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)

Director:

 Kenneth Branagh

Writers:

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

Stars:

 Ferdia ShawLara McDonnellJosh Gad 

LIKES: 

Judy Dench

Josh Gad

Some of the Comedy

The Cinematography

Build For Family 

The Music

The World Building 

DISLIKES: 

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

SUMMARY: 

            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.  

The VERDICT: 

            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 

A Grimm Fate For A Grimm Tale?

Gretel & Hansel Poster

 

Fairy tales have been graced with magic to make them more appropriate for the young mind of other countries.  At their roots though, the Grimm fairy tales hold a heart of darkness that were meant to teach the lessons to the youth of the European natures.  Despite the disturbing tales we have seen today’s movies hold, the original stories are truly the nightmare inducing moments that can leave on scarred.  So with the gloves coming off in the modern-day cinema, let’s bring that horror to life and potentially twist even further.  Hi Robbie K here to bring about another movie review on the latest silver screen slayer.  Will this late month horror movie slay, or is it just another victim of the dumping grounds of January?  Let’s get reviewing:

 

Gretel and Hansel (2020)

 

Director:

Oz Perkins (as Osgood Perkins)

Writer:

Rob Hayes

Stars:

Sophia LillisAlice KrigeJessica De Gouw

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Acting
  • The Short Run Time
  • The Richer Dialogue (from one aspect)
  • The Beautiful Woman
  • The Look Aesthetic Of The Movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace
  • The Lack Of Character Development
  • The Lack Of Scares
  • Disgusting Imagery
  • The Dialogue
  • The Politics
  • The Whininess Of Hansel
  • The Almost Pointless Introduction Of Characters
  • The Story

 

Summary:

In horror there are many things needed for the execution of the chilling tale and in this case the acting is a big selling point for me.  Sophia’s role is a little twist on her It character, with same intensity and damage, but this time a little Older European and maturity that takes the lead on the new approach this tale takes. She’s strong and fierce, yet shows the scared vulnerability that a child role would and it is a staple to latch on to.  Then comes the wonder Alice Krige, whose adaptation into the deluded villain once more impresses me.  Sinister and yet innocent, powerful and yet sickly, and caring yet cold, she balances all these emotions and succeeds in crafting a creepy character.  Though you know what she represents, the acting always left me with that slight hope something will go differently.  The two have wonderful chemistry together, something I would have liked to have a little more guidance and development to maximize.  While not in it for long, the beautiful Jessica De Gouw shined in her performance, both in look and presence of her character.  I would have liked more expansion on this character, especially given how commanding her presence was, but that was not the focus this tale took.

Moving on from the acting, the movie succeeds in accomplishing its journey in a short run time and not trying to get too bloated (see Midsomer director’s cut).  The film has a much more poetic dialogue, that feels well adapted to the Grimm Fairy tale writing, and goes with the artistic feel of this movie that Perkins focused on.  Yet, the biggest focus of this movie is the look of the film.  Gretel and Hansel is all about creating the creepy atmosphere and letting it be the component to creep you out for much of the film.  The use of camera filters and lighting are the main tools that somehow rob the hope of success from the film.  All the shadows and elusive safety keep things always dark and dismayed, while also sort of establishing a sickening feeling that only further infects you with the skin crawls that come.  The visualization of the witches home and the tricks she brings, also have that atmosphere that will certainly embed itself into your mind and leave you scarred for the event.  Sure there are some shock culture moments and jump scares, but really it’s the looming atmosphere and cinematography that succeeds the most.

 

It seems that the visualization was too key a focus though, for some of the movie telling basics were dropped in my opinion.  First of all, the pace.  Horror movies often keep things moving, but this artistic twist is not one of those films, sometimes feeling super drawn out and stuffy rather than the thrilling tale.  Part of this comes from just the slow buildup of the “surprising” reveal, but the other part comes from the weaker character development.  Gretel and Hansel’s tale has sort of piece meal components that are shown just enough to set a background, but never to give meaningful insight to craft interesting characters.  Even the witch herself is rather plain, a back story that is introduced too late, not very surprising, and sort of crammed into the ending instead of again giving rich characters to fear or analyze.  The story instead just seems to hover around this convoluted conversation between Gretel and the Witch, always working towards this slow discovery of what we know and barely moving away for most of the movie.  I guess they felt it pointless to make a big story for an already known tale, but then I question the introduction of some other characters into the film, and the hopes of using them as means to add variety to the movie.  As such the various side stories are not needed merely adding obvious foreshadowing and time to the film.

