The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Is This a Dark Fate For The Series?

Terminator: Dark Fate Poster

 

The Terminator timeline is like a game of connect the dots that suddenly gets more dots and has to be redrawn.  No matter how many times we think the story is over, the team’s quest for more bucks finds ways to try and give “unique” stories, but still keep it in the universe.  After the reception of the last film, I can’t lie that I’m surprised a sixth installment is coming.  Yet here we are, ready to review the latest entry into the Sci-Fi franchise.  What’s ins tore?  Well Robbie K is here to shed some light and potentially alter your future.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

 

Director:

Tim Miller

Writers:

James Cameron (story by), Charles H. Eglee (story by)

Stars:

Linda HamiltonArnold SchwarzeneggerMackenzie Davis

 

 

Likes:

  • Good Acting
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development
  • Surprisingly Deeper
  • The Graphics At Time
  • The Pace
  • The Action

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictability
  • The Unnecessary Politics
  • The Computer Graphics
  • Bloated At Points
  • More Action Needed
  • Convoluting The Timeline Even Further

 

SUMMARY

 

A Terminator movie has never been known for Academy Award winning performances, but this reviewer will not lie that he enjoyed the acting.  The classic champions of the franchise succeed in reliving their characters, bringing a new light to the simplistic roles, but yet being familiar.  Meanwhile newcomers like Davis and Reyes succeed in fitting into the new roles that the franchise wants them to take.  It’s not the most complicated of the roles, but the it works for the premise of the film.  The writing stems from those characters being the simple cat and mouse game with a little gun play involved, but in this installment the comedy seems to be there once more to offset the darker tones, with simple jokes integrated into natural conversation that make fans like me laugh.  All of this boils down to more dynamic characters, where people are much more than simple fodder for the terminators, but instead starting to show more heart and wisdom then what I think I have seen in any film.  This opens up into a surprisingly deeper film, finally achieving characters that we want to see, instead of the generic one-dimensional shells that are no better than the robots they are fighting, which is something I enjoyed.  Yet, this does not mean the Terminators have deviated too much from their normal delivery of the Terminator films.  The computer graphics have continued to improve, helping beef up action sequences, and help design one of the deadliest series to date.  These qualities are the thumbs up of computer technology in this film and things I absolutely love to see.  When it comes to the pace of the film, Dark Fates keeps things moving, refusing to linger too long as they chase/hunt continues and the defense plans need to evolve.  For guys like me, this pace is welcomed, because it keeps things exciting, but yet does not move so fast that the character development is rushed.  The heavy dialogue moments are then interrupted by some decent action sequences, with the first and last moments holding the planning and execution of scenes I like.  Fights are vicious, fun, exciting, and have the darkness to allow for some seriously awesome moves and struggles that are fitting of this series.

 

Sadly with all the stuff I enjoyed of the film, there are still some things the series is working to find balance in for me.  First, the predictability of the story is probably one of the most obvious things I’ve seen in a long time.  Attempts to hide the truth are poorly diverted, with too many nonverbal cues and obvious bait liners present to point the trend along the entire time until the “big’ reveal at the end.  Like, many films, Terminator 6 has fallen victim to the political messages of the time, with some lines, and the twist, a little too focused on these issues that did not seem quite a needed in this tale.  All these political entanglements with attempts to throw us off the scent led to the film being a little bloated, the over 2 hours run time that not needed when there were some things that could have been cut.  At this point you might be saying, who cares about the story, I’m in this film for the thrills and chaos.  Well even at this point Terminator’s team still has a few things to tune up.  For one thing, the computer work may have thumbs up in design and sound editing, but they still have not mastered the ability for the smoothest/most realistic looking action.  There are some movements and transitions that still look a little corny to me, and I laughed at the obvious actor placement that they threw into the mix.  In addition, there could have been either a few more action moments or maybe a little more evolved action to again make the entire time investment worth it.  Terminator’s opening moment sets the bar high, and it would have been nice to see the momentum carried on, or at least the finale having even more bite to go hand in hand with the storytelling.  Overall though, this film is all about further convoluting the timeline and potentially opening up for the next chapter that is “different” but yet the same.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Going into with lower expectations, I’ll admit I enjoyed Dark Fates on a variety of levels.  Old and new cast team up to start the legacy of the film off right, brining character development that is deeper than anticipated and style that is aggressively awesome.  With fast pace and action to keep things moving, alongside some impressive video and sound editing, this film delivers on the special effects boom.  Yet, the film still cannot find the full balance it needs, bringing predictability and politics to what should be a film that is willing to take a step into new realms.  Throw in some work with the special effects and better finesse of the action scenes, this bloated part of the film could have been filed away to make a better film.  Still, worth a trip to the theater for this one, especially for fans of the series. 

