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 

 

 

Whatcha Gonna Do? Hopefully See This Movie

Bad Boys for Life Poster

 

Legacy films are always difficult to pick up after retiring them from so long.  This is especially true for movies made in the decades of the 90s and 2000s, hard hitting films that leave an imprint in form or another.  Hollywood’s dive into the past though, does not fear going back into the past though to bring into the present, especially in the ever-maddening drive for money.  So tonight, another relic attempts to handle the modern times, as our resident buddy cops come out of retirement to try to bust our guts and the bad guys once more. Are you ready to Ride Or Die?  I know I am as I review:

 

Film:  Bad Boys For Life (2020)

 

Directors:

Adil El Arbi (as Adil), Bilall Fallah (as Bilall)

Writers:

Chris Bremner (screenplay), Peter Craig (screenplay)

Stars:

Will SmithAlexander LudwigVanessa Hudgens

 

LIKES:

  • Nostalgia
  • The Feel Of Nineties In A Modern Package
  • Good Character Use
  • Fast Pace
  • Decent Character Development
  • Balance Of Comedy With Action
  • Comedy Itself
  • The Chemistry Of Smith And Martin Lawrence

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable For Much Of Film
  • A Few Action Scenes Are Over the Top Or Too Quick
  • A Few Comedic Moments Dropped Too Soon
  • One Of The Main Antagonists Is Okay

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

If it’s a revival of a series, we need those moments we fell in love  with or it’s crap, at least that’s the mindset many on the reviews state.  Well good news guys, the Bad Boys are equipped with some of their old tricks and it works beautifully to restoke the flames of fun we had in the past.  The banter, the comedy, a few references all take you back and anchor you to the adventure at hand. Yet, the film is not just about blowing you up with blasts to the pasts, but also working on modernizing the system and blowing off the cobwebs.  Bad Boys 3 manages to rejuvenate the old as it works to pass on the franchise to a more modern audience, but never loses sight of keeping the two times balanced.  The film has plenty of new characters, yet manages to keep all of them decently integrated into the plot, seldom losing someone to the background (quite a shock I know).  Even more impressive is that there is decent character development for most, with the Bad Boys taking center stage, but still opening up hints for other characters to follow for later.  It’s this type of storytelling I like to see and makes this film all the more impressive for being a sequel and this amount of time that has lapsed.

Still you might be wondering what else this film has in store.  For first off it’s fast, the same as the two precursors, these Bad Boys continue to speed through crime without missing too many details.  It works well given this is an action movie, helping amp up the coordinated scenes that have a combination of chases, gun play, and a little fist fight to go with it.  Like the story, the movie also manages to evolve the action style and again show old school and new school moves that works with the theme of the movie.  Those looking for comedy though are going to get their wish as well, for the laughs are trained into the scenes, with most coming off natural and seldom too forced for me.  If you like the banter, it’s got the banter.  You want slapstick and insults?  You get the same spiteful blows that two brothers can share with each other.  Want to try something new and modernize comedy?  Mission accomplished on this as well.  Bad Boys 3 is all about bringing these styles and mixing them together and the chemistry of Lawrence and Smith is the thing to tether everything together.  Strong brotherhood, natural reactions to each other, and the practiced talent they have continues to shine through this film and really bring everything home. 

 

