Mulling Over the Mule

The Mule Poster

 

At one time a legendary Western star, the famous Clint Eastwood set his sights on directing and writing more realistic dramas that were meant to appeal to his dedicated fans.  The result have been some rather dark, gritty movies that star the legend himself.  So this weekend, the next film in his arsenal came out, looking to copy his formula and bring with it another dark tale that could potentially be just as formulaic as the next film.  Going in with low expectations, I was not too excited to hit this film.  What was the verdict?  As always Robbie K, is here to share his opinions as he reviews:

 

Film: The Mule (2018)

 

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writers:

Sam Dolnick (inspired by the New York Times Magazine Article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year Old Drug Mule” by), Nick Schenk

Stars:

Clint EastwoodBradley CooperTaissa Farmiga

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  It’s Clint Eastwood, so you know what you are getting with the man when it comes to his style.  Taking his usual gritty tone with gruff presentation, edgy words, and a blunt approach that lacks any filter Eastwood will still appeal to his tried and true ways. Yet, this film sees him adding a little more lightness to his role, bringing some comedy to the mix that feels natural and no longer forced.  In regards to the rest of the crew, they hit their usual stride in regards to this kind of character with Cooper having the single-minded focus of tracking down the bad guy in that smoldering manner he does, Michael Peña, being that quirky side kick that is again okay, but not quite displaying his full talents. As for the cartel members, nice displays of stereotypical roles, but not fully diving into the members given the theme of this film. This is definitely an Eastwood focused film, so he’ll do most of the lifting.

 

The Story/Character Development:  Stereotypical and predictable, but still a deep dive into character development, The Mule accomplishes what many films strive to do.  It takes the central character and begins to mold them into something new, no matter where they start. The realistic journey over the course of Earl’s journey shows him gradually seeing the light and adjusting life based on the new needs, sometimes hitting blocks, but never so much ignoring everything in the journey to start from square one.  It works quite well, especially in the small integration of other characters, helping to display the lesson of teaching others as they teach you, aka the passing of the torch to future generations.  This rich focus will appeal to the key demographic, and may also impress some others that have the open mid to give Eastwood’s drama a try.

 

The Pace:  As I said before, Eastwood’s dramas are a little too slow for my taste, especially given the dark tones they take.  Yet this film somehow managed to take a detour down the freeway it seems, because it moved quite well for me given the facets of the plot. Despite the look of the trailers, the team did a job of adding some joys of life to the mix, embedding some natural comedy to lighten the tones, and establish an adventure as Earl goes up and down the U.S.A. roads.  The integration of these components makes for a better adventure than I could have imagined, and helps bring more people into this particular tale.  The new momentum it brought was much more entertaining for me and definitely a plus.

 

The Realism:  My final like is the fact that the movie is still keeping in touch with the realistic side of things.  The Mule does have its share of soap opera dynamics, but it doesn’t plunge so far in that it steers away from the realistic component. As such, it’s a relatable tale that is appealing to follow and potentially learn from.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Secondary Characters Flat: It’s tough to balance all the plates of characters in a film like The Mule.  Nevertheless, there was some ground to still cover when it came to the secondary characters. Some of the cartel members that were important to the plot felt very flat, the richer stories and relationships deep down in their sulking forms.  Why they didn’t focus better on the relationships, boggles me when that dynamic would have been an enjoyment to watch.  In regards to the DEA story, it serves it’s purpose as well, helping to establish the chase component of the film that a drama like this needs.  Yet, this component still could have had some better integration as well, helping to actually feel like a mystery instead of these checkpoints serving to remind us there was another story going.  I didn’t so much enjoy this parallel plot approach, but then again it could have been worse.

 

More Suspense:  An Eastwood film is known for some edgy experiences to keep you on the edge of your seat, or perhaps make you sweat just a little. The Mule sadly didn’t hit that mark for me despite its best attempts.  Perhaps it is the lighter aspects that diluted the normal rough and gruff edge he is known for.  It could be how predictable the plot is, meaning fewer surprises for me when you see them coming.  Or maybe it was the fact that the secondary characters weren’t so integrated to give the thriller it wanted as mentioned above.  Whatever the reason, the lack of suspense still made the film a little duller than intended.

