Groundhog Day Meets Massacre: Death Day Is Fun Halloween Movie

Death Day

            Halloween weekends are certainly a bag of tricks and treats themselves.  A variety of genres try to compete for the number one spot on the box office, and horror movies continue to try to prove their worth. My weekend reviews start with another film in the slasher collection that looks interesting to say the least.  Like all horror films, the truth behind the vague trailers can take a number of forms and levels of quality, so I wasn’t sure what I would get on this viewing.  What is the verdict?  As always read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Surprisingly Deep Character:  Most slasher films fail in terms of a gripping character to follow the journey with, in order to provide fodder for our demented killer.  Surprisingly, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has depth hidden within her superficial looks and sorority attitude. Seeing her character evolve over the film changed my attitudes towards her, especially as her sorrows began to emerge onto the field. And even more impressive is how balanced her multiple aspects were balanced into the story, to maintain the development that was so nicely done.

 

Censored:  There are those slasher movies that go over the top to maximize the vomit inducing kills and dismemberments. Happy Death Day, fortunately, is not one of those movies.  For a movie about repeating the same day over with a “deadly” conclusion, it keeps things rather clean and to the point, avoiding the mind scarring scenes that will be famous on YouTube. The PG-13 rating should assure you that this is a rather mild horror and won’t leave you sleepless like some other films can.

 

The Mystery:  If you have seen the trailers, you have probably been allured/intrigued as to who is behind that freaky baby like mask.  That aspect carries on into the film as you try to piece the puzzle together and solve the Scooby Doo like case.  It was the adventure of seeking those answers that kept me invested in the movie, searching for any slight hint to give away the surprise. Keep your eyes open, your minds active, and your thoughts running and you’ll get it within 25 minutes, but otherwise enjoy the ride the director created.

 

It’s fun: Movies that involve repeating the same day over and over again gets stale fast, because of cheap editing tricks to make the scene seem fresh.  Fortunately, Death Day keeps things fun and fairly fresh in the 1.5 hour run time.  This movie has plenty of chuckles thrown into the mix, many poking fun at the horror movie genre.  Tree’s dialogue itself has that aggressive, sorority girl element to it, filled with passive-aggressive compliments and sarcasm that are well-timed.  Throw in some well-developed secondary comedy from secondary characters, and the fun just keeps on rolling with each passing day.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  My friend and I both agreed that this movie lacked any real bite in terms of the scare factor.  Oh sure, a creepy, knife wielding, baby face mascot wearing killer would have anyone afraid to walk a dark corridor in the real world.  With the silver screen barrier though, the movie’s horror element doesn’t do much to build suspense or make you shrivel in your seats. Aside from a few jump scare moments, the comedy aspect of the movie will take over more than the scare component.  Sorry you fear feeding fans, no dice on this one.

 

Little Over the Top:  Ridiculous factors are all in good fun when they are timed well and not overdone.  Happy Death Day sometimes lost its regulation with the overly ridiculous moments, leading to these eye-rolling proportions that were just eating up time.  Some of the death scenes themselves fall in this category, alongside a few repeat sequences of Tree’s journey across the quad.  The running jokes themselves also get a little stale, especially when it comes to the rival sorority sister who was directed to be a little too aggressive my taste to take seriously.  Oh well, got to love those superficial characters that are meant for comedy alone right.

 

Some unfinished story elements:  While I’m surprised with how much of a story this movie had, no matter how cliché it was, there were still some underdeveloped aspects to the tale.  One was a few of Tree’s character development arcs, that started to blossom, only to die out like her character does.  A few of these could have further expanded her character, bringing in other characters to help draw it out and adding that dynamic element I like to see.  In addition, a few other plot elements were squeezed into the film in a rushed manner, sometimes feeling out of place until they were able to draw it back in with a well-placed plot element.  Had the scares been better…this element would sting less, but the story element is a big part and could have used some fine tuning.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Happy Death Day is one of the more fun slasher films I have seen in a long time.  It’s a movie that will appeal to many with its fun pace, decent comedy, intriguing mystery, and character that keeps you invested in their life.  While this was much better than my expectations, the movie still suffers some from imbalanced comedy gestures, unfinished story elements, and most importantly lack of scares.  Therefore, go in there expecting a drama/comedy with a slasher twist and you’ve got the right approach to this movie.  Yet, if you are looking for the next psycho thriller… hold your horses for a Redbox rent to capitalize on your investment.

