Burning Through Plots To Finish Things Up

Dark Phoenix Poster

 

X-men, a series with so much storytelling and incredible characters that the comic book itself stands alone as one of the greatest franchises to exist in the comic book world.  Yet, the movies have had a rough patch in terms of execution, hitting some highs and some lows in their design and sequences.  So tonight, the last of the franchises before Disney takes over, tries to send it off in the a blaze of glory, focusing on the last saga that is a beacon in the mutant world: The Phoenix.  Can Fox put the shining beacon of power in the right light, or will it be yet another grandiose display of loud sounds?  Robbie K here to bring his observations and help you out with your movie pleasure.  Let’s go!

 

Movie: Dark Phoenix (2019)

 

Director:

Simon Kinberg

Writers:

John Byrne (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”), Chris Claremont (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”)  |4 more credits »

Stars:

James McAvoyMichael FassbenderJennifer Lawrence

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Sophie Turner

Special Effects

The Action/Pace At The End

The Messages

 

DISLIKES:

Quicksilver Not Used

Pace For Much Of The Movie

Rushed Story

Cheesy Story

Lackluster Dramatic Moments

Action Scenes Fairly Short

Under developed Villains

Not Quite The Epic Finish

 

SUMMARY:

Say what you want about the X-Men, but they have picked a heck of a cast to bring into he mutant world.  McAvoy continues to do his part justice, making sure to bring the full fiery emotion that the part requires.  Fassbender and Lawrence do their parts well, but seem to have become the back-burner group for this movie, lost to some simpler writing and a quick dynamic shift to the main character.  Jessica Chastain does her job well, but I can’t say they utilized her to the full potential (more on that later).  No, the real star is Sophie Turner, the mutant with so much power that she’s not quite sure how to handle it.  Turner does the job well in regards to getting the suffering, the uncertainty, and even the hard-edged femme fatale that they wanted.  Her character is decently developed in these aspects and I think Ms. Turner accomplished her tasks well.  To sort of go with the grand power of the mystical icon, X-men had to pull out the special effects and again they accomplished this goal quite well.  Theater shaking sound effects, plenty of colorful and vibrant special forces that scream dark edge comic books.  That utilization accomplishes bringing the fiery force of Phoenix into a spectacle that works well to bring these exotic characters to life.  My highlight comes at the end of the movie when the big action scene happens, fully unleashing the powers of the other X-men and starting to get into the excitement I’ve been waiting for this series to discover again.  Much like the books though, Dark phoenix is ready to deliver the typical messages found in this saga and the ones contained in this movie sort of accomplish this goal.

Yet, much like many movies, this installment still suffers from balance issues and finding its identity in the transcription from comic to screenplay.  For one thing, a fan favorite of Quicksilver is grossly underutilized, the famous scenes that had fans raving, almost being missed completely.  And much like the quickness of the speedster, the movie’s pace suffers as well.  Dark Phoenix is very jargon and argument heavy, with more talk than walk seen so to speak.  So much of the excitement is done in a few snaps of the finer, mostly tuned to dramatic arguments and repetitive plot points than anything else.  The story not only seems rushed, but often very cheesy in its presentation as the classic saga is boiled down to the primal elements that try to speed the “evolution” so quickly it left me filling slightly unfulfilled and unimpressed.  Attempts to interject emotion were lost to predictable foreshadowing and sequences where only a few showed any interest.  Perhaps the action scenes make up for it?  Not really, unlike some of the earlier counterparts, Dark Phoenix’s fights are short lived, more grandiose displays of talking and delivered forced dialogue with only a few impressive moves to tickle the proud political statements, while leaving action junkies like me wanting more.  Perhaps if we had better fleshed out character and villains there would be some antagonist ready to drive the plot and really gives us the gauntlet that the Dark Phoenix saga was aiming for instead of the lacking end game to this genre.