Still, the movie is not shy of a few limitations for this reviewer that took away from the experience.  One is that the film is predictable, a combination of trailer syndrome, foreshadowing with lines, and me seeing too many movies, these moments all predict most of the film’s surprises.  A few twists manage to sneak in, but I can’t say they were my favorite and given the soap opera themes that go with it.  I wish they had gone another route, but points for originality and I can’t say much more.  I’ll say there were times that the action got a little too ridiculous for me, more so in that they were very choreographed stunts, or drawn out effects that took away from the fluidity.  In addition, some of the fights sort of stopped quickly, and I missed the drawn-out fights that the past decades perfected long ago.  The same can be said for a few comedic moments, which like the action, starts to hit its stride and then petered out too soon, though there are so many laughs in store it’s not as prominent.  Finally, the movie’s antagonist, or at least one of them, is only okay.  So much potential shown only to be diluted for another story development, this antagonist really could have been something more as well if they had learned to balance the two primary antagonists together.  I guess given the difficulty to juggle everything, it had to take a hit, but again there are elements to cushion this blow as well.  Sure there is some cursing that gets me and a few times the jokes go a little long, but the truth is that the movie manages to help make up these limitations with how much fun it is.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            How can this movie live up to the legacy before it?  Truth is… it really can’t, but to go so long and be this put together, I give it applause.  Bad Boys For Life is a lot of fun, and full of the rush we fell in love with a long time ago.  It brings the past and present together in a manner that should help rope fans in, while never losing sight of the goals and story it set forth.  Good use of characters, balancing the comedy with a special effects ridden action set, and tying everything together with that champion acting leads to one of the best reboots I’ve seen in a while.  Yes, it still has some balance issues that have not been perfected, primarily in getting the right time for some action moments, some comedy elements more fine tuning, and most importantly working out their bad guys a little more.  Still, this is one for the theaters for me and I encourage most to pay the trip to enjoy it in surround sound.  From all this my scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

What Lurks Beneath The Trailer Of Underwater

Underwater Poster

 

 

The realm of horror, as I have said before, is an avenue that allows the darkest fathoms of the imagination to come to life. Horrors and fears can take on many forms and in some cases the directors capture that terror in the perfect balance.  On the other hand, the modern cinema also ruins the genre when cheap gimmicks fail to scare and become the focus.  So what is tonight’s film all about?  Well Robbie K is here to offer some thoughts and insight as he makes spoiler free review of:

 

Movie:  Underwater (2019)

 

Director:

William Eubank

Writers:

Brian Duffield (screenplay by), Adam Cozad (screenplay by)  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Kristen StewartT.J. MillerJessica Henwick

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Decent Comedy
  • Decent Acting/And Time Worthy Characters
  • Great Pace
  • Suspense Moments
  • Creature Design
  • The Atmosphere
  • The Story Is Okay

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Predictability
  • T.J. Miller Forced Some Times
  • The Chaotic Camera Work at Times
  • Suspension Of Disbelief At Times
  • The Worthlessness of Most Of the Crew

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to a horror movie you can’t help but want to laugh through the movie.  Okay, I need to think of a better transition, but the film succeeds on throwing that comedic relief at just the right moments to help change the energy of the scene.  That aside, the real strength of the movie comes in the cohesiveness of all the little parts that this genre thrives on when done right.  First the acting!  While not award winning, I was very happy to have characters that had more layers than the typical creature fodder Sci Fi Channel has made famous.  Underwater’s crew is different though, as Steward leads the bunch in a thrilling adventure that puts science skills to the test.  Several members make logical decisions, there is great interaction amidst the crew, and the teamwork they show actually paints characters that are worth investing your time in.  And through this adventure, let’s just say there are a lot of things that will test your connection to them.  This film moves quickly, a brisk pace that never dwells long enough for boredom, and takes few detours in the quest to escape the denizens of the deep. Mixing well with the pace comes very suspenseful moments that utilize so many special effects to paint the terrifying canvas of the deep in new ways that will insight nightmares. Some of the moments are all about the setting itself, while others integrate the creatures and allow the use of imagination to paint the terror.  It works fantastically well, and when the revelation of the creatures finally arises, the design does not fail to impress.  Monsters are made of nightmares like this, and they are utilized to a fine degree that does not overshadow the rest of the tale, but still gives you plenty of creature love.  Yet what really ties everything for me is the atmosphere itself.  Underwater uses its name well, and helps blend the adventure into sections that together form a cataclysmic environment.  There are few safe havens in this movie, with the beasts lurking around every corner, and when they aren’t the environment itself is ready to douse the life out of them.  Throw in the use of shadows, fantastic sound editing, and again the tease with imagination that designs that environment. Finally, there is actually a point to all the chaos, with a logical connecting line that actually grants purpose to the antics at hand.  Underwater takes the familiar story, and changes the acts to help keep the adventure fresh and dynamic.

