Does This Direct Stream Fowl This Story Up? It All Depends On your angle

Artemis Fowl Poster

            Movies today seem to run into more trouble than I can ever remember.  With politics, reshoots, budgets, fan pressure, and who knows what else, the art of making movies continues to be twisted into the former shelf of what it once was.  With Covid 19 coming into the mix, the age of direct to streaming has opened up a new era of movie transformation and I shudder to think what the results will be given potential cuts to the film.  Ranting aside, tonight’s review is another direct to stream movie, and one with a lot of delay history on hand, as another book series is brought to life in hopes of making money.  Will it work or once more are we sunk?  Robbie K here ready to give you his thoughts as he reviews: 

Movie:  Artemis Fowl (2020)


 Kenneth Branagh


 Conor McPherson (screenplay by), Hamish McColl (screenplay by)  | 1 more credit »


 Ferdia ShawLara McDonnellJosh Gad 


Judy Dench

Josh Gad

Some of the Comedy

The Cinematography

Build For Family 

The Music

The World Building 


The Pace

The Forced Acting At Times

The Special Effects

The Cardboard Characters

How Quickly Resolved Things Are

The Political Correctness

Too Family Theme/Inconsistent

A Massive Set Up Movie Instead Of Its Own film


            Never having read the books, I went in pretty fresh thinking this would be Harry Potter meeting Men In Black with a  bit of a family style added in.  I believe on many levels my assumption was right and fortunately there were some heavy hitters leading the way.  The stars for me were Dench and Gad, two actors who have their tricks for making the most of roles no matter how invested they are in the project.  Dench’s old school tactics and pot shots at age mix well with the “charm” of those she commands, a case of sensitive caring meeting dutiful officer entertaining to watch as she engaged with the new generation.  Gad on the other hand continues to play his bumbling oaf of a snowman in a different form as the tricky dwarf who lives above the law in more ways than one.  He seems to have fun with the role, and it’s that energy that seems perfect for the character they developed for him.  Gad acts as a focal point for the comedy, but Fowl’s band of “criminals” sometimes have some tact to them that had me laughing at times, be it a well time one liner or maybe a sarcastic comment from Dench’s character.  It’s all well themed and much like the rest of the movie has many “family themed elements” that I think Disney was going for in its countless troubles and directions with the film to which the target audience should love. 

            However, the strongest elements for this reviewer are the fact the more technical elements of the film that brought the world of fiction to life.  For one thing, the music is great, despite having an AC unit blaring, the cinema design for Artemis’ first journey is a splendid symphony of orchestral wonder that helps add excitement to the scenes at hand.  More toned-down moments are complemented by a wonderful homage to Irish tradition with pipes, flutes, and the magical moor like tones bringing that fairy tale charm associated with Irish culture. This only further gets complemented by beautiful settings to which the cinematography captures beautifully and I for one was impressed with what they displayed on screen.  As for the fantasy element, Disney continues to kick butt in this department as they always do.  Computer design created a very elaborate world to get lost in be it the cramped halls of the Fowl manor with its hidden secrets, or the world of the fairy that dwells below the earth where science fiction and magic turn into a hybridized world that is both mystical and new edge.  Add the costumes and character design into the mix, and you get that unique flare that Disney’s money can make… when used right of course.  I think many of your little ones will have some new trick or treat costumes this coming fall.  

            Yet where marketing and splendor succeed, the movie fails for me at other parts.  Like much of Disney’s new family themed movies, the pace seems off for a typical Disney film as Artemis’ journey sort of contorts to odd angles in an attempt to put everything into a journey to inspire every person under the sun.  It’s too fast for yours truly, giving many of the emotional moments a blunt edge that fails to tug at the heart strings it wants to pull so badly, the way Disney movies like to do.  It does not help that the characters they tried to create are poorly developed, many having any dimension effectively ripped from them to make paper thin pawns for kids to aspire to be like.  There are some redeeming qualities, I won’t lie about that, but in terms of characters as a whole Disney’s band is set for the adolescent minds instead of all families in general.  It may also suffer from the fact that the actors are also still coming into their forte on this film.  The young cast sort of has one or two dimensions and have not mastered the spectrum of acting that other actors have.  Throw in some of the performances feel forced or not involved enough leading to less character utilization and the selling of this movie becomes harder and harder for me to do. 

            Maybe the plot and adventure aspect will be better and offset those limitations?  After all Twilight has enough romance and fighting to make the film worth it right, right?  No, the movie did not succeed on this aspect either for me.  Artemis Fowl’s limitations above carry over to this aspect of the film as well, leaving it a very skeletal framework with little sustenance for me.  The adventure again is rushed, tense moments reduced to dry bouts of conversation, little build up, and action that has that modern-day family approved stamp that seems to plague so many films.  Again those moments to grasp on to characters and worry about their fate become quick fix problems, where thirty seconds of an impasse show up and then resolves in some of the simplest story telling I’ve seen in a while.  The action scenes start showing some pizazz, building up to Fowl’s genius taking on this new world, only to quite in less than a minute.  What happened to that magic we saw in Mulan, the lion king, Tarzan, and Toy Story, where the franchises were still to family, but were not afraid to add some darker elements to the mix.  Fowl only does it with a few disturbing visuals, namely Gad dislocating his jaw, which would be more impressionable than a good action scene that actually uses its characters. An even weaker element is how some of these fights sort have had technical jerkiness to it, like a DVD skipping, the scene would pause and then quickly speed up.  While cool at some moments, it got overused and annoying for me, and felt like a distraction to the already limited scene. 

  The point this rambling makes is that the movie lacks intensity and connection to a majority of the audience, again too centered on the juvenile atmosphere that PG movies seem to have become.  I also felt there was a little too much political agenda in this movie, not in the manner/degree we’ve seen in other films like Star Wars, Captain Marvel, and Charlie’s Angels, but more like the Dream Big Princess campaign you see on Disney channel.  It gets in the way of the storytelling for me and while inspirational, fans like me may lose faith in Disney putting plot development aside to stay politically relevant.  Finally, this movie’s inconsistencies sort of amplify that this rushed tale seems much like an intro chapter or installment to the book (which I do know enough for it to be the case), but in series like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, those first stories also felt contained to their own tale as well.  For Fowl though, the first installment focuses too much on the promise of a new series or movie coming in, perhaps another attempt to hypnotize into more toy sales.  Had the other flaws not been so magnified in my eyes.  


