Blinded By Balanced Stories, Inspirational Moments, And A Killer SoundTrack


Blinded by the Light Poster

Music icons are those that seem timeless, maybe not in the way of new hits, but in the impact they leave behind.  Musical works speak to us on so many levels, potentially why we are able to play them as often as we do without getting sick of the tracks.  Yet, do we really understand how music impacts people?  Do we think about how music can motivate, inspire, and even more so revolutionize the changes that they incite on many people?  That is the theme of the final movie I review this week, a film that is all about the impact that movies have and what they can motivate to do.  So let us take a look as I dive into:


Movie: Blinded By The Light (2019)



Gurinder Chadha


Paul Mayeda BergesGurinder Chadha  | 2 more credits »


Viveik KalraKulvinder GhirMeera Ganatra




Good Pace

Delightfully Funny

Nice Look At Culture and Music

Great Use of Music

Emotionally Deep

Decent Balance Of Most Stories





A Bit Preachy

Perhaps A Little More Investment In Two Other Stories

Hollywood vs. Reality

Cliched stands out




With movies like this that go to make a statement you sometimes wonder if the movie will move or potentially fall to the pace of being artistic.  In this case, the Boss’ journey movie seems to movie at a good enough pace to remain entertaining but yet still accomplish the statements it wants to make.  It’s charm comes in the form of the heartwarming tale, that manages to be funny without even trying and yet deliver the messages of inspiration and art that it wants to do.  The movie is a nice look at how music influences the world around us and can inspire those brave few who can be fueled to use their gifts for the greater good.  In addition, the cultural lifestyle is certainly a major part of this film’s energy, somehow managing to capture some components of a culture or two and yet paint in a way that is super relevant to many.  The tale of the main character holds a lot of heart behind it and seeing that journey unfold feels like a realistic heroes journey that many dream to accomplish.  But defying a culture is not the only tale, for Blinded By The Light manages to accurately represent the facets of life from the concept of love and friendship, to the aspiration of trying to live your dreams.  It’s emotionally deep and will speak to many members as the relevant tales begin to come to life and perhaps allow you to sort of walk alongside the characters as they face the fears.  Yet, my favorite aspect is the nice integration of the Boss’ music into the film, for like a musical the legendary tunes are solidly integrated into the sequences to deliver the emotional kick of the scene or perhaps just make a fun little cover in a bold attempt to please a character.


Despite all the fun I had in this movie though there are of course areas that acted as a somewhat limitation to the film.  Motivational as this movie is, it can come off a bit preachy at times too, a little too forced in the inspirational tale and focus and perhaps steering away from the balance I was enjoying.  In addition, the movie sometimes gets a little more reality vs Hollywood for me at the inconsistencies that real life deals vs. the magic of things working out in the Hollywood atmosphere.  Not the biggest dislikes mind you, but something that does not quite fit in the same light as some of the other parts of the movie.  I guess my biggest limitations come in the form of some of the story imbalances and cliché moments that start to take precedent the farther the movie goes in.  In regards to the stories, there are a few plots that I’ll admit could have taken a little more focus to help bring all aspects to full circle.  One has to do with the love story and integration, yes a surprise given my previous reviews, and the other with the racial tension that was in this movie.  I understand it’s not the main focus, but it might have allowed for other Springsteen songs to get integrated in about these issues and maybe add a little more suspension and challenge to the movie.  That’s the other component that would have been nice to see is breaking up the cliché moments and adding a little more challenge to the mix.  Blinded by the Light is a little too easily pushed through, and perhaps in adding the obstacles and suspense, the full emotional passion could have burst out in full strength and break up the predictability/monotony of it.




As you can see, the movie has more likes than dislikes for me, with many of the limitations pickiness to help give that movie the final push.  Blinded by the Light turned out to be better than I anticipated, with a nice steady pace filled with a plethora of components that includes well aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and of course the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen.  Yes, it’s preachy and cliché and some stories could have been tuned up and given greater preference to really maximize everything.  However, I applaud the balance and entertainment of this film and state that though it lacks the usual mechanisms for the theater (special effects, a big adventure, or a concert experience, I still suggest a trip to the theater for this one.  If you can’t get in to hear the Boss through the big speakers, then definitely set your sights on this one for a home viewing.


