The Story Is Big On This One

Star Wars 8

 

Well it’s finally here!  The epic movie that television has bombarded us with for the last three months has finally appeared from light speed to grace us with another epic installment, or so we hope.  Episode 8 has held the promise of the return of story telling, matching the epic lore of the originals told to hopefully breathe life in a series that has struggled.  Rumors even say it surpasses Empire Strikes Back, the movie that holds the throne of Star Wars quality.  Can this be true?  Has the Force grown strong once more?  Robbie K here to shed light on the rumors and hopefully provide some wisdom.  Get Started, Let’s!

 

LIKES:

 

The Cinematography:  My wise friends stated right off that this movie may be the best filmed of the bunch.  The Last Jedi is a beautiful example of camera work meeting state of the art technology, helping bring the world to life with spectacular visuals.  The various angles keep you engrossed in all the details, and paints a very dynamic battleground to which our cast fights in.  And unlike episode 7, the sound score is back to Williams’ creative work, a blend of old and new that fits into the scene and adds the life to an already vibrant setting.

 

The Acting:  A large cast of characters, requires acting to bring them to life, and the Last Jedi has recruited a phenomenal crew to accomplish this goal.  I can’t go into great details, but here we go.  Mark Hamill brings the fire back into Luke Skywalker with both classic and old Luke style clashing into a complex character. Daisy Ridley takes the simplistic Rey from last time and unleashes her character in full “force” expanding her into a fantastic character that is full of spunk.  Carrie Fisher another victory when on screen, that has the vim and vigor of the wizened princess we loved.  Newcomers Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran were welcomed additions to the cast.  Dern’s chameleon like abilities continue to craft respectable and honorable characters that fit well in Leia’s legacy, with a nice edge to keep things tense.  Tran on the other hand is the hopeful character, that has nice delivery of inspirational dialogue, with a dab of rebellion on the side.  Everyone worked quite well and I wish I had more time to compliment everyone, but trust me it’s good.

 

The Comedy:  A nice quality to have, the comedy in this movie is a nice relief to the darker atmosphere on this side of the galaxy.  The Last Jedi’s writing is a combination of good timing and wit, that beats in time with all the characters.  The ever changing ploys also keeps things fun to watch and had my mentor and I guffawing through much of the movie.

 

The Storytelling:  Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Last Jedi is the presentation in terms of plot in this movie.  Director Rian Johnson dug deep into the lore and ignited it in full form in installment eight, bringing with it rich details that answered much of our questions.  Much of the tale is character development, pushing them hard to expand upon their hastened roles of seven into more complete soldiers to partake this journey with.  The three tales were balanced quite well, spaced out to keep things relevant and each connecting to the big plot as a whole, much like the classic tales were in. These tales are not only adventurous, but filled with strong lessons that this series is famous for preaching.  And yet the biggest part of this I like are the twists integrated in this film.  Many surprises lie in store for this movie, and many of them fit nicely to take the story deeper down the dark hole.  These surprises are perhaps the most engaging parts of the movie, the likes of which weren’t expected much like Empire.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Salvaged Plots:  Despite the strengths I have mentioned in the plot, this modern trilogy still has issues with being too close to the classic series.  A blend of episodes five and six, much of this film is a retelling of those classic arcs that is a little disappointing on their dependence to the old and not trying out new elements. At least it is executed, well right?

Unnecessary Tangent:  One of the story points almost didn’t feel needed, or at least one section of the tangent wasn’t that big of a hit for me.  The world of Canto Bight makes statements, has a connecting point, and a memorable scene, but this small adventure felt out of place in the grand design.  It will bring merchandise opportunities, one of which is a book, but this world didn’t hold much value to me outside of a few laughs and some cool beasts.  Perhaps a little more struggle, or intensity could have redeemed it for me, though it still isn’t too bad for me.

