Attempting To Send Us To The Moon. A Review Of First Man

First Man Poster

 

Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about.  To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way.  Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

 

Movie:  First Man (2018)

 

Director:

Damien Chazelle

Writers:

Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)

Stars:

Ryan GoslingClaire FoyJason Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars.  His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel.  Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

 

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space?  You’ve got it!  You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force?  You’ve got it.  You want? Okay I think you get it.  First Man’s team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion.  One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

 

The Setting:  I’m a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration.  First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore.  This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

 

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary.  A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it.  The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel.  While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

 

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground.  From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie.  You’ll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Other characters:  It’s not that the other characters are bad, it’s the fact that they aren’t utilized as well as I wanted.  Much of Armstrong’s group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall.  I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on.  Why they did this I don’t know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

 

The Heavy Jargon:  I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well.  The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren’t easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don’t subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

 

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you’ll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences.  It’s beautiful artistically, but it’s not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon.  Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn’t quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

 

Dragging Pace:  The biggest thing for me… is this movie is slow at times.  It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see.  As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn’t quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            First Man is different from what I expected.  It’s unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie.  However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea.  First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return. k

 

My Scores: 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

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The Spirit Remains Unbroken, But The War Drama Does

Unbroken: Path to Redemption Poster

            A few years ago, the story of one man surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp inspired millions to believe in the power of the human spirit, the thought of never giving up, and perhaps a religious inspiration to accomplish tasks.  Unbroken held a lot of potential, but it wasn’t met with the best reviews despite the emotional sequences it brought.  Years later, an unexpected sequel is out, to help expand upon the warrior who survived so much.  What challenges await and are they worth watching?  Robbie K here to give his thoughts in an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: Unbroken: Path To Redemption (2018)

 

Director:

Harold Cronk

Writers:

Richard Friedenberg (screenplay by), Ken Hixon (screenplay by)

Stars:

Samuel HuntMerritt PattersonWill Graham

 

 

LIKES:

Fantastic Acting: Samuel Hunt reprises his role well and captures the spirit of a man broken beyond his bonds, his portrayal of suffering from a number of afflictions is spot on, and seldom does he move into the overacting area.  His opposite Ms. Patterson also a lovely complement to the character, bringing a driving force to help with the character development and bring some new dynamics to the movie.  Chemistry is great, and the secondary actors accomplish their roles of supporting the dynamic duo.

 

Setting:  It’s the classic era and the world has been beautifully built to replicate the happening times of the late 1940s to early 1950s. The costumes, the make-up, the cars, and the houses all scream the dazzling decades and bring you into the full experience of time traveling to Zamperini’s second journey. 

 

Powerful Portrayal: When it comes to mental illness, the community needs representation to help others understand the struggles they face. Unbroken 2 nailed this portrayal, bringing with it the flashbacks, the reexperiencing, and the nightmares that torture the poor souls who suffer from it.  In addition, Zamperini’s coping mechanism was not overdramatic, but an accurate representation of the poor nursing habits used to apply a band-aid on the real problem.  You’ll become immersed in his struggles and perhaps gain some empathy in the process.

 

Not too preachyReligious movies sometimes become fancy, big budgeted services that spend their time preaching sermons. While the end of the movie crossed into that territory, a majority of it balanced the word of God with the representation of the protagonist’s fall.  This balance allowed for one to appreciate the character development, while getting the moral-heavy messages they wanted to teach.  The balance is nice and doesn’t detract from the story, therefore increasing its entertainment value.

 

The Music Editing: Awesome musical scores, allow for orchestra work to amplify the scenes emotional kick.  This is especially true  in the ending scenes, which provides some very powerful dynamics and leads to the scene being exponentially better as it brings out the visual effects of the scene.

 

DISLIKE:

Predictable:  Not many twists, turns, or surprises here, the movie is a bit one sided in its delivery and therefore a tad dull at parts where the movie starts to drag.  Being based on history and religious movies, it’s no surprise this is the case.

