Does It Equal The First One

The Equalizer 2 Poster

 

It is the age of movie transitions, and the age of passing torches to the younger generation in hopes of establishing new legends into the mix.  Yet, it doesn’t mean that the current legends have faced their last mission.  Tonight’s movie review proves the case as the incredible Denzel Washingtonleads another movie, in hopes of bringing the success to a sequel. Can the man who made so many epic films do it again, or is this a series that needed to retire?  Let’s get into it as I review:

 

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Antoine Fuqua

Writers:

Richard Wenk,  Michael Sloan (based on the television series created by)

Stars:

Denzel Washington,  Pedro Pascal,  Ashton Sanders

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Denzel is a good actor, we all know this.  His ability to play these hardened, battle scarred, internally struggling super soldiers never fails to impress, and I always enjoy his intensity when playing these characters.  Still with the finesse delivery, Denzel’s ability to deliver his dialogue is magnificent, brings inspiration and motivation to many.  Ashton Sandersachieved his role quite well, not quite as motivational, but certainly capturing the struggling artist motif of his character. A nice balance was struck between these two, which established a dynamic relationship between these two.  The rest did fine in their parts, but it was these two who held most of the screen time.

 

The Realism:  It’s an action movie, but it is grounded into the realm of reality.  Equalizer 2 does have some tense moments to spice things up, but it doesn’t resort to flashy special effects and physics defying moves to do it… mostly.  This film sticks to tactic combat, utilizing skills and the mind to play a deadly game that will deal the justice you want. While they are limited through much of the movie, the end game is where this strategy is really capitalized on it. In addition, if a player gets injured, they don’t recover quickly so that helps keep things exciting.

 

The Second Half Pace: The movie really takes off at the half way point, taking the steam to push them into the action/thriller component. Once the movie hits into this realm, it finally gets super interesting and engaging, amping up the tension and trying to keep you guessing at what will happen next.  And even better… it actually doesn’t feel like the movie is dragging by this point.

 

The Character Development: Surprisingly, the movie opens up Denzel’s character to help explain more of the backstory that molded him into the super assassin hiding behind the chiseled features.  I did enjoy learning more about the central protagonists haunting past, but also in seeing him evolve, so that he may overcome his struggles and attempt to move on to something else.  It fits well with the movie series, and shows potential for any future installments they may try to make.

 

The Dialogue:  Hands down though, my favorite part is the dialogue/writing of the movie.  Not so much in terms of story, Equalizer 2 wins points for inspirational words that only Denzel can maximize.  It’s writing that fits very well into the theme/premise of the movie, almost as if Denzel is defending the audience and trying to make them better.  Even Sanders lines are decently developed, fitting his character well and doing the lifting of establishing relationships and connecting Denzel to the characters.  Hands down this was the solidifying factor that tied the movie together.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace of the First Part: It helps get the movie established in that Robin Hood like atmosphere, but it dragged for me.  Equalizer 2 needs some major pushing to get us to the good stuff, with a few action appetizers to try and hold your energy.  It’s not the slowest opening, but editing could have taken some time to trim the fat and help tighten the story.

 

Predictability:  It’s easy to figure out what’s going to happen… not much more I can say about that.  The trailers have done a decent amount of revealing, but those that haven’t seen it should have no trouble figuring this out.

 

The Action:  Realistic as it may be, the action is still not quite as spiced up as the trailers tried to make it be.  Impressive as tactical combat is, the movie still doesn’t quite have all the energy and excitement I like in a film (which is often fast paced gunplay with lots of boom).  While I still did enjoy the slower combat, I would have liked to see more of it, as there are huge gaps between short lived bouts that make for a slower movie.  Yet, if you are a fan of the most recent Borne Film, you should have no problems with this presentation.

