Beast

It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago.  Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts.  Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece.  So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground.  With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.

 

LIKES:

  • Follows the Classic Plot Well
  • The Setting is beautiful
  • Costume
  • Animation (for the most part)
  • Casting is well-done
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere

 

Summary:  You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling.  Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist.  To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate.  And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals.  Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition.  Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic.  Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around.  All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.

 

In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled.  Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the sameEmma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist.  Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me.  I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case.  Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight.  The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Music
  • Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
  • Times Forced Acting
  • Coincidental Moments
  • Missing Charm of 1991

 

Summary:  The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story.  This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original.  Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked.  Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast).  Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).

 

Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes.  Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bayAgain, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?

 

Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced.  Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration.  And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie).  Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.

 

All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.

 

The VERDICT:

 

With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many.  It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart.  While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy. 

 

My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

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Aca-Awesome Laughs And Songs, Though Still Not As Good As the First

Pitch Perfect 2

            Hey there it’s Robbie K, back with another movie review to help you get some insight into the latest movies. Today I throw my hat into the ring of the latest singing movie Pitch Perfect 2, a sequel that has been most anticipated for quite some time. With it’s predecessor becoming an instant “classic” in the A capella world, going so far to inspire singing competitions, surely this sequel had some potential to rock the ear drum world. From the trailers, here is what you might expect:

  1. Comedy
  2. Toe Tapping Tunes
  3. A cute story

However, in the world of sequels you never know what will come out of the woodwork, so here is what you get:

  1. Comedy

In terms of Comedy, Pitch Perfect 2’s greatest strength is the ability to make you laugh. The trailer showing Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) showing off her lower anatomy is only the tip of the iceberg in this installment. You will be bombarded with one liners that are sure to be the next T-shirt or picture meme, including that famous use of Aca into vocabulary. The writers spared no expense to cram this movie with ridiculous quotes, often having our Barden Bellas go to extraordinary lengths to deliver their lines. What was the result? Most of the audience was rolling on the floor laughing, some even to tears at the comedy at hand. Wilson in particular takes the cake for the most laughs, using her weight and her blunt way of speaking to land well-timed, hilarious, dialogue. Even the slapstick comedy involving the setting is fun, especially when you see the responses of the other girls at what occurred. But perhaps the third factor that made the comedy so fun, was integrating some of the jokes into singing. Whether it was Fat Amy performing an act, or someone screwing up a lyric, Pitch Perfect 2 adds some quality comedy in their song numbers to give us a small break from the other comedy.

But for all the good of the comedy, there are some limitations. For one thing the jokes were thrown at me a little too much, and for this reviewer some of the one-liners got stale. I mean how many weight jokes or sex references do we need in a two hour time frame? The second mistake was not balancing the comedy between the Bellas. Oh sure each of them got at least one line into the phrase, but this sequel focused heavily on Fat Amy and left some of the others in the dust. I always used to enjoy Becca’s sarcasm as a joke, but even that got drowned by the simple slapstick of this movie. Finally the writers went a little too far with their racial/sexist jokes in both intensity and number. Some of the jokes are more insulting than funny, and the constant bashing throughout the movie had me shaking my heads and praying that no protests or boycotts would come underway.

  1. Songs:

So if you saw the first movie, you know that covers are the other life force of this series. Pitch Perfect 2 does a great job bringing their versions of popular songs into the mix, and making you want to sing and dance the night away. Songs are mashed together in a recipe of success that covered all genres, somehow being spun in a direction that made me like a Taylor Swift song. They even did a better job integrating our girls into the mix, helping to expand the track horizon. Best of all, I didn’t have to hear I Saw The Sign performed ten times in one movie, which was perhaps the most annoying part of Pitch Perfect 1. Throw in the filler songs that helped transition the scenes, and you have one soundtrack I’ll be looking to buy down the line. However… the music still pales compared to its predecessor. Despite Pitch Perfect 2 having some really good tunes, the numbers still weren’t as impressive as I had hoped. The final battle in particular was rather lackluster and simple, though the Bellas number did rock, and I found myself bored with the performances of the other groups.