            Artemis Fowl is cute and definitely the family friendly adventure theme that seems to be the new age of acceptable to many new parents.  For this reviewer though, it gets in the way of bringing these young adult books to life, sheltering the intended audience from darker moments just to make a buck. Sure the acting will be good for the intended audience, and the music and visuals may be just the thing to hook you in to the film as you watch your children’s eyes light up in delight (after all mine did for much of this film). However, the rushed plot, the forced acting, the lack of suspense, buildup, and intensity and trying to play too much in safe politics threw this film into disarray for me.  While it certainly fits better on streaming rather than the theater, I can’t help but wonder how much was lost to the numerous issues this film had with release.  Yet, I worry even more that the studio I know can make out of this world films is losing their ability to story tell due to playing to the public interest movements.  Nevertheless, I recommend this film for viewing at home of course, but take caution as some scenes may in fact be scary for those who are sensitive to the darker, more disturbing visuals.  

My scores overall are: 

Family, Fantasy, Adventure:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.5 

Onward To Fun, Family/Geek Adventure

Onward Poster


Pixar broke the mold a long time ago when it came to animation, pushing the boundaries of the 3-D animation world and the storytelling that comes with it.  World building, unique characters and fun filled stories etched themselves into our memories and continue to amuse us to this day.  So after sequels have stormed the frontier of Pixar, a new original tale is hoping to come Onward and entertain us, most likely with a good story and character drive.  As such, yours truly is back to help guide your journey to the movies.  Let’s get started as we review:


Movie:  Onward (2020)



Dan Scanlon


Dan Scanlon (screenplay by), Jason Headley (screenplay by)


Tom HollandChris PrattJulia Louis-Dreyfus




  • Great Animation
  • The World Building
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Witty References
  • Clever Writing
  • Great Character Development
  • Morals
  • Not In Your Face Lessons
  • Heart Felt



  • Predictable
  • More Adventure Impasses Needed
  • More On the Mom And Manticore Front
  • A Bit More Of The Centaur character component





Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar is fantastic at the animation and only keeps bringing their cards to play.  The movement itself is fluid, dynamic, and colorful to meet the expectations that such pieces hold in Disney’s arsenal.  Onward’s world truly does bring magic to the modern world, and the world building of modern overtaking the mysterious is brilliantly crafted to be fun and meaningful.  Much of this world is fun, a huge spoof on fantasy elements that have ditched the mysterious, scary, and demented, for colorful forms that are mere shadows of their inspirations.  This adventure may not be the most exciting, but Pixar still injects its energy into the film to make the movie entertaining in the kids way but also holding great potential for adults too.  Comedy wise, Onward has some slapstick, components, but the comedy is geared towards the adults and older members that was highly entertaining to a geek like me.  Witty references are loaded into the film, with many movie references present for older fans to enjoy at their new use into the world.  Not a movie buff?  Not a problem, because the writing continues to be clever as it brings dungeon and dragons board games into a new medium, all while poking fun at the modern flaws that are hot topics.  Its this fantastic variety of venues to use that make this movie fun, as dialogue and comedic devices use these avenues to make the whole thing entertaining.

In regards to the storytelling, the movie shines in this department as well, you know what Disney can be really good at doing.  The characters are fantastic additions to the Disney family, not only in merchandising, but fantastic players to latch onto the adventure with.  The two brothers get some great moments to shine, each leveling up in their own way that again is clever, but very smart in how it fits with the themes of the film.  Voice acting alongside great chemistry of the characters, leads to another fantastic relationship that will be used to drive a lot of the plot elements as well as the morals that go with it. Onward’s morals are multilayered, built to address so many problems that plague humans today that the film is sure to hit a relevant note.  Even better, most of the lessons are not in your face preachy that seems to be the modern trend, allowing the story to gradually present it, keeping it in pace with the story and characters while also being deep at the same time.  All in all, the heart felt emotions in this film of this developing brotherhood managed to pull many heart strings for me and was a fantastic adventure for geeky sensitive guy like me.


In terms of dislikes, the story does not escape the predictable formula that Pixar and Disney thrive in.  A combination of trailer revelation alongside some scenes to be highly foreshadowing resulted in a pretty obvious twist that was to come.  It’s a minor flaw mind you, but anytime you are able to reasonably trick me… you get bonus points for a review.  No, the main thing I found the story needing improvement in… is ironically in the story components itself.  The adventure side is certainly fun and geared towards the character development story, but the film could have used more of the danger that I know Pixar can do.  Onward needed more integration of the fantasy obstacles to help with bringing more fun and opportunities to develop our adventurers, which may be reserved for a sequel if they decide to.  Even more, I wanted better integration of the mom and manticore, two characters that had their moments to shine, but held so much potential to be involve in the story.  Learning some more back story, getting the mom’s views on the whole mess, even the Manticore’s history outside of the small tale we got, would have been great to be integrated into the film.  This can also be said for another character, the Centaur who after being used as the butt of jokes and potential build up, did not have the integration I thought they would.  These underutilized characters and plot devices make the film a little weaker for me, but fortunately the fun and comedy amplify this spirit of adventure.  Outside of this, there are a few other things that could be improved, but let’s wrap this up.


The Verdict:

            Disney has another winner on their hands with this film, as Onward sets out to be the same magic of fun, laughs, and family energy this studio is famous for.  Adventures likes this, combined with the great animation, will open up a new avenue to getting to your heart, and this time geared for both cool people and geeks.  Onward has much to offer for many people, and I love the fact the lessons are baked naturally into the theme of the movie, without being too preachy or political.  Certainly the film needed to work on the predictability, but more so the film struggles to still not pull the full spirit of adventure that comes with Fantasy films.  In addition, several other characters could have stand for more integration to round out the tales, add more levels of story, and of course just have more opportunity for grabbing more people into the movie.  This reviewer though really found joyful to watch, and I’d recommend checking this out in the theaters if you have the time. 


