The Surprising Fun Of One Harley Quinn Movie

 

Birds of Prey Poster

            DC comics is coming in hard to beat the rush of Marvel/Disney’s next phases.  With an interesting track record of quality and not so good quality, the superheroes in this dark universe are doing their best to make their mark.  As such, tonight’s film is going to try to cash in on the superhero craze before the other films of February come in ready to hit us with their shots.  The trailers did not leave me with high hopes, but you never know what lies beneath the trailers of the modern editing techniques.  Robbie K is coming back in with another write up as he looks at:

 

Film: Birds of Prey (2020)

 

Director:

Cathy Yan

Writer:

Christina Hodson

Stars:

Margot RobbieRosie PerezMary Elizabeth Winstead

 

LIKES:

 

  • Funny Writing
  • Good Use Of All Characters
  • Expansion Of Characters
  • The Action At The End
  • Feels Very Much Like A Comic Book Presentation
  • Margot Robbie’s Portrayal of Harley  past the first act

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring At Times
  • The Presentation At Times
  • The Cursing At Times
  • The Action Is Okay In The Middle Of the Movie
  • Slow Motion Over Use
  • The Politics Again
  • The Main Villain Is Lame… again

 

SUMMARY:

 

A Harley Quinn tale is always a challenge in direction, do you go comedy, do you go action, do you go horror, or is it a little of each.  Birds Of Prey tries the latest of the bunch and works hard to try and please all fans of the delightfully delirious antihero and her rambunctious ways.  My pal and I both agreed that the writing has the comedic punch, finding its stride mid film for me, but flooding the time with forced humor to try and get you laughing.  Once balanced, the writing is fun and feels much like the modern comic book writing I love reading at my local book store.  Even more impressive for me is that they were able to use all the characters in their arsenal to make the film fun and dynamic.  You’ll get to see all your advertised characters play their part, including backstories, action scenes, and their own brand of comedy.  I’ll give them props for getting this wrecking crew together, and achieving the goal of balance that I always seek in these movies.  Seeing the comic book presentation was at many times a plus for me, adding creative style that flowed with Harley’s psyche and captured the spirit that graphic novels bring.  It’s that element that I feel will draw fans of the series in, but yet keep those less inclined to reading to enjoy it.  Outside of character expansion and comedy the movie also has some decent action moments that will stick in the minds of many.  While not as flashy and coordinated as some of the most epic Marvel battles, Quinn’s brigade has got the promised edge, that emphasizes each characters talent, all while selling the message the trailers flaunted from the start.  Aggressive at times yes, but for the most part it was different and a bit fun at times.  Yet the biggest enjoyment for me was seeing the evolution of Harley herself once the first act finished that is.  Robbie does a great job with the character, somehow capturing the insanity, but then able to take the evolution of the character to new heights.  Seeing how Harley changes and the emotional spectrum that comes with it, I’m very happy with the character development defying my concern that it will just be too much crazy. 

 

For all the good it held though, there were things about this movie that still were not the most fun for me. My first thing is how boring the film can be at times, a drawn-out comedy gag, or another nonlinear character intro that required you to try and remain focused on yet another tangent is not a challenge I looked for in this film.  As for the presentation, well the graphic novel feel was great, but the constant tangents and dives into side stories, or back tracking got a little overdone for me.  Just as we were getting ready to get into an exciting part, we took another tangent to give us details that were sort of important and more comedic that some fans enjoyed more than others.  I’ll make the next quick, the cursing is not the typical super movie, but back towards the grittier side with some of the code red words that little ears may not need to hear.  Sometimes I think they go overboard, but my friend did not think so, thus exercise caution as to what you are ready to hear before bringing kids.  In addition, the action as I said is a little grittier itself, and for much of this movie the action is going to feel like mob antics than super hero exploits.  Those with weak styles of torturing and savagery need to avoid this movie, while those hoping for better, over the top action films… will not be quite a fan of the battles in this tale.  With the exception of the ending, the battles were a little simpler and focused on the comedy edge than the exciting edge.  Certainly filled with that wow factor or girl power component, the main flaws for the action in the film were much of the stunts seen in the trailers, and how slow motion gets overused again.  If you love seeing your executions in the full detail, drawn out finishing move, you will have no problem, but I like the balance of well-coordinated stunts with just the right touch of Snyder vision to emphasize the ultimate finisher.  This was not the case for me in much of the film, and some of the choreography looked a little too forced or stiff given some of the other things I’ve seen.  Then comes the politics of the film.  Yes… we knew this was going to be a politically empowered film, and while I think it did an okay job for much of it, there was still that factor of making all the villains scumbags with little redeeming qualities to be the polar opposites of our crew.  While a few did have better balance, this polarization of characters did not impress me when it came to balance, especially when it came to the main villain.  Another example of a villain with more bark than bite, the man’s biggest weapons are resources and a threatening demeanor.  After all the theatrics… it was again another time where the big boss was just disappointing for me, despite how good the ending felt.  DC has struggled to give much of its villains the balance and skills that Marvel has done, and I hope future renditions will work on this.

 

The VERDICT:

            You may have heard this is the best DC movie in the longest time, and others not so much.  This reviewer thinks that the film is the middle of the pack, beating my expectations on many things, but still looking for some tightening up to help get the same levels that Wonder Woman and Shazam held for me.  It’s got the edge, the attitude, the fun and the use of characters and character development was a major selling point for me.  I found this to be a fun comic book movie though, with a new aged flare and promise for some more fun films starring Ms. Robbie.  However, I’d like the politics to be toned back a bit, put some more though into the villains like they did the protagonists, and make the action have the dynamic energy that I know they can do and not rely so much on the slow-motion versions that DC loves.  Still, this movie I think is worth a trip to the theaters and would encourage you to get out there and see it if you have time.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5 

 

 