Something else I could have had edited out would have been the whininess of the little brother, who had a symbolic component to Gretel (the star), but sort of got annoying with the way they took the character.  Realistic, absolutely, but Hansel’s involvement was not as enjoyable to me, especially when the politics started coming into play (which we are about to discuss).  In regards to scares, again the movie relies a lot on the visuals to scare you, and though creepy at times, it is more a movie to focus on disturbing imagery than real creeps.  If you love the shock factor films, you’ll get it, but for me, the disturbing imagery would have been better minimized in place of the story and creepy scares I particularly love.  Finally the politics.  Not even horror films can escape the political trends of the modern day, and the title should give you a hint of the focus the writers wanted to place.  Again, I’m never above a message being integrated into the story, but that does not mean the story and dialogue have to be purely focused on that message and rubbed In my face.  That fluid, old English dialogue is awesome and poetic, but is so geared toward pushing for this new political twist that it falls into that vortex of cyclic conversations.  The result is again a stuffy movie that does not move to the predictable ending fast enough.  It’s a shame given the potential, but this was the biggest weakness for me in this film.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Gretel and Hansel is a great example of visionary creativity to make an old tale feel new.  With haunting atmosphere and a cast to play in it, these are the main strengths for the film and the component artistic loving movie goers are going to love. Yet, this artistic nature really took away from the story for me and left me with a boring, bloated film that missed the potential the trailers painted.  Story wise the characters are rather flat, the extra story characters and background information so streamlined it is almost a waste of film for this reviewer.  Throw in too much focus on the political message hogging most of the attention and you get this film that seems to be two sharks circling, but never attacking.  I give props for a psychological dive and realistic portrayal in the film, but this Grimm’s Fairy Tale is a little too sleep inducing and bloated for my tastes.  Thus, I believe this film was dumped into theaters, when it really should have premiered on a streaming network instead best left for watching at home.  Thus, my scores are:

 

Fantasy/Horror/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Rising To The Challenge To Close? Skywalker’s Story Has Balance Issues

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Poster

 

The Force, it binds us, moves around us, and tries to be the tether to all things Star Wars.  Years ago when this legendary series crawled up the screen, movie goers like myself got pulled into a galaxy where anything could happen.  Over the next four decades, the expansion of the world has taken many avenues, each holding promising positives and some limitations that would hopefully be tweaked.  Tonight, the saga of something building for so long comes to an end, one that will hopefully have the grace to close one series and potentially open another.  Much like the two sides of the Force, the reviews of this movie have falling to the bad and the good, showing off the split armies that much like the series are at war.  So I hope to help provide some insight to your viewing choices tonight to determine if this film is worth the investment.  Let’s get started, on a spoiler free review of:

 

Film: Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker (2019)

 

Director:

J.J. Abrams

Writers:

Chris Terrio (screenplay by), J.J. Abrams (screenplay by)

Stars:

Carrie FisherMark HamillAdam Driver

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Dialogue
  • The Symbolism/Emotions
  • The Nostalgia
  • The New Worlds
  • Better Pace
  • The Visuals and Sound Editing
  • The Twists (surprises)
  • The Action (sometimes)
  • The Comedy

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Choppiness Of The film
  • The Story’s indecisiveness
  • Too Many Characters
  • Trying to Please Too Many People
  • The Action
  • Not Enough Focus On The New
  • The Overkill On Things
  • The Lack Of Emotion At Times
  • The Impasses falling too easily
  • Too much in one film

 

SUMMARY:

 

In the galaxy so far away, the trilogies vary on quality, as it struggles to find direction in the new world of old vs. new fans.  One thing that has improved since the prequels is the dialogue, finding ways to make sensible lines feel both poetic and yet contained.  Rise Of Skywalker tells much of its story through worlds as in visuals along, often filled with symbolic metaphors and emotional displays that had some fans sniffling.  Abrams managed to direct some rather touching moments that hit fans like me, while still stroking the beast of political preachiness that the modern era loves.  While these scenes are certain to hit the fierier, “I need my heroic characters overcharged for me “fans, I myself enjoyed the nostalgia built into the film, be it a quick look at a familiar land mark, a nod to the old presentation style of a classic film, or for those in the expanded universe, plots from yesteryear repainted.  Episode nine tries to find that balance between old and new, and in cases of the old, the nods will keep popping up everywhere.

But Robbie that’s nice and all, what about the movie should we expect in terms of newness.  Alright, I hear you, so let’s go onto the newer features that I think you might like.  First the new worlds, a bunch more uncharted planets roam the stars in this film.  Though not a convoluted as previous installments, these new worlds hold their secrets, opening up cultures, new worlds to battle on, and in some cases holding secret stop previous expanded universe clues.  The pace is much faster in this film, dumping the bloated moving at snail speed from an enemy ship, while we again try to discover the potential and meaning of our lives off to the side, going back towards the action component that fans like me enjoy.  And like the prequels, all of this is still captured in the special effects, that again with major technology improvements reign supreme in bringing the fantasy to life, or at least some of it.  Yes, you’ll still have plenty of diverse use of costumes and creature development to enjoy, it just all depends on again what you are looking for.  However, the real special effects palooza comes in the form of the action, which has taken a step up (somewhat) from the Last Jedi.  This installment tries to ramp up ship battles and lightsaber fighting, and at times it starts hitting the high notes that I fell in love with during the original and prequel trilogies.  Those looking for “story-based action” well, you’ll get that, as much of the fighting feels like those moments in an anime where there is a lot of talking and showing of grandiose moves than full on choreographed duels that the prequels thrived in.  Also in regards to the story, Star Wars this time tries to pass the baton of twists, and several times got me in the direction they took things.  Some of these surprises are simply cannon fodder for jokes, but others do a decent attempt to expand upon the vagueness that was episode 8.  As for the comedy, Disney has not quite figured out how to get back to balanced comedy since Rogue One, though it took steps in the right directions at times.  C-3PO may have been the star for me for much of the movie, as Anthony Daniels and the writing work well to have comedic relief.  Other moments are funny in terms of their predictability or slapstick, so it works for me at these moments., before it once again comes in and sort of derails the plot.

