Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Mum’s the Word: 60s story with 2000s Style

Mummy

 

Monster movies, an epic genre that at one time scared the pants off many before you know… things got out of hand with modern cinema. Legendary creatures like the Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein filled the theater with actors decorated in epic make-up with often beautiful costars to face their “terror.” The stories they told remain timeless, but sadly the graphics are a little outdated for most modern movie-goers… until now.  This evening my buddy and I hit the theaters for a retelling of a classic tale in hopes of sparking a new trend to get us hooked on and make money.  As you can read, my review is on the Mummy tonight starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. Will it be a success, or are we cursed to another mediocre film?  Let’s find out.

 

LIKES:

 

True Monster Movie:  Where most creature films have been turned into gore-tastic bouts of killing, the Mummy returns to the roots of monster movie story telling.  A creature starts to rise to power and it is up to the group to uncover the mystery of how to stop it.  The Mummy focuses on the story telling dynamic, bringing character development, background information, and a dynamic tale that revives the classic genre. Even better is how the movie focuses on the story of this film, instead of building up for an inevitable sequel, something that is rare given the franchise aspect of Hollywood.  The result is a stronger story that is a little more captivating.

 

Comedic relief: Much like the 2000 series, this rendition brings some comedic magic to the desolate desert scenery.  The writing in particular is funny, with well-timed quips that range from simplistic insults and banter to clever puns that are more precious than the treasure under the sand.  Cruise and Wallis work well together with a chemistry that feels like rivals/love interests, and each delivers their humor in their own style that works. However, I laughed the hardest at Jake Johnson whose energetic and erratic style is reminiscent of a giant man child trying to face the curse.  The dynamic style keeps the laughs coming, but doesn’t get overused as we often see.

 

Impressive graphics/action:  While the Mummy certainly takes the story of the 1960’s monster franchise, its graphic presentation is clearly that of the more modern series. Nostalgia runs thick at the various curses our female monster throws including swarming birds, flesh contorting strikes, and yes, face in perilous sand.  The old tricks have never looked better and the technological feats are beautifully integrated into a smooth performance that is somewhat exciting. And speaking of the excitement, the action of the Mummy provides a faster pace than the classics, moving at breakneck speed and loaded with spectacular pyrotechnics.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Out of Place Components: The Mummy does well on the story aspect, but there are parts that felt out of place.  Certain qualities of the film curtail to setting up for the next movie of the franchise (yes, Universal is planning to revive the classics).  These moments are a change of pace (good), but divert a little too much from the path into the cheesy, overdramatic styles that we sometimes see.  I’ll agree that they are impressive displays of technology, but this just proves that not everything has to be covered in movies (hence sequels).

 

Action:  I said the action kept the pace fast and the movie engaging, but the action still has some improvement for me to get the seal of approval from me.  It’s a lot of running, praise to Cruise’s fitness level. Unlike the predecessors in 2000, this Mummy as fewer bouts of gunplay or combat, much of the time the cast dropping their guns to run some more.  They tried to throw some brawls in the mix, but that didn’t work to well for me. I missed the dynamic sequences and thrills they brought, but hey it’s the first film of a long line and there is sure to be more stunts in the future…maybe.

 

Rushed tactics: The heading is tough, but there are some rushed components to this film that needed some fine tuning.  In many proceeding films, it takes time for the bandaged monstrosity to rise to power, requiring gradual offing of characters in suspenseful sequences.  This version was a little short sighted, reduced to a monotonous ploy that lacked little more than repetitive spasms of poor extras.  Many may like the spin on this movie, but this (among other ploys) felt a little underdeveloped and soon became stale to watch.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mummy is certainly not the movie I was expecting, and on many levels this is good.  While not the wild thrill ride from the 2000s, this spin brings the modern technology to the classic story, giving it a unique feel that was refreshing to see.  With comedic relief, decent acting, and impressive visuals, it has a number of qualities beckoning for a trip to theater. Yet, there are some editing limitations that need tightening up to make it flow better and the action component needed some sprucing up to further expand on the thrills.  All in all, a solid start to upcoming monster franchise, but there is work to be done in the future.

