This Movie’s Quality Is Not Invisible

The Invisible Man Poster

 

When it comes to Thriller, and not the Michael Jackson song mind you, these films can hold a wide range of quality from boring and lame, to the most engaging film of the year.  As such, I could not help but hold skepticism when I saw the massive amounts of advertising for tonight’s film.  A film about the infamous monster movie, this Dark Universe turned stand-alone film looked to have potential, especially given the lead actress.  Yet, Blumhouse studio’s last film did not quite succeed like it wanted and once again returned to the theater to see if this film has the pizazz the hype is being granted.  Check in folks as I review:

 

Film: The Invisible Man (2020)

 

Director:

Leigh Whannell

Writers:

Leigh Whannell (screenplay by), Leigh Whannell (story by)

Stars:

Elisabeth MossOliver Jackson-CohenHarriet Dyer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Realism
  • Suspenseful
  • Great Pace
  • Great Camerawork
  • Creative Tactics
  • Use Of Good Sound Effects/Editing
  • The Climax Is Great
  • The Emotional Connection To the Main Character
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • No Backstory/Rich Background
  • A Little Fake Looking At Times
  • Trailers Have Shown Lots Of Things, while Still holding More
  • Predictable for me
  • An Angle That Does Not Make Sense

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie is taking a monster movie concept and bending the tale to become a much more dramatic thriller.  Like a great mini-series, Invisible Man manages to take the movie magic of the original tale and add a little more realism to it to help group more people in.  And it is that realism that makes so much of the rest of my likes really pop out for this movie.  A major selling point of the film is the suspense, and boy does it deliver on this aspect through the use of so many thing.  Whannell and her crew create a very tense atmosphere from the start of the movie to the end, never letting up on trying to keep you at the edge of the seat.  My friend and I agreed the pace was great, a constant moving ride of one woman contesting her sanity with the supposed reality, and never stopping in its quest to keep you engaged.  Very good camerawork helps amplify the feelings of a stalker in the midst and fighting the feeling of being alone despite the safety of the light.  Using other creative tactics such as varying environments, the illusion of safety, and other coy maneuvers to bring the manipulation of the invisible man to full light.  Throw in the use of fantastic sound editing, or in this case absence of sound editing and you fully get caught up in the atmosphere of fighting the paranoia and chaos of the real world.  Once the Climax hits, the movie only further amplifies all these maneuvers, yet moves the tale to several new acts that keeps the story entertaining and interesting, yet rounding the tale to completion.  And through it all, the main character is surprisingly amazing to latch on to, the emotional investment granting you empathy and rooting for her to find a break in the case.  Much of this has to do with the acting of the cast, Moss once again unleashing her amazing potential in this character.  She has these roles down pat, from the borderline sanity and screaming, to the strong woman ready to take charge.  The character design, alongside her performance succeeds in making a strong, central pillar to which much of the movie weighs on.  The rest of the crew does their job right of course, but I need to move on to the dislikes.

 

My friend and I both agreed that the movie’s simplistic backstory is a little disappointing, especially in terms of the secondary characters.  While it was certainly for time purposes, I believe some extra time to background build up only would have further strengthened the character and helped get the rest of the cast involved more thoroughly in the film.  Past this point though, the movie’s component that is a minor flaw is the fake looking effects that sometimes arise.  Understanding, it is not the main theme, the movie does sometimes draw into the fake looking special effects, that still fit for the film, but not the smoothest at times.  Past that minor flaw, the movie’s next component that got me was the predictability of the film.  Now for me, I’ve had plenty of experience to see foreshadowing and allusion to what is coming next, so using that and much of what the trailers have revealed I got most of the twists of this movie.  My friend though stated not remembering most of the trailers and did not pick up on some of the predictable parts, and stated that if you have not been bombarded by the trailers you should have no problem dodging much of the predictability.  As for me though, I had most of the suspenseful moments toned down because I had a good guess of what was coming next.  Yet, the part that got me near the end though was a concept the movie takes to geniously start the next bout of thrills and get the excitement turned up.  Yet, that concept should have been consistent and if you review the scenes and realize Cecelia’s advantage should have remained said advantage, but then gets warped in a nonsensical way was a little irritating for me.  Lost in the moment and seeing the next approach to threatening, it helps soften the blow, but the logic does not have to drop for the sake of keeping the thrills. 

 

The VERDICT:

            In all honesty, the movie was awesome on so many levels.  An engaging character leads this thrilling, fast paced adventure, where a realistic approach helps to give this monster flick a much deserved repaint.  Using fantastic camera and sound editing, alongside creative approaches to keeping the thrills coming only further amplifies this film’s successful goal of entertaining, with plenty of rewatchability for this reviewer.  And throw in the amazing character and acting to bring her to life and you will find the movie succeed on many levels to bring life into this genre.  However, the lack of backstory is something I really longed for to help give more layers to a few of the characters, and the computer graphics to help show the threat could have sued some touching up.  Alongside the predictability and inconsistent advantage twist, these two components were the weakest aspect of the movie, and for once I would have loved some extra time to iron things out and make it perfect.  Overall though, this movie is a fantastic flick with rewatchability and definitely worth a trip to the theater with a group or by yourself. 

 

My scores for the film are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

The Jokes On You! A Fun, Big Episode Of The Famous Series

Impractical Jokers: The Movie Poster

 

Television based movies are always interesting to see because they try to capture the spirit of the show and yet add something bigger to it.  Sometimes these movies nail it (like the first SpongeBob movie) and sometimes they really lose their direction  (entourage the movie).  It’s all about making sure to find that balance Hollywood looks for to capitalize on while keeping the fans happy.  So tonight, a movie I never thought would exist.. actually exists and the result is could be a disaster depending on the way they take it.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K sharing his opinions as he reviews:

 

Movie: Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Henchy

Writers:

Joe GattoChris Henchy  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Brian QuinnJoe GattoJames Murray

 

 

LIKES:

  • Great Opening
  • Feels Like A Big Episode
  • Super creative Pranks
  • Funny And Entertaining
  • Story Themed Drive To Pranks
  • Good Pace

 

DISLIKES:

  • A Little Forced Humor In the Branching Scenes
  • Just A Big Version Of The Show

 

 

Summary:

Impractical Jokers is a show that is all about embarrassing skits and seldom anything else.  Somehow, the movie manages to find that big budget intervention, with a filler to tie all the skits together and give a little meaning behind all of it.  The opening of the tale is the best filler for me, a giant point at how ridiculous guys are and seeing them “in their youth” is a hilarious opening to all the chaos to come.  Though not the “traditional” style to an episode, much of this film feels like a giant shout out to the show filled with the same energy, running gags, and even history that long-time followers love.  Thus, if you like that theme then you are going to really love this movie.  The Impractical Jokers have come up with their same bag of tricks, that are still super creative, super uncomfortable, and in many instances super funny.  My friends and I were laughing at the various exploits they did, with plenty of live punking and forcing people outside their comfort zones.  It’s all in the name of competition, that makes the whole action fun, but only if you are willing to see these too far jokes to fruition will enjoy the adventure.  Those who again are long followers of the series will appreciate the side pranks as I call them, designed to make the cast uncomfortable and show off the fears of the cast.  It’s a nice way to go character developing in a series you expect none in and thus helps bring you closer to the cast.  As such, the movie is certainly a rip-roaring adventure that might be stupid to many, but very entertaining if a fan of the series, all moving at a good pace, and having a little bit of story.

