Gemini MAN-aged to DeAge and Excite, But Was Not A Successful Action Clone

Gemini Man Poster

 

 

Will Smith, a legendary actor who has found various avenues to bring his work to someone you know, maybe even you.  Whether you think everything he is touching is gold, or varies in spectrum, I have to give the man props for his bravery of taking on these roles.  Today, after many years of being in the works, a supposed personal interest rears its head after months of advertising in hopes that it will rock the socks off the audience.  Thanks to technology catching up, we get this weekend to check out the film:

 

Movie: Gemini Man (2019)

 

Director:

Ang Lee

Writers:

David Benioff (screenplay), Billy Ray (screenplay)  |3 more credits »

Stars:

Mary Elizabeth WinsteadWill SmithClive Owen

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Comedy
  • The Acting
  • The Pace (somewhat)
  • The Action Scenes
  • The Technology

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Plot
  • The Predictability
  • The Commercial spoilers
  • More Action
  • The Ending

 

Summary:

 

Like any movie with darker/grittier themes, you sometimes need a good timed joke to relieve you from the cloud of dismay that hovers over the world.  Gemini does this without breaking its stride, finding ways to throw jabs and some banter into a rather linear, monotone dialogue and captivate on the laughs. Much of this is due to Benedict Wong for me, but Smith manages to get a little Fresh Prince vibes going into help get a chuckle.  Despite a number of reviews calling the acting mundane, this reviewer found that it was not quite the spectrum that people claim it to be, more so in the characters themselves.  Again, Wong manages to be the best one for me, with Ms. Winstead bringing a close second alongside the younger version of Will.  The chemistry is sort of there, but it works to bring the simplistic chess pieces into this story and get the thrills going.  Instead of award-winning performance, the focus of this film is definitely going for the action setting, and this is where I think the studio’s efforts shine.  First off, the pace is much like an action film, trying to get started on a high note, and diving into valleys of jargon and one-note conversations that try to complicate a rather simple plot before going into the action sequences.  At these exciting moments is where I give my favorite aspect to, for they were able to bring most of the scenes to the level of excitement I wanted without breaking their reality.  Chase sequences and close combat really shined for me in this movie, with the technology and camera work, alongside the sound effects of course, being designed to add that adrenaline-fueled excitement that I love.  For the technology itself, I give Lee and his team props because they successfully accomplished the impossible of de-aging and it looks smooth as silk (for most parts) and beautifully done.  A young Will Smith vs. his older self was the selling theme and they capitalized on this technology that is sure to come into play with the next decade of films.

 

As I have to agree though, there are limitations that come with this special effects loaded cinema piece.  First of all, the plot took a major hit, designing itself more around action scenes instead of vice-versa.  It’s a predictable piece of work with targets drawn in red well before any action occurs, with a rather shallow version of this whole ordeal, and back stories that are mediocre at best for me.  Not diving into the emotional pieces, or at least exploiting them a little, left for simplistic characters and monotone pieces that offered little to grasp on to outside of when the next display of fighting would occur.  What took away from the splendor of this is the amount of advertising that sort of flooded every avenue of media.  You’ll get much of the tale in the commercials, with only one twist avoiding its eye, though you can probably piece it together.  Thus, only the full extent of the action scenes escapes the spoiling component and is worth the investment.  Yet, again for an action movie I was hoping for a little more of the high energy scenes than what I got.  Gemini man proved its strength and it needed to flex more of those moments instead of this cat and mouse game of dialogue and shallow character development. This is especially true at the ending, where everything is super rushed, hastily finished, and very lack luster that just reveals all the predictable plot elements and tries to handle loose ends.  Sure, it’s got a bit of a 90s closer at the finish that I liked, but the climax was a peak that was shorter than the mid movie point.

