Towering Potential Falls

Dark Tower

 

Stephen King is a master of many things, and Hollywood has never been afraid to capitalize on the epic tales he has crafted over the years.  This weekend his legendary Dark Tower series gets its own chance to “shine” and prove to fans that the series can continue on. Did Sony studios plan to make a “sequel” to the books thrive, or will if fall victim to the shortcuts the film industry often takes.  Robbie K here to share his thoughts on another movie.  Why don’t we get started then?

 

 

LIKES:

 

Nice Set Up:  Doing my research, I realized where the directors were planning on taking this film franchise and the books it is based on.  The Dark Tower acts as a “sequel” to the books and builds as an introduction to the series.  It sets a nice framework up for those who haven’t read the series and prepares us for an adventure that could span multiple films/shows in the future.  It has simplified the complexity of King’s work and thrown hints at how his worlds are connected, perhaps inspiring some rewatching of his classics.

 

Action Scene: Dark Tower primarily is about opening us up to a world and setting the pieces and that unfortunately doesn’t bring much action.  However, the group managed to put a dazzling piece together involving our gunslinger and a round of minions.  Idris Elba finally gets to show off his legendary skills, outside of acting, as the lone gunslinger in his quest to stop the forces of evil.  The stunts are epic, the editing is on point, and the violence is contained to not be overly gory but still strong enough to be considered action instead of a bland use of a gun.  It took the movie long enough to get to this point, but I thoroughly enjoyed the climax fight.

 

The Acting:  I’m not calling this the world’s best acting, or even Oscar Worthy on most levels, but the acting is decent in the Dark Tower.  Tom Taylor as the new kid with the shine, does a decent job playing the troubled, awkward kid and portraying that strange view of the world.  His other emotions, however, needs a little work as these come off dry, awkward, and sometimes a bit underwhelming given the circumstance.  Matthew McConaughey brings his Lexus commercial approach to the mix, the cool delivery of his lines, holding an air of superiority and malicious intent.  He has the villain role down and instills a bit of chill when he appears on the scene.  Of course, the champion of this movie is Idris himself, hitting the role with 100% accuracy.  Elba’s got the rogue part down and the edgy, loner bravado brings the bang to the proverbial gun.  And the chemistry Elba has with his cast only amps up his skills, a talent I always like to see.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Rushed:  Sure the movie made a nice framework for introducing the series to nonreaders, it failed to deliver those important details.  The Dark Tower leaves a lot questions unanswered in terms of the origins of all the pieces involved in this war.  As for the parts they do fill in, these are lacking on so many levels, lacking real depth or mystery to get you hooked into the film. Even worse, much of the quest has little in regards to obstacles, with most problems being solved with little effort.  You get to hear all about the things lying in wait, but their actual involvement in the movie is little to none.  While this not only limits the story, it also limits the special effects and creature design we could have gotten as well.  A few CGI and makeup effects stand out, but the Dark Tower’s first film is rather lackluster given the potential of King’s books.

 

Anticlimactic:  Much of the movie is rather dull, drawn out in a manner of theoretical talks of ideal brain power, anarchy, and abduction.  All the fancy words and magic didn’t help a limited dialog that can be boiled down into a single-minded set of plots that we hear over and over again.  When things finally get going, and all the hot air from the cast is lit aflame… the action barely catches light before being snuffed out.  With the exception of one scene (see likes), The Dark Tower’s gun slinging is not what I expected.  This is particular true for the final fight between antagonist and protagonist that was more lame than impressive.  All the hype and rivalry to end so abruptly, not the direction I would have taken.

 

Predictable/Lazy:  There was so much potential placed on this movie, and the trailer painted what could have been an epic adventure.  Yet, somewhere the film fell victim to cheap shortcuts, low use of nightmarish effects, and a direction that went down the wrong tangent for an opening. It felt uninspired and lazy at times, and perhaps they cut a lot of good parts to fit into the short run time.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall the Dark Tower is not bad when you understand the plan to expand upon in the years to come.  As a stand-alone film, it does the job of introducing characters and the world, but it failed to reel me into the full-on adventure.  With a rushed plot, easy challenges, and lazy production approach, this film is mediocre at best given the hype of everything.  Therefore, this reviewer recommends holding off seeing this film until Redbox gets it in stock.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

An Icon of Lost Potential

Emoji

 

In today’s world, the phone isn’t used quite as the inventors pictured, with actual calling being replaced by texting and snapchat.  But one item has been developed to replace the words that are too difficult to write: Emojis. In desperation, Sony has developed a film about these icons in an attempt to break the bank with another hit animated series.  Can they succeed, or will this movie be nothing but a bombardment of sad faced emojis?  Robbie K here to answer that question for you with another review.