 

Yet there are a few things about this movie that take a little away for me.  One is the forced humor in the branching scenes.  When you see the story moments come in, there are great running gags that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially what will Murr do nextYet, there are other times where the dialogue is super forced, a bit cheesy, and just out of their creative flow that I thoroughly enjoy.  If you don’t mind a little forced humor, drawn out sequences, and an ending that really drops into forced “reality” like humor which may not be your bread and butter.  As such, these were the weakest moments for me.  The other dislike, which is also a strength, is that this is just one, big, glorified episode.  While this is great, and there are moments to help add that movie spice, much of this film could have been reserved for a made for television movie.  No major special effects, or overarching plot to offset the gimmicks my friends, and thus it makes seeing this in the theater difficult to promote. 

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Did the Impractical Jokers need to make a movie?  The answer is no, but this film accomplishes the task of keeping to the roots and adding just enough movie spice to say it’s a movie.  I had a blast watching this film, laughing at the skits, chuckling with my friends, and getting to see more to the four boys who look like adults get into trouble.  The big screen makes the theatrics fun, and the fillers help add that movie edge and slightly character homage to help tie all the shenanigans together.  It’s truly a group viewing movie and you should enjoy the heck out of it if you are a fan of the film.  Yet, the movie is not really that original, a giant, glorified episode with a few introductions that make it feel more like a movie.  As such, does it need to be experienced in theater?  Yes, if you are looking for a group outing, but otherwise save this for a watch at home where you can laugh at the cruelty in your own privacy.

 

My scores are: 

Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

This Boy is Growing Up? A New Direction For This Horror Film

Brahms: The Boy II Poster

 

The age of sequels continues to surprise me in the extent they will go to make a dollar.  Tonight, the movie that I saw came out of left field, especially in given how they ended and took the first film.  Yet, seeing an opportunity to make a buck, the movie has arisen to once more extend the series into a potential continued franchise in hopes of being the next Marvel like entity.  Well, despite the years between, I’m willing to give it a shot in hopes of some creative potential showing up to brighten the series and try to wow the crew.  Will it work?  I don’t know, but here are my thoughts on the latest horror film:

 

 

Movie: Brahms: The Boy II

 

Director:

William Brent Bell

Writer:

Stacey Menear

Stars:

Katie HolmesOwain YeomanChristopher Convery

 

 

LIKES:

  • Some nods to the Original Tale
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • The Creepy Atmosphere And Look Of Brahms
  • A Solid Opening To A Franchise
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Not Scary
  • The Lackluster Suspense
  • Stories That Have Little Details
  • Mediocre Character Development
  • Trying to Retcon Part Of The Story
  • The Set Up Of the Franchise Focus

 

SUMMARY

 

I guess if trying to establish a franchise, it’s important to have nods back to the original, and in this film’s case it does so.  Enough to pay homage to the origins of Brahms last adventure, the Boy II fills in the pieces of how the two movies are connected to help ease you into the new direction it takes.  It does this well enough without detracting from the tale of this film, and fortunately the movie continues at a decent pace to keep you from being too bored given this is not the most exciting horror tale to come to mind.  Using the new and old stories together, this potential launch into a new franchise at least holds potential to have some further mystery to it, which is probably the biggest selling point of the story.  In regards to scares, Brahms’ tale is another example where creepy is the primary source of fear.  Using a realistic environment, creepy shadows, and the slight movements and off camera work, the imagination leaves an unsettling taste in your stomach.  Brahms’ soulless gaze and porcelain face always seems to stare into you and leave me with crawling skin.  You know something is up with the doll, especially in this new direction, but that mystery of what lies in the antique dolls eyes.  It’s that source that is the true horror element in this film and goes with the slower movies scares this film thrives in.  As for the acting, solid performance by all involved, with Katie Holmes reappearance a balanced and believable film of terror, love, and bravery all mixed into one.  Young actor Convery executes the role well, surprisingly making a part with few lines have some layers to it and tell the tale through his facial expressions than actual lines.  The rest of the cast accomplishes their roles, though the dad could have used some more involvement, but otherwise a great family dynamic.

 

Yet the movie falters in a few other things that take away the magic horror movies try to accomplish again.  For one thing, much of the film is predictable given all the foreshadowing done at the beginning, with lines designed to lead you into the plot.  There are a few changes in the later acts to help give you some “surprise” as it leads to the next direction of the film, but for the most part you know what is coming by about midpoint of the movie.  Scare wise, the movies unsettling nature is the main source, but in regards to other tactics it does not work and did not leave me feeling too uneasy when leaving the theater.  Lackluster scares faded into little suspense, which unfortunately led to boring action and drive, another staple of the horror film.  As such, you will need to enjoy the calmer scare tactics to enjoy this film.  If looking for more of the story element well you again find some lacking moments to this film as well.  The story tries to take some side tales to help add more complexity and mystery, but upon revelation are nothing more than quick detours that do little on their drive back up the main story.  The same goes for the character development, small tales that lead to some scars on our characters psyche, only to be grated down to passing comments and unmeaningful solutions that again lost the potential.  Given the focus on the doll, I guess other characters had to struggle in the character department.  An even bigger mess is trying to forget, or at least underplay, the ending events of the first film. Thus when the original writers come up with a rewrite that is not a reboot, I would say, but more of retconning to make the new direction work.  It’s sad to see the integrity dropped for the focus on the franchise and I believe that is the source of much of the trouble of this film.  By not focusing on continuing the tale, or more so focusing on the film by itself, the movie suffers from cutting corners and new gimmicks, thus overall decreasing the quality.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Brahms’ second installment proves that money talks, and this film is a set up for a new face in horror in the near future.  This story thrives on the creeps, acting, and franchise frenzy, hoping you’ll ignore the previous installment and welcome the new direction.  Some of these things work well, but overall the movie suffers from focusing on potential franchise and skimping on the stories and development other movies have succeed in.  Throw in that the scare factor and the suspense are very lacking and you are once again bored in this tale that held potential and dropped it again.  The Boy legacy continues to dance around maximizing scares and hybridizing other franchises to craft a haunting legacy that can leave more of a print.  Yet, the movie will continue to be mediocre movie productions without tightening up the story and injecting a little originality and development into it.  As such, this film would best be left to the Netflix viewing, rather than hitting the theater. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.5

