Will It Give You Goosebumps Again?

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Poster

 

The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible.  With the first installment doing pretty well, it’s no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine.  Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit?  Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:

 

Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Sandel

Writers:

Rob Lieber (screenplay by), Rob Lieber (story by)  |2 more credits »

Stars:

Wendi McLendon-CoveyJack BlackMadison Iseman

 

 

LIKES:

 

Family Friendly:  The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature.  This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing.  Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.

 

Good Pace:  Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down.  From the get go, you’ll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most.  Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.

 

Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine’s descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research.  The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.

 

The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it.  The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books.  A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.

 

DISLIKES:

Under Utilization of Characters:  The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping.  Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he’s there, but not much more I can say .  They really diluted “Stine’s” part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.

 

Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement.  Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor.  Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.

 

More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn’t use their creatures to their full potential either.  Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect.  Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn’t have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.

 

Predictability/Trailer Spoilers:  My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch.  These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie.  Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.

 

The Story Component: It’s not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment.  Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript.  Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something.  Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie.  With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart.  However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures.  It’s a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

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One Small Step For Music, One Giant Need For More Time

Smallfoot Poster

            Robbie K here with another review, this time hitting the latest animated movie to come into the big screen and help impress your little ones.  While not Disney, tonight’s first review offers the potential to teach, preach, and have your kids dancing in your seats as a new merchandising set debuts on the silver screen.  What’s in store? Read on to find out as I look over

 

Movie: Small Foot (2018)

 

Directors:

Karey KirkpatrickJason Reisig (co-director)

Writers:

Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by)

Stars:

Channing TatumJames CordenZendaya

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  Animated movies often take this approach, but Small Foot especially took the reins of selling the terrifying yeti as a cute, cuddly, anthropomorphized group that look fluffy and stylish at the same time.  It’s characters have that adorable round face, big shining eyes, and a happy, peppy attitude that feeds positivity to the audience around.  As such, hearts will melt and smiles will shine bright as they watch the group come to life.

 

Animation: No surprise here, a big budget production from WB has fluid movement and articulated sequences that show off their computer work.  Small Foot’s design is also colorful, vibrant, and somehow a tribute to the fashion/culture of multiple ethnicities that represent their voice actors. I myself loved the styles of the yeti’s and how chique their fur was structured to make them unique. Definitely not the most realistic, but it works.

 

Strong Messages:  What would a kid’s movie be without important life lessons and adult politics present to provide a double layered story?  Small Foot is just that, working to teach the audience the importance of trust, the questioning of theories to pursue truth and make life better, bringing cultures together to make for peace, and a variety of other messages that the world can stand to learn.  It’s powerfully done, with all the magic thrown in to help bring the message to full light and let it fully settle in.  Where other films are a little more subtle, Small Foot decides to just blare it full blast to get the message across, even promoting a few songs to teach the lessons.

 

Funny at times:  I think this states it enough, but Small Foot attempts a lot of comedic styles to entertain all ages.  Many of the running jokes are tributes to vine and internet videos that should be familiar to the modern era.  Some are brilliantly timed, and others are included haphazardly, there to be funny for the kids alone.  I myself like the cleverer references or clever wordplay, which there is actually a decent amount, so kudos to them.

 

Songs: While it seems the modern trend is to turn everything animated into a musical to get soundtracks out and money in.  While that trend gets annoying at times, have to say that the music of Small Foot was very entertaining and fitting to the scenes that were designed with them. Beautiful, passionate songs led by Zendaya gave me the goosebumps and held such emotional fire to motivate your desire to learn new things, while the Corben’s twist on Pressure was clever, fun, and humorous to break things up.  Nevertheless, this would be a fun setlist to play in the car and one worth investing in.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lacking The Disney Magic: We know there are plenty of reasons why this is the case, but for me Small Foot is lacking the same power that bigger budget productions hold.  Small Foot may be cute, but it didn’t push the boundaries of creativity, character cultivation or design.  It’s not bad by any means, and while there is some originality, all the pieces don’t quite line up.

 

The Overdone Comedy: Again, I like many of the things this movie offers in terms of laughs, but Small Foot has difficulties with finding that balance between too much and too little.  The movie loves beating running joke horses to death, while skimping on jokes that were more diverse and bridged multiple ages.

