An Abominable Display Of Cuteness. Family’s Should Tackle This Everest

 

Abominable Poster

 

The world of animated movies continues to find new legends, avenues, and ideas to bring imagination to life.  To what those audiences are being targeted or want though is always the challenge, much of which limits the enjoyment to all audience members.  Robbie K is back to the trenches of movies to give you yet another movie review this time is all about the latest DreamWorks hit about another loveable creature that will melt many hearts and wallets.  So let’s get started as we determine if tonight’s film is lame or game!

 

Movie: Abominable (2019)

 

Directors:

Jill CultonTodd Wilderman (co-director)

Writer:

Jill Culton

Stars:

Chloe BennetAlbert TsaiTenzing Norgay Trainor

 

 

LIKES:

Decent Soundtrack

Colorful Visuals

Fun

Emotional

Cute

Characters, especially Everest

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

No Suspense

Many Scenes Already Shown

Everest’s Powers

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

As Frozen proved, a soundtrack can make a big difference between success and mega-success.  Everest may not have the most catch soundtrack, but the violin and alternative work is a beautiful serenade to the less appreciated instruments.  It mixes with the scenery, adds elements of fun, and in the case of the violin an emotional punch that sells the scene.  As the movie’s theme nods to, Everest is an appreciation and nod to the colorful world nature has to offer.  The animation is top notch in design and brings out the enchanting splendor that the world has to create, all while complementing the magnificence of Asian culture  and bringing energy/contrast to the other characters beginning emotional profiles.  Fortunately, the movie is also a colorful display of feelings to match the visuals and entertain the masses.  Fun and Cute are the primary colors of the emotional spectrum, with the small band of heroes finding ways to maximize on all the merchandising and the childish wonder we all forge as we grow older.  Kids will love it and so will their chaperones as they become connected to the world before them.  Yet all the cute antics still cannot stop the powerful punch of feelings that Everest has in the form of friends, family, and the bond of discovery that again lies in all of us if we find it.  I can’t say I really cried, but you can be certain there are plenty of moments waiting for one to get goosebumps or a smile over.  However, this reviewer has to agree that it’s the characters that make this movie.  Certainly the villains and henchmen have their place in the sun and are okay, but the main cast of four will play to the audience the most.  Yi is the model of modern female characters in her strong independence hiding deeper wounds.  Jin is the ladies’ man socialite representing superficial fun and karma at work, but also teaching lessons that ring home.  Peng is the superficial laughs that kids will like in the form of slapstick and quotable one-liners that was probably my favorite of the bunch. Finally Everest, a perfect combination of animalistic anthropomorphism meeting human emotions that all in all is an adorable display of fantastic character development. 

 

Despite how great and fun this movie can be though it does suffer a few things for this reviewer in regards to the potential it could have had.  Predictability thy name is this movie, for it is a straightforward tale that offers little in surprises.  The movie sort of sets the stage, dropping too many hints to really shock and amaze.  Certainly younger members may still react, but older fans are not going to be quite as engaged as other animated works.  Throw in that the movie has many scenes that have been revealed in the trailers, including jokes, and you may find knowing eighty percent of the story before it starts to run.  These are okay to be honest because of how much fun you are having, but in truth the thing that took a little away from me was the “action” and “suspense” moments of the movie.  Think of films like what Disney churns out, or even the How To Train Your Dragon series, where the producers land giant punches in your gut and manage to move all sorts of audience members.  Everest does not really do that, and all exciting chases, potential obstacles and dare I say edge of the movie is pretty much lacking.  No suspense, no real challenge, just cute wholesome fun that again is enjoyable, but not the elements of a finessed movie that other studios have managed to execute.  Finally, Everest’s powers are cool, the harmonizing with nature to transform simple things into true wonders of the world.  They are awesome and fun, and they are actually kept in check.  The real answer is why though as when you get to the end of the movie only a heroic character development being the answer to the limitations.  It makes for better storytelling, but in all honesty, Everest’s bottomless supply of magic did not make sense in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps a little more adjustment of this factor could have helped up the ante.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, Abominable shows off the fantastic imagination that studios still hold in this crazy world.  Everest and his friends will go on the spectacular journey that is stunning to look at, cute fun to have many laughing that manage to wrap up emotional moments in a warm friendly package.  The characters are the selling point of the feature, with the loveable yeti  being the all-star of the bunch.  Sadly, it’s a bit too G rated for me and in the cuteness, the potential for that higher level of storytelling is lost to predictable hug fest points.  With a pointless limitation and the lack of a true obstacle, these components may limit some older fans from coming.  Yet, if you want the family friendly movie of the month, get your little tykes and get them to the theater you won’t be sorry by how much fun they will have.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