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

Training Pants Off, Underpants On…For Kid Focused Comedy

underpants

 

Superheroes seem to be the theme of this weekend at the movie theater.  For those not interested in the Amazon princess’ tale another caped crusader awaits in the hallowed halls of the silver screen.  No, it isn’t Batman, but instead a more childish hero to fight ridiculous antagonists.  And tonight, my review is on the waistband warrior himself… Captain Underpants and his first feature film.  Based on the hit children’s comic book/novel series, the latest kid’s movie is here to try and bring the laughs contained in its pages.  Did it succeed?  Robbie K here to help answer that question, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

  1. Cute Factor: We all know kid movies can vary like the flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. Captain Underpants is along the cute variety, filled with that fun, G rated goodness reminiscent of the Peanuts Movie. The trailers are accurate in stating there is a great moral lesson about friendship, one that just may touch your heart and call up your best friend.  If the sappy parts don’t make you say awwwwww, the sound of your child laughing certainly will.

 

  1. Nostalgia: If you read the books, or co read with your young one, then good news, the movie captures the spirit of the series. Watching Harold and George trying to control their gallivanting hero is sure to bring a flood of memories back at the adventures in the book.  In addition, you’ll find ridiculous villains, potty based humor, and even Flip-o-rama all integrated in the short run time of the movie. Ahh, the power of reliving your childhood is a strong thing indeed.

 

  1. Voice Acting: No academy award worthy performances in this movie, but the voice acting fits well with the ludicrous tone of this movie. Kevin Hart’s high pitched voice fits so well with the character of George, primarily the obnoxious laughter I pictured the character having. Thomas Middleditch helped compliment his co-actor in his wispy voice. Ed Helms was a toss-up for me.  I didn’t find his portrayal of Mr. Krupp the same tone as my imagination, but he certainly nailed the boisterous, whimsical tone of the superhero nimrod. And finally Nick Kroll certainly has the over exaggerated accent down pat, and made for an entertaining antagonist at times.

 

  1. The Art Style: DreamWorks animation nailed the media for this movie for me. Bright colors, dazzling lights, and a trippy spin were exactly what I expected for the Captain Underpants universe.  This film “flips” between animated panels of a child’s drawing to the 3-D cartoon CGI image and it works to capture that kid friendly energy and nostalgic blast to the past. And as there aren’t too many kid’s movies using this style yet, so the uniqueness is always appreciated.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Very Kiddy: The trailers warned us about this, and even the comic books did as well, but Captain Underpants lacks the adult factor many cartoons hold. Much of this movie is simplistic potty humor, incessant laughing, and mindless bantering that may hold little humor to those above the age of 12. And to be honest, much of the movie loses its comedic spin within the first third of the movie. A little more wit could have gone a long way to save this movie from getting stale.

 

  1. No solid story: Masterpieces from Pixar and Walt Disney studios have a blend of humor, character development, and story. In Captain Underpants… that is sadly not the case.  The spirit of adventure is missing in this film, diluting the suspense aspect of the film to stuff more bathroom humor in the mix. And without a solid story to base the humor upon, it feels kind of like a failed stand-up comedy routine than a theater worthy film.

 

  1. Lacking Emotional Kick: While the movie does portray the power of friendship well, it still lacks that the emotional slam dunk that others have perfected. Captain Underpants doesn’t have much tug to the heartstrings and while you can laugh with the two of them, you can’t really connect to the characters at hand. Without that investment, it makes it that more difficult to invest in the movie. Therefore, I was bored for much of the movie, jealous that the younger audience could relate to the fart humor more than I could.

 

  1. Over exaggerated Voice Acting: Yes, we know the characters are all supposed to be overdramatic spoofs meant to tickle the funny bone.  Doesn’t mean they had to go over the top on the voices ALL THE TIME. Much of the voice work eventually drops into the annoying zone and for some characters very quickly (how many Tra-La-Las did we really need to hear?). Without the clever writing to back it up, not even this star-studded cast can save the eye rolling, or teeth grinding moments contained in this film.

 

The VERDICT

 

Captain Underpants is a different spin on the superhero genre, and one that is very welcoming to the younger generations.  With a very focused comedy towards its demographic, parents aren’t going to find much gold to this movie outside the art style and the melody of children laughing. Despite the nostalgic run it brought, there is not much to this film to make it theater worthy (unless you need a 90-minute tranquilizer for your kids). Therefore, I recommend this one be saved for Netflix or Redbox instead of the theater.

