Onward To Fun, Family/Geek Adventure

Onward Poster

 

Pixar broke the mold a long time ago when it came to animation, pushing the boundaries of the 3-D animation world and the storytelling that comes with it.  World building, unique characters and fun filled stories etched themselves into our memories and continue to amuse us to this day.  So after sequels have stormed the frontier of Pixar, a new original tale is hoping to come Onward and entertain us, most likely with a good story and character drive.  As such, yours truly is back to help guide your journey to the movies.  Let’s get started as we review:

 

Movie:  Onward (2020)

 

Director:

Dan Scanlon

Writers:

Dan Scanlon (screenplay by), Jason Headley (screenplay by)

Stars:

Tom HollandChris PrattJulia Louis-Dreyfus

 

 

LIKES:

  • Great Animation
  • The World Building
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Witty References
  • Clever Writing
  • Great Character Development
  • Morals
  • Not In Your Face Lessons
  • Heart Felt

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • More Adventure Impasses Needed
  • More On the Mom And Manticore Front
  • A Bit More Of The Centaur character component

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar is fantastic at the animation and only keeps bringing their cards to play.  The movement itself is fluid, dynamic, and colorful to meet the expectations that such pieces hold in Disney’s arsenal.  Onward’s world truly does bring magic to the modern world, and the world building of modern overtaking the mysterious is brilliantly crafted to be fun and meaningful.  Much of this world is fun, a huge spoof on fantasy elements that have ditched the mysterious, scary, and demented, for colorful forms that are mere shadows of their inspirations.  This adventure may not be the most exciting, but Pixar still injects its energy into the film to make the movie entertaining in the kids way but also holding great potential for adults too.  Comedy wise, Onward has some slapstick, components, but the comedy is geared towards the adults and older members that was highly entertaining to a geek like me.  Witty references are loaded into the film, with many movie references present for older fans to enjoy at their new use into the world.  Not a movie buff?  Not a problem, because the writing continues to be clever as it brings dungeon and dragons board games into a new medium, all while poking fun at the modern flaws that are hot topics.  Its this fantastic variety of venues to use that make this movie fun, as dialogue and comedic devices use these avenues to make the whole thing entertaining.

In regards to the storytelling, the movie shines in this department as well, you know what Disney can be really good at doing.  The characters are fantastic additions to the Disney family, not only in merchandising, but fantastic players to latch onto the adventure with.  The two brothers get some great moments to shine, each leveling up in their own way that again is clever, but very smart in how it fits with the themes of the film.  Voice acting alongside great chemistry of the characters, leads to another fantastic relationship that will be used to drive a lot of the plot elements as well as the morals that go with it. Onward’s morals are multilayered, built to address so many problems that plague humans today that the film is sure to hit a relevant note.  Even better, most of the lessons are not in your face preachy that seems to be the modern trend, allowing the story to gradually present it, keeping it in pace with the story and characters while also being deep at the same time.  All in all, the heart felt emotions in this film of this developing brotherhood managed to pull many heart strings for me and was a fantastic adventure for geeky sensitive guy like me.

 

In terms of dislikes, the story does not escape the predictable formula that Pixar and Disney thrive in.  A combination of trailer revelation alongside some scenes to be highly foreshadowing resulted in a pretty obvious twist that was to come.  It’s a minor flaw mind you, but anytime you are able to reasonably trick me… you get bonus points for a review.  No, the main thing I found the story needing improvement in… is ironically in the story components itself.  The adventure side is certainly fun and geared towards the character development story, but the film could have used more of the danger that I know Pixar can do.  Onward needed more integration of the fantasy obstacles to help with bringing more fun and opportunities to develop our adventurers, which may be reserved for a sequel if they decide to.  Even more, I wanted better integration of the mom and manticore, two characters that had their moments to shine, but held so much potential to be involve in the story.  Learning some more back story, getting the mom’s views on the whole mess, even the Manticore’s history outside of the small tale we got, would have been great to be integrated into the film.  This can also be said for another character, the Centaur who after being used as the butt of jokes and potential build up, did not have the integration I thought they would.  These underutilized characters and plot devices make the film a little weaker for me, but fortunately the fun and comedy amplify this spirit of adventure.  Outside of this, there are a few other things that could be improved, but let’s wrap this up.

