What Lies In These Dark Waters? Tune In To Find Out

Dark Waters Poster

 

What does it take to take on the mega corporations of the world?  The answer can vary in many ways, but often it takes a will power for some unknown to try and change the system.  Tonight’s movie is a shining example of that character, one that to this continues to fight against the travesties of the big corporations that seem to run our country.  Such a movie may be cliché by now, but as always I’m here to go over the usual factors and give my opinion on yet another movie.  So with that, let’s get cracking as we review:

 

Dark Waters (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Haynes

Writers:

Matthew Michael CarnahanMario Correa  |1 more credit »

Stars:

Anne HathawayMark RuffaloWilliam Jackson Harper

 

 

Likes:

  • Pacing
  • Travel Through Timeline
  • Good Details Of the Case
  • The portrayal of the Mind
  • Focus On Other members Of The case
  • The Drama On One Level
  • The Acting

 

Dislikes:

  • Animal Killing
  • The Dramatization On Other Point
  • More Behind the scenes of Dupont for completion sakes
  • Elements introduced that were Not Utilized
  • More Anne Hathaway

 

SUMMARY:

 

A biographical drama always faces the challenge with me of being complete and staying entertaining and Dark Waters delivers this for me.  The pacing for the movie works at just the right speed to hit the details without making me feel bored.  Much of this has to do with the presentation of the movie, a nice travel through the 15 years of case busting that Robert Bilott partook in the late 90s to early 2010s.  One will be subjected to multiple facets of the case, getting to see his discovery of each level of corruption in his pursuit of justice against the companies they once represented.  While this may not be the Law and Order intensity television has established, the case has enough believable details with a balance to the drama to help make this important case as thrilling as possible.  That movie magic spices up the fact-finding mission, making sure to integrate other parts of the case such as the farmer who started the investigation, neighbors who started gaining confidence to stand up, and even the law firms that Robert worked for.  Such layered approaches help immerse you into the whole event, rather than selected facets that sometime these movies take in their telling.  An even deeper level though, is seeing the effects of the mind such a stressful case brings with it.  Roberts descent into bringing justice was certainly admirable, but the impact on his personal life, career, and mental health were well-integrated into the mix, helping amplify the internal mind of the worker, and adding to the obstacles of the case.  Yet, most of these aspects are brought to the forefront thanks to the acting of the cast.  Much of this weighs on the producer and lead actor Mark Ruffalo who gets most of the screen time, has to handle the multitude of emotions and physical acting required of this franchise, and finding a way to really keep it believable.  Hathaway as well gets her role down pat as the supporting character who has to make sacrifices of her own, keeping the family running while Robert becomes engrossed in all the literature.  Her skills as the stressed character being pulled to the brim between justice and survival is again super balanced, and again adds extra impact to fulfill the story.  Others get their roles down, but I need to move on to the next part of the review so we’ll do just that.

 