 

More Songs:  Can’t believe I’m saying this, but in truth, the movie actually needed a few more songs to round out the experience.  Zendaya’s song is amazing, but for me not so much to fashion most of the screen time songs around it.  At least three different renditions were played during the film, plenty of opportunity for some of those more humorous songs to fill instead.

 

Character Usage/Development: Lots of voices, means lots of time management needs, and Small Foot does okay to some degree.  The problem is, that they just don’t integrate the characters as well as I think they could have  done.  So many potential plot points, hindrances, and obstacles could have been introduced to add more to the story, but musical theatrics and cuteness took over.  Much more was needed on many fronts to really tie all the characters together and launch more stories to the mix.  This is probably due to lower run time, which was appreciated, but perhaps will set up for some type of Netflix series.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Overall, Small Foot is a fun ride that will appease the target audience easily enough.  Music is fun, the jokes are a variety of references to get on board with, and it has that cute atmosphere you got from the trailers.  And if you’ve got the little ones enjoy it with them, but realize this one doesn’t quite have the magic behind it like it wanted.  It’s a little off balance, did not take the potential of developing characters, and needed more of the gimmicks to help give it that push it needed.  So overall, most are going to either avoid or reserve this one for NetFlix/Redbox.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Robot Rumble That Is Quite Humble

A-X-L Poster

 

The bond between man and dog is sacred, but what happens when it is a robotic dog that you happened to find?  That odd question is answered, ironically, tonight with the movie review that I bring.  A charming piece according to the trailers, this film is going to try and make a mark in the last stages of August.  Can such a bizarre concept actually work, or will it fall to skeptical eyes as the summer wraps up to pave the way for Fall’s lineup.  Robbie K here to bring you another review in hopes to helping you out with your movie choices.  So, let’s get reviewing on

 

Movie:  A.X.L. (2018)

 

Director:

Oliver Daly

Writer:

Oliver Daly

Stars:

Thomas JaneBecky GAlex Neustaedter

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute/Family Friendly: The movie accomplished it’s mission to be family friendly, as this film does everything to mimic a Disney movie without falling into lawsuit territory.  A.X.L’s a quirky movie that should be a walk in the park for most, minus a few loud and darker moments so parents be warned.  Nonetheless, it’s got a little something for most young at heart audience members with that K-9 meeting human approach, fused with a little teen drama as well.

 

The Bike Scenes:  The trailers have shown you our main guy Miles (Neustaedter) tearing up the dirt hills of California.  Like the DCOM motorcrossed the few sequences dedicated to the sport are quite a sight for the audience members to soak up.  Decently stable camera work, fantastic sound editing, and a good orchestra/soundtrack to give it the extra oomph it needed.  While short lived, these moments are the fuel to get past the slow opening.

 

Decent Acting:  No award winners outside of the teen and kids choice awards level, but the cast of A.X.L. are not the worst crew to ever grace a screen.  Becky G is my particular favorite, the character given to her getting a little more chance to branch out than most of the others.  She’s balanced, edgy, but equipped to handle much of the chaos without breaking character.  Neustaedter isn’t bad, but his monotone performance needs a little molding to get a better character, instead of the sulky, long-haired look that much of CW’s cast seems to share. Alex MacNicollplays the overdone antagonist well, but not much expands past whining, moaning, and hormonal antics that aren’t worth the time to invest in.  And as for the rest of the group, they succeed in their roles, they just again needed more time.

 

The Unique Animation Of A.X.L.: It’s a combination of puppetry/robotics with CGI, the digital dog certainly had interesting choices made when it came to animating him.  At times it worked for me, the puppetry managing to bring the playful sprit out in full force.  The CGI is decent too, smooth and accurate for representing a cyber dog, yet not quite the magic experience that Disney likes to show us. This hybrid doesn’t seem logical, but in terms of creative display, it works for me.

 

 

DISLIKES

 

The Predictable Plot: If you have seen the trailers, you should be able to piece the ending together within the first half hour of the movie.  A.X.L. struggles with surprise, choosing to stick to soap opera antics and simplified plots to entertain.  If you don’t care about the plot and want to look at the pretty people, then you are set, but otherwise not much to make you gasp in this film.

 

The Characters Need Expanding:  Pretty self-explanatory, our young adult/teenager group are diluted characters that steadily start to fill in with each passing minute.  They work for the superficial looks and the sentimental message they were going for, but there was so much more to find out about them. Hinting at backstories, merging the group together, it needed a lot more theatrics to really craft the group that I wanted to see.