 

Amidst all the treasure, there are some rusted metals that tarnish the movie for this reviewer.  For one the story is pretty predictable, still following most of the rules and trends that the SyFy channel movies do.  A few twists do help stir the sediment up a bit, but you have an idea where it is going.  Thankfully, this predictability is lessened due to the intensity of the scenes themselvesAs mentioned above, there is comedic relief, and while enjoyable at times, there are other times where the awkward joke is too forced or beaten over the head for it to really work.  This works in movies like Deadpool, and while I think it’s curb to show how he is dealing with the stressful situation, there are times I would have liked to see a little more from this character other than another joke.

These are probably minor dislikes for me, so I’ll move on to a few of the things that were more bothersome for me.  As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of chaotic camera work when it comes to details.  While this added to the intensity of the scene, I felt Underwater went a little too crazy at times, using the swirling madness, and shadows a little too much to deprive the details I wanted to see.  This aspect improved near the ending, but the middle parts had a hard time finding the balance between stable and maddening angles.  Next, the suspension of disbelief sometimes is a little laughable for me in this film.  I know, in this genre one must be ready to do this, but hear me out a little.  Again with no spoilers, Underwater sort of does not play by its own rules it establishes at the beginning.  The creatures behavior is erratic, sometimes being aggressive and other times not, which is sort of explained at the times, but then overwritten for me.  Other times it’s about how convenient things work out or don’t work out, which though adds to the intensity of the scene, will in retrospective seem a bit cheesy at how things happen to play out.  If this does not bother you or take away from the suspense, no worries then, but near the end in particular is where I particularly found them stretching their convenience muscles a little too far.  Finally, though the movie is much better with crafting their characters than other creature features, it still has not quite put the finesse in everyone.  For a crew of scientists, drillers, and deep-sea explorers, only one or two really show off the scientific skills that were promised.  Kristen Stewart’s character is the most equipped to handle the job and maybe the Captain, but the rest well, they don’t quite hit the mark for epic battles or adventuring that i had anticipated.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the creature feature is one of the best to emerge from the depths of the Hollywood ocean. Underwater takes us back to the days of classic film storytelling, where a story is designed to tether the scares, special effects of scenery and modern computer work add for decent scare factors, and the intensity of the sequences help net your interest in characters that aren’t just shark fodder like a classic SyFy movie.  While there are still some predictability issues, and the suspension of disbelief starts cooking up things, there are not too many issues that most fans of this genre will be affected.  Again, I’m not particular fond of chaos swirling camera work, but I again admit it adds to the moments and at least gets balanced.  Give all the CGI work, the decent story, and performances, this guy encourages you to head to the theater for this one to enjoy to the most, but if not definitely check it out at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Horror:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Rising To The Challenge To Close? Skywalker’s Story Has Balance Issues

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Poster

 

The Force, it binds us, moves around us, and tries to be the tether to all things Star Wars.  Years ago when this legendary series crawled up the screen, movie goers like myself got pulled into a galaxy where anything could happen.  Over the next four decades, the expansion of the world has taken many avenues, each holding promising positives and some limitations that would hopefully be tweaked.  Tonight, the saga of something building for so long comes to an end, one that will hopefully have the grace to close one series and potentially open another.  Much like the two sides of the Force, the reviews of this movie have falling to the bad and the good, showing off the split armies that much like the series are at war.  So I hope to help provide some insight to your viewing choices tonight to determine if this film is worth the investment.  Let’s get started, on a spoiler free review of:

 

Film: Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

 

Director:

J.J. Abrams

Writers:

Chris Terrio (screenplay by), J.J. Abrams (screenplay by)

Stars:

Carrie FisherMark HamillAdam Driver

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Dialogue
  • The Symbolism/Emotions
  • The Nostalgia
  • The New Worlds
  • Better Pace
  • The Visuals and Sound Editing
  • The Twists (surprises)
  • The Action (sometimes)
  • The Comedy