 

LIKES:

 

The Animation:  You can say a lot of negative things about the movie, but one plus for this reviewer is the beautiful display Sony’s team has designed.  Like many movies, the characters move with fluid grace, transitioning through their adventure with little jumpiness.  High Five (James Corden) in particular has impressive moves, as having a hand expand beyond simple hand movements can be tricky business.  In addition, I enjoyed the visualization of the world within our phone, finding clever design in the development of the internal universes of each app (primarily Instagram’s frozen pictures).  I’ll admit, the characters aren’t realistic like Pixar, or even super creative design, but there is cleverness in the world itself.

 

It’s Cute:  When it comes to cartoons/animated marvels, the pendulum can swing to either side of the age spectrum.  Fear not those with little kids, this movie is certainly geared towards the younger side, filled to the brim with color, simplistic jokes, and over the top slapstick that will make many giggle.  Sure, there are a few drier jokes that adults will get, but for the most part this movie goes back to basics for family friendliness.  One won’t have to worry about inappropriate gestures or innuendos in this film.

 

The Morals:  Movies are a powerful tool to teach the lessons we humans are too ignorant to learn from mentors, school, and the quickly fading trend of reading.  Emoji’s movie solid lesson of being yourself and not conforming to the traditional ways is as good rehash of the traditional lesson.  Those who stand out from the norm will find great relevance to Gene (T.J. Miller)  and Jailbreak’s (Anna Faris) quest and most likely grab on to the characters.  It’s also always good to see a lesson in friendship as well, quoting the movie as “Better to have one good friend, than a bunch of fake fans followers”.  The strong emphasis on this will hopefully break through the persistent firewalls of your subconscious and get you contacting your buddies.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Story:  Despite the morals infused into the story, the overall quality of Gene’s tale is very basic at best.  The Emoji movie has little sustenance to it, diving more into cramming the jokes in the short run time. After all the world building I had hoped for a little more depth to navigating the apps, facing the dangers of the cyber terror that lurk in our phones. I wanted suspense! I wanted exploration of a selection of apps. I wanted an adventure that had a little more depth behind it. I got very little of that.  All the obstacles they faced were fairly easy to circumvent, and often not worth mentioning at how lame they were. Certainly, they did a few things right (Just Dance 4), but for the most part, it was a huge loss of potential at decoding the craziness of our obsession with phones.

 

Humor:  Humor can be fun when balanced, but unfortunately Emoji movie lacks that balance, once again swinging the pendulum to the younger audience.  Most of the jokes are very simple statements that lack any finesse, or decent delivery to maximize the laughs. Much of the humor is dry, and although has adult components, lacks that clever zing that other films/programs do. James Corden rectifies this a little with High Fives self-absorbed personality, but even his banter gets stale after a while.  With all of the comedians in this movie, I really had expected more of this movie, but again missed potential.

 

Boring: If you haven’t gleamed it from the first two categories, then this should sum this up, Emoji movie is boring. There is no suspense to the adventure, and let’s face it no point, to the challenges at hand.  I found myself looking at the clock wondering how much longer I had in the ridiculous presentation of smart phone gimmicks.  Cute is always great, but it is better left to YouTube and Kid shows that are in short spans of time. Without the jokes to back it up, nor an impressive voice performance, there is just little to scream entertainment outside of watching a child’s smile light up at the colorful presentation.

 

The VERDICT:

 

You’ve seen the reviews of my colleagues, and they aren’t far from the truth… Emoji movie was a miss for Sony in terms of quality.  The lackluster jokes, lack of challenge, and reserved wit were not the right steps to take in this inconsistent adventure for success.  In fact, the best thing of this film is the animated short for Hotel Transylvania that precedes it.  Still, if you are looking for a safe, family trip to the movies, you’ve got the Emoji movie to save your bacon.  However, I highly recommend reserving this one for Netflix. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  4.0

Movie Overall:  2.0  

Valerian: Movie of a Thousand Visuals

Valerian

 

Comic books, a loveable source of entertainment in many forms.  While superheroes from the DC and Marvel universe shows take the cake, there are a few unique nuggets hidden in the colorful pages.  Valerian is one such series, a sci-fi adventure that held a bounty of potential comic gold that would certainly make for a good movie.  Turns out, Hollywood did its research and this weekend, the cinematic rendition of this tale hits theaters.  With all the hype, I hope this film will be the movie of the summer!  What is my verdict? Let’s get started with another Robbie’s movie review.