 

Animation/Action/Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Wander Over To Wonder

Wonder Woman

 

It’s a brand-new month and you know what that means right?  Yes, another super hero movie to kick off the summer blockbuster season.  This time it isn’t Marvel cranking out the comic book, cinematic feature, but their rivals DC studios. With its recent shaky track record, the DC cinematic universe hasn’t gotten the best publicity in terms of quality. So, the studio has decided to get the leading lady herself to pave the way.  Yes, today’s review is on Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Can this movie break the bad luck streak of DC/WB studios?  Robbie K here to share some opinions on the matter, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES

 

  1. Gal Gadot is incredible and steals the show with her poise, pizazz, and acting talents. A fantastic casting direction that really brings the woman to wonder to life in beauty, ferocity, and bouts of heroism (a.k.a. kicking bad guy butt). Acting, stunts, and an on-point delivery of her lines makes this actress one of the tops in my book!

 

  1. The action is on point (for most of the movie) filled with impressive displays of weaponry, martial arts, and historical warfare. Wonder Woman’s battles held such emotion, managing to bring the suspense all while delivering that feel good, post battle high, you might have gotten from reading a comic book.  The team brings some fast-paced thrills we have wanted for almost a year and a half.

 

  1. A good representation for girls. I may have already said this, but this movie targets a wide variety of audience members in some form or manner.  Yet this reviewer has to give props for the design of a character that is certainly worthy of representing the female super heroes and inspiring the female population that they certainly can do anything.

 

  1. Comedic timing: It’s not going to be a super hero movie (at least in this day and age) without some laughs to break up the tension. Wonder Woman continues this trend, filling the void with well-timed one-liners, a few awkward encounters that often deal with sex, and some slap-stick gimmicks that do the job well.

 

  1. Character Development: I know most super hero movies have this element, but there is something about Wonder Woman that stood out to me. This film managed to spin Diana’s character development into a roller coaster ride of feelings that almost made me tear up. Her journey to discovering herself and her role into this new world was poetically portrayed, using multiple angles to get the job done.  It could have also been due to the powerful soundtrack, the visual effects, or maybe Gadot’s acting, but it really worked for me.

 

  1. Fast Pace: We all know those movies that drag (and yes, I’m talking much of DC’s library). Not the case for this film. The nearly 150-minute run time flew by for much of the movie having me at one point saying, “Dang, it’s already been 90 minutes.” Not something I often say.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Unoriginality: You’ll find that Wonder Woman shares a lot with Captain America: First Avenger. The set-up, setting, and build up almost matching outside of the weapon of choice and martial arts moves.  Certainly, not the biggest limitation, but something that others have been bothered by.

 

  1. Almost pointless crew: The crew that joins Diana held such promise in the picture, but it was dropped so hard in this movie. Outside of Chris Pine, the other members do little for the overall mission outside of a few throws, some “tracking” and mainly comedic relief. There were hints at character development and deeper dynamics, but they fizzled out faster than sparkler at 4th of July.  I know, this movie is about Wonder Woman, but why even include these guys if that was the goal.

 

  1. Preachy: Some reviews state the whole feminism/males are pigs is overdone, and to an extent I agree. Yet the bigger dislike was the preachy monologues that sometimes plagued this film. A few times the heat of the moment was lost in a display of self-reflection, which is great, but not in the midst of a battlefield. Some of these moments also had that eye-rolling factor for me.

 

  1. Overuse of CGI: I like special effects, I like stunts, but I don’t like overuse of a gimmick. The slow-motion interludes during the action scenes added some cool emphasis to Wonder Woman’s skills (alongside some cool finishing moves). Somewhere along the production, someone got a little trigger happy with the effect and used a little too much for me, and soon started disrupting the cool stunts they had Gal do. In addition, there were some special effects that were a bit cheesy and took the edge off of Wonder Woman. Learn from Michael Bay people, too much of special effects makes for many jokes.

 

  1. The ending: Don’t turn away, hear me out.  The ending is great on many levels (emotional, prowess, role model, and morals). However, it lost the momentum the first few fights had with them, trading suspense for flashy special effects, drawn out banter, and unimpressive choreography. Sort of felt like the ending to X-men apocalypse where the bad guys bark was worse than his bite.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wonder Woman delivers on many levels and breaks the mediocre displays that DC has cranked out over the last year.  It’s emotional, it’s dynamic, it’s fun, and it provides a solid role model for admirable heroes. I feel the movie met most of my expectations and I was happy with the overall product.  It’s far from perfect though, and still has a few things to tighten up (like developing other characters, balancing the CGI use, and keeping the momentum going). Still, I have to recommend this one for a theater visit, especially you comic lovers out there.