Despite as much of the movie I liked, there were still some things that were not quite my cup of tea.  For one thing, animal killing is one of my weakness when it comes to movie.  While not the worst or saddest thing I’ve seen, there was a scene trying to emphasize the problems with the water that hit me a little more than I wanted.  I would have liked this scene filtered a little more, but hey you got to have a dramatic flair to liven things up.  That brings me to the next limitation for me, the potential overdramatization to which Hollywood can sometimes inject.  To help add splendor you’ve got to put some extra emotion to the mix, but there are times where the dramatic moments are a little too obvious or forced for me.  These cheesy moments sort of took away from the splendor of the moment, but it could also just be my tolerance level is low for these things.  Anyway, the other thing for me is the movie’s incomplete focus of all aspects of the cases as my main limitation.  For one thing, the ruthless Dupont organization gets a good intro to the madness, but much of their interference is behind the scenes through dialogue instead of on camera where one could get the ugly side to come out in full force.  Perhaps it’s because their part can only be speculated, but this might have been the better place to introduce the drama feature of Hollywood.  Other areas that seemed a little lacking were other people being introduced, but then sort of dropped into the wings of obscurity.  A random colleague striving for partnership, another about being pregnant, the grandmother and this supposed tension of his mom with his wife, were some elements alliterated in the dialogue, only to die off like the cattle in the trailers.  It’s a shame, because this could have further enhanced the development, but I guess books will provide those details.  Finally, more of Hathaway’s character was needed for me, especially given the integral cog she played in him getting the case taken care of, while also keeping the home life in order.  I’d have liked to get more of her perspective and allow Hathaway’s talents to shine even more so even if it cost another ten minutes of viewing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Dark Waters delivered the story I had been wanting to see in the form of a biographical drama.  A thrilling case that took years to build is given great detail to help explain everything happening, while also moving to keep you engaged.  The acting and multiple aspects really do the film justice and give everyone the chance to act to their top game.  It’s true it still is subjected to overdramatization at times, but it’s kept in check to keep things spicy and appeal to the drama seeking nature that is humanity.  I’d have liked a few more elements added to give a better visualization of the corrupt companies, while also giving Anne Hathaway more time to shine, but overall I’m very happy with this.  I feel this film will go under the radar, and to be honest, only the engaging story and acting will attract a theater watch for most.  However, if you are able to catch this at home or Redbox take the 2 hours to uncover the revolutionizing story that is still going on today. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/History:  8.0 – 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

It’s A Beautiful Film For Thanksgiving!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Poster

 

In today’s world, it is so funny to see who we idolize in our world given the rise of reality television, political filters being removed, and politics making grandiose characters.  However,  amidst the islands of these extreme characters, there are real champions who strive to make others happy and the darkness of the world a little more manageable.  Mr. Rogers was considered by many to be one of those saints, making a program that was entertaining and yet moving in his approach to the real world. So why not make a film that dives into the life and impact that Mr. Fred Rogers had, and put it just at the forefront of the season of giving.  Well my friends, Robbie K is back for another look  at the latest film to determine if it is worth the price of admission.  Let’s get started as we look at:

 

Movie:  A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2019)

 

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Micah Fitzerman-BlueNoah Harpster

Stars:

Tom HanksMatthew RhysChris Cooper

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Nostalgia
  • Presentation
  • Balance Of Story And Rogers Involvement
  • The Character Development
  • The Comedy and Writing
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Pace
  • Some Character Utilization
  • Drama vs. Realism Question

 

The VERDICT:

 

While the documentary dove into the history of Rogers, this installment helps bring the magic of one man’s impact on the world.  A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood is an artful film that captures the magic of Rogers’ approach to life and presents it in a style that seems to be a doctored-up version of the show.  The transitions using Roger’s model like world were cute, alongside how they presented the meat of the subject as a surrealistic episode that somehow acts as a counseling session to the audience members.  This film balances the story of the other characters and incorporates Rogers involvement in the world, leading to a fantastic portrayal of character development without discarding all the other components of the film.  Writing wise, it will hit the hearts of many, rich with wisdom and thought-provoking material without being too preachy or forced as many movies can be.  The comedy is subtle, a natural inclusion that is not artificial, leading to a genuine laugh that adds a layer to the movieFinally, the acting is the cornerstone of the film, Hanks execution of Rogers spot on in many ways, while Rhys as the journalist is a wonderful antagonist to Hanks, whose performance is a display of the kind of commitment friendship sometimes takes.  While the rest of the cast is there to support the group in many ways, it’s these two alongside the presentation that delivers the hammer.

There are few dislikes I have for this film personally, with many of these a little nitpicky on my part.  For one thing, the pace and content are not going to be for everyone, but the pace in particular had me fighting sleep at times.  In addition, I had hoped other characters would have been worked into the mix, while others sort of forgone, to really tie in all of Roger’s aspects in his attempt to help Lloyd.  Finally, there are moments where reality vs. dramatization come into play, questioning the choices of the shot or sequence that while symbolic were not fully necessary for me. 