 

The VERDICT:

            In truth Gemini Man is not awful, but it certainly is not the spectacle that the trailers tried to build up, but in truth it does have some qualities I think that they wanted to achieve.  Above all, the technology accomplished the goals set out by the project in terms of de-aging someone and making it look super believable.  Throw in that most of the technology comes together to make for action scene spectaculars that will have fans dancing in their seats in excitement at this fast-paced feature.  Sadly, the reviewers are right that the plot and characters are very simplistic, with a predictable and low developed plot shoved into the run time, where focus on action leads to hasty wrap ups and a sloppy finish for this reviewer.  Perhaps if more time had been looked into the plot as the technology it would have pleased more, but for the wait, well it is not quite worth it for this guy.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Sci-fi:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.5-5.0

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No Joking, It’s An Oscar Version Of A Comic Book Movie

           Joker Poster

The comic book movie craze has gotten a bit out of hand with all the latest stunts and money wars that have led to the universes getting a little out of control.  In regards to the DC universe, again the movies are hit or miss in regards to the true comic book movie prose.  Yet, deep in the nest of Hollywood, there are still writers and directors that are willing to diverge from the common trend in an effort to bring a more artful style to the genre.  Tonight, DC attempts to do just that, with a character profile movie on one of their most legendary villains the Joker.  After multiple cameos, the world of comics looks to a new retelling to bring more quality to the comic book world.

 

Movie:  Joker (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Phillips

Writers:

Todd PhillipsScott Silver

Stars:

Joaquin PhoenixRobert De NiroZazie Beetz

 

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Profiling
  • Great Cinematography
  • The use of music
  • Dive into the madness
  • Great Acting

 

 

Dislikes/Warnings

  • Violence
  • Pacing
  • An Open Ending
  • Timeline differences
  • Not feeling Very Joker Esque
  • Some plot points that are vague

 

 

Summary:

First off this movie is not really a superhero, or in this case a supervillain film.  Instead, the movie feels like a film that is more of dive into the psychiatric profile of a man trying to make it into a chaotic world and wearing a supervillain mask at the same time.  One of Joker’s key strengths is that film manages to capture the insanity of psychiatric disease amazingly, blending a number of symptoms and transforming them into a mixed-up world where reality and fiction dance a twisted tango.  Utilizing great cinematography, the visuals by Phillips guidance somehow manage to take an internal perspective and personify it on the screen, sort of trapping you into the dimension of Artie’s mind.  Dark filters, contrasting light, and an element of dismay even in bright lit rooms build up the premonition of safety does not exist even in the light of day, which somehow adds to the horror of this disease.  Throw in all the use of music that not only coordinates with general pan over scenes of Gotham’s descent into madness, but  also in coordination with Phoenix’s dance moves that seem built amidst this classical, haunting music that represents the auditory hallucinations.  It’s all brought to the front though with the acting primarily with Phoenix carrying the pillars of which this movie is built on.  He’s got the laugh down, the smile, the bizarre mannerisms, and much more, in what almost feels like a natural extension of his self on the screen and he runs with it like an Olympic Sprinter.  It’s this acting that sort of takes everything mentioned previously and exemplifies it in human form, opening the world to another disturbing mind of a serial killer whose lethality can only be imagined.

 

Yet, there are things that will mix up the audience’s reception of it depending on what expectation you walk into the theater with.  In regards to the promotion of violence, it’s not quite as terrifying as people think (believe me there have been worst movies).  Still a warning to the audience is some rather realistic twists to the violence that may sort of promote the behavior, so impressionable minds beware, you’re in for a scare.  Past this though, the pacing of the Joker is mixed for me.  On the one hand I appreciate the slow timing to allow for the buildup and development of Joker’s origin.  Yet, the ending did not quite deliver the finessed ending this pacing did, given the world they based it.  True, it’s still terrifying and a great start to a serial killer’s reign, but the question is whether the tale lived up to the name the movie borrowed.  In addition, despite the movie being self-contained, the ending is one of those that leaves it semi-open for interpretation as to what happened/ did not happen in the story.  I myself am not a fan of such openings, so it’s a dislike for me, but for others you might just enjoy its fitting with the psychotic principal of the movie.  Finally, the story components are technically all there, but there are some elements that feel a little bumpy in this smooth transverse to psychotic zones.  Some elements are a little on the back burner, primarily in regards to some other back stories about his previous experiences with facilities.  Other points are almost not needed at all, given the direction they did, but that may just be my over analyzing nature.  Nevertheless, the one element that bothers me is the “age” difference of the world they set.  Again, the Joker name, and my comic book history, sort of scratches at the itch of a timeline established in this movie between him and his future nemesis.  For the general audience it won’t be an issue, but for those lore based comic book fans, well you’ve been warned.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Joker is indeed a film festival movie, that utilizes all the elements that the Academy Awards love, and tries to bring it into the world of comic book-based movies.  On the plus side it’s different, fantastically shot, and a portrayal of the madness that a literary icon has gotten in his graphic novel forms.  Again, I feel this movie is like a twisted version of A Beautiful Mind, with once more a fantastic actor driving home the point of the character.  Still, the use of the Joker name almost is a misnomer, because the grandiose antics, that classic insanity of cunning plans and foresight for moves, and even the big bang are sort of missing for me.  I think had they integrated a few more of the comic book qualities into the film the name works, or drop the name altogether and just be a psychological profile.  Still, this mad production requires at least a once over in my opinion, and can be enjoyed at both the theater or home viewing depending on your expectations. 