 

My scores:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

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The Mixture Between Us

Moutain.jpg

 

The mighty majestic mountains that line the world.  These monolithic displays of nature are icons for so many forms of expression such as poetry, video game stages, and yes even movies.  Such symbolism is perfect to craft such an obstruction for heroes to face, all while teaching valuable lessons.  And thus leads me to my next review, on a movie that centers on the immobile giants that watch over the world.  The Mountain Between Us is the name of the film and its trailers have certainly stirred up a storm in the world of reviews.  Robbie K here hoping to guide you through the mess to help guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

The acting:  Like the mountains they are stuck in, the lead actors in this movie are giants themselves, displaying their talents to high levels.  Idris Elba once more blows my mind out how well he executes his roles.  He sells the suffering surgeon well, playing the internalization well and the survivalist even more.  Kate Winslet as ever brings her character to life, taking the fiery spirit she has within, and unleashing it in a manner that is wild, yet honed as the movie progresses.  The two certainly have the portrayal of suffering down pat (they can really shiver) but on many levels they play well off each other, especially in the beginning.

 

The Dog:  While not the main human actor, the dog is by far the character I cared about the most.  This animal, while of course like many of his canine brethren, was cute to me and impressive in the work it had to do. Trekking through the show, climbing mountains, and a variety of other things the dog certainly caught my eye for much of the screen.  In addition, because I’m a big animal fan, the dog was the character that kept me engaged in the film. Every scene transition, or new challenge I couldn’t help, but think “What happened to the dog.” That component is perhaps the biggest hooking element in the movie to keep you into the film.  What is its fate?  Can’t tell you, you’ll have to watch.

 

The Scenery: While it is no substitute for the real thing, The Mountain Between Us is a great example of stunning camera work. My breath was taken away by all the panoramic shots of the wilderness from the ever expanding sky in the peaks, to the silent wonder of the forest littering the valleys below.  It brings out the deadly force that mother nature holds and stunned me by the majesty of the visual prowess cameras can pick up.  So while it is again not the same thing as hiking these majestic peaks, it is the next best thing.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Diluted Suspense:  If you are like me, the trailers might have you believe this was going to be the most suspenseful movie of the year.  Unfortunately, I was fooled again. This film has some moments that got my anxiety building, but a majority of it is an almost peaceful trek through the snow.  While they are certainly cold, our character’s journey through the frozen wastelands lacked many elements to build up the intensity.  Perhaps the lack of a cinematic score, or the fact that obstacles seemed cleared too easily thanks to convenience, this movies frozen fury was almost a little too fragile for me. Or maybe it was the other focus of the movie that downgraded the suspense for me…

 

The Love Theme: Yes, just like the symbolic title suggests, the main wedge is the character’s backstories preventing them from moving to the obvious sign of starting a romance.  Much of the film tries to get the two to address their rather quick development of passion for one another in some rather lackluster ways.  I wasn’t sold on the romance for the most part, and the actors themselves didn’t seem quite charmed by each other outside of one rather pointless scene. The friendship factor at the beginning was much stronger, and would have been the route I had taken in developing the story.  Again, I don’t necessarily hate love, but I would like it better portrayed for my investment.

 

Disproportion:  Timing the movie, as good geeks do, it took only 8 minutes to get up on the mountain.  While I appreciate the fast pace, it gave little time to get to know the characters or at least give them a decent introduction to the madness about to be had.  This opening was rather shallow and quite disappointing in the grand scheme of the movie.  Yet it’s not quite as bad as the dragged out ending of this film.  While not as long as Return of The King, and all its false exits, The Mountain Between Us sort fizzles out in the end.  This tangent was not necessary, a quick closure to try and tidy up some loose ends of a weaker component of the film. Worst off, the chemistry started to falter, making this an awkward mess with a rather cheesy, albeit poetic, ending.  Not sure why these last 25 minutes needed to exist, but it could have been better spent in the beginning and end of the movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mountain Between Us is a beautiful spectacle of what the world can provide in terms of a stage, certainly blowing my mind on the visuals.  Alongside this majestic scenery comes some quality acting and a hooking factor in the form of the dog.  Yet these tools alone couldn’t save this movie from being semi-dull. With the tension dropped to a PG level for symbolism and awkward love, alongside disproportioned parts, I can’t say this movie delivered all I wanted.  The visuals might be the main theater worthy component, but this reviewer suggests holding out for RedBox to catch it.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Flat on Many Levels! Needs A Full Code To Bring To Life

