Cooking Up Character Centric Stories and Good Acting

The Kitchen Poster

 

Crime tales are ones the American public drinks up, with the promise of a dark tale with tons of drama to drink up.  Yet, not every tale has the makings of a legendary film like the Godfather, trying too hard or going too political that it becomes a giant statement that is not entertaining to many.  So today’s movie had me concerned that a political thriller was on our way and potentially a slow-moving film like Widows before it.  Can an all-star cast and the mistakes from the last attempt be learned, or are we going to be stuck with a carbon copy cinematic mess? Robbie is back to give you another review and this time on:

 

Movie: The Kitchen (2019)

 

Director:

Andrea Berloff

Writers:

Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)  |

Stars:

Melissa McCarthyTiffany HaddishElisabeth Moss

 

 

LIKES:

Setting

Story telling Component

The Drama and Twists

Acting

The Sound Track

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little Boring

Longer Than It should have been

Political overshadowing

The Non-Centered Antagonist

 

SUMMARY:

For a movie set in a specific time and place, The Kitchen accomplishes the task of stepping back into the past. Costumes, editing of footage, and props once more teleports us to the America of the past and brings you into the harsh streets of the Kitchen and it’s denizens.  While the setting helps add a story telling element, the reality is the Kitchen has a decent story component to it.  Like the Godfather, but not as monumental, The Kitchen is a story of family, power, and threats as the various pieces move about in the fight for territory and respect.  A character centric story, the movie focuses much on the three primary characters, each going through their own struggles as they try to push their own agendas into the mix. It’s those dramatic, character developing arcs that seem to criss cross quite nicely, leading to subplots that actually do well to connect into the grander story line, and brings a few twists to the mix to jazz up the linear plot and help give that dynamic of the mafia family.  It works well, and the acting in particular manages to bring the characters to full life, each bringing a unique style to the character that helps add the personality a film like this needs.  McCarthy was my favorite, but Haddish was amazing, casting her sass in a new light that was less funny and more threatening.  Without these ladies bringing their A game the movie may have suffered a lot more. Of note, the sound track was probably my favorite thing, classic 60s-70s songs coming in hard to give the emotional flare and toe tapping mixes that I love to see in a film, after all who does not like a good Fleetwood Mac song?

 

Yet, the movie still suffers a bit from some other components that did not quite entertain me.  First off, the movie suffers from linearity and predictable components.  From the moment the tides change you can see the ending coming a mile way, the Shakespearian plot elements beginning to fall into place.  As such, waiting for the ending was a little boring, stuck in the artistic and political components that it was a little slow and drawn out for me. It felt much longer than the actual run time and I did not quite get into the film as much as I wanted too. Perhaps a few shoot outs, a job gone wrong, or even some sort of defense to get the plot moving.  Instead, the political moments of the tale comes breaking right in to take center stage.  The Kitchen is not the most preach from soap box delivery I have seen, but the focus on the various battle of sexes and girl power motif could have been curbed a little more to not deviate from the story components I enjoyed. In addition, the movie suffers from the non-centered antagonist, choosing to go more towards a symbolic route, that possessed various characters that were more of a throw away than meaningful inclusion.  Had there been a bad guy to ultimately focus on, we might have had an easier time keeping things moving.

 

Overall, the Kitchen is a good portrayal of being able to dive back into history and uncovering stories that are believable, dramatic, and the crime family aspect we love.  The three leading ladies are truly the stars that made it special with me alongside character centric stories that will appeal to those who like books or character focused shows.  Yet, the movie is still not quite the spectacle I was hoping for, getting caught in the symbology and politics that lead to rush plot elements and lacking suspense.  Thus, this film holds favor at watching at home or out with a girls night group rather than on the big screen. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

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I Came, I Shaw, Hobbes Conquered

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Poster

 

Seems like eons ago when we were blown away by the cars and ferocity that was Fast and Furious.  Many installments later, the serious sort of left its dark heist roots and hit the highway to the ridiculous imagination of pushing cars and crew to the max.  Despite losing a valuable cast members and several other characters, the series emerges once more from the garage with a new paint job though it’s core is very much the same.  Tonight yours truly looks at the new comedy duo to take the next leg of the furious race. What lies in store?  Read on to get my thoughts on:

 