 

This Call Is Wild Fun And Deep Adventure

 

The Call of the Wild Poster

 

The literary classics continue to face the test of time with their strong writing, hard morals, and often original characters.  Yet, in the days of flash in the pan excitement, reality television, and Youtube viral videos, these books get lost.  Fortunately, Hollywood continues to have the chance of using its bloated budget to potentially keep them relevant in the modern world.  Tonight, the movie to start my review week with one of these epic literary pieces in the form of Call Of The Wild.  Yet, will the talked about graphics and mediocre trailer ruin the literary masterpiece, or can it get you howling at its quality.  Let’s get going as I review:

 

Movie:  Call of The Wild (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Sanders

Writers:

Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Karen GillanHarrison FordCara Gee

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Harrison Ford’s Narration
  • The Development of Buck
  • The Morals Of The Book Brought To Life
  • Deeper than expected
  • Beautiful Setting

DISLIKES:

 

  • Story Elements Are Blunted
  • Pacing A bit Off At Times
  • A Few Really Sad Moments
  • The Graphics Are not the Most Realistic
  • Trailers Have Given Some Decent Scenes Away

 

SUMMARY:

 

The book is a tale of adventure and self-discovery through the eyes of a dog, and the movie manages to get this spirit and do it right.  Call of The Wild’s film is a multi-layered adventure, that like a good play has various acts that do great with development of the character.  Much like most dogs’ spirits, Buck’s journey has a lot of fun and energy to it, which is infectious and important for hooking you into the tale at the hand.  Harrison’s Ford narration manages to sort of personify the serious nature of the journey though, the rough and rugged voice setting a tone that somehow prepared you for things to come while also highlighting the energy of the dog on screen.  The combination of these elements accomplishes the rare task of artfully developing a nonexistent animal, the human qualities striking relevance, while the cute animal side ignites the childlike vision that a dog brings out.  And through this character, the morals that London brought out years ago, come rushing out in full emotional force, hopefully inspiring and teaching the audience some important lessons always worth revisiting.  This surprisingly balanced narrative and relevant characteristics made this movie deeper than I expected, helping to round out the emotions of the tale and defying my expectations of silly banter that sometimes plague these movies.  I’ll admit it nearly made me tear up at times, but that’s the sign of a great developments of relationships and intriguing characters that I enjoy watching.  Finally, the setting itself is beautiful, whether it be the wide angled shots, or the digitally recreated tundra, the Yukon land manages to take your breath away while bringing out the wild.

 

Story elements abound though, I’ll admit the book is often much better, at least in terms of details.  This film’s acts sometimes are a little bit truncated, story components that seemed to be pretty deep and intense suddenly dropped, despite some foreshadowing.  I won’t spoil it for both those in the dark and the know, but these quick finishes were reduced to some mere dialogue and would have liked some creative liberties to maybe help finish these tales with more drive.  In addition, the pacing feels a bit off as well, the moments that are meant to be big impasses or stressful moments quickly overcome.  I guess reading the book I envisioned these moments longer and grander, but to keep up with modern attention spans, they sort of quickened these moments to cram more of the adventure into the run time.  Well that and the sad moments too.  While I give praise for emotional investment, there are times during this movie where the visualization of the sadder elements can really be a bit much for those who have a strong aversion to the cruelty that these digital animals face.  I’m just not the biggest fan of these moments, and though not as bad as some others, there are times where it really got me depressed so… yeah.

Now it’s time to hit the two big components that people have been commenting on in the reviews that take some things away.  The first thing is the predictability/ruining the trailers have brought. I’ll agree some the trailers have given much of the first two acts away, not only showing off the more impressive CGI moments, some key story elements, and perhaps a little bit about the direction the movie is going.  There are still some surprises, but still get ready for some predictable moments to come your way, including those who have not read the book.  As for Buck’s CGI, alongside other members, the animation and physiology are captured beautifully and quite accurately on many levels.  The design though, the human qualities from eye brows, shifty looks, and human gestures (cute as they may be) do not come off the most realistic in quality.  If you can’t get by this, then you’ll not enjoy this film and miss the bigger parts, but if you can take this as just a small weakness and go with the energy it creates you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            While it may not give the time needed to bring the full details out, this iteration of Call Of The Wild is certainly better than I anticipated.  Buck’s journey holds many levels of enjoyment from comedic fun and cuteness to the deeper, heart heavy moments that will help you invest into the movie.  The acting with CGI dogs is surprisingly fun and all the sense of adventure and character development makes for a much more balanced tale.  Certainly some elements are blunted, with truncated finishes to most of the acts, quick bouts of overcoming the impasses, and even some sadder moments that you see coming, but can’t turn away from.  As I said in the full review, the CGI is great in terms of physiology and injecting energy, but the realism and cartoonish effects are a little less impressive given other feats of technology.  If you can appreciate the positives of this style though, you are in good shape, but if not, then skip this film.  In terms of visiting the theaters for this one, the answer is yes due to enough adventure and special effects to get you in.  Just exercise caution with taking little ones due to the sadder moments that are to come. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

A Photograph Best Left For Streaming

 

The Photograph Poster

 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I guess it’s a good idea to put a love story out to try and go with the theme of the holiday.  Today’s last review is all about the latest tale to go over the theme of true love and the drama around it.  A movie less advertised, the few trailers I have seen suggested a potential for a powerful movie.  Will this film live up to demands, or are the trailers making this package a little more appealing than it actually is?  Robbie K coming at you with another look at the movies as he reviews:

 

Movie: The Photograph (2020)

 

Director:

Stella Meghie

Writer:

Stella Meghie

Stars:

LaKeith StanfieldIssa RaeChelsea Peretti

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • The Two stories Presented
  • The Cultural Representation
  • The Music of the Movie
  • Lil Rey Howery character
  • The Short Run Time