Flatliners

            Death, the inevitable destination that we are constantly reminded of in the various forms of media.  We spend all our time trying to postpone it that sometimes we miss out on life itself.  This weekend’s remake though focuses on hastening to that endpoint all in the name of science.  I’m talking about Flatliners, a movie that many may be “deathly” afraid to see for one reason or another, however this reviewer is back in the theater to bring you some information on the latest silver screen picture.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Pretty Cast:  You get this from the trailers, but Flatliners is another example of pretty faces taking full front in a movie.  Like MTV meets a horror film, this cast will make young and old hearts beat as the characters dress in either preppy fashion or tight clothing to get the blood pumping.  Made up faces sparkle in the light, despite the ever-pressing doom hanging over them, and even in their worst they still look incredible.  Very important qualities in a movie.

 

Morals Wrapped in HorrorA better reward of this movie is the impressive delivery of some important lessons, one of which was rather personal to me.  The first is not to play with the defibrillator to study death, a lesson we all thought we knew, but guess we could use a refresher. Second is to take responsibility for your actions, and make up for them in an honorable manner.  Third is all about forgiveness, something that everyone can use a reminder of in terms of accepting apologies of those that are sincere.  While a bit theatrical at times, Flatliners delivers its lessons solidly, integrating it into the plot and making it fit well into the story.  This gooey, moral driven center is the sweet reward of the movie and perhaps my favorite component of the movie.

 

Decent Characters: Horror movies often have idiots for characters, or so blatantly shallow you can’t help but root for them to meet their end.  Not the case in this film.  Flatliner’s crew, despite the stupid desire to meet death, actually feel like relatable characters.  Their friendship, their flaws, and their fears were relevant to me, and were well-acted by our beautiful cast. As such, these characters are little easier to latch onto and invest your time into, following them through the nightmare they unleashed. For me, it was Diego Luna I grasped on to the most, his character being a keystone into connecting the elements of the plot.

 

Short Run Time:  Always nice when a horror movie doesn’t drag out too long, lost in the unnecessary details that often aren’t needed. Flatliners did a decent job trimming the fat, keeping things concise (if a bit rushed) and essential to explaining our character’s backstory, while still keeping the plot moving.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  Perhaps it’s me seeing so many movies, but Flatliners again failed to shock me.  Outside of the looks they wear when they stop their own hearts (as well as the questionable medical techniques), the movie doesn’t remotely focus on scares of any sort.  There are few vivid images that start down the path, but these fizzle out and become lost in a rather vague concept.  Throw in the rather lax attacks of the entity and well… there isn’t much more to build on to explain the calm pace this movie takes.

 

Vague Creature:  The trailers portray something being unleashed, but Flatliners does a poor job explaining what it is.  A spirit?  A demon? Their minds breaking from all the stress?  The answer is left for you to decipher, but don’t expect much in terms of the evil taking any form. This not only robs the movie of potential scares, but also makes the story confusing and more towards a drama than anything else. While this gets points for making you think, I still would have liked a little more imagination into my monster, or whatever it was.

 

Rushed Elements:  While the characters are better than most horrors, they still are mere shadows to great story works. Flatliners’ dilemmas are hastened through on many levels, a rather pathetic climax with a resolution obtained more easily than the Hulk Smashing through a building.  Some characters got their just desserts on development, but others got off a little easier than expected.  But development would mean a longer movie, so I can’t be too upset.