 

For the mountain of writing for the good though, there is also a lot of limitations for me in this film.    Much like the beginning of Rogue One, Rise of Skywalker ran into choppy, fast paced, crunches that were okay at best for me.  A very hasty introduction and moving to different plot components in the blink of the eye led to very water downed story moments that tried to build momentum, but then phased out.  It seems to me that the director/writers could not decide on which way they wanted to take the movie, and because of the focus to please all and the lateness of the film’s placement after two directors took different approaches led to further chaos in the plot.  As such, Episode 9 has too many characters, who have struggled to take the main focus in real storytelling as both old and new generations compete for superiority and closures.  Thanks to that conflict right there, many of the things I’m about to comment on were driven out, all in attempt to tame the hatred the internet had stirred up.

First up the action, while good at times thanks to visuals and special effects, it lacks the heart, the excitement, or even the balance that the preceding films had.  Many bouts are over rather quickly, several timed to last fewer than two minutes before we were back to our quest.  Even the ending felt caught up in the bloated storyline of grandiosity vs. good storytelling, with many moments of the last fight rather simplistic and not having the moves or coordinationIn regards to the lightsaber fights, they win in terms of environment, and symbolism, but failed to impress me in awesomeness when I compare to the prequel fights.  I miss Nic Gillard coaching our duelist in acrobatic fights, where things flowed and did not look quite as blocky or stiff.  And laser fights, well I seem to remember the wars having a lot more struggles and coverage fights than what I got in this movie, so that would have been nice to see in rich detail, instead of pass over shots and montages. 

In regards to the story, well again it’s not that it’s bad for me, but more so too crammed of ideas, plots, twists, and motivating speeches that it seems a fraction of what it could have been.  For one thing, the new components still keep taking hits, and while Rey and Ren get better progress towards wrapping up their stories, Poe and Finn sort of get somewhere, but almost too quickly.  Characters like Rose Tico, or the new girl Zorri Bliss fall once more to the quick information blips, before getting dropped back to secondary status, most likely to be picked up in some novelization like Phasma.  No, once more the two protagonists and the old characters get caught in this dance of preference, neither partner fully rehearsed to get a 10, but also not fumbling around too much to get a 1 either.  It was hard to really get emotional at this film, primarily because impasses and limitations of the mind are rather easy to overcome, or sort of decreased until the moment a plot device is needed.  Throw in that some of the twists were too obvious from the presentation, and you again get the limitations I’ve mentioned before due to lack of direction. And when we finally try to get things back on track… the directors overkill it and make ridiculous displays of power that were best left to the fanfiction, especially when the comical display of skill seems to falter at the just the time they need to flourish. Throw in some rather poor attempts to actually keep characters connected enough to want to cover and well. . you again see the problems I had with the film.

 

The VERDICT:

            I did not love this film like some of the other installments, but I also did not hate it either.  Rise Of Skywalker’s main flaws are the inability to decide what fanbase they wanted to hit, and trying to put way too much into one movie.  The attempt to conclude the movie faltered on uniqueness and cohesiveness, always hinting at awesomeness, but never quite getting there due to the coordination failures.  It exceeds at the superficial ooh and ahhs of visuals, moves much better in terms of pace, gets comedy, nostalgia, and symbolism baked in, and does manage to keep dialogue smart to help twist some things up.  Yet, as I agree with other fans, the movie needs to use this time as a reset for future installments, so that they may bring a new story out that takes the nostalgia, but allows a new legacy to build (see Rogue One Or the Mandalorian).  From there, the story can get back to the adventures we loved, and still gets those overcharged heroes that seem to motivate costumes of the 21st century.  That and please stop making the grandiose ideas be the stars, please find something better to do instead.