Overall, Dark Phoenix shines as the modern-day movie of girl power and hastily wrapping a floundering series up in a nice bow. It’s not awful thanks to the acting, end scenes and messages, however the story just does not feel like the final installment, but instead like the opening issues of a series that try to whet your appetite.  Had Fox not been bought perhaps the movie would have held a trilogy on its own or at least more time to the story and action.  Yet this epic finish is really one that is best left for him, minus the theater experience of the flashy effects.  My scores for this adaptation of cheesy, grandiose goodness is:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0

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The King Is Moving To Improved Aspect, But Still Not Finding Balance

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Poster

 

The start of summer is the start of big movies and this weekend opens up with the “king” of blockbusters in the form of big monsters. Over many years, the giant monster movies have intrigued many and disgusted others, but they exist nonetheless to unleash their own brand of big budget chaos to the world.  Yet with mixed results, can this genre find the right audiences or are we still plagued by the modern era of too much bang and not enough buck?  Robbie K here to share some words on the latest movie to hit the silver screen.

 

Movie: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Dougherty

Writers:

Michael Dougherty (screenplay by), Zach Shields (screenplay by)  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Kyle ChandlerVera FarmigaMillie Bobby Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • Character Design
  • Pacing After The first 30 minutes or So
  • The Animation
  • The Action
  • The Climactic Ending sort of
  • The Sound Track/Special Effects

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace Of the Movie’s Opening
  • The Story
  • The Focus On Humans…again
  • Action Scenes Were sometimes short lived
  • The Shaky Camera Work
  • The Imbalance Of Monsters… kind of

 

Fans Who Like These May Like This Movie:

Kong Skull island

Godzilla like movies

Pacific Rim Series

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Big budget films about monsters require a lot of things to appeal to the mass audiences and much of it has to with special effects and action.  The King Of The Monsters manages to focus much on this, becoming a special effects extravaganza that did not yield to the limitations of speakers and screens.  The animation is on point, and many of the creatures look stellar in their design, throwing away the prosthetics and papier Mache for stellar high definition CGI graphics.  Smooth monster animation that looks to stick to anatomical movements are beautifully unleashed and it helps bring these monsters one step closer to being real.  Eventually the monsters start battling and the action scenes have a number of special effects in both sound effects and visual styles to unleash Armageddon on the big screen.  Those who love seeing chaos unleashed with little else binding them, and getting a little more human involvement as well, should be pleased with the destruction at hand in that fastest way possible.  This is especially true in the final battle, where the behemoths battlegrounds hold much to be destroyed, assisted by theater shaking sound editing, an epic symphony score to add edge, flashy blasts from the atomic driven beasts, and plenty artificially generated beasts to fill your eyes.  It’s climactic and satisfying, and something I was hoping to see since the trailers showed.

With special effects focus though, the movie sort of stumbles on other categories that still need some work for this reviewer. The opening of the film is rather boring, a jumbled mess of convoluted introductions, explanations about what is going on and the human focus that will lead to all the mess.  For a movie about monsters, much of the screen time still focuses on the terrors of humanity, focusing on how much we suck in our attempts to control everything.  Unlike Kong, Godzilla’s second arc still has trouble grounding its size to a deeper plot, that involves interacting with these creatures more than from the safeties of the bunkers.  Even if you don’t care about the story, the action scenes are also in need of some work, even the climactic ending.  For one thing, many of the fights are very short lived, over in mere minutes after buildups of more talking from humans.  The Fight with Rodan might have been my favorite, having the most integration of human and beast combination that brought me into the zone, but other times it was a jumbled mess of quick shots of stuff blowing up before panning back to humans.  Other times, there were shaky bouts of camera work of close up monsters and falling buildings.  This improved at the end, but it took a long time to discover something other films have already mastered.  Finally, the number of monsters represented was not awful, but again trying to put too many in for them doing very little is a component that annoys me.  Mothra and Rodon were kind of there, hitting there moments at the right times, but not maximized.  Other creatures we get to see passing shots of, but they were unnecessary when we could have had more epic monster battles.