 

Predictable:  It’s hard to throw surprises in these days, but Flatliners was a little too familiar for my tastes.  In addition to the scares, much of the tale was easy to see coming, and following that pathway just takes away from the originality factor.  With this gone, the special feeling of this movie is further reduced to just another weekend filler.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Flatliners is another example of modern, horror movies with superficial glimmer that is merely gold paint. A pretty cast and good morals don’t offset the fact that movie is just not scary enough, nor original enough, to garnish a theater visit.  The abstract monster that dwells within us all gets you thinking, but come on, we want something to make us lose sleep at night.  Therefore, this mediocre remake gets the following:

 

Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Oh Mother, Where Art Thou?

mother!

 

Horror movies continue to be a popular trend in Hollywood.  IT’s successful launch last weekend, surely inspires the trend to continue, so what the heck put out another one this weekend.   Jennifer Lawrence takes center stage in what looks to be a psychosocial thriller to usher in a new age. Will the artistic styles of Darren Aronofsky be a welcome change to the milieu, or does its odd premise promised in the trailers might dive too far down crazy town to enjoy?  Robbie K happy to fill in some gaps with another review.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Unique vision:  Call me crazy, as many people do, but originality is something difficult to come by these days.  Mother, certainly gets points for standing out, not only in the bizarre presentation and mind messing visuals, but also in the symbolism represented in the story.  Amidst the mystery, drama, and other oddities in the film, one will get their fill of morals in that artistic manor Hollywood loves. One certainly won’t forget this movie, or its…originality.

 

Acting: The chemistry between Javier Bardem and Lawrence is perhaps the biggest selling point of this movie.  Much of the mystery comes in the tension between the two protagonists, Bardem’s deceptive nature and double speak is on point to keep you wondering what is going on.  Lawrence’s curiosity and desperation kept me intrigued as to how far she could go, before breaking and challenging his words.  It’s a relationship dynamic brought out in spades, further leading you down the rabbit hole into the mind meddling to be had. In addition, Lawrence also knows how to sell psychotic with screams, tears, and just enough raspy voice to sell suffering.

 

Prosthetics/makeupGrasping for straws here, but the team did a nice job with the prosthetics at hand.  Injuries that arise look festering as if plagued by infection illustrated in text books. The degrading house seen in the trailers is only further detailed in the shots, black marks and degrading wood in all its glory. And Lawrence’s pregnant belly is flawlessly blended into her normal skin, creating the roll that she could pop at any point.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow: Forgive me, but horror movies often move quickly to get to the scares at hand, even though they sacrifice story.  While mother has a story…it moves dirt slow to the point of inducing sleep in the movieThe drama aspect takes more precedence than anything, and unfortunately it is dragged out relentlessly to the point of being annoying.  This snail’s pace doesn’t do much for the quality of the movie, despite building up suspense for something never to come.

 

Not Scary: Aren’t horror films  supposed to be scary, or at least try to get me to jump?  Mother failed on this aspect much of the time, resorting to a few loud noises and people sudden turning a corner as their fright factor.  The tactic grew old and soon became nothing more than a ploy to try to salvage scares.  For me, the creepiest factor was seeing humans devolve into selfish, unthinking cretins makes me fear for the future.  Outside of that though, not much got me on edge for this movie.

 

Editing:  I stated above the pace was slow, but that’s because there was too much unneeded details for most of the movie.  The drama was dragged out, the weird concepts were even longer, and there were a few scenes that I could have lived without and been just fine.  Editing needed to jump in and get rid of some of this fluff, because it didn’t work for me at all given the lack of scares. Yet, their hands were tied by the fact the writer was also the director.

 

The Story:  All the symbolism and artistic presentation doesn’t save the audience from an incoherent story. Mother has a lot of weird subplots in it, many of which held little relevance to the overall plotAdditionally, there are lots of gaps in the plot, unless you like theorizing and reflection on the plot, because that’s the only way to fill in the vague data points.  The writer got so centered on its uniqueness, it didn’t close the story the best I think they could do.  Questions are great for discussion, but I like my films with a little more explanation than what I got in this film.  And when you draw most of the conclusions…you can’t help but say, “Really?  That is what this is?” Which reminds me….