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictable Plot
  • The Weird Transition Points
  • The Incomplete Tales
  • The Forced Moments
  • Boring At Times Due To Slow Pace
  • Artistic Nature Again Supersedes The Entertainment

 

The Summary:

 

Great romance movies rely on great actors and I had fun with the group who took charge of this movie.  While not the most memorable roles and certainly not the Oscar Winning roles, this film’s characters sell a more realistic relationship than the usual fantasy films.  Issa Rae manages to tone down her comedy roots to pull out a good drama story, awkward and testing the waters, yet strong in her ability to take charge of the situations.  Meanwhile LaKeith hits the typical lead role with a little less grandiosity and arrogance, coming off as a laid-back character with good instincts and romantic drive that was fun to watch.  Their chemistry is not the Nicholas Sparks formula, but it made for a fun relationship to watch and see that love does take work.  Okay, so onto the stories, the Photograph has two tales overlaying one another, in a manner trying to help build a suspenseful conclusion and provide background information to tie the modern story together.  It gets points for trying to give past and present tales a chance to foster, especially in some of the secondary characters that are important to the tale.  Yet, this love story seems to make a valid attempt to implement the culture of the ethnic groups and cities this film takes place in.  Unlike, the usual romantic comedy, this film I felt managed to showcase a variety of traditions and responses to the drama at hand.  It somewhat enhances the experience, and helps add some layers to the typical plots these films take, and helps you get immersed into the setting even further. This is particularly true for the music, a nice collaboration of modern-day music, New Orleans Jazz, and a little New York attitude to help further sell the mood of the movie.   It’s these little touches that really help add some atmosphere to the movie and my favorite part of the film overall.  As for my other two likes, Lil Rey Howery works his comedic magic once again, simplistic dialogue and delivery capturing the comedic atmosphere just right and having me in stitches.  In addition a short run time helps to lessen the dislikes I had for this movie, which are coming up.

 

Being a romantic comedy I’ve come to expect the predictable plot and I got it.  The problem is, though artistic, the movie’s presentation does not help take the predictable edge away and thus leads to a bit of a boring tale for yours truly.  The two stories, while decently detailed, have weird transition points back and forth, leading to a haphazard baton pass that does not deliver quite the punch I think they were going for.  In addition, both stories felt a little incomplete for me, having just a few highlights that actually worked to provide character details, while the rest was drama fluff that only bloated the run time and bide the inevitable conclusion. Perhaps, a little more creativity and integration would have strengthened both tales, but a rushed conclusion just did not have that power the buildup was.  In addition, the forced moments of the comedy, romantic interests, and cheesy dialogue did little to add to the story and went back into eye rolling territory for me.  It may be part of the formula for these movies, but after seeing the cultural pizazz this film was doing… I had hoped to see a little more development was needed.  With all this disorganization and predictable story, the movie’s artistic approach sort of supersedes the entertainment aspect that quite honestly was boring at times.  The constant dance around the issues, the lack of creativity to help expand the relationship, or even the missing fun that this genre is known really could have been improved upon to make this film more fun and entertaining.  While artistic nature is always important, when it gets too convoluted to make the film boring is when you lose this reviewer.  Thus, other audience members and I agreed that if you did not relate to the culture, or enjoy the convoluted truncated tales, you might not enjoy this film fully.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Photograph has intricate pieces that suggest it is going to be a deeper love story that defies the traditional rom com story this genre is famous for.  While it’s got good acting, a unique presentation of two tales, and lots of cultural integration that classes up the act, the movie gets a little lost in the artistic nature that it makes the movie less entertaining.  Truncated plots, rushed finishes and a slower pace did not mix well for me and only extended the run time to a predictable ending was not the way to go for me despite the artistic approach.  The movie needed to mix in a little more of the fun stereotypes that we love in rom com to help offset the more lackluster parts.  A little more focus on design, details, and integration would have helped them get a better movie out of it and have that passionate project they were going for.  Should you go to the movie theater to see it?  The answer for me is no, unless you love a more cultural piece than detailed, complete story.  Otherwise hit this one up in the streaming future. 

 

My Scores are: 

Drama/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Is This Island A Fantasy Worth The Price?

 

Fantasy Island Poster

            It was an interesting television show back in the day, an island that can grant you any desire you want, though at a price.  Welcome to Fantasy Island and the second review of the day is all about the wonderful world of Blumhouse modernizing the classic plot.  Robbie K is back with another look at the silver screen wonders to determine is this trip to paradise worth the scares or not to dare as he reviews:

 

Movie: Fantasy Island (2020)

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

Writers:

Jillian JacobsChristopher Roach

Stars:

Lucy HaleMaggie QPortia Doubleday

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Pace
  • Nods To References
  • The Satisfying Visual Appeal
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development Than Expected
  • Some Twists
  • Michael Pena

 

DISLIKES

  • Most Characters Still shallow
  • Plot Twist is Okay
  • How Random The Island’s Gimmicks Are
  • The Sudden Change Of Plot
  • How Forced The Comedy Is At Times
  • The Rushed Ending
  • Not Scary

 

Blumhouse knows how to churn out the horror movies like a gumball machine, where they come out a quarter a ball and sometimes have no flavor at all.  Fortunately a recurring theme that I like to see is that the movies do go at a decent pace, entertaining and fun to capture a variety of attention spans.  Fantasy Island is a quick paced adventures that tries to juggle “original” stories while still keeping to the feel of the original series.  I appreciated the nods to the references in this movie, some very well integrated, others forced and not as satisfying.  One thing I think many people agreed was that the film immerses itself in the superficial pleasures movies have taken on, mainly in the form of bikini clad hot people, handsome perfect matches, and those oh so satisfying horror elements that etch in our minds.  It’s all about the Pleasure Island effect and for the younger generation it works.  This is also true with the comedy, a movie that does little to integrate wit and wonder, instead going into those reality TV tropes that MTV made famous and latching on to them.  It was funny for me at times, but overall a bit stale and forced.

Yet I’ll give them props that they managed to defy my expectations and give better insight into characters than I anticipated, primarily in three characters whose stories ran a bit deeper than the G-strings the extras wore.  I tried to grapple on to these characters for the most part and figure out if there was a deeper connection to the story over all.  This does not happen that often either, but the movie got me with a few twists and while not my favorite, I have to give them points for surprising me.  My favorite thing would have to be Michael Pena though.  While not the best acting job he has done, I think he inherited the island’s owner role well, and makes for an interesting piece in what could be a series.  I’m not sure where they will take him, but he has that cool, collected charm that is both comforting and deadly at the same time.  He makes for a complex character, who holds many secrets that unfortunately were not fully delivered on for me.

