like me was the suspense of reality.  In fantasy, I get that rules don’t always apply, but this journey established realistic physics into the mix and started breaking its own rules. It’s mainly in the final moments of the movie, but this particular physics defying roles get a little cheesy for the older audience, though it can all be written off by use of magic allowing this to happen and kids won’t care.  Yet, while this is picky, it’s this component that sort of takes away from the suspense of the fight for me, but again I’m not the key audience.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

The Kid Who Would Be King is truly a fun film, that holds magic and wonder for those interested in the modernization of King Arthur’s tale.  The quest contains fun, action, and heart that can touch a lot of members in the audience in surprising ways.  Yet, it’s not the most original tale, doesn’t follow its own rules, can’t shake the predictability, and doesn’t quite have the full magic that Merlin wanted to conjure up.  Still, the film succeeded in being fun, is age appropriate across most fields, and contains enough movie magic to warrant a trip to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

Serenity or Unclarity?

Serenity Poster

 

There are those movies we go for the stars, especially at the promise of some sex appeal that will get the theater steaming in delight. Tonight’s review is one such movie, whose little to no trailers left me with no idea as to what to expect. Yet, sometimes those very movies turn out to be treasure troves of quality, and though you went for the steam you might have found more gleam.  Robbie K is back with another review on:

 

Movie: Serenity (2019)

 

Director:

Steven Knight

Writer:

Steven Knight

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyAnne HathawayDiane Lane

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Tropical Island shots
  • Twist
  • Originality

 

SUMMARY: As I said, the poster sells you into the film and the leads of McConaughey and Hathaway are the center stage.  The former has the smolder, trashy looking grunge part down, diving once more in the darker roles that involve facing elements that are uncomfortable in this film. Certainly, much more serious than his earlier works, the man proves he is not afraid to take on the roles that others shy away from.  As for Hathaway, the amazing woman played her part well, though the awkward parts may seem a bit flat, she works the role well, especially on the sexier side of things. With these two running the show, eyes will be glued to the screen in anticipation for the next trip to the bedroom.

Of course if you are like me, seeing the island shots and aquatic world is quite beautiful to see, as you are transported to another world that makes you want to go on vacation.  Serenity is all about sailing into a lot of unknowns and fortunately the cinematography and the views are a fine feature.

Yet visuals aside, the story of Serenity is certainly an original one, or at least more unique than most.  Much of this has to do with the twist, which once revealed starts to explain the strangeness of characters, dialogue, and performances.  With this approach, the movie goes down a more psychological approach that will dive into a lot of awkward corners and engage your mind to see how deep this rabbit hole goes.  There is little more I can say to avoid surprises, but definitely look to an original touch to the sea of blockbuster stereotypes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Waste of Characters
  • Pace
  • Editing
  • Lack of Excitement
  • Going Nowhere
  • Too Bold On Twist?

 

SUMMARY: Serenity may have some acting, a little bit of visuals, and one heck of a unique approach, but that doesn’t make it perfect by far.  It starts with a waste of certain characters, each intriguing in their initial introduction, but quickly dropped to mundane characters who appear at the oddest times.  While secondary characters do little to expand the group they ironically are the smallest dislike I have.

Instead much of the dislikes for me involve the pacing of the movie.  Serenity is slow, no doubt, drawn out in a drama like film that starts to get lost in the director’s vision.  Because the editing focused more on the steamy, sex appeal or on the concept of the twist, the excitement was practically missing for this reviewer. Promises of deep mysteries, pressured decisions, and a few other usual excitement clichés are quickly lost to the circular spiral of the same problems.  Lines and scenes blend together as the stars get stuck expressing their disdain of their lives, which sometimes makes the scenes boring or repetitive.

