The Fun Adventurous Side Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Poster

 

Animated films offer the opportunity for imagination to really come to life.  As they bring CGI and other animation tactics to the table, the stories that follow have a big job of trying to make a film that is entertaining to all ages without dipping down one end over the other.  While there are many animated studios out there ready to give it a shot, not every studio finds a way to achieve those goals, becoming a cash grab instead of a quality adventure.  This week, an early showing of the The Secret Life Of Pets 2 came to screen and I had my suspicions that this sequel might have been just that.  Robbie K back with another review, checking out Illumination Studios’ latest work.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris RenaudJonathan del Val (co-director)

Writer:

Brian Lynch

Stars:

Patton OswaltKevin HartHarrison Ford

 

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting
  • Animation
  • Comedy
  • Pacing
  • Adventurous Stories
  • Emotional Moments

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Short Run Time
  • Not Quite Original
  • More Impasses/Character Development
  • Under Utilized Characters

 

People who like these may like this movie:

 

Secret Life Of Pets 1

Sing

Ferdinand

Homeward Bound

A Dog’s Purpose

 

Summary:

Animated films often require good voice acting to bring the characters to life, and this series’ cast succeeds in bringing the plot to full life.  Hart and Haddish bring their chemistry back to life in the form of Snowball and Daisy, their wild, sarcastic sass coming out beautifully in animated form.  Oswalt’s addition managed to bring Max to the same level as last time, fun and familiar friendliness.  As for the others again they get the job done when utilized to make the same craziness that the first movie used long ago.  Animation wise, it is the same caricature like style that Illumination loves to use, with grandiose character flaws and elongated, angular faces that make up their characters.  As for the pets, they still have that anthropomorphized component that is so sweet to look at, each having some quality to represent the voice actors that play them.  While those components are nice, the thing I enjoyed more about this installment was the pacing of the movie.  Utilizing the adventurous story and splitting it into three separate segments helped keep things dynamic, moving, and fun,  and avoiding those slow parts the first movie had.  It’s this theme that kept me entertained and seeing each subplot having its own time to play out, all the while giving the characters their focused time. Eventually all of these moments tie together, bringing the surprisingly emotional side of the film the conclusion that fit well in the theme of fun and love of pets.   It definitely should strike chords with a few audience members, especially those with ties to pets.

Yet, the movie still suffers from some things that do bring some limitations for this reviewer.  For one thing, the movie is still predictable and pulled no surprises in terms of story presentation.  Illumination’s focus on kid friendly films seems to divert from the options that will shock and amaze, due to the potential of being too sad.  As such, the tale’s originality and magic don’t quite live up to the potential that Disney has made famous in their plethora of tales.  It’s cute don’t get me wrong, and does have some heart pulling moments, but these are only scratching the surface that bigger studios do better.  Also taking away from the tale is the short run time.  Around 80 minutes long, the movie has a lot to cram in the short time, leading to very quick dives into the fun portions of the movie.  However, this is also the undoing as the movie’s quick pace leaves little time for impasses, obstacles, and challenges to help give significant character development.  In addition, the movie could have focused a little more on some of the gimmicks they were promoting if given more time. While the characters are fun, they don’t have that full dynamic and emotional range that other animated characters hold.  Given that animals somehow are more emotional than humans, it would have been nice to see more of this come out, but again, this might have not fit in with the fun slapstick and writing that was built for the audience.  Fan favorites from last installment may also find it disappointing to find their characters left in the kennel, particularly those who liked Pops, Mel, the Dachshund, and the Falcon as they have little outside of comedy stunts. Perhaps more time and planning could have done a bit better in adjusting these characters to have the full punch in each story.

  It’s no Secret this movie will do well when it opens because of the intended audience.  It’s cute, funny for many ages, and has that colorful animation to keep attention on them. I myself enjoyed this one better than the original due to the pacing and adventurous side of things, but I still was hoping for a little more balance and originality than what they put in.  It is not the best animated in terms of pushing the limits of imagination, but it does its job and I’d say to come hit this up in theaters when you can.  Otherwise, check it out later when it comes to home entertainment.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Burning Bright In Unique Spins, But Not So Much In Terms Of Scares/Story

Brightburn Poster

            Horror, the genre that takes on many forms, disguises, and approaches to try and shock, disturb, and outright scare us to our core.  IN a genre overfilled with gimmicks and cliché approaches though, the saturation level these films have taken.  So seeing this next film I review puts me at a little bit of unease, and yet hope at an attempt to once again take a different approach in hopes of opening up a new potential to wow us.  Here we go, as Robbie K is back with another review in hopes of once again helping you with your movie choosing pleasures.  Let’s get started as we hit:

 

Movie:

 

Brightburn (2019)

 

Director:

David Yarovesky

Writers:

Brian GunnMark Gunn

Stars:

Elizabeth BanksDavid DenmanJackson A. Dunn

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • New Twist
  • Fast Pace
  • Creepy Parts That Are Worthy of Genre
  • Decent Plot

 

DISLIKES:

  • Simplistic
  • Unexplained/Lackluster Story components
  • Character Development is Okay
  • Gruesome At Times
  • Predictable/Anticlimactic

 

People who like these may like this Movie:

 

  • The Omen
  • Sinister
  • Comic Books With One Sided Arcs

Summary:

 

Brightburn is a movie that the trailers have given much information, but there are some things that I appreciate the movie attempting to do to spruce up the Horror genre. First off is the acting!  While not Oscar Worthy material or the most groundbreaking steps in acting, I give the actors props for working with the limited material.  Banks in particular manages to breathe some drama into the very linear characters, while Jackson Dunn is getting a nice start at playing creepy with his presentation and delivery of lines.  They sort of sell the film, alongside the extras who can act terrified at a whim’s pace.  Yet, the high selling points are the fact of a new twist and fast pace to provide the modernized entertainment the world loves these days.  Brightburn does not take long to begin getting into the creepy aspects, quickly evolving the plot into this dark, comic book like adventure that tries to be thrilling and suspenseful. As such, the movie moves at a decent pace and before you know it, you’ll be nearing the end.  Thus, short attention spans should be pleased with this movie.  Fortunately, there should be plenty of creepy moments, primarily due to two components: Creepy looks from the kid and Setting of isolation.  The latter in particular sort of robs you of your safety, the open land and woods making a setting where so many things can happen from so many angles.  That component is the most terrifying, while the rest go with the dark comic theme that provides the entertainment value.  All of this is put into a story that is simplistic, but ties all the chaos together into a nice package.

Yet, the movie has some areas that while entertaining are not the most ground breaking in terms of storytelling.  For one thing, the movie is very simplistic, doing little to build upon its characters or even suspense that would have been satisfying to see in the story department.  When it does start trying to build up some of the aspects, we get stuck with a lackluster story components that do-little explanation outside of some momentary dialogue to explain his “origins”.  Outside of that, it is just a simple gruesome tale that while fitting for the genre, soon becomes just a public display of power going wrong and dragging out some torturous finishes.  Brightburn seems to relish in the dark dealings of the genre more than the story. For the fan that loves this, the film is perfect, but for those looking for a little more, this tale is going to not be the crown jewel as thanks to the trailers and the concept, you can probably guess what the ending will be.  And when the full extent is unleashed there is little excitement in regards to just watching things unfold, so don’t get too excited about an epic finale. 

So what’s the verdict?  Brightburn gets points for putting a new face, or in this case mask, on the genre.  It’s that comic component that sort of sells this film, providing the entertaining, destructive force of the dark instead of developing the story.  Thus, despite the predictability, if you are looking for that ambiguous tale that merely focuses on the gimmicks this category of film’s thrives in… you’ve got your popcorn munching visit planned.  However, if you are hoping for something more to your tale, looking for that story that holds both creeps and purpose than hold out for something else.  Thus, this movie is more recommended for home viewing rather than theater in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

Horror/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Smarts Over Funny? Is This The Comedy You were Looking for?

Booksmart Poster

 

Friendship is something that goes through trials and tribulations.  As life passes and things change, the bonds get tested and only through work, communication, and understanding that is sometimes absent in the modern flow of life.  That’s what today’s review focuses on in regards to the movie, one that looked like a superficial party comedy on the surface. Yet, the trailer editors know how to make us look so to speak, and yours truly is here to give some insight into the latest silver screen studio.  Let’s get started, as we review:

 

Booksmart: (2019)

 

Director:

Olivia Wilde

Writers:

Susanna FogelEmily Halpern

Stars:

Kaitlyn DeverBeanie FeldsteinJessica Williams

 

 

LIKES:

  • Funny At Times
  • Adventurous
  • Relevant To Many Audience Members
  • Good Pacing
  • Great Acting Chemistry
  • Surprisingly Deep

 

DISLIKES:

  • Lazy Writing At Times
  • A Little Too Extreme
  • Predictable
  • The Trailers Have Revealed A Lot
  • The Glorification Of Reckless Behavior

 

Fans Who Like These May Like These Movies:

  • Generation X
  • Night Before
  • Step Brothers
  • The Hustle
  • The Hangover Trilogy
  • Superbad

 

SUMMARY:

Booksmart delivers on the promise of being funny, making sure to jam pack the adventure with as much slapstick and crude commentary as possible. And while much of the writing is geared towards trying to use modern, aggressive comedy of swearing, ridiculous metaphors, and meme worthy phrases, it does so in a manner that isn’t the same overwhelming manner that this genre throws at us, okay at least not in the same extent.  Booksmart takes the adventurous aspect of the Hangover and curves it to a better plot and more focused on the broader audience.  The relevance of the two girl’s trials should speak to many, with the other problems exposed branching out to grab the group in a surprisingly entertaining after school special approach.  As the world continues to expand, the pace manages to keep in time with it so well, making sure to slow down at key development points, only to speed up again as the next transition begins.  Thus, the adventure is gloriously displayed to be both entertaining and meaningful.  Yet, the biggest pillar of strength for this tale is the chemistry between Dever and Feldstein, who manage the break the awkward barriers of best friends in high school, and somehow unleash 18 years of friendship in a short time.  It’s through these two that many political and story-based components are artistically brought out, and with their skills adds that surprisingly deep aspect to a film that looked so ridiculous from the trailers. And perhaps it is that deeper aspect that works so well for me to help ground the silliness.