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Choppiness Of The film
  • The Story’s indecisiveness
  • Too Many Characters
  • Trying to Please Too Many People
  • The Action
  • Not Enough Focus On The New
  • The Overkill On Things
  • The Lack Of Emotion At Times
  • The Impasses falling too easily
  • Too much in one film

 

SUMMARY:

 

In the galaxy so far away, the trilogies vary on quality, as it struggles to find direction in the new world of old vs. new fans.  One thing that has improved since the prequels is the dialogue, finding ways to make sensible lines feel both poetic and yet contained.  Rise Of Skywalker tells much of its story through worlds as in visuals along, often filled with symbolic metaphors and emotional displays that had some fans sniffling.  Abrams managed to direct some rather touching moments that hit fans like me, while still stroking the beast of political preachiness that the modern era loves.  While these scenes are certain to hit the fierier, “I need my heroic characters overcharged for me “fans, I myself enjoyed the nostalgia built into the film, be it a quick look at a familiar land mark, a nod to the old presentation style of a classic film, or for those in the expanded universe, plots from yesteryear repainted.  Episode nine tries to find that balance between old and new, and in cases of the old, the nods will keep popping up everywhere.

But Robbie that’s nice and all, what about the movie should we expect in terms of newness.  Alright, I hear you, so let’s go onto the newer features that I think you might like.  First the new worlds, a bunch more uncharted planets roam the stars in this film.  Though not a convoluted as previous installments, these new worlds hold their secrets, opening up cultures, new worlds to battle on, and in some cases holding secret stop previous expanded universe clues.  The pace is much faster in this film, dumping the bloated moving at snail speed from an enemy ship, while we again try to discover the potential and meaning of our lives off to the side, going back towards the action component that fans like me enjoy.  And like the prequels, all of this is still captured in the special effects, that again with major technology improvements reign supreme in bringing the fantasy to life, or at least some of it.  Yes, you’ll still have plenty of diverse use of costumes and creature development to enjoy, it just all depends on again what you are looking for.  However, the real special effects palooza comes in the form of the action, which has taken a step up (somewhat) from the Last Jedi.  This installment tries to ramp up ship battles and lightsaber fighting, and at times it starts hitting the high notes that I fell in love with during the original and prequel trilogies.  Those looking for “story-based action” well, you’ll get that, as much of the fighting feels like those moments in an anime where there is a lot of talking and showing of grandiose moves than full on choreographed duels that the prequels thrived in.  Also in regards to the story, Star Wars this time tries to pass the baton of twists, and several times got me in the direction they took things.  Some of these surprises are simply cannon fodder for jokes, but others do a decent attempt to expand upon the vagueness that was episode 8.  As for the comedy, Disney has not quite figured out how to get back to balanced comedy since Rogue One, though it took steps in the right directions at times.  C-3PO may have been the star for me for much of the movie, as Anthony Daniels and the writing work well to have comedic relief.  Other moments are funny in terms of their predictability or slapstick, so it works for me at these moments., before it once again comes in and sort of derails the plot.

 

For the mountain of writing for the good though, there is also a lot of limitations for me in this film.    Much like the beginning of Rogue One, Rise of Skywalker ran into choppy, fast paced, crunches that were okay at best for me.  A very hasty introduction and moving to different plot components in the blink of the eye led to very water downed story moments that tried to build momentum, but then phased out.  It seems to me that the director/writers could not decide on which way they wanted to take the movie, and because of the focus to please all and the lateness of the film’s placement after two directors took different approaches led to further chaos in the plot.  As such, Episode 9 has too many characters, who have struggled to take the main focus in real storytelling as both old and new generations compete for superiority and closures.  Thanks to that conflict right there, many of the things I’m about to comment on were driven out, all in attempt to tame the hatred the internet had stirred up.