My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0


This Call Is Wild Fun And Deep Adventure


The Call of the Wild Poster


The literary classics continue to face the test of time with their strong writing, hard morals, and often original characters.  Yet, in the days of flash in the pan excitement, reality television, and Youtube viral videos, these books get lost.  Fortunately, Hollywood continues to have the chance of using its bloated budget to potentially keep them relevant in the modern world.  Tonight, the movie to start my review week with one of these epic literary pieces in the form of Call Of The Wild.  Yet, will the talked about graphics and mediocre trailer ruin the literary masterpiece, or can it get you howling at its quality.  Let’s get going as I review:


Movie:  Call of The Wild (2020)



Chris Sanders


Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)


Karen GillanHarrison FordCara Gee





  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Harrison Ford’s Narration
  • The Development of Buck
  • The Morals Of The Book Brought To Life
  • Deeper than expected
  • Beautiful Setting



  • Story Elements Are Blunted
  • Pacing A bit Off At Times
  • A Few Really Sad Moments
  • The Graphics Are not the Most Realistic
  • Trailers Have Given Some Decent Scenes Away




The book is a tale of adventure and self-discovery through the eyes of a dog, and the movie manages to get this spirit and do it right.  Call of The Wild’s film is a multi-layered adventure, that like a good play has various acts that do great with development of the character.  Much like most dogs’ spirits, Buck’s journey has a lot of fun and energy to it, which is infectious and important for hooking you into the tale at the hand.  Harrison’s Ford narration manages to sort of personify the serious nature of the journey though, the rough and rugged voice setting a tone that somehow prepared you for things to come while also highlighting the energy of the dog on screen.  The combination of these elements accomplishes the rare task of artfully developing a nonexistent animal, the human qualities striking relevance, while the cute animal side ignites the childlike vision that a dog brings out.  And through this character, the morals that London brought out years ago, come rushing out in full emotional force, hopefully inspiring and teaching the audience some important lessons always worth revisiting.  This surprisingly balanced narrative and relevant characteristics made this movie deeper than I expected, helping to round out the emotions of the tale and defying my expectations of silly banter that sometimes plague these movies.  I’ll admit it nearly made me tear up at times, but that’s the sign of a great developments of relationships and intriguing characters that I enjoy watching.  Finally, the setting itself is beautiful, whether it be the wide angled shots, or the digitally recreated tundra, the Yukon land manages to take your breath away while bringing out the wild.


Story elements abound though, I’ll admit the book is often much better, at least in terms of details.  This film’s acts sometimes are a little bit truncated, story components that seemed to be pretty deep and intense suddenly dropped, despite some foreshadowing.  I won’t spoil it for both those in the dark and the know, but these quick finishes were reduced to some mere dialogue and would have liked some creative liberties to maybe help finish these tales with more drive.  In addition, the pacing feels a bit off as well, the moments that are meant to be big impasses or stressful moments quickly overcome.  I guess reading the book I envisioned these moments longer and grander, but to keep up with modern attention spans, they sort of quickened these moments to cram more of the adventure into the run time.  Well that and the sad moments too.  While I give praise for emotional investment, there are times during this movie where the visualization of the sadder elements can really be a bit much for those who have a strong aversion to the cruelty that these digital animals face.  I’m just not the biggest fan of these moments, and though not as bad as some others, there are times where it really got me depressed so… yeah.

Now it’s time to hit the two big components that people have been commenting on in the reviews that take some things away.  The first thing is the predictability/ruining the trailers have brought. I’ll agree some the trailers have given much of the first two acts away, not only showing off the more impressive CGI moments, some key story elements, and perhaps a little bit about the direction the movie is going.  There are still some surprises, but still get ready for some predictable moments to come your way, including those who have not read the book.  As for Buck’s CGI, alongside other members, the animation and physiology are captured beautifully and quite accurately on many levels.  The design though, the human qualities from eye brows, shifty looks, and human gestures (cute as they may be) do not come off the most realistic in quality.  If you can’t get by this, then you’ll not enjoy this film and miss the bigger parts, but if you can take this as just a small weakness and go with the energy it creates you’ll be okay.



            While it may not give the time needed to bring the full details out, this iteration of Call Of The Wild is certainly better than I anticipated.  Buck’s journey holds many levels of enjoyment from comedic fun and cuteness to the deeper, heart heavy moments that will help you invest into the movie.  The acting with CGI dogs is surprisingly fun and all the sense of adventure and character development makes for a much more balanced tale.  Certainly some elements are blunted, with truncated finishes to most of the acts, quick bouts of overcoming the impasses, and even some sadder moments that you see coming, but can’t turn away from.  As I said in the full review, the CGI is great in terms of physiology and injecting energy, but the realism and cartoonish effects are a little less impressive given other feats of technology.  If you can appreciate the positives of this style though, you are in good shape, but if not, then skip this film.  In terms of visiting the theaters for this one, the answer is yes due to enough adventure and special effects to get you in.  Just exercise caution with taking little ones due to the sadder moments that are to come. 


My scores are:


Adventure/Drama/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Sonic Grabbing The Rings For Family Fun This Weekend


Sonic the Hedgehog Poster


Video game movies have had a rough track record despite the potential they have to rock our socks off.  In an effort to make real, live action movies, the CGI worlds that have become legend are often reduced to twisted follies with only small diamonds in a very rough piece.  Not all films have failed mind you, but a majority have not quite reached the expectations placed on the pieces by the fanbase.  The solution could be to simply make a digitally designed movie, but the argument becomes how if you do that you could instead just make a better game. Well this week’s headliner is a series that has had a lot of ups and downs that has muddied his gaming waters, so a movie may be exactly what is needed to jumpstart the blue blur’s career. Is the film worth it despite a questionable trailer and redesign of his image?  Well, Robbie K is going to give his thoughts once more as he reviews:

Movie: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writers: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller

Stars: Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, James Marsden



  • Funny
  • References
  • Moves at a Good Speed
  • The Action Is Family Friendly Appropriate
  • Jim Carrey’s Performance
  • Surprisingly Deeper



  • The Teasing
  • Plot is Predictable
  • Suspension of Disbelief
  • Robotnik’s character at times
  • More Chase Scene Less Cheesy/Sob story Finish
  • Some Humor A Little Too Forced