My scores are:


Comedy/Drama/Music: 9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

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)



Danny Boyle


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


Himesh PatelLily JamesSophia Di Martino




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



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




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


That’s The Spirit

Teen Spirit Poster


With all the big events coming up, it’s sometimes not surprising to have some other films sneak beneath the radar.  Without advertising, these films go unnoticed, a weird title standing out in a smaller theater, dwarfed by the juggernauts of the cinema world.  Today, I ended my review run with a look at one of these movies, hoping to get some fun and surprises in store.  Checking out a movie with little knowledge, this is another Robbie K’s movie reviews as we check out:


Teen Spirit (2019)



Max Minghella


Max Minghella


Elle FanningAgnieszka GrochowskaArchie Madekwe




  • The Pace
  • The Character Portrayal
  • The Journey
  • The Chemistry
  • The Story Structure
  • The Performances, Especially the end one
  • The Music


SUMMARY:  Coming out of the gate, movies that are a little more than independent often come out a bit slower for my taste, but in this movie the spirit keeps things going.  Not too fast, but not too slow, Teen spirit finds a nice balance to cram enough stuff in and keep the entertainment factor going.  It works well with keeping things moving and getting to the climactic moments without skipping too much stuff.  What helps keep this pace going starts with the character portrayal, a teenage like Cinderella story that shows the hardships and begins to expand up on the complex character that Violet is.  The journey to which tests her is familiar, but holds the components necessary to grow and lash on to the relevant character that she is.  Elle Fanning’s acting, I thought, was well selected, utilizing her demeanor from several other movies and molding it into a familiar character with a slight twist.  The director I believed utilized the modern Cinderella portrayal and integrated it well with actors/actresses who meshed well to again fashion a believable relationship.  It’s this chemistry and inclusion of so many characters that I believe grounds some of the extreme moments of the character.

Yet the character/acting is only one part of the mix, and the story structure itself helps to revive the excitement of performing. In a presentation that feels part Black Swan (without the sexual aggressiveness) meeting a teenage singing spectacle, Teen Spirit takes a familiar tale and keeps it focused on its goal of blending the two worlds. Many elements are touched upon Violet’s life and many secondary characters help her explore those different aspects and integrated this into the tale.  Being a movie about performing, you are hoping for a little pep in the step right? Well, Spirit has you covered as there are some emotionally rich performances that should speak to a number of members.  Emotional ballads, saucy diva songs, and a few covers should help get some toes tapping, while also emphasizing the mind of the lead character.  Again, the use of music and performance to add to the struggle and impasses of the film, helps grant some originality to this familiar plot. Finally, the music is the key to my enjoyment in this film.  A fantastic selection of songs, Teen spirit has found a nice blend of original songs, fun covers, and use of some energetic tracks that are not only fun, but again fit well to the scenes.  I believe this may have been the component to turn me into the movie more, and hope you like it too.




  • Mostly predictable
  • Touch and Go on some story elements
  • More Performances, especially with the other guys
  • The Credit scenes


SUMMARY: As much fun as I had with the movie, there were still some things that needed some rehearsal to help get it perfect.  First, the tale was predictable, only a few moments hanging in the balance to whether or not they would surprise me. Yet, working with the timing, and seeing the clues, it was not hard to decipher the grand finale.  Fortunately, the other aspects of the film were enough to distract from this, but they also open up the door to another limitation.  Violet’s life has some rather shocking trials and some openings to further expand her character.  The problem is, with all the components they wanted to place in this film it resulted in these problems being touch and go.  Secondary arcs and potential for character growth were dropped very quickly, sometimes solved in the blink of an eye and other times left to fade into bare memories.  Others are open ended leading to a possible sequel, but I would have loved some extra time into the movie to further explore these components or perhaps drop a few impasses to allow for others to get development. This was especially true for the coach she meets early on in the film, the most engaging relationship of the bunch and the one that had much pushed to the side.

It’s a bit frustrating for me, but again the entertainment factor helps hide it, though again this brings up another limitation.  For a movie about competition, Teen Spirit does a poor job of engaging in the rivalry aspect and actually showing that competition.  After a semi-flash introduction, and the potential to bring about more acts, this film surprisingly left little in the development of their rivals.  Many of these acts are looks alone, a mere placeholder to remind you this is a competition.  Sadly, outside of one act and a few montage shots, these groups are forgotten characters that serve little purpose other than stir the drama plot ever so slightly.  I would have liked a little more expansion to these moments and some better competition build up to add to the suspense of the moment, despite the cost of character development.  It would have added a little more flash, offered some openings for story told through song, the aspect I really liked.  Finally, the end credit scenes were a nice tie up to the ambiguous ending, but it also paved the way for some unnecessary shots and the potential for a sequel I don’t think I would fit in this world.  Still, only time will tell the relevance of this scene, for alone it is merely extra fluff to offset some of the work this film did.