 

The Verdict:

            Disney has another winner on their hands with this film, as Onward sets out to be the same magic of fun, laughs, and family energy this studio is famous for.  Adventures likes this, combined with the great animation, will open up a new avenue to getting to your heart, and this time geared for both cool people and geeks.  Onward has much to offer for many people, and I love the fact the lessons are baked naturally into the theme of the movie, without being too preachy or political.  Certainly the film needed to work on the predictability, but more so the film struggles to still not pull the full spirit of adventure that comes with Fantasy films.  In addition, several other characters could have stand for more integration to round out the tales, add more levels of story, and of course just have more opportunity for grabbing more people into the movie.  This reviewer though really found joyful to watch, and I’d recommend checking this out in the theaters if you have the time. 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

 

This Call Is Wild Fun And Deep Adventure

 

The Call of the Wild Poster

 

The literary classics continue to face the test of time with their strong writing, hard morals, and often original characters.  Yet, in the days of flash in the pan excitement, reality television, and Youtube viral videos, these books get lost.  Fortunately, Hollywood continues to have the chance of using its bloated budget to potentially keep them relevant in the modern world.  Tonight, the movie to start my review week with one of these epic literary pieces in the form of Call Of The Wild.  Yet, will the talked about graphics and mediocre trailer ruin the literary masterpiece, or can it get you howling at its quality.  Let’s get going as I review:

 

Movie:  Call of The Wild (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Sanders

Writers:

Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Karen GillanHarrison FordCara Gee

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Harrison Ford’s Narration
  • The Development of Buck
  • The Morals Of The Book Brought To Life
  • Deeper than expected
  • Beautiful Setting

DISLIKES:

 

  • Story Elements Are Blunted
  • Pacing A bit Off At Times
  • A Few Really Sad Moments
  • The Graphics Are not the Most Realistic
  • Trailers Have Given Some Decent Scenes Away

 

SUMMARY:

 

The book is a tale of adventure and self-discovery through the eyes of a dog, and the movie manages to get this spirit and do it right.  Call of The Wild’s film is a multi-layered adventure, that like a good play has various acts that do great with development of the character.  Much like most dogs’ spirits, Buck’s journey has a lot of fun and energy to it, which is infectious and important for hooking you into the tale at the hand.  Harrison’s Ford narration manages to sort of personify the serious nature of the journey though, the rough and rugged voice setting a tone that somehow prepared you for things to come while also highlighting the energy of the dog on screen.  The combination of these elements accomplishes the rare task of artfully developing a nonexistent animal, the human qualities striking relevance, while the cute animal side ignites the childlike vision that a dog brings out.  And through this character, the morals that London brought out years ago, come rushing out in full emotional force, hopefully inspiring and teaching the audience some important lessons always worth revisiting.  This surprisingly balanced narrative and relevant characteristics made this movie deeper than I expected, helping to round out the emotions of the tale and defying my expectations of silly banter that sometimes plague these movies.  I’ll admit it nearly made me tear up at times, but that’s the sign of a great developments of relationships and intriguing characters that I enjoy watching.  Finally, the setting itself is beautiful, whether it be the wide angled shots, or the digitally recreated tundra, the Yukon land manages to take your breath away while bringing out the wild.

 

Story elements abound though, I’ll admit the book is often much better, at least in terms of details.  This film’s acts sometimes are a little bit truncated, story components that seemed to be pretty deep and intense suddenly dropped, despite some foreshadowing.  I won’t spoil it for both those in the dark and the know, but these quick finishes were reduced to some mere dialogue and would have liked some creative liberties to maybe help finish these tales with more drive.  In addition, the pacing feels a bit off as well, the moments that are meant to be big impasses or stressful moments quickly overcome.  I guess reading the book I envisioned these moments longer and grander, but to keep up with modern attention spans, they sort of quickened these moments to cram more of the adventure into the run time.  Well that and the sad moments too.  While I give praise for emotional investment, there are times during this movie where the visualization of the sadder elements can really be a bit much for those who have a strong aversion to the cruelty that these digital animals face.  I’m just not the biggest fan of these moments, and though not as bad as some others, there are times where it really got me depressed so… yeah.

Now it’s time to hit the two big components that people have been commenting on in the reviews that take some things away.  The first thing is the predictability/ruining the trailers have brought. I’ll agree some the trailers have given much of the first two acts away, not only showing off the more impressive CGI moments, some key story elements, and perhaps a little bit about the direction the movie is going.  There are still some surprises, but still get ready for some predictable moments to come your way, including those who have not read the book.  As for Buck’s CGI, alongside other members, the animation and physiology are captured beautifully and quite accurately on many levels.  The design though, the human qualities from eye brows, shifty looks, and human gestures (cute as they may be) do not come off the most realistic in quality.  If you can’t get by this, then you’ll not enjoy this film and miss the bigger parts, but if you can take this as just a small weakness and go with the energy it creates you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            While it may not give the time needed to bring the full details out, this iteration of Call Of The Wild is certainly better than I anticipated.  Buck’s journey holds many levels of enjoyment from comedic fun and cuteness to the deeper, heart heavy moments that will help you invest into the movie.  The acting with CGI dogs is surprisingly fun and all the sense of adventure and character development makes for a much more balanced tale.  Certainly some elements are blunted, with truncated finishes to most of the acts, quick bouts of overcoming the impasses, and even some sadder moments that you see coming, but can’t turn away from.  As I said in the full review, the CGI is great in terms of physiology and injecting energy, but the realism and cartoonish effects are a little less impressive given other feats of technology.  If you can appreciate the positives of this style though, you are in good shape, but if not, then skip this film.  In terms of visiting the theaters for this one, the answer is yes due to enough adventure and special effects to get you in.  Just exercise caution with taking little ones due to the sadder moments that are to come. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Is This Island A Fantasy Worth The Price?