Gentlemen Come Calling In Quality

The Gentlemen Poster

            Have you ever wondered what the dry atmosphere of Downton Abbey would be like if presented in the form of a mafia movie?  Yeah me neither, but it is the thought that came to mind when I was watching this film today.  A trailer that was sort of lost on me, today’s work directed by Guy Ritchie had me a little undecided how this film would go.  Potentially a stuffy, slow, hard edged movie with lots of cursing and torture, I could only imagine what I would get, especially when another fan left in a rant 20 minutes into the film.  What was the end result?  Robbie K here to give you some insight as he checks out:

 

Movie:  The Gentleman (2020)

 

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

Guy Ritchie (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (story by)

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyCharlie HunnamMichelle Dockery

 

LIKES:

  • The Humor
  • The Character Usage
  • The Mystery/Politics
  • The Connections
  • The Presentation
  • The Censorship of violence, for the most part
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Excessive Cursing For Me
  • Missing Some Action
  • The Extended Ending
  • Some Stereotypical Annoyances
  • The Rapping Video
  • Slow At Parts

 

 

SUMMARY

 

When it comes to the British writing style, this reviewer always looks to the potential for balanced writing.  Sure enough, this is one of the times where the writing is truly representative of a masterpiece in multiple facets.  This tale contains some amazing humor to it, not so much in the form of slapstick, one liner filled form, but a much deeper levels that uses timing, setting, and wit to maximize the laughs.  It’s dry I’ll admit, but the humor goes so well with the plot at hand that it adds rather than distracts from the enriching plot that this film contains.  With this supporting component, the movie continues to get better in the way it balances so many things to make an engaging mafia tale.  First the character usage, the movie is filled with a lot of stars and they are utilized very well, with so many (including secondary characters) having a purpose and contribute to the film in a way or manner to make their inclusion worthy.  While it seems spotty at first the movie’s progression begins to start connecting all the players in the game, starting to unravel and help give pieces of the story without ever giving away the big mystery.  It’s this balance of connections with the mystery that for me was the biggest engaging piece to the movie, that teasing to see how deep the politics run always being that itch you can’t scratch.  Yet, for a movie about crime lords, you know politics is going to make an appearance and once more they impressed me with the presentation.  Again choppy, The Gentleman appealed to me because the politics had heat, tension, but were not so drawn out and convoluted to be boring, something not easily accomplished in this day and age for a movie.  Yet if that’s not interesting enough, the movie also manages to sneak in a more unique presentation, told through the imagination and sleuth of Hugh Grant’s character, who is filling the pieces with his evidence and theories to help piece the story together.  The genius for me is, the holes he has acts as the missing pieces for you to try and string together the ideas yourself before the big reveal.  You might also be concerned for violence, after all, the crime lords with this much power do not show the nicest attitudes to those that threaten them.  Fortunately, the movie manages to censor most of the extreme violence and torture that these movies can be famous for, and this little extra class did not take from the movie, but only added.  Finally, all of this is fantastically acted, with each major character executing their role in so many levels I could take another page to describe.  Let’s just say McConaughey has found a new favorite role for me, finally ditching the super sleazy for a role that is much more complete to show off his talents.  Hunnam as well was indeed a fantastic pillar character, filled with a level of emotional complexity that seems to be so monotone, but yet contains layers that unravel.  I did not find too many overacted moments and was very thrilled with seeing so many stars shine.

 

Yet, there are still some styles of this movie that did not quite hit me as hard as the others, at least in terms of liking it.   First of all the cursing.  Old record, I know, and given my own mouth sometimes it’s becoming less, but there are a few words used freely in this movie that were a bit excessive.  Part of the culture, great, but like in Django overuse of the word soon starts to become lazy and stale for this writer.  While I enjoyed much of the toned-down storytelling, I’m always partial to a bit more excitement to help spice up the mob war films.  A shoot out here or there could go a long way but the satire and humor in this film sort of dilutes the action that starts forming, before dropping back into the mincing tactics.  Anyway, looking at the character profiling, the film is both genius and frustrating for me in its generational portrayal, with the contenders for the crown. At the same time the stereotypical summaries of each generation are little overdramatic and extreme, leading to sort of annoying moments that weren’t the worst, but felt a little out of place (this is especially true for Henry Goulding’s character).  I’ll admit there are also some bloated moments in the film, but these are few and far between and as stated, a little swap out with some action could have helped with these moments, again few and far between.  The part that really stuck out for me was the rapping.  Kudos for the art behind it, the impressive speed at which they rap, and the dance stunts in the back, but that’s about all I’m going to say in terms of appropriate.  When the video first appears it sort of does not make sense, but thankfully the writing uses it as a good plot device to help make up for how forced and advertising it seems.  Like I said earlier, it’s a generational stereotype that was a bit annoying to watching and were probably the most annoying characters of the bunch, despite having some of the coolest moves.  Again, thank goodness for the writing making up for them.  Sadly, the other thing that was both funny, yet again excessive is the ending, a few fake out and extension that almost feel like last minute tag-ons that may or may not have been needed.

 

The VERDICT:

            To be honest, I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie and how much the trailers did not ruin the experience for me.  British settings, humor, and styles of writing continue to prove successful in balancing a lot of balls and I’m super impressed with how much correlated together in this piece.  The drama, the mystery, the presentation, and the politics are all super well represented in this gang war, never getting so caught up in details to be boring, but not slighted to feel robbed of good development.  That unique presentation we talked about only further adds some fun edges to it, and works with the gaps to help keep you engrossed.  Finally, the actors really bring the characters to life and worthy of several awards with how well they bring these strange characters to some cool levels.  Yes, the writing is still a little overdone at times, there are some annoying moments/stereotypes to consider, and a few slow parts that could have been ironed out.  However, the balance of this movie and just fun, classy writing really make this one a worthy trip to watch in theater for performances, and a definite check in at home when you get the chance. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime:  8.0 (not as much action)

Movie Overall:  7.5 – 8.0

Whatcha Gonna Do? Hopefully See This Movie

Bad Boys for Life Poster

 

Legacy films are always difficult to pick up after retiring them from so long.  This is especially true for movies made in the decades of the 90s and 2000s, hard hitting films that leave an imprint in form or another.  Hollywood’s dive into the past though, does not fear going back into the past though to bring into the present, especially in the ever-maddening drive for money.  So tonight, another relic attempts to handle the modern times, as our resident buddy cops come out of retirement to try to bust our guts and the bad guys once more. Are you ready to Ride Or Die?  I know I am as I review:

 

Film:  Bad Boys For Life (2020)

 

Directors:

Adil El Arbi (as Adil), Bilall Fallah (as Bilall)

Writers:

Chris Bremner (screenplay), Peter Craig (screenplay)

Stars:

Will SmithAlexander LudwigVanessa Hudgens

 

LIKES:

  • Nostalgia
  • The Feel Of Nineties In A Modern Package
  • Good Character Use
  • Fast Pace
  • Decent Character Development
  • Balance Of Comedy With Action
  • Comedy Itself
  • The Chemistry Of Smith And Martin Lawrence

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable For Much Of Film
  • A Few Action Scenes Are Over the Top Or Too Quick
  • A Few Comedic Moments Dropped Too Soon
  • One Of The Main Antagonists Is Okay

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

If it’s a revival of a series, we need those moments we fell in love  with or it’s crap, at least that’s the mindset many on the reviews state.  Well good news guys, the Bad Boys are equipped with some of their old tricks and it works beautifully to restoke the flames of fun we had in the past.  The banter, the comedy, a few references all take you back and anchor you to the adventure at hand. Yet, the film is not just about blowing you up with blasts to the pasts, but also working on modernizing the system and blowing off the cobwebs.  Bad Boys 3 manages to rejuvenate the old as it works to pass on the franchise to a more modern audience, but never loses sight of keeping the two times balanced.  The film has plenty of new characters, yet manages to keep all of them decently integrated into the plot, seldom losing someone to the background (quite a shock I know).  Even more impressive is that there is decent character development for most, with the Bad Boys taking center stage, but still opening up hints for other characters to follow for later.  It’s this type of storytelling I like to see and makes this film all the more impressive for being a sequel and this amount of time that has lapsed.

Still you might be wondering what else this film has in store.  For first off it’s fast, the same as the two precursors, these Bad Boys continue to speed through crime without missing too many details.  It works well given this is an action movie, helping amp up the coordinated scenes that have a combination of chases, gun play, and a little fist fight to go with it.  Like the story, the movie also manages to evolve the action style and again show old school and new school moves that works with the theme of the movie.  Those looking for comedy though are going to get their wish as well, for the laughs are trained into the scenes, with most coming off natural and seldom too forced for me.  If you like the banter, it’s got the banter.  You want slapstick and insults?  You get the same spiteful blows that two brothers can share with each other.  Want to try something new and modernize comedy?  Mission accomplished on this as well.  Bad Boys 3 is all about bringing these styles and mixing them together and the chemistry of Lawrence and Smith is the thing to tether everything together.  Strong brotherhood, natural reactions to each other, and the practiced talent they have continues to shine through this film and really bring everything home. 

 

Still, the movie is not shy of a few limitations for this reviewer that took away from the experience.  One is that the film is predictable, a combination of trailer syndrome, foreshadowing with lines, and me seeing too many movies, these moments all predict most of the film’s surprises.  A few twists manage to sneak in, but I can’t say they were my favorite and given the soap opera themes that go with it.  I wish they had gone another route, but points for originality and I can’t say much more.  I’ll say there were times that the action got a little too ridiculous for me, more so in that they were very choreographed stunts, or drawn out effects that took away from the fluidity.  In addition, some of the fights sort of stopped quickly, and I missed the drawn-out fights that the past decades perfected long ago.  The same can be said for a few comedic moments, which like the action, starts to hit its stride and then petered out too soon, though there are so many laughs in store it’s not as prominent.  Finally, the movie’s antagonist, or at least one of them, is only okay.  So much potential shown only to be diluted for another story development, this antagonist really could have been something more as well if they had learned to balance the two primary antagonists together.  I guess given the difficulty to juggle everything, it had to take a hit, but again there are elements to cushion this blow as well.  Sure there is some cursing that gets me and a few times the jokes go a little long, but the truth is that the movie manages to help make up these limitations with how much fun it is.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            How can this movie live up to the legacy before it?  Truth is… it really can’t, but to go so long and be this put together, I give it applause.  Bad Boys For Life is a lot of fun, and full of the rush we fell in love with a long time ago.  It brings the past and present together in a manner that should help rope fans in, while never losing sight of the goals and story it set forth.  Good use of characters, balancing the comedy with a special effects ridden action set, and tying everything together with that champion acting leads to one of the best reboots I’ve seen in a while.  Yes, it still has some balance issues that have not been perfected, primarily in getting the right time for some action moments, some comedy elements more fine tuning, and most importantly working out their bad guys a little more.  Still, this is one for the theaters for me and I encourage most to pay the trip to enjoy it in surround sound.  From all this my scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

Unsheathing the Comedy And Drama, Knives Out’s Tale Is Sharp!

Knives Out Poster

Mystery movies can certainly be fun, but the refined art of mapping out a crime can be a challenge in this world with ever shrinking attention spans.  However, there are still writers and directors out there ready to give it a try in hopes of bringing thought out plots back into the popular trend.  Tonight’s review holds such a promise and even more so it holds another redeeming trial for a director whose involvement in Star Wars was not the best received.  With lots of advertising, I’m sure you have seen the trailers so let’s get going as I review:

 

Film: Knives Out (2019)

 

Director:

Rian Johnson

Writer:

Rian Johnson

Stars:

Daniel CraigChris EvansAna de Armas

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • The Cinematography
  • The Plot Is A Good Mystery
  • Better Twists Than Anticipated
  • Involvement With Most Of The Cast
  • The Comedy

 

DISLIKES:

  • Some rather worthless characters
  • The Run Time
  • The Pace
  • Perhaps A Little More Murder

 

The VERDICT:

With an assembled cast such as this, you can best bet the acting will be at least moderate, and for me it was a fantastic display of work.  All parties assembled really play the dysfunctional role well, portraying the motive filled shouts and complaints to an art that did not annoy or go overboard.  Too many names to place, I’ll say that Craig was entertaining in his role of Colonel Saunders (a running joke) meeting James Bond as the detective, primarily in his interactions with Marta.  Ana de Armas was the star for me not only because of her character, but more so in the way she played the levels of emotion perfectly and interacted with the squad the most to balance this art.  Past the acting, the movie really picks up in terms of the visual presentation, feeling much like a detective movie from the 50s-80s, but modernizing it to the present day.  It should captivate many mystery lovers, but more so generic fans who can point out a lot of devices and nods to famous detective sagas.  However, the movie’s main selling point is the presentation of the story that let’s face it has been told time and time again in a Hallmark like fashion.  Johnson, for me, accomplished the role of bringing out a good mystery, not only in the classic hunt for clues and mapping out suspects, but adding some nice twists to the mix.  If you are paying attention to time and some info, you’ll start getting an idea, but this film’s twists (no matter how convoluted) do manage to spruce up the dusty manor of detective works.  An even better angle for me, is the character utilization, while not perfect, every character has a purpose in some form or angle, with few sitting off to the sides as just mere bodies to fill a convenient hole or bridge.  If not for the sake of the plot, then the character was used for comedy and that may be my favorite part of this movie.  Knives Out manages to be very humorous in the regards of the comedy aspect, with well written dialogue, delivery of those lines, and timing wrapping up nicely to leave many laughing during my showing.  That I feel will be a pull for many audience members, though don’t expect usual slapstick, banter, and ridiculous, logic defying stunts to be pulled here, or you’ll be disappointed.

 

For such an artistic film though, there are still a few things I would have liked tightened up.  Though all characters were utilized in some form, I can’t lie at least three could have had more involvement than what they did.  Hinting at being a part of the plot, these characters were left to the passing comments or joke props until that one moment a clue contributed.  That family engagement they sold in the trailers, needed some more development for me to keep everyone entangled in the mess as opposed to on the side.  In addition, the plot could have used a little more murder and threats to help spice up the drama/mystery, as I am partial to the deadly games of hunting in my movies, than anything else.  For a movie selling that murder, I had kind of expected something else, but it’s a mere trinket.  I can say the thing I had the hardest time with was the run time and the pace.  Knowing it’s a Johnson movie, I expect it to be long, and for the most part the movie ran at a good enough pace that it did not feel super long, but other times did show the dragging I dreaded.  I can say that there were parts that could have been cut out to shorten the length, or at least rewritten to include the character interaction I mentioned above.

 

So in conclusion, what are the thoughts on this controversial movie/tale.  To be honest, I do think it is a reimagining of Clue, and took a step into the modern world to help reach out to the new audiences.  It’s got the presentation of a mystery, with twists to help bring our well-acted characters together and entertain us with their drama. Comedy is also pulled out of the sheath and I think these two elements are the biggest selling factors to brave the nearly 2.5 hour run time Johnson has put forth.  As such, I feel this movie is worth a shot at hitting the theaters for those looking for a drama/mystery/comedy, while others will most likely enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

 

My scores for Knives Out are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama:   9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Is This a Bridge To The Next Big Crime Movie? 21 Bridges Review

 

21 Bridges Poster

 

Cop dramas have continued to storm the television cable channels for decades in an attempt to rope us into the exciting life of the public service department. Despite the numerous switches in uniform (e.g. numerous shows), these things continue to be very popular in both reruns and new episodes watched.  In the world of movies though, well they seem to have left the big screen, with most not taking the chance to tell a story when episodes can do it so better.  Today though, we have a movie that after several delays is finally coming out in hopes of making its name in the cinema world.  Robbie K here to offer some quick thoughts as I review:

 

Director:

Brian Kirk

Writers:

Adam Mervis (screenplay), Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay)

Stars:

Chadwick BosemanSienna MillerJ.K. Simmons

 

 

LIKES:

  • Moves Quickly
  • Detective Story
  • Not Politically Infused
  • Good Acting, on most accounts
  • Realistic
  • Action Scenes Are Pretty Decent

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Same Plot as A Recent Movie
  • The Writing At Times
  • Some Characters Are Wasted
  • More Action Scenes

 

SUMMARY:

 

Cop dramas appeal, according to my friends, is that they are contained in episodes that are short run times and cookie cut episodes so you have not invested too much time.  Fortunately, 21 Bridges is doing the same thing, leading to a quick pace and short run time to tell the story, avoid the fluff, and capture the crime component in a nice package.  A detective story at the core, 21 Bridges focuses on the intelligence gathering and coordination to paint the visual picture of catching two cop killers in an impressive display of technology and intuition.  This King T’Challa without the Marvel syndrome manhunt really works for those like me who enjoy the crime busting element more than the political components that come with these series, and I enjoyed not having politics shoved in my face.   As my buddy also said, the movie is also realistic, adding that mortal edge to the movie to help once more drive the suspense, for one lucky shot or ambush is going to lead to a world of trouble for all parties.  This even bleeds over to the action scenes, which are exciting when they show up and yet never venture too far into the Fiction realm where superpowers and super solider syndrome come into play.  Finally, the acting ties it all together, every actor taking their role and bringing it to life in a realistic means.  While everyone deserves a nod, it’s Boseman who is the star and heavy lifting as a believable cop, with a super smart skill of hunting down crime.  It’s multi-layered at times, yet never out of control, as the action and intelligence combine to make things look even more impressive as he mixes well with his crew.

 

Yet the movie suffers from some major components for me in regards to the quality or originality of the movie, especially given the number of delays this movie had in release.  In regards to the acting, I’d have liked to have seen more character involvement with some of the other culprits in this movie.  This manhunt brings a lot of players in only to sort of drop them in the background within minutes of introduction.  I’m of the mindset of using characters in a film to the fullest, but if this is a series set for sequels, this blow is not quite as bad for me.  The writing at times is a little too simplistic and lazy for me, once more taking the realism factor a tad too far in making them swear at every chance they get.  At times it fits, but this reviewer is all about finding ways to balance the cursing with, you know not too much cursing as it gets annoying, bloated, and for me comes off lazy.  In addition, I had expected a lot more action given the trailers, but the realism factor sort of gets rid of the gunplay, and puts instead a more style of chasing, running, and hiding.  Perhaps the opening sequence was a false lead, but I had hoped for more of those moments between elite agent and his prey.  Yet, the biggest thing for me that is the biggest limitation is the predictability and staleness of the plot.  Most originality is dead, I get it given the market, but this movie coming so close to Black and Blue, alongside sticking too close to other plots it makes the tale a little boring without some more theatrics.  The predictability of the plot had me hoping for twists, but it just did not work despite the attempts at deception.