The movie was already loaded with a lot of heat given the stink made with the first trailers.  The redesign is to be respected, because the design presented is indeed fun and nostalgic to look at, despite being in a film loaded with more realistic characters and drones.  Nevertheless, the likes start with a good comedy basis, a blend of witty references and kid friendly humor that takes the family friendly track and runs with it.  The trailers promised a family friendly environment and the film delivers, taking enough of the sonic framework to shout out to geeks like me and then painting it with that Disney like coat that younger audiences love.  An added bonus, the references extend outside of the sonic games, making some nods to some other classic scenes from superhero movies that shined in their own movie bombs (think Fox’s super hero movies).   It works for me; the balance opening a lot of doors for the fanbase to enjoy and hopefully inspire new interest in the hedgehog’s adventures.  One favorable result, the movie moves at that fast pace that is entertaining enough to be fun, yet slow enough to allow things to flesh out everything about our characters.  Working with that pace is the action, grabbing the speed of the genesis video games and keeping the speedsters moves going strong as he fights the evil genius’ robotic drones.  While a little less action packed then I like, the movie keeps the family friendly energy going further into fight scenes, never going too dark, violent or aggressive to damage the psyches that so many people worry about.  In addition, the comedy extends even further into these moments to always keep it light hearted.  Even the villain himself, Robotnik, manages to come across family friendly, with the insane obsession of being right and a genius driving his actions towards a darker side, but having that clumsy buffoon we saw in the comedy cartoon decades ago.  Carrey for me succeeds in bringing out both sides, the transitions and facial expressions both overexaggerated and yet appropriate given the direction they took with him.  While I still prefer a digital, fat guy who is Sonic’s familiar rival, I’ll admit this was probably one of the better live action castings for me and the performance was a great revisit to the film I loved so much.  Finally, the deepness of the movie surprisingly works again for me because not only does it allow Schwarz to evolve Sonic’s voice, give some better integration and performance with Marsden’s character, and add some emotion to bring the film to a better an all around hit for this reviewer.


Regarding the movie’s dislikes, ironically this has to do with the catering to the younger audience.  For one thing the movie is all about teasing for the next film, a minor dislike and usually one I ignore, but yours truly did not enjoy all the little teases to introducing new characters, only to be thrown back into the new direction.  Most likely a set up for a series or more movies depending on the success, the untapped potential of Sonic’s origin was the more intriguing story for me and yet was the most limited of the bunchAs such, the predictable, geared towards family Hallmark approach takes center stage and the familiar antics don’t get too many points for originality in my books.  I get it, I over-analyze things as a reviewer, but in terms of scoring the predictability of this film is not the biggest selling point for fans of the series who like the fight for mobius vs. finding a place on Earth. Part of this comes from the trailers giving too much away with their over relenting advertising, delivering several key jokes a few times for me.  Other parts are the suspension of disbelief and even the world’s logic of physics that are suspended to make the story work, which for me is again cute for the family, but could have been a lot better had they dived deeper into the original lore. The same can be true for Robotnik as well.   This constant back and forth between funny comedic prop and villain work for trying to get everyone into the film, but I think was too forced at times for me to fully say it was the best villain.  The comedy again can be forced too much as well, whether it be Sonic’s one liners zinging in faster than he can run, or Robotnik’s personality disorder getting too much focus instead of sending out more drones or maximizing his robotic army (I guess for future sequels right).  Finally, the actions scenes are again awesome to watch and for the most part do fit with the theme. Then the final fight happens and suddenly we drop that energy for another dialogue heavy, feat of super ability that was more preachy/cheesy finish than the climactic finish I was hoping would happen.  If you love that anime style grandiosity, it’s a perfect way to finish, but if you want a little more sonic and logical finish like me, I did not quite enjoy the fight finale.



                Despite all the criticism and hate this film has gotten, alongside the character design, Sonic really is a fun film that will hit a lot of audience members.  Nostalgia, comedy, and kid friendly film are the selling points for going to see this one in theaters.  Throw in good action, a fast pace, and some great performances for Sonic and Robotnik and it only helps seal the package for seeing this film.  However, the movie is still not without its flaws with the gear towards the kid/family audience being one of the most limiting components for me.  While I appreciate this adventure breaking the walls, the gamer in me who has loved the Mobius arcs would have liked to see that direction over this integration into our world for the originality and game feel I want with video game movies.  Separating that out though, it’s the modern trend of making kids movies comedy fests crammed with one liners, forced sappy moments, and toning down some of the action scenes that were the biggest limitations for me.  All in all, the movie succeeds in accomplishing the goal of being fun for all ages and a solid opener to a potential franchise. My encouragement is again to catch this one in theaters for the fun and effects, but otherwise get the hedgehog on Redbox or streaming soon.


My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5


A Family Adventure that Does Little To Excite

Dolittle Poster



Another night, another time at the movies and with that we set forth on an adventure that will hopefully be worth the time investment.  Former Iron Man runner, has changed into a new set of duds as he goes into exploring a new universe.  The trailers paint this one as a fun, adventurous movie, that looks to have mystery, comedy, and a little excitement in search of the next big thing.  However, we all know trailers can make things look more golden than they actually are.  Well yours truly is back and ready to give some thoughts as he sets sail with Robert Downey the film:


Film:  Dolittle (2020)



Stephen Gaghan


Stephen Gaghan (screenplay by), Dan Gregor(screenplay by)  | 3 more credits »


Robert Downey Jr.Antonio BanderasMichael Sheen



  • Great Voice Acting
  • Decent Balance Of Characters
  • Okay CGI
  • Some Meaningful Moments
  • Funny At Times
  • The Ending Credits
  • Cute Family Movie



  • The Direction Of Dolittle
  • A Little Too Forced Humor
  • The Adventure Is Boring
  • Villain Doesn’t Deliver
  • Action is Simplistic
  • The Story Predictable
  • Low Impact Impasses that Are Too Easy To Overcome




The story of Dolittle has come in many packages, but this one held promise as Pirates meeting cute animal stories.  The digitally created cast has fantastic voice acting, with many creatures being a dead ringer for the people embodying them.  It’s not the most emotionally distraught or tight performance, but it works for the funny characters at hand and should delight the young and young at heart.  With a star-studded cast and plenty of animals, I have to say they accomplish their task of getting as much of the participation of the characters as they could.  I enjoyed the contributions they had to the adventure and found their comedy a selling point for most audience members.  The CGI work is not the most impressive at times, but it worked for me and helped get the animal movements down well, and making this odd cast come to life.  The animation is fluid, and the ability to anthropomorphize these cast of creatures.  While most of this works is to bring comedy to the film, presented in slapstick, goofy delivery, and a few ridiculous sequences designed for the young, it somehow also adds some other level of connection to the movie as you root for the safety of our crew.  Most of the film is about that level of comedy, but at its core lies some of those heartwarming moments that we love to see in these types of films.  Some of these moments are fully appreciated at the end, primarily in the closing moments and end credits that bring yet another art style to the mix that was interesting and fun to watch.  The result is that the movie is all about the classic family movie that has sort of been missing for some time, and will be perfect to take the grandkids too. 