  1. Story

We all know this movie isn’t about the story, but take a look back at what we had in the first movie. Pitch Perfect brought college life to the screen, helping introduce a new world for Becca that included getting involved, music, friends, and love. It was simple and predictable, but done well that tied the other aspects together. Not the case in Pitch Perfect 2. This sequel sacrificed a lot of plot for extra laughs, essentially shredding the foundation to which I enjoyed in the first. Sure there was the establishment of a rival team to help spur the plot, and there was even a moral filled tale of embracing change. Heck there were even a few cutesy love stories thrown into the mix. But this movie really diluted their character development down into a rather basic mashup of half baked plot lines. I didn’t feel quite as attached to the characters, my mind only wondering what the next stunt or joke would be.

So from my skewed review what can we take away? Pitch Perfect 2 is a really fun and enjoyable sequel that is sure to entertain a majority of the world. The comedy heavy theme and dialogue is going to make you laugh, and the soundtrack will have you tapping your toes away. Despite the lack of balance and weaker story, I have to recommend you go and see this film in theaters (like you actually wouldn’t).

My scores overall are:

Comedy/Music: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Dare to Venture Into the Dark, Vague, Musical Woods?

Into the woods

            Tis the season for musicals, and Disney has released yet another holiday film to brighten up their day by putting more money in their pocket. This Christmas, thousands of people are flocking to the theaters to watch their latest masterpiece entitled Into the Woods. Director Rob Marshall has taken the liberties of making a movie version of the play, lining it with a star studded cast and special effects to hopefully craft a world America will fall in love with, and buy a crap ton of merchandise as well. So once again this reviewer has braved the crowds, in hopes of finding a treasure amidst the see of ordinary. What’s the verdict? You know what to do.

 

Likes: Marshall accomplished his goal in terms of special effects and setting, as the movie version of this tale is brilliantly brought to life. The forest is teeming with darkness, hidden threats lurking behind a seemingly innocent woodland. Marshall and his team give us two worlds in one setting, the transition occurring between day and night the latter of which is supposedly the most dangerous part. Nevertheless, the use of shadows, lighting and color are combined together to visually represent the woods, as well as the emotions tied with them. Another strong move was changing up the texture of the woods, forgoing the uniform span of trees, for a more realistic texture change of marshes, bogs, and clearings. This provides the audience a little more diversity, the clearings offering a sense of safety, while the bogs foreshadow danger. And what goes good with a good setting? Why good costumes, and this movie is chock full of wardrobes that fit the setting of a fairy tale village.

Outside of the visual effects though, what else does this movie have to offer? We start with the acting, with Meryl Streep leading the cast as the witch bringing an incredible spectrum of emotion to a typical role. Emily Blunt wins my favor with her cuteness and charm, playing the motherly role quite well and further showing the span of parts she can play. Of course her character would have paled had it not been for her film husband James Corden, who was my favorite of the bunch. The Baker had the best balance of comedy, story, and character of the whole bunch, Corden integrating himself into every aspect of the tale. This character was easy to latch onto for me, and kept me involved in the movie when my attention started to stray. Anna Kendrick did a nice job too, but not going to lie, not my favorite role for her, because her character was a little too… weak and atypical for the strong actress. The humor in this movie though relies heavily on the actors, and had me actually laughing because it was based on delivery, not stupid one liners.

Being a musical though, you probably want to know about the music. In all honesty this wasn’t my favorite soundtrack, most of the songs sounding very similar and overpowered by voices. I’m no expert at this genre, but I prefer to have a blend of instruments and voices in my songs to craft a tune, not just one or the other. A few songs like the opening tune, held a melody I liked, but I can’t say I’ll be buying the soundtrack. Instead I liked the emotion in the tunes, and how they were designed to tell parts of the story, or the thoughts of our beloved heroes. However, these songs were also a weakness for me.