 

My scores are: 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Don’t Ruin My Movie! Is Maleficent’s Next Spell Worth Falling Under?

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Poster

 

This weekend seems to be the one for sequels, as two big hits come out this weekend in hopes of making off with a lot of cash this Halloween season.  Tonight we start this review with none other than a big Disney smash that is hoping to cast a magical spell on us.  The first of the new age live actions, tonight’s sequel is following up with perhaps my favorite of the studio’s reimaginations of beloved classics.  Yet, can the vile dark fairy accomplish the task of charming us once more, or have we fallen into the moors of crappy sequel.  Robbie K here to cast his thoughts on:

 

Film: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

 

Director:

Joachim Rønning

Writers:

Micah Fitzerman-Blue (screenplay by), Noah Harpster (screenplay by)

Stars:

Angelina JolieElle FanningHarris Dickinson

 

 

Likes:

  • World Building
  • Animation
  • Designs
  • Costumes
  • Musical Score
  • Story Continuation
  • Darker Elements Integrated yet controlled
  • Angelina Jolie

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Contained at the Wrong Parts
  • Under Utilized Characters
  • The Twist
  • The Final Battle

 

Summary:

 

Say what you want about the politics of the studio, but Disney certainly knows how to make their imagination come to life.  Maleficent 2 is a beautiful display of the power of their animation studios making the fantasy world of Sleeping Beauty shine in all its magical splendor.  While last time accomplished this task, part two manages to expand upon the inner dwelling of Aurora’s world and bring new attitude to the mix, impressing those who love to see fake worlds become reality.  The animation of all the creatures, alongside their designs, are something best captured in comic book form, and yet blend well into the dark dizzy dreams of the dark fairy.  All the creatures you love are back, with a few more to take their place as all of the worlds magic begins to unfold in a new light.  For those not requiring full on CGI, their costumes are nice to look at too, not quite as stupendous, but certainly elegant and fitting of the world.  Okay, past the visuals, Maleficent’s sound and musical elements really pack the punch in terms of adding to a scene as blaring orchestras drive a thunderous boom into the theater only to give way to the sad soliloquies of more somber moments.  It really adds to every sequence and gave me goosebumps at times.  When it comes to the story, again the movie succeeds, managing to continue five years from last time to explain the age gaps and offer a reminder of the events that transpired.  Maleficent’s tale then further expands, pushing all characters to new levels, but never dropping their core foundations for sudden changes.  It works and shows character development is not dead, not only for the dark fae herself, but for just about every character in the cadre as well.  An added bonus is the darker themes of the tale.  We know Maleficent’s tale is not the lightest one in the bunch, but Disney accomplishes the balance in this film bringing looming threats without dropping into nightmare territories.  I can’t say much more to avoid spoiling, but let’s just say the added edge of bad outcomes makes this movie more suspenseful.  Hands down though the centerpiece to this movie is Jolie herself.  She seems born for this part, mastering look, attitude, and delivery in this character whose spectrum expanded past the usual scale.  Jolie’s beauty is utilized well to bring new style to the dark queen, but never exploited or too focused to take away from her acting.  Bravo Angelina, Bravo!