 

The Story:  Same thing here, A.X.L’s plot seems to be a rushed production that was finished to meet a summer daylight.  Things happen very quickly, getting little time to simmer before running all processors at max performance.  The story is really straightforward, and when you combine this with the lackluster characters you just get a rusted plot line that seems expanded from a short film.  Perhaps they have their eyes set on the prize of a franchise, or perhaps they hope to tell more somewhere else, but this film didn’t quite complete the film on a good level, potentially looking to the future instead of settling on the present.

 

The anticlimactic ending: Nothing hits me harder than seeing a supposedly suspenseful film drop the ball on the climactic struggle.  This film managed to promote a lot of potential excitement only to snatch that away with a semi-emotional finale that lacked any suspense or thrills.  A rushed finish only went so far with me, again working to hastily wrap up the story in the given time (110 minutes).  The silver lining is that this finale will be geared towards the youngest group, but for the rest try to enjoy the charming finish it holds to in the last 10 minutes.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

Truth is A.X.L. won’t be netting any awards but that doesn’t mean that it’s a piece of garbage.  It’s special effects and pretty cast nature will be the selling point alongside some fantastic sound editing.  And while the whole movie lacks the bite of an action film, it certainly does get that family friendly nature it wanted.  And while the twist of a ticked off robot dog is there, the rest of this predictable plot needed some tuning up, primarily the ending conflict. In all honesty though, A.X.L. suffers from trying to wrap up in  movie instead of looking to expand the tale into a television series or some other media. Worth a trip to the theater?  You can guess probably not, as this film could have gone to nickelodeon and done better.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Family/Sci-Fi: 6.0-6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Howling For The Visuals, But Whimpering For Story Quality

Alpha Poster

 

A movie about dogs is always a mixed bag… hey wait a minute, did I start this review last week like this?  Robbie K here and bringing you another analysis of the latest film to grace the silver screen.  While not a full dog movie, tonight’s feature goes back in time to explore the origins of how we got man’s best friend.  What looks part survival film and part pet movie, led me to wonder what was in store, in hopes it would be the next epic film to break the box office. What lies in store?  Robbie K here to give you another writing of opinions as I review:

 

Movie: Alpha (2018)

 

Director:

Albert Hughes

Writers:

Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (screenplay by), Albert Hughes (story by)

Stars:

Kodi Smit-McPhee,  Natassia Malthe,  Leonor Varela

 

 

LIKES:

 

Quick Run Time:  A movie about survival, especially with one human character, can be long and drawn out if not careful.  Alpha keeps the film rolling, not taking too long of pauses as the journey transverses from one part of the frontier to the other. The entire span of the journey is just over 90 minutes and it does a nice job trying to cram everything into a nice concise package.

 

Impressive CGI: The movie is all about recreating the primal world of the wondering nomads, which involves a lot of imagination, design, and CGI to bring it to life.  The movie gets props from me because they accomplished the recreation in a very detailed manner.  First the environments and natural phenomena are dazzling, fun, and furious as the special effects combine to unleash the nightmares that disasters hold. Second the animals of the world are also nicely animated, from the rugged texture of the skin, to the fluid movement of their grazing, hunting, and fleeing.  Sure, it hits moments where it crosses into the fake looking zone, but overall a nice display indeed.

 

Costumes:  Tribal costumes require a lot of detail, coordination, and study to deliver the most accurate display of that part of history. Though I’m no historian, Alpha’s tribesman have all the knick-knacks of the what a plains hunter would normally have that not only serves as a fashion statement, but holds the functionality that these ancient beings attempted to use.  The lead’s attire will get the most attention, but when combined as a tribe, each nuance of the costumes comes out a little more.

 

The Wolf:  When the live animal is on screen, the wolf was the stealer of the scene.  Cute eyes, the whimpering moans, and the wise gazes are certainly the opener for this pooch, but the action scenes that require training were impressive displays to say the least.

 

The Cinematography: Let’s face it, the real selling pint though is the beautiful visuals of the film.  Alpha’s scenery is gorgeous to say the least, with vivid waterfalls, beautiful night skies, and desolate plains that harbor doom.  Sunrise and sunsets are majestic as they promise the start and end of new days, and the colors are dazzling as they blend into a mosaic of fantastic sequences.  Throw in the CGI and the world just gets more vivid, making for an impressive setting to become involved with.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Animal Torture:  I know, times were tough back then and it was either be hunters or be dead.  Still, I didn’t like to see the suffering of animals in this film.  Alpha does not go down the quick finishes, but tries to capture the full moment of a spear hunter taking steps to secure his life.  Some of the more merciful finishes I appreciate, but those torturous moments are not something I want to see in dragged out details. So, animal activists with bleeding hearts beware, you are in for a treat that will hurt your aortic pumps at times.