  Why was this the case?  I think it was going too bold on the twist.  Trying to execute the original concept, led to lines and sends going very oddly, and by getting lost in the convoluted ideas, the other areas the movie wanted to go for fell short, sinking into the sea of the mundane.  As they say, to go big you go bold, but going too bold can sometimes bite back harder and get lost to most audiences.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Serenity may not be on most radars or fish finders, but within lies an interesting, psychological tale that surprisingly has the steaminess the poster promised.  With acting to take the lead and a story to try and blow your mind, these are the qualities one needs to keep in mind when going to see this film, (use the mantra of There is a Twist, There is a Twist) Still by going on this twist, the usual components that people go to the movies for is loss to mundane tactics and odd approaches, alongside a repetitive collection of complaints and plot points that are difficult to swallow.  Still while not the theater quality film, Serenity is best cast off from the port of your living room and worth it if you want to get a good headscratcher into the film.  Otherwise hold out for something more exciting in the near future. 

 

MY SCORES ARE:

 

Drama/Thriller:  6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0

Breaking The Glass Ceiling Of The Mind?

Glass Poster

 

The track record for many directors is paved with bumps and potholes before hitting the paved payload.  Some certainly have become more famous due to their stinkers than their successes, and tonight one of those directors tries again to make a win in his library.  Hitting the surprise third film of the expanded universe, yours truly hits the latest thriller to get some points into the beginning of the year.  My review tonight is on the epic finish to the movie made in 2000, as I feature:

 

Director:

  1. Night Shyamalan

Writers:

  1. Night ShyamalanM. Night Shyamalan(characters)

Stars:

Anya Taylor-JoyJames McAvoySarah Paulson

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Consistent With Universe
  • Same Atmosphere
  • Decent Fight Scenes
  • Writing
  • Acting

 

Summary: A trilogy sometimes loses the feeling established by its predecessors. Glass though, keeps in theme with the universe, going back to its roots and making sure to incorporate the past into the present.  In doing so, the story sticks to its themes, accounts for the changes, and provides an atmosphere that feels much like Unbreakable film, at least in terms of the darker tones. As such, fans of the series can at least get into the promised psychological premise the film had to offer. A concern I had was cheesy fighting that we glimpsed into the trailers, but again surprised that Glass had fight scenes that again agreed with the tone of the film.  Not too grandiose, but also not lame to not be needed.

  Yet, while the atmosphere and tone of the universe was welcomed, the writing surprised me in terms of the dialogue.  Glass has enough psychological mind games, mastermind planning, and comedy integration to please a variety of people.  Balancing the comedy into the field and not forcing it led to some well time guffaws, that were quickly drowned by further dives into the dark world of battle of the minds. 

Yet, the lines are really brought out by the acting.  The leaders for this round are McAvoy and Paulson.  The former transitions into his personalities beautifully, and sells the D.I.D presentation to the letter in all its grandiosity and humor.  Paulson on the other hand sort of brings her creepy, intensity to the world, adding a little mystery to the plot at hand.  As for Willis and Jackson, they play their roles well, but the tyrants of the first installment didn’t quite have the same presence as they once did, with the exception of a few scenes.  The verdict is they play their parts well, but not quite as integrated as I wanted.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Pace
  • Losing the Heroic Feel
  • A Little More Suspense Needed
  • Integration Of The Characters
  • Some Editing

 

 

Summary:  Glass may keep much of the atmosphere of the first film, but it kept the pace for me as well.  Much like many of Shyamalan’s works, Glass sort of slogs along after the first twenty minutes to open up to a lot of talking and a little less survival aspect. As stated, it’s a little more down they psychological tunnel, and this does not open up to the most engaging premise if you aren’t willing to pay attention.  As such, the movie is missing some of the suspense and intensity both films had prior to it.  By missing the suspense, the over 2 hour run time feels a little boring, a few moments open to editing to lighten the load and assist with getting to the more exciting components.

In addition, I do agree that the film missed that heroic component that the first installment had.  Certainly a different take based on Elijah’s goals, Glass finishes the trilogy in the style worthy of the mad genius’ name.  While I think it works well, the film fails to do the Unbreakable character justice, and by missing that heroic qualm I felt missed an opportunity to cover the major motion spectrum.  Still I do give props to the twist ending.