 

The Weirdness:  Mother started out artistically weird, but as the movie hit the halfway point it dove deep into the tortured artist route.  What didn’t make sense, quickly turned into a trippy, random display of negligence and rudeness, mocking the modern human while deterring from the mystery.  Soon rapid time progression and sequence changes led to even more head scratching moments, that continued to shock me further to the point of asking what I was watching. The obscene violence and darker phenomenon only grossed me out, and again seemed pointless in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Mother is artistic and unique, I’ll give it that, and certainly makes bold statements about a lot of cultural quarrels plaguing our world.  But outside of that, it’s not so much a horror movie as a though provoking, psychological thriller.  A slow pace, trippy visulas, and just overall weird atmosphere, does not make for the best horror movie.  So, if you had your hopes up for this one, do yourself a favor and skip this mind bender until it hits home theaters.  Go see IT again instead. 

 

Scores:

 

Drama/Mystery/Horror:  6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

Fun, Friendly, and Family Make It Feel Like Home

Home again

 

Not in the mood for scares this weekend?  No problem, Hollywood has got you non-horror movie goers covered with another romantic comedy.  This weekend, the legendary Reese Witherspoon stars in another Hallie Meyers-Shyer work, in hopes of tickling your romantic fantasy on a less risqué scale. Robbie K back again with another movie review on Home Again.  Will this film be another mundane addition to her lineup, or do we perhaps have something special with this flick?  Let’s get started to answer that question, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

Charming/Cute:  Like her works in the past, Meyers-Shyer has done a fantastic job building an adorable world/situation for our characters to play in.  No major tension, violence, or heart-stopping shock moments, exist in this movie.  Instead it is just a simple tale that will pull at your heartstrings while portraying those romantic morals many wish to see.  Such a positive atmosphere certainly offsets the horror atmosphere of the other movie most likely to be in your theater.

 

FunWith that positive atmosphere comes a fun movie, filled with small sequences that are wholesome, innocent, and surprisingly entertaining.  Like a Hallmark Movie on steroids, Home Again takes on plenty of life lessons that are tested against the modern society trends today.  Loyalty, romance, job work, responsibility, and child rearing are just some of the things you’ll get in this movie.  And while tasteful, and certainly predictable, the journey to addressing the obstructions in our character’s life brings about some simplistic laughs, a plethora of smiles, and a few tears for whose hearts are warmed by Meyer-Shyer’s writing.

 

Acting:  Despite what some say, I found the acting okay and well-fitting given the environment of the movie.  Witherspoon herself felt very natural in the role of a single mom looking to find herself again.  She brought great energy to the film, all while keeping herself grounded amidst the chaos of all the relationships.  The kids were an adorable addition, each playing their parts well to offset the romantic drama loaded into this film.  I particular liked the older daughter story and how it integrated a different side of the guys to help solve a different problem.  Speaking of the guys all three “eligible” bachelors were decent in playing their assigned roles, from younger brother bringing peace, to the stud that caught Reese’s eyes.  Of all them, Jon Rudnitsky was my favorite and the most dynamic of the characters being integrated into the film.  A nice blend of comedy and drama, Jon’s character kept the characters well integrated into the mix.

 

The short run time:  A predictable tale like this can get old, fast.  Fortunately, they had the foresight to cut this movie to the shorter end, telling the tale in enough details to get the job done.  A plus on my side, though many may feel robbed of a full story they pine for given her past films.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Rushed elements: Despite the short time being a nice gift, Home Again’s brisk pace leaves some key development scrounging for a rebound.  So much potential to really give more layers to the movie, and perhaps get a few engaging story lines out of the mix would have been the better route. Especially when it came to the challenges at hand.

 

No major obstacle:  Home Again felt like a movie with little struggle, few challenges, and in all honesty a lackluster tale all in all.  It played a little too close to home and left me just milling about as the problems seemed to iron themselves away. With all the complicated relationships crammed into this tale, one would expect a little more resistance from the awkward shuffling this cast played.  Even most Hallmark movies push back more than this film did before they get to that mushy-gushy ending that millions fall in love with.  Perhaps a larger challenge might have made for more engaging characters and a feeling of accomplishment.

 

Characters:  Sure they are charming, cute, admirable, and responsible in many ways, but I have to face the facts… the characters are rather one dimensional.  The actors did well with what they were given, but much of the movie’s puppets were a bit boring to me. Much of my fellow audience members like their physical appearances the most, but this reviewer had difficulties attaching to them because of their stunted growth.  Even Reese’s character seemed a bit dull, caught in a whirlwind of indecision before suddenly flipping sides.  Even worse, the characters (like the plot) were predictable, further dulling the film’s entertainment value.