 

Story:  My least favorite aspect though is the story.  I’m not saying Equalizer 2’s tale is horrible, or the worst thing ever, but I also don’t think it is the most groundbreaking either.  The opening feels like a charity meets Robin Hood approach, a sort of toned down Death Wish to establish the setting.  After that though, I struggled with appreciating the four subplots interweaving with each other to try and craft an overall plot.  True, this multi-tiered approach opened avenues for character development, however the main plot of vengeance took many detours that felt skipped at times.  When the rabbit hole’s bottom was reached, it wound up being very lackluster, realistic and certainly making a point, but nothing that had my eyes bugging wide. Even worse, when the exciting climax did happen, the bite sort of fell out of the antagonist.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Equalizer 2 is better overall for me, though I won’t lie that it was missing that original component (e.g. clever trap battles in hardware stores) the first movie had.  It’s got great heart, fantastic writing, and smarter acting, which makes it a prime target for thriller/spy/crime dramas that have toned down action.  However, the pacing, surprise, and story of the movie require some redrawing for the next installment to really maximize the modern-day vigilante genre.  If you are a Denzel fan, I’m not going to stop you from hitting this film up, and if you are looking for a thriller/action this movie is the one.  However, I do recommend waiting for home rental on this one to maximize your funds. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Thriller/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

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Trying To Build To New Heights, But Only Climbs So High

Skyscraper Poster

 

Disaster movies and action kind of go hand in hand, but seldom does it involve more than trying to dodge whatever artificial natural disaster the Hollywood directors deem up.  Today’s movie review focuses on a film that tries to blur the lines between the two a little better, in what will hopefully be a new twist on the action/disaster movie frontier.  Utilizing the popular leading man of Dwayne Johnsonto carry the movie, there seems to be hope that this Die-Hard copier can potentially bring enough bucks in to get the attention of the modern era.  Does it work? Robbie K here to bring you yet another review this time on:

 

Movie: Skyscraper (2018)

 

Director:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Neve Campbell,  Pablo Schreiber

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Special Effects: The leading point of the movie is the impressive display of CGI in this movie.  Perhaps a little corny at times, the movie really invested well in high definition sound to rattle the theater as the chaos of the crime unfolds. Excessive computer-generated images are the key to bringing the inferno to life, but is still beautiful rendered to design a building that will only be fiction for a short while.  The world crafting gets kudos for me, and will hopefully impress you as well.

 

The Realism:  Despite there being some fiction behind this movie, it is a little more grounded to the real world than one might expect.  The “Pearl” is a building that will soon exist, a setting that is perfect to craft a surprisingly detailed plot.  As the scheme continues to evolve, the realism continues to remain in check, finding kinks in the plot and having to adapt. In addition, even the action keeps things believable, where if a character takes a hit, they actually suffer in terms of performance.  All of this adds to suspense of the film and engaged to this adapted plot.

 

Character Involvement: A movie with as many characters always has me worried about how much involvement they have in the plot.  Die Hard did it correctly as each character had their place and contributions that actually mattered, and fortunately this copy did the same thing.  Most of the characters act as their piece to the puzzle, keeping them integrated into the plot for the entirety of the film and doing a decent job of tying up all loose ends.  Even more so, the characters are designed to cover a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and genre lovers.

 

Good Pace:  The movie movies quickly, gets the suspense going, and does little to try to slow things down.  For guys like me, the movie rocks in terms of few slow parts and keeps the intensity amped up to a level of ten and that just makes for a fun movie in my opinion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Lack of Beginning: The pace may be good in terms of excitement, but I am with many of my friends in that plot development is also key. Skyscraper’s beginning is almost nonexistent, all the set up skipped over to get to the action and drop any chance of escaping the predictable plot line off the ledge within 15 minutes. Any chance at suspense build up is practically gone and the story actually takes a hit because of that. If you’re not in for the story, then you will glaze over this, but for those looking for a little bit of both worlds don’t expect much of an opening.

 

The Plot Gaps:  For a building that secure and advanced, you would think there would be more contingency plans than the one they had here.  This gap is just one example of the stretches and details you have to ignore to fully enjoy the movie.  In addition, there are feats of strength, stamina, and physics defying moves that are also a little cheesy for the fans who love those extremes.  As these gaps happen, the movie moves quickly to try and forget about them, but still the movie could have used some refining at points.

 

The Jumps:  This was advertised immensely in the trailers and marketing, but the film has that extreme jump that we have grown accustomed to. Yet the movie took that concept and milked it for all its worth.  Skyscraper tries to pay homage to Die Hard in many ways, and while it fits into the grand scheme of the movie, the film goes a little overboard with the gimmicks. All the sacrificing brings that bang for your buck, but in terms of story it’s only okay for me.

 

The Villains Development: I’ll give them props, they have made a better villain than many movies have as of late in the form of Botha (Roland Møller). And while this one of the better villains, it still needed more work in his character development.  Comparing to its inspiration source, the villain started giving us some deeper levels, but then it tapered out and he went back to the generic villain.  A little more insight and integration could have done wonders to expand the tale even more.  Even his side kicks and team held promise, but again they too were overshadowed by the protagonist’s tale, screen time, and jumps.