 

The Ending:  Does the finale make sense and fit into the plot? Yes.  However, while I appreciate the direction in regards to the character development and the tale wrapping up, it completely derailed the momentum the majority of the film established.  The last 20-25 minutes completely changed the course of the film, once again dulling my interest and mood as they turned the corner.  At this point, the wrap up was mercifully approached, but not before dragging everything through the mud and leaving me feeling extremely low.  Not my favorite conclusion, but I’ll acknowledge their direction from story telling aspect.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Mule is one of my top films of the Eastwood legacy of thrillers.  It has character and a realistic portrayal of someone looking for changing even in the late stage of life that will appeal to much of the target audience.  Acting wise it’s solid, presentation is straight and to the point, and the new atmosphere of adding light touches of comedy and happiness, make for the more entertaining of the bunch. Still a lack of suspense and use of the other characters takes away from the complete story and suspense that we wanted.  Overall a solid film though, and worth seeing in the theater if you are looking to take an Eastwood fan to the movies, but otherwise stay the course for home viewing for this one. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama/Mystery: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Killing Me Softly With It’s Plot

Widows Poster

 

Another Friday night, another chance to review movies.  Tonight we move away from the fantasy and drop into a more realistic film that hopes to be a dive into a more realistic setting for us to enjoy.  With a major cast to lead the way, tonight’s movie from the trailers seemed to suggest an exciting crime drama, that would hopefully bring some edge to this weekend. Yet what lies in store behind the trailer?  That’s where yours truly comes in to give you the information on the latest movie to hit the silver screen.  Let’s get started as Robbie K reviews:

 

Movie: Widows (2018)

Director:

Steve McQueen

Writers:

Gillian Flynn (screenplay by), Steve McQueen(screenplay by)

Stars:

Viola DavisMichelle RodriguezElizabeth Debicki

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Right out of the gate we need to highlight how epic the acting is in this smorgasbord of actors and actresses.  Davis is the biggest one highlighted, once more proving herself as a queen of the crime/drama franchise.  Her tone, her poise, her deadly look are all perfect for this emotionally intense role of the character facing both internal and external demons that torture her.  With Rodriguez, she’s a watered-down version of Letty from the Fast And The Furious, aggressive, sullen, and assertive to the point of being monotone.  As for Debicki, stunningly beautiful, fashionable of the bunch, and a wonderful moral compass that the group sort of need in their quest for moving on.  Other characters play their parts well as the secondary characters, each adding that dab of crime noir magic that leads to the political story at hand.

 

Realism:  I can appreciate a good realistic movie when it goes to crafting a story in this genre.  Widows forgoes the fantasy and fiction, to instead bring about realistic issues that are hot areas of interest in the political world.  Integrating these issues into the girls backstories and further layering the story with other social struggles, will make a setting that those in love with crime dramas soak up.  As such, Widows is all about bringing that relevance to the audience, hoping to lure the audience in and help develop the relationships of this character centric story. Be ready for that component to be the driving line of the movie, because it is a strong, strong factor.

 

The Style: primarily in Elizabeth’s character, the clothes are certainly stylish with our cast of future crime committers.  While not quite matching the style of the Ocean’s 8 squad, the widows have their fair share of clothing to dazzle and delight the audience, or at least make you envy the world of high money.

 

The Twists:  The story is very character heav as mentioned before, and with it comes the ability to bring some interesting surprises at hand. Widows has a few very good twists that are time superbly and open the gates for more drama to make the soap operas have a run for their money.  Not the most mind-blowing mind you, but an applause at the surprises in store for this film.

 

The Dog:  A cute little puppy graces much of the film, and its adorable face serves to relieve the darker tones established in this movie. Widows cute little mascot was my favorite character, and while there is little else this animal serves for, I still like to mention the little pet.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Character Skewing: The movie was supposed to be about the girls all being involved in this plan to pay off their debt and hopefully change their lives.  Viola Davis character is again the central character, getting such wonderful looks into her life and by far having the most detail in her life. Sadly, that’s where things start to go awry for me.  The rest of the characters stories are surprisingly linear, shallow tales that we only get a peek into often in very dry dialogue.  Other characters are caught up in political shout outs, not really impressive in that display outside of trying to get a house of cards flow going. 