Movie:  Fast And Furious Presents: Hobbes and Shaw (2019)

 

Director:

David Leitch

Writers:

Chris Morgan (story by), Chris Morgan (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Dwayne JohnsonJason StathamIdris Elba

 

 

LIKES:

Funny

Great Pace

Fitting Story

Great Acting for franchise

Action

 

DISLIKES:

Jokes Too Far

Ridiculousness Gets Out Of Hand

Predictability

Some Story Gaps

The ruining by the trailers

 

SUMMARY:

 

If you have been a follower to the series, you’ve learned the formula by now and it is one that despite how tired it may be, still seems to work.  Hobbes and Shaw is an entertaining ride that runs on adrenaline and comedy as the main fuel. The comedy is in many forms, though primarily in the banter between the star characters, but also has some surprises in the form of cameos and unexpected side roads that are well timed. It delivers an atmosphere of fun, which in turn leads to a great pace to keep you engaged in the film and to the adventure at hand. The actors who bring this to life all work super well, the chemistry between Statham and Johnson is awesome as the rivalry and alpha male syndrome of two extreme males is super believable and exploited well.  Meanwhile, Elba as the supervillain is fantastically balanced, despite being in this series, as he is both lethal and wild at the same time.  Vanessa Kirby as well is a welcome addition, as she brings one-part female inspiring character and one-part romantic interest.  She’s a great anchor point for the story and an engaging character overall that seems to balance the macho meatheads of the other two.  In terms of story, Hobbes and Shaw shows promise for picking up the pieces of the last installments while opening up some new rivals for the speedsters to follow, with little to no layers beyond what is presented and plenty of preachy morals that the series has thrived on over the last five movies.  Finally the action.  Hobbes and Shaw has pumped high-octane fuel into the engines and ramped it up to a new level as technology meets good old-fashioned fists.  From nearly start to finish, the movie does not let up on the exciting moments and despite how cheesy it can be, it fits the action junkie want so beautifully.

 

Yet, the movie (like most of the latter installments) finds issues with balance and uniqueness that once was present in the film. The jokes, as entertaining as they are, go a little too far, the banter in particular bloating the run time at points where we could have moved on to something better.  In addition, the movies continue to push the boundaries of reality with the ridiculous aspects, relying on suspension of belief and focus on adrenaline doing everything superhuman to accept these feats.  Surprisingly toned down from other movies, Hobbes and Shaw is still not for those who can’t stomach the cheesiness of this franchise. Sadly, the effort and interest in these action sequences is not being used in their storytelling originality. Hobbes and Shaw is still a predictable tale with things laid out for you at the start of the movie with dramatic dialogue that is obvious foreshadowing.  In addition, some details given suggest some story gaps and perhaps a little more attention to detail to help.  Yet, much of the movie is ruined by the trailers, which have given away much of the action sequences you are probably going to see.  Sure, the full spectacle is still awesome, but be warned you’ve seen much of the stuff already laid out.

 

Outside of a few other minor dislikes, like a few characters built up in trailers, but then laid to the side for future movies, Hobbes and Shaw turned out to be better than I anticipated.  It’s still a cheesy special effects ride that continues to rope money in, but it works quite well to bring the entertaining action spectacle to open August up.  I really enjoyed the familiar aspects of comedy, pacing, and acting, though I still think they have not obtained the balance or adventure that Fast Five was. So in terms of a theater visit, for those who are fans of the series you should hit this up ASAP to get your fill of action and machoness.  Yet, those who do not enjoy the spectacles of CGI and stunts, should skip this one and hit one of the five movies coming next week. 

 

My scores are: 

 

Action/Adventure:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Stuber or Stupor

Stuber Poster

 

You know how there are all those stories about Uber rides gone wrong and being entertained. Well, as I’ve said in plenty of times before, Hollywood will look to all paths to find a script to put on the big screen. Tonight, my friends and I checked out the newest comedy that is all about an Uber ride gone wrong, between an unlikely pair of comedians.  Looking like a major comedy fest, the goal as always is for a review to help you determine if it’s worth a trip to local theater to see. Robbie K back in the theater trenches to give you the 411 on the latest movie.  Let’s get going!