 

The Action:  Did it fit with the tale?  Yes.  Was it realistic?  Yes. Was it exciting?  Depends.  Skyscraper’s battles are decently coordinate, but much of this lacks the bite that other movies have had.  They are quickly executed, very simplistic, and sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion, but this movie’s feeling of trying to survive the manmade disaster I guess takes precedence over the gun fight.  Not the worst action, but definitely room for improvement.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Skyscraper is an example of impressive movie theater worthy special effects, and surprisingly stays on the realistic qualities these franchises often ignore.  I give it applause for integration of characters, and Johnson doing a fabulous job leading the film.  Still the movie is a diluted piece compared to the movie it copies so much of and therefore needed some amping up in terms of story, villain development and action. Perhaps a little less jumping and a little more time could have given this tale the needed oomph to rock it into higher scores.  Still the effects do render it a good theater film, but if you don’t want this kind of movie… save it until you get home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Teaming Up For Comedic Zings, But Wasp Doesn’t Bring As Much Action Stings

Ant-Man and the Wasp Poster

 

Another weekend, another chance for Disney to take the box office with their franchises.  Tonight, the latest Marvel movie appears to try and steal the bucks from all other competitions as it tries to follow the biggest movie event of the year Infinity War.  Can the rogue hero Ant-Man make a film of wavering size… or is it just a placeholder until Avengers 4 comes to life next spring?  Robbie K here ready to write the review on:

 

Movie: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

 

Director:

Peyton Reed

Writers:

Chris McKenna,  Erik Sommers

Stars:

Paul Rudd,  Evangeline Lilly,  Michael Peña

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun/Family Friendly: If you remember the first movie, you know that these movies are fun and very friendly to just about everyone. Ant-Man and The Wasp continues the family friendly fun and keeping it appropriate for all ages.  The pace keeps things moving, bringing with it a constantly entertaining movie that will keep the audience’s attention with ease. Little kids will be impressed with all the excitement and constant moving, while the comic fans will relish the graphic novel qualities of the film. 

 

Character Development: Despite all the chaos in this film, Ant-Man 2 is all about evolving the characters to the next level.  Scott (Rudd) is all about trying to balance work, family, and saving the world, all while trying to push past the fears that dwell around him.  Hope (Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are on a quest themselves, but while doing this, strive to push past the boundary established form mistakes past.  It’s heartwarming, cute, and surprisingly deeper than expected, but doesn’t divert from the story to make the point, rather integrating this into all the tales.  It works well and develops a crew you want to follow this journey through.

 

Good Main Villain: Marvel baddies have all been extreme characters who go over the edge.  From CGI titans to hormonal, vengeful aspiring kings, the Wave 3 crew has lost much of the balance some of the earlier villains had.  Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is a character that backpedals into a balanced character, an antagonist who won’t annoy you to hating them for their grandiose flaws.  She’s got some backstory, is integrated well to other characters, and remains embedded in the story to develop alongside the rest of the cast.

 

Funny:  See my previous reviews, but Ant-Man 2 rocks in regards to being comedically entertaining.  The writing is the start of this ride, a blend of comedic styles that will appease just about everyone who loves to laugh whether it be from banter or a well-timed insult.  Director Peyton Reed kept things balanced with this work, and therefore didn’t overdo the comedy, or should I say overuse a comedic style. Yet the actors who bring the words to life get the final round of applause for making the most out of comedic gold.  Rudd’s sarcasm, but his relaxed atmosphere works fantastically.  Douglas style is all about dry sarcasm and stoic delivery to counter the energy of just about every character in the crew.  Yet… it’s Michael Peñawho really shines in this movie.  His energy, his confusion, his surprise and his yelling were all fantastic qualities to make him the king of the comedy in this movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Bite from Bad Guys: Ghost has got skills and a story, but she is lacking that bite that Marvel Villains are known to have.  I can’t say much without ruining too much, but this more balanced mercenary is in need of a little more hate/angst to drive her actions, in hopes of making for a more suspenseful tale. In regards to Sonny (Walton Goggins) well he was meant to be a little more deceptive and menacing, but his malice was diluted due to the comedic direction of the movie.