 

More downfall than hope: The trailers pain this movie about redemption, so maybe you want to see the effects of the redemption.  Unbroken 2 though, decides to stick towards the downfall component more than the up-rise, choosing to show his actions in the medium of ending descriptions.  I would have liked to see a closer 50:50 portrayal; of his story, getting the best of both worlds instead of just super downfall.  At least it sets up for the powerful ending right?

 

Limited audience:  The first installment was able to tell history, sell the drama, and inspire faith thereby expanding to a number of audience members.  However, this installment has narrowed the application to the audience members to mostly the religious drama folks.  It’s not bad, but as a reviewer, the fact this movie is not able to entertain as many as they thought.

 

Much ruined by the trailers: If you have seen the trailers enough times, then congratulations, you’ve saved yourself nearly 12 dollars depending on where you live.  Unbroken 2 has had much spoiled by the advertising, and if you recall the trailers like I do then you want have much to discover in this performance.  Such a shame to see the media ruin the movie like it did here.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            It’s inspirational, it’s beautifully acted, and has some of the most balance religious aspects of the genre.  Unbroken 2 is a solid addition to the character development of its protagonist and brings the story to a semi-full closure in regards to the nightmare he endured.  Despite all the aesthetics and inspiration, it brings though, the movie is limited to a finite audience, it’s predictable plot and lack of historical flair makes it less appealing, especially when it has much spoiled by the trailers.  As such, this movie is best reserved to church group outings or left for home viewing. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6..0

It’s the Finale Countdown

Operation Finale Poster

            History teaches us many lessons, but sadly we sometimes are still too stubborn to learn when it things come wrapped in a convenient, shiny package.  Still, there are movies still trying to use their bucks to teach lessons in the tales they have to share. Tonight, yours truly attended the showing of the latest historical, biography, drama that hopes to make a mark.  What is in store?  As always please read to find out as I review:

 

Movie:  Operation Finale (2018)

 

Director:

Chris Weitz

Writer:

Matthew Orton

Stars:

Oscar IsaacBen KingsleyMélanie Laurent

 

LIKES:

 

Pacing:  For the most part, a drama like this is often slower than the movies I prefer, yet Operation Finale managed to meet this expectation. A brisk pace that allowed for detail, the audience was more than capable of finding that balance to tell it’s tale and not leave me falling asleep. 

 

The Class:  A Holocaust movie always runs the risk of diving into the dark, deep end of the horror pool, which can be hard to watch.  Again, Weltz and his team found the balance of making references to the horrible event, but adding a filter that alludes to the event without showing too much.  The result is crafting a piece of work that respectfully shows the events, but not in the distasteful display that many movies relish in.  As such, it doesn’t downplay the significance it, but rather integrates into the story.

 

The Relevance of Characters: A stuffed group into 2 hours is not easy to do, but Operation Finale made sure to integrate as many of the characters as possible and give a point to their inclusion.  No matter how small the role, each character has contributed to the operation in some manner to warrant their time on the silver screen. 

 

The History/Moral Lesson: The movie set out to teach lessons, and it certainly did.  History comes in a variety of forms, but this movie certainly felt like a visual book (yes I get the irony), still it’s an integrated piece of work that achieves the story telling history strives to obtain.  And like history, the moral lessons involves are poetically delivered without all the preachy planned speeches Hollywood writers love.  It’s the realism and musical score that drive all these lessons home, and a fantastic future for using this movie for teaching classes.