 

Fantasy Island Poster

            It was an interesting television show back in the day, an island that can grant you any desire you want, though at a price.  Welcome to Fantasy Island and the second review of the day is all about the wonderful world of Blumhouse modernizing the classic plot.  Robbie K is back with another look at the silver screen wonders to determine is this trip to paradise worth the scares or not to dare as he reviews:

 

Movie: Fantasy Island (2020)

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

Writers:

Jillian JacobsChristopher Roach

Stars:

Lucy HaleMaggie QPortia Doubleday

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Pace
  • Nods To References
  • The Satisfying Visual Appeal
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development Than Expected
  • Some Twists
  • Michael Pena

 

DISLIKES

  • Most Characters Still shallow
  • Plot Twist is Okay
  • How Random The Island’s Gimmicks Are
  • The Sudden Change Of Plot
  • How Forced The Comedy Is At Times
  • The Rushed Ending
  • Not Scary

 

Blumhouse knows how to churn out the horror movies like a gumball machine, where they come out a quarter a ball and sometimes have no flavor at all.  Fortunately a recurring theme that I like to see is that the movies do go at a decent pace, entertaining and fun to capture a variety of attention spans.  Fantasy Island is a quick paced adventures that tries to juggle “original” stories while still keeping to the feel of the original series.  I appreciated the nods to the references in this movie, some very well integrated, others forced and not as satisfying.  One thing I think many people agreed was that the film immerses itself in the superficial pleasures movies have taken on, mainly in the form of bikini clad hot people, handsome perfect matches, and those oh so satisfying horror elements that etch in our minds.  It’s all about the Pleasure Island effect and for the younger generation it works.  This is also true with the comedy, a movie that does little to integrate wit and wonder, instead going into those reality TV tropes that MTV made famous and latching on to them.  It was funny for me at times, but overall a bit stale and forced.

Yet I’ll give them props that they managed to defy my expectations and give better insight into characters than I anticipated, primarily in three characters whose stories ran a bit deeper than the G-strings the extras wore.  I tried to grapple on to these characters for the most part and figure out if there was a deeper connection to the story over all.  This does not happen that often either, but the movie got me with a few twists and while not my favorite, I have to give them points for surprising me.  My favorite thing would have to be Michael Pena though.  While not the best acting job he has done, I think he inherited the island’s owner role well, and makes for an interesting piece in what could be a series.  I’m not sure where they will take him, but he has that cool, collected charm that is both comforting and deadly at the same time.  He makes for a complex character, who holds many secrets that unfortunately were not fully delivered on for me.

 

Now in terms of what is decreasing scores, that comes in the form of the incomplete and sort of left wing twist they pulled into this film.  First of all, despite trying to develop the characters, they did not quite deliver the full force of development that I think they were going for.  Most of the characters start to represent certain character paradigms, but these political charged issues get swept under the rug for more superficial fun and “horror”.  Even the ones with a deeper well of development sort of become flaky figures whose indecisiveness is more annoying than fresh for this reviewer.  As they try to resolve their character flaws, the after school special approach kicks in to not give a satisfying finish, but instead just bluntly finish the film.  Forced humor does not help make things better, with so many tropes from two of the characters becoming annoying as they fall into the new generational tool bag approach that somehow keeps selling.  The comedy to relieve the “tension” of the film does not work for me and felt unnecessary at times.

Much of this has to do with that plot twist, a curveball that was thrown to offset the stagnant pond, only to cause ripples in wrong way.  It’s a forced introduction to justify the interconnected stories and sort of becomes an eye rolling experience when everything is explained.  It’s because of this twist that the plot of the movie changes, going from horror mystery to action mystery that does little to embrace the alluring wonders this island might have.  Even the plan to handle the island changes three to four times, showing potential indecisiveness or panic at trying to force this twist into the film.  And because of the change in the horror approach, the island’s gimmicks, the things the trailer was using to rope you in, start to become cheesy pieces/obstacles who only serve to push the characters to make bad decisions rather than become the character developing pieces they want.  It’s almost like watching someone cheat on a video game, where the goal is not so much to win, but to survive until the movie’s time runs out.  This lazy finish to a buildup that seemed interesting and further dilutes both the story and scares.