 

For all its worth though, Disney is still not able to trick me much or throw too many curveballs to shake it up.  Maleficent 2 is certainly a rather linear tale, whose predictable nature is only overshadowed by the some hasty development of other character and containing the movie too much at the wrong parts.  This is especially true for several henchman, and even the prince himself, who have enough bang to their roles, but not quite utilized to the fullest potential that they could have done.  While certainly not the worst drop of characters I’ve seen, the movie could have scored more points for mixing these secondary characters into the brew to add their own glow.  Past that though, the twist they got me on was okay, it’s utilized well to allow for other plot devices, but it also kind of does not fit into the lore for me given the hasty explanation.  More time, or perhaps a book, will explain this connection, but I can’t say I was impressed with the turn.  Finally, the final battle.  Truth is, it is a fine spectacle of technology, integrates many characters well, and more importantly is an awesome display of action-based story telling.  However, it missed the mark on suspenseful battling because of the one-sided approached they took.  I can’t say much, but despite the battle having fine length, it was the biggest containment I had issues with and I would have liked to see more battle involvement, despite the added violence it might have brought.  This could have been the perfect climax for me had they done so.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Sequels are hard to make worthwhile, but I feel Disney corrected the mistakes from the other live action and delivered a fantastic addition to the Maleficent world.  Maleficent 2 accomplishes the storytelling aspect quite well, expanding upon its characters and adding darker elements that give this movie more bit and suspense.  Throw in beautiful world building and I can only say I was further impressed by what they brought to the big screen.  However, the movie did not unleash the full might of the magic spell they can, still suffering from predictability and containment to keep it kid friendly.  A little more expansion on battles, characters, and even the twist and this movie would have been another top sequel of mine.  Still, there is enough bang for buck to catch this in theaters, though I will exercise slight caution in taking children who scare easily, they might get spooked. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

An Abominable Display Of Cuteness. Family’s Should Tackle This Everest

 

Abominable Poster

 

The world of animated movies continues to find new legends, avenues, and ideas to bring imagination to life.  To what those audiences are being targeted or want though is always the challenge, much of which limits the enjoyment to all audience members.  Robbie K is back to the trenches of movies to give you yet another movie review this time is all about the latest DreamWorks hit about another loveable creature that will melt many hearts and wallets.  So let’s get started as we determine if tonight’s film is lame or game!

 

Movie: Abominable (2019)

 

Directors:

Jill CultonTodd Wilderman (co-director)

Writer:

Jill Culton

Stars:

Chloe BennetAlbert TsaiTenzing Norgay Trainor

 

 

LIKES:

Decent Soundtrack

Colorful Visuals

Fun

Emotional

Cute

Characters, especially Everest

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

No Suspense

Many Scenes Already Shown

Everest’s Powers

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

As Frozen proved, a soundtrack can make a big difference between success and mega-success.  Everest may not have the most catch soundtrack, but the violin and alternative work is a beautiful serenade to the less appreciated instruments.  It mixes with the scenery, adds elements of fun, and in the case of the violin an emotional punch that sells the scene.  As the movie’s theme nods to, Everest is an appreciation and nod to the colorful world nature has to offer.  The animation is top notch in design and brings out the enchanting splendor that the world has to create, all while complementing the magnificence of Asian culture  and bringing energy/contrast to the other characters beginning emotional profiles.  Fortunately, the movie is also a colorful display of feelings to match the visuals and entertain the masses.  Fun and Cute are the primary colors of the emotional spectrum, with the small band of heroes finding ways to maximize on all the merchandising and the childish wonder we all forge as we grow older.  Kids will love it and so will their chaperones as they become connected to the world before them.  Yet all the cute antics still cannot stop the powerful punch of feelings that Everest has in the form of friends, family, and the bond of discovery that again lies in all of us if we find it.  I can’t say I really cried, but you can be certain there are plenty of moments waiting for one to get goosebumps or a smile over.  However, this reviewer has to agree that it’s the characters that make this movie.  Certainly the villains and henchmen have their place in the sun and are okay, but the main cast of four will play to the audience the most.  Yi is the model of modern female characters in her strong independence hiding deeper wounds.  Jin is the ladies’ man socialite representing superficial fun and karma at work, but also teaching lessons that ring home.  Peng is the superficial laughs that kids will like in the form of slapstick and quotable one-liners that was probably my favorite of the bunch. Finally Everest, a perfect combination of animalistic anthropomorphism meeting human emotions that all in all is an adorable display of fantastic character development. 