 

Now in terms of what is decreasing scores, that comes in the form of the incomplete and sort of left wing twist they pulled into this film.  First of all, despite trying to develop the characters, they did not quite deliver the full force of development that I think they were going for.  Most of the characters start to represent certain character paradigms, but these political charged issues get swept under the rug for more superficial fun and “horror”.  Even the ones with a deeper well of development sort of become flaky figures whose indecisiveness is more annoying than fresh for this reviewer.  As they try to resolve their character flaws, the after school special approach kicks in to not give a satisfying finish, but instead just bluntly finish the film.  Forced humor does not help make things better, with so many tropes from two of the characters becoming annoying as they fall into the new generational tool bag approach that somehow keeps selling.  The comedy to relieve the “tension” of the film does not work for me and felt unnecessary at times.

Much of this has to do with that plot twist, a curveball that was thrown to offset the stagnant pond, only to cause ripples in wrong way.  It’s a forced introduction to justify the interconnected stories and sort of becomes an eye rolling experience when everything is explained.  It’s because of this twist that the plot of the movie changes, going from horror mystery to action mystery that does little to embrace the alluring wonders this island might have.  Even the plan to handle the island changes three to four times, showing potential indecisiveness or panic at trying to force this twist into the film.  And because of the change in the horror approach, the island’s gimmicks, the things the trailer was using to rope you in, start to become cheesy pieces/obstacles who only serve to push the characters to make bad decisions rather than become the character developing pieces they want.  It’s almost like watching someone cheat on a video game, where the goal is not so much to win, but to survive until the movie’s time runs out.  This lazy finish to a buildup that seemed interesting and further dilutes both the story and scares.

This brings me to the last two points.  First the ending of the film feels very rushed. The twist getting forced at the end sort of discombobulates the pace of the plot and as the waves are settling, the directors seemed to want to quickly tie it up to not go past two hours.  The piece meal finish is not very suspenseful and the quick wrap up only has some relief from the heart string pulling shot that comes in the final moments of the film.  Yet the biggest thing is, the scares of the movie are rather null and void.  Fantasy Island has little in terms of bone chilling terror or mentally scarring moments, again forced to dilute these components to keep the PG-13 rating.  It’s this lack of scares that sort of makes the movie boring and thus, I had wished they had gotten a little more creative with their gimmicks the way Scary Stories did back in August. 

 

The VERDICT: 

            Is this movie as bad as a 22 on Metacritic?  I don’t really think so.  Fantasy Island falls into the trend of making a superficial movie that has all the gleam to attract you with little sustenance to keep you nourished.  It’s a great opening horror movie for the younger generation to wet their feet, as it attempts to get some relatable issues on the table, add a small amount of character depth, and still give the “thrill” of the chase.  Yet where the movie falters is in its ability to really tie this adventure together, managing to put a twist into the film, but not in the artful form to pull everything together.  Even worse, the movie’s rushed ending and lack of scares just makes this an MTV television series with a more bloated budget.  While the performances do their best to handle the characters, there is not enough meat to this islands presentation to say it’s the best horror movie, but there are enough special effects gimmicks that can make a night out with friends worth the theater visit. Otherwise hit this one up later on down the road when it hits streaming.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Horror:   5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

 

And It’s All Downhill For This Remake

 

Downhill Poster

            The age of remakes and rebranding continues to reign supreme in the modern Hollywood days, and this weekend we have several movies falling into this category.  Today my first review is on a movie that looks to hold some semi-promise upon viewing of the trailer, as a potential comedy or drama with an interesting cast.  Based on the film Force Majeure, today’s reskin attempts to add a Western twist to the mixing the culture of European films with the energy of American cinema.  Will it work?  That’s where I come in to give my thoughts as I review:

 

Movie: Downhill (2020)

 

Directors:

Nat FaxonJim Rash

Writers:

Jesse Armstrong (screenplay by), Nat Faxon (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Julia Louis-DreyfusWill FerrellMiranda Otto

 

 

LIKES:

  • Beautiful Setting
  • Orchestra Music
  • Deep Morals and Meaning
  • Occasionally Funny

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Acting Is A Touch Overdone
  • The Kids Involvement In the Film
  • Focus On the Awkward
  • The Banter That Is Not Fun
  • Feels Both Lows and Truncated
  • Attempts to insert Culture With Art
  • Could Not Pick Drama Vs. Comedy

 

I guess it’s not a good thing when the setting is one of the highlights of the film.  Well Downhill accomplishes capturing the European mountain setting in all its splendor and lights the fire to want to go participate in the winter wonderland of the Alps.  All the snow, culture, and promises of a good vacation are very appealing in this movie and made for a wonderful landscape to play this remake in.  When the orchestra music cues, the ambience only grows and helps immerse you into the world a little more, helping again expand into the cultural territory that the film is trying to capture in this repaint.  Then comes the actual story, one thing about European films is their focus on strong morals told in artistic ways, and Downhill manages to do this decently from my perspective.  The art of loving a family, but trying to love yourself is something I think many people this day and age don’t realize is important to balance and the film tries to show that balance in a rather odd manner.  It’s not perfect, but there are several moments of dialogue that are well written or at least adapted, that I think can be used in schools and youth groups to educate.  Finally, this does have two comedians in it, and there are some funny moments in here that have a fine timing to relieve the more somber tone of the film, so points for trying to balance the American comedy style into the mix.

 

Yet the film’s likes fall off from those points and begins to tumble into the tundra of incomplete or odd for me in terms of this movie’s presentation.  The acting, a staple in a movie like this, is not quite fitting for me on most levels. Ferrell himself seems to struggle with being serious and in this position, grabbing any rope he can to come off suffering and filled with drama. Much of his acting with suffering involved looking hungover, and I felt the struggle was only presented a few times well.  Dreyfus succeeds better, but her character’s direction for this film was a little more complaining and whining, rather than balanced suffering.  I enjoyed her scenes more, but even her performance did not rope me into the film.  When the kids come into play, again they are annoying characters who seem to portray a particular generational stigmatism to the film, but do little to actually contribute to the story.  As such, the tools they became were almost not needed and I can’t say I enjoyed their inclusion in the film, not due to the acting but just the character development.