First up the action, while good at times thanks to visuals and special effects, it lacks the heart, the excitement, or even the balance that the preceding films had.  Many bouts are over rather quickly, several timed to last fewer than two minutes before we were back to our quest.  Even the ending felt caught up in the bloated storyline of grandiosity vs. good storytelling, with many moments of the last fight rather simplistic and not having the moves or coordinationIn regards to the lightsaber fights, they win in terms of environment, and symbolism, but failed to impress me in awesomeness when I compare to the prequel fights.  I miss Nic Gillard coaching our duelist in acrobatic fights, where things flowed and did not look quite as blocky or stiff.  And laser fights, well I seem to remember the wars having a lot more struggles and coverage fights than what I got in this movie, so that would have been nice to see in rich detail, instead of pass over shots and montages. 

In regards to the story, well again it’s not that it’s bad for me, but more so too crammed of ideas, plots, twists, and motivating speeches that it seems a fraction of what it could have been.  For one thing, the new components still keep taking hits, and while Rey and Ren get better progress towards wrapping up their stories, Poe and Finn sort of get somewhere, but almost too quickly.  Characters like Rose Tico, or the new girl Zorri Bliss fall once more to the quick information blips, before getting dropped back to secondary status, most likely to be picked up in some novelization like Phasma.  No, once more the two protagonists and the old characters get caught in this dance of preference, neither partner fully rehearsed to get a 10, but also not fumbling around too much to get a 1 either.  It was hard to really get emotional at this film, primarily because impasses and limitations of the mind are rather easy to overcome, or sort of decreased until the moment a plot device is needed.  Throw in that some of the twists were too obvious from the presentation, and you again get the limitations I’ve mentioned before due to lack of direction. And when we finally try to get things back on track… the directors overkill it and make ridiculous displays of power that were best left to the fanfiction, especially when the comical display of skill seems to falter at the just the time they need to flourish. Throw in some rather poor attempts to actually keep characters connected enough to want to cover and well. . you again see the problems I had with the film.

 

The VERDICT:

            I did not love this film like some of the other installments, but I also did not hate it either.  Rise Of Skywalker’s main flaws are the inability to decide what fanbase they wanted to hit, and trying to put way too much into one movie.  The attempt to conclude the movie faltered on uniqueness and cohesiveness, always hinting at awesomeness, but never quite getting there due to the coordination failures.  It exceeds at the superficial ooh and ahhs of visuals, moves much better in terms of pace, gets comedy, nostalgia, and symbolism baked in, and does manage to keep dialogue smart to help twist some things up.  Yet, as I agree with other fans, the movie needs to use this time as a reset for future installments, so that they may bring a new story out that takes the nostalgia, but allows a new legacy to build (see Rogue One Or the Mandalorian).  From there, the story can get back to the adventures we loved, and still gets those overcharged heroes that seem to motivate costumes of the 21st century.  That and please stop making the grandiose ideas be the stars, please find something better to do instead.

 

My scores for the closing chapter are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Do You Come To Play In This Film?

Playmobil: The Movie Poster

 

The Lego Movie shattered the expectations of toy-based movies with a dynamic story, great comedy, decent sequences of actions, and a balance of kids to adult audiences.  While the sequels that followed took stride in their own remark, the first one really opened our eyes to quality kids animation.  Enter tonight’s movie, in the form of Playmobile, a similar design to the classic pegs, but with a little more movement and cost-effective price to appease the younger crowd.  Tonight’s movie offers the same sort of approach, hoping to get the animated holiday feature in before Oscar season swoops in.  What is the verdict?  Robbie K coming in, to give you insight into the next movie and determine if it’s worth a trip to the theater.