 

My scores are:

Crime/Drama/Thriller:  8-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Going To The Stars In a Drier, In Depth, And Artistic Approach

Ad Astra Poster

 

Space, the final frontier, a void of endless possibilities for us humans to explore, colonize, and potentially ruin with our wasteful culture.  For now though, it serves as a great medium to make a movie about science-fiction for.  Throughout the history of movies, space films have allowed the imaginations of many to take off and bring some of the most memorable movies that we still latch onto today.  Tonight, the review focuses on yet another film that hopes to soar to new heights and win a new award.  Robbie K again with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Ad Astra (2019)

 

Director:

James Gray

Writers:

James GrayEthan Gross

Stars:

Brad PittTommy Lee JonesRuth Negga

 

LIKES:

 

Beautifully Shot

Interesting Concept

Realistic Science-Fiction

Good Acting

 

 

DISLIKES

Some Subplots

The Ending

The Obscure Answers

The Tangents

The Pacing

 

SUMMARY:

 

Space movies vary in a number of things, but the presentation can make or break the film as a whole depending on what their focus is.  For Ad Astra, the movie managed to tailor it’s fiction component to provide a more realistic tale that will appeal to a wider variety of audiences who sometimes get lost in the fantasy element.  Ad Astra’s plot is interesting in the point of an incident known as the Surge, whose origin lies in the last know place that Brad Pitt’s father (Lee-Jones) was seen going.  To help minimize the Surge from further destroying the world as we know it, Pitt is sent into space and through it goes on a journey of self-discovery that adds the psyche element analysis on board.  This interesting concept is going to be great for Sci-Fi book lovers, as it feels much like those stories where the first-person perspective is portrayed from the third-person look.  It’s a bit dense, but the fact they were able to keep to their own rules they established at the start was a big win for me.  Certainly the story is brought out by great acting, mostly on Pitt’s part who hits the depressed space hero going on dangerous mission well.  You can feel the suffering of the character, see the thoughts reflected in the tiniest gestures, and feel the emotions of the character in the dialogue/monologues he unleashes.  It’s a great leading role,, though it could have benefitted from more inclusion of other characters to even out the sullen nature of Pitt’s character.  My friend and I both did agree though, that the special effects and movie magic were the best element of the movie.  Ad Astra’s cinematography was gorgeous, with fantastic integration of CGI structures into realistic shots, and more so designing the sets to which this drama plays out on.  It’s these stunning effects that bring everything to life and will most likely catch they eyes of moviegoers everywhere as you are pulled into the venture at hand.

 