    In regards to my biggest area to improve on, it’s the character utilization.  As stated in the acting section for my likes, Glass managed to do well with some of the characters, but the kings of the 2000 film I don’t think had quite the sting we were waiting for.  I was hoping for all three of the commercial characters to remain equally integrated, a bout of cat and mouse as the wits go against the strengths of the duo. Even the, non-super characters needed a little more incorporating to feel integrated, with the ending sort of giving them the justice they deserve, but again not used in the way I was expecting him to go.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Glass is a movie that still holds the psychological thriller the last two have held in their presentations. Shyamalan has  once again managed to write an installment fitting the universe, and did a nice job incorporating the mindset of the infamous of Mr. Glass. Yet, the pace doesn’t quite match the intensity of Split, and without that it feels a little slow and off put compared to those that came before.  In addition, the characters were inconsistent for me and given the direction the film took, not the conclusion I expected though still somewhat satisfying.    I’d say worth a trip to the theater, but not quite the film to shatter the glass ceiling like it was promoted.

My Scores are:

 

Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi: 7.5

Movie overall: 6.5

Need An Upper For This January

The Upside Poster

 

Remakes they come and they come again because of the work being laid out for them.  Not going down that road, my last review of the week is yet another remake of a true story that hopes to ring its own bell in the world of comedy and drama with a modern flare.  Welcome to another Robbie’s Movie Reviews and today we hit the film:

 

Movie: The Upside (2018 wide release date)

 

Director:

Neil Burger

Writers:

Jon Hartmere (screenplay by), Éric Toledano (based on the motion picture “Les Intouchables” by)

Stars:

Kevin HartBryan CranstonNicole Kidman

 

 

LIKES:

Acting Chemistry

Comedy

Balance of Comedy

Pace

Energy

The Cars

 

SUMMARY:

 

The Upside is a remake that really mirrors the predecessor, but brings the modern spin on it.  Where the first installment was a little more artistic in the telling of the sad story, this remake has more energy and pacing to its approach.  The Upside takes a sadder story and brings with it a fun adventure that tries to fight the darkness for much of the film. It reminded me of the presentation from the Bucket List and given some of the trips and cars that atmosphere adds to some of the entertainment value.

Yet the stars of the show really come in the comedy direction and the actors who bring it out.  The Upside’s comedy is not the usual Hart hat of tricks, which is usually yelling fanatically and shoving one-liners down your throat.  Instead, the Upside focuses on putting the comedy into the story, preferring to time simple comedy antics and add a realistic conversational tone to it.  The result, is a grounded comedy scheme that keeps things entertaining, all while keeping the film going.  To make the jokes sparkle, the two leading actors bring their talents to the front, mixing their styles together in an acting favorable mixture that is the solid pillar of this film.  Cranston’s sarcasm and character focused approach works for this title, bringing dryer humor and some story to keep the film running.  Hart on the other hand has really dropped to a more serious role, mixing his usual edgy delivery with a laxer approach.  The two play-off of each other really well, building that buddy relationship that is always fun to join in on the adventure.  It’s the heart and soul of the movie, and fans of these two will probably enjoy this dynamic like I did.

 

DISLIKES:

Story components

Missing the Adventure component

Secondary Character Use

Editing

 

SUMMARY:

 

Ironically, the thing this movie has trouble living up to, is the storytelling aspect for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie has a solid story in terms of the buddy/buddy relationship of the film, but it doesn’t quite maximize the potential of it or the backstory components.  Some side stories about both characters histories are included for completion sake and give you the info you need, yet the film lacks the facing the impasses and trying to grow.  As such, much of the problems are sort of swept under the rug in a solution like manner. Perhaps you are thinking the fun of the movie will offset it, and at times it does, but the Upside does not quite get to the same levels as the Bucket List for Me.  The adventure is gone out of it for me, and while still entertaining, could have been maximized to offset the lackluster story elements.

In regards to the secondary character development… it is okay.  Nicole Kidman was a plus, not quite fully utilized, but included enough to not overshadow the central characters, yet again not fully utilized when her backstory and involvement started to get into the mix.  Hart’s family characters, the rival, even the other supportive members of Phil’s team were not as inclusive as I think they could have been.  The result as you are hearing is again, the attempts at telling an all-inclusive story, but not quite delving into the details like they wanted.