 

Suspension of reality:  I get it, it’s Star Wars and that is Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Still, there has to be some consistency in regards to how you are going to ignore the physics of real life and the lore that came before.  There are moments you will roll your eyes at in terms of the inabilities of the technology, or how uneven the skills seem to develop.  While we could ignore these if they were minor, the movie’s key situation relied on this suspension and it was a little too big of a stretch for me.

 

The Action:  Star Wars is a series that relies on action to pick things up and make add the fire that makes the story shine like the stars.  With a rather intense start, Last Jedi had potential, but soon that potential was lost to the void.  Much of this movie is dialogue, development, and connections, and with it one of the slower paces of the series.  Yes, there were a few moments to help pick up the pace, but much of this was short lives or lacking that laser packing punch I loved in the first installments.  Say what you want about the prequels, but they had some incredible fight scenes that livened things up and the Last Jedi really needed this element for me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Last Jedi is indeed proof that the universe still has life left in the void of the galaxy Lucas created.  It’s got emotion! It’s got character development!  It’s got twists!  All of this is important in developing characters and making them fly off the screen.  Throw in great acting and beautiful cinematography and you have a really, well done film.  Yet, this generation still is not escaping the salvaging of the classic plot points, while their unique aspects need a little tweaking in terms of relevance.  However, the biggest improvement has got to be the action, working to bring the ship to ship combat back to full strength, and really getting those lightsaber battles back up to snuff.  Still, it’s a fantastic film to catch in theaters and definitely a worthy installment to Lucas’s world.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

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Super Cast Brings Justice To This Franchise:

Justice League

 

What!?  Another super hero movie back in the theaters when we just had Thor?  Competition in the industries leads to many hasty decisions and this one was all about competing with Disney to bring in revenue and stop the juggernaut from ruling the theaters.  DC’s answer to the Marvel success, whipping out Justice League to smash the box office in what is hope to be a redeeming film.  Will this culmination bring us the film we’ve been dreaming of from the DC universe, or will it be another pale attempt to copy Marvel!  Robbie K back to bring you yet another review on the silver screen saga.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Casting:  A movie relies heavily on a cast, especially finding those worthy of holding the mantle of our iconic heroes.  Justice League’s director gets an A+ from me for the cavalcade of talent crammed into the new super team.  While Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are still not the best fillers for their roles compared to others, they did well in their involvement in the film to warrant applause.  Gal Gadot reprises her role fantastically, bringing everything we loved in her stand-alone film and delivering it in spades to this installment in looks, demeanor, and kick butt fighting.  However the highlights are Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller.  Fisher has the chip on his shoulder, passively destructive role down pat, showing the struggles of new power.  Momoa has that brashness/arrogance of a rogue who feels he is above the rules, who soon begins to understand the limits of the lone wolf.  However, Miller was spot on for the role of The Flash, capturing all the charisma, comedy, and nerdism I’ve enjoyed with the modern telling of the fast hero.  The cast works so well together, bringing the roles to life in a very entertaining manner that feels like the League of the past on Cartoon Network.

 

The Comedy:  The hero movies are starting to shift from adventure to comedy genre for me, and Justice League took a major turn down this avenue.  Much of the writing is well-timed, comedic goal, utilizing well-timed cursing, witty sarcasm, and a sharp edge banter that many love, especially when the characters fence with their insults. Of course, the Flash, has a major hand in the laughs, his geeky, naïve admiration of the heroes laying the groundwork for other comedic devices that involve both physical and mental qualities, seriously his face is hilarious.  With this comedy laid out throughout the movie, one will find it hard not to chuckle quite a few times in the movie.

