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

Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3

 

“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.

 

LIKES:

Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.

 

Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.

 

Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.

 

DISLIKES:

Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.

 

Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.

 

Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.

The VERDICT:

Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

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

Mummy

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

Wander Over To Wonder

Wonder Woman

 

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

 

LIKES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

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

Dead men

 

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

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

 

LIKES:

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

 

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

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

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

 

DISLIKES

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

 

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

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

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

 

VERDICT:

 

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

 

Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

La, La, La, La, La, La: Singe A Family Friendly Animation Song

Smurfs

 

La La La La La La, sing a happy song!  It’s an intro will never forget for not only its ability to get stuck in my head, but also for the show it represents.  The Smurfs’ legacy has extended over the decades into a plethora of forms primarily in the TV shows and movies of the 80s. After a six-year hiatus from the live action movies, the blue creatures return to the silver screen to try to regain footing.  Will the new style work, or does it fall much like the character Clumsy Smurf? Robbie K here with a review on the Smurfs: The Lost Village. Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Animation style works
  • Feels like a Smurfs Adventure
  • Surprisingly emotions
  • Soundtrack

 

Summary: When I saw the trailers for this film, I had my doubts after seeing the definition the live action movies did.  Fortunately, the animation works and feels more Smurf like than the previous movies. Our cast of blue minis has fluid movement and style that is representative of the classic series, as the colorful world and all its creatures pop in the same happy, righteous style they capture all those years ago.  However, the animation is not the only thing that represents the classic style.  The adventure of Lost Village is representative of the classic Smurfs cartoon, filled with epic silliness and kid friendly action for all to enjoy.  Much of the audience targeted by this film, will enjoy all the quirky jokes and simplistic scenes, sure to feel their hearts fill with joy at all the happiness packed in this movie.  This movie isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, as the film has a little more emotional punch than I expected, with a few sequences well-crafted to derail the ecstasy this movie elates.  And if all that isn’t enough to convince you the movie is fun, then the soundtrack will certainly bring this point home.  You will certainly find the musical numbers full of energy and may find yourself dancing in your seat…like me. Not the most unique, but the tracks picked for this film are quite perfect for the scene and would be one CD to pick up.

 

DISLIKES

  • Rushed at times
  • Lost Potential
  • Anticlimactic Ending
  • Gargamel not as funny

 

Summary:  Smurfs adventures have never been long, but when in cartoon series form you had plenty of episodes to tell a complete story. Not the case for this film.  Sure, they wrap up a lot of the ties, but many times the film seems rushed, leaving things underdeveloped in an attempt to cram everything into the short run timeWhile I give the editing props, I also sigh at the lost potential of this movie.  Lost Village does a nice job showing off the Forbidden Forest and giving us some unique flora and fauna to the world.  Yet, the trek could have had a few more obstacles for the heroes to challenge before getting to their goal.  Not that big a deal, okay how about the fact that some of your favorite Smurfs have been tossed to the secondary bin including Papa Smurf the legendary leader.  If that still isn’t enough, then how about the fact the new tribes of Smurf girls are very underdeveloped.  After a cool introduction and sweet styled montage, the girl Smurfs are almost as useless as Gargamel’s jokes.  No cool moves, no special magic, and almost very little importance to the plot, the girl Smurfs tribe really could have been taken further to make it worth all the casting they did for voices and the money they spent. And because of their minor involvement, and a predictable story line, the exciting climax at the end… was so climactic as it was an animated light show.  Had I not had to struggle through the forced comedy of Gargamel, that often devolved into mindless, one directional banter, that few above the age of seven will enjoy.  Really missed Hank Azaria’s delivery and writing on this one.

 

The Verdict:

 

The Smurfs Lost Village is a nice reintroduction of the gang back into the modern world with the feel, design, and energy the show always had. However, the lost potential, rushed development, and anticlimactic moments certainly took away from all the potential the movie could have brought.  Perhaps instead of a movie, the Smurfs should have been picked up by Netflix and the show restarted for the new generation of streamers.  Needless to say, this movie isn’t so much theater worthy (outside of music and animation) and would recommend waiting for this one to hit home.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

“Go-Go” Power Rangers! You Special Effect, Dramatic, Power Rangers

Power Rangers

 