 

The Acting:  The movie’s bread and butter though is the acting. Character integration required a lot of dynamic play off of each other, and our cast was up to the challenge of bringing it to life.  At this point, all the secondary/supporting characters get a nod for their work, each member feeling like a part of the team that held their own emotional charge towards the common goal.  However, the key pillars of the movie are Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac the leads of the film. Isaac trades his X-Wing uniform for a more modest suit, and adapts the strong emotional power of an Israeli Jewish man forced to confront a lot of baggage.  It’s realistic, powerful, and the anchor to which much of the movie relies on and he rocks it.  As for Kingsley, the man is a legend for a reason and he beautifully opens the door of the antagonist role and the complexity that can come with it. Another balance of emotional prowess, the man will keep you guessing at what lies within the dark mind of the German War Elite.  The two together play a game of cat and mouse, and while not filled with gun play, or car chases, it’s this emotional tug of war that is immersive and kept me into the drama at hand.  Bravo to the casting director for bringing these powerhouses together.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace at times: Pacing is mostly good, but there are some slower moments that didn’t have quite the oomph that the rest of the movie did.  These parts bloated the movie more and didn’t quite deliver the punch for me.  Small dislike, but it leads me to the next limitation for me.

 

The Length:  The movie worked to portray a lot of angles on this historical event.  Operation Finale didn’t quite need to be over 2 hours for me, with probably at least 20 minutes being edited out with ease.  I see where it is going with the length to try and pay homage to those who lost their lives to the greatest tragedy, but in regards to the story it didn’t quite need the extra time.  Especially, when it comes to my next dislike.

 

The Other Character Stories: A lot of characters were introduced at the beginning, each played up for their emotional struggles to bring the former Nazi to justice.  And after a prolonged intro, many of the characters kind of stopped there. Operation Finale showed potential for very deep characters, and while the leads got the most dive into the psyche, the rest of the cast kind of got a fly over.  More integration and struggle would have been much appreciated for me to help further bring the group to life.  It’s not that the others were bad, but by explaining them a little more, the movie might have better utilized the 2 hours it had to have.  While the secondary crew accomplished their mission, some more tweaking could have strengthened things.

 

THE VERDICT: 

 

            For a historical drama. Operation Finale was one of the better ones to grace the silver screen in recent years.  While nothing like the legendary historical dramas that came before it, this film struck a balance I appreciated between historical presentation and dramatizing moments.  The two lead actors soared with their chemistry and by working around this entropy favored performance, brought the heart and soul of the cinematic work to life.  Still, the movie needs a little tweaking in investing in other characters to justify being greater than 2 hours as well as editing a few things out.  Still, this movie is probably a great example of classic story telling, and that element justifies the theater visit despite a lack of Big Screen effects.  Still, give this one a try when you can, I think you will enjoy it.

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/History: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

 

 

Dare To Join This Clan For the Film?

BlacKkKlansman Poster

 

Robbie K back again with another review, this time on a biography that showed promise for being a wild, crime filled law.  Yet, there was the potential political game embedded in it that looked to get in the way, bringing concern that this movie may go down the wrong pathway.  Nevertheless, I’m back to give you yet another review in hopes that I can help shed some light onto whether the movie is worth its weight in money.  Let’s get started on the review of:

 

Blackkklansman (2018)

 

Director:

Spike Lee

Writers:

Charlie Wachtel,  David Rabinowitz

Stars:

John David Washington,  Adam Driver,  Laura Harrier

 

 

LIKES:

 

Great Setting

Costumes And Makeup

Clever Comedy

Awesome Sound Editing

Fantastic Acting

Strong Lessons

 

Blackkklansman is one of those movies that brings you back in time to all the crazy events of history.  The setting alone feels like a blast from the past, as we drop into the war against segregation from the unique perspective of an undercover agent. Amidst the world building of this movie, comes an impressive display of retro fashions of the time, bringing nostalgia and a certain panache to the film.  In addition, the fantastic soundtrack and sound editing brings that needed dynamic that represents emotion.  While the film is certainly strong in the drama/crime aspect, the comedy is reserved for those with a dryer sense of humor.  Clever wit awaits the audiences for this movie, forgoing the over the top slapstick for a richer laugh generator.  Of course, all of this fails without great acting, and this film’s two leads reach the goal of bringing the times to life and representing the story it wanted to tell.  This strong work helps sell the strong lessons of what history can teach, wrapping it up in very grandiose, preachy method that rolls with the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Aggressive dialogue

Too Dry at Times

Slow Pace

The Ending?