 

LIKES:

 

Part of the story:  Science Fiction stories with fantasy can go either way in quality as seen in a wide variety of movies. Part of Valerian’s story captures a sincere element that tugs at the heart strings concerning one of the races.  While not the most complex of stories, this subplot has a nice dynamic to it as you learn of the race and their fight for survival.  A few other tangent tales are decent as well, primarily one concerning Rihanna  character Bubble the exotic shape shifter.  This tale had a little heart to it, it just needed more to be complete.

 

The Graphics:  The trailers weren’t kidding when they hyped up the graphics of this movie.  Valerian’s strongest selling point is the beautiful visuals contained in its computer-generated setting.  It starts with the creatures that inhabited the galaxy and expands beyond that to bring out some truly imaginative world building that this day and age can perfect.  The cities themselves are polished with each level having its own sense of style, “class” and personality that was captured in the high definition graphics.  One will certainly see the budget went into the design of this movie, and many of the scenes are certainly geared towards the 3-D ride they want to take you on, especially in those chase scenes.  Is it as good as Avatar’s visuals?  While certainly imaginative, Valerian has some polishing to do to match the realism in that film.  However, the creatures are certainly more diverse than those found in its blue cousin’s world.   Of note:  I would have loved to see more costumes and makeup to offset the technology and add a little more realism to the mix.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Story Overall:  While there is one component that touched my heart, Valerian has issues in the story department overall.  Much of the tale is a rather rushed mess, devoid of any sustenance that the trailers promised.  The dark looming threat that threatened to collapse the artificial city is nothing what I expected. Truth be told, the big revelation was kind of lame and expected (I was able to decipher much of the mystery within the first hour.) There was little suspense in the tale, and the execution didn’t add much “flare” to it.  In regards to character development, that was also lacking, the two leads barely evolving past their superficial soldier roles from the beginning.  The result were boring characters that I had difficulty attaching to.  I can’t say the acting or chemistry between the two was not the strongest, which did not help their case any further.

 

Action:  Or should I say lack of action.  Despite the promises by the trailers, Valerian is rather lax in regards to stunning action sequences.  The blaster scenes hold some potential, but are rather bland and short-lived to get hyped up for.  A few chase scenes manage to inject a little speed into the pace of this movie, but unfortunately you have seen the entire scene in the trailer, leaving little more to get hyped about.  The close combat scenes weren’t much improved, with many of them being overacted, forced, and somewhat sluggish. While certainly not absent, Valerian’s visual style should have had more exciting action to compliment it, but sadly that was not the case.

 

Under use of creatures:  With all the world building and alien design, you would think they would utilize it more. Unfortunately, much of the creatures and behemoths are shown off only in passing and have little relevance to the story.  Ironically, most of the extras are just humans dressed in interesting outfits, while the rest of the CGi creatures remain isolated from our heroes.  The lack of integration made for an underutilized cast, and the loss of creativity was difficult to see. Hopefully this will be rectified in future installments.

 

Editing:  Perhaps the biggest dislike for me was some of the poor editing in this movie. Valerian has two sequences that were weak integrations into the plot, feeling irrelevant in the grand scheme.  One of these scenes adds nearly 30 minutes to the movie, and if deleted would do little damage other than dropping one celebrity exotic dance. Why this was the start of the rescue…I don’t know, but it weakened the film by kinking up the pace of the film.

 

The Verdict:

 

It’s true that Valerian has stunning looks, animation, and world building, but outside of that there isn’t much to say wow too.  I haven’t read the comic book, but this movie did not feel as if it brought the story to life, nor the action the novel most likely held.  Without these components, or better editing for that matter, the 137-minute run time is a bit of a snooze fest in regards to sci-fi operas.  Still, the visual effects are certainly theater worthy, but I still heed caution in seeing this one on the silver screen.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

War or Survival of the Apes: Still Apemazing

Apes

Planet of the Apes, a series that has had ups and downs over the decades it’s been in existence.  The recent remakes have breathed life into the series and delivered some fantastic films that scream science fiction as they explain the events leading to the “classic” story. After a grand slam, middle movie that started the war, the third installment promised to bring that battle to full swing (according to the trailers).  Robbie K here with another review to fill the details and help guide your viewing choices.  War…what is it good for?  Let’s see if we can answer that question.