Yet with all the good, there are some limitations to this film that take away from the enjoyment.  First, the lazy writing component.  Clever writing and puns for slang and stupidity are enjoyable, but with every word getting bombarded with cursing… that is where you lose me.  Overdoing some of the curse bombs gets old and takes away from the imaginative dialogue Booksmart holds and I had hoped for a little deviation. In addition, the extreme acts of stupidity, selfishness, and debauchery of the rules potentially will inspire younger members, but sometimes steps over the lines a little too much that the debauchery was more infuriating than entertaining. In addition, there presentation of stereotypes and other personal, political issues sometimes are a little to full frontal mode, pushing the boundaries to details that may not be as pertinent to the story, but also to uncomfortable levels who don’t like displays of affection.  And sadly, I had hoped the predictability of where these acts were going would have had more twists, but sadly the trailers have ruined much of the movie’s acts, only leaving a little to uncover at the end. It’s this factor of how much has been revealed alongside the glorification that breaking rules/acting the way these kids do is the factor of life that adds meaning that probably were the things I enjoyed the least.  Thankfully, there are better life lessons to try to overshadow these.

  In conclusion, the movie turns out to be a deeper adventure than I anticipated.  It’s going to hit the teen and young adult audiences well, alongside those that value friendship. Fantastic acting and pacing help spin this tale to better levels and I for one enjoyed the tale presented.  Still, the entertainment value that glorified the reckless behavior was probably not the motif to also drown the film in either.  It is still got the predictable plot and curse obsessive writing, but this reviewer was happy with the presentation and gives this one the nod of approval for a theater visit with friends.  Just be prepared for some very aggressive comedy and sequences that may not appeal to more conservative and sheltered groups, or you might find yourself very uncomfortable. 

 

My scores are:

Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

A Carpet Ride Into Familiar, Rushed, World

Aladdin Poster

            Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt’s imagination established years ago.  Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill.  Can it work?  That’s where I come in to give my insights as we check out:

 

Movie:  Aladdin (2019)

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Stars:

Will SmithMena MassoudNaomi Scott

 

LIKES:

Nostalgic

  • Core Story Present
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Recreated World
  • Nice Visual Effects
  • Acting
  • Take On Genie
  • Some Of The Songs

 

  • DISLIKES:
  • Not Enough Exploration Of The World
  • Rushed At times
  • Missing Some Of The Character Charm
  • Jafar’s Take
  • The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
  • The political Messages
  • Some of the Other Songs

People Who Likes These May Like This One:

Beauty and The Beast Live Action Remake

Prince Of Persia

Dumbo

Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Disney Channel Original Movies

SUMMARY:

Let’s put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it.  Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members.  Guy Ritchie’s take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style.  The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held.  Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith’s take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt.  Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out.  Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad.  Naomi Scott’s voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William’s work.  His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times).  And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90’s songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott’s wonderful voice.

Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me.  First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting.  This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar.  In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain.  That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard.  And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form.  Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head.  The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.

Overall, Aladdin’s live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics.  I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world.  Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held.  It’s that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been.  Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall 7.0

 

A Journey Towards Improvement

A Dog's Journey Poster

 

 

 

Animal movies are always a mixture in terms of emotions from funny to awfully sad.  If you are an animal lover, directors love to get the tears rolling with sequences and scenes that will break your heart and have you pine for four legged friends.  This weekend, a sequel to a movie that was received with mixed reviews due to PR stunts, is going to try again in an attempt to make amends and hopefully have a better tale.  Robbie K coming at you with another review, this time on the film:

 

A Dog’s Journey: 2019

 

Director:

Gail Mancuso

Writers:

  1. Bruce Cameron(book), W. Bruce Cameron (screenplay)

Stars:

Josh GadDennis QuaidKathryn Prescott

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute

Dog’s adorable and impressively trained.