However, the reviews coming in make some valid points and I believe these areas could have been improved upon to make this a better movie.  For one the direction of Dolittle himself is odd, a man broken by events, the eccentric genius approach is one part interesting and two parts odd.  A complicated history awaits, but yet the movie never goes with it, lost in him being too silly, isolated, and single track minded to really expand upon this complex character.  And much like the other animals, the comedy is sometimes a little too forced for me, jokes jammed into awkward moments and banter that took the adventure from exciting to corny at times for me, as it became a quest for the next joke.  For me, the adventure became boring very quickly, too simplified and linear with little challenge to stand in our crew’s way.  Where were the exciting ship to ship battles that made our crew face their fears?  What mysteries and challenges await in the palace halls we saw in that trailer?  What about that dragon?  Well… the trailers deceive you into thinking these are real threats, but the truth is that the watered-down action and the challenges just don’t really deliver much outside of a G rated starter movie.  Even the villain is kind of lame, an eccentric looking doctor is about all the threats he has got, as the former leader of vampires/werewolves has taken on the role of one liners and being kind of a nimrod, who poses little threats.  Again this makes for a cute, family friendly film adventure, but in terms of exciting story that could start a series, that’s where it fails for me.



            I did not hate this movie, but I was disappointed in the direction it chose to take in this rendition for this story.  The trailers painted this as an epic adventure with CGI animals, but instead we got a much kid friendlier adventure that was more about the laughs, slapstick, and cramming of animals than anything else.  It’s positives for me are all about how cute this adventure is with them capitalizing on the CGI animals as the main anchor point the target audience will love.  This film sort of felt like the films I watched as an introduction adventure growing up, simple and wholesome, with just enough added spunk to be above a nick junior movie.  However, where I think the movie fails as the reviewers have said is the missed potential they had suggested to me with the trailers.  The central character is loveable,  but not really a detailed RDJ character that we’ve seen him master like his other films.  The animals are fun, but again they seem so simplified and prop like that I have a hard time investing in most of them.  And worst of all, the atmosphere is so kiddy that the adventure aspect is diluted down to lackluster levels, which may not please the parents or older siblings that are accompanying them.  Therefore, all the conveniences and incomplete story for me are going to be the hardest blows to the quality of this film. 


My scores for the film are:

Adventure/Family/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Trying To Dance Into New Light, But Claws Away It’s Own Potential

Cats Poster



There is something to be said about the theater.  This avenue of artistic storytelling has produced some of the most interesting and unique stories the world has ever seen, deriving a plethora of fan bases who play their tracks everywhere.  That field requires demanding performances with limited technology to bring worlds to life, requiring a little imagination to fill in the gaps.  So for an era where imagination can be a struggle given the variety of media we have to do the lifting for us, and thus movies like this one I’m reviewing are there to give access to the majesty of the theater.  Tonight, the legendary Cats is on the prowl, in hoping of raking in a few bucks despite the power house of Star Wars coming out.  Will it be a dance to success, or is it going to be a dying cat only capable of crying out for a few scraps of attention.  Robbie K here to give you some insight as I look at:


Movie:  Cats (2019)



Tom Hooper


T.S. Eliot (poetry collection “Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats”), Lee Hall (screenplay)


Taylor SwiftFrancesca HaywardIdris Elba





  • The Setting
  • The Design Of Each Cat (though odd)
  • Some Of The Song And Dance Numbers
  • The Pace




  • Limited Story
  • Some Song and Dance Numbers
  • The Fake look sometimes
  • Not utilizing the Cast Well
  • Not Taking The Creative Liberties When They should have
  • Just Limited Over All



As stated earlier, the theater is able to bring out some truly wonderous things with the limited technologies they have compared to CGI computer animation.  The movies accomplished those limitations by helping turn the limited set into a magical paradise of alley cat wonder.  Kitchens, alleys, bedroom, and more are all magnified to new proportions, giving us the perspective of the cat and adding sort of an obstacle to it as well.  This new playground offers avenues for unique dancing, creative colors that blend well with the cats design, and keep to the realistic world the play painted so long ago.  As for the cats themselves, the world of animal meeting human takes a new realistic sheen in the movements of tails, ears, and paint, really capitalizing on the mannerisms that the actors are asked to do.  Those realistic movements, along with the fur that surrounds them really gives a sheen to the actors and helps keep up with the performances.

Speaking of performances, the true spectacle of the movie comes from the performance factors that the stage show is always known for.  With the impressive visuals, the performances sort of explode on stage, new choreography mixing with old to unleash the true amazingness that the art of dance brings.  Old styles like ballet, classical dance, and tap dancing will captivate the classic fans, while the new styles of hip hop, break dancing, and other styles add a modern pizazz to them.  All the style mix well, and the giant dance number in the middle proves this the best, taking place just before my favorite number of the alley cat who tap dances.  Those who are big on giant musicals, and like the modern retake on it are going to find this as the selling point for the movie, especially given the pace most of these numbers bring to the movie, which is another positive given some of the limitations.


