Attempting To Send Us To The Moon. A Review Of First Man

First Man Poster

 

Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about.  To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way.  Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

 

Movie:  First Man (2018)

 

Director:

Damien Chazelle

Writers:

Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)

Stars:

Ryan GoslingClaire FoyJason Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars.  His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel.  Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

 

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space?  You’ve got it!  You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force?  You’ve got it.  You want? Okay I think you get it.  First Man’s team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion.  One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

 

The Setting:  I’m a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration.  First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore.  This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

 

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary.  A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it.  The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel.  While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

 

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground.  From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie.  You’ll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Other characters:  It’s not that the other characters are bad, it’s the fact that they aren’t utilized as well as I wanted.  Much of Armstrong’s group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall.  I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on.  Why they did this I don’t know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

 

The Heavy Jargon:  I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well.  The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren’t easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don’t subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

 

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you’ll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences.  It’s beautiful artistically, but it’s not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon.  Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn’t quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

 

Dragging Pace:  The biggest thing for me… is this movie is slow at times.  It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see.  As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn’t quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            First Man is different from what I expected.  It’s unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie.  However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea.  First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return. k

 

My Scores: 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

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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)

 

Director:

Bradley Cooper

Writers:

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

Stars:

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam Elliott

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

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?

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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

 

Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

What Does Life Itself Hold In Store?

Life Itself Poster

 

This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion.  Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same.  Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight’s movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

 

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

 

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman

Stars:

Oscar IsaacOlivia WildeAnnette Bening

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You know from Fogelman’s work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like.  Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position.  The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs.  These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

 

The Realism:  It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life.  This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in.  If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

 

The Twists:  You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping?  Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn’t do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together.  What many movies (like Valentine’s Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work.  This film, not so much.  Instead, it’s a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa.  These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does.  It’s not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

 

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances.  Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character.  And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time.  It’s stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

 

The Guts:  Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics.  This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them.  And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you’ve got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things.  Well done their guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Let’s get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don’t fight sleep.  Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character’s tale.  While this wasn’t too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span’s limits to not walk out.  Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you’ll be dreading this film.

 

Missing The Story/Development:  Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character’s lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment.  Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn’t quite have the same magic that they really were going for.  A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time.  What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

 

Depressing:  Let’s be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories.  Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down.  When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish.  So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don’t fall victim to the antics.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren’t enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect.  There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don’t have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints.  Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead.  Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Does This White Boy Have The Moves?

White Boy Rick Poster

            Biographies seem to be popular this year, focusing on a number of people and their “contributions” to society.  Today’s biography is more about the horrors of a system than a contribution, but these moments are certainly entertaining.  Hi, Robbie K here with another look at the world of movies and what lies in store for the price of a ticket.  Let’s get started, as I review:

 

Movie: White Boy Rick (2018)

 

Director:

Yann Demange

Writers:

Andy WeissLogan Miller

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyRichie MerrittBel Powley

 

 

LIKES:

Good Acting:  Richie Meritt and McConaughey are the central pillars of the movie, holding much of the plot on their shoulders and doing a wonderful job bringing their characters to life.  Meritt in particular has to cover a very complex character, borderline between punk kid and individual of poor circumstances.  He finds that balance very well, makes for an engaging character and really gives you the full experience of the nightmare that Rick went through.  As for McConaughey, he is still the sleazy role, but it’s curbed this time for a respectable character you want to follow.  Their chemistry impeccable and the heart of the movie as they integrate with their well casted supporting crew.

 

The Setting:  It is not as far back as Unbroken, but we get dropped right into a reconstructed 80’s hood, where the danger, drugs, and depression lie in wait like a hungry pack of wolves.  All the costumes, cars, and buildings were retrofitted to have the look and it works quite well to get you into the setting. 

 

The Drama/Portrayal: White Boy Rick has a lot of details about the young man’s life, and you’ll get to see much of it in this installment. Drama lovers are sure to become entangled in all the messes of Rick’s life, with those liking the Law And Order scenarios enjoying this one the most.  This film will give you a lot of the 411 on rick’s life and bring about all the emotions that come with it.

 

The Music: Surprisingly, the film had a fantastic soundtrack to report on, a mixture of funk, hip-hop, and a little soul to mirror the themes of the movie. It’s upbeat and has toe tapping beats to keep you going, and actually brings a little edge to the scenes themselves. Bravo to the casting director for their selection because it really worked.

 

The Pace:  While slow at times, the movie does a nice job moving through the various years of Rick’s journey to get you to the end game.  It is a longer movie, but for the most part it doesn’t feel that slow, or rough to get through all the nuts and bolts of this adventure.  Drama lovers of course will not find any of this remotely boring, but if you are not that type and along for the ride, you should find much of this movie entertaining.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Stereotypical Design: White Boy Rick’s title brings with it a wave of stereotypical portrayals in just about every character in the film.   Whether it be the impoverished, the wannabe gangsters, or the gangsters themselves, the movie really hammers the portrayals to such extremes that it gets a bit cheesy. Perhaps this is how the real-life characters were, but if not, the magnification of these personality quirks got annoying for me at times.  Even Rick himself crossed that line sometimes, so brace yourselves.