Much Better Pace

Josh Gad’s voice acting

A More Cohesive Story

Funnier Than Last Time

Decent Finale

 

DISLIKES:

 

Some Actors Really Not Needed

Sad Moments Again

Unnecessary Story Component

Depressing

Trailers Reveal too much

 

 

Fans who like these movies may like this film:

Dog’s Purpose

Dog’s way Home

Old Yeller

Movies with revival and journey home

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie had to do some damage control from the first and for the most part the movie accomplishes the goal on many levels.  It’s cute, primarily thanks to the dogs they selected and the talented performances from those who cannot speak.  The canine thespians show off their impressive training and managed to add that cute/cuddly component that dog lovers latch onto. The extra characteristics and comedy aspect are from Josh Gad who’s voice acting mimics the looks and energy of his animal avatars quite well, again adding that extra adorable nature into the mix.  Utilizing the animals well, the movie helps add some hope and optimism to the story at hand, which provides that entertainment aspect.  In addition, the movie also has some stronger pacing to avoid getting lost in the monotonous sadness that does nothing but spread out the movie. The comedy provided by the voice acting and the puppies also does a wonderful job of adding entertainment value, with well-timed jokes and a delivery style that fits so well with this film, only crossing the lines occasionally. Perhaps things worked better as well due to the more cohesive story, an underlying and defined plot that ties each segment together and puts a purpose and goal to work towards. Everything finally wraps up nicely at the end and perhaps shows that a salvageable ending can be obtained despite the rocky opening.

Yet the movie still has components that I’m not the biggest fan of.  It starts with some of the actors cast into the film, the trailers suggest lots of use of Quaid and his human companions, but outside of the various ages of C.J., the human actors promoted don’t quite sell me in their involvement to this movie, outside of some key moments to work towards the ending.  More things could have been unleashed to assist with the story and perhaps make their inclusion worthwhile.  Sad moments are still present and even going in knowing there are times where the amount of suffering seen is just not enjoyable and we could have been spared some of this.  In addition, there is one dog story that as cute as the puppy was, held little importance to the story, though providing another sad scene to take the wind out of your sails. Despite some of the lighter moments, the movie still has an overlying atmosphere of depression meaning that this one will not be for those who are suffering from any down times.  If you wish to take a trial, check the trailers again, they’ll give you enough warning, but if you want surprises, then make sure to avoid this as the trailers are going to give a good amount away.

Overall, the movie is a major improvement over the first one for me in terms of better storytelling and utilization of cuteness.  This leads to more entertainment value, a better pace and some better outlooks that the first movie just could not capture in its presentation.  Yet, the movie cannot escape the cloud of depression that continues to hover over, focusing too much on extending the sad moments and sometimes adding useless scenes that offered little more than more depression involved with these animals.  Given all of this, it is still worth a watch, but you need to be ready for potential tear jerkers, especially in animal lover populations. My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Prepare For More All-Out Action Packed War

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Poster

 

Savior, Stoner, Super assassin, these words are just some of the descriptions that come to mind for the star of our next film review.  Years ago, a little puppy unleashed the torrent of the Baba Yaga’s rage as millions of extras were taken out by coordinated destruction in some of the most adrenaline pumping films this decade. John Wick has become a cult phenomenon that has gotten guys like me revved up in all the high-octane fun that comes with the dark action flick.  A third installment has appeared this weekend, with our “hero” now being on the run from the very organization he has served for so long. Will the third installment be able to expand upon the universe, or is it just too much?  Robbie K here with another review on:

 

Movie: John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)

 


Director:

Chad Stahelski

Writers:

Derek Kolstad (screenplay by), Shay Hatten (screenplay by)

Stars:

Keanu ReevesHalle BerryIan McShane

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy

Dogs

Use of Second Characters

Expanding The Story

Fast Pace

Action Sequences/Choreography

 

DISLIKES:

Excessive Violence

Some Underwhelming Story arcs

The Excessive Destruction

Unrealistic moments taken too far at times

The Ending

 

Similar Movies:

John Wick 1 and 2

Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2

Ninja Assassin

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to John Wick you know what you are getting into and in terms of likes the movie just continues to expand upon the legacy of the Baba Yaga! The comedy is dark, much like the tone of the movie, managing to merge a variety of writing styles into the mix to somehow offset the edge this film has.  Even in the dogs there is comedy to a darker sense, but this brings up that the movie actually utilizes its character very well in this chapter.  Halle Berry, McShane, even the Concierge (Lance Reddick) are utilized well in this tale, with adequate screen time and action sequences that are all relevant. The results is an expansion of the story, utilizing the background information, these relationships, and some new characters to evolve the tale even more.  As such, it gives some slight relevance to the violence at hand. Yet, the biggest components to this film are the pace and the action sequences.  John Wick’s choreographed chaos only continues to expand, pushing past the gun play that was semi okay in chapter 2, and opens up some new styles to get your fists (and bloodlust) pumping. From nearly start to finish, there is not much down time from the carnage and if that’s a movie you want… you’ve got it.