As you can see, the King Of Monsters is certainly going to hold the special effect event of the summer, or at least pretty close to it. It’s problem is, that it’s imbalance issues continue to mix the movie up in a messy sorts that some will love and others won’t.  The monster aspect gets points for chaos, destruction, and special effects that these movies thrive on so monster fans should be stoked by these aspects.  The action again is mixed for me, part awesome with the special effects and yet part disappointing because of the fast pace, focus on humans more than monsters, and shaky camera work that could have been expanded upon.  Perhaps the next installment can figure out the chemistry to the monster movie balance and bring back the magic of the dying genre. Still with all the special effects and monsters in this film, despite how imbalanced they are, the movie is worth the visit to the theater. So check it out when you can.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

The Fun Adventurous Side Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Poster

 

Animated films offer the opportunity for imagination to really come to life.  As they bring CGI and other animation tactics to the table, the stories that follow have a big job of trying to make a film that is entertaining to all ages without dipping down one end over the other.  While there are many animated studios out there ready to give it a shot, not every studio finds a way to achieve those goals, becoming a cash grab instead of a quality adventure.  This week, an early showing of the The Secret Life Of Pets 2 came to screen and I had my suspicions that this sequel might have been just that.  Robbie K back with another review, checking out Illumination Studios’ latest work.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris RenaudJonathan del Val (co-director)

Writer:

Brian Lynch

Stars:

Patton OswaltKevin HartHarrison Ford

 

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting
  • Animation
  • Comedy
  • Pacing
  • Adventurous Stories
  • Emotional Moments

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Short Run Time
  • Not Quite Original
  • More Impasses/Character Development
  • Under Utilized Characters

 

People who like these may like this movie:

 

Secret Life Of Pets 1

Sing

Ferdinand

Homeward Bound

A Dog’s Purpose

 

Summary:

Animated films often require good voice acting to bring the characters to life, and this series’ cast succeeds in bringing the plot to full life.  Hart and Haddish bring their chemistry back to life in the form of Snowball and Daisy, their wild, sarcastic sass coming out beautifully in animated form.  Oswalt’s addition managed to bring Max to the same level as last time, fun and familiar friendliness.  As for the others again they get the job done when utilized to make the same craziness that the first movie used long ago.  Animation wise, it is the same caricature like style that Illumination loves to use, with grandiose character flaws and elongated, angular faces that make up their characters.  As for the pets, they still have that anthropomorphized component that is so sweet to look at, each having some quality to represent the voice actors that play them.  While those components are nice, the thing I enjoyed more about this installment was the pacing of the movie.  Utilizing the adventurous story and splitting it into three separate segments helped keep things dynamic, moving, and fun,  and avoiding those slow parts the first movie had.  It’s this theme that kept me entertained and seeing each subplot having its own time to play out, all the while giving the characters their focused time. Eventually all of these moments tie together, bringing the surprisingly emotional side of the film the conclusion that fit well in the theme of fun and love of pets.   It definitely should strike chords with a few audience members, especially those with ties to pets.

Yet, the movie still suffers from some things that do bring some limitations for this reviewer.  For one thing, the movie is still predictable and pulled no surprises in terms of story presentation.  Illumination’s focus on kid friendly films seems to divert from the options that will shock and amaze, due to the potential of being too sad.  As such, the tale’s originality and magic don’t quite live up to the potential that Disney has made famous in their plethora of tales.  It’s cute don’t get me wrong, and does have some heart pulling moments, but these are only scratching the surface that bigger studios do better.  Also taking away from the tale is the short run time.  Around 80 minutes long, the movie has a lot to cram in the short time, leading to very quick dives into the fun portions of the movie.  However, this is also the undoing as the movie’s quick pace leaves little time for impasses, obstacles, and challenges to help give significant character development.  In addition, the movie could have focused a little more on some of the gimmicks they were promoting if given more time. While the characters are fun, they don’t have that full dynamic and emotional range that other animated characters hold.  Given that animals somehow are more emotional than humans, it would have been nice to see more of this come out, but again, this might have not fit in with the fun slapstick and writing that was built for the audience.  Fan favorites from last installment may also find it disappointing to find their characters left in the kennel, particularly those who liked Pops, Mel, the Dachshund, and the Falcon as they have little outside of comedy stunts. Perhaps more time and planning could have done a bit better in adjusting these characters to have the full punch in each story.