Teen Spirit has a lot packed in its run time, and the entertainment factor is the key to why this film works as well as it does.  Storytelling, acting, and character development are all functional and simplistic enough they making a guiding framework, though their predictability is a little lackluster.  No, for me the entertaining relationships, the engaging pace, and the fun of the numbers and music will be the aspect that remains strong in my mind, especially in its use of storytelling and the energy it puts out.  It’s true that Teen Spirit is not the original story, but it’s reality based and movie magic will be a combination I feel will hit many.  Still, it needs to work on balancing plot and more importantly choosing which components to focus on to help provide sustenance and suspense.



My scores are:

Drama/Music:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Queen Will, Queen Will, ROCK YOU! Bohemian Rhapsody Review

Bohemian Rhapsody Poster


The musical legend that took the world by storm.  A man’s whose voice is immortal and rings through the halls, rooms, and cars of today.  The legendary band of Europe with music for the people has been waiting for a movie to represent their majesty, and everything they brought to the world. Tonight, after months of advertising and media promotion, the wait is over and the movie is upon us.  With it, yours truly is back to give a later review, in hopes of helping bring justice and some help in determining your movie viewing pleasure.  So get your concert boots on, your voices warmed up, and your hearts open for Robbie K’s review on:


Movie: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)



Bryan Singer


Anthony McCarten (story by), Peter Morgan (story by)


Rami MalekLucy BoyntonGwilym Lee





The Acting: You’ve got a legendary character, you need to be ready to step up to the plate, and the casting call nailed the pick with Rami Malek.  The Mr. Robot star continues to shine in his acting, apparently doing his homework to resurrect the legend for the modern age.  Watching clips in preparation for the interview, Singer’s direction with Malek’s skills are incredible to watch.  His mannerisms, his flair, his passion, and his approach match the various resources I picked up, and is the strong, central pillar to lift this movie to new heights.  Malek’s portrayal brings so many emotions to the screen to get you embedded into the movie and the actor’s lifeIn addition, the rest of the cast is amazing, each contributing member of Mercury’s life given incredible screen time and involvement to craft the family that got him through so much. The incredible involvement of everyone in this production really crafted the perfect cast to bring you into the full experience at hand.


The Direction: Musical biographies are always a challenge for me to review, because I go for the concert experience and a little for the life.  Sadly, the balance often shifts in the second half to the life, leading to usually a slower, depressing story.  Bohemian Rhapsody though, manages to break this mold and keep the energy of the movie going from start to finish.  Singer managed to find the perfect entanglement of personal story, band drama, creative process, and concert experience, leading to an energetic, cinematic experience that make syou feel like part of a VH-1 behind the scenes experience.  It crafts something for everyone and should be entertaining from start to finish for whatever type of story you want in this genre.


The Costumes/Setting/Craft:  You’ve got the director and the acting, but now you need the look and this is where Rhapsody’s crew excels at once more.  While not the most complex makeup at times, this film’s has managed to take us back in time to the 70s and 80s in setting, fashion, and look of the actors.  My friends and I agreed that they brought the band back in exact replica detail, from the hairstyles, to the looks that evolved over time in aging and appearance.  Transformation of the setting and decades keeps you immersed into the character’s evolution and further invest your interest to the story and movie at hand.  Of course Mercury’s recreation gets the top honors over all, but nevertheless, it’s a sensational piece of makeup, costumes, and detail worthy of an award or five.


The Concert Experience/Art/Music:  The biggest delight of this movie, outside of the balance of story to music, is the music itself. Bohemian Rhapsody highlights the music creating process, showing the struggles and inspiration of their work as they crafted what they considered the perfect tracks.  As the music comes to completion, the film jumps right into the performance, bringing the legendary vocals and music back to full, theater stomping delight, and unleashing it to the brim.  Rhapsody hits almost all of the classic songs without overplaying the work, and making sure to give you the concert experience you’ve been dreaming of.  This is especially true with the final scene, where the legendary 20-minute performance is recreated, almost every detail painstakingly recreated to pay honor to the legend. I hope many appreciate the hard work in this movie and more importantly the epic fire of Queen’s music.