 

Movie:  Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

 

Director:

Lino DiSalvo

Writers:

Blaise Hemingway (screenplay by), Greg Erb (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anya Taylor-JoyGabriel BatemanJim Gaffigan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation Is Decent

Cute

Heartwarming Story

Short Run Time

Fun Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Acting Is Mixed

Predictable and Linear

Jokes Sort Of Forced Into The Movie

Action Is Rather Dull

Music Numbers Are Sometime forced

Lame Villain For Me

Not As Well Balanced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Like many animated movies, Playmobil is very nicely designed to bring the family fun atmosphere to the forefront of the show.  Smooth movement, cute design, and nod back to the days of creating worlds with the simple figure, this movie manages to bring imagination back on the big screen.  Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this film is certainly cute, with the short run time of about 80 minutes (not counting credits) being focused on heartwarming, moral filled lessons in a nice dynamic package. It’s a great lesson for the ideal audience of kids, which should bring smiles to the young faces and the parents that accompany them.  Finally, like most kids films, Playmobil is ready to pump the speakers up with original music, that is toe tapping selection of catchy tunes about the morals we need in our lives.

 

Yet the other side of the coins have valid points for me in regards to this film, especially when one sees what was accomplished in other animation films.  For one thing the voice acting is okay, which can either be due to performance or direction of the character.  Anya Taylor-Joy does a decent job, and young actor Gabriel Bateman accomplishes the vulnerable child in over his head role well as he starts discovering himself.  My champions are Gaffigan and Daniel Radcliffe whose characters are probably the most engaging of the supporting characters and bringing the dynamic cast to a rather one-note movie.  Unlike other films, the movie falls short of the dynamic storytelling that other company productions have excelled in.  It’s plot is thin and very predictable, a linear tale with few bumps or surprises to amazing and wow as the writing continues to favor the younger generations filled with jokes and preachy speeches crammed on in.  Sure the humor is cute, but the movie needed better balance for this reviewer and working on making a more exciting tale that utilized the humor and lessons as a supporting role instead of the central pillar.  The action scenes are rather limited, mostly due to the G rating, but also because the villain is another example of a grandiose, pompous, speech expert who does little else.  Because of these two factors, alongside the linear telling, just results in a bland adventure that might not be as entertaining to the older crowd, which is a shame given what they can do in these movies.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Playmobil is not an awful movies, it just doesn’t have the same balance or execution that the Lego movie, or other films for kids have been able to pull off.  Certainly, the animation, story, and cute atmosphere will certainly impress the target audience of youngsters.  Sadly, the fact that the film struggles to find balance in the presentation to the audience with its predictable, G rate film is going to be the biggest obstacle to see this movie.  With a feel much more fitting of a Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney feel, Playmobil is much better suited to a home viewing where the little ones can corral into the living room and watch it for the short run time.  Overall, the movie will deliver to the young generation, but given Frozen is out, Spy in Disguise is on its way, and Star Wars, this film is going to be out of the theater quickly unfortunately.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:   6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Gas Up The Engines And Drive Out To See This Rivalry

Ford v Ferrari Poster

 

When it comes to cars we like them fast and furious, or at least for many that is the dream as handling the monster speed can be overwhelming.  So that’s where racing comes in, a means to extend one’s self into the faceless visage of a Nascar or Formula One in hopes of seeing their heroes win.  Yet, what goes into a racecar?  For the die-hard fans and car enthusiasts they understand the mechanics behind it, but for fans like me, well there is a lot more under the hood of the vent.  Today’s movie is all about the battlefield of racing, though perhaps more of a look into the window of the past in the international racing venue.  Tonight we look at the rivalry between two big car empires, in their battle for supremacy as I review:

 

Movie: Ford Vs. Ferrari (2019)

 

Director:

James Mangold

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Surprisingly Decent Pace

Funny

Plenty Of Character Integration

Seeing the Rivalry From Many Sides

The Technical Jargon Mixed Well

The Musical Score

The Sound Effects

The Heart

The Finale Of Racing

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Predictability

Loudness

The Drama Vs. Reality

A Little More Integration Of The Wife

The Ending After The Race

 

SUMMARY:

 