 

Movie: Stuber

Director:

Michael Dowse

Writer:

Tripper Clancy

Stars:

Dave BautistaKumail NanjianiMira Sorvino

 

 

LIKES:

  • Pacing
  • Fun Morals Baked In
  • Funny At many Parts
  • The slapstick At times
  • Actors

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Dead Story Points
  • The Rushed Components
  • Shaky Camera work at times
  • The Predictability
  • Some Comedy Being Overdone
  • The Trailers Ruining Much Of the Movie

 

Summary

 

The truth about Stuber is that it is a simplistic comedy that the trailers have sold well. A fast pace helps keeps the laughs in as the “story” begins to work its way toward the final destination.  There are components they are trying to balance into the laughs, and the morals placed in for character development are nice to see to help expand the character.  Yet, the golden aspect of this film is of course the comedy to which many will most likely enjoy in some form or manner.  Stuber is one of those movies that throws as many jokes at you as possible and hope that at least one or two of them sticks.  The slapstick in particular has some great punch to it, primarily because of the commentary and sound effects that accompany it.  So simplistic and yet so funny, Stuber makes it’s mark due to the two comedians that drive the movie to the final destination. Bautista’s yelling and direct line delivery are much like Drax without the Marvel banter and drawn out jokes that accompany the clumsiness they bestowed his character.  Kumail Najiani on the other hand is all about dry sarcasm and delivery of the lines to capitalize on the comedic timing and adding that spice to the words.  The chemistry between the two is great, though I hope it’s not abused, and it will be a selling point for many.

 

Yet the movie is much like my fellow critics said in that there are some dropped plot elements.  For those that don’t care about anything but a good laugh, this section will turn you off, but for those for looking at movies as a whole read it on. Although a good attempt, the story has a lot of dead points that barely roll over the finish line to really give the movie sustenance.  A fantastic pace for comedy, the movie’s short run time and fast movements are not good for developing the other parts of the movie, which is a shame given the potential they were building.  Amidst the action scenes and lots of slapstick, a shaky camera awaits to try to bring you in the moment, but only serves to make dizzying sequences that are not too fun to see.  In addition the story is super predictable, with lots of foreshadowing in the jokes and simple conversations early on in the movie.  The balance in comedy is definitely skewed from one side or the other going too far down one angle, and quickly tipping the other way to not funny enough. Stuber suffers from constantly teetering from one point to the other and never learning that too much of something is not often a good thing.  Why was this the case?  Truth be told, it’s because the trailers have revealed many of the scenes that fill the movie, with a good chunk of the funny parts already been beat into your eyes and memory from the countless trailers and commercials.  If you have been fortunate enough to avoid these showings you’ll be okay, but otherwise, stick to the mantra of there are some parts that are still waiting to be found.

 

The VERDICT:

            Stuber is fun, stuber is simple, and stuber is entertaining to those who want nothing more but to laugh.  The acting combo of Bautista and Najiani are golden, filled to the brim with sarcasm and blunt delivery that should be entertaining. Filled to the brim with jokes, the movie’s main limitation is the difficulty with balance, struggling to fit things into the comedy in such a short time span.  Still, plenty of comedic gold awaits those looking for the simplistic adventure of slapstick and not caring about the movie/story overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Action/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Femme Fatale Fashionista! Anna The Complex Spy

Anna Poster

 

Spy films!  A chance to tell engaging, deep, intense tales utilizing the most unexpected people.  For years Bond has sort of led this revolution, but other films attempt to get into their own secrets that are less flashy and more involved with the espionage component.  This weekend, the latest jab at the spy film comes in the form of a femme fatale, where fashion and lethality mix together in an attempt to make the latest thriller for people, perhaps the female population in particular, to enjoy. Robbie K here ready for another review, this time on:

 

Director:

Luc Besson

Writer:

Luc Besson (screenplay)

Stars:

Sasha LussHelen MirrenLuke Evans

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Acting
  • The Cast
  • The Character Development
  • A Few Action Scenes
  • The Costumes and Wardrobe

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace
  • The Convoluted Story and Means
  • The Lack of Action/Stiff Action
  • Emphasis of Sex
  • The awkward Love Triangle
  • The Politics Again

 