 

The VERDICT:

            When it comes to crime drama, 21 Bridges is an old tale with a fresh coat of paint.  It works well for those who are fans of the television crime show syndicate, with a fast-paced detective story where a central character will be your anchor to the familiar movements of the series.  It’s very well contained in terms of realism, has a great cast to follow, and enough elements of the shows to please fans without getting lost in politics.  Yet, the film fails in terms of originality, sharing too much with recent crime films, not utilizing other characters well, and the action scenes not being the most memorable to justify the predictable plot. Still, if you are looking for something to break up the rerun monotony of the crime TV shows, then check this one out and enjoy the fresh coat applied.  Otherwise, hold out on this one for a watch at home movie on your favorite streaming or rental app. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Black and Blue Political View

Black and Blue Poster

 

Politics drives the film a lot more than I care to admit, but as a fellow reviewer said recently, it’s a new age and they are giving what the audience wants.  So tonight’s film looks to be one of these issue driven films wrapped in a potential action casing.  Yet, trailer artists are impressive in their ability to hook us into the film and so reviewers like me are here to give some thoughts as to the quality of the latest film.  Get ready, because here we go as I take a look into:

 

Movie: Black & Blue (2019)

Director:

Deon Taylor

Writer:

Peter A. Dowling

Stars:

Naomie HarrisMike ColterFrank Grillo

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal of a Cultural War Zone
  • Dynamic passing of the hot item
  • Music that Portrays The Attitude
  • More Suspense Than Some Other Films

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Drawn Out
  • Some Suspense Of Disbelief
  • Politics Take Priority Over Story
  • Stereotypes
  • Language
  • Some undeveloped aspects
  • The Action

 

Summary:

When you have a pollical feature you need to have people to play the new age champions of the generation.  Well they picked fantastic cast members to bring it to life with Naomie Harris the beacon of hope in this emotionally charged film.  She’s a hero that brings the motivation and good intentions to life in a character that is meant to be the focal point.  Tyrese Gibson brings his usual charm to the film, an edge that shows being tough, but curbed to not be quite the hot head his Fast And Furious counterpart shines in.  The rest of the cast begins to come together to paint their various characters, but it’s really these two that shined for this reviewer.  Outside of portraying the character swell, I nod to the portrayal of a cultural war zone, where modern society feels different pressures that results in the divisions seen in the media.  Black and Blue’s emotion is actually much derived from the setting, a nice touch to the political piece of the film.  With that hot item that is the body cam, this film got creative in the means of passing the hot item around like the world’s most intense game of hot potato.  I give them props for the means of passing the information it contains, and the solutions they come up with to work around things.  It adds the suspense element to the film, and I’ll admit there was a little more intensity to the film in determining how far both parties were willing to go to achieve their goals.  And to be truthful, it is that suspense that makes the true entertaining value of the movie.  Finally, the music brought into this film goes the extra mile to add that last bit of finesse to document the energy and emotion of the film.

 

For all the good this drama did though, there are some thing I think overshadow the entertainment piece of the movie.  It starts with the predictability, another linear tale where thanks to trailers, obvious dialogue, and stale writing, you have enough foreshadows to lead you to the end of the film.  What’s worse is that knowing the ending that is coming, it takes a little longer to get where you are going.  Black and Blue is a bit too drawn out for me, a little too bloated with these monologues and boring exchanges that starts to blunt the suspense mentioned earlier for the more political nature.  Throw in some suspense of disbelief and well you get the toned-down moments that other reviewers have talked about.  Yet where the movie really starts to lose it for me is the focus on politics over the other elements.  For those who want the relatability of an issue, who like the realism drawn into the film, and rooting for your champions as they make the first steps towards change, this movie is for you.  However, for me the stereotypes and directed writing got a bit overwhelming for me and sort of retracted from the things I thought the trailer was going to show.  Again, the movie manages to capture a realer tone with the language and mannerisms, but the aggressive use of these devices usually leaves a bland taste in my mouth so I can’t say it was a win for me.  Still, another big weakness is the sort of lackadaisical development of the movie’s aspect such as full rounded character development, histories of some key people, even the better integration of those threat elements could have gone a long way to round out the story and make the time investment worthwhile.  Finally, the action, the one thing I thought this movie was wrapped in is sadly missing for much of the movie.  The drama is the main entertaining factor, but it really need a few more gun battles, chases, and warlike feature I had hoped would spice things up.  Sadly, there are only a few short-lived moments that quickly cease and fall into the past.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Black And Blue is going to be the movie that will appeal to those that love a politically fervor movie with attitude and aggressive visualization of key events.  It’s got the  emotional aspect to it, brought to life by the cast, setting, and suspenseful game of hot potato that is a key factor.  For Drama lovers and crime lovers this is your bread and butter movie of the week so far, but for action lovers well hold your horses.  The political component is the one you have to prepare for, because it is going to be the key factor that is stretched out, slow, and a little bloated.  I’m not sure how people will respond to the painstakingly obvious issues and dialogue, the stereotypical roles and the portrayals of the cast.  For me I would have liked better story, more developed aspects of the film, and certainly more excitement to help amp up the suspense.  All in all though, the movie needs to find a little more balance and excitement before I can say it’s worth the trip to the theater, so hold out for Netflix on this one if you can.  With that said, my scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

No Joking, It’s An Oscar Version Of A Comic Book Movie

           Joker Poster

The comic book movie craze has gotten a bit out of hand with all the latest stunts and money wars that have led to the universes getting a little out of control.  In regards to the DC universe, again the movies are hit or miss in regards to the true comic book movie prose.  Yet, deep in the nest of Hollywood, there are still writers and directors that are willing to diverge from the common trend in an effort to bring a more artful style to the genre.  Tonight, DC attempts to do just that, with a character profile movie on one of their most legendary villains the Joker.  After multiple cameos, the world of comics looks to a new retelling to bring more quality to the comic book world.

