A Different War Than Expected

Bennett's War Poster

 

On a weekend before a holiday, sometimes the movies run a little dry and this weekend seems to be following that trend. Tonight’s movies is about Bennett’s War. Have not heard of it?  Don’t worry, neither had I and if it had not been for a poster in my theater this film would have escaped my attention.  So what is this little advertised movie hold under the hood?  That’s where I come in with the hopes of giving some observations to help you decide if you want to make or break the bank seeing it.  Let’s get cracking as we look into:

 

Movie: Bennett’s War (2019)

 

Director:

Alex Ranarivelo

Writer:

Alex Ranarivelo

Stars:

Michael RoarkTrace AdkinsAli Afshar

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Short Run Time
  • Decent Acting
  • Inspirational
  • Funny At parts
  • Motocross scenes

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Felt sort of like an incomplete Story
  • Predictable
  • Took a While To Get to Motocross Scenes
  • Masked as An Army Flick
  • A Little More Character Involvement needed

 

Summary:

 

A movie like this holds the potential to be an undiscovered treasure or a complete disaster.  For the most part this War had some features to it that I certainly found worth their weight in proverbial gold.  For one the short run time is nice, allowing for a chance to be a concise tale that was not too diluted by drama and bloated by long, drawn out moments that these unknowns sometimes take.  Next up the acting to which the stuntmen themselves probably take first place, but in regards to the actors the podium is taken by Ali Afshar and Allison Paigewhose characters turned out to be fun, dynamic groups that took the simplified parts and rode with it. Sure the other characters played their parts, but did not have quite the engaging personality these too did. Now these tidbits aside, the movie is another one of those inspirational flicks that are all about motivating people to face the odds and conquer their obstacles to achieve their dreams.  It uses the parlor tricks of a deep soundtrack, close camera angles, and the just the right amount of writing and acting to sell the scene and try to get some goosebumps stirring up.  Yet, the movie does not become a sob fest much to the chagrin of those looking for the latest religious drama. Bennett’s War manages to integrate some humor into the mix, primarily through Afshar’s character who like Jughead out of Archie Comics knows how to say the right thing at just the right time.  The biggest selling point though is the motocross scenes that are just waiting to fill the theater with the high definition sounds of the motor bikes.  The movie really harps on the dirt busting goodness of the sport and while it seems out of place, brings the excitement and bang that sports movies accomplish, especially when accompanied by some heavy rock.  The montage approach may be a little limited and cutting corners, but the two biggest races manage to find the balance and stride we love to see.

 

However, the movie sort of shows its limitations fairly well, more so in the form of the story telling itself.  For one thing it’s predictable, with too many of the haphazard tricks given away to show what is coming.  The writing, the foreshadowing, and the obvious overdramatized components that attempt to mislead do little to waiver one from the path.  Second, the film is masked as an army story either in the form of war itself or the recovery from the battles they face.  The opening uses the army as a means to explain the situation, but after that much of the army story is placed in storage for the sports path of the movie.  If the false advertisement does not get you, then perhaps the character involvement will get you instead.  Bennett’s war both accomplishes and fails to integrate all its characters in the fact that nearly every character serves its place, yet does not have the full-on inclusion I think they were looking for.  Adkins character in particular seemed to offer a lot more potential, but sort of crashed out like a second-string country song. The wife hits her moments but yet sort of beats around the bush and becomes a ploy for girl power instead of the aspect I enjoyed the most from her.  And as for another character, integrated at a decent moment, but then again lost to the wind.  Perhaps this is due to the motocross scenes which get a large amount of screen time than you might expect.  While I do rather enjoy these moments, the film sometimes sacrifices too much to get them in there.  Sometimes it was character development/story, and other times not enough heat in the races, but Bennett’s War is one of those I would have liked to see expand on more and find the balance I’ve seen these movies accomplishWhich brings me to the final point that the movie feels almost incomplete.  This war is more about the writers struggling to figure out the movie it wants to tell, patriotic pride and faith for healing or potentially a sports action movie to hopefully get bikes out into the business.  It’s this spin that although enjoyable could have struck a fine glance to deliver the full tale it wanted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Bennett’s War has some solidly entertaining components that should potentially rope in a few groups this labor day weekend.  It’s inspirational, funny without trying too hard, and filled with dirt bike goodness that caters to a broader audience and sort of capture the heart of the movie Motocrossed from the Golden Age of Disney.  Yet, the film suffers from an indecisiveness of trying to cater too many, masking as  a potential army ranger recovering and struggling (aka American Sniper) on poster, but delivering a sports movie instead.  Again, I had fun with this movie, but this amplified version of the DCOM classic needs some more fine tuning or placement on the small screen track to maximize its potential. 