 

Dislikes: One of the major weaknesses for me is that this musical relied too much on the music to tell the tale, and it got old for me. It seems like every five minutes a character was breaking out into the same tune, describing their emotions in a number that sometimes didn’t fit for me. You might be saying, “A musical is all about the music you moron!” I hear you, but when a soundtrack doesn’t click well for me or stand out, repetitive singing annoys me more than makes me dance. Luckily there is some comedy in a few of the melodies, more so at how ridiculous the characters were than anything else.

Speaking of characters, Into the Woods wide cast of characters is both good and bad for this reviewer. The character Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) was a pugnacious brat, who tried to be cute, yet had an edge to prove she was no weakling. Well for me, the only edge she had was being a little punk, whose high pitched voice made me cringe and whose songs just made me laugh. Running a close second is Prince Charming (Chris Pine) who was really nothing but sex appeal and temptation as he charmed the females of the audience. His story is shallow, very little involvement in the plot, and quite honestly a cheesy character. At least they got decent screen time though, because the legendary Johnny Depp, who after all the hype, did little in the movie other than sing one song. The same can be said for Rapunzel, whose tale was reduced to one of eye candy, cute snuggles, and two songs, much like a Nicholas Sparks movie.

Outside of the characters, the story itself is okay, but lacks a lot of detail, relying on songs to fill in the gap. The mystical giant’s world is never seen, only described in a little boys song, which was not my favorite song, and the giants themselves reduced to only some candid shots of CGI bodies. Jack’s story wasn’t the only partially told tales, as just about every tale ended abruptly or vaguely, in a rather rushed, often-dark tone. This dark theme was in almost every aspect of the movie; so if you thought this was another Frozen, go no further. The story was rather depressing, filled with important lessons yes, but the characters had to go through hell to learn them. Even the vague ending didn’t shed much hope, despite the dialog promising hope and a start of a new future. I guess when you go into a place like the woods one should expect the tale to be darker.

I had such high hopes for Into the Woods, but I think the presentation of the story is best left to the live show theater. The setting, special effects, and acting are fantastic, but the music didn’t do it for me, and the lack of closure was lost on me. Was it worth the hype? Not even close, but those who know what the film holds, or are big fans of musicals will most likely enjoy this tale. It has plenty of qualities for the theater, but I strongly ask you to think twice before taking kids to see it. My scores for this film are:

Comedy/Family/Fantasy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-.7.0

Perfectly Balanced, Though Still Predictable

My second review for this weekend has to do with Anna Kendrick’s latest film entitled Pitch Perfect.  For those who haven’t seen the trailer, Beca a new college student has arrived at Barden University due to the insistence of her father.  Her college career starts off rough, but soon get recruited into the ranks of the Barden Bellas, an a cappella group led by Chloe (Brittany Snow) and Aubrey (Anna Camp).  Soon Beca, along with a handful of other songstresses, will work to not only try to overcome their testosterone heavy counterparts the Treble Makers, but also overcome their own struggles as well.

Ever since I saw the trailer back in the summer, I had my doubts that this movie was going to be anything entertaining.  Despite my skepticism though, I actually enjoyed this movie enough to see it twice in the same night.  So what made this movie so entertaining for me?  Let’s start with the story.  Although the main plot is still a girl takes on a world tale, Pitch Perfect’s plot is kept entertaining by the subplots intertwined within it.  While Beca plays a keystone that connects these mini tales, many of the other characters are pivotal in these side stories.  Love, competition, fear of losing control, and a few other issues all arise in this movie, which I feel will entertain most movie goers.  As a warning though, audience members who want a little more twist and surprise in their story are going to be disappointed with this plot.  Almost every ending or outcome can be seen coming a mile away that made many of the audience members go oooohhhhhh.