This brings me to the last two points.  First the ending of the film feels very rushed. The twist getting forced at the end sort of discombobulates the pace of the plot and as the waves are settling, the directors seemed to want to quickly tie it up to not go past two hours.  The piece meal finish is not very suspenseful and the quick wrap up only has some relief from the heart string pulling shot that comes in the final moments of the film.  Yet the biggest thing is, the scares of the movie are rather null and void.  Fantasy Island has little in terms of bone chilling terror or mentally scarring moments, again forced to dilute these components to keep the PG-13 rating.  It’s this lack of scares that sort of makes the movie boring and thus, I had wished they had gotten a little more creative with their gimmicks the way Scary Stories did back in August. 

 

The VERDICT: 

            Is this movie as bad as a 22 on Metacritic?  I don’t really think so.  Fantasy Island falls into the trend of making a superficial movie that has all the gleam to attract you with little sustenance to keep you nourished.  It’s a great opening horror movie for the younger generation to wet their feet, as it attempts to get some relatable issues on the table, add a small amount of character depth, and still give the “thrill” of the chase.  Yet where the movie falters is in its ability to really tie this adventure together, managing to put a twist into the film, but not in the artful form to pull everything together.  Even worse, the movie’s rushed ending and lack of scares just makes this an MTV television series with a more bloated budget.  While the performances do their best to handle the characters, there is not enough meat to this islands presentation to say it’s the best horror movie, but there are enough special effects gimmicks that can make a night out with friends worth the theater visit. Otherwise hit this one up later on down the road when it hits streaming.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Horror:   5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

 

Sonic Grabbing The Rings For Family Fun This Weekend

 

Sonic the Hedgehog Poster

 

Video game movies have had a rough track record despite the potential they have to rock our socks off.  In an effort to make real, live action movies, the CGI worlds that have become legend are often reduced to twisted follies with only small diamonds in a very rough piece.  Not all films have failed mind you, but a majority have not quite reached the expectations placed on the pieces by the fanbase.  The solution could be to simply make a digitally designed movie, but the argument becomes how if you do that you could instead just make a better game. Well this week’s headliner is a series that has had a lot of ups and downs that has muddied his gaming waters, so a movie may be exactly what is needed to jumpstart the blue blur’s career. Is the film worth it despite a questionable trailer and redesign of his image?  Well, Robbie K is going to give his thoughts once more as he reviews:

Movie: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writers: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller

Stars: Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, James Marsden

 

LIKES:

  • Funny
  • References
  • Moves at a Good Speed
  • The Action Is Family Friendly Appropriate
  • Jim Carrey’s Performance
  • Surprisingly Deeper

 

Dislikes:

  • The Teasing
  • Plot is Predictable
  • Suspension of Disbelief
  • Robotnik’s character at times
  • More Chase Scene Less Cheesy/Sob story Finish
  • Some Humor A Little Too Forced

 

SUMMARY:

The movie was already loaded with a lot of heat given the stink made with the first trailers.  The redesign is to be respected, because the design presented is indeed fun and nostalgic to look at, despite being in a film loaded with more realistic characters and drones.  Nevertheless, the likes start with a good comedy basis, a blend of witty references and kid friendly humor that takes the family friendly track and runs with it.  The trailers promised a family friendly environment and the film delivers, taking enough of the sonic framework to shout out to geeks like me and then painting it with that Disney like coat that younger audiences love.  An added bonus, the references extend outside of the sonic games, making some nods to some other classic scenes from superhero movies that shined in their own movie bombs (think Fox’s super hero movies).   It works for me; the balance opening a lot of doors for the fanbase to enjoy and hopefully inspire new interest in the hedgehog’s adventures.  One favorable result, the movie moves at that fast pace that is entertaining enough to be fun, yet slow enough to allow things to flesh out everything about our characters.  Working with that pace is the action, grabbing the speed of the genesis video games and keeping the speedsters moves going strong as he fights the evil genius’ robotic drones.  While a little less action packed then I like, the movie keeps the family friendly energy going further into fight scenes, never going too dark, violent or aggressive to damage the psyches that so many people worry about.  In addition, the comedy extends even further into these moments to always keep it light hearted.  Even the villain himself, Robotnik, manages to come across family friendly, with the insane obsession of being right and a genius driving his actions towards a darker side, but having that clumsy buffoon we saw in the comedy cartoon decades ago.  Carrey for me succeeds in bringing out both sides, the transitions and facial expressions both overexaggerated and yet appropriate given the direction they took with him.  While I still prefer a digital, fat guy who is Sonic’s familiar rival, I’ll admit this was probably one of the better live action castings for me and the performance was a great revisit to the film I loved so much.  Finally, the deepness of the movie surprisingly works again for me because not only does it allow Schwarz to evolve Sonic’s voice, give some better integration and performance with Marsden’s character, and add some emotion to bring the film to a better an all around hit for this reviewer.