 

LIKES:

 

The Graphics:  The new series forewent the costumes, makeup, and looks of the classic series and instead focused on CGI graphics to bring the apes to life.  Once more, this series gets the animation perfect in all the high definition detail that modern technology bringsAndy Serkis (or Smeagle from LOTR for most of you) flexes his motion capture muscles in a stunning performance as Caesar the lead ape.  The movements are fluid, the facial gestures on point, and despite being painted as a chimpanzee, manages to brilliantly bring out a human like protagonist you can’t help but love.  When the more exciting moments are brought in, the border between reality (pyrotechnics) and virtual display is blurred even further in a balanced execution that keeps things in check.  Overall, the visual presentation is stunning.

 

The Story:  When you are doing prequels, it can be difficult to answer questions, but still craft an original story that is good (see the countless Star Wars prequel discussions).  War for the Planet of the Apes manages to achieve this balance of answering questions, while still bringing a story of its own.  This film manages to further develop Caesar’s life, while integrating key relationships that establish a firm foundation needed for these movies.  Much of the film is packed with this deep dive into the character psyche, while trying to infuse tension and suspense at the fates of the other apes. A good story indeed.

 

The Emotion:  And what makes the story so good, it’s the emotion captured in much of the scenes and sequences in the film.  Caesar himself is a complicated mess of feelings, motivations, and morale decisions, which is all brought out in the motion capture animation of Serkis’ work.  Watching his reactions, as well as the visualization of the war are brilliantly displayed with fantastic cinematography and supporting audio that maximizes the punches/kicks of the moment.  Animal activists will get double the slaps, but such emotion kept me engaged in the movie and suspenseful as what would happen next.  This may be the best component of the movie for me.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Length:  Another example of editing, War for the Planet of the Apes could have cut some time off the movie.  This could have been achieved by shortening some of the suffering scenes, or dropping another sequence itself, though this might have weakened the story at points.  For this reviewer, there were components that felt a little long winded and unnecessary, which kind of bored me give the title of the movie (more on this later).

 

The Torture:  If seeing characters tortured is your idea of entertainment, then get stoked because this is your movie.  War for the Planet of the Apes has many dark moments that show the horrors that war can truly be.  The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is a stereotypical, military antagonist and this movie is not afraid to show off his cruelty in that overinflated manner Hollywood makes famous.  Many scenes may be disturbing to those with sensitive constitutions or again animal activist passion.  I found myself quite irritated, annoyed, and ticked off at times at seeing these scenes over and over again.  While I admit a few of these scenes were needed, there is too much of a “good” thing that can lead to it being overdone.

 

The Lack of Action:  For a movie called War for the Planet of the Apes, I was expecting more combat to be packed in.  The trailers promised scenes of battle between man and ape, with military tactics going up against technologically advanced soldiers.  Sadly, this was not the case as this film had only two battle sequences to throw some excitement into the mix. These scenes were cool, but a little anti-climactic and didn’t show the bravado I really wanted to see to deliver that exciting bang I craved.  Sure, War is not just about the exciting battles made famous in cinema and video games, and this film shows another side to War.  If that is going to be the case, don’t edit the trailers to promise that.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            War for the Planet of the Apes might have been better named survival of the Planet of the Apes.  While not the most exciting of the movies and a little darker in regards to portrayal of the Apes’ journey, it definitely has the emotional punch of the other installments.  It’s a beautiful tale that brings the prequels to full closure, while still opening up another movie or two to continue bridging the gap between classic and new.  I do agree that it is one of the better movies of the summer, still it needs a little tweaking in the editing and action department to bring it to full life.  Worth a trip to the theater?  The answer is yes!