 

Too Much Comedy?: Disney’s last wave of movies is very heavily focused on making people laugh in some form or manner.  While it is always good to laugh, I feel this approach is limiting the potential of the movie to be as balanced and exciting as the first few waves.  Ant-Man 2 is fun and entertaining, but the comedy becomes the primary focus and sort of dilutes the other qualities of the film at times. In the case of this movie it is the suspense and action that take most of the hits.  Speaking of which…

 

The Action:  The First Ant-Man had all the props out to utilize the technology of the hero of varying sizes.  As they train to break in, we get exciting military like strategy, before a very fast and engaging fight between two suits.  This movie started out with a good fight led by Wasp, which showed off girl power to all proportions.  After that… not much else happened even at the end where the exciting climax was a little silly than amazing.  Yes, it is entertaining, but it didn’t have all the pizazz and edge like the first film, and did fall into repetitive maneuvers that were okay.  Again, still fun, but just didn’t reach the levels of the first for me.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the sequel to Ant-Man works on many levels and does its job at the follow-up to the big, bad Infinity War.  It’s placeholder status has plenty of fun, laughs, and entertainment for the whole family and will certainly keep everyone chuckling by some means.  In addition, it has a thousand times better character development than expected, and gives all the players ample involvement in the story, despite all the laughing you will be doing.  Still, it’s not the most thrilling or exciting of the bunch primarily that the bad guys are not as malicious and the comedy floods much of the movie and washing away the other qualities.  However, it is absolutely worth the trip to the theater with your friends and family, to just enjoy the ride.  Of note: The Mid-Credits scene will tie the film to Infinity War and the end credit is another laugh. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

The Road To El Soldado: Paved With Details, Character Development, and Edge

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster

 

Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise.  After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico.  Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path.  Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:

 

Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)

 

Director:

Stefano Sollima

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Stars:

Benicio Del Toro,  Josh Brolin,  Isabela Moner

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Darkness:  A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal.  The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of “heroes”.  In terms of character development, the movie’s edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.

 

The Story:  Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades.  Del Toro’s character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together.  Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in. 

 

The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers.  It’s just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides.  Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love. 

 

The Acting:  By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully.  Brolin doesn’t veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken.  No surprise, it’s Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round.  Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.

 

The Justice:  There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen… actually happen and these moments plain out rock.  I can’t say much more than that so let’s move on to the dislikes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  The movie isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts.  It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots.  Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.

 

Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie’s talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is.  You’ll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players’ parts in this film.

 

Some stretches:  The movie’s complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal.  Sometimes it’s turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it’s the rapid change of character, but Soldado’s road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes.  Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.

 

Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn’t the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving.  Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.

 

More Action:  The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted.  Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional.  Why this was the case?  I don’t know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue.  So, let’s get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre.  It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant.  Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established.  Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components.  It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained.  Good for kids?  Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work.  Worth a trip to the theater?  If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

 

Movie Overall: 6.0

Incredible Follow Up

Incredibles 2 Poster

            It’s another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another “masterpiece” to win the hearts of many.  After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay.  Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations.  Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures.  So, let’s get started.

 

Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

Stars:

Craig T. Nelson,  Holly Hunter,  Sarah Vowell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  If the trailers didn’t paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many.  Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family’s drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.

 

Balanced First Act: Pixar’s team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2’s first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion.  It’s primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.

 

Relevant:  While I can’t relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people.  For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others.  Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.  Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society.  By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.

 

Animation/Action:  The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling.  While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix.  Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random.  Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar’s approach to action.

 

Comedy:  Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix.  The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs.  Jack-Jack’s cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though…Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn’t do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.

 

Inconsistencies in Story Components:  The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects.  During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components.  No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won’t care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you’ll start to realize these moments.  At this point, I’ll state that some of the new characters didn’t have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.

 

Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack’s antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of.  The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me.  In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack’s-Jack’s power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity.  I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.