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Going To The Stars In a Drier, In Depth, And Artistic Approach

Ad Astra Poster

 

Space, the final frontier, a void of endless possibilities for us humans to explore, colonize, and potentially ruin with our wasteful culture.  For now though, it serves as a great medium to make a movie about science-fiction for.  Throughout the history of movies, space films have allowed the imaginations of many to take off and bring some of the most memorable movies that we still latch onto today.  Tonight, the review focuses on yet another film that hopes to soar to new heights and win a new award.  Robbie K again with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Ad Astra (2019)

 

Director:

James Gray

Writers:

James GrayEthan Gross

Stars:

Brad PittTommy Lee JonesRuth Negga

 

LIKES:

 

Beautifully Shot

Interesting Concept

Realistic Science-Fiction

Good Acting

 

 

DISLIKES

Some Subplots

The Ending

The Obscure Answers

The Tangents

The Pacing

 

SUMMARY:

 

Space movies vary in a number of things, but the presentation can make or break the film as a whole depending on what their focus is.  For Ad Astra, the movie managed to tailor it’s fiction component to provide a more realistic tale that will appeal to a wider variety of audiences who sometimes get lost in the fantasy element.  Ad Astra’s plot is interesting in the point of an incident known as the Surge, whose origin lies in the last know place that Brad Pitt’s father (Lee-Jones) was seen going.  To help minimize the Surge from further destroying the world as we know it, Pitt is sent into space and through it goes on a journey of self-discovery that adds the psyche element analysis on board.  This interesting concept is going to be great for Sci-Fi book lovers, as it feels much like those stories where the first-person perspective is portrayed from the third-person look.  It’s a bit dense, but the fact they were able to keep to their own rules they established at the start was a big win for me.  Certainly the story is brought out by great acting, mostly on Pitt’s part who hits the depressed space hero going on dangerous mission well.  You can feel the suffering of the character, see the thoughts reflected in the tiniest gestures, and feel the emotions of the character in the dialogue/monologues he unleashes.  It’s a great leading role,, though it could have benefitted from more inclusion of other characters to even out the sullen nature of Pitt’s character.  My friend and I both did agree though, that the special effects and movie magic were the best element of the movie.  Ad Astra’s cinematography was gorgeous, with fantastic integration of CGI structures into realistic shots, and more so designing the sets to which this drama plays out on.  It’s these stunning effects that bring everything to life and will most likely catch they eyes of moviegoers everywhere as you are pulled into the venture at hand.

 

Yet all these unique approaches and special visual story telling do not quite get you set for the more artistic/symbolic approaches that movies sometimes take.  Ad Astra’s  subplots and tangents open up the new adventures and accomplishes the task of getting character development rolling.  With each “stop” so to speak, there is a reflection by the character and what he is thinking that is awesome for the character component, but semi-worthless in terms of story over all.  Again like a book, this film’s treks across the void are awesome to see, but not necessarily carrying much point past the artistic visualization.  As the movie continues on, it does not quite tell the story in the most black and white aspects.  Much of the film’s lines are very in depth or vague, capable of providing you insight to piece things together, but the delivery is a little stuffy and theatrical that it dilutes the significance this scene plays.  Thus, these side avenues, while certainly extra tales to further dive into Pitt’s psyche, were not the best use of time in my opinion.  When the ending finally came and the overall goal we set out was reached, I again was disappointed in the results it took.  I think i always knew where it was going, but Ad Astra’s finale needed some excitement or further tension to justify all the time invested, and I felt I did not get that outside of the symbolic gestures it took.  This may not have bothered me as much had the pacing of this film been better.   Pitt’s journey is very slow and given the amount of details it brings, did not have too much excitement or speed to get to the goal fast enough.  This led to me fighting sleep occasionally and I would have loved again some editing to add a little pep or do some more editing to get out the film faster.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ad Astra achieves the prize of beautiful style, deeper tales, and great acting to come to life.  It throws away the idea of space battles or aliens and instead subjects the goer with impressive looks into a character and the symbolism that space travel can bring.  It feels much like a book put to movie and I give mad credit to the vision that James Gray had when putting this film together.  However, this unique and detailed approach may also be the downfall of the tale as the cascading subplots and tangents become a little overbearing at times.  kA sort of linear, connect the dots like approach does not quite give the most exciting narrative and the ending, no matter how beautiful it is, seems a bit of a sucker punch that made the movie’s dragging pace not so great for me.  Yet again, if this kind of vague and symbolic approach is your cup of tea, definitely check this film out because there are enough visuals and effects to utilize theater technology well. However, if you want a more traditional space movie and need the lasers, aliens, and tension, this film should be on the home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Is This Rambo’s Last Blood Fest?