 

The Lazy Dialogue: Sometimes quite poetic, White Boy Rick’s dialogue is mostly focused on being either really complacent (full of really dumb pronunciations or Rick being an idiot to be funny), or really lazy (F bomb laden rants).  For such a deep story, I had hoped for a little more movie magic to buffer out the scratchy, lackluster lines they came up with.  McConaughey managed to have some beautifully scripted pieces to work with, and the secondary characters got their fair share of poetry in, but for the most part it was a little too stuffed with normalcy/realism to be impressive for me. 

 

More use Of The Secondary Characters:  Rick knew a lot of people, and his family seemed to be a gigantic rock to which he based his decisions on.  While the movie captured the key details, I felt they didn’t quite utilize or introduce the characters that well for me.  Names were dropped at random, their inclusion was sporadic and I felt many of them had more of a role to play than what was presented.  Many of these kingpins and servants could have been epic antagonists to spice up the story, but again my lack of research and not being with Rick means I don’t know who these guys really were.

 

Disjointed Story: While the movie has covered a lot of Rick’s life story components, the presentation I believe was off for me here too.  Each of the issues Rick faced felt compartmentalized, individuals segments that were prematurely closed and then randomly open at intervals that were inconsistent. Yes, you still get the effects presented with the story, but so many pieces without a strong, underlying foundation, led to a weaker representation of what could have been an epic drama.  Overall it’s not horrible, but it could have been so much better.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            White Boy Rick is one of those movies that has its fair share of drama to exploit and dive into.  A fantastic setting with great central acting will be the keystones to bring these events to life and pull those liking drug/crime story lovers into the mix.  The problem is, the movie sort of lost itself in the presentation, not giving clear focus on Rick’s character or stories that he had to share and instead giving you snippets into his life.  With how much was going on, there could have been a gold mine of a story instead of just some nuggets they portrayed.  Still, it gets props for completing the information, and perhaps a director’s cut could improve upon it in the future.  As such, this History meets Lifetime Movie presentation can be held until it comes to Redbox, and would highly encourage you to take that route. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

The Spirit Remains Unbroken, But The War Drama Does

Unbroken: Path to Redemption Poster

            A few years ago, the story of one man surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp inspired millions to believe in the power of the human spirit, the thought of never giving up, and perhaps a religious inspiration to accomplish tasks.  Unbroken held a lot of potential, but it wasn’t met with the best reviews despite the emotional sequences it brought.  Years later, an unexpected sequel is out, to help expand upon the warrior who survived so much.  What challenges await and are they worth watching?  Robbie K here to give his thoughts in an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: Unbroken: Path To Redemption (2018)

 

Director:

Harold Cronk

Writers:

Richard Friedenberg (screenplay by), Ken Hixon (screenplay by)

Stars:

Samuel HuntMerritt PattersonWill Graham

 

 

LIKES:

Fantastic Acting: Samuel Hunt reprises his role well and captures the spirit of a man broken beyond his bonds, his portrayal of suffering from a number of afflictions is spot on, and seldom does he move into the overacting area.  His opposite Ms. Patterson also a lovely complement to the character, bringing a driving force to help with the character development and bring some new dynamics to the movie.  Chemistry is great, and the secondary actors accomplish their roles of supporting the dynamic duo.

 

Setting:  It’s the classic era and the world has been beautifully built to replicate the happening times of the late 1940s to early 1950s. The costumes, the make-up, the cars, and the houses all scream the dazzling decades and bring you into the full experience of time traveling to Zamperini’s second journey. 

 

Powerful Portrayal: When it comes to mental illness, the community needs representation to help others understand the struggles they face. Unbroken 2 nailed this portrayal, bringing with it the flashbacks, the reexperiencing, and the nightmares that torture the poor souls who suffer from it.  In addition, Zamperini’s coping mechanism was not overdramatic, but an accurate representation of the poor nursing habits used to apply a band-aid on the real problem.  You’ll become immersed in his struggles and perhaps gain some empathy in the process.

 

Not too preachyReligious movies sometimes become fancy, big budgeted services that spend their time preaching sermons. While the end of the movie crossed into that territory, a majority of it balanced the word of God with the representation of the protagonist’s fall.  This balance allowed for one to appreciate the character development, while getting the moral-heavy messages they wanted to teach.  The balance is nice and doesn’t detract from the story, therefore increasing its entertainment value.

 

The Music Editing: Awesome musical scores, allow for orchestra work to amplify the scenes emotional kick.  This is especially true  in the ending scenes, which provides some very powerful dynamics and leads to the scene being exponentially better as it brings out the visual effects of the scene.

 

DISLIKE:

Predictable:  Not many twists, turns, or surprises here, the movie is a bit one sided in its delivery and therefore a tad dull at parts where the movie starts to drag.  Being based on history and religious movies, it’s no surprise this is the case.

 

More downfall than hope: The trailers pain this movie about redemption, so maybe you want to see the effects of the redemption.  Unbroken 2 though, decides to stick towards the downfall component more than the up-rise, choosing to show his actions in the medium of ending descriptions.  I would have liked to see a closer 50:50 portrayal; of his story, getting the best of both worlds instead of just super downfall.  At least it sets up for the powerful ending right?