  It’s no Secret this movie will do well when it opens because of the intended audience.  It’s cute, funny for many ages, and has that colorful animation to keep attention on them. I myself enjoyed this one better than the original due to the pacing and adventurous side of things, but I still was hoping for a little more balance and originality than what they put in.  It is not the best animated in terms of pushing the limits of imagination, but it does its job and I’d say to come hit this up in theaters when you can.  Otherwise, check it out later when it comes to home entertainment.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

A Carpet Ride Into Familiar, Rushed, World

Aladdin Poster

            Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt’s imagination established years ago.  Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill.  Can it work?  That’s where I come in to give my insights as we check out:

 

Movie:  Aladdin (2019)

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Stars:

Will SmithMena MassoudNaomi Scott

 

LIKES:

Nostalgic

  • Core Story Present
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Recreated World
  • Nice Visual Effects
  • Acting
  • Take On Genie
  • Some Of The Songs

 

  • DISLIKES:
  • Not Enough Exploration Of The World
  • Rushed At times
  • Missing Some Of The Character Charm
  • Jafar’s Take
  • The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
  • The political Messages
  • Some of the Other Songs

People Who Likes These May Like This One:

Beauty and The Beast Live Action Remake

Prince Of Persia

Dumbo

Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Disney Channel Original Movies

SUMMARY:

Let’s put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it.  Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members.  Guy Ritchie’s take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style.  The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held.  Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith’s take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt.  Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out.  Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad.  Naomi Scott’s voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William’s work.  His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times).  And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90’s songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott’s wonderful voice.

Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me.  First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting.  This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar.  In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain.  That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard.  And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form.  Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head.  The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.

Overall, Aladdin’s live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics.  I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world.  Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held.  It’s that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been.  Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall 7.0

 

A Journey Towards Improvement

A Dog's Journey Poster

 

 

 

Animal movies are always a mixture in terms of emotions from funny to awfully sad.  If you are an animal lover, directors love to get the tears rolling with sequences and scenes that will break your heart and have you pine for four legged friends.  This weekend, a sequel to a movie that was received with mixed reviews due to PR stunts, is going to try again in an attempt to make amends and hopefully have a better tale.  Robbie K coming at you with another review, this time on the film:

 

A Dog’s Journey: 2019

 

Director:

Gail Mancuso

Writers:

  1. Bruce Cameron(book), W. Bruce Cameron (screenplay)

Stars:

Josh GadDennis QuaidKathryn Prescott

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute

Dog’s adorable and impressively trained.

Much Better Pace

Josh Gad’s voice acting

A More Cohesive Story

Funnier Than Last Time

Decent Finale

 

DISLIKES:

 

Some Actors Really Not Needed

Sad Moments Again

Unnecessary Story Component

Depressing

Trailers Reveal too much

 

 

Fans who like these movies may like this film:

Dog’s Purpose

Dog’s way Home

Old Yeller

Movies with revival and journey home

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie had to do some damage control from the first and for the most part the movie accomplishes the goal on many levels.  It’s cute, primarily thanks to the dogs they selected and the talented performances from those who cannot speak.  The canine thespians show off their impressive training and managed to add that cute/cuddly component that dog lovers latch onto. The extra characteristics and comedy aspect are from Josh Gad who’s voice acting mimics the looks and energy of his animal avatars quite well, again adding that extra adorable nature into the mix.  Utilizing the animals well, the movie helps add some hope and optimism to the story at hand, which provides that entertainment aspect.  In addition, the movie also has some stronger pacing to avoid getting lost in the monotonous sadness that does nothing but spread out the movie. The comedy provided by the voice acting and the puppies also does a wonderful job of adding entertainment value, with well-timed jokes and a delivery style that fits so well with this film, only crossing the lines occasionally. Perhaps things worked better as well due to the more cohesive story, an underlying and defined plot that ties each segment together and puts a purpose and goal to work towards. Everything finally wraps up nicely at the end and perhaps shows that a salvageable ending can be obtained despite the rocky opening.