 

Overall though, the movie is a beautiful portrayal of the messages the beloved kid’s host had, and the impact he had on so many.  It’s not going to be for everyone, and it certainly is not the most engaging in terms of entertainment or originality.  Yet, for those that love dramatic biographies, or need a spiritual message into the movie, this humble look at the sad parts of life and how to maintain humanity should be a welcoming start to the spirit of the holiday season.  So wrapping all of this together, my scores for this film are:

 

Biography/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0-7.5

Gas Up The Engines And Drive Out To See This Rivalry

Ford v Ferrari Poster

 

When it comes to cars we like them fast and furious, or at least for many that is the dream as handling the monster speed can be overwhelming.  So that’s where racing comes in, a means to extend one’s self into the faceless visage of a Nascar or Formula One in hopes of seeing their heroes win.  Yet, what goes into a racecar?  For the die-hard fans and car enthusiasts they understand the mechanics behind it, but for fans like me, well there is a lot more under the hood of the vent.  Today’s movie is all about the battlefield of racing, though perhaps more of a look into the window of the past in the international racing venue.  Tonight we look at the rivalry between two big car empires, in their battle for supremacy as I review:

 

Movie: Ford Vs. Ferrari (2019)

 

Director:

James Mangold

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Surprisingly Decent Pace

Funny

Plenty Of Character Integration

Seeing the Rivalry From Many Sides

The Technical Jargon Mixed Well

The Musical Score

The Sound Effects

The Heart

The Finale Of Racing

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Predictability

Loudness

The Drama Vs. Reality

A Little More Integration Of The Wife

The Ending After The Race

 

SUMMARY:

 

Biography dramas usually don’t run at a pace that entertains me fully, but Ford Vs. Ferrari succeeded in this endeavor and put the pedal to the medal in storytelling.  The elements of describing the business deals, politics and even development of the car are all a carefully blended together to be engaging without being overbearing for this reviewer.  It finds a way to make all this business jargon funny, putting just enough spite, attitude, and stubbornness to work and masterfully relieving the dialog heavy plot.  What impressed me even more though was seeing the character integration into this film, finding ways to make characters I care about and how I hoped the policies would not shoot them in the foot, which is key to helping me stay invested in a drama.  Bale in particular was my focal point, his character having the most lines cast out and the central engine that drove this car.  He plays the part well, adds that charm he brings to many of his roles, and then melds with the rest of the teams.  Throw in all the dialogue filled with the jargon and you had me feeling like I was part of each group in the decision to battle the big boys.

However, despite all the heart of the film, most fans are going to want to know how the special effects department works in this film.  Good news, for America’s love of making things loud, bold, and powerful continues on this look back into the past.  For guys like me, the musical score at times amps up the elements with its background noise augmenting the scene and making my skin goosebumps rise in that emotional way.  Now add the layer of the sound editing and effects and you get the major effect of this movie.  Those who love to listen to their engines roar as they fly down the street, or identify the clicks of the perfect transition to the next gear are going to love this movie.  All those elements brought together with the theater sound drop you into the driver seat and gets the blood pumping.  Finally, combine that with the visuals and you’ve got yourself a movie that somehow takes what many consider a dry sport of turning left and instead give you the dynamic element of being in this life or death thrall.  When combined with the story, it’s magic and gives a purpose to remain entertaining, which can be very difficult in a racing movie without gimmicks (comedy of the Love bug or action of the Fast and Furious).