Biography dramas usually don’t run at a pace that entertains me fully, but Ford Vs. Ferrari succeeded in this endeavor and put the pedal to the medal in storytelling.  The elements of describing the business deals, politics and even development of the car are all a carefully blended together to be engaging without being overbearing for this reviewer.  It finds a way to make all this business jargon funny, putting just enough spite, attitude, and stubbornness to work and masterfully relieving the dialog heavy plot.  What impressed me even more though was seeing the character integration into this film, finding ways to make characters I care about and how I hoped the policies would not shoot them in the foot, which is key to helping me stay invested in a drama.  Bale in particular was my focal point, his character having the most lines cast out and the central engine that drove this car.  He plays the part well, adds that charm he brings to many of his roles, and then melds with the rest of the teams.  Throw in all the dialogue filled with the jargon and you had me feeling like I was part of each group in the decision to battle the big boys.

However, despite all the heart of the film, most fans are going to want to know how the special effects department works in this film.  Good news, for America’s love of making things loud, bold, and powerful continues on this look back into the past.  For guys like me, the musical score at times amps up the elements with its background noise augmenting the scene and making my skin goosebumps rise in that emotional way.  Now add the layer of the sound editing and effects and you get the major effect of this movie.  Those who love to listen to their engines roar as they fly down the street, or identify the clicks of the perfect transition to the next gear are going to love this movie.  All those elements brought together with the theater sound drop you into the driver seat and gets the blood pumping.  Finally, combine that with the visuals and you’ve got yourself a movie that somehow takes what many consider a dry sport of turning left and instead give you the dynamic element of being in this life or death thrall.  When combined with the story, it’s magic and gives a purpose to remain entertaining, which can be very difficult in a racing movie without gimmicks (comedy of the Love bug or action of the Fast and Furious).

 

Despite the realistic nature of this film though, it still has some elements I would have liked to see curbed.  One, the predictability of the film is still there from the foreshadowing alone, though if you know the history of this movie’s plot you’ll of course predict the ending (which I didn’t).  Despite the appreciation for the special effects, yours truly has sensitive ears, so the full volume of the engine roaring can be a little painful/ingratiating if not careful.  These minor components aside, the movie’s constant question of drama vs reality comes into question, and I feel there was a lot of magic integrated into the film compared to the reality.  It adds entertainment, but I wonder just how much of this was true to paint the characters a little more notably, more so Matt Damon’s character or the arrogant vice president.  In terms of further character integration, I would have liked a little more of the wife, who though was involved throughout the film, felt there was a little more she could have had in here to really pull the film to full circle.  My biggest dislike though was the last twenty minutes of the film, which I will not spoil.  The film had another point that I felt would have been better to end, and while I understand why they did the last part in terms of closure, the last 15-20 minutes could have been edited down where I think the true story ended, wrapped up with a nice information card montage they do.  It’s times like these where the last piece is placed that sometimes throw me the wrong way, but I will of course recognize the honor and work they did do in those final moments.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Ford Vs. Ferrari delivered what I expected and more.  It was a drama/biography that was not boring to watch, with a pace that like the car continued to work and immersed you into many aspects of the war between these two.  A fantastic balance of story with technical prowess is going to be the entertaining factor for much of the audience and looking at the people around me during my showing should impress the target audience.  Sure, it’s predictable, a little time bloated, and loud, but the only factors are potentially the movie magic blowing things out of proportion and the potential ending that really had me bugging.  Otherwise, outside of not being the most original idea or the most dynamic telling of a story it works for a trip to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Biography/Sports:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Managed To Make It Midway To A Quality War Film

Midway Poster

 

War is hell a wise person once said, and in many ways we the general public have no idea what it was like on those battlegrounds where so many sacrificed so much.  Fortunately for many of us, the movies have offered a glimpse into the world, opening our eyes to the world that cares little of its soldiers in regards to decency and humane treatment.  Many of these films are often about the action, and while not as prominent as they once were back in the day, they still offer some intense views of history.  Past this introduction, this weekend, yet another historical remake is flying in to make a landing, in hopes of wowing the group once more with its depiction of the great war.  Robbie K here with yet another review as we look into:

 

Movie: Midway (2019)