Yet the movie still has components that I’m not the biggest fan of.  It starts with some of the actors cast into the film, the trailers suggest lots of use of Quaid and his human companions, but outside of the various ages of C.J., the human actors promoted don’t quite sell me in their involvement to this movie, outside of some key moments to work towards the ending.  More things could have been unleashed to assist with the story and perhaps make their inclusion worthwhile.  Sad moments are still present and even going in knowing there are times where the amount of suffering seen is just not enjoyable and we could have been spared some of this.  In addition, there is one dog story that as cute as the puppy was, held little importance to the story, though providing another sad scene to take the wind out of your sails. Despite some of the lighter moments, the movie still has an overlying atmosphere of depression meaning that this one will not be for those who are suffering from any down times.  If you wish to take a trial, check the trailers again, they’ll give you enough warning, but if you want surprises, then make sure to avoid this as the trailers are going to give a good amount away.

Overall, the movie is a major improvement over the first one for me in terms of better storytelling and utilization of cuteness.  This leads to more entertainment value, a better pace and some better outlooks that the first movie just could not capture in its presentation.  Yet, the movie cannot escape the cloud of depression that continues to hover over, focusing too much on extending the sad moments and sometimes adding useless scenes that offered little more than more depression involved with these animals.  Given all of this, it is still worth a watch, but you need to be ready for potential tear jerkers, especially in animal lover populations. My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Fan Service? Check! Comedy? Check! Cuteness? Check! Full potential? Not Yet

Pokémon Detective Pikachu Poster

            Growing up in the 90s meant to be a part of the rise of games, and one of those series was Pokémon.  The portable adventure with pocket monsters brought with it a plethora of stories as my friends and I worked to capture them all.  As the years passed the series evolved to include anime, movies, merchandise, cards and many more as young kids and old strived to be the best.  Now, years later, the world takes a first shot at a live action movie, with questioning looks from the reviews.  Robbie K back with a look at the latest movie in hopes of discovering the power of the series contained within.  Let’s review:

 

Movie: Detective Pikachu (2019)

 

Director:

Rob Letterman

Writers:

Dan Hernandez (screenplay by), Benji Samit (screenplay by)

Stars:

Ryan ReynoldsJustice SmithKathryn Newton

 

 

LIKES:

 

Voice Acting

Comedy

Cuteness

Surprisingly Deep

World Building

Nostalgia

 

Summary:

The movie may look incredibly lame, but within the labs of the Pokémon studios they actually crafted a movie that is very fun.  Much of this has to do with the voice acting, primarily Ryan Reynolds pulling his Deadpool delivery, just in a more censored way.  Pikachu spouting the sarcasm and wit of the mercenary with a mouth had me laughing, and the background dialogue he provides is so simplistic, but yet so powerful at the same time.  Alongside the other actors who are not CGI, he manages to establish fun relationships, primarily with Justice Smith, who make this modern odd couple relationship. It works extremely well, and established an atmosphere of not only funny, but also cute as the bond between Pokémon and partner shine.  Yet the comedy is only one aspect of the film, and the movie goes surprisingly deep in some of this character development and plot concepts.  There are plenty of adult themes that I can’t say much to avoid spoiling, but the movie really pulls at heart strings that may be very relevant to some.  It’s the extra layer that expands the audience age and increases the enjoyment to many more. 