 

Movie:  Joker (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Phillips

Writers:

Todd PhillipsScott Silver

Stars:

Joaquin PhoenixRobert De NiroZazie Beetz

 

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Profiling
  • Great Cinematography
  • The use of music
  • Dive into the madness
  • Great Acting

 

 

Dislikes/Warnings

  • Violence
  • Pacing
  • An Open Ending
  • Timeline differences
  • Not feeling Very Joker Esque
  • Some plot points that are vague

 

 

Summary:

First off this movie is not really a superhero, or in this case a supervillain film.  Instead, the movie feels like a film that is more of dive into the psychiatric profile of a man trying to make it into a chaotic world and wearing a supervillain mask at the same time.  One of Joker’s key strengths is that film manages to capture the insanity of psychiatric disease amazingly, blending a number of symptoms and transforming them into a mixed-up world where reality and fiction dance a twisted tango.  Utilizing great cinematography, the visuals by Phillips guidance somehow manage to take an internal perspective and personify it on the screen, sort of trapping you into the dimension of Artie’s mind.  Dark filters, contrasting light, and an element of dismay even in bright lit rooms build up the premonition of safety does not exist even in the light of day, which somehow adds to the horror of this disease.  Throw in all the use of music that not only coordinates with general pan over scenes of Gotham’s descent into madness, but  also in coordination with Phoenix’s dance moves that seem built amidst this classical, haunting music that represents the auditory hallucinations.  It’s all brought to the front though with the acting primarily with Phoenix carrying the pillars of which this movie is built on.  He’s got the laugh down, the smile, the bizarre mannerisms, and much more, in what almost feels like a natural extension of his self on the screen and he runs with it like an Olympic Sprinter.  It’s this acting that sort of takes everything mentioned previously and exemplifies it in human form, opening the world to another disturbing mind of a serial killer whose lethality can only be imagined.

 

Yet, there are things that will mix up the audience’s reception of it depending on what expectation you walk into the theater with.  In regards to the promotion of violence, it’s not quite as terrifying as people think (believe me there have been worst movies).  Still a warning to the audience is some rather realistic twists to the violence that may sort of promote the behavior, so impressionable minds beware, you’re in for a scare.  Past this though, the pacing of the Joker is mixed for me.  On the one hand I appreciate the slow timing to allow for the buildup and development of Joker’s origin.  Yet, the ending did not quite deliver the finessed ending this pacing did, given the world they based it.  True, it’s still terrifying and a great start to a serial killer’s reign, but the question is whether the tale lived up to the name the movie borrowed.  In addition, despite the movie being self-contained, the ending is one of those that leaves it semi-open for interpretation as to what happened/ did not happen in the story.  I myself am not a fan of such openings, so it’s a dislike for me, but for others you might just enjoy its fitting with the psychotic principal of the movie.  Finally, the story components are technically all there, but there are some elements that feel a little bumpy in this smooth transverse to psychotic zones.  Some elements are a little on the back burner, primarily in regards to some other back stories about his previous experiences with facilities.  Other points are almost not needed at all, given the direction they did, but that may just be my over analyzing nature.  Nevertheless, the one element that bothers me is the “age” difference of the world they set.  Again, the Joker name, and my comic book history, sort of scratches at the itch of a timeline established in this movie between him and his future nemesis.  For the general audience it won’t be an issue, but for those lore based comic book fans, well you’ve been warned.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Joker is indeed a film festival movie, that utilizes all the elements that the Academy Awards love, and tries to bring it into the world of comic book-based movies.  On the plus side it’s different, fantastically shot, and a portrayal of the madness that a literary icon has gotten in his graphic novel forms.  Again, I feel this movie is like a twisted version of A Beautiful Mind, with once more a fantastic actor driving home the point of the character.  Still, the use of the Joker name almost is a misnomer, because the grandiose antics, that classic insanity of cunning plans and foresight for moves, and even the big bang are sort of missing for me.  I think had they integrated a few more of the comic book qualities into the film the name works, or drop the name altogether and just be a psychological profile.  Still, this mad production requires at least a once over in my opinion, and can be enjoyed at both the theater or home viewing depending on your expectations. 

 

My scores are:

Crime/Drama/Thriller:  8-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Hustling Up A Dynamic Of Dance Of Superficial Entertainment and Deep Messages

Hustlers Poster

            They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in today’s master of advertising the movies are certainly one of those very moments you don’t want to judge.  Many films hold great surprises to those going in with open minds, but yours truly went in not expecting much from tonight’s movie.  Based on true events, tonight’s film is all about how appearances can be deceiving and lead to very bad consequences despite the pretty package it’s wrapped up in. Yes, in all the splendor of the human body, we look at Hustlers tonight in hopes of getting a drama that is a little more sustenance and less show off of the naked form.  Robbie K back with another review this time on:

 

Film: Hustlers (2019)

 

Director:

Lorene Scafaria

Writers:

Jessica Pressler (magazine article), Lorene Scafaria (screenplay)

Stars:

Constance WuJennifer LopezJulia Stiles

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Decent Pace
  • Good Dance Numbers
  • Funny
  • Decent good Morals/Story
  • Liked the Medium Told
  • Fashion
  • Acting
  • J-Lo

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Story A Bit Over The Place
  • The Bloated Excess of Drug and Con Scenes
  • Secondary Cast A Little Too Secondary
  • Some Lazy Writing Moments
  • Last Part Of The Ending Was Rushed
  • Glorification of Other Morals

 

SUMMARY:

Believe it or not, Hustlers turned out to have more surprises packed in than I had anticipated and it starts with the pace.  For a nearly  two-hour film, most of the film moves at a quick enough speed to not be too bland, though it does have its moments.  Yet much of the “boring” parts are going to be offset by the flashy spectacles that modern audiences love and it starts with dance numbers that are, let’s face it hot and sexually charged.  Hustlers is all about the art of deception and using the gorgeous figures to accomplish it in various sequences of touching, dancing, and some other stuff. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because the writers have jammed in plenty of other fun things to help get the pizazz on.  Comedy wise, it’s got decent laughs, throwing in well-time jabs, some smack talk, and girl gossip that though dramatic and ridiculous, somehow seems relatable to most.  Fashion lovers are going to be amazed by the costumes chosen, a wardrobe that emphasizes the rich lifestyle and again showing off that form.  Superficial stuff aside, there are some layers to this movie to start expanding past the eye candy and into something with a little more depth.  Despite the overall premise of the movie, Destiny’s tale with Ramona dives into well-developed subplots that are all about the character development.  The main tale is loaded with dramatic moments, but Ramona’s heart of gold and desire to accomplish her goals is an adamant yet dark story that contradicts the morally obligated responsibility that is Destiny’s tale.  Mostly linear, Hustlers presentation is balanced between past and present, told over a semi-formal interview that tries to help set up for surprise and further emotional charge.  It works in terms of originality, and my friend and I appreciated the use of this perspective to try emphasizing the effects each part of the story had on our characters.

How is this accomplished though is also due to the acting, with all the strippers and cons in the group acting well, all their unique personalities coming off in heavily designed in the writing and persona.  Wu runs ahead of the rest and expands the character to broader levels that portray a human facing the dark skeletons in the closet, countering some of the sinful acts this movie throws. As my fellow reviewers have said though… Jennifer Lopez steals the show and finally breaks out of the generic roles she has mastered.  Ramona shows the complexity and spectrum that a character needs, with again well-developed layers that allow people to determine whether or not you like the character.  A hero to some, a villain to others, J-Lo accomplishes bringing this complexed role to life and anchoring all the chaos together. 

 

  Still the story ironically suffers for me in terms of the superficial components that others enjoy more.  For one thing, the tale is predictable with much of the foreshadowing and trailers usurping the “surprises” they wanted to stuff into the film. Second, the story, while good at times, is a bit all over the place, struggling to pick the tale it wants to tale in favor of all the components brought in.  Perhaps symbolic, perhaps a representation of life, but I would have liked less jumping around and instead focus on utilizing the present to tell the past.  Maybe this would have been achieved with fewer moments of lust and stripping, as the excessive look at the exotic dances and glimpses at their lifestyles bloated the run time to the two hours.  Perhaps leaving these advanced looks to the director’s cut would have been a better use of time and reduced the run time to less than two hours (it wasn’t that necessary to be this long).  In addition, some of the other characters were a little too dropped into the background for me, primarily Cardi B’s character and Kiki Palmer’s who I would have thought would be a little more involved.  The secondary characters do fill their parts, but not quite the family aspect I was expecting from the trailers. Outside of excessive cursing at times, the last part that seemed odd and forced was the ending where the climax comes and goes rapidly, and the finale is sort of crammed into the final minutes.  Emotional and fulfilling at times, random story elements primarily with the other members of the crew are sort of wedged in, trying to be complete, but a little sloppy for me.  Julia Stiles character in particular feels oddly wrapped up, while Lopez and Wu’s characters feel sort of semi-incomplete, minus the dance finish at the end.  Finally, for those with a different mindset, you may not like the glorification of the negative characteristics that this movie thrives in.  Those who don’t like drugs, effective kidnapping, fraud, and some truly deep manipulation are not going to enjoy the package the better morals are wrapped in.  So watch yourself before coming in.

 

            The VERDICT:

            Truth be told, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  Hustlers manages to con you with the trailers and open you to a whole new world of adventure.   It’s going to speak to the intended audience members, and is a charged tale that holds a lot of heart primarily about the lives beneath the shiny surface of stripping. Hustlers manages to balance fun with deep stories and add that punch that people want in a story.  It’s primarily accomplished by the acting with Constance Wu who takes leading role, but Jennifer Lopez is the real shining star whose complexity and broad emotional spectrum tie the group together.  As the morals start pour out of the shiny fashionable package, the movie achieves the desired girl power and family aspect you might want to see. Yet, the film loses the balance for me in the obsession of glorifying the superficial things instead of the heart of god components below.  Extending the run time to nearly 2 hours, the extra stuff the added details of the movie sort of diluted the story aspect, and took away from the secondary characters that high profile actors were portraying.  Throw in a rushed ending and sort of sporadic storytelling and the movie loses a little of the glitter.  However, if you stick with it and enjoy both aspects shoved in (entertainment and lessons) and can get over the focus of the darker components they emphasize, you should really enjoy this movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Cooking Up Character Centric Stories and Good Acting

The Kitchen Poster

 

Crime tales are ones the American public drinks up, with the promise of a dark tale with tons of drama to drink up.  Yet, not every tale has the makings of a legendary film like the Godfather, trying too hard or going too political that it becomes a giant statement that is not entertaining to many.  So today’s movie had me concerned that a political thriller was on our way and potentially a slow-moving film like Widows before it.  Can an all-star cast and the mistakes from the last attempt be learned, or are we going to be stuck with a carbon copy cinematic mess? Robbie is back to give you another review and this time on:

 

Movie: The Kitchen (2019)

 

Director:

Andrea Berloff

Writers:

Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)  |

Stars:

Melissa McCarthyTiffany HaddishElisabeth Moss

 

 

LIKES:

Setting

Story telling Component

The Drama and Twists

Acting

The Sound Track

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little Boring

Longer Than It should have been

Political overshadowing

The Non-Centered Antagonist

 

SUMMARY:

For a movie set in a specific time and place, The Kitchen accomplishes the task of stepping back into the past. Costumes, editing of footage, and props once more teleports us to the America of the past and brings you into the harsh streets of the Kitchen and it’s denizens.  While the setting helps add a story telling element, the reality is the Kitchen has a decent story component to it.  Like the Godfather, but not as monumental, The Kitchen is a story of family, power, and threats as the various pieces move about in the fight for territory and respect.  A character centric story, the movie focuses much on the three primary characters, each going through their own struggles as they try to push their own agendas into the mix. It’s those dramatic, character developing arcs that seem to criss cross quite nicely, leading to subplots that actually do well to connect into the grander story line, and brings a few twists to the mix to jazz up the linear plot and help give that dynamic of the mafia family.  It works well, and the acting in particular manages to bring the characters to full life, each bringing a unique style to the character that helps add the personality a film like this needs.  McCarthy was my favorite, but Haddish was amazing, casting her sass in a new light that was less funny and more threatening.  Without these ladies bringing their A game the movie may have suffered a lot more. Of note, the sound track was probably my favorite thing, classic 60s-70s songs coming in hard to give the emotional flare and toe tapping mixes that I love to see in a film, after all who does not like a good Fleetwood Mac song?