Yet all these unique approaches and special visual story telling do not quite get you set for the more artistic/symbolic approaches that movies sometimes take.  Ad Astra’s  subplots and tangents open up the new adventures and accomplishes the task of getting character development rolling.  With each “stop” so to speak, there is a reflection by the character and what he is thinking that is awesome for the character component, but semi-worthless in terms of story over all.  Again like a book, this film’s treks across the void are awesome to see, but not necessarily carrying much point past the artistic visualization.  As the movie continues on, it does not quite tell the story in the most black and white aspects.  Much of the film’s lines are very in depth or vague, capable of providing you insight to piece things together, but the delivery is a little stuffy and theatrical that it dilutes the significance this scene plays.  Thus, these side avenues, while certainly extra tales to further dive into Pitt’s psyche, were not the best use of time in my opinion.  When the ending finally came and the overall goal we set out was reached, I again was disappointed in the results it took.  I think i always knew where it was going, but Ad Astra’s finale needed some excitement or further tension to justify all the time invested, and I felt I did not get that outside of the symbolic gestures it took.  This may not have bothered me as much had the pacing of this film been better.   Pitt’s journey is very slow and given the amount of details it brings, did not have too much excitement or speed to get to the goal fast enough.  This led to me fighting sleep occasionally and I would have loved again some editing to add a little pep or do some more editing to get out the film faster.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ad Astra achieves the prize of beautiful style, deeper tales, and great acting to come to life.  It throws away the idea of space battles or aliens and instead subjects the goer with impressive looks into a character and the symbolism that space travel can bring.  It feels much like a book put to movie and I give mad credit to the vision that James Gray had when putting this film together.  However, this unique and detailed approach may also be the downfall of the tale as the cascading subplots and tangents become a little overbearing at times.  kA sort of linear, connect the dots like approach does not quite give the most exciting narrative and the ending, no matter how beautiful it is, seems a bit of a sucker punch that made the movie’s dragging pace not so great for me.  Yet again, if this kind of vague and symbolic approach is your cup of tea, definitely check this film out because there are enough visuals and effects to utilize theater technology well. However, if you want a more traditional space movie and need the lasers, aliens, and tension, this film should be on the home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Welcome Back To The Manor

Downton Abbey Poster

            Television shows are an amazing display of storytelling that run for years and often last longer when done right.  PBS managed to hit one of those shows out of the park, with a lovely British display of class, poise, comedy, and drama for six seasons about a wealthy family and the manor they keep.  So many things coursed through this the drama, that it became a cult phenomenon and ended on quite a bang.  So a movie to further the tales of the Crawley family, in hopes to once more capture the charm and profit from the class of English society.  Robbie K back with the first review of the week as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Downton Abbey (2019)

 

Director:

Michael Engler

Writers:

Julian Fellowes (characters), Julian Fellowes (screenplay by)

Stars:

Michelle DockeryMatthew GoodeTuppence Middleton

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Continues where the series left off
  • Nostalgic Moments brought back
  • Same Class and Charm
  • Funny and well balanced
  • The Acting
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Slow At First
  • A Few characters limited
  • A Few Story Plots Crammed In That Were Unnecessary

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

A television series takes adequate time to set things up and develops the characters well for us to fall into and invest time.  Fortunately, the movie manages to pick up where the series left off, including all the character transitions, decisions, and more.  It works, and manages to tell a new story while maintaining the traditions that made the series famous.  My friend and I both found nostalgic moments throughout the film, many of which were great to nod to as they adapted to the changing times that the manor was facing.  Yet despite the gap in air time, this film manages to find a way to make the class and charm fit well into the new dilemmas, addressing political issues from today but twisting it back into the classical English style.  Maintaining that quality was a wonderful representation, that manages to put the fresh coat of paint on the old place.  In addition, the movie manages to find ways to inject its drier humor, without being too forceful or untrue to itself.  Maggie Smith’s character in particular alongside her partner in crime made for the most entertaining, but there were several other moments that fit well. Really though, it’s the acting that makes this movie shine, with the cast reprising their roles and accomplishing all that was necessary to recreate the group one more time.  The cast is too big to hit everyone up, but let’s face it, this all-star group proved for many years that they can take tired plots and run with them and that is the case with this film.  As for the music, well the regal soundtrack is certain to illicit some strong emotions as the subtle cavalcade of instruments unite to once more bring aristocratic numbers to the scene and embrace the nobility at hand.