Rambo: Last Blood Poster

 

 

He’s the man with a mug and muscles.  A legendary collection of characters whose stories continue to hold their place in history and face the test of time.  Surprisingly, he manages to continue putting those stars of decades past into the modern times so that they can continue to rake in the attention, fame, and potentially tell a story doing it.  I’m talking aboutSylvester Stallone, the one-man action star who despite the passing years still does what he can to bring the boom. Tonight’s feature is an unretired action legend that decades ago sunk his knife into our hearts, and now years later, he’s trying to do it again with modern tools.  What is in store?  Well that’s where I come in to give some insight as Robbie K is back with another look at:

 

Film: Rambo Last Blood (2019)

 

Director:

Adrian Grunberg

Writers:

Matthew Cirulnick (screenplay by), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay by)  |3 more credits »

Stars:

Sylvester StallonePaz VegaYvette Monreal

 

 

LIKES:

 

Stallone’s character still adapting

Great use of cinematography to get the feeling

Touching Side of Rambo

The Rambo Action Package At The End

Montage

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Lacking Depth

Wasted Characters

Lame Villains

First hour is cliché, simplistic build up

A Little Too Much Focus Of Blood

Inconsistencies in this film’s logic

 

SUMMARY:

 

Rambo has gone through some of the darkest battles and nightmares we only glimpse in films, so seeing his journey of moving past that is always nice to see.  Last Blood’s attempt to push the character to new levels gets a nod of respect, especially seeing the doors to his inner character open to reveal the touching side of Rambo.  Sure, you’ve seen this vulnerability at moments in the past, but for this film you really get an in-depth dive into this new side which will help you appreciate the legend even more.  Much of this is due to the acting, which is okay but works, but I liked the cinematography and use of filming filters and techniques to help bring out that depth. Much of this most aren’t going to care about, so perhaps the use of the film technique is better suited for the carnage that Rambo films bring.  True to the title, there is plenty of blood and gore to bring to the table, as modern technology and focus on violence comes rushing into the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the film.  The loud wet smacks, the red carnage, the screams of agony, and intense focus will give you more than an eye full of Rambo’s tactics to fill you to the brim and really end on an exciting climax.  Note: This is not like the 80s blood so those thinking of taking impressionable minds need to think five times before trekking this.  When all is said and done through and the credits start rolling, the last montage of Rambo’s past adventures will seal up the deal in what may or may not be the last film of the franchise.

 