As such, the main thing I had an issue with in the movie, was the editing/direction not quite coming together the way I expected from the trailer.  It’s not awful at all, but I think this production had a little trouble figuring out what direction it wanted to take the movie into.  Enough inclusion to give you the story, but not enough to reach the full potential it’s European cousin was able to tell years ago.  Still, it is a fun adventure to say the least.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Truth be told, I enjoyed the Upside and felt that I get a little something in each of the categories.  It’s funny, with great acting chemistry and energy to offset the sadness of the situation that the trailers painted.  Yet, the buddy comedy we might have expected is not going to be to the full effect for most and the story elements could have used some bulking up to reach the expected magnitude I think it really wanted to go far.  All in all though, this remake is certainly something to check out when you can, but I can’t quite say it was the movie theater visit of the month (though it was the best of the four this week).  As such, here are my scores:

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

On The Basis Of Girl Power

On the Basis of Sex Poster

 

Historical documentaries always fall victim to the dramatization treatment of the cinema world.  As such, we end up eating them up, except for the purists, as we become enthralled in the spark’s notes version of the historical legacy these people left.  So, in the age and time of politics, let’s pick a supreme court justice as the next one and see what stories are told. Robbie K back on review duty as he checks out:

 

 

Film: On The Basis Of Sex (2018)

 

Director:

Mimi Leder

Writer:

Daniel Stiepleman

Stars:

Felicity JonesArmie HammerJustin Theroux

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Use of most characters
  • Makeup and Costumes
  • Good Writing
  • Jargon translated
  • Message towards key demographic

 

Summary:  You can certainly get this from the trailers, but the hallmark of these movies is often the acting, and this film is no exception. Felicity Jones talents continue to soar in her bravado, mannerisms, and wonderful delivery of a lawyer fighting for what’s right.  Hammer as well finds his stride as the supporting character working to help Ruth’s goals.  The rest of the crew have wonderful acting ability, and most of the characters are well integrated into the tale to really bring the most out of the case that would change so much.  And in regards to looks, the makeup and costume department gets special props as they bring the times of the past into history and capture the looks of that era.

Yet while the look is there, does this film have the feel?  For the most part, yes it does.  On the Basis of Sex has good writing behind it, as a grand display of passionate speeches, impressive vocabulary filled monologues, and fiery, passion filled scenes unfold. It’s smart, witty, and quite fitting of the prowess of the woman and probably something the older audience will enjoy.  Not familiar with the law and all the technical terms that come with it?  No problem!  This film has got the spark’s notes version of relevant information there to keep you integrated into the case and not get too lost in all the convoluted terminology. In addition, the film makes use of the speeches to really try to inspire and fire up the young women watching.  It held the heart and soul of the movie and I think was the central aspect of the film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pace
  • Not utilizing other characters
  • A little convoluted
  • The Opening’s necessity

 

Summary:  With these types of films, the key is to work hard to make it entertaining and yet truthful.  On the Basis of Sex’s pace was not for me, becoming a little tedious at times as it hobbled along to get to the big case at hand.  This uneven pace brought rough patches that had me fighting sleep, that took away the momentum of the movie.  What helped amplify this component was the convoluted moments where the law jargon took over the movie magic.  While Basis of Sex has interpreted much of the heavy technical terms there may be some very detailed moments that can bring a fog to your brain and potentially tire you out.  Fantastic attention to details, but not the most engaging at times.

In addition, the other thing that also didn’t woo me was some of the characters they didn’t put as much focus on.  Kathy Bates, the legend herself, has little appearance in the movie despite being a selling point for the trailer.  The rivals led by Sam Watterson  were semi-used, but only in the latter half instead of throughout the movie.  The result is taking away some of the heat and suspense I think they wanted to go for. As for the opening moments of the movie, well they are okay.  Yes, they do justice in setting the stage and introducing all the pieces to the puzzle. However, these rather important moments feel a little fast forwarded to me, rushed over and almost feeling unnecessary as much of the focus is on the big case instead of her entire life as the trailers portrayed.  Thus, I think the direction was not all there in terms of how they wanted to bring her entire life into focus.