 

The Action:  If you’ve read my reviews on previous DC movies, you know that the action is often weak for me when comparing to Marvel’s masterpieces.  Happily, the comic book battles that hooked us from the comics have finally started arriving.  Justice League, much like Thor, have a number of exciting moments that act as stepping stones to the excitement at hand.  Much of these brief stints are more entertaining than some of Marvel’s skirmishes, able to grab the serious tone of DC and deliver a darker fight to ensnare us.  The semi-diverse fights bring out the technology bangs, and really deliver an action-packed punch that much of this universe has lacked. Finally, this studio is getting things right.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Shallow Story/Characters:  There is a reason Marvel divided their universe into multiple, single character focused stories, in that it builds up the characters for one to latch onto.  With their failing enterprise, DC skipped a lot of steps to go directly to the group movie and as a result the character development is lacking.  Enough ground work has been laid to get the gist, but Justice League has too many story elements in it to give that satisfying feeling of accomplished storytelling.  With little mystery, buildup, and sometimes even challenge, this film’s adventure is a little rushed for this reviewer, culminating into a rather bleak, predictable mess.

 

Snyder-Vision:  The slow moving special effects were great so long ago, and still have an emotional bite to them that really maximizes the kill.  Yet Snyder can’t seem to listen to the audience members/critics, or is rebelling because he won’t stop overusing it.  Justice League continues the trend of utilizing the tactic for nearly every exciting scene, sometimes in good taste, and often in more egotistical, eye-rolling displays of drawn out cinema.  Hope you like seeing every detail at half speed, because you are going to have your fill.

 

The final battle:  After all the preparation, all the little battles to tease you, one hopes for that defining climax that really puts the battle over the top.  Justice League dropped the ball on this for me, not in terms of being lame (like Suicide Squad), but instead not being much different from the trailers.  This final battle has had much spoiled in the advertising, and rather than building upon it, like the Avengers, the movie held little flare outside of the battle with the Steppenwolf. That gigantic army you saw in the trailers… doesn’t really do much, which was so disappointing with all the hype they placed.  It was a good start DC, now finish with that bang we all want to see.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

If you read other reviews, you’ll see this movie was panned, but this critic found much to enjoy in this movie.  It’s fun, funny, and a rather good introduction to future team movies with an incredible cast to boot.  Sure, it still has some rough story patches, and they haven’t quite understood the execution of a good finale (or the balanced use of slow-motion).  Still, it’s the best movie of the DC universe for me overall, and a good comic book movie to boot.  Naturally, I’ll recommend this for the theater, and implore you to enjoy the comedic ride and chaotic action at hand in what will hope be a starting point to the next wave of DC movies. 

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

I Wish For Better Execution

Wish

 

I wish I may, I wish I might, make a demand that might cost someone’s life?  That’s not the way the rhyme goes, but this parody is pretty representative of the theme of my latest review.  Robbie K here, this time covering Wish Upon the latest horror genre flick to flood the silver screens across the country.  The “disturbing” trailers paint the picture of the next spine tingling film, but the PG-13 rating suggests it could be a little timid.  What’s the verdict?  Hopefully I can fill in some answers to help answer that question. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Shorter Run Time:  I know what you’re thinking, not good if this is a like, but it’s nice to see a movie stick around the 90-minute run time when there isn’t sustenance to keep it running longer.  Wish Upon fills its short run-time purpose with the thrills you want, and keeps it concise, a sign of good directing and editing in an era what that so suffers.

 

Joey King: Singling out the actors in this rather new actor cast, Joey King reprises her horror acting in a “two thumbs up” manner.  King plays the role of a distressed teenager with class, bringing a delicate balance of drama, screaming, and shallow happiness to the character.  In many PG-13 or teenager focused films, the lead character often suffers from overacting or extreme tangents in directing.  For me, King was able to keep things in good proportions and didn’t have me rolling my eyes (a first in a long time.) While certainly not an award-winning performance, King gets props for carrying the load of the movie.

 

A Nice tangent:  Despite the common trend of demons, spirits, and ghosts… Wish Upon at least brings a slight twist to the themes of horror movies. The wishing factor is a nice gimmick to get sold onto and see what desires will tempt her to risk lives.  It set a nice pace for the movie to build upon, and made it a little dynamic in regards to whom would pay the blood price for Clare’s (King) decisions and selfishness. The wish factor also presented some character development, shallower but existing, that really worked in their favor.