 

Despite how great and fun this movie can be though it does suffer a few things for this reviewer in regards to the potential it could have had.  Predictability thy name is this movie, for it is a straightforward tale that offers little in surprises.  The movie sort of sets the stage, dropping too many hints to really shock and amaze.  Certainly younger members may still react, but older fans are not going to be quite as engaged as other animated works.  Throw in that the movie has many scenes that have been revealed in the trailers, including jokes, and you may find knowing eighty percent of the story before it starts to run.  These are okay to be honest because of how much fun you are having, but in truth the thing that took a little away from me was the “action” and “suspense” moments of the movie.  Think of films like what Disney churns out, or even the How To Train Your Dragon series, where the producers land giant punches in your gut and manage to move all sorts of audience members.  Everest does not really do that, and all exciting chases, potential obstacles and dare I say edge of the movie is pretty much lacking.  No suspense, no real challenge, just cute wholesome fun that again is enjoyable, but not the elements of a finessed movie that other studios have managed to execute.  Finally, Everest’s powers are cool, the harmonizing with nature to transform simple things into true wonders of the world.  They are awesome and fun, and they are actually kept in check.  The real answer is why though as when you get to the end of the movie only a heroic character development being the answer to the limitations.  It makes for better storytelling, but in all honesty, Everest’s bottomless supply of magic did not make sense in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps a little more adjustment of this factor could have helped up the ante.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, Abominable shows off the fantastic imagination that studios still hold in this crazy world.  Everest and his friends will go on the spectacular journey that is stunning to look at, cute fun to have many laughing that manage to wrap up emotional moments in a warm friendly package.  The characters are the selling point of the feature, with the loveable yeti  being the all-star of the bunch.  Sadly, it’s a bit too G rated for me and in the cuteness, the potential for that higher level of storytelling is lost to predictable hug fest points.  With a pointless limitation and the lack of a true obstacle, these components may limit some older fans from coming.  Yet, if you want the family friendly movie of the month, get your little tykes and get them to the theater you won’t be sorry by how much fun they will have.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Is This Rambo’s Last Blood Fest?

Rambo: Last Blood Poster

 

 

He’s the man with a mug and muscles.  A legendary collection of characters whose stories continue to hold their place in history and face the test of time.  Surprisingly, he manages to continue putting those stars of decades past into the modern times so that they can continue to rake in the attention, fame, and potentially tell a story doing it.  I’m talking aboutSylvester Stallone, the one-man action star who despite the passing years still does what he can to bring the boom. Tonight’s feature is an unretired action legend that decades ago sunk his knife into our hearts, and now years later, he’s trying to do it again with modern tools.  What is in store?  Well that’s where I come in to give some insight as Robbie K is back with another look at:

 

Film: Rambo Last Blood (2019)

 

Director:

Adrian Grunberg

Writers:

Matthew Cirulnick (screenplay by), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay by)  |3 more credits »

Stars:

Sylvester StallonePaz VegaYvette Monreal

 

 

LIKES:

 

Stallone’s character still adapting

Great use of cinematography to get the feeling

Touching Side of Rambo

The Rambo Action Package At The End

Montage

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Lacking Depth

Wasted Characters

Lame Villains

First hour is cliché, simplistic build up

A Little Too Much Focus Of Blood

Inconsistencies in this film’s logic

 

SUMMARY:

 