 

Yet, where the film does not succeed for me is in the pacing.  While I’ve always understood this show does not have the fastest pace, but at least it had bite size episodes to gradually introduce the drama and tackle the stories at hand.  In this film though, despite the quality it took a bit to take off and with it made it a little boring and hard to stay awake at times.  Once the pace kicked in though there were not too many limitations, as again they chose not to make the same plots but move on from the tale. Sadly, not every character managed to make the cross for a decent amount of time, lost to background stories or last-minute entries.  My friend is correct in that this was mainly the other characters had most of their qualms taken care of, but also I would have liked these classic characters to return in a little more style.  Finally, the other thing I did not quite enjoy was how many episodic plots were introduced in the movie.  On the positive it felt like a lot of episodes combined into a 2-hour period, but my friend and I agreed that some of these plots could have been shortened or dropped off altogether to allow for something else to move in.  Downton Abbey the movie seemed to lay groundwork for new things to arise from, but this closure seemed like it could have been better used in an additional season to really deliver the full potential that this series already laid long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Returning to the abbey was a fantastic trip down the road of nostalgia and new, as the latest chapter in the Crawley residence comes in many classy forms.  The charm and wit of a time almost gone acts for a solid foundation and will pull everyone into the movie as you relive the magic.  Great acting, wonderful human, and most importantly the balance of humor and drama makes this movie a worthy addition to the legacy of the regal series. Sure, the pace is not quite as good given limitations to one showing, some of the characters are not as strong as they once were, and it was a little busy in the run time.  Despite this though, I recommend the film be enjoyed by all fans in the theater, while others will be wanting to hold off until home viewing. 

 

My Scores are:

 

Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

A Golden Opportunity For Character Development, That Bombs At The End

 

The Goldfinch Poster

            Books to movies, a common trend that Hollywood loves due to the ease of script adaptation, and cutting of costs.  Yet, these are also super popular too, for the books have had time to build a fan base and make it worthwhile to flock to the theaters. As many will say though, some books should remain just that, allowing the time to process the details rather than jammed in a packed time period.  Today, it’s another review for yours truly to hit, in hopes of finding gold in the cinematic portrayal.  What’s in store?  Where that’s where I come in to shed some light.  Robbie K back as I review:

 

Movie: The Goldfinch (2019)

 

Director:

John Crowley

Writers:

Peter Straughan (screenplay by), Donna Tartt (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Oakes FegleyAnsel ElgortNicole Kidman

 

 

LIKES:

  • Artistic Presentation
  • Emotional
  • Some Of The Comedy
  • The Connections
  • The Music
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pacing
  • Very Dry
  • The Run Time
  • The Depression
  • The Ending

 

SUMMARY:

It’s true, the book is a great piece of work to dive into the psyche of a small child with PTSD and the struggles that can come.  The movie’s artistic approach accomplishes the goal of getting into a character’s psyche and bringing it to life, finding ways to blend memories, fears, and other feelings to life with great cinematography and planning. Utilizing an orchestral piece of classical works, the movie again utilizes great techniques to sell the tone of the movie and somehow add the class the trailers brought with this film. This tale is not for the faint of heart, and one must be willing to journey to dark places if they wish to weather this story, but if you can, the emotional aspect will be one of the core values of this tale. The tale has a lot of details to keep track of, as various times in life and members of families all get placed piece by piece into this jigsaw puzzle of plots.  Yet, at the end the connections start coming together, and parts you thought pointless start to have more meaning once more, albeit often adding more sadness to an already somber tale.  Certainly there is some clever comedy and fun moments to try to sprinkle light amidst the clouds that hover over this film, but not in the rambunctious slapstick that most comedies approach. Yet the masterpiece of this film is all in the acting of the star-studded cast.  The Gold Finch’s crew is an awesome ensemble of talent with so many performances coming together to match the nightmares that come in a life like this.  I can go on each performance, but we would be here all night, so I’ll focus on the cornerstone of Oakes Fegley, the young Theo who has to take on a lot of adult behaviors that I did not expect to be executed so well. He’s a connecting point for all, sells the lines well, and hooked me in as the character to watch and see how he handled the next dismal hit. As this is the central character, great to know that it’s acted so well.

 