Instead the film seems to focus on the awkward atmosphere of the topic of divorce, especially in a unique circumstance involving an avalanche.  Unlike Marriage Story, this film seems to dive deep into how a couple can turn a conversation into a war, and make life difficult for all who get roped in.  Comedic moments with friends getting pulled in do little to alleviate the monotonous banter that fills this movie, with the two lead actors doing nothing but having these either prolonged shouting matches with the same dialogue, or short quips cutting each other off.  Most of this was not fun for me and thus having to watch the sadness that follows these fights, left me fighting sleep, and a cold. It almost feels that this movie ran out of time when I got to the end of the (mercifully) short run time, where they were trying to find a balance between artistic presentation and entertainment.  I appreciate trying to adapt the European presentation, but with the cast assembled and the trailers presentation, it seems this reskin should have focused more on the comedy given how many people walked out of the theater during my presentation.  However, the truncated character development moments, alongside a rather quick finale, let me feeling robbed of a true spectacle.  In addition, the inability to pick a lane of comedy vs. drama did not help as well, for many times the movie flipped its approach like a car sidewinding through morning traffic.  These jerky, quick transitions messed up the atmosphere of the movie and by the time they stopped making this transition, it was time to wrap things up.

 

The VERDICT:

            This reskin was not the best face lift Hollywood has given in my opinion.  Though cinematography has revealed a wonderful setting and the artistic approach sells the lessons at hand, the film itself is rather boring.  This is primarily due to the presentation having difficulty choosing a lane to present the film, with artistic display vs American entertainment battling it out for first.  Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus can’t seem to find the chemistry for an award-winning performance and the other characters do little to enhance the experience outside of awkward banter and some forced comedy.  It goes to show that a movie like this can keep an original skin and be appreciated, like we saw in the Academy Awards, but for this reviewer, the remake is not worth the trip to the theater.  I would suggest this is at best a free stream or watching on cable to get your best investment. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Sonic Grabbing The Rings For Family Fun This Weekend

 

Sonic the Hedgehog Poster

 

Video game movies have had a rough track record despite the potential they have to rock our socks off.  In an effort to make real, live action movies, the CGI worlds that have become legend are often reduced to twisted follies with only small diamonds in a very rough piece.  Not all films have failed mind you, but a majority have not quite reached the expectations placed on the pieces by the fanbase.  The solution could be to simply make a digitally designed movie, but the argument becomes how if you do that you could instead just make a better game. Well this week’s headliner is a series that has had a lot of ups and downs that has muddied his gaming waters, so a movie may be exactly what is needed to jumpstart the blue blur’s career. Is the film worth it despite a questionable trailer and redesign of his image?  Well, Robbie K is going to give his thoughts once more as he reviews:

Movie: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writers: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller

Stars: Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, James Marsden

 

LIKES:

  • Funny
  • References
  • Moves at a Good Speed
  • The Action Is Family Friendly Appropriate
  • Jim Carrey’s Performance
  • Surprisingly Deeper

 

Dislikes:

  • The Teasing
  • Plot is Predictable
  • Suspension of Disbelief
  • Robotnik’s character at times
  • More Chase Scene Less Cheesy/Sob story Finish
  • Some Humor A Little Too Forced

 

SUMMARY:

The movie was already loaded with a lot of heat given the stink made with the first trailers.  The redesign is to be respected, because the design presented is indeed fun and nostalgic to look at, despite being in a film loaded with more realistic characters and drones.  Nevertheless, the likes start with a good comedy basis, a blend of witty references and kid friendly humor that takes the family friendly track and runs with it.  The trailers promised a family friendly environment and the film delivers, taking enough of the sonic framework to shout out to geeks like me and then painting it with that Disney like coat that younger audiences love.  An added bonus, the references extend outside of the sonic games, making some nods to some other classic scenes from superhero movies that shined in their own movie bombs (think Fox’s super hero movies).   It works for me; the balance opening a lot of doors for the fanbase to enjoy and hopefully inspire new interest in the hedgehog’s adventures.  One favorable result, the movie moves at that fast pace that is entertaining enough to be fun, yet slow enough to allow things to flesh out everything about our characters.  Working with that pace is the action, grabbing the speed of the genesis video games and keeping the speedsters moves going strong as he fights the evil genius’ robotic drones.  While a little less action packed then I like, the movie keeps the family friendly energy going further into fight scenes, never going too dark, violent or aggressive to damage the psyches that so many people worry about.  In addition, the comedy extends even further into these moments to always keep it light hearted.  Even the villain himself, Robotnik, manages to come across family friendly, with the insane obsession of being right and a genius driving his actions towards a darker side, but having that clumsy buffoon we saw in the comedy cartoon decades ago.  Carrey for me succeeds in bringing out both sides, the transitions and facial expressions both overexaggerated and yet appropriate given the direction they took with him.  While I still prefer a digital, fat guy who is Sonic’s familiar rival, I’ll admit this was probably one of the better live action castings for me and the performance was a great revisit to the film I loved so much.  Finally, the deepness of the movie surprisingly works again for me because not only does it allow Schwarz to evolve Sonic’s voice, give some better integration and performance with Marsden’s character, and add some emotion to bring the film to a better an all around hit for this reviewer.

 

Regarding the movie’s dislikes, ironically this has to do with the catering to the younger audience.  For one thing the movie is all about teasing for the next film, a minor dislike and usually one I ignore, but yours truly did not enjoy all the little teases to introducing new characters, only to be thrown back into the new direction.  Most likely a set up for a series or more movies depending on the success, the untapped potential of Sonic’s origin was the more intriguing story for me and yet was the most limited of the bunchAs such, the predictable, geared towards family Hallmark approach takes center stage and the familiar antics don’t get too many points for originality in my books.  I get it, I over-analyze things as a reviewer, but in terms of scoring the predictability of this film is not the biggest selling point for fans of the series who like the fight for mobius vs. finding a place on Earth. Part of this comes from the trailers giving too much away with their over relenting advertising, delivering several key jokes a few times for me.  Other parts are the suspension of disbelief and even the world’s logic of physics that are suspended to make the story work, which for me is again cute for the family, but could have been a lot better had they dived deeper into the original lore. The same can be true for Robotnik as well.   This constant back and forth between funny comedic prop and villain work for trying to get everyone into the film, but I think was too forced at times for me to fully say it was the best villain.  The comedy again can be forced too much as well, whether it be Sonic’s one liners zinging in faster than he can run, or Robotnik’s personality disorder getting too much focus instead of sending out more drones or maximizing his robotic army (I guess for future sequels right).  Finally, the actions scenes are again awesome to watch and for the most part do fit with the theme. Then the final fight happens and suddenly we drop that energy for another dialogue heavy, feat of super ability that was more preachy/cheesy finish than the climactic finish I was hoping would happen.  If you love that anime style grandiosity, it’s a perfect way to finish, but if you want a little more sonic and logical finish like me, I did not quite enjoy the fight finale.