Rambo has gone through some of the darkest battles and nightmares we only glimpse in films, so seeing his journey of moving past that is always nice to see.  Last Blood’s attempt to push the character to new levels gets a nod of respect, especially seeing the doors to his inner character open to reveal the touching side of Rambo.  Sure, you’ve seen this vulnerability at moments in the past, but for this film you really get an in-depth dive into this new side which will help you appreciate the legend even more.  Much of this is due to the acting, which is okay but works, but I liked the cinematography and use of filming filters and techniques to help bring out that depth. Much of this most aren’t going to care about, so perhaps the use of the film technique is better suited for the carnage that Rambo films bring.  True to the title, there is plenty of blood and gore to bring to the table, as modern technology and focus on violence comes rushing into the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the film.  The loud wet smacks, the red carnage, the screams of agony, and intense focus will give you more than an eye full of Rambo’s tactics to fill you to the brim and really end on an exciting climax.  Note: This is not like the 80s blood so those thinking of taking impressionable minds need to think five times before trekking this.  When all is said and done through and the credits start rolling, the last montage of Rambo’s past adventures will seal up the deal in what may or may not be the last film of the franchise.

 

Now I’ll be the first to admit that a Rambo film is not always the fleshed out, Oscar Worthy pick that will shatter new levels. However, I do recall that at least the first two films had a decent story to drive the adventure and help begin to expand on our… hero.  This film did offer a touching side, but Last Blood’s plot is very predictable, a linear voyage that lacks the depth that other installments do.  To take sixty to seventy minutes of the film and not provide the John Rambo action sooner was well a little disappointing.  This cliché, simplistic build up again had some heart, and is true to the character to some level, but the other characters they introduced were not utilized well.  His family and a potential new friend “contributed”, but they just did not have the same level of involvement his usual supporting characters do.  I would also say the villains did not quite have the same bite. Past rivals to John Rambo had military training, corrupt armies, or inside information for them to abuse. This one though, is just a bunch of greasy looking thugs, who certainly deserve the fight, but lack any bite to them and were quite unimpressive for the most part making the “battle” certainly justice filled, but again one sided and missing that exciting spark.  The bloodlust the director and squad chose this time were a bit more of the plan than actual battling, and Rambo’s continued pushing of the red paint was quite overloaded for me, but may be right up the alley of others.  What also took away from me was the inconsistencies in the film’s logic.  Rambo’s choices in body armor, why they showed almost every grotesque way to kills, but then skip other kills, or even more so why the Mexican Cartel lacked brains in this installment is beyond me.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Overall, Rambo: Last Blood has the same simplistic approach the rest of the movies have done, but they did not quite execute as well for me.  The story elements were sacrificed for superficial components, and the definition of action packed is a little different from my worldview.  Sure, it’s all about building up a justified tale of vengeance, and it does open up the side of Rambo that is outside the rugged stoicism that he loves.  Yet, the modern take of extreme, weak villains, underutilized characters, and focus on the blood took away from the balance the first film did so well.  Still, I’ll agree with my fellow reviewers that if you are a die-hard fan and want the modern technology to blend with it, this fil is for you.  All others, I would hold out for, and for everyone please don’t take those that are too young to this blood fest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Thriller: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

The Cage Is Lowered And The Sharks Are Out To Play

47 Meters Down: Uncaged Poster

            Shark movies!  What were once the pinnacle of horror movies and science fiction story telling that left impacts and a sense of fear of going into the water.  Like many things though, the demand for a new shark movie often leads to carbon copy projections that are all about cheese and little to please. Shark movies have now become more of the cheap knock offs that still remain cult classics and amass a ton of fans to watch them repetitively and spur more.  Tonight, an unexpected sequel to one of these is my first review, hoping to bring the same suspense and thrills that the first one did.  Can these sharks come back with the same bite, or are we seeing messy CGI disasters that SyFy channel has made famous?  Robbie K reviewing:

 

Movie:  47 Meters Down Uncaged

 

Director:

Johannes Roberts

Writers:

Ernest RieraJohannes Roberts

Stars:

Sistine Rose StalloneNia LongCorinne Foxx

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute Cast

Decent Pace

Much More Shark Involvement

Scary Setting

Much More Suspense Than Expecting

 