 

 

The VERDICT:

On the Basis of Sex accomplishes the goal of appealing to its key demographic, showing off the amazing talents of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and waving the girl power flag high.  It’s acting and character to use are fantastic for the most part, with makeup and writing to really bring out the full prowess of the scene.  However, the movie still needs some balance in terms of using all characters, trying to tone down the legal jargon, and figuring out what they wanted to highlight.  As picky as this sounds, the movie was good and has artistic nature to it, but it didn’t quite deliver the ultimate performance they were going for.  Worth a trip to theater? Not so much, but still worth checking out when it comes to home viewing.

 

My scores are:

Biography/Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Escaping The Horror Formula! An Escape Room Review

Escape Room Poster

            The age of horror took a major turn when the Saw series unleashed its gory thrills to the Hollywood industry.  Sadly, the very edge and gimmicks it brought grew stale, as sequel after sequel appeared to dilute the quality and originality.  Soon carbon copies came in, eventually flooding the market with mediocre films that didn’t do much to progress the genre.  Still, there are always those hopes that some quality still lurks in the chaotic slew that is this genre.  Hi, Robbie K here with his first review of the year on the latest Horror movie entitled:

 

Movie: Escape Room (2019)

 

Director:

Adam Robitel

Writers:

Bragi F. Schut (screenplay by) (as Bragi Schut), Maria Melnik (screenplay by)

Stars:

Deborah Ann WollTaylor RussellTyler Labine

 

LIKES:

  • New Twist
  • Attention To Detail/Creativity
  • Good Acting
  • Character Development
  • Story
  • Stuck To Gimmick
  • Suspenseful Energy
  • Short Run Time

 

SUMMARY:  These types of films fall victim to stale presentations and lack of originality.  As such, the Escape Room approach was a nice twist on this film bringing with it a new creativity and approach that was refreshing.  Each of the rooms had extraordinary detail, planned out to feel like the intense game of survival, filled with snares, baits, and clues to spur the threats on. Such design brought with it new arenas to engage your mind and held much more sustenance.

What further advanced the story were the characters, contenders who for once had more dimension than simple, snobbish, cannon fodder that often take center stage.  These players held backstories, opportunities to learn, and personalities that evolved with each passing minute.  As such, I found myself rooting for the team to succeed instead of rooting for a timely demise to end their flawed personalities.  The actors had more room to use their talents to cross the spectrum and do a surprising job expanding upon what was once simple roles.

Tying all of this together those, was an engaging story that managed to combine all the backstories, gimmicks, and flair into an engaging cinematic piece that delivered on its promise, but remained interesting on many levels.  Uncovering the mysteries, solving the clues, and keeping the energy flowing through the film with a presentation that was filled with anticipation and excitement. Given that they balanced the gimmick with a story it gets bonus points, even more so keeping it in the short run time leads to even more bonus points.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Cliché
  • A few stretches
  • Wanting More Backstory for some characters
  • Ruined by Trailers

 

SUMMARY: Sadly, all the planning and details laid out still haven’t escaped the cliché and unoriginality that follows these types of films.  Escape Room falls into these own sets of traps, but fortunately the spin, ingenuity, and suspense are able to divert the blunt of this area of improvement.  One of those that is a bit eye rolling, is that the rooms takes some stretches of the imagination and ignoring reality to get on board.  While most of it is acceptable, there are some times I had to turn my brain off extra to get over the unrealistic hurdle.

In addition, there was a little bit of adjusting the story order I would have liked to see, placing all the character stories closer to the beginning where their lives were explained in more detail.  Had they done this, I feel some of the parts rushed over for me would have been improved, but this minor detail is nothing compared to my big limitation.  That much of the story, twists, and fates have been revealed in the trailers to great detail.  If you’ve got a good memory, and watch the trailer with enough focus, you’ll get about 60-75% of the movie revealed.  So avoid the trailers enough and you will be okay, but otherwise look forward to the last 25% to really give you the last tidbits.

 

The VERDICT:

 

         This genre is what you pay for, but fortunately Escape Room renews the potential for greatness in this type of movie.  With a focus on detail, character designs, and story integration this addition to the group was fantastic for me.  It’s engaging pace and suspenseful energy will offset most of the film’s limitations.  Given all the visuals and fun I had, the movie is well worth a trip to the theater and certainly one of the better horror movies to show up in a while, at least in terms of thriller/slasher.  I certainly enjoyed this film and look forward to this direction for future installments if possible.  My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0