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Modern Technology Prowess

Multiple Aspect providing different viewpoints

The Intensity Of Some War Scenes

The Decent Acting

The Intelligence Aspect

 

DISLIKES:

 

Disjointed Plot

Too many Perspectives

The Semi Forced Love Story

The Choppiness of the scenes

Semi-sloppy use of big names

The Action Scenes

 

SUMMARY:

 

Modern technology allows us to make things more realistic and engaging, and should in theory lead to better fights.  In a way Midway accomplishes this by bringing the chaos with speaker booming effects, special effects that light up the screen, and dances with planes that once relied on plywood models.  It is certainly the selling points of the trailers and should appeal to the modern audiences expectations as realism and style come together.  This film though took a different approach compared to the previous theaters of war, not focusing so much on the action from America by itself, but instead dividing the focus between both parties involved.  This dynamic is impressive to see because it helps show the strategy involved in something you have only read about in a history textbook, allowing for a different appreciation of the tactics in war.  In fact, my favorite aspect, as well as my good buddy, both agreed that seeing the intelligence component involved with determining how to fight the Pacific campaign.  Much of the film is dedicated to showing how codes were cracked, departments coordinated, and risks were taken to determine the best places to strike and this new perspective was very strongly placed.  When the battles did finally occur, there are several moments where you get pulled into the intensity, feeling like you are part of the squad and in the cockpit during this operation.  Nice editing on these parts, and quite an adrenaline rush at the times it works.  Finally, the acting is not an issues in this film, as all personalities of war are brought in and everyone executes there roles quite well when they are on stage.  I’m not saying Academy Award Level, but it’s believable and appropriate for this film’s approach.

 

For all its worth though, there are several limitations for this reviewer that make the film a little less impressive compared to its predecessors.  For one thing, the film feels disjointed, as our time hops and evolution of war occur a little too frequently to necessarily keep track of everything.  All the pesrpectives, while again interesting, also have too much going on, leading to breaking up a lot of scenes just as they start cooking with gas.  The result is a rather contained movie that struggles to find the approach it wants, with choppy scenes that sort of scatter the coordination rather than unite it.  This is especially true for the romance story they try to put in here, which was unnecessary giving the presentation and could have been left out.  Throw in several attempts at character development, the potential bonds that can form between a number of characters, and even the squad mates themselves and you again get sort of piece meal presentations that did not achieve what Pearl Harbor did long ago.  Once more, this reviewer feels part of this is due to how many big names they have, trying to get the most out of the big price tags that come with them.  Midway’s crew acts just fine, but there were so many missed elements and character interactions that I feel many of these people were unnecessary.  Certainly they were able to point out all the contributions they did, but to deny the full fledged chemistry and quality, well that was the disappointment for me.  Finally, the action scenes.  An action junky like me always crave for cohesive battle scenes that utilize their groups well, something that the early war movies, and even some films like Saving Private Ryan knew how to do.  In this one, all the perspectives and heroes were scattered that the action scenes felt again very sloppy and short, chopped up moments that ended too fast or how long it took to start.  Again realistically it accomplishes the portrayal, but at this point and with what the trailers built up… I wanted more out of a modern day, technological behemoth like this one looked to be.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Let’s wrap it up then shall we?  Midway accomplishes the idea of putting modern faces in traditional stories, and this theater of wars proves that trying new things does not always come together for this reviewer.  Sure, the technological advantages are good and all the actors recruited do their parts to bring the group of heroes to life and retell the legacies of men who faced the demons of war.  I’ll also again give them props for focusing a lot on the strategy and intelligence required to pull off the miracle that we did.  However, all of these perspectives and approaches to the story made for what looked like a difficulty to focus on the story they wanted to tell.  The result is again a disjointed movie that struggles to bring A games to any perspective, and relies on B and C graded stories.  Your truly would have loved a little more action to come together, as the trailers promised, but at least the intelligence parts work together to make for an engaging plot.  For special effects it qualifies for a theater visit, but outside of that, hold this one for home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/War/History/Action:   6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0