Summary:  Spy films are always about the character bringing the bang to the buck for me and that requires good acting.  Sasha Luss was a great front woman for this type of film, decent balance if dialogue, the carrying of the femme fatale energy, the suaveness, and the layered emotion were executed quite well over the course of the film.  Helen Mirren as sort of her mentor/boss, another fine display of the legend’s talents to bring so much to the film.  The cast of the characters works very well together, fashioning a convoluted band of spies who are complex and untrustworthy, perfect for a movie about spies.  Yet amidst the carbon copy roles of the arrogant and monotone spies, Anna actually has a little more to her character hidden in that façade of boredom and eternal calm.  As the story unfolds, Anna starts to reveal more of the dolls nestling in this KGB spy, each layer a different element that you weren’t expecting, until the grand finale reveals the inner desire nestling within.  Impressive to have that sort of buildup in a spy thriller, but welcomed for me.  Fortunately she also manages to have some stimulation thrown in to the mix, and Anna’s got an impressive amount of gunplay accuracy and some hand to hand combat that rivals Black Widows earlier days that helps liven up the movie.  To be honest though, I loved the costumes and wardrobe of the film, with the designers doing a fantastic job of bringing the emotion to the scene through the styles and aliases that Anna wore.  It’s slick, sexy, and stunning in all form that goes so well with the themes of the movie and the character they are building, plus a few members commented how they found the clothes stunning as well, so that aspect is good too.

Here is the problem though, the pace of this movie is not quite as thrilling as the trailers made it to be.  Anna’s presentation is slow, utilizing the ideas of executing acts and then going back in a set of flashbacks to explain how it got there.  It’s unique, but after the third time of doing it, it feels like the Lord of The Rings series of constantly retelling the same tale.  These multi-layered plot elements should engage those loving spy complexity, but the average audience might find themselves snoozing or walking out (the former I had to fight).  Now while the action I think shows off the girl power motif, the problem for me (no surprise) was the lack of action and more so how stiff the sequences became. Anna’s fights are very choreographed, lacking that element of raw action that great sequences hold, and that makes the attempt at injecting suspense a little lacking. Instead the raw passion went into the sexual moments, steamy bouts of animal passion that sort of display the art of seduction to the business at hand.  While parts make sense, I would have liked a redirecting of the energy to some other elements that I had hoped Anna could show off.  Yet, the attempt at character building puts an awkward love triangle into the mix as well, one that sort of elevates the underlying means of the a tale, but again could have been redirected in a better light.  This leads me to probably the source of my limitations, the politics.  Spy films are known for the political components they are trying to usurp, but this one took the modern-day political means into a new light and it did not work for me.  The blatant statements towards modern issues becomes the central focus and in taking time to craft a character that bluntly states it, the rest of the story components sort of faltered for me. 

 

Overall, Anna has the style and suaveness in the character, crafting someone who has the attitude of the girl power movement and a spy with a little more heart nested in the stone-cold shell.  While the movie has a lot of great acting to it, it cannot offset the pace and convoluted presentation, nor the stiff action/focus on sex that did little for me.  Anna’s espionage thriller may have a lot of visual appeal, but it does not quite have the same spy spark that I look for in my spy action thrillers.  The lack of bang, and the okay story make this difficult to recommend for a theater visit, but if you are looking to get your spy flick, or want to be impressed by costume visual prowess, then have a go at this one this weekend.

 

My scores are:

Action Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

New Age, New Strengths, New Weaknesses: Welcome To International Men In Black

Men in Black: International Poster

 

They don’t exist outside of Déjà vu!  They are protecting us I supposedly only one suit that they never take off.  And they have faced more interesting specimens of the galaxy than we can ever imagine. I’m talking about the Men IN Black and they won’t let you remember about all the stuff you may or may not have seen. Welcome to Robbie’s movie reviews and today we are going to be looking at yet another movie hitting the silver screen. Today is the latest iteration of a beloved 90s franchise that has seen it’s ups and downs.  Can the latest installment/reboot find the stride, or are we once again stuck with another rushed production that should have had more time or never existed?  Let’s take a look at:

 

Movie: Men In Black International (2019)

 

Director:

Gary Gray

Writers:

Matt HollowayArt Marcum  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Chris HemsworthTessa ThompsonKumail Nanjiani

 

LIKES:

  • Decently Paced
  • New Aliens and Designs
  • Nostalgia
  • Simplistic Story
  • Funny
  • Kumail Nanjiani’s character