The Class: When it comes to Queen’s and the band’s interesting history, one should expect a lot of topics and scenes that can make on uncomfortable.  A nod to the direction again, because in this film all these very sensitive topics are portrayed in a very dignified manner.  Rather than sexually aggressive, dirty, gritty portrayals and over the top dialogue, Bohemian Rhapsody manages to portray the darker moments in a dignified light to explain the history without detracting from the experience at hand. Even the comedy is magically crafted into the scene, not forcing itself upon the audience for a laugh, but instead flowing naturally with the personality of Queen and the scenes at hand.  It’s movies like these that make this reviewer smile wide and realize that Hollywood has not been completely lost yet.



The length: Hard to find fault in this movie, but I can say that the movie was a little long at point, a few scenes that could have probably been left out to minimize the run time to just about 2 hours.  A small dislike indeed, but I’m grasping at straws here.


A Little Less Of The Dark/Slower Moments:  The scenes to be removed would have been some involving Paul, who’s manipulation of the system crafted a good antagonist, but sometimes was a little long winded.  If I could have substituted these scenes with more of Mary and his family components I would have, because it may have shed a little more light on that aspect and kept in the positive energy of the movie.  I don’t want the darker moments erased completely, after all they made the band shine at times, but still a little less loss of momentum was my preference.






Surprised that I don’t have more dislikes?  Well utilize that to note how much I loved this movie and how well put together it was. Queen’s epic legacy is captured beautifully in this movie, though how much is dramatized and real is something I don’t know.  Note however, that this is the musical biography that currently holds the throne in this reviewer’s eyes.  A balance of story and drama with music is the key, with direction to keep the momentum of the film going and the energy alive.  Fantastic acting and costumes further the experience, bringing you into the throngs of Queen’s struggles and drama, while paying homage to the craftmanship of their work.  Bohemian Rhapsody is the concert movie I’ve always wanted and with it, yours truly hopes to see it win big in the awards to come, not only for the movie itself, but for the legacy of Queen.  I strongly encourage everyone to see it in theaters, this weekend if possible, to get the most out of your experience with this film.  So please check it out asap. 


My scores are:


Biography/Drama/Music:  9.5-10


Movie Overall:  8.5-9.0

A Remake Is Born: Music and A New Face Are Very Appealing

A Star Is Born Poster

            Robbie K with the latest review on another holiday remake, this one hoping to bring the emotional punch that drama lovers well… love. Tonight two acting/singing icons are ready to lead the way, with plenty of reviews already praising the two in making this movie come to life.  Is it worth the hype, or have we been tricked by another Hollywood stunt?  Robbie K here to help guide your viewing pleasures, so let’s get started on my review of:


Movie: A Star Is Born (2018)



Bradley Cooper


Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by)


Lady GagaBradley CooperSam Elliott






The Acting:  Hands down, the two leading characters have amazing chemistry together.  Gaga’s mature optimism but realistic grounding craft a strong character ready to brave the storm of drama to come.  She brings the joy and energy to the film to help you get through the dark components of this film.  Bradley Cooper on the other reprises his role of the sultry, depressed like, hero, who is easy on the eyes of the females in my audience and brings a sort of romanticism charm as well.  Together, the duo tango in an amazing, dynamic dance of emotion that so many will grip on to. 


Decent Pace:  Another prime example of a drama being heartfelt, but also not crawling like so many of these movies do.  The first hour was over in an instant, and the second act, while not as fast, managed to keep a good run as they maneuvered through all the quirks. It led to my interest being kept for the movie and able to handle the predictable plot.


The Story:  The tale from the original is mostly there in a modernized form, reskinning the tale to have much more sex appeal than the original. Although not quite the same setting, the story still comes out strong, crammed to bursting with plenty of life aspects and lessons to hopefully resonate with the audience’s journey.  It’s got a realistic pulse to it, which should charm many of the intended group, and keeps you enraptured as you live their lives through the screen.


The Music: By far, the biggest and best component of this film for me was the music.  Like all my fellow reviewers, the magic of this motion picture score is the heart and soul of the characters’ feelings.  These poetic displays of artistry fill much of the screen time, some in the concert fashion, others as the fuel for a montage, it brings the full-on bite and drives home the emotion of this film.  As an additional bonus, you’ll get a mixture of styles though it is limited to country or pop, but still a little variety is better than none right?