Now I’ll be the first to admit that a Rambo film is not always the fleshed out, Oscar Worthy pick that will shatter new levels. However, I do recall that at least the first two films had a decent story to drive the adventure and help begin to expand on our… hero.  This film did offer a touching side, but Last Blood’s plot is very predictable, a linear voyage that lacks the depth that other installments do.  To take sixty to seventy minutes of the film and not provide the John Rambo action sooner was well a little disappointing.  This cliché, simplistic build up again had some heart, and is true to the character to some level, but the other characters they introduced were not utilized well.  His family and a potential new friend “contributed”, but they just did not have the same level of involvement his usual supporting characters do.  I would also say the villains did not quite have the same bite. Past rivals to John Rambo had military training, corrupt armies, or inside information for them to abuse. This one though, is just a bunch of greasy looking thugs, who certainly deserve the fight, but lack any bite to them and were quite unimpressive for the most part making the “battle” certainly justice filled, but again one sided and missing that exciting spark.  The bloodlust the director and squad chose this time were a bit more of the plan than actual battling, and Rambo’s continued pushing of the red paint was quite overloaded for me, but may be right up the alley of others.  What also took away from me was the inconsistencies in the film’s logic.  Rambo’s choices in body armor, why they showed almost every grotesque way to kills, but then skip other kills, or even more so why the Mexican Cartel lacked brains in this installment is beyond me.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Overall, Rambo: Last Blood has the same simplistic approach the rest of the movies have done, but they did not quite execute as well for me.  The story elements were sacrificed for superficial components, and the definition of action packed is a little different from my worldview.  Sure, it’s all about building up a justified tale of vengeance, and it does open up the side of Rambo that is outside the rugged stoicism that he loves.  Yet, the modern take of extreme, weak villains, underutilized characters, and focus on the blood took away from the balance the first film did so well.  Still, I’ll agree with my fellow reviewers that if you are a die-hard fan and want the modern technology to blend with it, this fil is for you.  All others, I would hold out for, and for everyone please don’t take those that are too young to this blood fest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Thriller: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Welcome Back To The Manor

Downton Abbey Poster

            Television shows are an amazing display of storytelling that run for years and often last longer when done right.  PBS managed to hit one of those shows out of the park, with a lovely British display of class, poise, comedy, and drama for six seasons about a wealthy family and the manor they keep.  So many things coursed through this the drama, that it became a cult phenomenon and ended on quite a bang.  So a movie to further the tales of the Crawley family, in hopes to once more capture the charm and profit from the class of English society.  Robbie K back with the first review of the week as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Downton Abbey (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Engler

Writers:

Julian Fellowes (characters), Julian Fellowes (screenplay by)

Stars:

Michelle DockeryMatthew GoodeTuppence Middleton

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Continues where the series left off
  • Nostalgic Moments brought back
  • Same Class and Charm
  • Funny and well balanced
  • The Acting
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Slow At First
  • A Few characters limited
  • A Few Story Plots Crammed In That Were Unnecessary

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

A television series takes adequate time to set things up and develops the characters well for us to fall into and invest time.  Fortunately, the movie manages to pick up where the series left off, including all the character transitions, decisions, and more.  It works, and manages to tell a new story while maintaining the traditions that made the series famous.  My friend and I both found nostalgic moments throughout the film, many of which were great to nod to as they adapted to the changing times that the manor was facing.  Yet despite the gap in air time, this film manages to find a way to make the class and charm fit well into the new dilemmas, addressing political issues from today but twisting it back into the classical English style.  Maintaining that quality was a wonderful representation, that manages to put the fresh coat of paint on the old place.  In addition, the movie manages to find ways to inject its drier humor, without being too forceful or untrue to itself.  Maggie Smith’s character in particular alongside her partner in crime made for the most entertaining, but there were several other moments that fit well. Really though, it’s the acting that makes this movie shine, with the cast reprising their roles and accomplishing all that was necessary to recreate the group one more time.  The cast is too big to hit everyone up, but let’s face it, this all-star group proved for many years that they can take tired plots and run with them and that is the case with this film.  As for the music, well the regal soundtrack is certain to illicit some strong emotions as the subtle cavalcade of instruments unite to once more bring aristocratic numbers to the scene and embrace the nobility at hand.

 