The plot wasn’t the only thing that was delivered well in this film though.  The next big strength of this film is the incredible array of comedy.  Unlike most modern day comedies, this film had a balance of comedy styles to keep the laughs rolling.  Sarcastic comments, well timed one liners, awkward situational comedy and many other tools kept me laughing the whole movie.  However, it is not just enough to have multiple comedy styles to keep the movie entertaining; the movie must also balance the amount of time each style is on screen.  Surprisingly this movie did just that, the sarcasm was not overdone, the disguised sexual limericks were placed at key moments, and the situational comedy was only used sparingly so that the cast didn’t look like clumsy fools.  Despite the balance though, there were two things in particular I enjoyed the most above the rest.  The first was some of the clever insults at modern day entertainment, such as shows like Glee and Modern Family.  I applaud the writers for poking at some of the overdramatic situations in these shows, and hope to see some similar styles in a possible sequel to this film.  The second thing I enjoyed the most was surprisingly Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who was perhaps the driving force for most of the comedy.  While Wilson’s characters are normally annoyingly stupid for me and spout random one liners that just don’t affect me, this movie was much different.  Amy’s dialog had a mixture of well-timed insults, over dramatic delivered lines, and of course some stupid comments that will keep the audience laughing.  But Amy’s words aren’t the only thing that keep the humor coming.  Amy also has some mannerisms, dance moves, and other actions that will have you in stitches.  Everything about this character is random and unpredictable and you never quite know what is going to happen next with her open book nature.  Throw in the other characters, some of which are incredibly beautiful, that she interacts with and you have perhaps one of the most entertaining characters since the sister in Bridesmaids.

I guess the other thing to talk about in this film is of course the film’s songs that most likely grabbed your attention.  It may surprise you that I actually enjoyed some of their covers, as both male and females were able to skillfully blend their voices to make a toe tapping number.  This movie covers many genres, but leans a little more towards the hip hop numbers that younger audience members will know.  I enjoyed the mash-ups in particular, as the directors manage to put a nice spin on songs that alone I wouldn’t have listened to.  The dance numbers that were mixed in were also enjoyable, as the performers moved, swayed, and glided across the stage to some good choreography, though most of their moves paled in comparison to the Step Up genre.  Another thing that I appreciated was that it was not just one person singing the song, cough Lea Michelle in Glee, but rather many of the characters had a chance to show off their pipes.  While many might be looking for one singer, this reviewer likes to see groups unite and keep the songs fresh and upbeat.  Finally, the music was selected more on entertainment rather than expressing emotion, which is what I wanted to see in a competitive singing movie.  That’s right folks when the characters sing it’s not because they are feeling sad about not getting a solo, but instead because the song fits in a competitive category.

Okay to wrap this up, Pitch Perfect is indeed one of the more fun movies I’ve seen in a while.  With diverse and balanced comedy, entertaining numbers, good acting by many, and for me pretty girls with gorgeous smiles, many movie goers will not be disappointed.  I strongly recommend you go see this film and laugh your pants off at this feel good movie.  My only concern is that the popularity and vague ending might spur on a sequel that will be rushed and a mere shell of this movie, but that’s a bridge to cross later.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Comedy/Music:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

Please leave constructive criticism to help me improve my writing.

Glorified Documentary, with magical Editing

After last year’s disappointing concert movies, Never Say Never and Glee 3-D, I had lost hope for the genre.  With mediocre visual effects, miniscule segments of the artists’ numbers, and an overwhelming number of shots of the fans, these movies are more annoying than entertaining.  So when Katy Perry, the record setting pop artist of this generation announced her movie was coming out, well I just rolled my eyes.  Yet I boldly walked into the teen and preteen girl audience and gave the movie a shot.  What did I think?  Read on to find out.

Like most concert movies, the plot of Katy Perry Part of Me is about the life of Katy Perry.  The audience gets a glimpse into the blue haired singer’s origins and her rise to fame and fortune.  Now like most concert movies the simplistic plot is usually fragmented and skimmed to allow the producers to cram as many songs into the movie.  These samples as I like to call them often involve the performer showing off a few moves, or serenading a random audience member, while focusing more on the screaming audience.  Too my surprise, this movie decided to break that mold, or rather shift to a more balanced concert movie that is quite enjoyable to see.