Same Country Song: While not too overplayed, Cooper’s contributions to the music fest were not the most dynamic, choosing to play the same song four times and adding little with each replay.  True, I’m not a big fan of country, but in regards to soundtracks, I might try to pull a mamma mia and sample the music to boost soundtrack sales.


A Few Slow Parts: Scraping the bottom of the barrel for dislikes, there are a few slow parts that made me tired just watching. These moments were often prelude to another montage to buy some time, certainly a good trick to get you prepped, but maybe not the best in terms of pacing.


The Few Unnecessary Shots:  While much of the movie is spot on and necessary for the story, there are those moments that are merely for show to get things hot.  A Star Is Born had a few scenes that were meant to add to the story, but were grazed by as sort of a footnote to not be forgotten.  Sure it works with the new paint job this modernized version brought, and it had a few people hot under the collar, but for this guy, it just added fluff I didn’t need for the story.


Predictable:  There are a few surprises to be thrown in, but for the most part this movie isn’t too surprising or twist filled like I like to see. Not much I can say here, but don’t expect too much deviation from the tale.


The Okayish Character Development:  I’m not saying that this is weak by any means, but I’m saying compared to the original, I feel the story/character component is not quite as strong as the classic.  The new face of this story is all about the sex appeal and the music and while they did this fantastically, I feel that there was more potential to dive into these characters.  Key tensions are there, and you have enough of the background story to get the gist, but I still think the art of storytelling holds the strongest in the ways of old.





            Did a Star is Born live up to the hype that reviewers and commercials built up?  The answer is yes for the most part.  The acting and music are perfect representations of this dynamic love story, capable of wooing you TGIT drama lovers and modern-day romanticists. Still, I think I like the original from what I remember and feel that the cool new look will appeal to the modern-day audiences more than anything else.  Still, I had a good time with this movie and was very pleased at how much I liked the movie given my doubts from the trailers.  So I would say this is the film for this weekend to check out, and have fun with the soundtrack if you so decide to do it.


My scores are:


Drama/Music/Romance: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0


Here We Go Again! Fun, Dancing, Emotion, but Sloppy Transitions

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Poster

            Musicals are often best left in the world of plays, where imagination and the acoustics maximize the song and dance number.  Yet, Hollywood just loves a good run at recreating the world in their high stakes glory, leading to some renditions that are fantastic and others not so much.  So, a sequel to an already obscure Mamma Mia, glorifying the incredible group Abba, seems like a bit of a stretch for a blockbuster movie.  Oh well, Here We Go Again as yours truly does his second movie review of the week on:


Movie: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018)



Ol Parker


Ol Parker (screenplay by),  Richard Curtis (story by)


Lily James,  Amanda Seyfried,  Meryl Streep





Toe Tapping Numbers:  For a musical you need, well you need music, and fortunately the film is loaded with a number of tracks to leave you dancing in your seat.  From upbeat, dance filled sequences to the more emotional, slower tracks there is a tempo for everyone in this film.  As the tracks play, the choreography is just as vibrant, packed with a fun energy that fits the tracks well, and brings you into the party.  If you liked the performances in the first movie than you are in luck my friends for this one.


Cute:  The movie may not be a big animated smash hit, or something crafted by Disney, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t cute all the same.  Mamma Mia 2 is super friendly to many ages, and brings an easy tale of love and friendship all wrapped in a sunny bright wrapping paper.  Those fans who are really looking for an easy to handle movie where nothing intense happens are again the target demographic for this one.


Surprisingly Emotional:  If you’re this far in the review, you surely know that this movie is a fun ride, but there is a little more emotion to the film than I expected.  As the tale goes, there are more than a number of fun avenues and soap opera theatrics to catch your attention.  However, the movie manages to strike into deeper waters, resulting in some performances that had my audience tearing up/sniffing.  The fact the film did this emotional part well surprised me despite how extreme the film is, but trust me in saying that these moments are not quite as grandiose as they could have been.


Two Stories Are Integrated: You saw from the trailers that there were going to be two stories to balance.  Surprisingly, they did this, though not in a traditional sense for me. Mamma Mia 2 gives you about fifty percent in each story department, helping give each set of characters ample time to explore the uncharted waters of Donna’s adventurous life.  They manage to cover all their promised avenues and still keep the music infused into each aspect, thereby expanding the range of performances.