While artistic style is always great to see, though sometimes they don’t make for the most entertaining or engaging uses of your time.  Despite the deep story, realism, and details of such a dark tale, this movie is not the easiest to sit through.  This two- and half-hour film feels longer, as the pacing drags at points, deterring from the deeper story they are trying to tell.  In addition, the well of entertainment is a little drier than most, and those who don’t like very non-fictional presentations are going to need to come in with as much energy as possible.  Perhaps if it had more mystery (like I thought from the trailers), suspense, or even just some brighter parts the pacing would not be so bad, but devoid of this the run time is too long for me.  Partly my fault, I had hoped that the Gold Finch would have had some lighter points to offset the depression, but this movie is all about piling the sadness minute after minute, which only further drags you down and makes the movie feel long.  It’s why films with this much character development and handling dark parts is meant for reading as there is more time allotted to handle all the sadness and depth.  The biggest factor that was disappointing was the presentation of the ending.  After so much set up and time spent building the character, the last thirty minutes is a crammed mess of trying to finish the tale. Ansel Elgort’s role is rather diluted compared to the younger counterpart, and not the best use of his talents.  As all the connections start to run together, the theme of the movie starts changing as well, moving from drama into a semi-crime story that ramps up to quickly and ends in a whimper.  Whether this is in the book or not, I don’t know, but this component did not quite deliver despite bringing things to full circle.

 

The VERDICT:

            The Gold Finch feels like an Oscar film primarily in the in-depth story and artistic presentation.  It is super detailed, amazing character development and utilizes the movie magic of sound editing, cinematography, and music to craft incredibly emotional sequences. The acting further brings the world to life, again the young Fegley taking port, crafting a strong character and the keystone for keeping this story building.  Despite all the story and character development though, the movie is dry, dense, and very drawn out that may not be in everyone’s repertoire for a movie.  In addition, after trying to build up for a finale to blow you away, the execution did not quite go the way I had intended, leading to a rushed finale that did not utilize the talents of the actors well, hit the full-on potential of the crime component, and thus fizzes out after so much time spent waiting.  It’s a movie that again feels like it should remain in book form, and thus is not going to be for everyone to view, reserved to those who are fans of the book, or looking for a deep, dark, nonfiction. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Hustling Up A Dynamic Of Dance Of Superficial Entertainment and Deep Messages

Hustlers Poster

            They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in today’s master of advertising the movies are certainly one of those very moments you don’t want to judge.  Many films hold great surprises to those going in with open minds, but yours truly went in not expecting much from tonight’s movie.  Based on true events, tonight’s film is all about how appearances can be deceiving and lead to very bad consequences despite the pretty package it’s wrapped up in. Yes, in all the splendor of the human body, we look at Hustlers tonight in hopes of getting a drama that is a little more sustenance and less show off of the naked form.  Robbie K back with another review this time on:

 

Film: Hustlers (2019)

 

Director:

Lorene Scafaria

Writers:

Jessica Pressler (magazine article), Lorene Scafaria (screenplay)

Stars:

Constance WuJennifer LopezJulia Stiles

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Decent Pace
  • Good Dance Numbers
  • Funny
  • Decent good Morals/Story
  • Liked the Medium Told
  • Fashion
  • Acting
  • J-Lo

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Story A Bit Over The Place
  • The Bloated Excess of Drug and Con Scenes
  • Secondary Cast A Little Too Secondary
  • Some Lazy Writing Moments
  • Last Part Of The Ending Was Rushed
  • Glorification of Other Morals

 

SUMMARY:

Believe it or not, Hustlers turned out to have more surprises packed in than I had anticipated and it starts with the pace.  For a nearly  two-hour film, most of the film moves at a quick enough speed to not be too bland, though it does have its moments.  Yet much of the “boring” parts are going to be offset by the flashy spectacles that modern audiences love and it starts with dance numbers that are, let’s face it hot and sexually charged.  Hustlers is all about the art of deception and using the gorgeous figures to accomplish it in various sequences of touching, dancing, and some other stuff. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because the writers have jammed in plenty of other fun things to help get the pizazz on.  Comedy wise, it’s got decent laughs, throwing in well-time jabs, some smack talk, and girl gossip that though dramatic and ridiculous, somehow seems relatable to most.  Fashion lovers are going to be amazed by the costumes chosen, a wardrobe that emphasizes the rich lifestyle and again showing off that form.  Superficial stuff aside, there are some layers to this movie to start expanding past the eye candy and into something with a little more depth.  Despite the overall premise of the movie, Destiny’s tale with Ramona dives into well-developed subplots that are all about the character development.  The main tale is loaded with dramatic moments, but Ramona’s heart of gold and desire to accomplish her goals is an adamant yet dark story that contradicts the morally obligated responsibility that is Destiny’s tale.  Mostly linear, Hustlers presentation is balanced between past and present, told over a semi-formal interview that tries to help set up for surprise and further emotional charge.  It works in terms of originality, and my friend and I appreciated the use of this perspective to try emphasizing the effects each part of the story had on our characters.