 

The Lack Of Action: If you saw the trailers, you might have been hoping for a little stimulation in this movie as most crime movie have.  Well, the synopsis didn’t lie, it certainly is not the usual rime story in this film. Widows decides to deviate from the usual plot, plan, and execute said plan for that drama/romance aspect.  If you wanted a break, and the focus on such aspects than this is the film for you.  Yet, if you saw the trailer like I did and wanted a little more traditional suspense into the film, that is where the movie failed for me.  Without those moments of planning and showing the aim of the mission overall, this movie sort of aimlessly bumbled around feeling stuck in an ever-ongoing game of relationship pong.

 

The Pace:  The result of this focus on romance/relationships leads to a much slower movie, that drags on and on.  Without more exciting moments to break open the convoluted, character thick plot, I had to fight some sleep against the molasses movement, and hope that there were enough twists to keep me guessing.  Sadly, Widows didn’t have quite enough excitement to knock the excitement into me, though I did manage to stay awake for it.

 

The Rushed Plot: While I said the move rocks on focusing on characters, it does not mean that it was the best story to grace the silver screen.  Widows story threw so many hints for a number of the characters, making a point to painstakingly show off each woman’s response to the funeral and tease at some potential deep stories.  Instead, much of the details are skimped around, leaving only hints and small revelations that don’t work quite well. In addition, many of these plot points are kind of randomly dropped in, almost as if they were a second thought that had to be hastily integrated into the film.  Most of these really didn’t add much to the film, again requiring more details and build up to really mean something.

 

Too Many Things:  The movie I think tried to do too much with its direction, trying to figure out which aspect it wanted to highlight over others.  Political wise, the movie definitely sails to new horizons to bring with it some valuable food for thought that future generations can discuss.  However, in terms of entertainment, romance, and crime I feel the movie couldn’t accomplish this.  Much of this has to do with too many characters and subplots rolling around the screen and trying to keep each one in check.  Corrupt politicians, a heated race for some position, more deals, etc. there are so many micro tales going it is not very easy or entertaining to watch.  As such, this confusing storm of plots leads you wanting a little better completion, and more so, better editing to cut through the chaotic string jungle this plot stays on. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Widows gets props for the realistic, originality it holds in regards to this category.  A wonderful crew was cast for this, but I don’t think that everyone was used equally and to their full potential.  The movie has a lot of plots to choose to follow, but much of their filling is very thin, skimpy on details that needed much more refining to help deliver all it wanted.  Throw in that some action and suspense needed to be integrated and you could have had a much better  movie overall. As such, the movie is not for most audience members, and I implore the people to wait for this one instead of flocking to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama/Romance: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Does This White Boy Have The Moves?

White Boy Rick Poster

            Biographies seem to be popular this year, focusing on a number of people and their “contributions” to society.  Today’s biography is more about the horrors of a system than a contribution, but these moments are certainly entertaining.  Hi, Robbie K here with another look at the world of movies and what lies in store for the price of a ticket.  Let’s get started, as I review:

 

Movie: White Boy Rick (2018)

 

Director:

Yann Demange

Writers:

Andy WeissLogan Miller

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyRichie MerrittBel Powley

 

 

LIKES:

Good Acting:  Richie Meritt and McConaughey are the central pillars of the movie, holding much of the plot on their shoulders and doing a wonderful job bringing their characters to life.  Meritt in particular has to cover a very complex character, borderline between punk kid and individual of poor circumstances.  He finds that balance very well, makes for an engaging character and really gives you the full experience of the nightmare that Rick went through.  As for McConaughey, he is still the sleazy role, but it’s curbed this time for a respectable character you want to follow.  Their chemistry impeccable and the heart of the movie as they integrate with their well casted supporting crew.

 

The Setting:  It is not as far back as Unbroken, but we get dropped right into a reconstructed 80’s hood, where the danger, drugs, and depression lie in wait like a hungry pack of wolves.  All the costumes, cars, and buildings were retrofitted to have the look and it works quite well to get you into the setting. 

 

The Drama/Portrayal: White Boy Rick has a lot of details about the young man’s life, and you’ll get to see much of it in this installment. Drama lovers are sure to become entangled in all the messes of Rick’s life, with those liking the Law And Order scenarios enjoying this one the most.  This film will give you a lot of the 411 on rick’s life and bring about all the emotions that come with it.