 

Lackluster Dialogue: It’s a good thing that the visuals are so stunning as they are the strongest components to telling their story. As for the dialogues, well… primal grunts and language with subtitles doesn’t have the best ring. Accurate?  Potentially, however Alpha’s dialogue doesn’t have the unique, movie magic quality that it probably needed.  It’s nice to have realism, but the conversations were almost pointless in the manner they presented this film in.

 

Limited characters: The main character and his four-legged friend are the stars of this show, but they try to introduce other characters in the first thirty minutes.  It’s nice to establish the family tree web of the group, but given the worthless dialogue and short screen time, it almost pointless to go into introductions of the characters if they were not going to use them more.  The father in general has a few dream sequences, but they did not do much to expand on his thoughts after the big event… so not the best casting.

 

The Patchy Story:  It’s a story about getting back home, so there isn’t much story components to expand upon.  However, Alpha feels patchy to me as the shots blend together in a very rushed presentation.  Things suddenly happen, there is little fluid buildup during transitions, and the predictable plot devices sort of fall into place too fast.  I could see a lot of the places were cuts were made and while it led to faster pace, it would have been nice to see some more entertaining components to piece it together, but still not too bad.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Alpha is good in regards to the beautiful visual spectacle that it is.  The primal world is alive in all of the amazing details that the big studios can make, and the even better it is in a nice concise 90 minutes to get you out quick. Alpha’s adorable wolf (whether CGI or real) steals the show and will be the factor you want to bet on compared to the lead.  Yes, the story is not the most unique, and is quite predictable thanks to the trailers, but it’s patchy, linear story will be easier to follow.  No, there is some suspense into this movie at times, but overall it’s a pretty lax adventure movie, with the exception of the mad props to having to survive in the wilds of the past.  Worth a trip to the theater?  For visuals yes, but movie overall I cannot recommend it.  In addition, I do not recommend 3-D viewing, because there is little to warrant the headache inducing effects this movie has.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Family: 6.5

Movie Overall:: 6.0

Pooh or Poo? Have We Found The Golden Honey Pot Of The Summer?

Christopher Robin Poster

 

Being a kid of the 90s, you got exposed to a lot of generational cartoons.  From a young age I got exposed to the classic Winnie the Pooh cartoons with the memorable moments of pooh stuck in the hole, or on the balloon.  Shortly thereafter the new adventures strapped in and brought new life to the series that was even more endearing tone before dropping further into kids territory.  Then, Pooh and the crew kind of phased out, with only those less than 5 really caring about what they could offer, thus they faded from memory.  Now, Disney is trying to recapture the magic of A.A. Milne’s in a live action version of the stuffed animals journey through the eyes of the owner.  Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Christopher Robin (2018)

 

Director:

Marc Forster

Writers:

Alex Ross Perry (screenplay by),  Tom McCarthy(screenplay by)

Stars:

Ewan McGregor,  Hayley Atwell,  Bronte Carmichael

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute/Charming:  When it comes to Pooh and the crew, the adventures are almost always cute and adorable.  Christopher Robin continues this trend, making sure to rope in all of the classic goodness, but modernize it to the new families of the modern age. It is perfect for kids as the stuffed animals bounce around the town, but also for the current parents who grew up with the cartoons like I did.  Nevertheless, that nostalgic atmosphere will come in this charming adventure that somehow brings the feel of the classics into the new form of live action.

 

Clever Wit:  The references in Pooh are not for the casual audience member, but for fans like me, there is hidden treasure in the references. Nostalgia again is the leading quality, but Christopher Robin had me chuckling with all the well-timed, well-delivered, bumbling of Pooh and the Crew.  There are plenty of misunderstanding moments that will have the older audience members enjoying it the most, while the kids will love the goofy slapstick that follows from the disbelief of the supporting casts.  I can easily say that this movie is definitely a little more targeted for the older crowd in terms of dialogue.