 

Little Candice Bergen:  When you sell Murphy Brown in the trailers, I hope to get more of the spunky actress.  Not the case, as Bergen is reduced to a few nugget lines of dialog that is lost in the “romantic” tide.  Had she been integrated into the movie, I have no doubt the characters could have grown stronger with her pushing Reese’s character to better herself.

 

The VERDICT:

 

While certainly cute, Home Again was a bit too simplistic for my tastes, missing the potential to be one of the better romantic comedies.  A rushed story with limited character growth, no real obstacles to keep you engaged, and some missed comedic elements doesn’t bode well for this predictable tale.  However, it is still a fun, feel good movie that will do its job of entertaining target audiences with eye candy, simplistic laughs, and an overall warm your cardiac pump moment that will make you feel good at the end of the day.  Not a bad feeling, but not worth the inflated movie ticket price. 

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Drama/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

IT’s A Remake That Rocks!

IT

 

Remakes, remakes, remakes.  It seems every time you turn around, Hollywood is out once more make money by simply updating a previous hit.  Often these remakes pale in comparison, but every once in a while, you get a film worthy of social media blow up and hype. This weekend, the highly anticipated, and over-advertised, IT remake crawls out of the studio shadows and attempts to make us face our fears.  Can Hollywood bring King’s famous work into the modern century of film, or will it merely make us scream in fright at horrible it is.  Robbie K back from a two-week hiatus to bring you another review.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Creepy:  Horror movies are supposed to be scary, and fans of my work know I love it when the studio crawls under my skin.  IT has plenty of moments that creeped me out, primarily the use of shadows, sound, and those small details that teased the audience to the scares.  A nice variety of tactics exists in this movie to make you squirm in your seat, all led by the deliciously evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) and all his pasty white glory. One may find another of disturbing scenes in this movie, primarily in that cold, seeking stare he loves to use so much.  Yes, It certainly mirrored the atmosphere portrayed in the book.

 

Acting:  Seldom do I say a horror film has good acting, but IT hit a home run with all the actors chosen to bring the characters to life. Instead of the usual airheaded, shallow characters who did nothing but scream and curse, this cast portrayed a much broader emotional role…while still cursing. This group did such a good job that I actually liked and invested energy into the characters, which isn’t usually the case in modern horror cinema. While I can’t give shout outs to each one, I certainly will give props to how much they sold the summer adventure to me, almost like Stranger Things meets the Goonies, with a little more demented atmosphere on top. Of course, the real props go to Skarsgard, whose portrayal as Pennywise is certainly a major part to the horror he brings.  His delivery is incredible, that shadowy, whisper like voice that mimics the element of the movie.  Throw the laugh and creepy body acting, to get the complete demonic nature of Pennywise.

 

The Story:  Stephen King knows how to write a story, and thank goodness, this director knew how to bring it to life.  IT finally proves you can have a scary movie with a plot worth investing in.  This version follows the book very well, managing to develop the characters, lay out the story, and still bring all the creepy parts into beautiful detail and length.  The result is a more engaging movie, increased suspense, and an emotional roller coaster as you live the adventure through these kids. This aspect is my favorite component of the movie and certainly worth the price of admission, including the little revelation at the end…which fans of the book will know.

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Suspense, Less Scares:  IT might be creepy, but I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be.  I, nor my friends, didn’t jump at all. Despite creepy build-ups and a setting that welcomes scares, IT still has the same predictable foreshadowing that is used a little too often that it dilutes the big revelation.  While it was certainly more suspenseful in regards to the adventure, I don’t foresee myself getting nightmares from this movie.

 

Unbalanced at times:  IT has a lot of things perfectly done in this movie, but there are a few moments where they seemed to drop the ball on their characters.  True, I haven’t read the book in a long time, but I seemed to remember each kid having almost equal involvement in fighting the shapeshifting embodiment of fear.  In this film though, I felt they dropped the characters at time to the backburner, choosing to focus on just three of the main characters.