 

 

Back in the day, the politeness and filtering were highly more advanced than today’s standards.  Sadly, the accurate yelling and vocabulary is a little too much for me, hearing all the derogative slanders, hating, and passionate politics just got to eye rolling proportions.  Fan who don’t like all the forbidden words of sailor talk, need to already turn away from this movie, though it still has nothing on Django Unchained and Phone Booth. Trying to offset this is the comedy that totally goes down the dryer route, but sometimes it becomes more a desert wasteland devoid of the usual comedic ocean.  This leads to some fewer entertaining choices, and with it a slower, dragged out piece.  Blackkklansman is horrible for pacing with me, establishing fantastic details, but sort of shirking the time management thing in advance of a complete story Still, the movie needed some spice to well spice things up so that the monotony could be broken up at times.  Finally, the ending.  Symbology and tributes are there to help motivate and teach the life lesson contained in this viewing.  However, the real error I have is that the ending itself seems out of place for me. I get it, the movie was showing some current events, but it just didn’t fit with the story they were trying to tell, which was about the past.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Blackkklansman is an artistic piece of work, that makes some parts of history fun to revisit.  However, the movie still needs some help with maximizing the entertainment/suspense element in their work.  Given the dry, barren joke pool and an ending that doesn’t quite click, you can see why the film gets some points docked away from it.  Still, looking for the informative, big-budget portrayal of the events that took place, the movie does warrant some applause for the ability to make history come to life once more.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Can’t say so, unless you want a political work of art… literally.

 

My scores:

 

Biography/Comedy/Crime: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

For the “Win”chester?

Winchester

 

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” such a truthful phrase in this modern-day world.  Well take this phrase, combine it with legendary house, and some events that occurred in the past and this mixture results in the plot of our next movie.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review, and tonight I’ll be posting on the latest horror movie entitled Winchester.  This interesting spectacle holds some wonder to it, but does it have the goods to deliver, especially with sensation Helen Mirren leading the charge?  I’m here to answer that question for you, so let’s get going.

 

LIKES:

The Setting: One of the coolest things about horror movies is the potential to craft new, dark, incredible settings that bring life, or in this case death, to the screen.  The movie has one of the most interesting settings I’ve seen in a while, a glamorized mansion modeled after the Winchester estate.  This jigsaw puzzle like house is not the friendliest on the eyes, but it works to craft a twisted chamber that plays games on the mind.  It holds great potential for a lot of scares with the uncertainty that lies around every corner and angled stair case.  And once the lights go down and only the candles flicker, that is when the true craziness of the house is unleashed.

 

The Character Development:  Scary movies are mostly about scares, and in much of the modern-day media that’s all they care about.  Fortunately, Winchester goes a different route and brings focus back to the characters walking the hallowed halls.  Both Mirren’s character and Jason Clarke have some decent plot arcs to tie them to the central story contained within Winchester’s elaborate walls.  Their journey through their struggles has some potent emotion behind, specifically Clarke’s whose path to enlightenment takes a few dramatic twists that are impressive.  I liked the personalization of the characters, even the big bad spirit, that had a little more backbone to it than simply being dead.  And how all these characters mesh into this story, helps give a purpose to all the scares that are at hand. 

 

The Twist:  The story itself is not too unique, but it is stronger than most horror movies hold.  While character development certainly has a hand in it, and a fairly linear story to tag on to, the movie really shines in the twist that awaits those brave viewers.  The director and cinema crew were able to hide the truth quite well, using subtle camera work, dialogue, and timing to really draw your attention away.  And when it finally all comes to a draw, you applaud at the integration to the plot it holds and transforms into the final act of the movie.  Certainly not the creepiest of the characters, but also held some impressive makeup to help seal the deal.

 

DISLIKES:

Minor Scare Factor: I’ll admit, one scene got my flinching, but Winchester didn’t have the scares the initial trailer laid down for us.  They rely on the same scare tactics throughout the 90-minute film, jump scares galore that rely on the sound suddenly dropping and something popping out.  While diverse in the things that come out in the dark, the tactics stay pretty much the same and eventually lose the edge they wanted to keep.  Even the exciting climax was nonchalant because it had crossed into the overdramatic and away from the scares.  A little more creepiness, might have helped this factor out, but maybe the implied sequel will come in.