 

Emotional Growth: Where most of the Pooh adventures are silly, whimsical feats of seeking out enough honey to fill Pooh, Christopher Robin falls on the spectrum of those episodes that were more serious.  It’s about a new stage of life through McGregor’s character and it does a nice job of balancing the numerous emotional stressors that comes with growing up.  This film does a fantastic job of portraying that line between kid and adult, and how both are important for raising the family.  It will speak deeply to those with families of their own, and seal a spot in the heart as the greatest Pooh movie of all time.

 

The original voices/Animation:  With a Disney movie, the animation is always good, so no need to go into too many details. The big thing to mention, is that the stuffed animals look like stuffed animals, so the design is great on that lone. However, my favorite aspect is that Jim Cummingscame back to bring Pooh/Tigger to life once more.  His voice alone is the source of Pooh’s comedy, bringing that sweet innocence with it that pulls at your heart strings like the silly old bear can.  As for Tigger, he is still the energetic, manic tiger who doesn’t understand the word limits.  While the other voice actors were good, Jim was the winner for me as a key pillar of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  No surprise, the movie doesn’t have too many twists and turns for being a family movie.  It pretty much hits a line drive to the family life lessons, to keep it perfect for its target audience, (aka staying away from the dark and obscure). It’s not that I was surprised at all, but as a reviewer I have to look at all aspects.

 

Limited audience:  Pooh is not for everyone, and unlike other Disney movies, not everyone is going to love this.  While I did enjoy the comedy, it’s specificity for Pooh comedy is going to limit it to a small number of people, and not all kids are going to enjoy the mellow pace of the movie.  So, its branching out was not quite achieved the way they wanted to in my opinion.

 

More Haley Atwell:  I know the film is about Christopher Robin (hence the title), but you would have expected a little more integration of the wife if they were going to pull the daughter in.  Atwell played her part well, but I wished they had incorporated her side of the story more and helped round out Christopher’s story. 

 

More Of The Other Animals: Again, I know the relationship between Pooh and Christopher is the key, but I do wish that the other animals had their appendages in the film a little better.  Still more screen time than I anticipated, but they could have been incorporated a bit more to really max things out.

 

Missing The Whimsy: This comes from loving the new adventures, but I really missed the full-on imagination that came with the original cartoon series.  Because the emotional aspect is blended so well into the movie it takes away from the adventure theme that I loved.  Not bad at all mind you, I just missed that favorite aspect from my childhood.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            By far Christopher Robin is the best family movie of the summer, and the must watch for those with young members in their family. It hits its key demographic hard and manages to balance the movie in many aspects to grab kids and original generation hard.  Sadly, they may have done this job a little too well, because general audiences may not appreciate the full glory of this movie, and the styles they chose.  In addition, the movie just misses that adventure component that Disney movies are famous for, to instead go down the predictable, preachy, emotional pathway that they tend to do.  So, is it worth a theater visit?  The answer is yes if you are that key demographic, but otherwise skip this until you get it in theaters.  

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

A Nuclear Blast Of Excitement, Meets Drawn Out Fallout of Grandiosity

Mission: Impossible - Fallout Poster

 

The familiar chimes of a flute, the booming sounds of a drum, and the orchestra starts up on a familiar tune that is pleasing to the ears of fans aloud.  Yes, this can be any movie, but for this reviewer, it means that it’s the theme to a series that continues to sneak around in modern times.  I’m talking about the spy thriller series that has dug up more terrorist plots than Sherlock Holmes, where gadgets and gizmos are utilized to conceal more than kill.  I think you know what I mean, (most likely because you read the title) and thus we enter the latest review on Robbie’s list.  Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read on to find out my thoughts.  Agent Karim bringing you a review on:

 

Movie: Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

 

Director:

Christopher McQuarrie

Writers:

Christopher McQuarrie,  Bruce Geller

Stars:

Tom Cruise,  Henry Cavill,  Ving Rhames

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Get down to the basics first, the agents selected for this mission certainly had the skills to bring the adventure to life.  A solid chemistry between the various players in the game, Fallout’s pieces have been fine tuned to provide a cavalcade of thrilling characters worthy of bringing the conspiracy to life.  Cruise leads the group the most, utilizing the majority of the screen time to be the keystone for just about everything.  Newcomer Cavill is also a welcome addition, dropping his superhero leotard and its morals for a new set of justice to be served. And as for the supporting players of Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Sean Harristhey too are elite enough to be integrated into the mix.