 

Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction?  Me too!  Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight.  The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story.  Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with.  Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don’t know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It’s a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had.  With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film.  However, the movie still didn’t quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn’t maintain that balance I loved.  Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way.  Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in.  Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

Wanted Luxury And Got Decent: Checking In For A One Night Stay

Hotel Artemis Poster

            What does crime, medicine, and dramas all have in common? Well outside of certain episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy, not much to be honest.  However, today those three genres mix together to bring you another movie that will hopefully bring with it some suspense, a little creativity, and some originality that Hollywood needs.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and today we review:

 

Movie: Hotel Artemis

 

Director:

Drew Pearce

Writer:

Drew Pearce

Stars:

Jodie Foster,  Sofia Boutella,  Dave Bautista

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Character Dynamics
  • Sofia Boutella and Sterling Brown’s Characters
  • Realistic Setting
  • Action Scene

 

Summary:  Hotel Artemis is a movie largely dependent on its characters, which fortunately are brought to life by the fantastic talents of the various cast members recruited for the project.  Leading roles by Foster, Boutella  and Sterling K. Brownare by far the most in depth and worthy of billing, but even the supporting characters like Bautista and Charlie Daywho bring their usual styles to the mix to alleviate some of the more somber moments.

As the actors bring it to life, the character dynamics start to awaken, establishing the realm of crime in the near-future LA and just how fickle trust can be in the underworld.  Those dynamics by far are the driving force of the movie, trying to help figure out how each of the pawns are connected and what will drive them in this high stakes hospital.  Perhaps it’s the setting itself that forces this evolution of characters, as the dingy oasis from the riot outsides places numerous pressure on the group.  As the outside world grows wilder (documented by occasional news blurbs), the characters are forced to interact and face their own dilemmas.  It’s a well-done drama that doesn’t pull any punches in the 2 hour run time so that it may establish so much.

I mentioned in pre-reviews that this movie looked to have some action to further spur the story on and for the most part… that is not the case.  Yet, there is one action scene in particular led by the sexy assassin herself, that is just epic, tense, and a great fit into the story that feels pertinent to the tale as a whole.  I wished there was more of these moments, but that wasn’t the direction they wanted to go.

 

DiSLIKES:

  • Slow at times
  • Charlie Day/Quinto Rants
  • Underutilization of characters/actors
  • More Action
  • Darker Violence
  • Background flops

 

Like some of the more popular dramas on television, Hotel Artemis’ drama is all about try to build tension through the characters and have politics, emotional fervor, and affairs be the selling point. This takes time to adequately develop, and given all the convoluted ties in this movie, it means a pace that isn’t quite adrenaline fueled. Hotel Artemis has its slow points, that easily could have been tightened to reduce the run time or potentially add some more tension/urgency to the mix.  Had there been more action to speed it up, the pace may not have been as much of a low point for me, but I fought sleep a couple of times.

In addition, a few of the directions that the characters were taken were not my favorite renditions I wanted to see.  Primarily in Quinto and Day’s characters, these players in Artemis’ game are more annoying than engaging, leaving me disappointed with the little contribution they played.  Day just rants and curses like someone hopped on coffee, Red Bull, and methamphetamine, while Quinto is just a big baby.  Not quite as fitting given the other portrayals of the crime gang.  Even worse, a few of the characters are super left out, reduced to a few, unmemorable lines or weak character ploys to get to the climax faster.  Jeff Goldblum’s character was one of these guys, and my fears of too many characters came true.

Which brings me to perhaps my biggest dislike of the film, the rushed background stories and flops.  The Nurse’s story is one of the heavy hitters, mysterious and emotionally charged, you expect it to be the epicenter of the movie.  And while it was a key connector, much of the backstory was not that impressive, alliterated, and lacking any major surprise/mind blowing component.  When the big revelation comes… you almost miss the clues and by this point I was done with all the planning, I needed the climactic finish.  Fortunately Nice and Waikiki’s tale had a little more to it, but even then it was only a superficial scratch to what lied below.  All the potential was kind of flown over, therefore this was the disappointment factor for me.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Hotel Artemis is weird and dark, no doubt about it, and truth be told it is a crime/drama with characters that are the central pillar to the story.  Despite a fantastic cast acting their brains out and a character centric plot, Artemis’s main flaws come from not having enough time to fully utilize everyone they wanted, and it resulted in plot teasers that could be expanded on in the future (perhaps in a sequel no doubt).  Such complications were only exacerbated by the slower pace, that begs for more suspense, tension, and action to bring it to life.  Truth be told, this could have been better done as a television series than a solo movie, given them hours to further map out the conspiracy web. Overall, not worth the trip to the theater to be honest, but worth the rent if you are into the alternative Sci-Fi/crime scene.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall 6.0

 

Check Out This Upgrade

Upgrade Poster

 