 

The Music: Surprisingly, the film had a fantastic soundtrack to report on, a mixture of funk, hip-hop, and a little soul to mirror the themes of the movie. It’s upbeat and has toe tapping beats to keep you going, and actually brings a little edge to the scenes themselves. Bravo to the casting director for their selection because it really worked.

 

The Pace:  While slow at times, the movie does a nice job moving through the various years of Rick’s journey to get you to the end game.  It is a longer movie, but for the most part it doesn’t feel that slow, or rough to get through all the nuts and bolts of this adventure.  Drama lovers of course will not find any of this remotely boring, but if you are not that type and along for the ride, you should find much of this movie entertaining.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Stereotypical Design: White Boy Rick’s title brings with it a wave of stereotypical portrayals in just about every character in the film.   Whether it be the impoverished, the wannabe gangsters, or the gangsters themselves, the movie really hammers the portrayals to such extremes that it gets a bit cheesy. Perhaps this is how the real-life characters were, but if not, the magnification of these personality quirks got annoying for me at times.  Even Rick himself crossed that line sometimes, so brace yourselves.

 

The Lazy Dialogue: Sometimes quite poetic, White Boy Rick’s dialogue is mostly focused on being either really complacent (full of really dumb pronunciations or Rick being an idiot to be funny), or really lazy (F bomb laden rants).  For such a deep story, I had hoped for a little more movie magic to buffer out the scratchy, lackluster lines they came up with.  McConaughey managed to have some beautifully scripted pieces to work with, and the secondary characters got their fair share of poetry in, but for the most part it was a little too stuffed with normalcy/realism to be impressive for me. 

 

More use Of The Secondary Characters:  Rick knew a lot of people, and his family seemed to be a gigantic rock to which he based his decisions on.  While the movie captured the key details, I felt they didn’t quite utilize or introduce the characters that well for me.  Names were dropped at random, their inclusion was sporadic and I felt many of them had more of a role to play than what was presented.  Many of these kingpins and servants could have been epic antagonists to spice up the story, but again my lack of research and not being with Rick means I don’t know who these guys really were.

 

Disjointed Story: While the movie has covered a lot of Rick’s life story components, the presentation I believe was off for me here too.  Each of the issues Rick faced felt compartmentalized, individuals segments that were prematurely closed and then randomly open at intervals that were inconsistent. Yes, you still get the effects presented with the story, but so many pieces without a strong, underlying foundation, led to a weaker representation of what could have been an epic drama.  Overall it’s not horrible, but it could have been so much better.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            White Boy Rick is one of those movies that has its fair share of drama to exploit and dive into.  A fantastic setting with great central acting will be the keystones to bring these events to life and pull those liking drug/crime story lovers into the mix.  The problem is, the movie sort of lost itself in the presentation, not giving clear focus on Rick’s character or stories that he had to share and instead giving you snippets into his life.  With how much was going on, there could have been a gold mine of a story instead of just some nuggets they portrayed.  Still, it gets props for completing the information, and perhaps a director’s cut could improve upon it in the future.  As such, this History meets Lifetime Movie presentation can be held until it comes to Redbox, and would highly encourage you to take that route. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

A Simple Review For A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor Poster

 

A good mystery drama, is often based on a good book, and tonight’s review is no exception to the rule.  Catching on the wave of popularity, another book turned film is upon us as it hopes to bring drama, mystery, and thrills to the audience as it competes with three other movies for first place in the box office. So, yours truly, alongside his friend, have checked into the theater and collected our thoughts on the latest film as we review:

 

Movie: A Simple Favor (2018)

 


Director:

Paul Feig

Writers:

Jessica Sharzer (screenplay by), Darcey Bell (based upon the novel by)

Stars:

Anna KendrickBlake LivelyHenry Golding

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Great Acting

Solid Pace For Most of Film

Twists

Engaging Story

Comedy Timed At the Right Times

 

 

Summary:  The movie’s engaging characters are the stars of this mystery, each one having a deep, dark ravine that houses many secrets in it shadowy crevices. These characters convoluted profiles are only strongly supported by the fantastic acting of the leading ladies.  Lively is sexy, seductive, and mysterious, drawing on her darker roots to bring out the alluring visage that is Emily.  Kendrick’s character is a mixed bag of tricks that combines the traits of her previous roles into one character who is a good rival to Lively’s collected nature.  Golding acts as the medium between the two, his suave from Crazy Rich Asians still present, but the romantic aspect now replaced with darker skeletons.