 

Under Utilization of Characters:  The movie is primarily about Mirren and Clarke’s characters. The other characters, they unfortunately are reduced to secondary roles that are semi-significant, but still lacking that needed edge that could have helped them stand out.  Henry and his mom, and John the head carpenter, they were specifically mentioned, and then…they quickly faded into the background until their hasty conclusions.  Again, not the worst use of characters, but some finesse and better integration could have been the key.

 

The Story/Other Ghosts:  I mentioned that the story was a big improvement over much of the horror movies I have seen, but I also said there was room for improvement.  Winchester’s story has some depth to it, but there were some plot points that were built up and then fizzled out.  Mirren’s family tragedy, the trauma young Henry and his mom truly faced, and even the ghost’s master plan all kind of dropped short of the details I had hoped to see.  Had these stories been taken a little farther, not only would the story have improved, but it also would have given the story a little more edge and allowed for other ghosts to enter the mix.  Speaking of ghosts, I believe the trailer promised many spirits trolling the halls and torturing our heroes.  And once again this movie failed to deliver.  Plenty of spirits fell victim to the Winchester rifles, but only one of them had the guts to have any bite to the story.  The rest had a few jump moments, but their stories were lost to the background, contained in the books that line the wall of the main room.  And those hidden in the bolted rooms, most of them didn’t even bother to make an appearance, or any meaningful one at that.  No, Winchester needed to conduct a séance to recruit more spirits to its cavalcade.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Winchester wasn’t the scariest movie to haunt the theaters, but it is a better piece of storytelling than most horror movies have these days.  Solid character development and a twist help bring this twisted setting to life, and provide a semi-entertaining movie to the audience.  The film still needs some amplification to boost things along.  Primarily in the story and integration of the characters, Winchester fails to capitalize on the ghosts of the manor to provide all those scares, and falls victim to failed scare tactics. And had they integrated and dived further in all the characters stories, perhaps this too could have soared to higher quality.  Not the worst movie in the world, but this one can be saved until the Redbox picks it up. 

 

My scores:

Biography/Fantasy/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Extra, Extra, See All About It!

Post

 

Hollywood, the new political battleground that continues to take public issues and launch a campaign for their favorite charity.  Assuming you weren’t under a rock over the last few years, you know things have heated up in glamour land, igniting another battle between the government and fine dressed actors/actresses.  One bullet to be fired this weekend is the Post, a tale describing the newspaper’s attempt to fight censorship by the government. With legendary actress Meryl Streep and actor Tom Hanks leading the way under Steven Spielberg’s direction there is much promise held in this film.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K here to share some opinions and guide your movie going expertise.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Realistic: You want a movie that feels like a capture of real life?  Look no further, because the Post has many components to please the realism fans that flood the theaters these days.  The magical finesse is more of a glaze in this film: a small sound editing here, some dramatic music there, all to help maximize the emotion of the scene. Outside of that though, The Post is more of a recreation of the events of that time period and the life of the press in their pursuit of the truth.  Therefore, you history buffs are really going to fall for this film.

 

Acting:  The highest component of this film is the acting, which is to be expected given the headliners of the film.  Streep continues shine, her talents and skills coming to full front as she plays Kay Graham.  A recent widower, concerned mother, and recent business owner who not only had to balance all these roles, but face the challenges set before by the government.  Streep manages to dive into each of these positions and really portray the struggles Graham felt.  No overacting here, Streep continues to show why she is a champion at the Academy Awards and her ability to blend acting with realism with no divisible lines.

Hanks as her opposite is yet another great move, diving into the stubborn, career driven paper chief of Ben Bradlee.  Where Streep’s character is all about trying to stand up for her paper without compromising her morals, Hank is all about the rough-edged road of getting the story, sometimes ignoring the other things around him to get it.  This performance is powerful again, delivering the lines with that drive and passionate spectrum Hanks is famous for.  Together these two make the world come to life, both able to hold their own, but truly greatest when together on the battlefield of morale grounds. 