 

Yet, the movie still suffers a bit from some other components that did not quite entertain me.  First off, the movie suffers from linearity and predictable components.  From the moment the tides change you can see the ending coming a mile way, the Shakespearian plot elements beginning to fall into place.  As such, waiting for the ending was a little boring, stuck in the artistic and political components that it was a little slow and drawn out for me. It felt much longer than the actual run time and I did not quite get into the film as much as I wanted too. Perhaps a few shoot outs, a job gone wrong, or even some sort of defense to get the plot moving.  Instead, the political moments of the tale comes breaking right in to take center stage.  The Kitchen is not the most preach from soap box delivery I have seen, but the focus on the various battle of sexes and girl power motif could have been curbed a little more to not deviate from the story components I enjoyed. In addition, the movie suffers from the non-centered antagonist, choosing to go more towards a symbolic route, that possessed various characters that were more of a throw away than meaningful inclusion.  Had there been a bad guy to ultimately focus on, we might have had an easier time keeping things moving.

 

Overall, the Kitchen is a good portrayal of being able to dive back into history and uncovering stories that are believable, dramatic, and the crime family aspect we love.  The three leading ladies are truly the stars that made it special with me alongside character centric stories that will appeal to those who like books or character focused shows.  Yet, the movie is still not quite the spectacle I was hoping for, getting caught in the symbology and politics that lead to rush plot elements and lacking suspense.  Thus, this film holds favor at watching at home or out with a girls night group rather than on the big screen. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Stuber or Stupor

Stuber Poster

 

You know how there are all those stories about Uber rides gone wrong and being entertained. Well, as I’ve said in plenty of times before, Hollywood will look to all paths to find a script to put on the big screen. Tonight, my friends and I checked out the newest comedy that is all about an Uber ride gone wrong, between an unlikely pair of comedians.  Looking like a major comedy fest, the goal as always is for a review to help you determine if it’s worth a trip to local theater to see. Robbie K back in the theater trenches to give you the 411 on the latest movie.  Let’s get going!

 

Movie: Stuber

Director:

Michael Dowse

Writer:

Tripper Clancy

Stars:

Dave BautistaKumail NanjianiMira Sorvino

 

 

LIKES:

  • Pacing
  • Fun Morals Baked In
  • Funny At many Parts
  • The slapstick At times
  • Actors

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Dead Story Points
  • The Rushed Components
  • Shaky Camera work at times
  • The Predictability
  • Some Comedy Being Overdone
  • The Trailers Ruining Much Of the Movie

 

Summary

 

The truth about Stuber is that it is a simplistic comedy that the trailers have sold well. A fast pace helps keeps the laughs in as the “story” begins to work its way toward the final destination.  There are components they are trying to balance into the laughs, and the morals placed in for character development are nice to see to help expand the character.  Yet, the golden aspect of this film is of course the comedy to which many will most likely enjoy in some form or manner.  Stuber is one of those movies that throws as many jokes at you as possible and hope that at least one or two of them sticks.  The slapstick in particular has some great punch to it, primarily because of the commentary and sound effects that accompany it.  So simplistic and yet so funny, Stuber makes it’s mark due to the two comedians that drive the movie to the final destination. Bautista’s yelling and direct line delivery are much like Drax without the Marvel banter and drawn out jokes that accompany the clumsiness they bestowed his character.  Kumail Najiani on the other hand is all about dry sarcasm and delivery of the lines to capitalize on the comedic timing and adding that spice to the words.  The chemistry between the two is great, though I hope it’s not abused, and it will be a selling point for many.

 

Yet the movie is much like my fellow critics said in that there are some dropped plot elements.  For those that don’t care about anything but a good laugh, this section will turn you off, but for those for looking at movies as a whole read it on. Although a good attempt, the story has a lot of dead points that barely roll over the finish line to really give the movie sustenance.  A fantastic pace for comedy, the movie’s short run time and fast movements are not good for developing the other parts of the movie, which is a shame given the potential they were building.  Amidst the action scenes and lots of slapstick, a shaky camera awaits to try to bring you in the moment, but only serves to make dizzying sequences that are not too fun to see.  In addition the story is super predictable, with lots of foreshadowing in the jokes and simple conversations early on in the movie.  The balance in comedy is definitely skewed from one side or the other going too far down one angle, and quickly tipping the other way to not funny enough. Stuber suffers from constantly teetering from one point to the other and never learning that too much of something is not often a good thing.  Why was this the case?  Truth be told, it’s because the trailers have revealed many of the scenes that fill the movie, with a good chunk of the funny parts already been beat into your eyes and memory from the countless trailers and commercials.  If you have been fortunate enough to avoid these showings you’ll be okay, but otherwise, stick to the mantra of there are some parts that are still waiting to be found.

 

The VERDICT:

            Stuber is fun, stuber is simple, and stuber is entertaining to those who want nothing more but to laugh.  The acting combo of Bautista and Najiani are golden, filled to the brim with sarcasm and blunt delivery that should be entertaining. Filled to the brim with jokes, the movie’s main limitation is the difficulty with balance, struggling to fit things into the comedy in such a short time span.  Still, plenty of comedic gold awaits those looking for the simplistic adventure of slapstick and not caring about the movie/story overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Action/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0