Yet, where the film does not succeed for me is in the pacing.  While I’ve always understood this show does not have the fastest pace, but at least it had bite size episodes to gradually introduce the drama and tackle the stories at hand.  In this film though, despite the quality it took a bit to take off and with it made it a little boring and hard to stay awake at times.  Once the pace kicked in though there were not too many limitations, as again they chose not to make the same plots but move on from the tale. Sadly, not every character managed to make the cross for a decent amount of time, lost to background stories or last-minute entries.  My friend is correct in that this was mainly the other characters had most of their qualms taken care of, but also I would have liked these classic characters to return in a little more style.  Finally, the other thing I did not quite enjoy was how many episodic plots were introduced in the movie.  On the positive it felt like a lot of episodes combined into a 2-hour period, but my friend and I agreed that some of these plots could have been shortened or dropped off altogether to allow for something else to move in.  Downton Abbey the movie seemed to lay groundwork for new things to arise from, but this closure seemed like it could have been better used in an additional season to really deliver the full potential that this series already laid long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Returning to the abbey was a fantastic trip down the road of nostalgia and new, as the latest chapter in the Crawley residence comes in many classy forms.  The charm and wit of a time almost gone acts for a solid foundation and will pull everyone into the movie as you relive the magic.  Great acting, wonderful human, and most importantly the balance of humor and drama makes this movie a worthy addition to the legacy of the regal series. Sure, the pace is not quite as good given limitations to one showing, some of the characters are not as strong as they once were, and it was a little busy in the run time.  Despite this though, I recommend the film be enjoyed by all fans in the theater, while others will be wanting to hold off until home viewing. 

 

My Scores are:

 

Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

A Golden Opportunity For Character Development, That Bombs At The End

 

The Goldfinch Poster

            Books to movies, a common trend that Hollywood loves due to the ease of script adaptation, and cutting of costs.  Yet, these are also super popular too, for the books have had time to build a fan base and make it worthwhile to flock to the theaters. As many will say though, some books should remain just that, allowing the time to process the details rather than jammed in a packed time period.  Today, it’s another review for yours truly to hit, in hopes of finding gold in the cinematic portrayal.  What’s in store?  Where that’s where I come in to shed some light.  Robbie K back as I review:

 

Movie: The Goldfinch (2019)

 

Director:

John Crowley

Writers:

Peter Straughan (screenplay by), Donna Tartt (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Oakes FegleyAnsel ElgortNicole Kidman

 

 

LIKES:

  • Artistic Presentation
  • Emotional
  • Some Of The Comedy
  • The Connections
  • The Music
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pacing
  • Very Dry
  • The Run Time
  • The Depression
  • The Ending

 

SUMMARY:

It’s true, the book is a great piece of work to dive into the psyche of a small child with PTSD and the struggles that can come.  The movie’s artistic approach accomplishes the goal of getting into a character’s psyche and bringing it to life, finding ways to blend memories, fears, and other feelings to life with great cinematography and planning. Utilizing an orchestral piece of classical works, the movie again utilizes great techniques to sell the tone of the movie and somehow add the class the trailers brought with this film. This tale is not for the faint of heart, and one must be willing to journey to dark places if they wish to weather this story, but if you can, the emotional aspect will be one of the core values of this tale. The tale has a lot of details to keep track of, as various times in life and members of families all get placed piece by piece into this jigsaw puzzle of plots.  Yet, at the end the connections start coming together, and parts you thought pointless start to have more meaning once more, albeit often adding more sadness to an already somber tale.  Certainly there is some clever comedy and fun moments to try to sprinkle light amidst the clouds that hover over this film, but not in the rambunctious slapstick that most comedies approach. Yet the masterpiece of this film is all in the acting of the star-studded cast.  The Gold Finch’s crew is an awesome ensemble of talent with so many performances coming together to match the nightmares that come in a life like this.  I can go on each performance, but we would be here all night, so I’ll focus on the cornerstone of Oakes Fegley, the young Theo who has to take on a lot of adult behaviors that I did not expect to be executed so well. He’s a connecting point for all, sells the lines well, and hooked me in as the character to watch and see how he handled the next dismal hit. As this is the central character, great to know that it’s acted so well.

 

While artistic style is always great to see, though sometimes they don’t make for the most entertaining or engaging uses of your time.  Despite the deep story, realism, and details of such a dark tale, this movie is not the easiest to sit through.  This two- and half-hour film feels longer, as the pacing drags at points, deterring from the deeper story they are trying to tell.  In addition, the well of entertainment is a little drier than most, and those who don’t like very non-fictional presentations are going to need to come in with as much energy as possible.  Perhaps if it had more mystery (like I thought from the trailers), suspense, or even just some brighter parts the pacing would not be so bad, but devoid of this the run time is too long for me.  Partly my fault, I had hoped that the Gold Finch would have had some lighter points to offset the depression, but this movie is all about piling the sadness minute after minute, which only further drags you down and makes the movie feel long.  It’s why films with this much character development and handling dark parts is meant for reading as there is more time allotted to handle all the sadness and depth.  The biggest factor that was disappointing was the presentation of the ending.  After so much set up and time spent building the character, the last thirty minutes is a crammed mess of trying to finish the tale. Ansel Elgort’s role is rather diluted compared to the younger counterpart, and not the best use of his talents.  As all the connections start to run together, the theme of the movie starts changing as well, moving from drama into a semi-crime story that ramps up to quickly and ends in a whimper.  Whether this is in the book or not, I don’t know, but this component did not quite deliver despite bringing things to full circle.