Yet the movie’s theatrics can only carry it so far in the grand scheme of movie comparison for this reviewer.  First off, the limited story.  I know, it is Cats a play all about introductions that was derived from a poetry book. Despite this though, the movie could have expanded upon the story, taken some creative liberties, and helped diversify this film from the play and give it that movie spin, (potentially this was to appease fans).  While not the movie’s fault, there are some numbers where the modern twist did not improve upon, and these numbers were a little boring for this reviewer, but again they at least keep these numbers in tune with the original so I can’t really dock too many points for this.  Instead, a more valid point could be some of the details that they did not buff out in the transition from humans to cats.  The CGI work is impressive, but I’ll admit that the faces for most of the cast still look a little fake. I would have liked some make up and prosthetics to help with the blending and correct this, for the stage make up I think still reigns supreme in this contest and should not have cost too much to add on in the grand scheme of the budget.  As for the cast, there are a lot of stars that came to perform and to be honest… I don’t think they utilized them well at all.  The film had only a handful of cats running the show from scene to scene, and all the big names had their numbers and dropped to the background.  I know, again they are keeping in time with the play, but in the regards for the cast of this movie, the price tags that came should have been expanding upon and utilize these big stores to the max.  That is where I believe the limitation of this movie really lies, not maximizing on the potential they could have taken to expand the story.  While I appreciate loyalty to the fans, a film version of this could have taken some liberties to expand the story, integrate the characters more, and even add some new formulations to make this movie shine (like Disney has done with most of the live action remakes).  Instead, the traditional approach has left this movie feeling very plain, one dimensional, and kind of boring in the grand scheme.  Given the potential they had going, that might have been the biggest let down.


The  Verdict:

            Cats is what you expect from the trailers, a big musical number that is all about dancing and soundtracks and little of anything else.  The technology prowess reigns supreme in bringing the world and visuals to life, and many of the new twists to the songs give it a breath of fresh air to liven things up.  Yet, this face paced dance flick just really does not deliver on many things outside of the lavish numbers.  Rather than taking some liberties to expand the story and use of the characters, the movie sticks a little too close to the traditional roots, leaving it very simple and kind of dull in the grand scheme of things.  If you are looking to experience the show for the first time, this could be a decent substitute, but for those in love of the plays or looking for a musical with more sustenance, heart, and coordination, well you should go in with lower expectations.  As such, I’m mixed in terms of telling you if worth a theater visit, but for the stage show, effects, and visual numbers the theater will assist, but for everything else, watch this one at home instead.   Due to the missed potential this movie could have done, I’ll give this film a: 

My Scores are

Comedy/Drama/Family:  5.0

Movie Overall:  4.0

Is This Fire Burning In The Right Way?

Playing with Fire Poster


In the age of modern movie goers, no idea is to silly, wacky, or ridiculous to warrant a trial on the big or small screen.  With celebrities jumping all over the place, one never knows what role they will dive into next.  Today, one of the popular stars and master of theatrics (at least in terms of sporting events) is diving back into the kiddy pool in hopes to bring an early season comedy.  Can Mr.  John Cena  make the latest kid flick be awesome or is it going to be lost to the cascade of cinema pieces this weekend. Robbie K back in for another review as we check out.


Movie: Playing With Fire (2019)



Andy Fickman


Dan EwenMatt Lieberman


Judy GreerKeegan-Michael KeyJohn Cena




  • Funny
  • Fast Paced
  • Good Writing
  • Lots of Comedy Styles
  • Cute/Adorable
  • Touching




  • Predictable
  • Seems A Bit Rushed
  • Imbalance Of Styles
  • The Trailers Have Touched A Lot




Playing with fire brings the heat in terms of just being a fun, family geared movie that is charming on many levels.  The funny nature of the film is not the most original, but brings a happy energy to the theater and makes it enjoyable to watch.  Throw in lots of comedy styles like slapstick, misquotes, and bathroom humor, well you get a concoction that is going to entertain the young and young at heart.  Fortunately for those with short attention spans, the film does not smolder too long, but rather unleashes the torrent in a fast-paced tale that should keep most engaged in the short run time, so again great for the kids.  While not the most unique writing, this reviewer enjoyed the writing of this family film and felt that it balanced cute and touching moments in that same wrapping that is shiny to watch.  Playing With Fire is going to burn its way to the heart of many, utilizing those perfect angles, piano lead songs, and cliché writing to really warm the core of its viewers.  Is it cheesy?  Absolutely!  Yet, it works when looking at the cute package the film as a whole is.


Despite all this though, here are some of the things I usually dock in terms of points.  One, the movie is predictable, which I’m guessing most of you predicted.  Playing With Fire is not really into pulling punches, and from start to finish you know where the film is heading, with my only hopes of a comedic joke sending me crunched over laughing so hard.  As I said earlier, the film moves at a brisk pace, which while entertaining also cost the movie some time on telling a fleshed-out story.  Cena and squad’s stories could have had a lot more time to push characters further, give them some layers, and still mix with the cute atmosphere.  I think it’s going to appease most audience members, but given that other kids movies have found the balance of pace and telling, I feel this movie could have tried a little harder.  Something else imbalanced is the styles of comedy, or perhaps more so the audience this movie will appeal to.  Playing With Fire is all about families with young kids, so don’t expect those looking for a raunchy comedy or clever comedy to potentially love this film.  Finally, the biggest thing I’m always worried about is trailers ruining a movie, and Playing With Fire has burned the avenue down with how much has been shown in the numerous trailers.  If you’ve seen the trailers repetitively, as I have, then you’ll have many of the funny moments and story elements ingrained in your brain, which means less bang for the buck and even fewer surprises in this already surprise limited movie.




            If you’ve seen the trailers, you can pretty much expect what the trailers promised for this film.  Playing With Fire is all about being a cute, straightforward film that will tickle the fancy of the young and young at heart.  Within its family friendly environment comes writing that feels like a 90s sitcom/drama, filled with diverse comedy styles and touching moments to get the warmth of the holidays in. While this is all expected though, for movie scoring it would have been nice if the film could have burst out of the straight track and twisted into something better.  It’s predictably and rushed storytelling sort of cheated me out of a complete picture, while the lack of more adult based humor will potentially bore others who have outgrown the family friendly humor.  Finally, the fact this movie falls victim to trailer syndrome will further dilute the experience.  This film is worth a trip for the families, but in terms of special effects and overall picture, this could have done well on straight to cable release. 


My scores are:


Comedy/Family:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Don’t Ruin My Movie! Is Maleficent’s Next Spell Worth Falling Under?