Yet, the movie’s glorification of violence sometimes gets to levels that aren’t necessary outside of appeasing that gore craving some might have.  The excessive displays of death are a part of it, but this tactic is not my cup of tea without really needing it for story.  In addition, though there has been expansion of the tale, there were some leads laid out that didn’t quite add to anything other than what the ending sets up. It’s lackluster story telling that merely seems to extend the shelf life of this revenge tale as it sets up its players for the next acts.  Well either that or to provide more moments of destruction which again become a little too much at times.  Often use as a running joke, John Wick 3 sometimes goes to extensive rounds just to have our guys go through some form of breakable glass.  It’s mostly fine, but there are several extensive sequences of just unnecessary destruction to get a laugh and extend the unrealistic moments even further.  In regards, to the unrealistic moments, I understand how much fantasy there is in this series, but there are even limits in the universe that don’t seem to be followed consistently. Wick’s stamina and ability to bounce back from serious injuries is already incredible, but there are times where again the excessive punishment is unbelievable and the rules are redrawn for either a running joke or a god complex.

Let’s face it, John Wick 3 is all about continuing the trend of violence, action, and the dark edge that we have loved in the first two installments.  New fans and old fans should dive right into the adrenaline rush, happy with the guns and hand to hand combat sequences that inhabit this movie.  It’s true, it’s over the top and full of ridiculous moments that have made this series famous, but in this installment, they are going a little too far to push the envelope in regards to stunts, stamina, and death count.  While most won’t be affected, and perhaps love this component, the continued pushing of the edge is also starting to lose the balance that this once had, beginning to get to the levels that the Fast and Furious series are starting to take.  Still, I really enjoyed this film, the action it brought, and all the cinema worthy stunts and special effects make it worthy of a theater visit.

 

Overall my scores are:

 

Action/Crime Thriller: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Trying to Shine In New Lights. A Contemporary Romance

 

The Sun Is Also a Star Poster

 

New week and time for a new style of review.  Today’s first review is all about the wave of hits that the drama and romance genres hold in teenage culture.  Another book turned to film, Hollywood is hoping to take this week as a means to capitalize on the author’s work.  Yet, much of the market is flooded with generic knock offs and repeats that come famous on channels like Hallmark and Lifetime.  Will today’s film be all about seeing if it can defy the trend of mundane and become the next staple in cinema history?  Robbie K here to provide a review on:

 

Movie: The Sun Is Also A Star (2019)

 

Director:

Ry Russo-Young

Writers:

Tracy Oliver (screenplay), Nicola Yoon (novel)

Stars:

Yara ShahidiCharles MeltonKeong Sim

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting

Fitting Music

Nice Use of Background Details/Connecting

A Bit Different of A Twist

 

DISLIKES:

 

Very Cliché

Predictable

Very Rushed

Cheesy At Times

Other Characters Only Substantially Used

Stories that are Blunt

Ending That’s Mundane

Does not Feel Like A Love Story

Fans Who Like These Movies May Like This Film:

Notebook

Fault In our Stars

Five Feet Apart

One Day

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

In regards to this film, The Sun Is Also Star feels more like a buddy adventure than a true love story.  The acting between Melton and Shahidi has good chemistry, filled with a dynamic that holds the emotional spectrum that is common of the characters in these types of films.  It helps bring a relationship to gear on to and will most likely be relatable to the key demographic.  Their story holds some unique flavor to it compare to others by offering a twist in the form of a very set timeline along with an ending that offers a refreshing take on these types of films. My favorite part would be more so the background details that somehow tell another part of the story, hidden nods for details that will later be revealed in the ending. 

Yet, the film does not quite deliver in the usual pizazz that these movies hold, getting too caught up in the one-day time limit to deliver on the quality cries and emotions these films like to use. Still it does not escape the predictable and cliché story telling that fans love, but rather than true love and a believable romance we instead get a very cheesy tale that offers little sustenance.  The film feels more like two friends starting out on a friendship, that rapidly changes as each hour passes.  In addition, many of the tales have blunt finishes, with the secondary characters adding little to the movie overall, which was a shame given all the personal problems the leading characters had with their family’s style of raising them.

Overall, the movie is not bad, a nice attempt at changing the formula that has been a staple in the genre.  Sadly, the movie feels a little rushed, leaving much of the meat of the book remaining in the pages instead of onscreen.  This adventure is not quite the epic love story that so many fall in love with, but at the same time it at least brings some emotional moments and a relationship that has believable components to it.  It’s a relevant story to the target audience and I feel that it has good value as a home viewing rather than a theater visit, but overall missing that full spark that romance movies bring. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Trying to Rustle Up Twists, But It’s Simple Laughter and Puns That’s the Gist

The Hustle Poster

            Buddy comedies are fun, and sometimes turn out to be the movies that become the cultural icons of the generation.  Often a bunch of one liners and aggressive comedy that becomes meme worthy and quotable, these movies vary across the spectrum in terms of quality.  Nevertheless, these movies do have a place in the mainstream as those fun films that entertain people.  So will it achieve its goal and be entertaining, or so aggressively silly that it robs you of your money?  That’s where I come in for a little movie review to give my opinions and maybe help guide your viewing pleasures.  Let us take a look at:

 

Movie: The Hustle (2019)

 

Director:

Chris Addison

Writers:

Stanley Shapiro (screenplay by), Paul Henning (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anne HathawayRebel WilsonAlex Sharp

 

LIKES:

 

The Chemistry

Alex Sharp’s Character

Attempt At A Story

Short Run Time

Some Humor

Music

 

SUMMARY:

A buddy comedy requires good chemistry for the actors to utilize, being able to play off one another and maximize the relationship between the characters.  Fortunately Rebel and Anne have achieved this dynamic, establishing the dynamic that the trailers suggested which helps maximize the delivery of the plethora of jokes to come.  They looked to have had fun and that I believe sells the dynamic between the two.  Once Alex Sharp’s character came in, his characteristics and direction fit well into the movie, but also helped curb some of the extreme qualities that the movie had the leading ladies pursuing.  His delivery and innocence his character contained, made for a character to grab onto by those not a fan of the two leads, and can help get through the tale at hand.

Speaking of that, The Hustle’s story from the trailers looks to be a very thread thin, shallow plot about taking advantage of condescending men.  Instead, there were some attempts to mix it up a bit and progress it towards new directions that put our characters into uncomfortable zones.  A few twists were nicely added, and the push past that simplistic story gets applause in my book.  But if the story is not up your alley then two things will grant you some berth in the storm of things this movie holds.  First, it’s a short run time, so you won’t have too long to fend off against the onslaught of jokes and stupidity that is crammed into the film. Your second saving grace is some of the humor actually hits home as well, perfectly timed or expertly delivered to maximize the laughs.  Much of this had to do with the comedy that was not too forced, but there are some subtle nods at humor that my dorky humor appreciates.  As an added bonus, there are some fun musical tracks that get into the spirit of the scenes and add some edge to the movie or at least make you dance in your seat.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Victim of Trailers

Story Failure

Shallow Characters

Too political

Too Aggressive/Forceful for Humor

 

SUMMARY:

 

Despite some of the good this movie did for me, there were some shortcomings that did not quite work for me as they may for other audiences.  It starts with the predictability of the tale, primarily in how hard the foreshadowing and attempt to surprise you came.  These twists would have probably been successfully executed had there not been such a blatant attempt to misdirect in dialogue and drowning plot elements with the cantankerous humor.  In addition, the fact that the trailers revealed so much did not help with hiding the surprises nor keeping the comedy fresh. 

In addition to giving away much of the surprise, the movie also failed to deliver the story to me that I was hoping to get out of it. For once, it might have been nice to actually do a mockery of the Ocean’s movies by making it all about conning corrupt villains and a central rival to their game. Sadly, their attempts to diverge from this story came out as pale attempts that did not gain the momentum needed to have the impact they needed.  Secondly, it’s always good for me to have some characters with a little more depth, then what I got here.  The Hustle’s protagonists have very little in terms of story, characteristics, or qualities outside of what you got from the trailer.  I get this is probably some symbolic presentation of con artists, but perhaps more into how they came into the lifestyle, and the driving force could have granted these talented actresses some better roles to bring to life. Perhaps this is why I like Alex Sharp’s character, because there is at least some attempts to bring his character some added layers, instead of just a comedic punching bag.

Still those components are not quite the force that took the most away from me in this movie.  The first is too political a statement for this film.  The writers and direction got a little too femme fatale and preachy for me, with much of the dialog driven down a road that takes away the fun for me.  I think it will hit the right audience members, but from a general standpoint some of the aggressive sexism jokes did not quite impress me.  Second, the humor is a little too slapstick and force for my tastes.  The trailer made some of these jokes stale, but there were times where overacting and pushing that joke over the line or on me just did not set well.  As such, I didn’t laugh as hard as I had hoped from the trailers and was a bit bored with some of the designed sequences.  Again, this comedy will hit its niche audience, but for guys like me, it’s not going to be the most clever or unique jokes that present themselves.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            If you are expecting the next masterpiece of comedy in this film, you will be disappointed with The Hustle.  Yet, if you go in there ready for simplistic comedy, filled with one liners and focused audience and you have got yourself the flick of the weekend. It’s got some good points and great chemistry, jamming it’s all its gimmicks into a short run time to entertain very quickly.  However, if you are looking for something like Bridesmaids with heart, cleverness, and entertainment, then reserve this one for a home viewing in my opinion.  My scores are:

 

Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Fan Service? Check! Comedy? Check! Cuteness? Check! Full potential? Not Yet

Pokémon Detective Pikachu Poster

            Growing up in the 90s meant to be a part of the rise of games, and one of those series was Pokémon.  The portable adventure with pocket monsters brought with it a plethora of stories as my friends and I worked to capture them all.  As the years passed the series evolved to include anime, movies, merchandise, cards and many more as young kids and old strived to be the best.  Now, years later, the world takes a first shot at a live action movie, with questioning looks from the reviews.  Robbie K back with a look at the latest movie in hopes of discovering the power of the series contained within.  Let’s review:

 

Movie: Detective Pikachu (2019)

 

Director:

Rob Letterman

Writers:

Dan Hernandez (screenplay by), Benji Samit (screenplay by)

Stars:

Ryan ReynoldsJustice SmithKathryn Newton

 

 

LIKES:

 

Voice Acting

Comedy

Cuteness

Surprisingly Deep

World Building

Nostalgia

 

Summary:

The movie may look incredibly lame, but within the labs of the Pokémon studios they actually crafted a movie that is very fun.  Much of this has to do with the voice acting, primarily Ryan Reynolds pulling his Deadpool delivery, just in a more censored way.  Pikachu spouting the sarcasm and wit of the mercenary with a mouth had me laughing, and the background dialogue he provides is so simplistic, but yet so powerful at the same time.  Alongside the other actors who are not CGI, he manages to establish fun relationships, primarily with Justice Smith, who make this modern odd couple relationship. It works extremely well, and established an atmosphere of not only funny, but also cute as the bond between Pokémon and partner shine.  Yet the comedy is only one aspect of the film, and the movie goes surprisingly deep in some of this character development and plot concepts.  There are plenty of adult themes that I can’t say much to avoid spoiling, but the movie really pulls at heart strings that may be very relevant to some.  It’s the extra layer that expands the audience age and increases the enjoyment to many more. 

     Yet the other aspect I really enjoyed was the world building and nostalgia that came into this movie.  Rhyme City is a nice blend of the things that make a Pokémon city great for us gamers, integrating CGI with real life shots to make a believable world that could be inhabited by Pokémon. The 2-d models were great for the games, but the 3-D textures and depth added to the Pokémon really gives them a more realistic sheen that fit in the live action.  Not quite the realism all the way, but a fantastic start to future installments if they make more.  Even better for fans like me though, is the search for nostalgia that packs the film more than zubats fill the rock tunnel.  Superfans will enjoy the search for shout outs to all the spin offs this series has taken found in dialog, jokes, and even memorabilia that are just sitting in the wings to be discovered.  This added layer should please the fan base and still not distract from the other components of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Pokémon

More Excitement

Predictable Plot

Dead End plots

Convoluted Plot

 

SUMMARY:

The movie did well, but there was some more fleshing out needed to assist with maximizing it’s potential. For one thing, more Pokémon would have been welcomed to see in the city.  I’m not sure if they ran into budget, time constraints, or are planning a future with more Pokémon movies, but I would have liked to have seen more of the critters in the world.  The movie took a few templates and then only used them over and over again. Fortunately many of these are fan favorites, but there were others I were hoping would contribute to the plot rather than remaining background.  This is definitely true of the battle scenes, which would have been great for both a plot and adventure aspect.  There were a few battle scenes that held promise, but they quickly were diluted to more comedy and while funny, there could have been a little more bang for the buck had they actually brought the battle service to life. This is especially true when it comes to the finale of the story, which leads me to the next limitation for this reviewer.

Aesthetics aside, the movie’s main struggle comes in the limited story that seems weighed down by comedy and fan service.  The first thing is the predictability of the plot, a combination of trailers and obvious, clichéd foreshadowing there is not much surprise in terms of the secrets held in this mystery.  My friends and I had six of the seven revelations down well before revelation and it was only about waiting for the revelation rather than the impact.  Next, the movie tries to pursue that deeper tone we talked about earlier, but truncates the plots before they build any steam.  Justice Smith’s story, holds many emotional moments, but they are bluntly dropped in the favor of more comedy.  Other stars recruited into the film and the characters they portray are fairly limited as well, and the underutilization of the human and digital cast makes for a greatly missed opportunity to expand the plot and the characters.  Perhaps in doing this, the last dislike of the convoluted and nonsensical story would have made a little sense.  Like a fan service story, the twist that happens is okay, a bit of an overstretch that gets points for originality, but came out a bit corny for me other than trying to introduce more fan service.  Had they maybe put a more climactic finish and not gone quite Sci-Fi based service, we might have been okay and had a better overall finish to the building  story.