 

My scores are:

 

Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Fallen Into A New Regime

Angel Has Fallen Poster

            Epic action flicks are always a riot to see because they promise excitement, fun, and potentially some legendary sequences. The army of stars who have portrayed heroic figures continues to grow and in some cases those heroes drop into multiple installments that vary in quality.  Tonight is an example of one such franchise that continues to push that hero to new heights in an attempt to squeeze every dollar out of the franchise.  Could a third installment of the legendary Secret Service agent Mike Banning be one of those movies that is all about the cash and less about the quality?  Well Robbie K is back again to give some thoughts as we finish up the weekend with what will hopefully live up to hopes and expectations I have for it.  Tonight we look at:

 

Movie: Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Director:

Ric Roman Waugh

Writers:

Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay by), Matt Cook (screenplay by)

Stars:

Gerard ButlerPiper PeraboMorgan Freeman

 

LIKES:

  • Constantly Moving
  • Gets the Intensity Starting
  • Nice Use Of Characters
  • The Ending Battle
  • Nick Nolte

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Loud
  • Mystery Lacking
  • Not As Much Exciting Acting
  • Morgan Freeman’s Character Semi Lacking

 

Summary:

 

Like its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen is back in the habit of making a story that is all about moving from danger site to danger site. Banning’s latest journey does not take long to get things moving, bringing the incident to full, explosive power to get the antics going.  The new tale then takes that intensity and tries to run with it the full time, finding few times to quiet down before the next set of problems sets in.  Angle Has Fallen surprisingly does a nice job of integrating the characters, most of them, throughout the film, keeping them involved in the developing plot and having them contribute to find the solution.  Jada Pinkett Smith’s character is there to act as the cat chasing the proverbial mouse, all while helping dig into the mess that Mike has fallen into.  His wife played by Piper is working on her own components and rather than being left to make casual appearances, she actually gets decent inclusion in this film. Yet, it’s the living legend of Nick Nolte who takes the cake for the character of the film for me.  The rugged, rough voiced actor really brings the bitter humor to life, somehow saying so little , but doing so much.  I thoroughly enjoyed this character in what he brought and how he was an attempt to break up the Fallen series monotony.  Yet despite who you grip onto in this sort of action, mystery, crime feature, the ending is my epic conclusion I was hoping to see in this film.  Angel Has Fallen is all about those special effect frenzies that are littered with gun play, explosives, and one man defying all odds.  You won’t be disappointed with the final sequence, as it captures the spirit of the first two after the long wait.

 