 

Limited audience:  The first installment was able to tell history, sell the drama, and inspire faith thereby expanding to a number of audience members.  However, this installment has narrowed the application to the audience members to mostly the religious drama folks.  It’s not bad, but as a reviewer, the fact this movie is not able to entertain as many as they thought.

 

Much ruined by the trailers: If you have seen the trailers enough times, then congratulations, you’ve saved yourself nearly 12 dollars depending on where you live.  Unbroken 2 has had much spoiled by the advertising, and if you recall the trailers like I do then you want have much to discover in this performance.  Such a shame to see the media ruin the movie like it did here.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            It’s inspirational, it’s beautifully acted, and has some of the most balance religious aspects of the genre.  Unbroken 2 is a solid addition to the character development of its protagonist and brings the story to a semi-full closure in regards to the nightmare he endured.  Despite all the aesthetics and inspiration, it brings though, the movie is limited to a finite audience, it’s predictable plot and lack of historical flair makes it less appealing, especially when it has much spoiled by the trailers.  As such, this movie is best reserved to church group outings or left for home viewing. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6..0

A Simple Review For A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor Poster

 

A good mystery drama, is often based on a good book, and tonight’s review is no exception to the rule.  Catching on the wave of popularity, another book turned film is upon us as it hopes to bring drama, mystery, and thrills to the audience as it competes with three other movies for first place in the box office. So, yours truly, alongside his friend, have checked into the theater and collected our thoughts on the latest film as we review:

 

Movie: A Simple Favor (2018)

 


Director:

Paul Feig

Writers:

Jessica Sharzer (screenplay by), Darcey Bell (based upon the novel by)

Stars:

Anna KendrickBlake LivelyHenry Golding

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Great Acting

Solid Pace For Most of Film

Twists

Engaging Story

Comedy Timed At the Right Times

 

 

Summary:  The movie’s engaging characters are the stars of this mystery, each one having a deep, dark ravine that houses many secrets in it shadowy crevices. These characters convoluted profiles are only strongly supported by the fantastic acting of the leading ladies.  Lively is sexy, seductive, and mysterious, drawing on her darker roots to bring out the alluring visage that is Emily.  Kendrick’s character is a mixed bag of tricks that combines the traits of her previous roles into one character who is a good rival to Lively’s collected nature.  Golding acts as the medium between the two, his suave from Crazy Rich Asians still present, but the romantic aspect now replaced with darker skeletons.

As the lead actors work their magic, the solid pace keeps you invested in their work, moving briskly enough to keep the mystery fresh, but no so much to fly over details.  A Simple Favor’s simplicity is effectively gone when it comes to the story, as the twists begin to wiggle their way into the mix.  Presented in an engaging manner, there is always a tinge of mystery hanging in the distance to keep you together, with the promise of piecing them together at every step to challenge your brain.  It’s dark, it’s deep, and it holds all the pieces to suck drama-mystery lovers into the deep pool that is this story.  But don’t think it’s all dark pits of despair, because the comedy introduced in a spoof like manner brings some needed relief to spice things up. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pacing at the Beginning

Cheesy At Times

Predictable

Comedy Throws Theme Off At End:

 

Summary:  As the movie is better paced, the first hour hits a little bit of the breaks as it sets the plot up.  Drawn out dialogue, mundane montages, and some fashion style shows offs are going to be the primary focus, but power through this and you can find the deeper tale at the end of the bland rainbow. 

While there are plenty of twists and turns in this film, and a deep mystery, A Simple Favor does occasionally lose its balance and trek farther into the drama territory.  Much like modern day time and TGIT television, this film is not afraid to go into the soap opera/overboard themes to bring the entertainment.  While some of these are well received, a few of these plot devices are a little too convenient or over the top to really not roll your eyes at.  Fortunately, they do curtail these things better than most films, but it does not escape the predictable nature that these devices make.  I was able to guess most of the surprises, missing only the finite details the movie filled in that helped cement everything in the subplots of the film.

Yet my biggest dislike is how near the end, the movie almost becomes a spoof/comedic farce that is all about wrapping up the drama/mystery in a silly manner.  While the ending is fitting of the movie, the energy just felt off for me and the comedy situation just didn’t need to be so overdone to make me laugh.  It’s enjoyable, but perhaps needed that slight focus on the drama/thriller to tie up the ends and provide the closure this movie deserved.  Oh well, can’t be perfect right?

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, this is a mystery/thriller that performs adequately at its job of being engaging, interesting, full of drama, and providing those over the top punches.  A Simple Favor’s cast certainly is the solid pillar it’s based on, but the story itself feels like a well-designed integration to pull most audiences into the mix.  It sadly goes down some avenues that I didn’t enjoy, primarily in the soap opera tactics, and the comedy is sometimes a little overdone, but for those who love the thrillers of the television world, you are in for a treat for what it holds. Worth a trip to theater? Absolutely in regards to the acting a chilling plot, but not for those looking for a special effects extravaganza. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0