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • More Aliens
  • Predictable
  • Plot Missing Some Wrap ups
  • Other Acting Is A Little Forced
  • Missing That Natural Humor
  • Underutilized characters
  • Not Campy Enough
  • The Political Messages… again

 

SUMMARY:

A Men In Black Movie is all about being an entertaining spectacle of comedy, story, and latching on to our heroes and finding some moving pieces.  This new installment may not have our favorite agents we started with (in physical form at least), but it holds a few treasured components that kept it entertaining for me.  For one it’s a movie with few slow parts, moving from one component to the next with little time for impasses to really drive character development, but maximize laughs and entertainment. The New aliens and designs are refreshing in the component that they are bringing back the creativeness that brings renewed energy into the series, especially in regards to some of the new criminal aliens who have edge and artistic designs mixed in.  With all the newness you might be fretting that the old feeling has been lost, and to be honest I found some qualities that still remain to be fun and remind you of the older days.  For one there is plenty of nostalgia lining this movie, maybe not in the full integration of other movies have done, but certainly a few nods to the adventures our first band had.  Simplistic story still stays strong as well, with little twists and turns to spin your head or make you think, but not so simplistic to be absolutely stupid or boring, for the most part any way.  The key thing that stays here though is the humor, finding the same formula of modern times by cramming jokes in as many styles as possible.  That variety is good, bringing some dynamic choices to the mix to try and cater to a number of audience members and hopefully leaving you in tears.  Yet the winner for me is Kumail’s character Pawny.  The Middle Eastern actor’s character left me in stitches bringing his usual brand of comedic delivery with well time interruptions that were perfect for me.  In addition the character remains pertinent to the story as well, only having a few times where his manners were forced on me.  An excellent character for this reviewer.

 

Yet for all the good they did for me, the modern reboot of the series has not achieved the goals that the first series did for me. For one thing, more aliens could have been introduced, or even better integrated into the mix.  All the introductions and new designs should have had a little more time to brew to perfection and perhaps be relevant to the inclusion outside of a joke or two. Villains, supporting characters, even the main heroes felt underutilized to me, simplistic shells of main characters that hold secrets, but like the organization remain hidden.  As such, I did not get quite attached to these two new agents like I did K and J, and that leads to a less engaging story for me overall. In regards to the story itself, well that too is sort of lacking.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s got the components famous in this series, but they were not as well put together because of the new approach.  It’s predictable for one thing and leaves little surprise in how things are going to pan out from obvious foreshadowing.  Story elements started being hinted at, but then the plot lines fell flat or remained sort of untied, perhaps in suggesting a future installment. The fact that the characters are not quite as engaging leaves flat pieces to play out, who become more focused on comedy than being a hero.  Most of all, the story is just missing that campiness overall that the 90s made famous and that took away some of the things that made the first trilogy special.  Without that factor, that natural humor was sort of lacking, forced upon me much like the ghostbusters from a couple of years ago.  They almost try too hard for me and at times that obvious digression from the story to make a joke id not impress me as much.  This is especially true with the political humor, once again trying to force emotional surges into the movie to deliver the real-life issues. Sometimes the writing was perfect and well-integrated, but often it fell to deaf ears because it was not needed, potentially left to the interviews and subconscious meetings than anything else.

 

   Overall, the film turned out to be fun and entertaining. The modern twist is far from perfect, but it shows the series can age well with the right guidance and motivation. It still needs balance and shying away from the forced jokes, alongside crafting characters that I actually care about instead of the comedic, political husks I was getting.  Men In Black International though has plenty of old and new blended in and the new little guy Pawny should certainly make up for a number of flaws given his character ironically has more layers than the leading cast.  Due to the special effects, this one lands in the see in theaters territory, so check it out, but in terms of the quality movie overall, you can probably check this one out at home to be honest.  So my scores for the movie are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

 

Who Has The Humorous, Action Wise, Edge, But Has Unbalanced Writing And Crudeness? SHAFT

Shaft Poster

 

Television shows hold a history for many, teaching life lessons and telling stories that would stick with the public for ever.  Sometimes catchy theme songs are the main things that stay behind, but for others, legendary episodes remain in the minds. So with the drought of originality still plaguing Hollywood, the goal is to bring some of these television shows to the silver screen venue to try to make them fresh again.  Robbie K is back to look at the latest movie in hopes of helping guide your movie pleasures.  Let’s get started as we look at:

 

Movie: Shaft (2019)

Director:

Tim Story

Writers:

Kenya BarrisAlex Barnow  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Samuel L. JacksonJessie T. UsherRichard Roundtree

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Action

Nostalgia

Mystery

Humor

 

DISLIKES:

Lack of Suspense

Aggressive Sexual Humor

Lazy Writing At Times

Weak Character Development

The Grandpa Inclusion

 

SUMMARY:

 

Shaft’s character is legendary and requires a key actor to bring it to life.  Samuel L Jackson is the guy to do it, bringing his hard edge and direct, forceful acting to really bring the cop with no fear to life.  He balances so much into the role, like seeing Nick Fury in a rated R role, that is certainly entertaining to watch.  Jessie T. Usher as the new generation of Shaft helps sort of balance the aggressiveness of Jackson, acting as a grounding force to tie all the group together.  He’s charming, funny, but then evolves a bit into something more that works well in the atmosphere of the movie.  As for Roundtree, his reprisal is a nice throwback, but it has been tweaked to have a bit of modern aggressive edge on it as well to remain in the new rules of the movie.  The rest of the cast play their parts well, but not integrated enough too much to take time at this time.  Instead let’s jump into the action, the modern day has choreography and technology capable of making those epic shoot outs a little more exciting.  Shaft achieves this fairly well, sometimes using it for humor and other times having that flair that the show made famous.  If you’ve read through all this review so far, you can see that nostalgia seems to be a key factor to enjoying this film, to which I was able to find a few references to the series, with other audience members finding even more.  That component will be a key entertainment value to many and a selling point for the movie.  Now in regards to the other two components, they have to do with the story and atmosphere of the movie.  Shaft’s main story component is about the mystery of the case at hand and how it will connect our characters together.  Shaft’s multilayered mystery feels like a blend of the loose cannon cop’s greatest adventure all connected to one, you’ll find yourself trying to sort out the threads of scandal seeing the true source that connects them all. During the course there is some attempts at developing the characters, but those moments are reserved for the comedy aspect.  The laughs of this movie are brought by the edgy delivery of Jackson’s lines, the continued adulteration of JJ’s life, and the fiery passion of a mother trying to handle the stress of life.  It’s very well integrated through the movie and is utilized decently to actually progress things rather than a simple laugh.  It felt natural and true to the character, which I find important.

Yet the movie’s pluses may have led to some of my dislikes as well, primarily in the part of being too aggressive.  Shaft and company are not shy to using aggressive styles of humor and while it works at times to perfect levels, there are times where it gets too much for this reviewer.  Various descriptions of sex and genitalia only goes so far for me, and the rather boorish description of various genitalia is a little more offensive than fun at times. In addition, my description of lazy writing is at full front here, with Shaft getting too dependent on the use of these expletives to remain entertaining for me.  Working on the character development could have taken point instead, working harder to start expanding on back stories, histories, feelings and other qualities to help connect these characters.  It start happening at some points of the movie, but more potential existed in those characters than what we got, again lost to comedy and modern time violence. As for the grandfather inclusion, I’ll acknowledge the inclusion of the original for sake of honoring the man who brought the series, but I wanted more.  Given the showcase in the trailers, I had expected a little more inclusion, and while the ending brought the excitement I was looking for, the original Shaft probably could have had a little more inclusion overall.

 

The truth is Shaft is going to be geared towards those seeking to go back in time and relive the criminal hunting cop’s adventures.  A modern edge certainly helps make it relevant in the 21stcentury, adding new style, comedy, and mystery to raise the stakes and try to entertain, while securing fine acting in its cast of characters.  Yet, the movie suffers from imbalance, more so in terms of aggressive humor and lackadaisical writing where cursing and sex phrases are the key.  I’m not saying that ruins the movie, I was just looking for more of a balance for what I got.  Nevertheless, the movie has enough fine points to warrant a trip to the movie, though only at about a 50% as much can be enjoyed from home.  Nevertheless, here are my scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Burning Through Plots To Finish Things Up

Dark Phoenix Poster

 

X-men, a series with so much storytelling and incredible characters that the comic book itself stands alone as one of the greatest franchises to exist in the comic book world.  Yet, the movies have had a rough patch in terms of execution, hitting some highs and some lows in their design and sequences.  So tonight, the last of the franchises before Disney takes over, tries to send it off in the a blaze of glory, focusing on the last saga that is a beacon in the mutant world: The Phoenix.  Can Fox put the shining beacon of power in the right light, or will it be yet another grandiose display of loud sounds?  Robbie K here to bring his observations and help you out with your movie pleasure.  Let’s go!