In terms of areas of improvement though this reviewer notes that the predictability and lack of surprise makes the hidden/mystery element of this movie a little lame.  You know who is pretty much behind this operation, how they are going to try to execute the plan, and what will most likely happen to counter it.  In fact the only thing to question is who is going to make it to the end.  Had a few more surprises been thrown in, this movie could have had the nice twist to make it stand out.  Sadly, the story and plot were geared more towards the character inclusion and loud antics of the movie.  The Fallen series always struggles with volume control for me and if you have sensitive ears like mine, the intensity of all the high-octane scenes might take its toll on you hearing so look for ear plugs or folding your ears.  The minor things aside, the movie surprisingly does not do much with Morgan Freeman, and if you remember the previous films the president kind of has a big role in each of the films  Maybe due to scheduling or maybe trying to be different, it’s not until the end where the man in charge is finally brought back into the story in an attempt to wrap things up.  And speaking of action, I seem to remember the first two films having much more action than this instalment.  It seems that this film toned back on the action in an attempt to give us a little more story and mystery, which is a shame as I wanted the adrenaline fest these films are.  Certainly there are “exciting” moments, but they swapped many of their guns for some new spins that did not have the same suspense or quality of the memorable moments from the first two.  If that’s up your alley then you’ll love this, but remember the ending has the battles we love, you just got to make it there.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Angel Has Fallen is starting to settle down and try out new venues for telling their story.  Certainly the speed of the film series continues, and the intensity gets things moving quickly to keep you into the film as almost all characters are brought into this chapter of Secret Service agent against the world.  Sadly, the same formula of fighting with lots of guns and ambushing via covert attacks seems to be resting for much of this movie, again trying new gimmicks to make it stand out and reserve the usual techniques for the ending.  It would have worked more for me had they kept the mystery/surprises going to add on to the intensity and leave your jaw dropping.  Still, it’s a fine addition to the franchise and one most will be wanting to see in theaters due to the special effects and speaker shaking loudness. My scores are:

 

Action:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

Trying To Overcome With Creativity, Yet Falling Into Stereotypical Indecisiveness

Overcomer Poster

            Religious movies are difficult for me to review. Why?  Because as a reviewer putting myself in the shoes of the audience/intentions of the director, understanding what these movies are intending to do is my job.  Yet, looking at the presentation and not stepping on toes is also a challenge.  Despite the challenge though, I’m up for trying to do my best to give you the opinions on yet another film to hit the theater. So Robbie K bringing you another review on:

 

Movie: Overcomer (2019)

 

Director:

Alex Kendrick

Writers:

Alex KendrickStephen Kendrick

Stars:

Alex KendrickShari RigbyPriscilla C. Shirer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Message
  • Acting
  • The Powerful Scenes
  • Great Use Of Emotion
  • The Creative Flair
  • The Finale
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pace
  • Predictable
  • Goes Out Of Its Way To Be Preachy
  • Not So Much A Running Movie
  • The Staged Characters
  • The Overall Presentation/Indecisiveness

 

SUMMARY:

Let’s get it out of the way, if you are not of the faith or religious the message is most likely going to be lost on you, but for this reviewer the message of Christianity is always nice to get a refresh course in. Helping to bring it alive is decent acting from some of the cast including the director/writer/lead Alex Kendrick, the lovely wife Shari Rigby, and for me Cameron Arnettas the motivational speaker. All the leads create quite a believable family, one that is entertaining, funny, and comes of natural in (most) of their deliveries of a family facing tough times that somehow makes it relevant in ways.  The powerful scenes when they come do their job, managing to penetrate the neutral shell I bring to most movies and pull some heart and spirt strings.  This is accomplished by great use of emotional supporting movie magic, especially the piano work that has diversity to capture the moment.  The cinematography accomplishes capturing the right light and angle to help as well, giving an underappreciated edge to help again sell the transformation as the word is shared. As the movie progresses, that creative flair in not only the camera work, but also some story components gets a nod to me for parts of this movie help break away from the traditional presentation that these movies thrive on (note I said some) that really came together as the movie closed into the final moments.  Speaking of which the finale really brings all these elements together, and like out of a Disney sports movie from the 90s you get all those feel good effects rushing together to punch you right in the emotional center of your body.  Finally, the music in this film, not the orchestral work from earlier, actually was awesome for me, showing that praise music is not just limited to the traditional hymns and songs that get overplayed in these films.  My favorite would be the Overcomer, but I think there are enough genres and variety to please most ears.