 

Not overly graphic:  A PG-13 horror movie is often a lot lax in their grim depictions of death.  Wish Upon continues that trend, forgoing gross, exaggerated, drawn out torturous deaths in favor of ridiculous, and still horrible, deaths that are quickly executed. One can think of this as Final Destination meets Unfriended, which boils down to coincidental deaths with a filter.  Unfortunately, it means you have seen a majority of the executions via the commercials, but you will get a few sequences that have escaped the public eye up until now.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Very simplistic:  Despite the deaths being filtered and less intense, they were also very simplistic and not as impressive.  Yes, they were still awful (as death is), but the hype up of the trailers was sadly dropped with the simplicity of the deaths.  There was no extra edge factor to them, and the lack of suspense, which left the ridiculous nature of the deaths the eye-rolling component of the film.  If you want the mindless, over the top deaths without the blood… well your wish has been granted I guess.

Story:  Wish Upon’s tale has some decent character development in it to highlight the underlying theme of the horror movie.  It was great seeing Clare’s transitions and her attempt to find the solution to the curse kept in the box. However, outside of that, the story tanks.  It’s the same predictable mess that most of this genre is, with little sustenance so that they could cram more deaths into the movie.  The cool wish concept brought about a lot of potential to interact with the entity, as well as opportunities for a more suspenseful uncovering of the source of the evil.  I would have liked to see what the creature looked like, or at least more interaction with the invisible evil that dwelled within.  Other plot elements could have been a little more detailed in the delivery as well, to add the emotional impact I think they wanted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wish Upon isn’t the worst movie to grace the theaters.  This PG-13 movie brings a unique angle to a stale concept that is concise, decently acted, and not overly graphic. Unfortunately, the execution is still in need of work on a variety of areas.  A lackluster story that was underdeveloped and the lack of suspense are two key areas the potential sequel can bring to the table.  As for this film though, if you aren’t looking for a filtered death movie, you might skip this until haunts Netflix.  For those looking for a simplistic horror film though… you’ve got a ringer in the theaters this summer.  One thing is certain though…be careful what you wish for.

 

My scores:

 

Fantasy/Horror/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0

Mum’s the Word: 60s story with 2000s Style

Mummy

 

Monster movies, an epic genre that at one time scared the pants off many before you know… things got out of hand with modern cinema. Legendary creatures like the Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein filled the theater with actors decorated in epic make-up with often beautiful costars to face their “terror.” The stories they told remain timeless, but sadly the graphics are a little outdated for most modern movie-goers… until now.  This evening my buddy and I hit the theaters for a retelling of a classic tale in hopes of sparking a new trend to get us hooked on and make money.  As you can read, my review is on the Mummy tonight starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. Will it be a success, or are we cursed to another mediocre film?  Let’s find out.

 

LIKES:

 

True Monster Movie:  Where most creature films have been turned into gore-tastic bouts of killing, the Mummy returns to the roots of monster movie story telling.  A creature starts to rise to power and it is up to the group to uncover the mystery of how to stop it.  The Mummy focuses on the story telling dynamic, bringing character development, background information, and a dynamic tale that revives the classic genre. Even better is how the movie focuses on the story of this film, instead of building up for an inevitable sequel, something that is rare given the franchise aspect of Hollywood.  The result is a stronger story that is a little more captivating.

 

Comedic relief: Much like the 2000 series, this rendition brings some comedic magic to the desolate desert scenery.  The writing in particular is funny, with well-timed quips that range from simplistic insults and banter to clever puns that are more precious than the treasure under the sand.  Cruise and Wallis work well together with a chemistry that feels like rivals/love interests, and each delivers their humor in their own style that works. However, I laughed the hardest at Jake Johnson whose energetic and erratic style is reminiscent of a giant man child trying to face the curse.  The dynamic style keeps the laughs coming, but doesn’t get overused as we often see.