 

Despite the realistic nature of this film though, it still has some elements I would have liked to see curbed.  One, the predictability of the film is still there from the foreshadowing alone, though if you know the history of this movie’s plot you’ll of course predict the ending (which I didn’t).  Despite the appreciation for the special effects, yours truly has sensitive ears, so the full volume of the engine roaring can be a little painful/ingratiating if not careful.  These minor components aside, the movie’s constant question of drama vs reality comes into question, and I feel there was a lot of magic integrated into the film compared to the reality.  It adds entertainment, but I wonder just how much of this was true to paint the characters a little more notably, more so Matt Damon’s character or the arrogant vice president.  In terms of further character integration, I would have liked a little more of the wife, who though was involved throughout the film, felt there was a little more she could have had in here to really pull the film to full circle.  My biggest dislike though was the last twenty minutes of the film, which I will not spoil.  The film had another point that I felt would have been better to end, and while I understand why they did the last part in terms of closure, the last 15-20 minutes could have been edited down where I think the true story ended, wrapped up with a nice information card montage they do.  It’s times like these where the last piece is placed that sometimes throw me the wrong way, but I will of course recognize the honor and work they did do in those final moments.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Ford Vs. Ferrari delivered what I expected and more.  It was a drama/biography that was not boring to watch, with a pace that like the car continued to work and immersed you into many aspects of the war between these two.  A fantastic balance of story with technical prowess is going to be the entertaining factor for much of the audience and looking at the people around me during my showing should impress the target audience.  Sure, it’s predictable, a little time bloated, and loud, but the only factors are potentially the movie magic blowing things out of proportion and the potential ending that really had me bugging.  Otherwise, outside of not being the most original idea or the most dynamic telling of a story it works for a trip to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Biography/Sports:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Incomplete Artistic Liberties Derail This UnderGround Railroad Story

Harriet Poster

    Historical dramas are another fine genre to grace the new age, but with them you get artistic liberties that sometimes does not go the way they planned.  Yet, we keep trying to make the next ultimate movie to bring these people to modern times, and help teach their contributions to society through the magic of film.  So what does tonight’s film have to offer?  That’s where yours truly comes in and thus Robbie K is here with another review as we check out:

 

Movie: Harriet (2019)

 

Director:

Kasi Lemmons

Writers:

Gregory Allen Howard (screenplay by), Kasi Lemmons(screenplay by)

Stars:

Cynthia ErivoLeslie Odom Jr.Joe Alwyn

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Recreation Of History
  • The Cultural Songs
  • The Dialogue
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pacing is Off
  • A Little Too Montage Moments
  • Other characters to be integrated
  • Weaker Antagonist Characters
  • The Vision Piece Of The Puzzle
  • The Action Component or lack of

Summary:

 

Movies continue to prove their abilities to act as windows into different worlds, and in this case the budget they have is impressive in recreating the troubled times of our countries past.  Harriet’s dive back into the Civil War comes with impressive recreations of a time forgotten, bringing the simplicity of the plantations and the surrounding towns to full life to immerse one into the culture.  Costumes play a major support adding a subtle edge to the movie that will integrate you into the culture a little more.  This is perhaps the biggest strength of Harriet, showing cultural components of the time period and while the visual elements are impressive the writing only augments that to bigger levels.  Harriet loves showing off the song traditions of that time period, in the power of religious hymns and soul music that not only served to inspire, but acted as a means of signaling to others.  Erivo’s voice holds the power you expect of this music, and while I would have liked more diversity in the song I give props to the use and execution of the power melodies that Tubman held in this film.  Fortunately, this thing is not a musical, and the rest of the spoken word contains a powerful dialogue that makes for a wonderful platform of explaining the story.  Harriet’s dialogue contains the raw passion of the times, bringing out the emotional fury of the times, while also the passion of the people.  It’s deep, metaphor filled writing is the stuff novelists love to unleash, and it will surely be on quotable boards in future classrooms.  As to who unleashes that writing, well the actors get the props and skills from this reviewers to bring that fire to the film.  Erivo leads the group into dealing out how much hurt and anguish the people of this time had, and showing how it fueled their drive to bring people to freedom.  It’s a bit overdramatic I’ll admit, but when honed with the words, you get those models that made the women behind me comment in agreement and potentially act as the focal point of the movie.