 

The VERDICT

                Despite all the criticism and hate this film has gotten, alongside the character design, Sonic really is a fun film that will hit a lot of audience members.  Nostalgia, comedy, and kid friendly film are the selling points for going to see this one in theaters.  Throw in good action, a fast pace, and some great performances for Sonic and Robotnik and it only helps seal the package for seeing this film.  However, the movie is still not without its flaws with the gear towards the kid/family audience being one of the most limiting components for me.  While I appreciate this adventure breaking the walls, the gamer in me who has loved the Mobius arcs would have liked to see that direction over this integration into our world for the originality and game feel I want with video game movies.  Separating that out though, it’s the modern trend of making kids movies comedy fests crammed with one liners, forced sappy moments, and toning down some of the action scenes that were the biggest limitations for me.  All in all, the movie succeeds in accomplishing the goal of being fun for all ages and a solid opener to a potential franchise. My encouragement is again to catch this one in theaters for the fun and effects, but otherwise get the hedgehog on Redbox or streaming soon.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

The Surprising Fun Of One Harley Quinn Movie

 

Birds of Prey Poster

            DC comics is coming in hard to beat the rush of Marvel/Disney’s next phases.  With an interesting track record of quality and not so good quality, the superheroes in this dark universe are doing their best to make their mark.  As such, tonight’s film is going to try to cash in on the superhero craze before the other films of February come in ready to hit us with their shots.  The trailers did not leave me with high hopes, but you never know what lies beneath the trailers of the modern editing techniques.  Robbie K is coming back in with another write up as he looks at:

 

Film: Birds of Prey (2020)

 

Director:

Cathy Yan

Writer:

Christina Hodson

Stars:

Margot RobbieRosie PerezMary Elizabeth Winstead

 

LIKES:

 

  • Funny Writing
  • Good Use Of All Characters
  • Expansion Of Characters
  • The Action At The End
  • Feels Very Much Like A Comic Book Presentation
  • Margot Robbie’s Portrayal of Harley  past the first act

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring At Times
  • The Presentation At Times
  • The Cursing At Times
  • The Action Is Okay In The Middle Of the Movie
  • Slow Motion Over Use
  • The Politics Again
  • The Main Villain Is Lame… again

 

SUMMARY:

 

A Harley Quinn tale is always a challenge in direction, do you go comedy, do you go action, do you go horror, or is it a little of each.  Birds Of Prey tries the latest of the bunch and works hard to try and please all fans of the delightfully delirious antihero and her rambunctious ways.  My pal and I both agreed that the writing has the comedic punch, finding its stride mid film for me, but flooding the time with forced humor to try and get you laughing.  Once balanced, the writing is fun and feels much like the modern comic book writing I love reading at my local book store.  Even more impressive for me is that they were able to use all the characters in their arsenal to make the film fun and dynamic.  You’ll get to see all your advertised characters play their part, including backstories, action scenes, and their own brand of comedy.  I’ll give them props for getting this wrecking crew together, and achieving the goal of balance that I always seek in these movies.  Seeing the comic book presentation was at many times a plus for me, adding creative style that flowed with Harley’s psyche and captured the spirit that graphic novels bring.  It’s that element that I feel will draw fans of the series in, but yet keep those less inclined to reading to enjoy it.  Outside of character expansion and comedy the movie also has some decent action moments that will stick in the minds of many.  While not as flashy and coordinated as some of the most epic Marvel battles, Quinn’s brigade has got the promised edge, that emphasizes each characters talent, all while selling the message the trailers flaunted from the start.  Aggressive at times yes, but for the most part it was different and a bit fun at times.  Yet the biggest enjoyment for me was seeing the evolution of Harley herself once the first act finished that is.  Robbie does a great job with the character, somehow capturing the insanity, but then able to take the evolution of the character to new heights.  Seeing how Harley changes and the emotional spectrum that comes with it, I’m very happy with the character development defying my concern that it will just be too much crazy. 

 

For all the good it held though, there were things about this movie that still were not the most fun for me. My first thing is how boring the film can be at times, a drawn-out comedy gag, or another nonlinear character intro that required you to try and remain focused on yet another tangent is not a challenge I looked for in this film.  As for the presentation, well the graphic novel feel was great, but the constant tangents and dives into side stories, or back tracking got a little overdone for me.  Just as we were getting ready to get into an exciting part, we took another tangent to give us details that were sort of important and more comedic that some fans enjoyed more than others.  I’ll make the next quick, the cursing is not the typical super movie, but back towards the grittier side with some of the code red words that little ears may not need to hear.  Sometimes I think they go overboard, but my friend did not think so, thus exercise caution as to what you are ready to hear before bringing kids.  In addition, the action as I said is a little grittier itself, and for much of this movie the action is going to feel like mob antics than super hero exploits.  Those with weak styles of torturing and savagery need to avoid this movie, while those hoping for better, over the top action films… will not be quite a fan of the battles in this tale.  With the exception of the ending, the battles were a little simpler and focused on the comedy edge than the exciting edge.  Certainly filled with that wow factor or girl power component, the main flaws for the action in the film were much of the stunts seen in the trailers, and how slow motion gets overused again.  If you love seeing your executions in the full detail, drawn out finishing move, you will have no problem, but I like the balance of well-coordinated stunts with just the right touch of Snyder vision to emphasize the ultimate finisher.  This was not the case for me in much of the film, and some of the choreography looked a little too forced or stiff given some of the other things I’ve seen.  Then comes the politics of the film.  Yes… we knew this was going to be a politically empowered film, and while I think it did an okay job for much of it, there was still that factor of making all the villains scumbags with little redeeming qualities to be the polar opposites of our crew.  While a few did have better balance, this polarization of characters did not impress me when it came to balance, especially when it came to the main villain.  Another example of a villain with more bark than bite, the man’s biggest weapons are resources and a threatening demeanor.  After all the theatrics… it was again another time where the big boss was just disappointing for me, despite how good the ending felt.  DC has struggled to give much of its villains the balance and skills that Marvel has done, and I hope future renditions will work on this.