 

Yet, the movie still has some shortcomings from me in terms of a movie, remember the message is strong for me, but I am looking at the big picture here in terms of a movie. First of all the pace at the beginning is slow and a little bloated, due to some tangents taken long before the first run with Hannah.   You can definitely tell expect the predictability of the film, all the tell-tale signs and set ups feeling much like the books to which this film used as its foundation.  This is not so much a major issue for me, except for how much of the predictability is used to go out of its way to preach the message.  Almost like intermittent messages from church, Overcomer tends to take out the parts the trailer sold (seeing the tale of a runner improving on skill and relationships) for a lot of awkwardly time moments of preaching the Bible, one moment being a character interrupting a drama midterm to announce the faith they had found.  Powerful? Yes!  Well designed for the movie?  Kind of.  Perhaps it also would not have come off quite as cheesy or forced had some of the characters to been so staged.  Overcomer uses a lot of extras and secondary characters to act as bait for the church like moments and had they had a little more engagement in the tale other than simply delivering church lessons it would have flowed better.   As you hopefully have deduced, the main thing I didn’t enjoy about this movie was how it could not quite determine what approach it wanted to take.  Overcomer is almost part sports inspirational film, part Drama, and part big budge church production.  Instead of having a nice medium of using the cross country to pin its hopes on, the movie sort got lost in trying the balance all three parts and accomplish the goal of preaching.  Had they sort of ironed it out and minimized the Bible Verse interruptions, this could have been a different case, which took away from the movie quality for this reviewer.

 

VERDICT:

            The truth is that Overcomer is a very good religious movie that will speak to the hearts of many followers and get many crying with those well put together moments.  It’s a great message put in a new form and thanks to the help of creative outlook, cinema flair, and music it’s truly an inspirational piece of work.  Yet, in looking at the movie past the message, the inability to decide what path to take and going out of its way a lot to make preachy scenes took away from the movie quality itself.  Diluting the quality to a Hallmark like production where staged characters and awkward scenes stood out from the heart of the tale that lied in.  Again, the message is powerful, but for a presentation standpoint Kendrick’s approach needed a little tweaking to fully stand out as one of the greats.  Still, this is a must for most church goers and drama lovers, looking for that next wave of inspiration using the latest hi tech sound.  My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Do You Hide From This Film Or Seek It Out

Ready or Not Poster

 

Robbie K back in the trenches for another movie review, this time looking at yet another horror movie to hopefully bring with a number of warped imaginations to life.  Some of them bring us into the disturbing zone and leave us scarred, others manage to be quirky cult thrillers that lead to endless sequels, and others are so bad they somehow stay good.  Tonight, the horror movie looks to be a hybrid of a thriller meeting said horror, with promise of being a romping good time.  Yet, the trailers can certainly be a mask for something else.  Read on to check out my thoughts on:

 

Movie:  Ready or Not (2019)

 

Directors:

Matt Bettinelli-OlpinTyler Gillett

Writers:

Guy BusickRyan Murphy

Stars:

Samara WeavingAdam BrodyMark O’Brien

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Decent Suspense
  • Pace
  • Quirky
  • Funny
  • Lives Pretty Close To What The Trailer Promises

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Not Scary
  • A Little Too Silly
  • The Ending Sort Of
  • Focus On Blood at times

 

Summary:

We get that these types of movies often do not have the best acting, but in this film the cast actually brings some effort into making believable characters that aren’t too annoying.  My lead is Samara Weaving who has the comical role down, but Adam Brody is a solid second actor to craft the believable brother struggling to handle the situation before them.  As the rest of the cast plays essentially sadistic players in the mad games of chance, these carbon copy roles are all about trying to bring the suspense factor to the movie.  Ready Or Not achieves the suspense decently, keeping a nice pace to keep the action going and the horrors at least coming.  Thus, the thriller aspect is very well achieved in this movie.  Yet, another element that I liked was the quirkiness of this film, primarily in the form of the presentation.  Ready or Not is one of those movies that manages to find a stride with the cheesy gimmicks, putting a comedic spin on things without being too forced in your face.  Perhaps it’s the subtle comedy of the overzealous aunt, the clumsiness of the sister, or maybe just the reactions of the main character Grace, but there is something in the writing and presentation that makes it just fun.  As an added bonus, the film also manages to achieve pretty close what the trailer provides, leaving some surprises to enjoy, and yet still not diverging down the pathways it could have taken.