 

Impressive graphics/action:  While the Mummy certainly takes the story of the 1960’s monster franchise, its graphic presentation is clearly that of the more modern series. Nostalgia runs thick at the various curses our female monster throws including swarming birds, flesh contorting strikes, and yes, face in perilous sand.  The old tricks have never looked better and the technological feats are beautifully integrated into a smooth performance that is somewhat exciting. And speaking of the excitement, the action of the Mummy provides a faster pace than the classics, moving at breakneck speed and loaded with spectacular pyrotechnics.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Out of Place Components: The Mummy does well on the story aspect, but there are parts that felt out of place.  Certain qualities of the film curtail to setting up for the next movie of the franchise (yes, Universal is planning to revive the classics).  These moments are a change of pace (good), but divert a little too much from the path into the cheesy, overdramatic styles that we sometimes see.  I’ll agree that they are impressive displays of technology, but this just proves that not everything has to be covered in movies (hence sequels).

 

Action:  I said the action kept the pace fast and the movie engaging, but the action still has some improvement for me to get the seal of approval from me.  It’s a lot of running, praise to Cruise’s fitness level. Unlike the predecessors in 2000, this Mummy as fewer bouts of gunplay or combat, much of the time the cast dropping their guns to run some more.  They tried to throw some brawls in the mix, but that didn’t work to well for me. I missed the dynamic sequences and thrills they brought, but hey it’s the first film of a long line and there is sure to be more stunts in the future…maybe.

 

Rushed tactics: The heading is tough, but there are some rushed components to this film that needed some fine tuning.  In many proceeding films, it takes time for the bandaged monstrosity to rise to power, requiring gradual offing of characters in suspenseful sequences.  This version was a little short sighted, reduced to a monotonous ploy that lacked little more than repetitive spasms of poor extras.  Many may like the spin on this movie, but this (among other ploys) felt a little underdeveloped and soon became stale to watch.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mummy is certainly not the movie I was expecting, and on many levels this is good.  While not the wild thrill ride from the 2000s, this spin brings the modern technology to the classic story, giving it a unique feel that was refreshing to see.  With comedic relief, decent acting, and impressive visuals, it has a number of qualities beckoning for a trip to theater. Yet, there are some editing limitations that need tightening up to make it flow better and the action component needed some sprucing up to further expand on the thrills.  All in all, a solid start to upcoming monster franchise, but there is work to be done in the future.

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

Wander Over To Wonder

Wonder Woman

 

It’s a brand-new month and you know what that means right?  Yes, another super hero movie to kick off the summer blockbuster season.  This time it isn’t Marvel cranking out the comic book, cinematic feature, but their rivals DC studios. With its recent shaky track record, the DC cinematic universe hasn’t gotten the best publicity in terms of quality. So, the studio has decided to get the leading lady herself to pave the way.  Yes, today’s review is on Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Can this movie break the bad luck streak of DC/WB studios?  Robbie K here to share some opinions on the matter, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES

 

  1. Gal Gadot is incredible and steals the show with her poise, pizazz, and acting talents. A fantastic casting direction that really brings the woman to wonder to life in beauty, ferocity, and bouts of heroism (a.k.a. kicking bad guy butt). Acting, stunts, and an on-point delivery of her lines makes this actress one of the tops in my book!

 

  1. The action is on point (for most of the movie) filled with impressive displays of weaponry, martial arts, and historical warfare. Wonder Woman’s battles held such emotion, managing to bring the suspense all while delivering that feel good, post battle high, you might have gotten from reading a comic book.  The team brings some fast-paced thrills we have wanted for almost a year and a half.

 

  1. A good representation for girls. I may have already said this, but this movie targets a wide variety of audience members in some form or manner.  Yet this reviewer has to give props for the design of a character that is certainly worthy of representing the female super heroes and inspiring the female population that they certainly can do anything.

 

  1. Comedic timing: It’s not going to be a super hero movie (at least in this day and age) without some laughs to break up the tension. Wonder Woman continues this trend, filling the void with well-timed one-liners, a few awkward encounters that often deal with sex, and some slap-stick gimmicks that do the job well.