 

The VERDICT:

            You may have heard this is the best DC movie in the longest time, and others not so much.  This reviewer thinks that the film is the middle of the pack, beating my expectations on many things, but still looking for some tightening up to help get the same levels that Wonder Woman and Shazam held for me.  It’s got the edge, the attitude, the fun and the use of characters and character development was a major selling point for me.  I found this to be a fun comic book movie though, with a new aged flare and promise for some more fun films starring Ms. Robbie.  However, I’d like the politics to be toned back a bit, put some more though into the villains like they did the protagonists, and make the action have the dynamic energy that I know they can do and not rely so much on the slow-motion versions that DC loves.  Still, this movie I think is worth a trip to the theaters and would encourage you to get out there and see it if you have time.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5 

 

 

A Grimm Fate For A Grimm Tale?

Gretel & Hansel Poster

 

Fairy tales have been graced with magic to make them more appropriate for the young mind of other countries.  At their roots though, the Grimm fairy tales hold a heart of darkness that were meant to teach the lessons to the youth of the European natures.  Despite the disturbing tales we have seen today’s movies hold, the original stories are truly the nightmare inducing moments that can leave on scarred.  So with the gloves coming off in the modern-day cinema, let’s bring that horror to life and potentially twist even further.  Hi Robbie K here to bring about another movie review on the latest silver screen slayer.  Will this late month horror movie slay, or is it just another victim of the dumping grounds of January?  Let’s get reviewing:

 

Gretel and Hansel (2020)

 

Director:

Oz Perkins (as Osgood Perkins)

Writer:

Rob Hayes

Stars:

Sophia LillisAlice KrigeJessica De Gouw

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Acting
  • The Short Run Time
  • The Richer Dialogue (from one aspect)
  • The Beautiful Woman
  • The Look Aesthetic Of The Movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace
  • The Lack Of Character Development
  • The Lack Of Scares
  • Disgusting Imagery
  • The Dialogue
  • The Politics
  • The Whininess Of Hansel
  • The Almost Pointless Introduction Of Characters
  • The Story

 

Summary:

In horror there are many things needed for the execution of the chilling tale and in this case the acting is a big selling point for me.  Sophia’s role is a little twist on her It character, with same intensity and damage, but this time a little Older European and maturity that takes the lead on the new approach this tale takes. She’s strong and fierce, yet shows the scared vulnerability that a child role would and it is a staple to latch on to.  Then comes the wonder Alice Krige, whose adaptation into the deluded villain once more impresses me.  Sinister and yet innocent, powerful and yet sickly, and caring yet cold, she balances all these emotions and succeeds in crafting a creepy character.  Though you know what she represents, the acting always left me with that slight hope something will go differently.  The two have wonderful chemistry together, something I would have liked to have a little more guidance and development to maximize.  While not in it for long, the beautiful Jessica De Gouw shined in her performance, both in look and presence of her character.  I would have liked more expansion on this character, especially given how commanding her presence was, but that was not the focus this tale took.

Moving on from the acting, the movie succeeds in accomplishing its journey in a short run time and not trying to get too bloated (see Midsomer director’s cut).  The film has a much more poetic dialogue, that feels well adapted to the Grimm Fairy tale writing, and goes with the artistic feel of this movie that Perkins focused on.  Yet, the biggest focus of this movie is the look of the film.  Gretel and Hansel is all about creating the creepy atmosphere and letting it be the component to creep you out for much of the film.  The use of camera filters and lighting are the main tools that somehow rob the hope of success from the film.  All the shadows and elusive safety keep things always dark and dismayed, while also sort of establishing a sickening feeling that only further infects you with the skin crawls that come.  The visualization of the witches home and the tricks she brings, also have that atmosphere that will certainly embed itself into your mind and leave you scarred for the event.  Sure there are some shock culture moments and jump scares, but really it’s the looming atmosphere and cinematography that succeeds the most.

 

It seems that the visualization was too key a focus though, for some of the movie telling basics were dropped in my opinion.  First of all, the pace.  Horror movies often keep things moving, but this artistic twist is not one of those films, sometimes feeling super drawn out and stuffy rather than the thrilling tale.  Part of this comes from just the slow buildup of the “surprising” reveal, but the other part comes from the weaker character development.  Gretel and Hansel’s tale has sort of piece meal components that are shown just enough to set a background, but never to give meaningful insight to craft interesting characters.  Even the witch herself is rather plain, a back story that is introduced too late, not very surprising, and sort of crammed into the ending instead of again giving rich characters to fear or analyze.  The story instead just seems to hover around this convoluted conversation between Gretel and the Witch, always working towards this slow discovery of what we know and barely moving away for most of the movie.  I guess they felt it pointless to make a big story for an already known tale, but then I question the introduction of some other characters into the film, and the hopes of using them as means to add variety to the movie.  As such the various side stories are not needed merely adding obvious foreshadowing and time to the film.

Something else I could have had edited out would have been the whininess of the little brother, who had a symbolic component to Gretel (the star), but sort of got annoying with the way they took the character.  Realistic, absolutely, but Hansel’s involvement was not as enjoyable to me, especially when the politics started coming into play (which we are about to discuss).  In regards to scares, again the movie relies a lot on the visuals to scare you, and though creepy at times, it is more a movie to focus on disturbing imagery than real creeps.  If you love the shock factor films, you’ll get it, but for me, the disturbing imagery would have been better minimized in place of the story and creepy scares I particularly love.  Finally the politics.  Not even horror films can escape the political trends of the modern day, and the title should give you a hint of the focus the writers wanted to place.  Again, I’m never above a message being integrated into the story, but that does not mean the story and dialogue have to be purely focused on that message and rubbed In my face.  That fluid, old English dialogue is awesome and poetic, but is so geared toward pushing for this new political twist that it falls into that vortex of cyclic conversations.  The result is again a stuffy movie that does not move to the predictable ending fast enough.  It’s a shame given the potential, but this was the biggest weakness for me in this film.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Gretel and Hansel is a great example of visionary creativity to make an old tale feel new.  With haunting atmosphere and a cast to play in it, these are the main strengths for the film and the component artistic loving movie goers are going to love. Yet, this artistic nature really took away from the story for me and left me with a boring, bloated film that missed the potential the trailers painted.  Story wise the characters are rather flat, the extra story characters and background information so streamlined it is almost a waste of film for this reviewer.  Throw in too much focus on the political message hogging most of the attention and you get this film that seems to be two sharks circling, but never attacking.  I give props for a psychological dive and realistic portrayal in the film, but this Grimm’s Fairy Tale is a little too sleep inducing and bloated for my tastes.  Thus, I believe this film was dumped into theaters, when it really should have premiered on a streaming network instead best left for watching at home.  Thus, my scores are:

 

Fantasy/Horror/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0