Perhaps the first thing I’ll share is the presentation of Katy’s back story.  Instead of jamming her story into a ten to fifteen minute introduction, this movie decided to gradually uncover her past throughout the movie using the situations from the tour as the bridge back into the past.  When Katy met up with her grandmother with a gift and talked about her show, the scene would shift to a young Katy Perry and her tendency to act out and get attention.  If she was having trouble finding motivation or ran into a rough spot, they would use that situation to tell a story of how she started out in the record world.  While the interviews sometimes throw the order out of whack, overall it is presented in a manner that helps develop her character.

Regardless of whether you are in Katy’s past or present, the audience is able to get the full emotional force of the lessons she tries to teach.  Contrary to belief, Ms. Perry didn’t obtain her success over night, but had to face some rather tough challenges.  This movie shows the journey she took to overcome those challenges and while sometimes overdramatic, is well filmed and edited to help bring out those emotions.  What’s even more impressive is the use of twitter tweets to help show Katy’s inner thoughts over the course of her challenges that helps the audience gain a deeper understanding of her mindset.  Perhaps the best part about these struggles though is the message Katy sends to her fans that is close to her heart and soul, which is to work hard and never give up.  No matter what obstacle came in her way she persevered to keep her dream alive and maintain her integrity to reach her goals.  This goal is indeed admirable and one that many will take to heart, but what the movie fails to also drive as strong is the amount of support she had.  Yes she faced some tough struggles and times, but as her friends and family constantly said in their interviews they were there and ready to catch her should she fall; a luxury not everyone can say they had.

Now the Katy Perry fans out there might be wondering if we get to hear her music in the movie, or if like Glee it’s snippets that don’t do the artist justice.  Too my surprise and entertainment not only do we get to hear her music, but actually get to dive into one of her concerts.  Yes, fans those who wanted to see Ms. Perry’s international tour, but couldn’t get a chance in this movie.  Over the hour and half, the audience gets to see many of her songs, both popular and less known, performed on stage.  While this may not sound any different from a concert movie, Katy Perry’s concerts have more magic and spunk than a typical singer.  Kids, and kid at hearts like me, are certain to enjoy the flashy lights, upbeat lyrics, and creative dance numbers that she has come up with.  While younger audience members will just be caught up in her music, those who appreciate imagination, creativity, and dreams will love the work that is in this concert.  What I can only dream of happening at a concert has been made into a reality by Katy and her crew, which further adds an entertainment value that cannot be left out.  Some of these numbers are interlaced with shots of her life outside the stage, which was well edited to fit the situation.  Another thing people might not realize though is the order and timing of the songs.  Instead of just performing the songs in any random order, this movie chooses the songs for the mood of the movie.  At the beginning, the songs are supposed to rope you into the fun and entertainment, yet as Katy’s life is further unfolded the songs begin to match the mood and the emotions of the scenes.  For me, this helped make the song more powerful and helped me get into the music, concert, and her life even more.

Surprisingly Katy Perry’s concert movie was not as bad as I expected.  The imagination, emotion, and determination of the singer is incredible and a message everyone should take to heart.  However, it is a glorified documentary and could have been good on VH1, instead of coming to the movie theater, but hey 3-D has to go somewhere.  However, the editing and direction of this movie is impressive and as such my scores for this movie are the following:

Documentary/Music:  8.5

Movie Overall:  5.5-6.0

As always leave feedback on how I can improve or send an email at rgkarim@mail.roanoke.edu.  Thanks!

Rock On!!!!!!