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Poster


This weekend seems to be the one for sequels, as two big hits come out this weekend in hopes of making off with a lot of cash this Halloween season.  Tonight we start this review with none other than a big Disney smash that is hoping to cast a magical spell on us.  The first of the new age live actions, tonight’s sequel is following up with perhaps my favorite of the studio’s reimaginations of beloved classics.  Yet, can the vile dark fairy accomplish the task of charming us once more, or have we fallen into the moors of crappy sequel.  Robbie K here to cast his thoughts on:


Film: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)



Joachim Rønning


Micah Fitzerman-Blue (screenplay by), Noah Harpster (screenplay by)


Angelina JolieElle FanningHarris Dickinson




  • World Building
  • Animation
  • Designs
  • Costumes
  • Musical Score
  • Story Continuation
  • Darker Elements Integrated yet controlled
  • Angelina Jolie




  • Predictable
  • Contained at the Wrong Parts
  • Under Utilized Characters
  • The Twist
  • The Final Battle




Say what you want about the politics of the studio, but Disney certainly knows how to make their imagination come to life.  Maleficent 2 is a beautiful display of the power of their animation studios making the fantasy world of Sleeping Beauty shine in all its magical splendor.  While last time accomplished this task, part two manages to expand upon the inner dwelling of Aurora’s world and bring new attitude to the mix, impressing those who love to see fake worlds become reality.  The animation of all the creatures, alongside their designs, are something best captured in comic book form, and yet blend well into the dark dizzy dreams of the dark fairy.  All the creatures you love are back, with a few more to take their place as all of the worlds magic begins to unfold in a new light.  For those not requiring full on CGI, their costumes are nice to look at too, not quite as stupendous, but certainly elegant and fitting of the world.  Okay, past the visuals, Maleficent’s sound and musical elements really pack the punch in terms of adding to a scene as blaring orchestras drive a thunderous boom into the theater only to give way to the sad soliloquies of more somber moments.  It really adds to every sequence and gave me goosebumps at times.  When it comes to the story, again the movie succeeds, managing to continue five years from last time to explain the age gaps and offer a reminder of the events that transpired.  Maleficent’s tale then further expands, pushing all characters to new levels, but never dropping their core foundations for sudden changes.  It works and shows character development is not dead, not only for the dark fae herself, but for just about every character in the cadre as well.  An added bonus is the darker themes of the tale.  We know Maleficent’s tale is not the lightest one in the bunch, but Disney accomplishes the balance in this film bringing looming threats without dropping into nightmare territories.  I can’t say much more to avoid spoiling, but let’s just say the added edge of bad outcomes makes this movie more suspenseful.  Hands down though the centerpiece to this movie is Jolie herself.  She seems born for this part, mastering look, attitude, and delivery in this character whose spectrum expanded past the usual scale.  Jolie’s beauty is utilized well to bring new style to the dark queen, but never exploited or too focused to take away from her acting.  Bravo Angelina, Bravo!


For all its worth though, Disney is still not able to trick me much or throw too many curveballs to shake it up.  Maleficent 2 is certainly a rather linear tale, whose predictable nature is only overshadowed by the some hasty development of other character and containing the movie too much at the wrong parts.  This is especially true for several henchman, and even the prince himself, who have enough bang to their roles, but not quite utilized to the fullest potential that they could have done.  While certainly not the worst drop of characters I’ve seen, the movie could have scored more points for mixing these secondary characters into the brew to add their own glow.  Past that though, the twist they got me on was okay, it’s utilized well to allow for other plot devices, but it also kind of does not fit into the lore for me given the hasty explanation.  More time, or perhaps a book, will explain this connection, but I can’t say I was impressed with the turn.  Finally, the final battle.  Truth is, it is a fine spectacle of technology, integrates many characters well, and more importantly is an awesome display of action-based story telling.  However, it missed the mark on suspenseful battling because of the one-sided approached they took.  I can’t say much, but despite the battle having fine length, it was the biggest containment I had issues with and I would have liked to see more battle involvement, despite the added violence it might have brought.  This could have been the perfect climax for me had they done so.




            Sequels are hard to make worthwhile, but I feel Disney corrected the mistakes from the other live action and delivered a fantastic addition to the Maleficent world.  Maleficent 2 accomplishes the storytelling aspect quite well, expanding upon its characters and adding darker elements that give this movie more bit and suspense.  Throw in beautiful world building and I can only say I was further impressed by what they brought to the big screen.  However, the movie did not unleash the full might of the magic spell they can, still suffering from predictability and containment to keep it kid friendly.  A little more expansion on battles, characters, and even the twist and this movie would have been another top sequel of mine.  Still, there is enough bang for buck to catch this in theaters, though I will exercise slight caution in taking children who scare easily, they might get spooked. 


My scores are:


Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Joining the Family For Toned Down, Cute Fun

The Addams Family Poster


They’re Creepy And There Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky, They’re altogether Ookie, the Addams Family!  It’s a series that has had multiple face lifts, unafraid to push the weirdness into different decades and media to bring creator Charles Addams’ vision to life.  Despite the quirky band of ghouls and creatures making their mark on various generations, it has been left in the vault to collect the dust and cobwebs they love, mainly staking a claim on 31 night of Halloween on freeform.  Still, this legendary flick is ready to try a step into the modern audience and perhaps get some new blood in this undead franchise.  Will it work?  As always I’m happy to give my thoughts as we dive into reviewing:




Film:  The Addams Family (2019)



Greg TiernanConrad Vernon


Matt Lieberman (screenplay by), Charles Addams (based on characters created by)



Oscar IsaacCharlize TheronChloë Grace Moretz



  • Animation/Design
  • Nostalgic
  • Cute
  • Chuckle Fest
  • Good Voice Acting
  • Morals Baked Right In
  • Kids Movie Dream


  • A Little Contained
  • Semi Preachy
  • Missed Characters
  • Very Simplistic Story
  • Missing the Semi-Disturbed approach this series is famous for




I always love animation movies to see the interpretation of art and imagination in the way they create their character.  This film manages to put the unique spin on the characters, while maintaining the same charm of the characters we have always known.  It’s a style that is very welcoming to the younger audience, while still pleasing older fans.  This cute approach holds a lot of punch and the toned-down jokes, slapstick humor, and simpler writing are key choices for the key demographic audience.  Yet, it does not dilute the nostalgia you will fell when watching.  While knowing the history makes it more enjoyable, it’s not needed, but older fans will love catching references to the classic antics as I did, all while chuckling at the newness of this film.  The new voice acting works for me, primarily Ms. Theron and Mr. Isaac being my favorites as they capture the ambience of their grandiose counterparts.  They deliver the usual vocal patterns of the group, and while not a perfect match, certainly bring the atmosphere of those characters from long ago and still maximize the laughs (the latter being Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester).  Nevertheless, the morals are baked right into this film to instill some important examples for the audience and base the story on, leading to yet another movie dream for adolescents around the room.