DISLIKES

Story Based On stupidity

Predictable

Shaky Camera Work

Very Quick Wraps Ups

Suspension of Disbelief Must Be Curbed

 

 

Summary:

 

I can’t deny that these movies know how to recruit good looking people to play their puppets of shark massacre and this movie continues that trend.  Our bathing suit clad beauties are gorgeous to the eyes of those that like those forms and will be a major part of the first third of the movie.  Superficial components aside, the movie itself succeeds in keeping up a decent pace, managing to craft some suspenseful movie magic that thriller seekers are searching for.  This pace keeps things moving, holding little down time between shark strikes and navigating the maze-like caverns of the ruined city and therefore making time pass in the blink of an eye.  How is this accomplished?  Well it comes down to two things.  First is the setting.  47 meters regime manages to really use the setting as a canvas of terror, painting your worst nightmares of the dark to new levels.  Where the first one made the idea of being stranded on the ocean floor terrifying, this one pulls you into the confines of a cave, whose cramped corridors and dark rooms may deter you from ever going spelunking.  The second factor is integrating the sharks much more into this film.  Yes, in the first one they were there, but they were more of a setting feature that seemed to be looming rather than really tearing things up like Jaw and Deep Blue Sea.  In this case, the sharks are certainly the terrifying behemoths you search for in the films, with a new design to go with their traditional voracious appetite. These creatures are more than willing to get their toothy maws into new scenes and really add to the terror at hand.

 

Yet with all the improvements in suspense and the terror painted by the CGI squad in terms of shadow crafting and claustrophobia there were some things that still did not deliver the full bite.  The story for one thing swam backwards towards a weaker pace, built not on an accident, but on stupidity of teenagers doing things they weren’t supposed to and trying to correct it.  It does certainly pick up in the caves, but one thing is for certain that you can figure out who is most likely not going to make it and just what is going to be around the bend… mostly.  Certainly, the scares are much closer in this installment, but sadly its lost to the shaky camera work that inadvertently censored a number of the shark on human action. Does it capture the frenzy of the moment?  Absolutely. Does it add to the terror and give you that sense of being this close to the maw?  Again yes, but in doing so it robs you of the clear-cut picture that the first one did better.  What the first also did better was the close calls vs. the hasty kills as I like to describe.  In the first one, several close misses kept you guessing as to when someone would be shark bait, but in this there comes a point where the near misses are practically eliminated and the punishments are dealt rather quickly.  In addition, searching for a way out seems to drag a little at first, but again things seem to progress rapidly to the point of chuckling at the coincidence.  This brings me to probably the worst thing for me on this movie, the suspense of disbelief.  47 meters continues to toy with the idea of everlasting air, swimming faster than the aquatic beasts and how many times someone can withstand contact with the monsters of the deep.  It’s the magic of movies and storytelling of course, but especially at the end the already ridiculous concept takes further dives into the deeper realm of nonrealistic stuff and eye rolling moments.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Okay, it’s a shark movie and it accomplishes the task of sharks meeting humans.  The sequel manages to achieve the goal of scarier areas that allow the sharks to hunt in a new style, bringing about two monsters for our players to dodge.  It’s got a good pace and some suspense to it that should help get the shark week blahs chased away.  Yet, it does not quite have the story telling aspect that the great ones achieve and the predictability/suspense of disbelief are still needing some tweaking to help add the finesse and clean up the movie.  Still, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and give this one a nod in terms of catching it on the tube.  Yet, it’s probably better to see this one at home, for it could be an upscale SyFy movie rather than a big screen blockbuster.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Horror: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

These Good Boys Make Adventure Cute And Fun, Though Crude, Comedy

 

Good Boys Poster

 

Middle school is a time that can be trying.  As hormones kick in and bodies change, a lot of social status updates, and of course the concept of major bullying kicking into high gear that leaves one feeling different.  Today’s movie decides to analyze that, but in a different light that hopes to be entertaining while touching at the same time.  From the minds of half the stoner comedies and off the wall humors, comes tonight’s review of a movie that did not quite rope my interest.  But like the times they portray, you never know what surprises you might find in the halls of school.  Robbie K coming at you with a look at:

 

Film:  Good Boys (2019)

 

Director:

Gene Stupnitsky

Writers:

Lee EisenbergGene Stupnitsky

Stars:

Jacob TremblayKeith L. WilliamsBrady Noon

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Cute

Surprisingly Deep

Good Acting

Some Great writing at times

Funny

Decent Use of Cast

Story

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy writing

A Little Too Aggressive For Me

Predictable

Some Forced Dialogue

Over Board On The Trailers Again

 

Summary:

Looking back at the movie, this was a tall order to try to succeed in putting adult scenarios in the hands of kids.  Yet, Good Boys accomplished this at times for me in the art of representing life in such a young cast.  The film has the comedy pace, keeping things moving quickly, and managing to take time to flesh out the characters.  It’s surprisingly tasteful at times and wrapped in a cute atmosphere as the naivety of the three boys manages to dull the blow that comes with the adult themes in this movie, which worked for me in terms of adding a new spin to freshen things up. In addition, the film manages to accomplish a story telling element that does not involve just getting drunk or stoned, but instead adding that kid perspective to the mix to help keep things ground and allow the laughs to keep coming.  If you have read my reviews, you also know I’m big on character utilization and surprisingly the Good Boys writers again succeeded in using the three young musketeers evenly.  There is good development of each member, enough differences for them to stand out, but have that similarity that friends seem to have.  The kids manage to sell that relationship and their acting is great as they capture the spirit of the awkward middle school friends trying to find their way in a new setting, or settings in this case.  As such, I give them props for being able to make a relatable tale, managing to capture the nuances of life in this youthful setting, and in a way that helped grip me and some of the audience into the ridiculousness at hand.  But you are really asking is it funny, after all it’s a comedy and it needs to be funny. Well at times the writing is dead on with timing, design, and delivery to make me laugh hard.  A few of my fellow audience members were unable to stop laughing, enjoying the Seth Rogen like comedy spewing from a smaller frame at a higher decibel.  If you like the comedies of Superbad, Knocked Up, and This is the End, then I have a feeling you are going to love the formula they used in this movie once more.

 

That being said, there are a few things of this movie that did not quite impress me as some others in the audience.  For one thing, despite the story actually being in this film and grounding, there is a little predictability thrown in that did not impress me.  Relevant as it was, the typical plot falls left me a little bored, waiting for either unique comedy or a deep scene to save me from the chaotic adventure.  And while I got some magic moments that were golden in terms of timing, character development and delivery, there are other times where the comedy genre writing took over.  Good Boys still suffers from excessive cursing, which although funny out of the lips of a child, is still not my favorite thing to watch and not the most unique writing component.  At times I felt the comedy forced, or the lines pushed a little too much on me, in an attempt to squeeze that last bit of crude and crass out for shock factor or a simple laugh.  Other times, I felt some of the comedy was a little too aggressive or over the line for me, mainly in the form of drug or sex humor that skirted under the trailer radar. This brings me to probably the sour note in the film, the over abundant advertising that really gave many of the big scenes away. I agree with others there is a treasure lying in wait for the adventurer to go to the theater, but some major elements have already been effectively beaten to death if you watch the trailers enough.  The convenient store scene, the swing scene, and the teenage girl scenes I knew were coming and left me feeling bored after how much I had already seen them.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Good boys turned out to be better than I anticipated, managing to ground a relatable story as the foundation and building the comedy around.  It’s pace, charm, and cuteness from the sensational actors is that factor the R rated comedy needed and those aspects will bring much of the laughs.  Throw in the deeper elements to help tone the aggressive edge down and my fellow audience members are correct in saying it’s a nice, versatile picture.  However, it still suffers from over aggressive cursing, lazier writing to fill in moments between the more aggressive styles, and worst of all, big scenes already presented frame by frame in the commercials.  Still all in all, this film is fun, though I’m not quite certain this one is the most theater worthy film, and may remain a better home viewing picture.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5