Lily James:  I’m a huge fan of this star, not only due to her charming beauty, but her talent of bringing characters to life.  Once again I was super impressed with her acting, happy to see her take classic Donna and put a more youthful energy to the mix. Her fellow divas captured their characters to the T, and the young squad really was my favorite part of the movie as they were the more interesting, and utilized.  Ms. James did a fantastic job carrying the weight of the movie, and I only hope for more leading roles for her to wow me in.





Not Every Character Utilized Well:  It’s a large cast, we know people are going to be short sighted, but sometimes it’s a little too much.  Much of the cast has really fallen back to the wings with only a few having adequate time to hold up the movie.  So much potential to relive the fun of the first movie gone because of too many cooks in the kitchen. As for some of the more publicized names, they don’t have quite the involvement you wanted, while others get a little more billing than you might expect.


The Story:  The story is cute and gives you all the pertinent information, but it doesn’t present it in the best light for me.  There are gaps in the plots, skipped over to allow you to fill in the details.  Relationships develop quickly, the pace rushed and glossed over so that more songs could be jammed in.  It’s a complete, yet incomplete set of stories, with sloppy transition between the two (at parts at least), with the random transitions jumping wildly with little organization at times. True, they did time some transitions perfectly, but for the most part not the best organization.


False Advertising:  The movie does deliver its promise on the fun, but some of the plot elements are very minor despite them being central in the trailers.  In fact, these plot elements feel rather limited and underdeveloped, so can’t state I was the most impressed with these parts.


Too Many Songs: The killing blow for a story of a musical is when the songs become the primary focus. Mamma Mia 2 really tried to pack as many numbers into the 2-hour running time as possible, sometime without regard to if the song was appropriately fitting in the story.  As a result, the story components suffered, the characters got catalogued into singing (or autotuned ability), giving it an erratic presentation that only semi impressed me. If you are just looking for musical numbers, your wish is granted, but for guys like me, I missed the complete picture.




         Mamma Mia 2 has expanded its emotional diving compared to the first, but manages to maintain the fun energy, charming cuteness, and beauty that was the first movie.  The song and dance numbers are the central focus, so those that love this glorification of Abba’s hits will be buying a ticket to musical gold.  However, the components I miss is the integration of all the characters into the mix and the linear story to tie everything together. The sequel gets points for balancing two stories, but needs to work on directing better transitions and details than what it did.  Still, this is definitely the upbeat movie of the month, and once I’m sure will please many audiences.  Recommended theater goers should be the midlife to elderly, girls trip out, and of course the musical lovers. Otherwise just skip and wait for something bigger to come.


My scores:


Comedy/Musical:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0



DCOM or D-Bomb



Disney Channel Original Movies, are all the rage on the cable station, with epic promotion, marketing, and merchandizing to build up the film for your little ones.  Back in the day, these movies actually did a decent job telling predictable stories, that held some suspense and impressive stunts in a variety of sports and disciplines.  Since the new age of Disney though, these stories have taken a major hit in their quality, resorting to marketing gimmicks and dance numbers to do their lifting and dumping the story down the drain.  After the success of Descendants, the studio that brought the villain prodigy tales to you, brings another movie to the small screen, in hopes of maximizing the ratings again.  Robbie is back with another review on TV movies, so let’s get started, shall we?




The Message:  Disney is taking some bold moves in their political statements, doing little to disguise the messages contained in the movie.  Zombies is a flat-out statement about how wrong racism is, with the entire writing/cinematography set out to show the horrors of prejudice.  The movie shows the various responses to the candor of segregation, and the right and wrong ways to fight all under the prowess of changing things that need to be changed.  In addition, the movie has a strong focus on being yourself, learning to change things that are toxic about yourself, not because someone doesn’t like it. 