     Yet the other aspect I really enjoyed was the world building and nostalgia that came into this movie.  Rhyme City is a nice blend of the things that make a Pokémon city great for us gamers, integrating CGI with real life shots to make a believable world that could be inhabited by Pokémon. The 2-d models were great for the games, but the 3-D textures and depth added to the Pokémon really gives them a more realistic sheen that fit in the live action.  Not quite the realism all the way, but a fantastic start to future installments if they make more.  Even better for fans like me though, is the search for nostalgia that packs the film more than zubats fill the rock tunnel.  Superfans will enjoy the search for shout outs to all the spin offs this series has taken found in dialog, jokes, and even memorabilia that are just sitting in the wings to be discovered.  This added layer should please the fan base and still not distract from the other components of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Pokémon

More Excitement

Predictable Plot

Dead End plots

Convoluted Plot

 

SUMMARY:

The movie did well, but there was some more fleshing out needed to assist with maximizing it’s potential. For one thing, more Pokémon would have been welcomed to see in the city.  I’m not sure if they ran into budget, time constraints, or are planning a future with more Pokémon movies, but I would have liked to have seen more of the critters in the world.  The movie took a few templates and then only used them over and over again. Fortunately many of these are fan favorites, but there were others I were hoping would contribute to the plot rather than remaining background.  This is definitely true of the battle scenes, which would have been great for both a plot and adventure aspect.  There were a few battle scenes that held promise, but they quickly were diluted to more comedy and while funny, there could have been a little more bang for the buck had they actually brought the battle service to life. This is especially true when it comes to the finale of the story, which leads me to the next limitation for this reviewer.

Aesthetics aside, the movie’s main struggle comes in the limited story that seems weighed down by comedy and fan service.  The first thing is the predictability of the plot, a combination of trailers and obvious, clichéd foreshadowing there is not much surprise in terms of the secrets held in this mystery.  My friends and I had six of the seven revelations down well before revelation and it was only about waiting for the revelation rather than the impact.  Next, the movie tries to pursue that deeper tone we talked about earlier, but truncates the plots before they build any steam.  Justice Smith’s story, holds many emotional moments, but they are bluntly dropped in the favor of more comedy.  Other stars recruited into the film and the characters they portray are fairly limited as well, and the underutilization of the human and digital cast makes for a greatly missed opportunity to expand the plot and the characters.  Perhaps in doing this, the last dislike of the convoluted and nonsensical story would have made a little sense.  Like a fan service story, the twist that happens is okay, a bit of an overstretch that gets points for originality, but came out a bit corny for me other than trying to introduce more fan service.  Had they maybe put a more climactic finish and not gone quite Sci-Fi based service, we might have been okay and had a better overall finish to the building  story.

 

VERDICT:

            Overall Detective Pikachu is one of the better video game movies to hit the silver screen, accomplishing the goal of hitting a variety of audience members and bringing a fun, cute and deep adventure with it.  It’s going to hit both super fans and new fans alike in regards to the world it creates, and with Ryan Reynolds leading the way is sure to bring laughs to the bunch.  Yet the movie gets a little too focused on pleasing all audiences that it does not maximize that potential.  Detective Pikachu’s story is the primary limitation in that there was so much more to behold, and should a second movie arise, I hope they will focus on more Pokémon and character integration than pure comedy and fandom.  Still a nice adventure for many and one worthy of a theater trip for most, and a home viewing for the rest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Too Focused On Audience and Music Leads to “Ugly” Limitations

UglyDolls Poster

            The animated world brings many masterpieces, acting as a medium to bring imagination to life and craft impossible things that live action has not quite caught up to.  Given the intended audiences, new worlds and characters are crafted in hopes of delivering fun adventure, potential catchy soundtracks, and of course lessons that can help refresh the morals tarnished by time if left unchecked. This weekend, the latest adventure attempts to take the stage in the form of a band of misfit creations with the potential to change the world.  Will it be another blockbuster hit to withstand the test of time, or is it just more merchandising in a desperate plea to stand up to Disney.  Robbie K here giving his thoughts0. on:

 

Director:

Kelly Asbury

Writers:

Alison Peck (screenplay by), Sun-min Kim (based on characters by)

Stars:

Kelly ClarksonNick JonasJanelle Monáe

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Creative Characters
  • Colorful Environment
  • Cute Atmosphere
  • Voice Cast
  • Messages
  • Music

 

SUMMARY:  As mentioned in the opening, the animated medium offers the ability to let imagination flourish and create some unique looking characters. Ugly Doll takes the concept of “mistakes” and turns them into oddly shaped combinations that hold much value for future action figures and dolls.  Moxy (Clarkson) and her crew are odd and not the most detailed, but their personalities are etched into the design which goes in time with the world crafted. This world may not be the most realistic or detail oriented, but it’s color, angles, and sort of Hodge podge approach lead to a mish-mash world of fun that would be beautiful as a theme park. Ugly Dolls manages to add personality into each of the two worlds, mirroring the approach to life each collective bunch represents.  Regardless of which place you prefer, the movie holds the cute factor that is intended for the key audience, creating the safe, family friendly environment that parents would like their young ones to see.