Yet, my fellow reviewers have valid points that may not be the best match for the audience members.  For one thing the movie is a little contained compared to the empire that Disney has builtIt’s missing the excitement and the detailed plots that Disney has made famous in their works with Pixar and Animation studios.  A little too cartoony, and preachy moral driven, the movie again falls towards the kid spectrum which is going to make it sheltered and potentially boring for some viewers.  One part of this limitation is because the story is so simplified, again diluted to the kids perspective to not be too traumatizing for today’s raising kid approach.  In addition, there are plenty of characters that they introduced and then did very little with from the rival cheerleader who has so much that needs to happen to her, to the loveable Cousin It who is a personal favorite.  Maybe a potential sequel will open that can of worms, but for this one, huge missed opportunities to bring out a few character developing potential and good fashioned fun.  Yet the main thing I think will disappoint people comes in the form of how the disturbing elements have been curtailed.  If you go back and watch the cartoons from the 90s or the movies on Freeform, you’ll know there is that darker side that gets people hooked on this family.  This version had that somewhat, but really toned things down for the animated realm, leading to the lackluster presentation of the themes.  Had this been added into the theme, you might have made a more engaging tale. 




            The Addams Family 2019 version is a great display of the variability of interpretation and it works well for a family film for the modern audience.  A cute theme is the element of this movie, with nonthreatening animation/design to herald the fun chuckle fest that the dialogue and film are about.  It’s got appropriate voice acting, a nice sense of comedy that makes the world fun, nostalgia that is not overwhelming, and morals baked right in to get the message of acceptance out in the world.  Yet, the containment that they took steals away the intensity, edge, and energy that this series is famous for.  It’s meant to be quirky and slightly disturbing and that element missing, alongside some dropped story elements may not impress the classic fans like they are hoping.  While this movie probably would have been better released on nickelodeon or a fan service, it’s got enough elements for a family outing, but hold this one for the home viewing for your maximum buck. 


My scores are:


Animation/Comedy/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Was Not Angry With This Sequel

The Angry Birds Movie 2 Poster


Sequels to animated films are seldom as good as the first movie.  Many times the story was not needed, or the masterpiece is diluted for a gimmick that just doesn’t work.  Fortunately, there are some that have paved the way for the potential to add to the story, continuing the world we love, but at the same time making a movie stand on its own.  Tonight, Sony Pictures continues to try the luck with their surprise success of Angry Birds and see if they can get another round of bills to line the pockets.  And for reviewers like me, we are back in the trenches to see how it fairs and do our best to highlight the observations. So let’s get in there and review once more as I take o:


Movie: Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)


Thurop Van Orman


Peter Ackerman (screenplay by), Eyal Podell


Jason SudeikisJosh GadLeslie Jones




Voice Acting



Stories Intertwining

Good Morals


Good Use of Characters





A Little too political at times

Not Quite As Unique

A Little Too simplified

Trailers Ruined Much



  Like the first film, the movie’s cast really shines taking the pun filled writing, simplistic dialogue, and joke filled lines and making it work.  Sudeikis as Red is still the sarcastic champion we loved, Josh Gad comes back in all his adorable energy and opera like singing, and Danny McBride is still the same loud, gruff voice that often fools people into thinking he is Seth Rogen. But the new gang to join adds their own spice to the feathery/leathery cast.  Jones has got her usual energetic motions, Sterling K brown is posh and yet funny, and Awkwafina is the same carefree slacker that somehow works in a variety of settings.  It’s an awesome blend of talent that manages to add some dynamic flow to bring the characters to life.  Past the acting, the story is along the same lines as the last one, a very fun, straightforward adventures with a few good moral lessons baked in to give it another layer.  Taking two stories to try the break up the linearity, the movie should move enough to keep everyone’s attentions, all while jamming in enough fun and laughter to have you rolling in the seats.  Yes, like the first installment the film is all about captivating on the cuteness and jokes to get its gimmicks out and enjoyment.  Yet, the smartest component for me, is that the movie manages to utilize most of its characters very well.  Red and the squad still get adequate screen time despite how many characters they introduced.  And the new characters still get used well, allowing for maximum merchandising.

  In regards to some areas of improvements for me, well it starts with the predictability of the film.  The movie suffers from the simplicity they strived for, not doing well with pushing the boundaries of unique or creativity.  Sure, the app to movie transition gets props, but unlike the Disney and DreamWorks group, they have not quite adapted well in the earth-shattering stories or worlds that the bigger studios dream up.  Instead, the movie tries to push a few political boundaries, which is a noble challenge, but got a little too extreme for this reviewer as the various movements we hear about get their own skin in this movie. It still fits well, but it just wasn’t necessary and I would have liked to see the energy transferred into the creativity mode instead.  Yet, the biggest area that I did not enjoy was how much the trailers ruined the film for me.  Many parts have been not only revealed, but smeared in your face with the multiple airings. While still funny, I think there could have been a lot of surprise and kick to it had it not been so advertised. As such, if you and your kids have seen most of the trailers, you have seen much of the movie as there is not quite as much runtime as I had expected.




            The movie is a decent follow up to a movie that was surprisingly deep and fun.  It still has the same colorful energy, fun atmosphere and voice acting that just capitalizes on the silliness to be had.  The story, while layered, still is simple for most to follow and the characters are utilized beautifully for all fans to enjoy and get the most out of the characters in this world.  Yet, Angry Birds Universe is still a shell of some of the worlds built in the animation land, and struggles to break the creative barrier and expand upon its world. It’s a little too simple in terms of movie overall, and thanks to the trailer ruining much, the film holds little in coming to the theater outside of seeing the predictable ending.  Still, it’s a fun adventure to behold this weekend with your little tykes and smile wide at their delight in the film.  Otherwise, hold out for the home release my friends. 



My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5