 

My scores for the closing chapter are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Amping to The Next Level Of Fun: Jumanji 3 Is Fun And Funny

          Jumanji: The Next Level Poster

 

Years ago the jungle came to us, three years ago we went into the jungle, and this weekend, we go back into the jungle?  No, I’m no some crackpot reviewer losing it to all the movies and stress of the holidays, I’m just talking about Jumanji.  The late Robin Williams and his merry band of misfits tackled the wild frontier of magical board game, where danger came with every role.  The revival brought a new coat of paint in the form of a video game and updated the adventure into one all about Avatars and the jungle itself.  With big success, it was time bring yet another movie, in hopes of bringing the success.  Did it work?  I’m happy to share my thoughts as we explore:

 

Film: Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

 

 

LIKES:

  • Adventurous
  • Good Visuals
  • Expansion Of The World
  • Very Good Pace
  • Utilization Of Most Characters Well
  • Character Development
  • Fresh Jokes And Running Gag Balance
  • Funny Overall
  • Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • More Animal Escapades
  • Missing Some Of The Adventurous Side Of Things
  • Cop Outs
  • Rushed Storytelling, Especially At End
  • Lame Villain, again…

 

SUMMARY:

 

This franchise has always been about adventure and that spirit continues to run wild in the next level.  The dive back into the fictitious world still comes at you in a rush, with danger waiting around every turn (mostly) and keeping you into the wild ride.  Modern technology continues to push more engaging animation, and all the new CGI creations hold that movie theater magic to further envelope you into the fury of the jungle.  Even better, is though they start in the same place, the Next Level really did take it to the next level, and expanded the borders further to the world.  This evolution allows the familiarity of the movie to remain, but still be new as well and that really worked for me enjoying this very familiar adventure.  Not only expanding the world, but the characters, this franchise continues to find a place for its expanding cast, doing quite well to integrate all the stars into the adventure and make it worth their inclusion.  While the new direction of the characters is mostly comedy, I was pleased with the character development that took place, once more helping dive further into many of the characters to give them more than just an Avatar face lift, often without taking too many detours to unnecessarily bloat the run time.  Of course most are going to go for the comedy, and this is definitely the meat of the Jumanji adventure.  The new people inhabiting the avatars opens the world for not only new performances, but new jokes and delivery techniques that were funny to see in all their variety.  Don’t worry though folks, you’ll still have references and nods to the original gags, and you can bet there will be a few running bits to keep you engrossed.  It’s a nice dynamic across the board and diverse in its selection, but for me the acting is probably the key point for the humor.  The Rock having to act like Danny DeVito’s elderly character gaining a second life is hysterical, and Kevin Hart portraying Danny Glover are the two stunts that worked well in the universe.  However, it’s Jack Black who steals the show again for me, having to play multiple perspectives, deliver the well-written (and probably best written lines) with the perfect emphasis, and throw the facial gestures into perfection.  Solidly though, it was a welcome revisit to the luscious forest of comedic gold.

 

Yet there are still some things I think this adventure is missing for me.  Outside of a lot of the adventure being shown in trailers, the movie still is missing some of the animal escapades I loved in the original.  Perhaps trying to keep things balanced, I still miss the ever-expanding danger on the world that these remakes have not quite hit, rather turning the dangers to stages where the threats drop at certain points.  While still a fun adventure, I have to say it’s missing that complete, integrated game feel the first installment had and I would have liked to see that come back in this one.  The film also starts running into the problem of lower run times and starts to cop out on certain things, primarily in actual hard obstacles, more character development of other characters, and definitely some storytelling elements that are majorly dropped.  Especially at the end, things that were in buildup sort of suddenly appear, and for the sake of comedy, the story takes some hits that though entertaining do not live up to the campy story from long ago.  Finally, the modern-day adventure movie seems to still struggle with making a good villain and the next level did not elevate that whatsoever.  Jumanji’s new antagonist is a shallow, one dimensional character, who had great potential, but then pushed to the backburner.  Why they can’t recreate the huntsman from the first film, I don’t know, but this has to be the biggest limiting factor for me in this film.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Jumanji’s return was a very entertaining and decently balanced film.  It somehow manages to make the familiar, same adventure we have known be fresh, with well written lines and humor to keep you engrossed in the film.  For such a brisk pace, it manages to keep things well juggled, finding a nice medium between story, action, and comedy that it should be entertaining for most audiences.  And with this cast that you get, well you will not be disappointed to see how well utilized most of the group is, something I can’t brag about enough in this modern era of unbalanced delivery.  Still, the film fails at the end to really capitalize on the story telling components, and has not quite achieved the full integration effect for me that I hope to see, especially given the weaker antagonist.  Looking at this though, the movie is definitely worth a check out and I hope you guys give a theater visit given all the special effects and humor. 

 

A WORD OF CAUTION, if you are thinking of taking younger audience members be warned there is lots of strong language that little ears may repeat.  Take note of that before planning.