To help further bring the world to life, a talented voice cast has at least been recruited with singers, comedians, and sassy actresses to assist with bringing that last bit of spark to the characters needed. Clarkson, Jonas, and Monae are the ones who take point using their vocal talents to not only deliver the simplistic writing of the film and even more deliver the lines of the soundtrack this movie was focused on.  The variety of voice talents were marginally used well and balanced to make sure every character got some screen time.

Through whatever means though, the movie has two big selling points that are the selling points with this film.  The first are the morals about inner beauty, self-worth, and believing in yourself.  Cliché? Absolutely, but an important lesson for the young generation, and their chaperones to learn in hopes of establishing new grounds for self-confidence.  That emotional gimmick, touched my heart personally, but for many of the group it may not quite penetrate the cerebral cortex like they wanted.  Instead the morals will be lost to the toe tapping tunes that this movie is going to use.  Much like Frozen, the soundtrack is going to be more memorable than the movie, with a number of reprises used to expand the soundtrack ever so slightly.  Plenty of these songs have much emotion, but it’s going to be the bubble gum pop beat that gets your kids going, bump up sales, and potentially get overplayed

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Very Simplistic Plot
  • Other Characters Only Scratched
  • Rushed Story
  • Little Impasse
  • Unremarkable Moments
  • Too geared on kids
  • Too much focus on the music

SUMMARY:  When it comes to animated kids films there is a balance that I look for in my reviews so that they may bring more people into the film.  Ugly Dolls struggled with this for me.  It starts with the simplistic plot, essentially a linear plot that holds very few curves to mix things up.  It’s simple story is cute and endearing, but lacks some of the fundamental moments that Disney does so well.  Most of the characters do contribute in the form of comedy, but the character development is lacking for the others, leading to merely colorful outlines that will be perfect for action figures.  Perhaps this could have been accomplished if the plot did not seem so rushed, trying to get from start to finish in the rapid time limit they set. In doing this, the impasses for our dolls were not that impressive and easily bypassed, the threat level essentially nullified by the cute antics of our group.  The result is that the movie does not quite have the most memorable moments that will stay with us until the end of time.

Why is this the case?  I believe the two sources of weakness that took away from this movie are the kid focused atmosphere and the fixation on music.  Ugly Dolls is perfect for the early aged viewers in terms of lacking any really scary or haunting features. Yet, in removing the threats the plot became a little too boring as the adventure just devolved into sort of an elementary school education lesson.  Taking the adventure out of this movie therefore limits it for older members who will need to focus on the occasional adult joke and watching their young ones smiles.  In addition, the music was too much the theme of this film.  With all the singers casted, it’s not surprising they wanted to turn out a soundtrack, and sure enough the studio has put a lot of investment in the toe tapping music to boost sales.  Despite the catchy music, that focus took away much from the story as mentioned above, all in the name of cramming as many songs as possible to again boost their sales. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Ugly Dolls is cute and I loved the themes, world building and energy built into its design and the presentation.  Yet, the movie fails to find the balance and sense of adventure that others have held from other studios with bigger budgets. More story planning was needed, and less focus on limited audiences would have been nice, with a little more maturity ingrained to help out.  Yet, the movie really needed to steer away from the focus on merchandising to leave an imprint and be known as one of the greats.  It is not horrible at all, but the limited audience scope is going to be the main hesitation to go to the theaters for this.  Instead, you might be better off buying the sound track and waiting for this to hit home. 

Scores:

Animated/Family/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0