 

Yet, for all the passion that the movie has there are some things that I was not impressed with.  For one thing the pacing feels a little off for me, starting out slow and meticulous at the set-up, only to go fast in the journey to freedom, before going slow once more.  The stop and go approach has never been my preference, and based on the expectations from the trailers I had hoped for a little more conflict and impasse to add spark to the mix.  Sadly, the montage approach was used where only small segments took the form of the rescuing scenes and intense moments that was a little disappointing to be honest.  Now let’s take in the characters that were built up in the beginning.  Most of them practically don’t exist, guess that’s why it is called Harriet I guess, and it led to many characters feeling only as afterthoughts and not really involved in the story.  I would have liked to see some of these people work alongside her, have more character involvement, than small exchanges, especially when they went to all the trouble to introduce and try to build them up.  But, the drama aspect takes over and leads to very dramatic, bluntly ended affairs that were almost not needed.  It’s like these intense moments were just the seasoning on a burger, rather than the meat, leading to flat ended plots that were a little boring to say the least.  This is especially true for the antagonists, men I thought would be ruthless hounds in their pursuit of Harriet, with legendary skills that would push Harriet to the heights of her abilities.  Instead, we get egotistical, weaker characters that do little to contribute to the story outside of, looking like grandiose fools and do a little hurting on the side.  I’m with a lot of fans here in stating that if you are going to blur the line of reality and fantasy, do it in a little more style with characters that actually made the journey worthwhile.  Another thing I’m mixed about is the vision aspect of the movie.  Harriet’s connection to the Lord is one I’ll always envy from this film in getting communication back, but the way this movie did it made it like a super power that acted as her means of movie.  An original twist?  Yes!  What was needed for this movie?  I don’t think so and can’t say this vision was my cup of tea.  Finally, I had hoped that the trailers showing Harriet wielding guns and an army was going to add a little more flair to the mix, helping with the pacing and adding that edge that we discussed earlier.  Perhaps then the movie magic decisions would have been worth the effort.

 

The VERDICT:

            Depending on what you are going in here for will determine how much of Harriet you like.  It’s certainly the dramatic flair of modern cinema, taking lots of liberties to make history a little more pleasing to the attention span of today.  If you can appreciate the liberties, the full-on passion and professional writing for powerful monologues then I feel you’re going to enjoy the attitude of this film.  Throw in some impressive visual recreation and acting to bring all this to life, and well you’ve got the world of dramatic Civil War.  However, if you are looking for historical accuracy or at least a dramatic world that has a lot more edge and character involvement, then prepared to be ignorant or disappointed.  Harriet’s  artistic liberties were appreciated, but in the long run it did not come altogether for me and I was left wanting a little more investment to bring this magnificent woman’s story to life. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Biography/Drama:   6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5

Taking This One To the Banks!

Brian Banks Poster

 

In an age where political issues swarm like an upset nest of hornets and movements taking place across the world, the movie business is looking to do its own public relations campaign in the form of films. No matter the topic of racism, sexism, or even just moments in history where ethnicity takes a role, we have been subjected to a number of films trying to capture the tales in all their “glory”.  Yet like all films, the art of bringing the class and magic to stories like this can again be a challenge that some struggle with. So my final review this week looks to see if this biography succeeds in telling a story without going too far down the melodramatic, political preaching that these movies sometimes become. Robbie K reviewing:

 

Movie: Brian Banks (2019)

 

Director:

Tom Shadyac

Writer:

Doug Atchison

Stars:

Aldis HodgeGreg KinnearSherri Shepherd

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

Story

Musical effects

Emotional Display

Good Morale Lessons

Good Pace

Interesting Presentation

 

DISLIKES:

 