 

My scores

 

Adventure/Action/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

I Don’t Think You Will Sleep Through This One

Doctor Sleep: The IMAX 2D Experience Poster

 

Stephen King is on a role this year with two stories turned to movies, among other products, and potentially raking in even more cash. The age of taking author’s works and putting visual spins on them continues to thrive and sometimes we get an interpretation that brings our nightmares/expectations to life.   On the other hand, the limitations of movies can sometimes lead to bad projects that are disappointing more than anything.  What will happen in this interpretation?  Well I’m here to share my opinions to help you get the most out of your movie going experience.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie: Doctor Sleep

 

Director:

Mike Flanagan

Writers:

Stephen King (based on the novel by), Mike Flanagan

Stars:

Ewan McGregorRebecca FergusonKyliegh Curran

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Feels Like A Visual Form Of Book
  • Nice Haunting Atmosphere
  • Pacing For The Most Part is Good
  • Great Antagonists
  • Fantastic References To original/With modern twists
  • Story Telling As a Whole

 

DISLIKES

  • The Run Time
  • Expecting More Integration of Shining’s connections
  • Not Scary
  • Graphic Violence That is Haunting But Disturbing

 

SUMMARY

 

When the revealed the cast of this film I was interested in seeing how they would adapt into King’s Universe.  The result is positive for me with the three main characters really taking a shine to the multi-layered characters each contributing to the terror in some way.  McGregor takes much of the lifting in his evolution of tortured spirit, keeping that quiet intensity famous of his younger counterpart, but somehow pulling out other tricks when the time is right to give a psychiatrically tortured counterpart.  As for the antagonist, Rebecca Ferguson is wonderful counterpart to McGregor, keeping that same creepy tone, but this time bringing a savage/psychotic edge that fits well in the horror genre, think villains from Walking Dead before it went too far.  As for the talents of Curran, well she was the perfect balance that sort of inherited both sides of the Shining coin, executing her vulnerable side well, but also managing to bring girl power to an even medium.

Acting aside, the rest of the movie thrives in the element of bring King’s imagination to life.  To be honest it does feel like a visualization of the book, the intricate details, outlines story, and connecting points a wonderful example of the art of literature translation.  King’s words always paint a picture of sheer horror, immersing one into a nightmare realm that goes into the darkest corners of the minds and dreams.  Doctor Sleep’s haunting chills line just about every minute of this film, bringing with it characters that fit into it, primarily the antagonists that Danny faces.  Such fitting characters and truly nightmarish villains make a wonderful centerpiece to get hooked onto.  Yet, the movie does not just focus on making the characters the star, instead finding way to integrate the Shining into the film while sticking to the originality of the tale.  Seeing various nods back to the original tale, though with modern face lifts, and having them there to support the tale, again getting an applause from me. With such details, you might think the pacing will suffer, but Flanagan accomplished the task of keeping all these details and plot dynamics balanced, but not sacrificing the entertainment value that movies are expected.  In conclusion to this like section, the story telling is told well at an engaging pace that makes for one of the better horror movies and book translations in a long while.

 

Yet for me, it’s rare to see a perfect movie that I love everything about and this was true for Doctor Sleep as well.  For one thing the run time is a little long for a later night showing, I know my fault, but despite how well the balance of this tale is, there was some pacing that made the 2.5 hours a little too long for me.  Perhaps it was from working a 15-hour day, or maybe it’s due to wanting a little more of the Shining’s plot components brought in, given how long the opening was about the time lapse between the two stories I might have wanted a little more integration into the mix to help fully get my horror element on. In addition, the movie did not do the most in the scare factor for me, going more down the  drama/thriller category than the actual horror element.  I’m not saying others will not get scared, but it all depends on what you like to jump at creeps vs jump scares.  For me though, the aspect I know was needed, but I did not like is the torturing and graphic violence components.  I can say I like action movies and over the top stunts, but in this movie the violence is all about inducing the disturbing, skin crawling factors that these books are famous for.  Weak constitutions to graphic displays of fear inducing dismantling need to rethink diving into this, for there are several scenes where this factor comes into full swing with little mercy.

 

  The VERDICT

            I have to agree with my friends who saw the film, Doctor Sleep is one of the better novel interpretations that I have seen in quite a while.  My favorite aspects of this film are how much like a book it plays out, yet never sacrifices the entertainment factors and visualization components that films need.  A haunting atmosphere to play in, with great characters to bring out the solid story, I feel many King and horror films will be impressed with the presentation of this tale.  While the run time is a little longer than expected, and the scares are at a minimum compared to the first film I watched a long time ago, the true component to warn people about is the graphic violence/torture that may haunt your memories for some time.  It’s true I would have liked a little more of the Shining aspect, but overall a solid story telling from King and company again.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, as it has theater quality effects and good storytelling for most audience members to enjoy.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Horror:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

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)

 

Director:

Joachim Rønning

Writers:

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

Stars:

Angelina JolieElle FanningHarris Dickinson

 

 

Likes:

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

Summary:

 

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.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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

One Day Meets Beatles: Music and Love Story Overpower Interesting Concept

Yesterday Poster

 