 

VERDICT:

            Overall Detective Pikachu is one of the better video game movies to hit the silver screen, accomplishing the goal of hitting a variety of audience members and bringing a fun, cute and deep adventure with it.  It’s going to hit both super fans and new fans alike in regards to the world it creates, and with Ryan Reynolds leading the way is sure to bring laughs to the bunch.  Yet the movie gets a little too focused on pleasing all audiences that it does not maximize that potential.  Detective Pikachu’s story is the primary limitation in that there was so much more to behold, and should a second movie arise, I hope they will focus on more Pokémon and character integration than pure comedy and fandom.  Still a nice adventure for many and one worthy of a theater trip for most, and a home viewing for the rest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Fellowship Of Ideas Brings Artistic and Symbolism To Lordly Standards

Tolkien Poster

            The legendary story of adventure, quests, love, magic, and fellowship.  To many, the legendary adventures of Frodo and the game are immortalized in the epic film franchise crafted by Peter Jackson, whose world crafting and adventure were the stuff of legends as the realm of Middle Earth was brought to life.  Yet what about the man who imagined it all up, who came up with the language to give birth to the fantasy world beloved by so many. Well, tonight’s film hopes to give some insight into his life and perhaps motivate us to craft our own tales through the journey he took.  Robbie K here to craft another review as he takes on:

 

Movie: Tolkien (2019)

Director:

Dome Karukoski

Writers:

David GleesonStephen Beresford

Stars:

Nicholas HoultLily CollinsColm Meaney

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

Graphics

Music

Beauty

Symbolism

Picking Out Things

 

SUMMARY: A biopic such as this requires engaging performances to bring the legendary figures to life and fortunately this movie has brought it’s cast together to form its own fellowship.  Hoult’s group bonds with that English wit, full of fun and sarcasm as the brotherhood forms with each passing year.  Lily Collins as the love interest is a usual role for her, but the direction grants her some options to bring out her motivational monologue skills that were a wonderful compliment to the struggles Hoult portrays in the legendary writer. This duos chemistry is impressive, capable of bringing the tale to life.

Of course, we need to see the vision of Tolkien’s mind brought to life so that we can potentially get an idea of how he viewed the world to make his own world.  Director Karukoski achieves this through the use of a number of camera work, special effects and audio tricks to help make this come to life.  The result is that the movie is an artistic wonder, bringing the dark designs of Jackson’s work and simplifying them into a version that seems to match the “hallucinations” of Tolkien’s mind. As the story evolves and more of his journey begins unfolding, the movie continues to evolve the art style to show the beauty of the hero’s journey and the struggles about discovery. All the beauty of the life events and symbolism of what each part of Tolkien’s life meant in relationship to his works makes is captured in the wonderful cinematography and acting, all blending together to portray how the spirts of the art work in the harshest most brilliant ways.  To help add that extra magic, the music they chose in the forms of sonatas, piano work, and dynamic music pieces was something I particularly liked the most. Captivating scores are what add that emotional beauty to me as well, almost mirroring the inner soul of the characters involved.

Yet all the artistic licenses they took in this movie, the thing I particularly liked was the treasure hunt of references to the book in Tolkien’s life.  In his journey for the Hobbit, Tolkien is all about dropping hints of motivation for his world and the characters that inhabit them.  Some of the hints are obvious in the mind’s eye sequences where the beasts and creatures manifest in some weird hallucination, while others are a little harder to pick up, hiding in the common dialogue or background much like the elusive treasure his series is about.  It’s that element that adds a level of fun to the movie for the fans like me to help offset some of the slower parts to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow

A Little Too Artistic

Predictable Story

A little disjointed

Perhaps Over Dramatized

Not Quite the Quest I envisioned.

 

SUMMARY:

My fellow reviewers are right in the terms that Tolkien may be a bit boring for the common audience member and much of this has to do with the very thing that makes it beautiful, the artistic presentation.  Tolkien’s pace is about hitting key points of his life and some of these moments don’t have quite the entertainment aspect we’ve come to love as an audience.  Instead the disjointed moments are sort of skipped, tied together in his memories as he goes through the war, are a little too nonlinear causing a semi-coherent story about how he came up with work.  The fact that the ending is predictable makes the constant circling around the obvious ending a little tiresome given the pacing.

Yet the biggest dislikes have to involve the missing that movie magic that makes the entertainment factor for the movies some of the most enjoyable.  I needed that cohesive story and liberties to help glue the story into a cohesive tale that wasn’t so artistic and a little more direct to help capture the spirit of the quest.  I was hoping that we would see more of him walking through the world with an eye for his motivation, sort of seeing the story’s writing as he planned it out. Instead, getting caught up in the life drama and how he struggled to write was not quite the quest I had envisioned upon watching the trailers for this film.  Without this uniting quest and cliché look at the creation, the artistic liberties got a little too in the way of the storytelling which is going to limit the audience scope they may have looked for. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Tolkien is a beautiful film, showing that much like Tolkien’s journey, artistic splendor is all about the journey to find the strength to create.  It has fantastic acting, great use of audio and visual works to make it a symbolism of beauty and wonder, and does enough subtle hinting with the references to make it the treasure hunt mentioned at the beginning of the movie.  And yet, while it is the strongest part of the movie it also puts a lot of limitations on it as well.  The movie gets lost in the symbolism and artistic license, making the film a little more segmented and denser than what most will look for and limiting the audiences scope.  Therefore, this movies is not going to be for the common fan and would recommend checking this one out at home unless you are a diehard Tolkien fan. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/War: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5