 

  1. Character Development: I know most super hero movies have this element, but there is something about Wonder Woman that stood out to me. This film managed to spin Diana’s character development into a roller coaster ride of feelings that almost made me tear up. Her journey to discovering herself and her role into this new world was poetically portrayed, using multiple angles to get the job done.  It could have also been due to the powerful soundtrack, the visual effects, or maybe Gadot’s acting, but it really worked for me.

 

  1. Fast Pace: We all know those movies that drag (and yes, I’m talking much of DC’s library). Not the case for this film. The nearly 150-minute run time flew by for much of the movie having me at one point saying, “Dang, it’s already been 90 minutes.” Not something I often say.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Unoriginality: You’ll find that Wonder Woman shares a lot with Captain America: First Avenger. The set-up, setting, and build up almost matching outside of the weapon of choice and martial arts moves.  Certainly, not the biggest limitation, but something that others have been bothered by.

 

  1. Almost pointless crew: The crew that joins Diana held such promise in the picture, but it was dropped so hard in this movie. Outside of Chris Pine, the other members do little for the overall mission outside of a few throws, some “tracking” and mainly comedic relief. There were hints at character development and deeper dynamics, but they fizzled out faster than sparkler at 4th of July.  I know, this movie is about Wonder Woman, but why even include these guys if that was the goal.

 

  1. Preachy: Some reviews state the whole feminism/males are pigs is overdone, and to an extent I agree. Yet the bigger dislike was the preachy monologues that sometimes plagued this film. A few times the heat of the moment was lost in a display of self-reflection, which is great, but not in the midst of a battlefield. Some of these moments also had that eye-rolling factor for me.

 

  1. Overuse of CGI: I like special effects, I like stunts, but I don’t like overuse of a gimmick. The slow-motion interludes during the action scenes added some cool emphasis to Wonder Woman’s skills (alongside some cool finishing moves). Somewhere along the production, someone got a little trigger happy with the effect and used a little too much for me, and soon started disrupting the cool stunts they had Gal do. In addition, there were some special effects that were a bit cheesy and took the edge off of Wonder Woman. Learn from Michael Bay people, too much of special effects makes for many jokes.

 

  1. The ending: Don’t turn away, hear me out.  The ending is great on many levels (emotional, prowess, role model, and morals). However, it lost the momentum the first few fights had with them, trading suspense for flashy special effects, drawn out banter, and unimpressive choreography. Sort of felt like the ending to X-men apocalypse where the bad guys bark was worse than his bite.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wonder Woman delivers on many levels and breaks the mediocre displays that DC has cranked out over the last year.  It’s emotional, it’s dynamic, it’s fun, and it provides a solid role model for admirable heroes. I feel the movie met most of my expectations and I was happy with the overall product.  It’s far from perfect though, and still has a few things to tighten up (like developing other characters, balancing the CGI use, and keeping the momentum going). Still, I have to recommend this one for a theater visit, especially you comic lovers out there.

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Set Sails For Calmer Waters: Pirates 5 Drops The Sword For The Comedy Pen

Dead men

 

Avast ye scurvy scoundrels, it be Captain Robbie of the S.S. Review, sailing the seas of the cinema in search of the treasure known as a good movie.  Alas, this weekend Admiral Bruckheimer’s armada set out on a fifth voyage with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)

taking the wheel once more. Will this adventure be smooth sailing and reward us with a crown jewel, or will we be drowned in the sea of sorrow at another hand me down adventure? Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A pirate’s life for me, drink up me hardies, sit on your captain’s chair and read my thoughts on Pirates of The Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

 

LIKES:

  • Character Centered Story
  • Acting
  • Special effects
  • Soundtrack
  • Comedy

 

Summary: When it comes to the plot of these movies, one never knows if they’ll find gold or mere rocks. The fifth installment is fortunately back on the path to good storytelling, focusing on the characters instead of well… immortality. Among the number of scallywags, we get some background on about five of the cast, each with a unique angle to help them stand out.  While certainly not the best story, it is miles above the mess number four was.