 

The Writing: The Post has great writing, no surprise given Spielberg’s ability to make history come to life.  Gone are cheesy one-liners and over the top monologues, and in their place a script that is loaded with a natural dialogue exchange, clever wit, and realistic reactions to these problems.  Strong writing like this makes for a smooth ride for the actors bringing the words to life and developing their characters with little to no fear.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  A movie like this has to deliver the morals in a manner that is both motivational and entertaining.  It accomplished the motivational component, but sadly lost on the entertainment component for me.  Part of this was due to the pace. The opening scenes tickled my fancy, but that intrigue was lost to a very monotonous speed of slow as dirt.  While the freedom of the press issue is the main topic of discussion, all the other life components were included in great details, which led to tangents not necessarily needed and longer run times.  Seeing the persona life was important, but not worth the dragging velocity this movie hit at various points of the movie, especially at later showings.  Even worse, these tangents led to a delay in getting to the heart of the issue, which is what this movie is all about.

 

The Climax:  While I appreciate the lack of movie magic, this movie needed a little enchantment to pump the tension up and make those lessons come alive even more.  The Post does a nice job of setting up the problem and explaining the information at hand. Yet the buildup would hopefully lead to an emotion/tension packed debate between the two parties to really get the crowd fired up.  Not the case in this film my friends, as much of this part is reduced to a short montage of brilliant sets and well adorned extras.  Spielberg could have had another gold mine of approval by the critics if he had added that little extra oomph to give our characters the satisfying dramatic action they deserved.  I won’t tell you how it goes, but I can say the suspension was practically extinct at the end for this reviewer.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Post is an important movie for many, primarily those who pursue the truth and are hindered by the oppressiveness of power.  Spielberg certainly crafted a winner in regards to realism, writing, and direction in guiding the actors.  With Streep and Hanks really bringing the players to life, this movie is a total Oscar nomination eater in regards to the artistic component.  However, the pace really suffers from the realism and dilutes the climax into an under impressive finale that does not scream of Spielberg’s prime work.  This glorified documentary would have held better premise on Netflix, because this movie was overhyped for me, with the acting being the exception to the rule.  So, save your cash and wait for a RedBox rent in my honest opinion. 

 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Royal Flush In Acting, Writing and Fashion. Be Game For This Smart Film

Molly's game

            Celebrity status is sometimes not all it’s cracked up to be, especially in these days where every eye and ear is monitoring for a juicy story.  This was never truer than the case of Molly Bloom, the former Olympian turned lawbreaker all through the flip of a card.  If you’re like me, you had no clue about this tale, but thankfully the studios have pulled together another cinematic marvel to tell another story.  Will this movie live up to hype and do a biography right, or is it just another glory trip to pull our addictions and con out our hard earned money?  Robbie K here is back with yet another review on the latest movies to hit the theater.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

The Costumes/Wardrobe:  As a reviewer, I strive to appreciate all aspects of a movie, including the wardrobe to make a part come to life. The department achieved its goal of designing outfits to fully portray the professionalism of Molly (Jessica Chastain), all while being a stunning sight for your eyes. Each dress, coat, and accessory beautifull accented Chastain’s naturally beauty, but also managed to reflect the attitude/mood of the scene.  As the wardrobe reflected the emotional tension to indirectly add took the movie, it also serves as a fashion show for those who love this aspect

 

The Pace:  The movie is one of the longer films this year at nearly 150 minute run time, and for a drama that can seem like a lifetime.  Fortunately, the team did a stellar job keeping the pace quick and moving, but not so fast to devoid details. This balanced presentation kept my interest in the details without becoming too lost in the convoluted, emotional warfare that dramas are famous for.  I at one point looked at my watch and stated, wow 90 minutes have already past, not something I normally see.