 

Regarding the movie’s dislikes, ironically this has to do with the catering to the younger audience.  For one thing the movie is all about teasing for the next film, a minor dislike and usually one I ignore, but yours truly did not enjoy all the little teases to introducing new characters, only to be thrown back into the new direction.  Most likely a set up for a series or more movies depending on the success, the untapped potential of Sonic’s origin was the more intriguing story for me and yet was the most limited of the bunchAs such, the predictable, geared towards family Hallmark approach takes center stage and the familiar antics don’t get too many points for originality in my books.  I get it, I over-analyze things as a reviewer, but in terms of scoring the predictability of this film is not the biggest selling point for fans of the series who like the fight for mobius vs. finding a place on Earth. Part of this comes from the trailers giving too much away with their over relenting advertising, delivering several key jokes a few times for me.  Other parts are the suspension of disbelief and even the world’s logic of physics that are suspended to make the story work, which for me is again cute for the family, but could have been a lot better had they dived deeper into the original lore. The same can be true for Robotnik as well.   This constant back and forth between funny comedic prop and villain work for trying to get everyone into the film, but I think was too forced at times for me to fully say it was the best villain.  The comedy again can be forced too much as well, whether it be Sonic’s one liners zinging in faster than he can run, or Robotnik’s personality disorder getting too much focus instead of sending out more drones or maximizing his robotic army (I guess for future sequels right).  Finally, the actions scenes are again awesome to watch and for the most part do fit with the theme. Then the final fight happens and suddenly we drop that energy for another dialogue heavy, feat of super ability that was more preachy/cheesy finish than the climactic finish I was hoping would happen.  If you love that anime style grandiosity, it’s a perfect way to finish, but if you want a little more sonic and logical finish like me, I did not quite enjoy the fight finale.

 

The VERDICT

                Despite all the criticism and hate this film has gotten, alongside the character design, Sonic really is a fun film that will hit a lot of audience members.  Nostalgia, comedy, and kid friendly film are the selling points for going to see this one in theaters.  Throw in good action, a fast pace, and some great performances for Sonic and Robotnik and it only helps seal the package for seeing this film.  However, the movie is still not without its flaws with the gear towards the kid/family audience being one of the most limiting components for me.  While I appreciate this adventure breaking the walls, the gamer in me who has loved the Mobius arcs would have liked to see that direction over this integration into our world for the originality and game feel I want with video game movies.  Separating that out though, it’s the modern trend of making kids movies comedy fests crammed with one liners, forced sappy moments, and toning down some of the action scenes that were the biggest limitations for me.  All in all, the movie succeeds in accomplishing the goal of being fun for all ages and a solid opener to a potential franchise. My encouragement is again to catch this one in theaters for the fun and effects, but otherwise get the hedgehog on Redbox or streaming soon.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

The Surprising Fun Of One Harley Quinn Movie

 

Birds of Prey Poster

            DC comics is coming in hard to beat the rush of Marvel/Disney’s next phases.  With an interesting track record of quality and not so good quality, the superheroes in this dark universe are doing their best to make their mark.  As such, tonight’s film is going to try to cash in on the superhero craze before the other films of February come in ready to hit us with their shots.  The trailers did not leave me with high hopes, but you never know what lies beneath the trailers of the modern editing techniques.  Robbie K is coming back in with another write up as he looks at:

 

Film: Birds of Prey (2020)

 

Director:

Cathy Yan

Writer:

Christina Hodson

Stars:

Margot RobbieRosie PerezMary Elizabeth Winstead

 

LIKES:

 

  • Funny Writing
  • Good Use Of All Characters
  • Expansion Of Characters
  • The Action At The End
  • Feels Very Much Like A Comic Book Presentation
  • Margot Robbie’s Portrayal of Harley  past the first act

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring At Times
  • The Presentation At Times
  • The Cursing At Times
  • The Action Is Okay In The Middle Of the Movie
  • Slow Motion Over Use
  • The Politics Again
  • The Main Villain Is Lame… again

 

SUMMARY:

 