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Bay-Don’t-Watch! Unless You Want Dumb Comedy

baywatch

 

“Are you ready? Never full of fear?” Poor use of the theme song lyrics aside, one might fear for what is to come with the Baywatch movie.  If you’ve read other websites or seen the google news feeds you know this hasn’t been doing well.  Yet the question remains, is it bad enough to deserve lower than 20%?  Robbie K here to ask that question as I hit the theater trenches to scope out the wonders the bay holds in this relaunch.  So once more, here are my thoughts on the latest “hits” of the Hollywood Box Office!”

 

LIKES:

  • Some of the comedy
  • The Beautiful Cast
  • Dwayne the Rock Johnson

 

Summary: If you’ve seen the trailers, you know this movie is going to attempt to be funny, and at times it succeeds. Despite what some reviews say, Baywatch has its clever moments involving slapstick humor and insult bashing.  There are numerous references buried in the sand of this movie, and even more punches at the ridiculousness of the legendary series.  These quips are fun, tasteful, and on many levels so true at how we ate up the drama. And yes, the cameos are certainly fun to watch and well-timed.

But outside of comedy, the main selling point of this movie is the beautiful cast of lifeguards assembled for this movie.  The trailers have not sold you any lies in regards to the anatomy in this movie and the sex appeal contained within.  Female audience members will certainly enjoy the chiseled features of former wrestler Dwayne Johnson and former Disney Channel singing “sensation” Zac Efron. Beefy bodies and plenty of shirtless scenes had a number of my fellow audience members drooling, or at least making sounds. Fear not guys, you’ll get plenty of chances to make your own sounds and gawk at the lovely figures of Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera  These visions of loveliness not only have a little spice to add to the mix, but plenty of “bounce” to their step that brings energy to the film. In regards to the acting of most of the cast, not bad I must say, but many are reduced to mere shadows of what I had hoped to see. All with the exception of one….

The Rock is still cooking up a storm in terms of his acting.  He led the comedy for me with solid delivery and timing, his lines perhaps the best written of the whole cast.  Using his physical attributes, he does some nice stunt work into the mix helping to add excitement to a rather bland movie.  But his greatest contribution is the energy brought to the film, which kept things fun, balanced, and moving at various points. You can guess that this reviewer felt the most solid aspect of the movie… was the Rock.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Most of the comedy
  • Predictable story
  • Zac Efron’s character

 

Summary:  I said there was some witty moments, but we all knew this was going to be a run of the mill modern comedy.  Baywatch is loaded with shallow comedy that is stupid, crude and in many cases lazy writing.  You can guess that much of it is centered on the stereotypical sex jokes, including a few shots of the genitalia itself. Other comedic ploys focus on prolonged banter between two characters, who randomly stop in the middle of a crisis to argue their points…yeah that’s funny.  Yet many jokes involve taking the clever dialogue and quickly dumping it for…yes pointless cursing that quickly grew stale for me.

You would think the story could try to make up some of the shortcomings, but no… that too failed.  It was a predictable plot from start to finish, with all the relationships, turning points, and big twists known within probably 30 minutes. While this should not be too startling, I had hoped that the stunts and suspense could break it up the mundane plot, but this too failed considerably.  I get it, it’s a cute attempt at making an extended episode reminiscent of the show, but the execution was poor and I think that a stand-up comedy approach might have been better.

Yet the worse thing for me was Zac Efron’s character.  Don’t turn click off the review quite yet, hear me out, this is in no way all Efron’s fault.  The former High School Musical star is playing the same role he always does and is starting to go off the deep end.  However, the design of this character was annoying on so many levels that it was hard to not wish a swift end for him.  The development was weak at best, minus a few well-developed scenes, and the fact that he had some of the lamer comedic moments didn’t help things at all.  But when you got the body he built up, I guess you don’t have to do much in this movie to win the favor of the audience.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Baywatch is clever at times and fulfills its promise of shallow laughs, Dwayne Johnson having energy and of course the sex appeal. They certainly polished their actors for this one so that audiences would get a feast for their eyes, but sadly that’s the only thing this reviewer can share.  Baywatch has much balancing to do for the sequel that could come, and really needs to focus on the wittier comedy and less on the innuendos.  Certainly, you should hold out for this movie to grace Netflix or RedBox.