 

Movie: Dark Phoenix (2019)

 

Director:

Simon Kinberg

Writers:

John Byrne (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”), Chris Claremont (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”)  |4 more credits »

Stars:

James McAvoyMichael FassbenderJennifer Lawrence

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Sophie Turner

Special Effects

The Action/Pace At The End

The Messages

 

DISLIKES:

Quicksilver Not Used

Pace For Much Of The Movie

Rushed Story

Cheesy Story

Lackluster Dramatic Moments

Action Scenes Fairly Short

Under developed Villains

Not Quite The Epic Finish

 

SUMMARY:

Say what you want about the X-Men, but they have picked a heck of a cast to bring into he mutant world.  McAvoy continues to do his part justice, making sure to bring the full fiery emotion that the part requires.  Fassbender and Lawrence do their parts well, but seem to have become the back-burner group for this movie, lost to some simpler writing and a quick dynamic shift to the main character.  Jessica Chastain does her job well, but I can’t say they utilized her to the full potential (more on that later).  No, the real star is Sophie Turner, the mutant with so much power that she’s not quite sure how to handle it.  Turner does the job well in regards to getting the suffering, the uncertainty, and even the hard-edged femme fatale that they wanted.  Her character is decently developed in these aspects and I think Ms. Turner accomplished her tasks well.  To sort of go with the grand power of the mystical icon, X-men had to pull out the special effects and again they accomplished this goal quite well.  Theater shaking sound effects, plenty of colorful and vibrant special forces that scream dark edge comic books.  That utilization accomplishes bringing the fiery force of Phoenix into a spectacle that works well to bring these exotic characters to life.  My highlight comes at the end of the movie when the big action scene happens, fully unleashing the powers of the other X-men and starting to get into the excitement I’ve been waiting for this series to discover again.  Much like the books though, Dark phoenix is ready to deliver the typical messages found in this saga and the ones contained in this movie sort of accomplish this goal.

Yet, much like many movies, this installment still suffers from balance issues and finding its identity in the transcription from comic to screenplay.  For one thing, a fan favorite of Quicksilver is grossly underutilized, the famous scenes that had fans raving, almost being missed completely.  And much like the quickness of the speedster, the movie’s pace suffers as well.  Dark Phoenix is very jargon and argument heavy, with more talk than walk seen so to speak.  So much of the excitement is done in a few snaps of the finer, mostly tuned to dramatic arguments and repetitive plot points than anything else.  The story not only seems rushed, but often very cheesy in its presentation as the classic saga is boiled down to the primal elements that try to speed the “evolution” so quickly it left me filling slightly unfulfilled and unimpressed.  Attempts to interject emotion were lost to predictable foreshadowing and sequences where only a few showed any interest.  Perhaps the action scenes make up for it?  Not really, unlike some of the earlier counterparts, Dark Phoenix’s fights are short lived, more grandiose displays of talking and delivered forced dialogue with only a few impressive moves to tickle the proud political statements, while leaving action junkies like me wanting more.  Perhaps if we had better fleshed out character and villains there would be some antagonist ready to drive the plot and really gives us the gauntlet that the Dark Phoenix saga was aiming for instead of the lacking end game to this genre.

Overall, Dark Phoenix shines as the modern-day movie of girl power and hastily wrapping a floundering series up in a nice bow. It’s not awful thanks to the acting, end scenes and messages, however the story just does not feel like the final installment, but instead like the opening issues of a series that try to whet your appetite.  Had Fox not been bought perhaps the movie would have held a trilogy on its own or at least more time to the story and action.  Yet this epic finish is really one that is best left for him, minus the theater experience of the flashy effects.  My scores for this adaptation of cheesy, grandiose goodness is:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0