We all know music and many of us love it without so much a whim so long as we get the tracks we love.  The artists who work to make music often are recognized more for their abuse of money and fame, rather than the motivation behind their music. So what would happen if you could be that artist you admire so much?  What if you could take credit for their work and nobody had a clue they even existed?  Well that’s where tonight’s movie comes in, and yours truly is here to cover the film to let you know whether or not the film is worth a check out.  Let’s get started as tonight we look at:

 

Movie: Yesterday (2019)

 

Director:

Danny Boyle

Writers:

Jack Barth (story by), Richard Curtis (screenplay)

Stars:

Himesh PatelLily JamesSophia Di Martino

 

LIKES:

 

  • Charming
  • Fun
  • Good Covers
  • Decent Comedic Relief
  • The “cameo”
  • The Artistic Messages
  • The Love Story
  • The Acting

 

DISLiKES:

  • Trailers spoiled Much
  • Kate McKinnon’s Extreme Character
  • Other Secondary Characters Lost
  • A Little Preachy
  • Not Quite The Revelation/Tension I thought

 

SUMMARY:

 

Much like Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle’s work once again manages to capture a charming tale that holds so much in the simplistic story telling. Yesterday was able to bring a lot of fun into the tale, taking the idea of living life as a rock star and using the covers, which are of a good quality, to maximize much of the Beatle’s legacy without the masters themselves being present.  Despite the seriousness of the movie, Yesterday is funny, selecting a drier, English wit that is occasionally spritzed with some American antics including several cameos that are fun to see.  However, Boyle’s accomplishment also is finding a way to incorporate the true film art style by sampling some artistic messages into the love story at hand. Yesterday’s alternate reality is awe inspiring in terms of pulling the blinds of fandom down to reveal the moral testing sacrifices that the music celebrity world requires, managing to test the boundaries of love without diving too far in Hallmark territory.  And it’s actually thanks to the acting that I was able to become entranced by the magic of this film.  There are plenty of actors to talk about, but in reality it’s Patel and James that take center stage, each presenting balanced performances that work in tandem and craft the tale that many will enjoy, again making a believable romance story. 

 

Yet there are a few limitations for me that I have to say I was surprised to see, at least for some of them.  One thing that is not quite a shocker is how much the trailers have given away in the mass franchising, with many key parts and comedy hits revealed in the television spots.  Amidst the predictability, Yesterday starts to lose some of its balance in terms of several decisions they made with the characters.  One thing is Kate McKinnon, the comedic queen holds the same personality quirks that people loved, but for me her style of comedy was forced and a little too extreme for the tone this movie set.  It’s SNL like presentation worked sometimes, but like a few Sheeran moments felt out of place from the components I liked.  And much like many films, Yesterday’s secondary characters we are introduced to sort of feel lost to the layered storytelling, dropped in the background for more comedic one liners.  Sure a bit realistic, but again I’m about utilizing the characters as much as you can.  Oh well, I guess that decisions goes with the themes of the movie about fame vs everything else, which although artistically presented sometimes got a bit too after school special for me.  However, the biggest “let down” so to speak was the lack of mind-blowing, or even suspenseful, revelations that the trailers suggest lied in the wings of this mystery.  Yesterday’s concept is interesting, so you were hoping for some secret to be revealed that would not sweep the film off of the beautiful presentation he put together. Not the case, for the concept sort of fizzles out in favor of pursuing the character arc stories that were built in the 2 hours.

 

      Overall, Yesterday worked for me and was fun to watch.  A beautiful balance of love, music, and charming artistic quality, Boyle proves to still have the eye for alternative storytelling.  It’s an entertaining film with a lot of heart that many should enjoy and I feel the acting performances and direction give you the characters you want to invest your time in.  There are some forced moments into the movie, primarily in altering the comedy to add a little more moisture to the drier comedy, but it’s really the lack of that giant revelation punch at the mystery that really stood out for me in terms of areas to improve.  Still, the charming tale is one that can be enjoyed in theater, but the fact it doesn’t have enough flash bang boom components means that a home viewing is most likely in your future. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Fantasy/Music:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

The King Is Moving To Improved Aspect, But Still Not Finding Balance

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Poster

 

The start of summer is the start of big movies and this weekend opens up with the “king” of blockbusters in the form of big monsters. Over many years, the giant monster movies have intrigued many and disgusted others, but they exist nonetheless to unleash their own brand of big budget chaos to the world.  Yet with mixed results, can this genre find the right audiences or are we still plagued by the modern era of too much bang and not enough buck?  Robbie K here to share some words on the latest movie to hit the silver screen.