As the lead actors work their magic, the solid pace keeps you invested in their work, moving briskly enough to keep the mystery fresh, but no so much to fly over details.  A Simple Favor’s simplicity is effectively gone when it comes to the story, as the twists begin to wiggle their way into the mix.  Presented in an engaging manner, there is always a tinge of mystery hanging in the distance to keep you together, with the promise of piecing them together at every step to challenge your brain.  It’s dark, it’s deep, and it holds all the pieces to suck drama-mystery lovers into the deep pool that is this story.  But don’t think it’s all dark pits of despair, because the comedy introduced in a spoof like manner brings some needed relief to spice things up. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pacing at the Beginning

Cheesy At Times

Predictable

Comedy Throws Theme Off At End:

 

Summary:  As the movie is better paced, the first hour hits a little bit of the breaks as it sets the plot up.  Drawn out dialogue, mundane montages, and some fashion style shows offs are going to be the primary focus, but power through this and you can find the deeper tale at the end of the bland rainbow. 

While there are plenty of twists and turns in this film, and a deep mystery, A Simple Favor does occasionally lose its balance and trek farther into the drama territory.  Much like modern day time and TGIT television, this film is not afraid to go into the soap opera/overboard themes to bring the entertainment.  While some of these are well received, a few of these plot devices are a little too convenient or over the top to really not roll your eyes at.  Fortunately, they do curtail these things better than most films, but it does not escape the predictable nature that these devices make.  I was able to guess most of the surprises, missing only the finite details the movie filled in that helped cement everything in the subplots of the film.

Yet my biggest dislike is how near the end, the movie almost becomes a spoof/comedic farce that is all about wrapping up the drama/mystery in a silly manner.  While the ending is fitting of the movie, the energy just felt off for me and the comedy situation just didn’t need to be so overdone to make me laugh.  It’s enjoyable, but perhaps needed that slight focus on the drama/thriller to tie up the ends and provide the closure this movie deserved.  Oh well, can’t be perfect right?

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, this is a mystery/thriller that performs adequately at its job of being engaging, interesting, full of drama, and providing those over the top punches.  A Simple Favor’s cast certainly is the solid pillar it’s based on, but the story itself feels like a well-designed integration to pull most audiences into the mix.  It sadly goes down some avenues that I didn’t enjoy, primarily in the soap opera tactics, and the comedy is sometimes a little overdone, but for those who love the thrillers of the television world, you are in for a treat for what it holds. Worth a trip to theater? Absolutely in regards to the acting a chilling plot, but not for those looking for a special effects extravaganza. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 7.5

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

Does It Equal The First One

The Equalizer 2 Poster

 

It is the age of movie transitions, and the age of passing torches to the younger generation in hopes of establishing new legends into the mix.  Yet, it doesn’t mean that the current legends have faced their last mission.  Tonight’s movie review proves the case as the incredible Denzel Washingtonleads another movie, in hopes of bringing the success to a sequel. Can the man who made so many epic films do it again, or is this a series that needed to retire?  Let’s get into it as I review:

 

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Antoine Fuqua

Writers:

Richard Wenk,  Michael Sloan (based on the television series created by)

Stars:

Denzel Washington,  Pedro Pascal,  Ashton Sanders

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Denzel is a good actor, we all know this.  His ability to play these hardened, battle scarred, internally struggling super soldiers never fails to impress, and I always enjoy his intensity when playing these characters.  Still with the finesse delivery, Denzel’s ability to deliver his dialogue is magnificent, brings inspiration and motivation to many.  Ashton Sandersachieved his role quite well, not quite as motivational, but certainly capturing the struggling artist motif of his character. A nice balance was struck between these two, which established a dynamic relationship between these two.  The rest did fine in their parts, but it was these two who held most of the screen time.