A Harley Quinn tale is always a challenge in direction, do you go comedy, do you go action, do you go horror, or is it a little of each.  Birds Of Prey tries the latest of the bunch and works hard to try and please all fans of the delightfully delirious antihero and her rambunctious ways.  My pal and I both agreed that the writing has the comedic punch, finding its stride mid film for me, but flooding the time with forced humor to try and get you laughing.  Once balanced, the writing is fun and feels much like the modern comic book writing I love reading at my local book store.  Even more impressive for me is that they were able to use all the characters in their arsenal to make the film fun and dynamic.  You’ll get to see all your advertised characters play their part, including backstories, action scenes, and their own brand of comedy.  I’ll give them props for getting this wrecking crew together, and achieving the goal of balance that I always seek in these movies.  Seeing the comic book presentation was at many times a plus for me, adding creative style that flowed with Harley’s psyche and captured the spirit that graphic novels bring.  It’s that element that I feel will draw fans of the series in, but yet keep those less inclined to reading to enjoy it.  Outside of character expansion and comedy the movie also has some decent action moments that will stick in the minds of many.  While not as flashy and coordinated as some of the most epic Marvel battles, Quinn’s brigade has got the promised edge, that emphasizes each characters talent, all while selling the message the trailers flaunted from the start.  Aggressive at times yes, but for the most part it was different and a bit fun at times.  Yet the biggest enjoyment for me was seeing the evolution of Harley herself once the first act finished that is.  Robbie does a great job with the character, somehow capturing the insanity, but then able to take the evolution of the character to new heights.  Seeing how Harley changes and the emotional spectrum that comes with it, I’m very happy with the character development defying my concern that it will just be too much crazy. 

 

For all the good it held though, there were things about this movie that still were not the most fun for me. My first thing is how boring the film can be at times, a drawn-out comedy gag, or another nonlinear character intro that required you to try and remain focused on yet another tangent is not a challenge I looked for in this film.  As for the presentation, well the graphic novel feel was great, but the constant tangents and dives into side stories, or back tracking got a little overdone for me.  Just as we were getting ready to get into an exciting part, we took another tangent to give us details that were sort of important and more comedic that some fans enjoyed more than others.  I’ll make the next quick, the cursing is not the typical super movie, but back towards the grittier side with some of the code red words that little ears may not need to hear.  Sometimes I think they go overboard, but my friend did not think so, thus exercise caution as to what you are ready to hear before bringing kids.  In addition, the action as I said is a little grittier itself, and for much of this movie the action is going to feel like mob antics than super hero exploits.  Those with weak styles of torturing and savagery need to avoid this movie, while those hoping for better, over the top action films… will not be quite a fan of the battles in this tale.  With the exception of the ending, the battles were a little simpler and focused on the comedy edge than the exciting edge.  Certainly filled with that wow factor or girl power component, the main flaws for the action in the film were much of the stunts seen in the trailers, and how slow motion gets overused again.  If you love seeing your executions in the full detail, drawn out finishing move, you will have no problem, but I like the balance of well-coordinated stunts with just the right touch of Snyder vision to emphasize the ultimate finisher.  This was not the case for me in much of the film, and some of the choreography looked a little too forced or stiff given some of the other things I’ve seen.  Then comes the politics of the film.  Yes… we knew this was going to be a politically empowered film, and while I think it did an okay job for much of it, there was still that factor of making all the villains scumbags with little redeeming qualities to be the polar opposites of our crew.  While a few did have better balance, this polarization of characters did not impress me when it came to balance, especially when it came to the main villain.  Another example of a villain with more bark than bite, the man’s biggest weapons are resources and a threatening demeanor.  After all the theatrics… it was again another time where the big boss was just disappointing for me, despite how good the ending felt.  DC has struggled to give much of its villains the balance and skills that Marvel has done, and I hope future renditions will work on this.

 

The VERDICT:

            You may have heard this is the best DC movie in the longest time, and others not so much.  This reviewer thinks that the film is the middle of the pack, beating my expectations on many things, but still looking for some tightening up to help get the same levels that Wonder Woman and Shazam held for me.  It’s got the edge, the attitude, the fun and the use of characters and character development was a major selling point for me.  I found this to be a fun comic book movie though, with a new aged flare and promise for some more fun films starring Ms. Robbie.  However, I’d like the politics to be toned back a bit, put some more though into the villains like they did the protagonists, and make the action have the dynamic energy that I know they can do and not rely so much on the slow-motion versions that DC loves.  Still, this movie I think is worth a trip to the theaters and would encourage you to get out there and see it if you have time.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5 

 

 

A Family Adventure that Does Little To Excite

Dolittle Poster

 