 

The VERDICT:

            The Gold Finch feels like an Oscar film primarily in the in-depth story and artistic presentation.  It is super detailed, amazing character development and utilizes the movie magic of sound editing, cinematography, and music to craft incredibly emotional sequences. The acting further brings the world to life, again the young Fegley taking port, crafting a strong character and the keystone for keeping this story building.  Despite all the story and character development though, the movie is dry, dense, and very drawn out that may not be in everyone’s repertoire for a movie.  In addition, after trying to build up for a finale to blow you away, the execution did not quite go the way I had intended, leading to a rushed finale that did not utilize the talents of the actors well, hit the full-on potential of the crime component, and thus fizzes out after so much time spent waiting.  It’s a movie that again feels like it should remain in book form, and thus is not going to be for everyone to view, reserved to those who are fans of the book, or looking for a deep, dark, nonfiction. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Hustling Up A Dynamic Of Dance Of Superficial Entertainment and Deep Messages

Hustlers Poster

            They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in today’s master of advertising the movies are certainly one of those very moments you don’t want to judge.  Many films hold great surprises to those going in with open minds, but yours truly went in not expecting much from tonight’s movie.  Based on true events, tonight’s film is all about how appearances can be deceiving and lead to very bad consequences despite the pretty package it’s wrapped up in. Yes, in all the splendor of the human body, we look at Hustlers tonight in hopes of getting a drama that is a little more sustenance and less show off of the naked form.  Robbie K back with another review this time on:

 

Film: Hustlers (2019)

 

Director:

Lorene Scafaria

Writers:

Jessica Pressler (magazine article), Lorene Scafaria (screenplay)

Stars:

Constance WuJennifer LopezJulia Stiles

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Decent Pace
  • Good Dance Numbers
  • Funny
  • Decent good Morals/Story
  • Liked the Medium Told
  • Fashion
  • Acting
  • J-Lo

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Story A Bit Over The Place
  • The Bloated Excess of Drug and Con Scenes
  • Secondary Cast A Little Too Secondary
  • Some Lazy Writing Moments
  • Last Part Of The Ending Was Rushed
  • Glorification of Other Morals

 

SUMMARY:

Believe it or not, Hustlers turned out to have more surprises packed in than I had anticipated and it starts with the pace.  For a nearly  two-hour film, most of the film moves at a quick enough speed to not be too bland, though it does have its moments.  Yet much of the “boring” parts are going to be offset by the flashy spectacles that modern audiences love and it starts with dance numbers that are, let’s face it hot and sexually charged.  Hustlers is all about the art of deception and using the gorgeous figures to accomplish it in various sequences of touching, dancing, and some other stuff. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because the writers have jammed in plenty of other fun things to help get the pizazz on.  Comedy wise, it’s got decent laughs, throwing in well-time jabs, some smack talk, and girl gossip that though dramatic and ridiculous, somehow seems relatable to most.  Fashion lovers are going to be amazed by the costumes chosen, a wardrobe that emphasizes the rich lifestyle and again showing off that form.  Superficial stuff aside, there are some layers to this movie to start expanding past the eye candy and into something with a little more depth.  Despite the overall premise of the movie, Destiny’s tale with Ramona dives into well-developed subplots that are all about the character development.  The main tale is loaded with dramatic moments, but Ramona’s heart of gold and desire to accomplish her goals is an adamant yet dark story that contradicts the morally obligated responsibility that is Destiny’s tale.  Mostly linear, Hustlers presentation is balanced between past and present, told over a semi-formal interview that tries to help set up for surprise and further emotional charge.  It works in terms of originality, and my friend and I appreciated the use of this perspective to try emphasizing the effects each part of the story had on our characters.