How is this accomplished though is also due to the acting, with all the strippers and cons in the group acting well, all their unique personalities coming off in heavily designed in the writing and persona.  Wu runs ahead of the rest and expands the character to broader levels that portray a human facing the dark skeletons in the closet, countering some of the sinful acts this movie throws. As my fellow reviewers have said though… Jennifer Lopez steals the show and finally breaks out of the generic roles she has mastered.  Ramona shows the complexity and spectrum that a character needs, with again well-developed layers that allow people to determine whether or not you like the character.  A hero to some, a villain to others, J-Lo accomplishes bringing this complexed role to life and anchoring all the chaos together. 

 

  Still the story ironically suffers for me in terms of the superficial components that others enjoy more.  For one thing, the tale is predictable with much of the foreshadowing and trailers usurping the “surprises” they wanted to stuff into the film. Second, the story, while good at times, is a bit all over the place, struggling to pick the tale it wants to tale in favor of all the components brought in.  Perhaps symbolic, perhaps a representation of life, but I would have liked less jumping around and instead focus on utilizing the present to tell the past.  Maybe this would have been achieved with fewer moments of lust and stripping, as the excessive look at the exotic dances and glimpses at their lifestyles bloated the run time to the two hours.  Perhaps leaving these advanced looks to the director’s cut would have been a better use of time and reduced the run time to less than two hours (it wasn’t that necessary to be this long).  In addition, some of the other characters were a little too dropped into the background for me, primarily Cardi B’s character and Kiki Palmer’s who I would have thought would be a little more involved.  The secondary characters do fill their parts, but not quite the family aspect I was expecting from the trailers. Outside of excessive cursing at times, the last part that seemed odd and forced was the ending where the climax comes and goes rapidly, and the finale is sort of crammed into the final minutes.  Emotional and fulfilling at times, random story elements primarily with the other members of the crew are sort of wedged in, trying to be complete, but a little sloppy for me.  Julia Stiles character in particular feels oddly wrapped up, while Lopez and Wu’s characters feel sort of semi-incomplete, minus the dance finish at the end.  Finally, for those with a different mindset, you may not like the glorification of the negative characteristics that this movie thrives in.  Those who don’t like drugs, effective kidnapping, fraud, and some truly deep manipulation are not going to enjoy the package the better morals are wrapped in.  So watch yourself before coming in.

 

            The VERDICT:

            Truth be told, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  Hustlers manages to con you with the trailers and open you to a whole new world of adventure.   It’s going to speak to the intended audience members, and is a charged tale that holds a lot of heart primarily about the lives beneath the shiny surface of stripping. Hustlers manages to balance fun with deep stories and add that punch that people want in a story.  It’s primarily accomplished by the acting with Constance Wu who takes leading role, but Jennifer Lopez is the real shining star whose complexity and broad emotional spectrum tie the group together.  As the morals start pour out of the shiny fashionable package, the movie achieves the desired girl power and family aspect you might want to see. Yet, the film loses the balance for me in the obsession of glorifying the superficial things instead of the heart of god components below.  Extending the run time to nearly 2 hours, the extra stuff the added details of the movie sort of diluted the story aspect, and took away from the secondary characters that high profile actors were portraying.  Throw in a rushed ending and sort of sporadic storytelling and the movie loses a little of the glitter.  However, if you stick with it and enjoy both aspects shoved in (entertainment and lessons) and can get over the focus of the darker components they emphasize, you should really enjoy this movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Trying To Overcome With Creativity, Yet Falling Into Stereotypical Indecisiveness

Overcomer Poster

            Religious movies are difficult for me to review. Why?  Because as a reviewer putting myself in the shoes of the audience/intentions of the director, understanding what these movies are intending to do is my job.  Yet, looking at the presentation and not stepping on toes is also a challenge.  Despite the challenge though, I’m up for trying to do my best to give you the opinions on yet another film to hit the theater. So Robbie K bringing you another review on:

 

Movie: Overcomer (2019)

 

Director:

Alex Kendrick

Writers:

Alex KendrickStephen Kendrick

Stars:

Alex KendrickShari RigbyPriscilla C. Shirer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Message
  • Acting
  • The Powerful Scenes
  • Great Use Of Emotion
  • The Creative Flair
  • The Finale
  • The Music

 

DISLIKES:

  • Pace
  • Predictable
  • Goes Out Of Its Way To Be Preachy
  • Not So Much A Running Movie
  • The Staged Characters
  • The Overall Presentation/Indecisiveness

 

SUMMARY:

Let’s get it out of the way, if you are not of the faith or religious the message is most likely going to be lost on you, but for this reviewer the message of Christianity is always nice to get a refresh course in. Helping to bring it alive is decent acting from some of the cast including the director/writer/lead Alex Kendrick, the lovely wife Shari Rigby, and for me Cameron Arnettas the motivational speaker. All the leads create quite a believable family, one that is entertaining, funny, and comes of natural in (most) of their deliveries of a family facing tough times that somehow makes it relevant in ways.  The powerful scenes when they come do their job, managing to penetrate the neutral shell I bring to most movies and pull some heart and spirt strings.  This is accomplished by great use of emotional supporting movie magic, especially the piano work that has diversity to capture the moment.  The cinematography accomplishes capturing the right light and angle to help as well, giving an underappreciated edge to help again sell the transformation as the word is shared. As the movie progresses, that creative flair in not only the camera work, but also some story components gets a nod to me for parts of this movie help break away from the traditional presentation that these movies thrive on (note I said some) that really came together as the movie closed into the final moments.  Speaking of which the finale really brings all these elements together, and like out of a Disney sports movie from the 90s you get all those feel good effects rushing together to punch you right in the emotional center of your body.  Finally, the music in this film, not the orchestral work from earlier, actually was awesome for me, showing that praise music is not just limited to the traditional hymns and songs that get overplayed in these films.  My favorite would be the Overcomer, but I think there are enough genres and variety to please most ears.

 

Yet, the movie still has some shortcomings from me in terms of a movie, remember the message is strong for me, but I am looking at the big picture here in terms of a movie. First of all the pace at the beginning is slow and a little bloated, due to some tangents taken long before the first run with Hannah.   You can definitely tell expect the predictability of the film, all the tell-tale signs and set ups feeling much like the books to which this film used as its foundation.  This is not so much a major issue for me, except for how much of the predictability is used to go out of its way to preach the message.  Almost like intermittent messages from church, Overcomer tends to take out the parts the trailer sold (seeing the tale of a runner improving on skill and relationships) for a lot of awkwardly time moments of preaching the Bible, one moment being a character interrupting a drama midterm to announce the faith they had found.  Powerful? Yes!  Well designed for the movie?  Kind of.  Perhaps it also would not have come off quite as cheesy or forced had some of the characters to been so staged.  Overcomer uses a lot of extras and secondary characters to act as bait for the church like moments and had they had a little more engagement in the tale other than simply delivering church lessons it would have flowed better.   As you hopefully have deduced, the main thing I didn’t enjoy about this movie was how it could not quite determine what approach it wanted to take.  Overcomer is almost part sports inspirational film, part Drama, and part big budge church production.  Instead of having a nice medium of using the cross country to pin its hopes on, the movie sort got lost in trying the balance all three parts and accomplish the goal of preaching.  Had they sort of ironed it out and minimized the Bible Verse interruptions, this could have been a different case, which took away from the movie quality for this reviewer.

 

VERDICT:

            The truth is that Overcomer is a very good religious movie that will speak to the hearts of many followers and get many crying with those well put together moments.  It’s a great message put in a new form and thanks to the help of creative outlook, cinema flair, and music it’s truly an inspirational piece of work.  Yet, in looking at the movie past the message, the inability to decide what path to take and going out of its way a lot to make preachy scenes took away from the movie quality itself.  Diluting the quality to a Hallmark like production where staged characters and awkward scenes stood out from the heart of the tale that lied in.  Again, the message is powerful, but for a presentation standpoint Kendrick’s approach needed a little tweaking to fully stand out as one of the greats.  Still, this is a must for most church goers and drama lovers, looking for that next wave of inspiration using the latest hi tech sound.  My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0