 

Another night, another time at the movies and with that we set forth on an adventure that will hopefully be worth the time investment.  Former Iron Man runner, has changed into a new set of duds as he goes into exploring a new universe.  The trailers paint this one as a fun, adventurous movie, that looks to have mystery, comedy, and a little excitement in search of the next big thing.  However, we all know trailers can make things look more golden than they actually are.  Well yours truly is back and ready to give some thoughts as he sets sail with Robert Downey Jr.in the film:

 

Film:  Dolittle (2020)

 

Director:

Stephen Gaghan

Writers:

Stephen Gaghan (screenplay by), Dan Gregor(screenplay by)  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Robert Downey Jr.Antonio BanderasMichael Sheen

 

LIKES:

  • Great Voice Acting
  • Decent Balance Of Characters
  • Okay CGI
  • Some Meaningful Moments
  • Funny At Times
  • The Ending Credits
  • Cute Family Movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Direction Of Dolittle
  • A Little Too Forced Humor
  • The Adventure Is Boring
  • Villain Doesn’t Deliver
  • Action is Simplistic
  • The Story Predictable
  • Low Impact Impasses that Are Too Easy To Overcome

 

Summary:

 

The story of Dolittle has come in many packages, but this one held promise as Pirates meeting cute animal stories.  The digitally created cast has fantastic voice acting, with many creatures being a dead ringer for the people embodying them.  It’s not the most emotionally distraught or tight performance, but it works for the funny characters at hand and should delight the young and young at heart.  With a star-studded cast and plenty of animals, I have to say they accomplish their task of getting as much of the participation of the characters as they could.  I enjoyed the contributions they had to the adventure and found their comedy a selling point for most audience members.  The CGI work is not the most impressive at times, but it worked for me and helped get the animal movements down well, and making this odd cast come to life.  The animation is fluid, and the ability to anthropomorphize these cast of creatures.  While most of this works is to bring comedy to the film, presented in slapstick, goofy delivery, and a few ridiculous sequences designed for the young, it somehow also adds some other level of connection to the movie as you root for the safety of our crew.  Most of the film is about that level of comedy, but at its core lies some of those heartwarming moments that we love to see in these types of films.  Some of these moments are fully appreciated at the end, primarily in the closing moments and end credits that bring yet another art style to the mix that was interesting and fun to watch.  The result is that the movie is all about the classic family movie that has sort of been missing for some time, and will be perfect to take the grandkids too. 

 

However, the reviews coming in make some valid points and I believe these areas could have been improved upon to make this a better movie.  For one the direction of Dolittle himself is odd, a man broken by events, the eccentric genius approach is one part interesting and two parts odd.  A complicated history awaits, but yet the movie never goes with it, lost in him being too silly, isolated, and single track minded to really expand upon this complex character.  And much like the other animals, the comedy is sometimes a little too forced for me, jokes jammed into awkward moments and banter that took the adventure from exciting to corny at times for me, as it became a quest for the next joke.  For me, the adventure became boring very quickly, too simplified and linear with little challenge to stand in our crew’s way.  Where were the exciting ship to ship battles that made our crew face their fears?  What mysteries and challenges await in the palace halls we saw in that trailer?  What about that dragon?  Well… the trailers deceive you into thinking these are real threats, but the truth is that the watered-down action and the challenges just don’t really deliver much outside of a G rated starter movie.  Even the villain is kind of lame, an eccentric looking doctor is about all the threats he has got, as the former leader of vampires/werewolves has taken on the role of one liners and being kind of a nimrod, who poses little threats.  Again this makes for a cute, family friendly film adventure, but in terms of exciting story that could start a series, that’s where it fails for me.

 

The VERDICT:

            I did not hate this movie, but I was disappointed in the direction it chose to take in this rendition for this story.  The trailers painted this as an epic adventure with CGI animals, but instead we got a much kid friendlier adventure that was more about the laughs, slapstick, and cramming of animals than anything else.  It’s positives for me are all about how cute this adventure is with them capitalizing on the CGI animals as the main anchor point the target audience will love.  This film sort of felt like the films I watched as an introduction adventure growing up, simple and wholesome, with just enough added spunk to be above a nick junior movie.  However, where I think the movie fails as the reviewers have said is the missed potential they had suggested to me with the trailers.  The central character is loveable,  but not really a detailed RDJ character that we’ve seen him master like his other films.  The animals are fun, but again they seem so simplified and prop like that I have a hard time investing in most of them.  And worst of all, the atmosphere is so kiddy that the adventure aspect is diluted down to lackluster levels, which may not please the parents or older siblings that are accompanying them.  Therefore, all the conveniences and incomplete story for me are going to be the hardest blows to the quality of this film. 