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Web-Slinging Sensation: Comedy Returns To Spiderman

Spiderman

 

He can do whatever a spider can!  He is super brainy and has the ability to fight crime against a number of villains with interesting powers.  And he has had two reboots in the last two decades.  Yes, I’m talking about Spiderman, the young high school student who wears the coolest pajamas ever and has some pretty wicked powers.  This weekend, Disney studios gets their hands on the series, in hopes of breathing life back into the series and expanding their already vast repertoire of films.  Can Disney repeat its magic?  Robbie K here to give you the updates, and as always, I appreciate your reading and fun.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Not another origin story:  With all the reboots, cartoon series, and comics (if you still read), we know how the web slinger obtained his powers via radioactive arachnid science projects.  As such, the storyboard writers decided to scrap doing another reboot of this and dived right into the fun at hand.  Thank the lord!  Spiderman homecoming skips the boring, lacking power component, so that you get the most bang for your buck in regards to super power heroics and Spiderman clichés.  The presentation of this film is rather creative, using a selfie video to give a unique perspective on everything this Spiderman has gone through so far.

 

Fun and Funny:  Spiderman Homecoming takes a different approach from most of the other superhero films in that it feels like a high school student life only with…powers.  The result is a film that is fun, simplistic, and as me and my friend agree comedic.  This tale is all about making you laugh with a fantastic dialog, great delivery, and a cast that only amplifies it.  It’s not easy making a high school film that isn’t an afterschool special, drama filled, soap opera and still make it entertaining to watch.  But Disney was able to do it again.  While the production team has a lot to do with this, most audience members are going to give props to the acting.  Tom Holland again rocks the role, taking his cameo from Civil War and running… I mean slinging with it.  He is the first actor in this modern age to capture both the nerdy peter parker and the smart mouthed Spiderman, giving you the character you wanted made for some time.  Now throw in Michael Keaton portraying a villain who didn’t make you cringe, yawn, or sympathize for the performance they were asked to play.  The dynamic between them works and to take a lamer villain like the Vulture and make him respectable gets thumbs up from me.  And they utilized their entire cast very well, keeping their big-name contenders involved without robbing the main actor his time to shine.

 

Ned:  But my friend and I agreed that the best part of the film was Peter’s sidekick Ned played by Jacob Batalon. This character had me in enough stiches to require Spiderman to web it up.  Batalon delivers his lines perfectly, and makes the already comedic gold shine where others would fail.  He feels like a devoted fan boy and it works to keep things entertaining.  The cast did a great job sharing Peter’s secret with him and having him as the devoted friend wanting to do whatever he can to live as a super sidekick.  This character’s work is dynamic, it’s fun, and shows not all cleverness has been lost to cheap slapstick ploys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Special effects are so so:  I don’t know if it’s the costume, the approach, or what, but the special effects didn’t impress me as much as they usually do. Spiderman’s movements looked fake at times, and the weapons (outside of Vulture’s costume) were a bit hokie looking.  Not the biggest dislike, but worth noting.

 

Migraine inducing flashes:  Not really a dislike, but a forewarning is a few scenes involving some flashes, explosions, or morphing that may give one a giant headache or induce a migraine.  Three people in my showing, complained of auras from the film, so those with these type of migraines, or even worse seizures, may want to have caution and be prepared.

 

Editing/Lack of Action:  Biggest dislike for me is more so the lack of action.  No surprise, Robbie wants his superheroes to have at least one engaging fight, but that wasn’t the case for me in this film.  While Homecoming was funny and entertaining, it still lacked the bite that superhero films have had.  The fights were short lived, didn’t involve too many spectacular moves, and the villains didn’t have any impressive moves.  We know Spidey’s universe have some of the most unique powers of the bunch, so why in the world didn’t they show that off more.  Of note, the battles do keep in theme with the movie, and are emotional in regards to character development, that is a plus.  Yet a 134-minute run time needed a few more suspenseful moments to get the full effect.  Either that or cut out the extra laugh, unnecessary moments to shorten the run time.  Sorry guys, but editing is still in need of work.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Spiderman Homecoming is certainly one of the better installments of the modern Spiderman age.  It certainly is one of the more enjoyable comedies I’ve seen in a while, and takes some of the darker edge that has been building over the last few installments.  A great use of cast, good writing, and many other fun gimmicks works on so many levels and will entertain many.  Yet it isn’t the most exciting film of this universe, nor did it need to be over 2 hours long. Still, it’s a great addition to the library and one I look forward to seeing continued and integrated into the rest of the films.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Oh yeah (as if I can stop you), it is worth it.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.5

 