 

Movie: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Dougherty

Writers:

Michael Dougherty (screenplay by), Zach Shields (screenplay by)  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Kyle ChandlerVera FarmigaMillie Bobby Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • Character Design
  • Pacing After The first 30 minutes or So
  • The Animation
  • The Action
  • The Climactic Ending sort of
  • The Sound Track/Special Effects

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace Of the Movie’s Opening
  • The Story
  • The Focus On Humans…again
  • Action Scenes Were sometimes short lived
  • The Shaky Camera Work
  • The Imbalance Of Monsters… kind of

 

Fans Who Like These May Like This Movie:

Kong Skull island

Godzilla like movies

Pacific Rim Series

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Big budget films about monsters require a lot of things to appeal to the mass audiences and much of it has to with special effects and action.  The King Of The Monsters manages to focus much on this, becoming a special effects extravaganza that did not yield to the limitations of speakers and screens.  The animation is on point, and many of the creatures look stellar in their design, throwing away the prosthetics and papier Mache for stellar high definition CGI graphics.  Smooth monster animation that looks to stick to anatomical movements are beautifully unleashed and it helps bring these monsters one step closer to being real.  Eventually the monsters start battling and the action scenes have a number of special effects in both sound effects and visual styles to unleash Armageddon on the big screen.  Those who love seeing chaos unleashed with little else binding them, and getting a little more human involvement as well, should be pleased with the destruction at hand in that fastest way possible.  This is especially true in the final battle, where the behemoths battlegrounds hold much to be destroyed, assisted by theater shaking sound editing, an epic symphony score to add edge, flashy blasts from the atomic driven beasts, and plenty artificially generated beasts to fill your eyes.  It’s climactic and satisfying, and something I was hoping to see since the trailers showed.

With special effects focus though, the movie sort of stumbles on other categories that still need some work for this reviewer. The opening of the film is rather boring, a jumbled mess of convoluted introductions, explanations about what is going on and the human focus that will lead to all the mess.  For a movie about monsters, much of the screen time still focuses on the terrors of humanity, focusing on how much we suck in our attempts to control everything.  Unlike Kong, Godzilla’s second arc still has trouble grounding its size to a deeper plot, that involves interacting with these creatures more than from the safeties of the bunkers.  Even if you don’t care about the story, the action scenes are also in need of some work, even the climactic ending.  For one thing, many of the fights are very short lived, over in mere minutes after buildups of more talking from humans.  The Fight with Rodan might have been my favorite, having the most integration of human and beast combination that brought me into the zone, but other times it was a jumbled mess of quick shots of stuff blowing up before panning back to humans.  Other times, there were shaky bouts of camera work of close up monsters and falling buildings.  This improved at the end, but it took a long time to discover something other films have already mastered.  Finally, the number of monsters represented was not awful, but again trying to put too many in for them doing very little is a component that annoys me.  Mothra and Rodon were kind of there, hitting there moments at the right times, but not maximized.  Other creatures we get to see passing shots of, but they were unnecessary when we could have had more epic monster battles.

As you can see, the King Of Monsters is certainly going to hold the special effect event of the summer, or at least pretty close to it. It’s problem is, that it’s imbalance issues continue to mix the movie up in a messy sorts that some will love and others won’t.  The monster aspect gets points for chaos, destruction, and special effects that these movies thrive on so monster fans should be stoked by these aspects.  The action again is mixed for me, part awesome with the special effects and yet part disappointing because of the fast pace, focus on humans more than monsters, and shaky camera work that could have been expanded upon.  Perhaps the next installment can figure out the chemistry to the monster movie balance and bring back the magic of the dying genre. Still with all the special effects and monsters in this film, despite how imbalanced they are, the movie is worth the visit to the theater. So check it out when you can.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

A Carpet Ride Into Familiar, Rushed, World

Aladdin Poster

            Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt’s imagination established years ago.  Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill.  Can it work?  That’s where I come in to give my insights as we check out:

 

Movie:  Aladdin (2019)

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Stars:

Will SmithMena MassoudNaomi Scott

 

LIKES:

Nostalgic

  • Core Story Present
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Recreated World
  • Nice Visual Effects
  • Acting
  • Take On Genie
  • Some Of The Songs

 

  • DISLIKES:
  • Not Enough Exploration Of The World
  • Rushed At times
  • Missing Some Of The Character Charm
  • Jafar’s Take
  • The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
  • The political Messages
  • Some of the Other Songs

People Who Likes These May Like This One:

Beauty and The Beast Live Action Remake

Prince Of Persia

Dumbo

Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Disney Channel Original Movies

SUMMARY:

Let’s put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it.  Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members.  Guy Ritchie’s take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style.  The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held.  Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith’s take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt.  Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out.  Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad.  Naomi Scott’s voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William’s work.  His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times).  And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90’s songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott’s wonderful voice.

Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me.  First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting.  This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar.  In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain.  That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard.  And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form.  Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head.  The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.