 When you think of Tom Cruise what comes to mind?  International Spy?  Samurai with a saki Problem?  Fugitive from aliens?  Well to my surprise the man of many roles adds another character to his repertoire, which is the fictional singer Stacey Jaxx.  If you are like me, you have never heard of this name, but as I found out from my Organic Professor Cruise’s newest movie Rock Of Ages is based off of a Broadway show.  While the show is quite popular, I had my doubts about seeing another musical come to life on the big screen, especially with Cruise taking a lead singing role.  What are my thoughts on this movie?  Keep on reading to find out.

The plot of this movie for those of you don’t know centers on Sherrie Christain (Julianne Hough) a country girl with a big dream of making it big in 1987 Hollywood.  She arrives to find the city to be much harsher than expected and quickly meets Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) a local bar worker.  The two of them soon start their adventure to fame that involves multiple characters, all of them with a story tied to none other than Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise).

Let’s start this review off on a positive note by talking about the music of this movie.  Now in the past musicals have not been the strongest movies, High School Musical 3 and Glee: The Movie being prime examples of failure.  However, in Rock of Ages the team managed to do the famous song justice to bring the 80’s music into the modern world.  Unlike a certain television show, Rock of Ages focuses more on musical balance by adding actual music to the number, instead of just relying on voices.  Even on heavy singing numbers there is a nice blend of voices instead of just one singer taking all the spotlight, which I liked.  I was impressed with the integration of classic rock guitars, pace setting drums, and dynamic voices that resulted in one heck of a soundtrack.  However, I must admit that it’s amazing how good a studio team can make a person sound, as some of these actors don’t have the voice of a singer, such as the Tom Cruise songs.  However, other stars like Hough, Boneta, and Blige sounded more natural as they performed flashy, well-choreographed dance numbers.  Perhaps what impressed me even more was the timing and placement of the various numbers throughout the movies.  Where most musicals fail to find a balance between singing and dancing, Rock of Ages managed to use their music to help emphasize the emotions of the characters while still adding to the story.

The second biggest strength of this movie is how well the team captured the lifestyle of 1987.  From the design of the crazy outfits to the strobe light infused club scenes, Rock of Ages is a visual tribute to the 80’s rock style.  I was completely immersed in the world, and felt I was learning about a culture that has long been extinct.  What also brought the world to life was the dynamic camera work.  Instead of settling on one camera angle to film the concert, the crew kept used varying angles to make one feel like they were at a concert in a club, from both audience and performer side.  The editing of the shots and sequences is even blended just right so that every lyric is perfectly lip synced, every intense guitar strum is flawlessly blended with the music, and the dance moves are coordinated with the acting scenes.

Despite all the strengths I have mentioned, there are a few weaknesses for me that I wasn’t a big fan of.  For one thing although the story was a decent love story, or should I say two love stories, there were a few intense sex scenes that weren’t to my liking.  I can appreciate the cultural references, but for a rock musical I could have done without these scenes, that include the French kissing scenes as well.  Although the acting was good for the most part, there was a few times where I found the acting annoying, especially with Tom Cruise’s trippy, alcohol infused, mumbled rants.  Russell Brand as well is his usual self, but without much variation in his routine, the one liners get a little old with the exception of a few well timed limericks.  Despite how much I enjoyed the music, there were a few of their versions I didn’t particularly care for, but as luck would have it these numbers were not too long so I didn’t have to suffer for too long.

Rock Of Ages is definitely one of the better musical movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Instead of being filled with cheesy, teenage dance numbers, and sappy, drama filled love stories this movie has a welcomed balance.  With lots of good humor, a fun soundtrack, and beautiful visuals this movie is definitely one I recommend for the theaters.  However, for those who don’t like the 80’s or can’t really understand the cultural statement I’ll tell you now to avoid this movie.  If you decide not to see it in theaters, then definitely plan to get it on Netflix ASAP.  As for those going for a shirtless Tom Cruise will get their money’s worth because there is seldom a scene where he is wearing a shirt.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Comedy/Drama/Musical:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Check back soon for my next review, and remember to keep enjoying the movies.