Three Is A Win For Me

Despicable 3

 

Despite what I had hoped, it seemed inevitable for Universal studios to bring about another Despicable Me movie to compete in this summer’s animation flick.  The series has been incredibly popular with merchandising, despite a film series with an up and down quality. Gru and company are back for another round to try and tickle our funny bones while melting our hearts in the process.  Will time number four (three if you don’t count the prequel) return back to the quality of the first predecessor, or does it fall victim to merchandising simplicity?  Robbie K here to try and answer that question!  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Cute:  We all know that these movies are adorable, and that same atmosphere is present through much of the movie.  The relationships between Gru and his Minions, and his newfound brother Dru, and even loveable little Agnes and her new family are certain to soften the hardest hearts.  And to bring that cuteness to full form is the loveable, fluid, and crazy animation of this series.  All the disproportioned anatomical parts, colorful settings, and vibrant gestures are flawless in this movie and bring that same atmosphere you fell in love with.

 

Funny/Clever:  Of course Despicable Me isn’t just about being cute, but also comical at the same time.  It seems the directing team learned something from their first movie, and did a nice job bringing entertainment to the silver screen.  Despicable Me 3 dives back into its comedy roots, maximizing on awkwardly hilarious scenarios and over the top comedic delivery.  Gru (and Dru) spout off plenty of one-liners that had me laughing, in those grossly accented, over the top accents that make me laugh.  The writing is not only well-timed, but also quite clever in the number of references they make alongside the pokes at popular culture.  Even the Minions redeem themselves, falling back into a supporting role that changes up the comedy styles and brings even more laughs.  Such nice balance works and is a step in the right direction for future series, especially with the jokes integrated into a story instead of just jabbering nonsense.

 

Music:  If you have read my previous reviews, then you know I appreciate good sound support to the visuals.  Certainly, the sound editing goes well with all the crazy visual effects, but the real masterpiece comes in the music.  Balthazar Bratt is an 80’s obsessed villain, see the trailer, and with this obsession comes a love for the 80’s songs. Despicable Me 3 is not shy of the wonders of the decade, in all their toe tapping, synthesizer heavy glory.  I was happy to know all the songs on the track list, and appreciated it even more at the clever integration into the movie.  Sure, there are some stretches into the silly section, but for the most part my friend and I had a blast enjoying the teams’ integration into the movie that was incredibly fun!

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Smaller Character Development:  It was cute, it was cuddly, and it had some strong moments of development.  Yet Despicable Me 3 still cannot hold a candle to the majesty of the first film in regards to balance of the character development.  Gru and Dru’s story is well matched, and the main villain has a tightened-up story.  Yet, the development of the other characters remains lacking at parts, forced at times into a rushed mess that felt shallow and lacking.  Gru is doing well with his fatherhood, but the third installment somehow washes the caring father role away in favor of the newer relationships, such a shame. In addition, I didn’t feel the emotional kick like I did back in the first installments as well.  There was one point I felt sorry for a side character, but outside of that…nothing.

 

No Dr. Nefario:  It’s unfortunate, but true. Fans of the notorious, invention making, gas filled madmen are going to be disappointed with the lack of his deep voice and obscure lines.  Sure, there is a cameo (that is quite entertaining), but the absence of the side kick was a disappointment to this reviewer and the hilarity that could have ensued.  Oh well, perhaps the next one will bring him back into the mix, but don’t get your heart set on anything.

 

Trailers reveals much:  Why can Hollywood not learn to sell everything in the trailers?  Despicable me 3 falls victim to much being revealed in the 3-4 tv spots that have been released.  Pay attention to these trailers and you will be able to decipher the intentions, schemes, and outcomes of much of the movie leaving little to the imagination.  And yes, there are many comedy moments that have been overdone on the trailers, which may chip away some of the effect.  Shame on you advertising for revealing so much surprise.  Fortunately, if you are free of TV ads (thanks to streaming), you are okay.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despicable Me 3 was a fun, family friendly adventure that I very much enjoyed.  With a fantastic sense of comedy, revamping of storytelling, and animation to support it all, I certainly think this entertainment worth watching.  Yes, it still has its shortcomings in regards to emotional punches, character development, and surprise, but this reviewer feels the positivity contained in the 90 minutes will make up for it.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You bet it is, but no so much in 3-D as it did little but to add the coming at you from the screen gimmick. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0