 

In regards to dislikes, the predictability of the movie is okay, some parts due to the trailers and other parts laid out in writing with heavy foreshadowing.  This predictability not only ruins some of the surprise, but it also diminished the horror element of the movie as well.  Ready Or Not’s thriller is the selling point, for the jump scares are few, the creep factor is low, and there are seldom any moments that had me on the edge of my seat.  This could also be due to the comical side of things and the fact they focused so much on the ridiculousness of the plot to help tone down the creep and scare factor. Maybe taking things the silly route wasn’t the best route for this one, especially giving the ending, which to me is a mixed like and dislike.  On the one hand the ending falls in line with the silliness of the movie and sort of just naturally occurs leaving you satisfied.  On the other hand, the movie’s ending led to not quite getting the hunt fest I had thought I was going to see.  Like the most dangerous game or a final destination I had kind of thought members of this household would have altercations that were do or die.  Yet as you will see, this in not quite the case and there is little more I can say without ruining anything so onward we move. My final component is the gore factor of this movie.  Certainly not the worst thing, Ready Or Not does sometimes get a little too fixated on the blood factor for my tastes.  Those who aren’t fans of seeing suffering, skin crawling spectacles of crimson colored chaos need to turn away, as there are some gut-wrenching moments that aren’t for the faint hearted.

 

Overall, the adventure of Ready Or Not is a fun little project that is campy, quirky, and still thrilling in the world of horror films.  With an engaging cast and concept, it’s a movie that will keep the audience hooked and perhaps make them laugh at the odd sense of comedy and justice that they brought in this film.  And though it matches the tone of the trailers, at times the comedy may have diluted the thriller anticipation you might have though.  For the hunt sort of gets caught up in the blood and comedy rather than delivering the full-on horror chills.  Still, the film is a fun watch and probably good for a small group to hit the theaters with or watch at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Blinded By Balanced Stories, Inspirational Moments, And A Killer SoundTrack

 

Blinded by the Light Poster

Music icons are those that seem timeless, maybe not in the way of new hits, but in the impact they leave behind.  Musical works speak to us on so many levels, potentially why we are able to play them as often as we do without getting sick of the tracks.  Yet, do we really understand how music impacts people?  Do we think about how music can motivate, inspire, and even more so revolutionize the changes that they incite on many people?  That is the theme of the final movie I review this week, a film that is all about the impact that movies have and what they can motivate to do.  So let us take a look as I dive into:

 

Movie: Blinded By The Light (2019)

 

Director:

Gurinder Chadha

Writers:

Paul Mayeda BergesGurinder Chadha  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Viveik KalraKulvinder GhirMeera Ganatra

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Delightfully Funny

Nice Look At Culture and Music

Great Use of Music

Emotionally Deep

Decent Balance Of Most Stories

Relevant

 

DISLIKES

 

A Bit Preachy

Perhaps A Little More Investment In Two Other Stories

Hollywood vs. Reality

Cliched stands out

 

SUMMARY:

 

With movies like this that go to make a statement you sometimes wonder if the movie will move or potentially fall to the pace of being artistic.  In this case, the Boss’ journey movie seems to movie at a good enough pace to remain entertaining but yet still accomplish the statements it wants to make.  It’s charm comes in the form of the heartwarming tale, that manages to be funny without even trying and yet deliver the messages of inspiration and art that it wants to do.  The movie is a nice look at how music influences the world around us and can inspire those brave few who can be fueled to use their gifts for the greater good.  In addition, the cultural lifestyle is certainly a major part of this film’s energy, somehow managing to capture some components of a culture or two and yet paint in a way that is super relevant to many.  The tale of the main character holds a lot of heart behind it and seeing that journey unfold feels like a realistic heroes journey that many dream to accomplish.  But defying a culture is not the only tale, for Blinded By The Light manages to accurately represent the facets of life from the concept of love and friendship, to the aspiration of trying to live your dreams.  It’s emotionally deep and will speak to many members as the relevant tales begin to come to life and perhaps allow you to sort of walk alongside the characters as they face the fears.  Yet, my favorite aspect is the nice integration of the Boss’ music into the film, for like a musical the legendary tunes are solidly integrated into the sequences to deliver the emotional kick of the scene or perhaps just make a fun little cover in a bold attempt to please a character.