In the 90’s Saban unleashed onto our homes five teenage heroes dress in multicolored, state of the art underwear.  What followed was legacy of aspiring actors fighting men in ashen grey costumes, before turning their attention to unique costumed antagonists that tried to stop their quest. And to this day Power Rangers continues to be a hit amidst the adolescent world as Nickelodeon continues to inspire them to fight as the rainbow warriors.  So of course, we needed a movie to really seal the deal, based on the original series that started it all.  Robbie K here to cover another movie.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Nostalgia
  • Comedic
  • Decent Character Depth
  • Special Effects
  • Action

 

Summary: If you were a fan of the series like I was, then you will certainly be looking for that nostalgic adventure you had as a kid.  Well the movie is able to bring some of that back as traditional characters (in new, hot, youthful skins) return to fight the forces of evil. But past the new cast, you’ll be go go going crazy for all the throwbacks including: Zords, monsters, Rita’s dramatic speeches, cameos, and of course the suits.  It’s fun to relive those childhood moments, making one laugh at all the memories that come rushing back in this new adventure.

But if nostalgia won’t make you smile, then certainly the comedy of the movie will be an entertaining factor.  Power Rangers surprisingly is funny (and not in the cheesy way the classic series was).  Each of the teens has their moments where they put their foot in their mouth or get a taste of humility as they eat pavement.  But it is Billy who steals the show, as the autistic youth delivers well-timed comedy that grounds all the drama brought by this new generation of rangersYes, you heard me drama, this origin movie has far more drama than the series had back then and with it some surprising character depth.  Where the 90’s was cutesy love and bullying, this movie goes deeper down the teenage angst path.  It works at times and helps expand on what once was limited roles.

As for the action, Power Rangers is also decent in this category as wellThis film has some fast-paced karate chopping action, that quickly melds into robot on monster smashing.  The special effects are semi impressive, not so much in terms of realism, but capturing the spunk of Power Rangers.  The Zords in particular are much smoother, and the modern twist on their design matches the edgier theme of the movie.  And of course, there are lots of thrilling explosions and sound effects to bring it all to the front.  While not as cheesy as Saban’s classic fights, the battles in this film still have that energy we all fell in love with.

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Drama/Issues
  • Darker Theme Feels Out of Place
  • Rita Repulsa direction/Goldar
  • Missing some weapons
  • More Action

 

Summary:  Despite the deeper lore of the series, the teenage issues were also a little eye rolling as well.  I know not to expect a masterpiece, but this Power Ranger plot felt like an after school special meeting a special effects show.  I’m sure this will speak to many of the modern generation, but these issues just felt out of place compared to those in the 90s.  Plus, the rebellious, delinquent protagonists aren’t necessarily the ideal role models for the younger generations. Perhaps it was also the darker atmosphere that also detracted it from me.  Despite added suspense and danger, the darker moments made the movie less fun for me at times. And to be honest, some of the darker moments were a bit disturbing at times, so please exercise caution if your kids are easily scared.

Speaking of scary, the new direction they took with Rita Repulsa was not the most comforting thing to see.  This portrayal was much more nightmarish, replacing Rita’s grandiosity with pure insanity and lust as she feasted on “gold” from every source.  While the edginess wins points for danger, the creepy (somewhat adulterated) portrayal of Rita did not impress me, nor did the overacting (again dramatic) walks/speeches she made through the movie. In addition, I wasn’t a fan of the new Goldar, wondering why they replaced the cheesy (yet creative) chimera design for a CGi…golden…Velveeta monster?  Yes, the monsters certainly lacked that design we all loved, for again darker, edgier forms.

In regards to the action, well as always, I wanted more.  Power Rangers runs just a little over two hours, but only about twenty minutes of that is actually action.  It would have been nice to have a little more investment in the combat scenes to really deliver the promised punch the first 90 minutes promised.  For one thing, it would have been nice for all the weapons, not just a random appearing sword, to make an appearance as they fought for the sake of the world.  That minor detail aside, the kung Fu scenes could have been longer, and the Zords could have had a little more coordination than just one or two taking a punch.  In addition, the edgier Rita needed some more time to show off her skills (other than speeches and walking through CGI streets).

 

 

The Verdict:

 

Power Rangers is certainly a fun stroll down memory lane, filled with plenty of nostalgic references to make you feel sort of like a kid again.  With a new edge comes character development and special effects that for the most part work.  Yet, there are still some balance issues that need work, including stepping back from the darkness and increase the emphasis on action (and story).  Still not a bad origins story.  Worth a trip to the theater?  For the special effects and adventure, definitely, but there are other movies better worth the price of admission. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0