The question of real vs magic

Not as Much Morgan Freeman

Revealed Ending Early On

A Little Preachy At Times

More of the Lady Lawyers

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The biography movies require that the character be hopefully represented by someone who not only looks like them, but can act like them.  And for this reviewer they succeeded in capturing the looks of the characters they portrayed. Brian Banks tale has some grade A acting that feels very realistic, but somehow manages to find that passion to sell the emotion and struggles of the events the football player went through.  Hodge in particular steals the show with his ability to take the drama and provide strength with it.  Kinnear on the other hand seems to have the lawyer role down pat, seriousness and stern, yet compassionate and fun.  The chemistry with all the cast really brings the scenario to life and making things feel real instead overly fake and doctored up by the studio.  Despite all the quality acting though, the movie has many other qualities that help bring this political issue to new levels that other movies did not succeed for me.  Some of it has to do with the presentation, primarily in how they take us on the trek of his case for freedom and the events leading up to it.  This film manages to blend the past and present in an interesting manner that is easy to follow, each piece of the puzzle fitting into a nice slot that was placed well during the quest for the truth.  In addition, the pace manages to strike a nice balance, managing to allocate plenty of time for character development, yet not move so slow that you wish the movie to end.  In addition, the film achieves the emotional delivery utilizing well written dialogues, camera work that captures the emotion, and musical editing that somehow manages to blend together and motivate one to become better. Note, I found this case a little more relevant to myself that may have helped, but I was impressed in how well the tale was presented feeling real, but no so real as to be dry and mundane.

 

Yet, the movie still has some things I would have liked to see improved upon.  One is how much of this is realistic vs. magic of the cinema.  For this movie, the emotion can sometimes cloud the evidence and get you caught up in the frenzy, but I feel it struck the equilibrium quite well for real vs. doctored.  Past this point, the movie’s component I would have liked was the better character balance of some of the group they worked hard to show off in the trailers.  The lady lawyers were some of these characters, two women who sort of got things moving, but then sort of got lost in the background.  I would have enjoyed more of their integration and perhaps dive into their lives.  However, the biggest surprise was that Morgan Freeman was not as prevalent as the trailers seemed to promise.  Luckily, he maximizes the time he is on the screen, bringing those same powerful performances he is famous for, still I had hoped the man who influenced so much would have been a little more integrated into the tale.  In regards to the story itself, again its motivational, but the ending is dropped off right at the beginning and thus taking with it the suspense of the film.  As for the morals, as powerful as they are, the movie sometimes drops into the preachy category, deviating too much in the political territory and veering away from the balanced telling I loved about this movie.

 

  As you can see, I loved this biography/drama well and found that the realism and emotion were able to truly inspire me about Brian’s journey and what his determination accomplished.  The film’s story, acting, and presentation accomplish the balance of reality with magic, all utilized well to teach the lessons I think these movies are all about. The movie could have been perfect had there been a little more tightening, primarily in the realm of utilizing Brian’s crew a little better, not giving the ending away in the first two minutes, and not going out of the way to state the political components it was presenting. This treasure will most likely go unnoticed given all the movies being released, but in terms of biography I recommend this one for a theater visit.  If not in the cards, check it out at home release, especially those looking to inspire others to overcome the goals.  Given all this, my scores for this movie are:

 

Biography/Drama/Sport:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

Rocketing To New Emotional Heights And Artistic Portrayals

Rocketman Poster

 

Musical biographies, an ability to take a peek in the lives of the stars many idolize from the music and screens.  In hopes of getting their music and the drama, these films require trying to find a balance that will please many who flock out to see the great wonder.  While usually they take one side over the other, you’ll find that rare treasure that finds the balance.  Today I finish my weekly reviews with the epic film that has been built up for the last several months.  Legendary Elton John and company have put out a film to try to capture the legendary rock icon on his journey to greatness.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K here to review:

 

Movie: Rocketman (2019)

 

Director:

Dexter Fletcher

Writer:

Lee Hall (screenplay)

Stars:

Taron EgertonJamie BellRichard Madden

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Make Up
  • Costumes
  • Setting/Special Effects
  • Musical Numbers
  • The Emotional Lessons/Moments

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow At Times
  • Not Quite As Censored
  • Movie Dramatic Moments Over Concert Approach
  • Real Vs. Exaggerated
  • Not The Same Music Impact for me

 

SUMMARY:

To recreate a living legend you have to hire the right person and Taron Egerton killed it with the recreation of Sir Elton John. The mannerisms, the look, and the showmanship are all captured brilliantly in his performance, playing the tormented soul that is the Rocketman.  While the rest of the cast supports and plays their parts well, it is the focus on Egerton that draws everything into the movie. His vocal performance shows off his wide range of skills and he rounds out the full role with his talent.   Hollywood brings the full arsenal of creation into the film, doing wonderful work on the make up as Elton ages, with not only facial changes but hair line. The recreation of his costumes mirror the performers quite well in terms of detail in all the spectacle that they were. Going along so well is an impressive set design and shooting locations that drop us back in time and places that he made famous.  It’s these special effects that help bring you into the full moment of the movie as well as increasing the spectacle of the numbers.  Rocketman’s musical numbers go on the trend of utilizing the song and dance routine typical of a musical and cueing them to potentially hint at the points/events of their creation.  If you love those moments from High School Musical and show tunes of the theaters, then the numbers should get you real good, with similar techniques inspiring and highlighting some of his eccentric works.  It’s a different style compared to Bohemian, but the traditional route should get lovers of the genre smiling and potentially singing in glee.  And to top it all off, this movie really hits one in the heart, as you learn about Elton’s demons and the lessons he had to learn along the way.  The ending in particular gave me goosebumps, and really puts a perspective on someone I never even remotely knew compared to all his numbers.

            Yet, the thing about Rocketman is the approach they chose did not quite have the spunk and energy of Bohemian Rhapsody’s melody. The pace is slow at times, drawing on the drama to fill the gaps rather than the comedy/energy of the numbers.  For those who love the deep dive into the darker aspects of life, you’ve got it in this film, though I could have done more for the censorship myself, especially if it could have led to more concert and musical numbers.  In addition, the analysis of overdramatic vs. real is always a question, especially given how the drama moments take a firm grasp on this movie.  I myself like more of the musical spectacle and seeing that creative process, rather than getting downtrodden at the demons that plague us all.  And while I appreciate these moments quite well, and attempt to learn from this, I missed the full-blown musical edge that I’ve gotten in some other films, especially because those numbers were not interrupted like in this film.  As such, the numbers did not affect me as much as those in Bohemian Rhapsody, despite the mental moments they addressed.

Overall, Rocketman is a beautiful movie, focusing on the artistic side of things vs the full-blown concert relieving.  Utilizing the pain and struggles of the artist, the movie is grounded in the plot of discovery, recovery, and all out creation from the motivations life throws at us.  The special effects and showmanship will have musical numbers and John fans amazed, watching the recreation of the wonders unfold in modern day dynamics.  As much as these moments moved me though, the movie is by far for those with a passion for the drama vs the music itself.  Therefore, this movie is definitely a theater visit, but don’t go in expecting a repeat of Bohemian in terms of straight up musical grandiosity, they may not quite enjoy this as much, especially when the numbers are interrupted. Still a fine musical biography to say the least and worth it for those who like Jersey Boys, Get Up Off That Thing, and musical numbers from theater. 

 

My scores are:

Biography/Drama/Music: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Fellowship Of Ideas Brings Artistic and Symbolism To Lordly Standards

Tolkien Poster

            The legendary story of adventure, quests, love, magic, and fellowship.  To many, the legendary adventures of Frodo and the game are immortalized in the epic film franchise crafted by Peter Jackson, whose world crafting and adventure were the stuff of legends as the realm of Middle Earth was brought to life.  Yet what about the man who imagined it all up, who came up with the language to give birth to the fantasy world beloved by so many. Well, tonight’s film hopes to give some insight into his life and perhaps motivate us to craft our own tales through the journey he took.  Robbie K here to craft another review as he takes on:

 

Movie: Tolkien (2019)

Director:

Dome Karukoski

Writers:

David GleesonStephen Beresford

Stars:

Nicholas HoultLily CollinsColm Meaney

 

LIKES:

 

Acting

Graphics

Music

Beauty

Symbolism

Picking Out Things

 

SUMMARY: A biopic such as this requires engaging performances to bring the legendary figures to life and fortunately this movie has brought it’s cast together to form its own fellowship.  Hoult’s group bonds with that English wit, full of fun and sarcasm as the brotherhood forms with each passing year.  Lily Collins as the love interest is a usual role for her, but the direction grants her some options to bring out her motivational monologue skills that were a wonderful compliment to the struggles Hoult portrays in the legendary writer. This duos chemistry is impressive, capable of bringing the tale to life.