 

My Scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Drama:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

Set Sails For Calmer Waters: Pirates 5 Drops The Sword For The Comedy Pen

Dead men

 

Avast ye scurvy scoundrels, it be Captain Robbie of the S.S. Review, sailing the seas of the cinema in search of the treasure known as a good movie.  Alas, this weekend Admiral Bruckheimer’s armada set out on a fifth voyage with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)

taking the wheel once more. Will this adventure be smooth sailing and reward us with a crown jewel, or will we be drowned in the sea of sorrow at another hand me down adventure? Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A pirate’s life for me, drink up me hardies, sit on your captain’s chair and read my thoughts on Pirates of The Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

 

LIKES:

  • Character Centered Story
  • Acting
  • Special effects
  • Soundtrack
  • Comedy

 

Summary: When it comes to the plot of these movies, one never knows if they’ll find gold or mere rocks. The fifth installment is fortunately back on the path to good storytelling, focusing on the characters instead of well… immortality. Among the number of scallywags, we get some background on about five of the cast, each with a unique angle to help them stand out.  While certainly not the best story, it is miles above the mess number four was.

The story is a nice component, but the acting is really the aspect that brings the pirate’s life to well…life.  Newcomers like Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario are a welcome addition that have spunk, class, and a number of other qualities that many will latch onto, (especially the cute factor) and they aren’t bad to look at either. Scaring is way into another antagonistic role, Javier Bardem brings his bag of tricks back to the screen, including the suave accent and cantor that oozes evil.  Of course the main two you are probably coming to see are Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp, the legendary captains we fell in love with in the first movie.  Rush is incredible, bringing the sea saltiness and arrogance that is the famous Captain of the Black Pearl.  Depp on the other hand is as enigmatic as ever, capturing the goofiness, lackadaisical attitude of Sparrow with a dash of heroic charm.  Together, the two actors lead not only the character development, but the comedy.  Yes Pirates 5 certainly has the laughs in spades, using every in their arsenal to get a chuckle.  I loved the clever word play, idiotic banter, and comedic timing in this movie, which helped relieve the darker aspects of the film.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a pirate’s movie without incredible special effects.  Yes Disney and Bruckheimer combined their studios to bring the magic back to the screen. Chaotic maelstroms expand across the vast screen, as ships sail across dead infested waters, firing explosive cannons at the specters that haunt the blue.  The journey is certainly beautifully illustrated in a mix of art and excitement, all under the unifying banner of the epic orchestra work we all have come to love.

 

DISLIKES

  • Still shallow story
  • Action scenes somewhat bland
  • Lack of suspense/Simplistic end
  • Worthless cameos

 

Summary:  Alas, despite the jewels that sparkle in the distance, the story still needs some work.  With five main stories, each a different motif to quest for the elusive item, the plot gets spread thin and deprived of real sustenance into the character’s history. Sure, one of the stories has more bite than the others, but this Pirates took a hit in the rich depth we have come to expect. Therefore, the bland characters were lacking at times and not as strong as I had hoped.

Even more bland are the action scenes that they tried to bring to the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautifully animated battlegrounds in the movie, it’s just that they lack the same sting I feel in love with.  Where were the epic sword fights between two swashbuckling men amidst dangerous landscapes? Where were the notorious ship to ship battles where a well-placed cannonball and evasive maneuver meant the difference between life and death? And where was the suspense and thrills that kept me on edge all those previous installments?  I’m not sure, but Pirates 5’s action scenes were malnourished forms of battle I loved, with many scenes reduced to pan over shots of extras fighting CGI enhanced ghosts. A few scenes were gaining the potential to be awesome, but comedic relief set in and reduced it to some quick ended scuffle that quickly turned to running.  Glad to know our pirates could have run track.

And finally, the cameos.  While certainly a great tool for nostalgia, most of the cameos were shallow shout outs to the characters we have wondered about.  It allows for some neat little tie ups at times, but these less than 5 minutes screen appearances were missed potential.  Only Paul McCartney, the legendary beetle, was able to pull off an appearance that was worthy of being included… well done Paul.

 

VERDICT:

 

Pirates 5 took a step in the right direction with its returned to character driven story, comedic style, and special effects that scream pirates. However, it still has room to improve to get back to the glory of the first film.  It’s unbalanced at placed, and lacks the excitement of the battles, or an exciting conclusion at all to wrap up the supposed final entry.  Seems they wanted more of a comedy than anything else, and one will certainly enjoy the laughs, and most likely the movie, if you go in for the comedy over everything else.  Worth a trip to theaters?  I’m sure you would still go regardless what I said, but the special effects are certainly worthy of the theater’s sound and video. Yet you could still hold off on this film and check it out at RedBox, because this finale sets up the series for yet another installment.  Finale chapter my butt!