 

The Presentation of the story:  Molly’s game is a very interesting tale to say the least, seeing the tribulations she faces and her character’s resilience to it all.  Naturally, this is not the original tale, but the presentation helps pump life into the plot.  One component is in the past, a self-told narrative guiding you through her journey up the ranks of the poker pit and the players who participated in it.  The second component are the events of her case presentation, where she and her lawyer work to uncover the psychological game going on in Molly’s head.  These two parts constantly wrap around themselves during the movie, each part escalating the tension of the adventure and guiding you to the goal of what the consequences will be of Molly’s choices. This presentation has been done before, but this movie really finessed it, possibly leading to the pace I enjoyed so much.

 

The Writing:  I agree with fellow reviewers that the writing in this movie is one of the strongest pillars this movie is based on.  It’s realistic, it’s emotional, and it’s clever on many fronts as it balances various ploys to make the lines come to life. Well-timed sarcasm, monologues that convey a large emotional spectrum, and the dialogue itself feels very realistic, but yet has enough magic in it to charge the scenes with that fire you strive for in a drama. And with this strong foundation, the acting has a base to spring off of for award winning performances.

 

The Acting: Hands down though, the acting of this movie is what brought it too life and tied all these pieces together.  The supporting cast of secondary characters did their jobs well, capturing the pompous, greedy nature of the gambling addicts and mixing in the frat boy irresponsibility that Molly describes.  Michael Cera and Kevin Costner shine in their moments that speak of the great writing that this film has to offer.  Hands down though, it’s the two leads who deserve the most credit.  Idris Elba continues to show off his skills, portraying intelligence, concern, parentage, and moral obligations to craft an engaging opposite for Chastain work with.  He anchors Molly’s strong will and turns into constructive storytelling, all while bringing the benign terms of law to a relevant life.

Yet it is Jessica Chastain who does most of the heavy lifting in this movie, playing the title character and running with it on all levels.  In addition to the looks (both in similarity to Molly and stunning fashion), Chastain brings Molly to life on all fronts.  You feel the suffering in the character, and almost get pulled into the mental struggles that hit her as the moral tests come at her from all fronts.  She manages to keep all the emotion in check, and crafts a complex character that has your opinion shifting of her over the course of the film. The directors managed to design so much in this role that is going to inspire and empower many to achieve the greatness she portrays.  I hope she wins the best actress for this film, because she was phenomenal.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Hollywood glamor:  It’s always tough to write this dislike, but you have to wonder how much Hollywood buffing they put into the film.  Of all the biographies I have seen, I feel this one was one of the more grounded tales that hit both sides of the argument.

 

The Editing Direction: For the most part this movie is solid in terms of run time and details.  However, there was extra fluff at times that was unnecessary for me.  Some of the montages involving clients making jerks of themselves didn’t seem necessary for me and added unneeded length to the film. The result was a few boring parts that were a little tiring, but even these weren’t the worst I have ever seen.   Outside of a little tightening on the dialogue, there wasn’t much for this category to comment on.

 

The Jargon: Perhaps the most unenjoyable thing about this movie for me is the heavy use of jargon in this movie.  Molly’s game is loaded with poker, law, and business lingo that many audience members may not appreciate during the heated moments.  It adds the intelligence quotient to the mix, but without the definitions in front of you, and the amount of traffic in the scenes, this is the weakest aspect of the writing.  Positive side, it inspires me to research these terms, but in the heat of the moment it’s a little overhwhelming.

 

The Verdict:

            Molly’s game is a great movie that is an artful representation of biography meeting drama.  A blending of smart writing, an engaging presentation and incredible talent to bring it all to life is what you’ll get in this movie, and much of it is held in the arms of Chastain.  Her character has so much for audiences to grasp on to and in the case of female goers, empowering performances shine bright in this film. Yes the movie is not original, and it is subject to Hollywood magic fluffing things up as well as some jargon heavy dialogue.  Yet, this movie still wins for one of the better dramas to grace the theater in a while.  I highly recommend a vist to the theater for this one.

 

My scores:

 

Bigoraphy/Drama:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0