 

Despite all the fun I had in this movie though there are of course areas that acted as a somewhat limitation to the film.  Motivational as this movie is, it can come off a bit preachy at times too, a little too forced in the inspirational tale and focus and perhaps steering away from the balance I was enjoying.  In addition, the movie sometimes gets a little more reality vs Hollywood for me at the inconsistencies that real life deals vs. the magic of things working out in the Hollywood atmosphere.  Not the biggest dislikes mind you, but something that does not quite fit in the same light as some of the other parts of the movie.  I guess my biggest limitations come in the form of some of the story imbalances and cliché moments that start to take precedent the farther the movie goes in.  In regards to the stories, there are a few plots that I’ll admit could have taken a little more focus to help bring all aspects to full circle.  One has to do with the love story and integration, yes a surprise given my previous reviews, and the other with the racial tension that was in this movie.  I understand it’s not the main focus, but it might have allowed for other Springsteen songs to get integrated in about these issues and maybe add a little more suspension and challenge to the movie.  That’s the other component that would have been nice to see is breaking up the cliché moments and adding a little more challenge to the mix.  Blinded by the Light is a little too easily pushed through, and perhaps in adding the obstacles and suspense, the full emotional passion could have burst out in full strength and break up the predictability/monotony of it.

 

The VERDICT:

 

As you can see, the movie has more likes than dislikes for me, with many of the limitations pickiness to help give that movie the final push.  Blinded by the Light turned out to be better than I anticipated, with a nice steady pace filled with a plethora of components that includes well aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and of course the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen.  Yes, it’s preachy and cliché and some stories could have been tuned up and given greater preference to really maximize everything.  However, I applaud the balance and entertainment of this film and state that though it lacks the usual mechanisms for the theater (special effects, a big adventure, or a concert experience, I still suggest a trip to the theater for this one.  If you can’t get in to hear the Boss through the big speakers, then definitely set your sights on this one for a home viewing.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Music: 9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Book To Movie: Where Did The Rest Of The Cast And Story Go?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster

 

Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues.  Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen.  Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it’s not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold.  Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: Where’d you Go Bernadette (2019)

 

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Cate BlanchettJudy GreerKristen Wiig

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness
  • Cute
  • Good Morals
  • Fairly Good Pace
  • Cyndi Lauper Tribute

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Little Melodramatic
  • Dryer Comedy
  • Some rather useless characters/Plots
  • A Little More Connecting
  • No Mystery Whatsoever
  • The Abrupt End

 

Summary:

 

The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play.  Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story.  Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiignot too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburneare all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario) who is integrated into the films.  Yet, it’s really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role.  Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy.  It’s pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette’s journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies.  Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well.  And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that’s a hoot right?

 

While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me.  The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery.  For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience.  Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters.  For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected.  Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process.  Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got.  However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever.  In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette’s journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone.  You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier.  Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the “mystery” is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected.  If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that’s just me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show.  The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love.  Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love.  Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette’s story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie.  As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie.  My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

The Cage Is Lowered And The Sharks Are Out To Play

47 Meters Down: Uncaged Poster

            Shark movies!  What were once the pinnacle of horror movies and science fiction story telling that left impacts and a sense of fear of going into the water.  Like many things though, the demand for a new shark movie often leads to carbon copy projections that are all about cheese and little to please. Shark movies have now become more of the cheap knock offs that still remain cult classics and amass a ton of fans to watch them repetitively and spur more.  Tonight, an unexpected sequel to one of these is my first review, hoping to bring the same suspense and thrills that the first one did.  Can these sharks come back with the same bite, or are we seeing messy CGI disasters that SyFy channel has made famous?  Robbie K reviewing:

 

Movie:  47 Meters Down Uncaged

 

Director:

Johannes Roberts

Writers:

Ernest RieraJohannes Roberts

Stars:

Sistine Rose StalloneNia LongCorinne Foxx

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute Cast

Decent Pace

Much More Shark Involvement

Scary Setting

Much More Suspense Than Expecting

 

DISLIKES

Story Based On stupidity

Predictable

Shaky Camera Work

Very Quick Wraps Ups

Suspension of Disbelief Must Be Curbed

 

 

Summary:

 

I can’t deny that these movies know how to recruit good looking people to play their puppets of shark massacre and this movie continues that trend.  Our bathing suit clad beauties are gorgeous to the eyes of those that like those forms and will be a major part of the first third of the movie.  Superficial components aside, the movie itself succeeds in keeping up a decent pace, managing to craft some suspenseful movie magic that thriller seekers are searching for.  This pace keeps things moving, holding little down time between shark strikes and navigating the maze-like caverns of the ruined city and therefore making time pass in the blink of an eye.  How is this accomplished?  Well it comes down to two things.  First is the setting.  47 meters regime manages to really use the setting as a canvas of terror, painting your worst nightmares of the dark to new levels.  Where the first one made the idea of being stranded on the ocean floor terrifying, this one pulls you into the confines of a cave, whose cramped corridors and dark rooms may deter you from ever going spelunking.  The second factor is integrating the sharks much more into this film.  Yes, in the first one they were there, but they were more of a setting feature that seemed to be looming rather than really tearing things up like Jaw and Deep Blue Sea.  In this case, the sharks are certainly the terrifying behemoths you search for in the films, with a new design to go with their traditional voracious appetite. These creatures are more than willing to get their toothy maws into new scenes and really add to the terror at hand.

 

Yet with all the improvements in suspense and the terror painted by the CGI squad in terms of shadow crafting and claustrophobia there were some things that still did not deliver the full bite.  The story for one thing swam backwards towards a weaker pace, built not on an accident, but on stupidity of teenagers doing things they weren’t supposed to and trying to correct it.  It does certainly pick up in the caves, but one thing is for certain that you can figure out who is most likely not going to make it and just what is going to be around the bend… mostly.  Certainly, the scares are much closer in this installment, but sadly its lost to the shaky camera work that inadvertently censored a number of the shark on human action. Does it capture the frenzy of the moment?  Absolutely. Does it add to the terror and give you that sense of being this close to the maw?  Again yes, but in doing so it robs you of the clear-cut picture that the first one did better.  What the first also did better was the close calls vs. the hasty kills as I like to describe.  In the first one, several close misses kept you guessing as to when someone would be shark bait, but in this there comes a point where the near misses are practically eliminated and the punishments are dealt rather quickly.  In addition, searching for a way out seems to drag a little at first, but again things seem to progress rapidly to the point of chuckling at the coincidence.  This brings me to probably the worst thing for me on this movie, the suspense of disbelief.  47 meters continues to toy with the idea of everlasting air, swimming faster than the aquatic beasts and how many times someone can withstand contact with the monsters of the deep.  It’s the magic of movies and storytelling of course, but especially at the end the already ridiculous concept takes further dives into the deeper realm of nonrealistic stuff and eye rolling moments.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Okay, it’s a shark movie and it accomplishes the task of sharks meeting humans.  The sequel manages to achieve the goal of scarier areas that allow the sharks to hunt in a new style, bringing about two monsters for our players to dodge.  It’s got a good pace and some suspense to it that should help get the shark week blahs chased away.  Yet, it does not quite have the story telling aspect that the great ones achieve and the predictability/suspense of disbelief are still needing some tweaking to help add the finesse and clean up the movie.  Still, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and give this one a nod in terms of catching it on the tube.  Yet, it’s probably better to see this one at home, for it could be an upscale SyFy movie rather than a big screen blockbuster.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Horror: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0