 

The Realism:  It’s an action movie, but it is grounded into the realm of reality.  Equalizer 2 does have some tense moments to spice things up, but it doesn’t resort to flashy special effects and physics defying moves to do it… mostly.  This film sticks to tactic combat, utilizing skills and the mind to play a deadly game that will deal the justice you want. While they are limited through much of the movie, the end game is where this strategy is really capitalized on it. In addition, if a player gets injured, they don’t recover quickly so that helps keep things exciting.

 

The Second Half Pace: The movie really takes off at the half way point, taking the steam to push them into the action/thriller component. Once the movie hits into this realm, it finally gets super interesting and engaging, amping up the tension and trying to keep you guessing at what will happen next.  And even better… it actually doesn’t feel like the movie is dragging by this point.

 

The Character Development: Surprisingly, the movie opens up Denzel’s character to help explain more of the backstory that molded him into the super assassin hiding behind the chiseled features.  I did enjoy learning more about the central protagonists haunting past, but also in seeing him evolve, so that he may overcome his struggles and attempt to move on to something else.  It fits well with the movie series, and shows potential for any future installments they may try to make.

 

The Dialogue:  Hands down though, my favorite part is the dialogue/writing of the movie.  Not so much in terms of story, Equalizer 2 wins points for inspirational words that only Denzel can maximize.  It’s writing that fits very well into the theme/premise of the movie, almost as if Denzel is defending the audience and trying to make them better.  Even Sanders lines are decently developed, fitting his character well and doing the lifting of establishing relationships and connecting Denzel to the characters.  Hands down this was the solidifying factor that tied the movie together.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace of the First Part: It helps get the movie established in that Robin Hood like atmosphere, but it dragged for me.  Equalizer 2 needs some major pushing to get us to the good stuff, with a few action appetizers to try and hold your energy.  It’s not the slowest opening, but editing could have taken some time to trim the fat and help tighten the story.

 

Predictability:  It’s easy to figure out what’s going to happen… not much more I can say about that.  The trailers have done a decent amount of revealing, but those that haven’t seen it should have no trouble figuring this out.

 

The Action:  Realistic as it may be, the action is still not quite as spiced up as the trailers tried to make it be.  Impressive as tactical combat is, the movie still doesn’t quite have all the energy and excitement I like in a film (which is often fast paced gunplay with lots of boom).  While I still did enjoy the slower combat, I would have liked to see more of it, as there are huge gaps between short lived bouts that make for a slower movie.  Yet, if you are a fan of the most recent Borne Film, you should have no problems with this presentation.

 

Story:  My least favorite aspect though is the story.  I’m not saying Equalizer 2’s tale is horrible, or the worst thing ever, but I also don’t think it is the most groundbreaking either.  The opening feels like a charity meets Robin Hood approach, a sort of toned down Death Wish to establish the setting.  After that though, I struggled with appreciating the four subplots interweaving with each other to try and craft an overall plot.  True, this multi-tiered approach opened avenues for character development, however the main plot of vengeance took many detours that felt skipped at times.  When the rabbit hole’s bottom was reached, it wound up being very lackluster, realistic and certainly making a point, but nothing that had my eyes bugging wide. Even worse, when the exciting climax did happen, the bite sort of fell out of the antagonist.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Equalizer 2 is better overall for me, though I won’t lie that it was missing that original component (e.g. clever trap battles in hardware stores) the first movie had.  It’s got great heart, fantastic writing, and smarter acting, which makes it a prime target for thriller/spy/crime dramas that have toned down action.  However, the pacing, surprise, and story of the movie require some redrawing for the next installment to really maximize the modern-day vigilante genre.  If you are a Denzel fan, I’m not going to stop you from hitting this film up, and if you are looking for a thriller/action this movie is the one.  However, I do recommend waiting for home rental on this one to maximize your funds. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Thriller/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

Trying To Build To New Heights, But Only Climbs So High

Skyscraper Poster

 

Disaster movies and action kind of go hand in hand, but seldom does it involve more than trying to dodge whatever artificial natural disaster the Hollywood directors deem up.  Today’s movie review focuses on a film that tries to blur the lines between the two a little better, in what will hopefully be a new twist on the action/disaster movie frontier.  Utilizing the popular leading man of Dwayne Johnsonto carry the movie, there seems to be hope that this Die-Hard copier can potentially bring enough bucks in to get the attention of the modern era.  Does it work? Robbie K here to bring you yet another review this time on:

 

Movie: Skyscraper (2018)

 

Director:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Neve Campbell,  Pablo Schreiber

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Special Effects: The leading point of the movie is the impressive display of CGI in this movie.  Perhaps a little corny at times, the movie really invested well in high definition sound to rattle the theater as the chaos of the crime unfolds. Excessive computer-generated images are the key to bringing the inferno to life, but is still beautiful rendered to design a building that will only be fiction for a short while.  The world crafting gets kudos for me, and will hopefully impress you as well.