 

Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Designed to Snatch Your Money! One-Liners Don’t Make The Movie

snatched

 

The second weekend of May is always a crapshoot when it comes to movies, often with emphasis on first part of the word.  Robbie K is back and in the trenches with another review, starting off with a movie he was despairing to see. I’m talking about Snatched, the latest “comedy” starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. If you have seen the trailers, you know this movie was painting a pretty “simplistic” picture, and I didn’t have much hopes for it.  What lies behind the sparkly sheen of blonde hair?  Read on my friends to hear my thoughts on the latest movie to hit the big screen.

 

LIKES:

  • Clever at times
  • Goldie Hawn
  • “Touching at moments”
  • Beautiful scenery

 

Summary:  Let’s face it the trailers didn’t establish much potential in the movie, but this reviewer has to admit chuckling at times.  There are some well-timed jokes in this movie, and the delivery itself sometimes is spot on to perfect the humor. Yet the parts that kept me laughing, were the ones involving Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes, an unlikely cop duo that really works in this movie and maximizes their short screen time.  And while these two are certainly the laughs for me (and a good chunk of the small audience), it was Miss Hawn who stole the show for me.

Okay this wasn’t her best role, but Hawn’s first big screen appearance in a long time was a lot of fun to watch.  Like much of her cast she was funny at times, but what this reviewer liked the most was how balanced they made her character. She was fun, feisty, and the moral compass the film, trying to keep them alive all while trying to be mature.  And yet there was vulnerability, and a little bit of growth that was dare I say “touching” at times. Hawn’s character brings some relevant issues to the table and tackles them in a fun and emotionally fulfilling way.

The best thing, and yes, I’m grasping for straws here, for me in this movie is the beautiful shots of EcuadorCinematography is not usually my favorite part of the movie, but for Snatched, it works as the brilliant countryside and jungle are brought to life via bird’s eye view shots and wide angle pan shots.  The jungle is really brought to life in this film, including the CGI crafted animals that dwell under the foliage. Throw in some fun music to add some pep to it and you get a combination that adds a little “atmosphere” to the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Simplistic story
  • Violent
  • Political Preachy
  • Annoying, Crude Jokes

 

Summary: But where those likes work for me, there are a variety of dislikes that leave an imprint on my mind.  It starts with the story. No surprise, Snatched is going to win any Oscars for its story, which is pretty pitiful for the most part.  Like many modern comedies, the plot is at a bare minimum of the two being kidnapped and trying to get back home. There is little deviation from this frail backbone of a plot, with little character development despite the numerous openings they had.  With two actresses who have quality chemistry, should have been easy to use the mother-daughter relationship to evolve their characters and give the movie some guts.

Instead the character development was replaced by violence and not the cool, special effect kind you find in fantasies.  No, Schumer’s comedy style decides to make the violence mindless accidents that try to be funny, but only come out ridiculous, pointless, and a little insulting at times (usually due to banter). Such simple-minded comedy is welcome occasionally, but much of Snatched comedy is highly overused.

Yet the violence is nothing compared to the political preachiness of the movie.  The touching moments are certainly cheesy, drawn out dialogues reminiscent of 90’s sitcoms.  Yet I would still take these soap box morals compared to the political humor embedded in this film.  Snatched does not sugar coat the platforms Schumer and the crew are stuck on.  And while I give them props for their bravado, the hard-hitting jokes just get old after the 18th, poorly written joke hits your ears. The sexism jokes in particular are not my particular favorites, and are fine examples of stupid writing taking preference over that balanced wit I like.  Unfortunately, this is the nature of the entire movie, stupid one liners, dragged out banter, and ridiculously crude jokes crammed into a 90-minute run time.  Obviously, this is Schumer’s normal style, but in this movie, the lack of few other supportive qualities means the stupidity gets old quickly, primarily Schumer acting like a drunk, whiny brat.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

No surprise Snatched is not the funniest comedy of the year.  It’s unbalanced, filled with stupidity, stale tactics, and meme worthy stills that will wind up on the internet within the year.  While I know Schumer’s presentation is not the greatest, she is most certainly not the worst thing about the film.  It is instead the lack of any purpose, structure, and story that leaves this movie an annoying mess that is getting low scores.  So, who should go see this movie in theaters?  My observations point to female fans of Amy Schumer’s comedy, otherwise do your best to skip this film and wait for Netflix to pick I up. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Comedy:  5.0

Movie Overall:   4.0