How is this accomplished though is also due to the acting, with all the strippers and cons in the group acting well, all their unique personalities coming off in heavily designed in the writing and persona.  Wu runs ahead of the rest and expands the character to broader levels that portray a human facing the dark skeletons in the closet, countering some of the sinful acts this movie throws. As my fellow reviewers have said though… Jennifer Lopez steals the show and finally breaks out of the generic roles she has mastered.  Ramona shows the complexity and spectrum that a character needs, with again well-developed layers that allow people to determine whether or not you like the character.  A hero to some, a villain to others, J-Lo accomplishes bringing this complexed role to life and anchoring all the chaos together. 

 

  Still the story ironically suffers for me in terms of the superficial components that others enjoy more.  For one thing, the tale is predictable with much of the foreshadowing and trailers usurping the “surprises” they wanted to stuff into the film. Second, the story, while good at times, is a bit all over the place, struggling to pick the tale it wants to tale in favor of all the components brought in.  Perhaps symbolic, perhaps a representation of life, but I would have liked less jumping around and instead focus on utilizing the present to tell the past.  Maybe this would have been achieved with fewer moments of lust and stripping, as the excessive look at the exotic dances and glimpses at their lifestyles bloated the run time to the two hours.  Perhaps leaving these advanced looks to the director’s cut would have been a better use of time and reduced the run time to less than two hours (it wasn’t that necessary to be this long).  In addition, some of the other characters were a little too dropped into the background for me, primarily Cardi B’s character and Kiki Palmer’s who I would have thought would be a little more involved.  The secondary characters do fill their parts, but not quite the family aspect I was expecting from the trailers. Outside of excessive cursing at times, the last part that seemed odd and forced was the ending where the climax comes and goes rapidly, and the finale is sort of crammed into the final minutes.  Emotional and fulfilling at times, random story elements primarily with the other members of the crew are sort of wedged in, trying to be complete, but a little sloppy for me.  Julia Stiles character in particular feels oddly wrapped up, while Lopez and Wu’s characters feel sort of semi-incomplete, minus the dance finish at the end.  Finally, for those with a different mindset, you may not like the glorification of the negative characteristics that this movie thrives in.  Those who don’t like drugs, effective kidnapping, fraud, and some truly deep manipulation are not going to enjoy the package the better morals are wrapped in.  So watch yourself before coming in.

 

            The VERDICT:

            Truth be told, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  Hustlers manages to con you with the trailers and open you to a whole new world of adventure.   It’s going to speak to the intended audience members, and is a charged tale that holds a lot of heart primarily about the lives beneath the shiny surface of stripping. Hustlers manages to balance fun with deep stories and add that punch that people want in a story.  It’s primarily accomplished by the acting with Constance Wu who takes leading role, but Jennifer Lopez is the real shining star whose complexity and broad emotional spectrum tie the group together.  As the morals start pour out of the shiny fashionable package, the movie achieves the desired girl power and family aspect you might want to see. Yet, the film loses the balance for me in the obsession of glorifying the superficial things instead of the heart of god components below.  Extending the run time to nearly 2 hours, the extra stuff the added details of the movie sort of diluted the story aspect, and took away from the secondary characters that high profile actors were portraying.  Throw in a rushed ending and sort of sporadic storytelling and the movie loses a little of the glitter.  However, if you stick with it and enjoy both aspects shoved in (entertainment and lessons) and can get over the focus of the darker components they emphasize, you should really enjoy this movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Floating Through Nearly 3 Hours With Fantastic Acting and Decent Plot

It Chapter Two Poster

 

Two years ago, the relaunch of yet another series started, taking modern day technology and using it to put a new face on it.  Stephen King’s legendary book titled IT came back in a new light that felt like a Stranger Things Episode with a little more demented/horror element added to it.  When the ending came and the credits finished, the promise of part 2 lingered in red, setting the stage for the second act of the book.  Two years later, the adventure arrives and the question is… will the movie live up to the potential or are we waiting for nothing. Robbie K coming in for another review of the latest film to hit the theater, hoping to give you some spoiler free insight on the film.  So let’s get set as we look into:

 

Movie: It: Chapter 2

 

Director:

Andy Muschietti

Writers:

Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), Stephen King (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Jessica ChastainJames McAvoyBill Hader

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Story Components
  • The Terrifying Forms
  • Decent Pace
  • Creep Factor
  • References
  • Acting

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Not Scary For Me
  • Plot Presentation At points
  • The Length Of The Film
  • The Stepped-Up Game
  • The Over Use of Cursing at Times
  • The Assistant

 

SUMMARY:

The genius of the film is that although a sequel it’s also a stand-alone film that manages to take the tale in a new light.  Chapter 2, at least this version, manages to make a multilayered story that holds part horror and part soul searching as our characters developed.  In a decently compact way, It 2 accomplishes the task of bridging the 27-year gap and keeping to the horror element all why pushing some heavy political issues and moral tasking topics in a classy way.  Not just a drama, the horror element still stands true in this film and Pennywise’s new tactics are a step up in the form of nightmare motivating images that will stay in minds for a long time.  Not the most realistic at times, IT’s new forms for the most part have enough skin tingling factor to them to make some squirm in their seats, especially given how they made Pennywise a much bigger threat than I anticipated. A small subtle component that I quite enjoy are the small references to the book or popular phrases about the book. It’s nice balanced humor and a clever ploy to sort of justify the decisions made in this film in regards to changing the story, which gets a nod of respect from this reviewer.  Hands down though, the best part is acting, which I can go on for hours about.  All the adult forms mirror the kids in many qualms, take the baseline characteristics and maximize them, and play off of each other so well that I can’t help but praise the casting direction.  As for the clown himself, Bill Skarsgårdagain redeems his role as Pennywise and takes the nightmare amalgam worthy as a legendary villain. He manages to add new levels of creepiness without trying too hard, achieving that skin crawling factor to new levels.

 

In regards of areas that are still working on improving for me, well the film did not quite scare me like I was hoping.  Again, I’m used to much of the scare tactics, but It Chapter 2’s use of computer effects and other designs did not quite scare me as much as disturb me at times (that scene at the Chinese restaurant). In addition the stepped-up game of Pennywise sometimes crossed levels that I wasn’t a fan of, primarily in some of the more torturous aspects that this film took.  Those that have a low tolerance for dragged out beatings or torture may want to avert their eyes at these points.  In regards to the plot much of the overall arc is wonderful, but the presentation at times comes off a little more convoluted than I had hoped.  During the middle of the film the constant intertwining of past and present did not quite make sense to me, until the end when the explanation came.  Not that it was not entertaining at times, I felt this approach sort of added fluff to the movie, almost as this was a director’s cut.  This brings me to the length of the film, while certainly not the slowest movie (Midsommar anyone), the nearly three hour run time did not quite feel necessary given that the first part was nearly an hour shorter.  Again it is entertaining for the most part, but it’s a commitment I don’t think was quite needed.  A small nuance again for most, the cursing sometimes goes down the avenues of being lazy writing, primarily in the overuse of the F bomb when there were better lines that the first film capitalized on.  My biggest beef is the assistant to the mad clown, to which I don’t want to ruin. A concept that starts to hold potential, the assistant is a wasted character in my eyes that serves for only a little bit of plot development and a few comedy moments.  So much could have been done with this character, but I think the squad found this character the one to cut out most of in favor of the other focus points of the film.

 

The VERDICT:

            Wrapping this up, two years gave the movie enough time to make a horror movie that is familiar, yet has enough flair to be its own. Sticking to horror roots, the movie focuses on the story and does a nice job integrating most characters into the film. It may not be scary to me, but Pennywise is still creepy and has upped his danger level with new forms and references that should have fans smiling.  Yet it’s the acting that holds the key to success and brings the movie to levels that are super entertaining and deep compared to most horror genre casts. Still, the movie is a little long winded, with a convoluted presentation at times that adds a little length, and a character that felt like a waste.  Otherwise, a semi-cheesy ending and some darker tactics are the only things that really didn’t impress me.  The summary though is that this film is definitely a worthy edition to the horror genre, and I believe it’s worth checking out in theaters.  My scores are:

 

Horror:  8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0