Overall, Aladdin’s live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics.  I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world.  Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held.  It’s that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been.  Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall 7.0

 

There Is Hellboy To Pay

Hellboy Poster

 

Comic book movies remain the big fashion of the era, utilizing big budgets to bring the world of literature to life in ways the fanbase never imagined.  With DC and Marvel combatting for supremacy, the independent studios are still trying to work their way in and get some publicity themselves.  The first two installments of this movie held their own charms, but are a little outdated and thus comes this weekend’s flick in the form of a modern update of the dark, mercenary comic.  Robbie K back with another review as we look at:

 

Movie: Hellboy (2019)

 

Director:

Neil Marshall

Writers:

Andrew Cosby (screenplay by), Mike Mignola (based on the Dark Horse Comic Book “Hellboy” created by)

Stars:

David HarbourMilla JovovichIan McShane

 

 

LIKES:

Most of the Acting

Comedy

Action

Pace

Costumes

Music

 

SUMMARY:

 

Hellboy requires some people ready to go in the darker parts of the superhero world, and the cast did a good job for the most part.  David Harbour brings some new life to the role, bringing the sarcasm of Hellboy with some broader emotion than Perlman did a while back. Ian McShane does his work in the executive director role, playing that tough father figure that is always the guiding light to the demon’s moral compass quite well.  My favorite though was Sasha Lane, who took the complex role of Alice and unleashed it to its full potential of the awkward time in awkward circumstances.  The chemistry between Harbour and the group is astounding, fun and much of the light in this wave of darkness.

Other factors that I enjoyed include comedy that is fun, well delivered lines and some semi-slapstick that left me impressed with the wit that was behind it.  The laughs were used well, balanced in the grand scheme of the story without becoming the central focus, which I applaud.  The action components also use the comedy to make for some more engaging fights, and Hellboy makes the effort to help keep action scenes dynamic and different.  My favorite fight was the end battle, which held more of the adrenaline-fueled insanity that makes me fist pump in excitement. This action leads to a pace that works well in comic book movies, and Hellboy does not drag too long like some of the other super flicks have hit sometimes.  In addition, the musical score manages to support and life to the mix as well, with both orchestral and regular songs to spice things up in their high energy fashion.

Yet, the biggest positive for me is the costumes and settings of the world.  The makeup artists and CGI guys accomplished the goals of bringing 2-D images to life, crafting devilish monsters, nightmare inducing creatures, and savage creations that fit quite well in the hellion universe.  Hellboy’s cast of interesting characters are equipped to look the part, and while not consistent, they for the most part hold the attributes needed to make the world of Hellboy come to life.  The various organizations and fortresses are crafted to represent the world as well, props, uniforms, and various other components that mirror the worlds crafted by the Dark Horse Comics authors and illustrators.

 

DISLIKES:

Mila Jovovich’s character

Overdramatic Flair

The Story

The Lack of Focus

The Loudness

The Aggressive Graphicness

 

Summary:

The acting was fine for the most part and Jovovich does a fine job acting as she always does.  However, this character they crafted was not quite the same denizen of darkness I love in this series.  This blood queen had some scarring moments, but she was not quite the threatening image I wanted to see unleashed in the film.  Her direction was more overdramatic delivery and singular speeches rather than a well-built character for us to either love or hate.  The result was a weaker antagonist to stand against for the nearly 2 hour run time.  It’s that overdramatic flair at other components that takes precipice, which takes away from the overall movie rather than add, the grandiose nature a little annoying at times.

In regards to the story, Hellboy is trying to cram a lot of arcs into a small run time, trying to take the mini-series approach without the mini-series time table.  This rendition holds a lot of introductions into the world of the big armed demon, including father introduction, friend introductions, prophecies, rivalry establishment, and more.  All these factors are rapidly developed, giving little time, obstacles, or suspense that these stories requires, leading to flat storytelling that held such promise. It’s the lack of focus in these things that makes the movie okay, but not truly great.

  Finally, the aggressive visuals and sounds may also be quite overwhelming given the preference of the audience.  In regards to sounds, this movie is very loud, and those with sensitive ears will need to brings some barriers to reduce the impact of the cacophony of sounds that rush in to avoid ears ringing.  Visual wise, again the movie’s CGI group has applied their skills in the way fitting of a dark comic book series like this.  However, they may have done too good of a job as the blood, gore, and sinew dribbles like rain in this movie.  Hellboy’s focus is very much geared towards filling the silver screen with as much maiming as possible, bringing some disturbing imagery to embed itself into your memory.  Sometimes, this worked for me very well, but other times it was unnecessary, merely blatant attempts to raise the shock factor another few notches.  If that’s the kind of visuals you want in this kind of film, then you will want to flock to the theaters and catch it in high definition goodness. 

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Hellboy is not a bad movie as many have said, but it didn’t deliver on the potential crafted in the trailers.  Some good visuals, comedy, and fast paced action were good starts in terms of getting the comic vibe up, but the movie itself just doesn’t have all the finesse it needed like the bigger studios have done in the past.  We needed some focus on the story, some bigger suspense added to the mix, and more importantly finding that balance to extend the movie into a series rather than in one movie.  Perhaps a series would be the next step to better presentations, but for now, this movie has a lot of special effects to make a theater visit worthy, but with other super hero films coming or still in theaters, you are best left to waiting or attending these. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 6.5

Movie Overall:: 5.5