Listen to Sue, Don’t Waste your Money on This Movie

 

 

 

 

Glee the movie has arrived in theaters and has been receiving sensational reviews, some stating it to be one of the best movies of the summer.  Various reviews mentioned brilliant song and dance numbers, fun and witty dialog, and behind the scenes shots showing the cast getting ready for the concert.  I’m here to give my insight on the tale about the 3-D event of the summer centering on the musical T.V. show.

Glee 3-D starts out showing thousands of fans of the popular TV show standing in front of the camera and giving the loser sign the show has made popular.  The audience, unfortunately, is subjected to watching various die hard fanatics in their Glee attire as they tell the audience who their favorite characters are, and in some cases why they are.  Once we get through the sea of Gleeks, we get a backstage look at Rachel Berry, Lea Michele as she shares how she keeps her vocal chords in shape for the show.  A few backstage shots, which are mainly the characters getting their makeup put on and saying a few lines.  After about ten minutes into the movie, the audience gets to hear their first song, which believe it or not is Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, and in a pretty awesome opening we get an intro to cast of characters.

It’s here I’ll say that a majority of the songs in this movie are only excerpts from the live stage show.  Fans looking to hear the complete versions of songs and fantastic dance numbers will be disappointed to hear that most of the songs are only about a minute long.  A few numbers are almost the complete song, but these songs are few and far in between.  Although I’m not a big fan, I have to admit that the songs they picked have a catchy bumpy beat.  A few of the numbers even have a good blend of dancing and special effects, but it is still not enough to call this the best movie of the summer.  I’m also here to tell you that the dance numbers the commercials have shown are constantly interrupted with shots of the Glee fans going insane in their seats as they scream in excitement at seeing the cast on stage.  To tell you the truth, about half the cinematography focuses on the fans, a majority of which are screaming girls.

In between the shots of screaming fans and show excerpts, the audience is subjected to one of two different scenarios.  One scenario is the backstage preparation you were promised.  The backstage is really nothing more than one or two members of the cast, acting as their characters in the show, making a couple of quick remarks to the camera, which are weak attempts to get a laugh out of the audience.  There is no backstage rehearsals, no warming up dialog, and no good luck rituals, so if you’re expecting to see this you’ll be disappointed.  The other scenario the audience is subjected to is getting an insight into three real life stories about die hard Glee fans who state Glee has changed their lives.  Throughout the movie the audience gets to hear about how hard these three kids’ lives were and how they were considered freaks/losers.  However a shining ray of hope, Glee in this case, came to their rescue and now they are better people because of it.  Although it is meant to be emotionally stimulating and inspiring, most of the editing, accompanying music and what the kids say is more eye rolling than anything else.  I’m glad the kids’ found happiness and acceptance by friends, but the fact their stories were in a movie about the concert made me feel that these stories were used to pump up the already over inflated egos of the Glee cast.  These stories really just didn’t seem appropriate to be in a concert movie and instead should be in a documentary or a news clip on T.V.

Perhaps the biggest thing that made me mad about this movie was the fact that it was only shot in 3-D.  The whole time I watched the film, I found the 3-D pointless as it provided no special benefits to the movie, i.e. better depth in shading or things flying out of the screen.  In fact, I found the 3-D more distracting than anything else as I saw the constant shadows of the screaming audience move across the screen taking my eyes away from the film.  Thus the only reason I could think of shooting this film in 3-D is that they wanted to make more money at the boxy office.

To finish up this review, Glee 3-D seems to be more of a fan glorification movie than an actual concert movie.   Although the songs are sung in the fashion that fans like, and some of the dance work is still as vibrant as ever, the screaming fans, and small song excerpts were really not that impressive.  Tie in the fact that the back stage shots are weak and the fan stories that take up the rest of the time feel overacted and you have the mediocre film that is Glee 3-D.  The Robbie score for this movie is somewhere between a 4.5-5.0, and I suggest going to see the live show the editors of the movie threw together to make this movie, it’s probably a better use of your money.  Until next time my friends this is Robbie K signing off.