Robbie K back with yet another review this time on a movie that looks to be interesting to say the least. With one of the weaker advertising campaigns to hit in a while, this movie didn’t reveal much in regards to its contents, so I went in wondering what was in store.  After seeing it, yours truly has plenty of things to report his thoughts as I review:

 

Movie: Upgrade

 

 

Director:

Leigh Whannell

Writer:

Leigh Whannell

Stars:

Logan Marshall-Green,  Richard Anastasios,  Rosco Campbell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Sci-Fi Plot:  The movie genre says Action/Comedy/Horror, but this reviewer felt it was more a science fiction piece than anything else. The piece is a culmination of various Sci-Fi hits that include things like: The Fugitive, Bladerunner, Matrix, and even HardCore Henry.  Such a ragtag collection really worked in this case, and brought with it an engaging story that addresses the issues of technology and how the world can potentially abuse them.  It’s a thrilling adventure that for the most part kept my attention, and helped dive deeper down the rabbit hole.

 

Decent Character Development:  You may remember the movie of Her where man and machine entered a complex relationship that was odd and inappropriate.  Upgrade takes that foundation and updates it to something much better, creating an interface between man and machine that isn’t love, but practically survival. While this relationship is multi-faceted, I was impressed with the amount of development both key characters got. STEM in particular had loads of development, despite only being a disembodied voice that was set for survival. As the movie progresses, the level of complexity between the two further expands, and creates one of the more engaging relationships I’ve seen in a while.

 

Decent Editing:  For a movie with a complex tale and a lot of pathways to connect, it surprisingly felt complete in such a short time limit. At around 90 minutes, Upgrade meets all its goals of action, storytelling, and motif exploring and keeping most of the footage tight and relevant to the film. This weekend is surprisingly meeting this goal, and I’m thrilled to see this art hasn’t been completely lost.

 

Action Scene:  For an action genre tag, Upgrade manages to accomplish this goal quite well and bring about one of the more intense scenes I have experienced in a long time.  Grey and his cyber buddy go through the motions from standard fist fight to kung fu fury and given the rock music infusion with a very active camera, the scenes only get more exciting.  Sure, some of the action scenes were simplistic stunts given other examples, but what’s impressive is that the action is always pertinent to the film. In addition, the style of fighting maintains the dark edge of the movie, leading to further amplification of the suspense and thrills this movie brings.

 

Realism:  Sci-Fi often gets a bad rap for being unbelievable, but Upgraded is one of those films that will shatter that fantasy glass ceiling. Set in the not so far future, the movie manages to bring the future technology to the “modern” world, skipping the grandiose futuristic cities and creatures, for a much more grounded approach. As such, the added realism, brings the horror element out and is scarier than what most horror movies can cook up.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Character underutilization: The movie relies a lot on two characters to make up the story, the secondary characters are semi important, but most of them get the shaft.  I would have liked better integration of these characters, especially the cop, who could have opened up more of the movie’s edge had she been given the chance. Perhaps future installment can help out with this, but for this movie…it was okay.

 

Gorey At Times:  There are some things one does not like to see and some of the finishing moves in this movie are examples of this. Upgraded doesn’t go overboard in bloody chaos, but it also is not afraid to show off the savagery of enhanced biomechanics.  Those of the faint of heart or squeamish are now warned, because some members of the cast will have some heavy hitting injuries to deal with in the 90 minutes. 

 

Rushed Ending:  The movie had so much going for it, but the ending while complete, dark, and fitting, seemed a bit rushed to get there. Sure, much of the rabbit hole was predictable to me, with only a slight layer escaping my theories, but when it came to boil things move a lot faster than they had.  I had hoped for a little more engagement, a little more obstruction, and definitely a full-on finish instead of a cliffhanger to indicate a potential series to come.  Breaking the pace, I had started to thoroughly enjoy so late in the game wasn’t my favorite decision of this movie. 

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Upgrade is definitely not the typical movie to grace the screen, but this darker film crafts an adventure that will pull many of the Sci-Fi genre into the mix.  The dynamic duo of man and machine is a keystone in supporting the film, and with energetic action, a realistic setting, and good editing, one will surely become immersed in the new matrix.  It still has some rough edges to smooth out, primarily in integrating all the character and not breaking the pace in the final minutes of the film.  Yet, the hinted series to come can address this, potentially leading to a plummet into a new Wonderland of androids vs. humans.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You bet, but be warned for the violence and be warned of the very loud sound effects that can be hard on the ears.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Horror: 7.0

Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0