 

My scores for the film are:

Adventure/Family/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Disguised As a Silly Kids Film, But Has A Secret Emotional Side

Spies in Disguise Poster

 

Another holiday season and that means another animated movie to get the kids to the theater for more fun and frolic.  Well in the mega money schemes of Disney, there are few willing to take the risk to put their work out and give it a try.  Blue Skies Studio is ready to answer that call and this week the latest animation is going to try and make its mark on the world of children’s entertainment.  Robbie K back with another review as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Spies In Disguise (2019)

 

Directors:

Nick BrunoTroy Quane

Writers:

Brad Copeland (screenplay by), Lloyd Taylor (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rachel BrosnahanJarrett BrunoClaire Crosby

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Smooth Animation Style
  • A More Unique Concept
  • Funny
  • Fun
  • Good Pace
  • Heartfelt Moments
  • Music
  • Creativity With Gadgets
  • Action At The End

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Bit Over silly At Times
  • Villain Needing A Little More Tweak
  • Some underutilized characters
  • The Commercial Syndrome

 

SUMMARY:

 

We know most animation films have got this formula down and spies in disguise has a fun design and animation that is exciting, fluid, and perfect for the feel of the movie.  The bird movements look rather accurate and when anthropomorphized, they achieve the blend between human and bird quite well. Past that style though, these spies are equipped to entertain the young and young at heart with some tricks of the trade that are timeless, yet also diverse.  It starts with the unique concept of transformation, that’s both formed into the story and a nice plot device as well as pigeon and man team up to conquer the criminal underworld.  The trailers do not disguise the fact that the film is both funny and fun, cramming jokes and adventure in many frames to bring that fun kids flick that we all have grown up with and all at an entertaining pace.  These jokes are part due to the voice acting and dialogue, but it also comes from the creative with helping to bring spy gadgets down to a PG rating, yet not be so kiddy that it feels like a Nick Jr. special.  This is especially true at the climactic moments where Walters inventions come out in his own style that somehow seem to work during the fast-paced conflicts that unfold and somehow be decently suspenseful.  Note that this is not just a comic infused super movie though.  Much like Disney, Spies in Disguise manages to merge with a more adult path, not only going dark at times, but managing to put character development into this film that pulls at heart strings and finds a new angle to hand the exciting moments.  It’s all these components that really helped make the movie super fun for this reviewer.

 

Yet, there were some things that went down a different path for this reviewer that I did not quite enjoy.  For one thing, the movie gets a bit silly for me, going into banter or running jokes that start to go stale like most new episodes of SpongeBob.  It’s forced comedy for a target audience of young ones and while it was to be expected, these moments get magnified when they suddenly veer away from the better storytelling moments. I supposed this is of course to help with the rewatchability and merchandising sales, but from a quality standpoint it took away from the movie.   In regards to the villain, it’s tough to say he is a limitation, but hear me out.  On one levels, the movie integrates the villain quite well, and puts a better back story that fits with the theme of the movie.  However, the villain also could have been ingrained a little more, for his ploys are more so menacing monologues and sneers rather than manipulation and fighting.  It’s a weird blend that holds great promise, but that promise sort of gets bogged down in the comedy medium this movie is big on.  In addition, there are some underutilized characters I thought would have a bigger hold on the film, primarily Reba’s head agent character who again holds the keys to an interesting aspect of the film that unfortunately is demoted to boring background character. The same goes for some other henchmen and baddies who after a fun opening are again reduced to background noise that is annoying and disappointing to say the least.  However, the biggest limitation is the commercial syndrome occurring again.  Spies In Disguise has given a lot of things away in the trailers, and if your young one has bombarded you with the commercials over and over again, then you are going to find that the movie is a bit stale.  While there are still some treasured moments not on the short trailers, many of the gags and fun scenes have already been done to death. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Spies in Disguise had a lot of delays and to be honest, the movie does not shatter too many things when it comes to originality or that unique energy Disney does.  This does not mean the film is bad though, and in fact it’s quite enjoyable.  Animation wise it’s clean, bringing a design that matches the fun nature of the film, with comedy and adventure around every bin.  And though much of the movie is a blur, the film succeeds to expand to other audience members and get some character development going, that fits in theme with the creative approach to the spy thriller.  It’s true the balance to silliness does veer off at times, and the villain needs some of that time to really get the full effect, but for the most part the movie’s biggest limitation is not having that Disney spark and giving too much away in the trailers.  Still, this film feels like a good theater run thanks to the fun adventure and special effects, especially if you have a little ones or a group to go with.  If not, then please check this out and enjoy the fun ride.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0