 

The Realism:  Despite there being some fiction behind this movie, it is a little more grounded to the real world than one might expect.  The “Pearl” is a building that will soon exist, a setting that is perfect to craft a surprisingly detailed plot.  As the scheme continues to evolve, the realism continues to remain in check, finding kinks in the plot and having to adapt. In addition, even the action keeps things believable, where if a character takes a hit, they actually suffer in terms of performance.  All of this adds to suspense of the film and engaged to this adapted plot.

 

Character Involvement: A movie with as many characters always has me worried about how much involvement they have in the plot.  Die Hard did it correctly as each character had their place and contributions that actually mattered, and fortunately this copy did the same thing.  Most of the characters act as their piece to the puzzle, keeping them integrated into the plot for the entirety of the film and doing a decent job of tying up all loose ends.  Even more so, the characters are designed to cover a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and genre lovers.

 

Good Pace:  The movie movies quickly, gets the suspense going, and does little to try to slow things down.  For guys like me, the movie rocks in terms of few slow parts and keeps the intensity amped up to a level of ten and that just makes for a fun movie in my opinion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Lack of Beginning: The pace may be good in terms of excitement, but I am with many of my friends in that plot development is also key. Skyscraper’s beginning is almost nonexistent, all the set up skipped over to get to the action and drop any chance of escaping the predictable plot line off the ledge within 15 minutes. Any chance at suspense build up is practically gone and the story actually takes a hit because of that. If you’re not in for the story, then you will glaze over this, but for those looking for a little bit of both worlds don’t expect much of an opening.

 

The Plot Gaps:  For a building that secure and advanced, you would think there would be more contingency plans than the one they had here.  This gap is just one example of the stretches and details you have to ignore to fully enjoy the movie.  In addition, there are feats of strength, stamina, and physics defying moves that are also a little cheesy for the fans who love those extremes.  As these gaps happen, the movie moves quickly to try and forget about them, but still the movie could have used some refining at points.

 

The Jumps:  This was advertised immensely in the trailers and marketing, but the film has that extreme jump that we have grown accustomed to. Yet the movie took that concept and milked it for all its worth.  Skyscraper tries to pay homage to Die Hard in many ways, and while it fits into the grand scheme of the movie, the film goes a little overboard with the gimmicks. All the sacrificing brings that bang for your buck, but in terms of story it’s only okay for me.

 

The Villains Development: I’ll give them props, they have made a better villain than many movies have as of late in the form of Botha (Roland Møller). And while this one of the better villains, it still needed more work in his character development.  Comparing to its inspiration source, the villain started giving us some deeper levels, but then it tapered out and he went back to the generic villain.  A little more insight and integration could have done wonders to expand the tale even more.  Even his side kicks and team held promise, but again they too were overshadowed by the protagonist’s tale, screen time, and jumps.

 

The Action:  Did it fit with the tale?  Yes.  Was it realistic?  Yes. Was it exciting?  Depends.  Skyscraper’s battles are decently coordinate, but much of this lacks the bite that other movies have had.  They are quickly executed, very simplistic, and sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion, but this movie’s feeling of trying to survive the manmade disaster I guess takes precedence over the gun fight.  Not the worst action, but definitely room for improvement.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Skyscraper is an example of impressive movie theater worthy special effects, and surprisingly stays on the realistic qualities these franchises often ignore.  I give it applause for integration of characters, and Johnson doing a fabulous job leading the film.  Still the movie is a diluted piece compared to the movie it copies so much of and therefore needed some amping up in terms of story, villain development and action. Perhaps a little less jumping and a little more time could have given this tale the needed oomph to rock it into higher scores.  Still the effects do render it a good theater film, but if you don’t want this kind of movie… save it until you get home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0