The story is a nice component, but the acting is really the aspect that brings the pirate’s life to well…life.  Newcomers like Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario are a welcome addition that have spunk, class, and a number of other qualities that many will latch onto, (especially the cute factor) and they aren’t bad to look at either. Scaring is way into another antagonistic role, Javier Bardem brings his bag of tricks back to the screen, including the suave accent and cantor that oozes evil.  Of course the main two you are probably coming to see are Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp, the legendary captains we fell in love with in the first movie.  Rush is incredible, bringing the sea saltiness and arrogance that is the famous Captain of the Black Pearl.  Depp on the other hand is as enigmatic as ever, capturing the goofiness, lackadaisical attitude of Sparrow with a dash of heroic charm.  Together, the two actors lead not only the character development, but the comedy.  Yes Pirates 5 certainly has the laughs in spades, using every in their arsenal to get a chuckle.  I loved the clever word play, idiotic banter, and comedic timing in this movie, which helped relieve the darker aspects of the film.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a pirate’s movie without incredible special effects.  Yes Disney and Bruckheimer combined their studios to bring the magic back to the screen. Chaotic maelstroms expand across the vast screen, as ships sail across dead infested waters, firing explosive cannons at the specters that haunt the blue.  The journey is certainly beautifully illustrated in a mix of art and excitement, all under the unifying banner of the epic orchestra work we all have come to love.

 

DISLIKES

  • Still shallow story
  • Action scenes somewhat bland
  • Lack of suspense/Simplistic end
  • Worthless cameos

 

Summary:  Alas, despite the jewels that sparkle in the distance, the story still needs some work.  With five main stories, each a different motif to quest for the elusive item, the plot gets spread thin and deprived of real sustenance into the character’s history. Sure, one of the stories has more bite than the others, but this Pirates took a hit in the rich depth we have come to expect. Therefore, the bland characters were lacking at times and not as strong as I had hoped.

Even more bland are the action scenes that they tried to bring to the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautifully animated battlegrounds in the movie, it’s just that they lack the same sting I feel in love with.  Where were the epic sword fights between two swashbuckling men amidst dangerous landscapes? Where were the notorious ship to ship battles where a well-placed cannonball and evasive maneuver meant the difference between life and death? And where was the suspense and thrills that kept me on edge all those previous installments?  I’m not sure, but Pirates 5’s action scenes were malnourished forms of battle I loved, with many scenes reduced to pan over shots of extras fighting CGI enhanced ghosts. A few scenes were gaining the potential to be awesome, but comedic relief set in and reduced it to some quick ended scuffle that quickly turned to running.  Glad to know our pirates could have run track.

And finally, the cameos.  While certainly a great tool for nostalgia, most of the cameos were shallow shout outs to the characters we have wondered about.  It allows for some neat little tie ups at times, but these less than 5 minutes screen appearances were missed potential.  Only Paul McCartney, the legendary beetle, was able to pull off an appearance that was worthy of being included… well done Paul.

 

VERDICT:

 

Pirates 5 took a step in the right direction with its returned to character driven story, comedic style, and special effects that scream pirates. However, it still has room to improve to get back to the glory of the first film.  It’s unbalanced at placed, and lacks the excitement of the battles, or an exciting conclusion at all to wrap up the supposed final entry.  Seems they wanted more of a comedy than anything else, and one will certainly enjoy the laughs, and most likely the movie, if you go in for the comedy over everything else.  Worth a trip to theaters?  I’m sure you would still go regardless what I said, but the special effects are certainly worthy of the theater’s sound and video. Yet you could still hold off on this film and check it out at RedBox, because this finale sets up the series for yet another installment.  Finale chapter my butt!

 

Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Beast

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

 

LIKES:

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0