 

The Story:  If you have followed the series up until this point, seldom do we have solid connections between movies, with only the team and a tiny thread to tie each lead together.  For once, Mission Impossible straight up follows a movie, and the continuity is welcomed as it opens up new avenues for than and the gang to travel.  While the majority of the plot is pretty straight and narrow in regards to a spy thriller, the victory comes in seeing a few of the characters get unclassified. It’s fantastic growth that the series needed that managed to get integrated well.  In addition, the story manages to bend from the linear presentation, resulting in a little more excitement to be had.

 

Pace:  If it’s a like, you know it moves, and for a 150-minute run time that pace is key to keeping people intrigued.  Fallout forgoes much of the slower, drawn out jargon filled moments to keep a continuously moving story, which worked very well for me. In addition, the liner story bypassed the convoluted presentation the first movie had, which I think is a victory for most.

 

The Action:  Since the reboot of Ghost Protocol, the MI series has really found its roots in the action genre, which works very well for me. Much of the pace of the films has to do with the amount of action in this piece and the numerous sequences it contains of spy warfare.  Exciting vehicle changes, some gunplay, and ruthless physical combat await the audience members in this piece and this dynamic change of action theme further strengthened the film. Of course, the special effects and sound editing helped bring the scenes to life, alongside a supporting music list, which gave it the theater worthy quality.  Yes, the action is certainly the selling point of the movie and will win the hearts of adrenaline junkies like me to no fault.

 

The Comedy:  Again, the writers have done their homework and accomplished a balance of funny meeting thriller.  MI 6 does not rely on cheap gimmicks to deliver its laughs, but instead is a display of the art of comedic timing, non-grandiose acting, and simple facial mechanics to deliver the gold.  To integrate it into the scenes without diverging too far is an added bonus that I relish to see in future installments.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Cheesy at Times:  My friend was right on one level; the MI series continues to get cheesier with every rendition.  This isn’t a total bad thing, but Fallout sort of crosses into that territory more than the other installments for me (at least form what I remember).  It follows a lot of stereotypical spy gimmicks, including the ability to somehow stretch 15 minutes into 45 minutes by some form of magic.  In addition, the corniness starts to come in the extreme stunts and nearly invincible forms of the agents until that one special wound. Don’t mind this?  Fantastic!  However, the MI series needs to keep check or risk falling into the obscure stunts laid out by Fast and Furious.

 

Predictable:  They tried to throw curve balls our way, utilizing the art of multiple deceptions and suggestions to lead us astray of the true plot.  A noble effort indeed, but the film is still a very predictable tale to say the least. Some of this comes from the fact that the movie’s linearity is just leading us to the final point and you know deep down something good is going to happen.  Another component comes from the fact the five trailers have shown a good majority of clips that you can search for in the 150 minutes.  Yet for me, the movie almost tried too hard to throw too many twists into the mix, resulting in lackluster revelations (some of which were buried in jargon conversation).  The series had moments to really surprise, they just didn’t quite execute them.

 

The Length:  Sure, an action filled dynamic was able to lighten much of the load, but that doesn’t mean the movie still isn’t long.  MI 6 is not for the ADD, and may require several trips to the bathroom if you guzzle down your drinks.  This is a dislike only because there were some areas that it could have tightened up, as well as several places to end the movie for another sequel.  Had they utilized the time better, I think I could have given it higher, but hey, you do get your money’s worth right?

 

New Characters:  A few were used well, and others not so much. Fallout introduces new pieces to the game that hold potential, but we haven’t quite seen their full capabilities unleashed yet on screen.  Future installments will hopefully hold the keys to their influences and lethality, but at this stage of the game they were nearly pointless for me for the length they were focused on.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

This installment of the MI series is a nuclear blast of action packed stunts, mixed well with an expanded story, good acting, and strong writing by the team.  It certainly is one of the more exciting spy thrillers and will fuel the drive to stick it to the end.  As the fallout begins to occur though, the lengthy time may wear on you, especially given the predictable, and semi grandiose, elements of the movie that ironically needed some restructuring.  Still, all the excitement and special effects nets this movie a must see in theaters for the experience award, and is currently the leader for the month of July for me.  Catch it fast before the next rush of movies my friends, or await the rent on Netflix.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Thriller: 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

 

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

Ant-Man and the Wasp Poster

 

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

 

Movie: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

 

Director:

Peyton Reed

Writers:

Chris McKenna,  Erik Sommers

Stars:

Paul Rudd,  Evangeline Lilly,  Michael Peña

 

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5