Of course, we need to see the vision of Tolkien’s mind brought to life so that we can potentially get an idea of how he viewed the world to make his own world.  Director Karukoski achieves this through the use of a number of camera work, special effects and audio tricks to help make this come to life.  The result is that the movie is an artistic wonder, bringing the dark designs of Jackson’s work and simplifying them into a version that seems to match the “hallucinations” of Tolkien’s mind. As the story evolves and more of his journey begins unfolding, the movie continues to evolve the art style to show the beauty of the hero’s journey and the struggles about discovery. All the beauty of the life events and symbolism of what each part of Tolkien’s life meant in relationship to his works makes is captured in the wonderful cinematography and acting, all blending together to portray how the spirts of the art work in the harshest most brilliant ways.  To help add that extra magic, the music they chose in the forms of sonatas, piano work, and dynamic music pieces was something I particularly liked the most. Captivating scores are what add that emotional beauty to me as well, almost mirroring the inner soul of the characters involved.

Yet all the artistic licenses they took in this movie, the thing I particularly liked was the treasure hunt of references to the book in Tolkien’s life.  In his journey for the Hobbit, Tolkien is all about dropping hints of motivation for his world and the characters that inhabit them.  Some of the hints are obvious in the mind’s eye sequences where the beasts and creatures manifest in some weird hallucination, while others are a little harder to pick up, hiding in the common dialogue or background much like the elusive treasure his series is about.  It’s that element that adds a level of fun to the movie for the fans like me to help offset some of the slower parts to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow

A Little Too Artistic

Predictable Story

A little disjointed

Perhaps Over Dramatized

Not Quite the Quest I envisioned.

 

SUMMARY:

My fellow reviewers are right in the terms that Tolkien may be a bit boring for the common audience member and much of this has to do with the very thing that makes it beautiful, the artistic presentation.  Tolkien’s pace is about hitting key points of his life and some of these moments don’t have quite the entertainment aspect we’ve come to love as an audience.  Instead the disjointed moments are sort of skipped, tied together in his memories as he goes through the war, are a little too nonlinear causing a semi-coherent story about how he came up with work.  The fact that the ending is predictable makes the constant circling around the obvious ending a little tiresome given the pacing.

Yet the biggest dislikes have to involve the missing that movie magic that makes the entertainment factor for the movies some of the most enjoyable.  I needed that cohesive story and liberties to help glue the story into a cohesive tale that wasn’t so artistic and a little more direct to help capture the spirit of the quest.  I was hoping that we would see more of him walking through the world with an eye for his motivation, sort of seeing the story’s writing as he planned it out. Instead, getting caught up in the life drama and how he struggled to write was not quite the quest I had envisioned upon watching the trailers for this film.  Without this uniting quest and cliché look at the creation, the artistic liberties got a little too in the way of the storytelling which is going to limit the audience scope they may have looked for. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Tolkien is a beautiful film, showing that much like Tolkien’s journey, artistic splendor is all about the journey to find the strength to create.  It has fantastic acting, great use of audio and visual works to make it a symbolism of beauty and wonder, and does enough subtle hinting with the references to make it the treasure hunt mentioned at the beginning of the movie.  And yet, while it is the strongest part of the movie it also puts a lot of limitations on it as well.  The movie gets lost in the symbolism and artistic license, making the film a little more segmented and denser than what most will look for and limiting the audiences scope.  Therefore, this movies is not going to be for the common fan and would recommend checking this one out at home unless you are a diehard Tolkien fan. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/War: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5