The Leads:  Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly are the stars of the show, getting a majority of the camera time.  Milo has a fresh energy about him, giving the movie that entertaining, fun quality you want in a DCOM.  He manages to transition between silly and serious smoothly, never crossing into the realm of overacting.  In addition to acting, his dance moves, singing, and ability to act like a savage, brain hungry monster are worth noting as well.  Meg on the other hand is the strong, women protagonist that is the trend of Disney at the moment.  While not wielding spears or martial arts that leave extra reeling in pain, Meg’s public speaking and political games are the highlights of her character’s ability.  Like Milo, she has a good balance in her tones and acting style, alongside an impressive facial acting that speaks the emotions and tone of the scene.  She injects energy at the right moments but stands as the symbol of hope/change in this installment.  And in terms of singing, her harmony with the actors is astonishing and quite honestly my favorite voice of the group. 


The Dance Numbers:  The focus of this movie is obviously the musical numbers.  What will most likely be a hot selling item, these numbers capture the energy and spirit of the movie.  Unlike other musicals that focus on adjusting their styles to make a nice blend for the track, Zombies sticks to the major pop meets electronic beat.  While not as dynamic, this allowed for some impressive choreography that brought in some breakdancing, some line dancing, and even more so the cheerleading flips and dynamics.  These numbers work in the theme of the movie and again highlight the singing talents of our stars.




The Story:  While the message is good, the story really took steps down in terms of quality.  For one thing, the story isn’t unique, just a carbon copy of half of their stories, which are often diluted versions of classic movie stories.  But ignoring this, the movie is not fleshed out very well with so many plot holes and stretches having to be taken to even semi-piece the tale together.  The character development is rushed and sloppy, the love story fairly cheap and pathetic (when they aren’t singing), and the impasses are laughable as they resolve with little to no effort.  It’s obvious that the focus was music, because much of this story looked for opportunities to introduce another song number, sacrificing key plot points.


The Other characters:  Not everyone will fall into this dislike, but a large number of the characters are lame to put it as nicely as I can.  These characters are those with extreme flaws/prejudice, who fail to move an ounce during the first 85 minutes and often present their grandiose ways in an overacted direction.  I can’t tell how much of this is due to the direction and writing, but these characters are certainly some of the weaker ones to grace the Disney line up.  Characters like Bucky and his squad in particularly are the worst, in terms of their inconsistency and presentation.  And the parents of the crew/fans are only a couple of paces behind.


The Writing:  This would explain a lot in terms of the other dislikes, but the writing was kind of shoddy in this film for me.  Dialogue is limited in terms of anything unique, with only the anti-segregation lines holding any sustenance to them so you can get some mimicking from your kids started.  Outside of that, I’ve already stated that the writing built everything around the dance numbers, leading to rushed plot lines, rapid character development that is almost nonexistent, and just poor planning in general. 


Cheap Production:  I know TV movies don’t have the biggest budget, but seeing as Disney is essentially the money maker of the world, they could have done better than this.  Zombie’s stunts are not the greatest in terms of special effects, with many props looking snazzy, but very cheap. Sure, the light shows and setting look decent, but they can’t mask another big dislike, they couldn’t find another team/different uniforms to switch them into.  You pay attention, you see that the football teams and cheerleaders are all the same.  It’s not the fact that unique teams are key to a movie, it’s the laziness that the movie had when they have the means to go all out.  In addition, beating the same team over and over, means again a lack of developing story/tension.


Lazy on Soundtrack:  You just heard me say I like the soundtrack, so why on Earth am I putting this as a dislike. Simple, because half the track is unique and the other half are just reprisals that often pale to the first mix.  Descendants, Teen Beach Movie, and even High School Musical do a nice job with keeping their tracks different, unique, and with as few remixes as possible.  Zombies failed on this level, cheating the fans out of unique mixes just to cut some costs.  Why Disney didn’t fun this DCOM more so, I don’t know, but it didn’t impress me in these regards.  At least the numbers didn’t have those annoying, lazy lyrics like some tracks have had though… right.





            Zombies, in my opinion, was a massively overhyped movie that promised a lot more than it delivered.  I’ll admit it was fun at times, energetic, and a great medium for promoting anti-segregation (always a plus) and that the acting and dance numbers did their jobs.  However, this installment makes me fear tor the future of DCOMs if all they focus on is the music and the merchandizing that will follow.  This team cut a lot of corners, shucking originality, deeper development, and meaningful dialogue and comparing it to other DCOMS that remain hidden in their vaults, it’s sad.  I’m hoping they will utilize the star actors and the supporting zombies in future projects, but the company needs to get their act together if they plan to keep their DCOMS from further plunging down into crappy depths. 


My scores:

Musical/Romance: 5.0

Movie Overall:  3.0