 

The Computer Effects:  The past two dislikes are minor and just space filling, but the only major dislike was the CGI effects.  When IT conforms into the more realistic entities crafted by makeup and costumes, I would feel grossed out, sickened, and get goosebumps.  However, when the CGI moments came into play, the realism faded away to cheesy effects that were more humorous than terrifying. Sure, the creatures themselves would make anyone wet themselves, but their portrayal In this movie could have been maximized if they stuck to makeup effects.  In addition, some of the convulsing moments were funny to watch, again due to the semi-realistic effects.  While certainly not the worst visual effects, it could have used a little tune up to be honest.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            IT proves that you can make a remake that doesn’t stink and may actually be truer to the book.  While not the scariest movie to haunt the theater, it is fantastically creepy and will certainly get your skin crawling.  In addition, the acting and story are fully developed and bring about a wonderful tale that will keep you hooked into the movie wondering where the end of the adventure would be.  Yes, the computer effects need a little work, but otherwise a solid addition to the horror genre and a worthy trip to the theater.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Nolan, Dun Got It Right

Dunkirk

 

War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?  Entertaining movies, that is what it is good for.  Hollywood has numerous examples of wars from the various historical times in our human legacy. Many of these installments focus on a hero who saved the war, or a band of brothers that bravely faced the odds to hold the line.  In most cases though, you can bet there will be violence, explosions, and often graphic portrayals of the hell contained in our squabbles.  I finish my weekend reviews with Dunkirk, which is the latest installment in the Christopher Nolan library.  Can the Dark Knight director work his magic in war?  Or does it fizzle out like a dud bomb.  Robbie K here to give his opinions.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Layered Story:  Many war movies are the linear tales of the hero who will win the battle.  Dunkirk diverts from this main path and instead presents its plot from three viewpoints that overlap at various times.  A cryptic opening doesn’t do much to explain this, but eventually the plots coincide and your mind is blown by the presentation.  This element, though confusing at times, adds that unique flare to the movie that keeps your interest piqued as you connect the journeys of those involved.  In addition, the multiple viewpoints give you a more complete picture of the war, further bringing the history to life in a manner Hollywood special effects is famous for.

 

Realism:  We know the doctoring editing and story writers can make to score big bucks in the box office.  These moments often lead to overdramatic, eye-rolling moments that war dramas can be.  Dunkirk again shines in the unique department in terms of crafting the story to be realistic in many details.  You’ll be pulled into the war in this film, grounded in the nightmares that plague the battlefields and the internal struggle that all involved face.  I felt plagued with the emotional guilt in the choices made in this film, while also concerned with the consequences that could follow those choices. The film’s focus on the people and not the battle works on so many levels, and makes you interested in the characters more so than the special effects.  Nice choice again Noland!

 

The Cinematography:  Dunkirk doesn’t have a lot of lines, award winning dialogue, or even one-liners that we as humans like.  Instead it is the cinematography and editing that bring Dunkirk to life and make it shine in the theater’s dark halls.   While the special effects are certainly impressive (though not that showy), it’s really the camera work that brings the mood out in the form of hope seeking faces that are suffering through the onslaught dealt to them.  Throw in the powerful musical score and mix in the little line delivery and you get that recipe for emotional bombardment that brings respect, empathy, and pride of the sacrifices made by troops long ago.

 

Short run time:  Such a dynamic, sounds like it would take forever…fortunately Nolan’s direction kept the movie under 2 hours and brought quality out in that short time.  This is an example of good directing and editing, and proof that you can have a quality film in a short time limit.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Missing that Hollywood Story:  Realism is good, but I certainly missed having a flared-up story to grip onto.  Dunkirk is a quality movie, but it isn’t as much fun as I have had with other war movies.  It lacks some of the big, bang excitement made famous in other war movies, and the realistic psychological approach can drag at times.  The result is not the action-packed survival I had hoped for, but I can always rewatch Hacksaw Ridge for that. And while I enjoyed the layered story approach, I again think it was confusing at times to piece things together without a central story, plot, or goal (outside of survival/rescue) to hook onto.

 

The placement of certain scenes: My buddy and I agreed that there were points to this movie that were difficult to follow.  Much of this came from the odd placement of clips in the movie and the rapid transitions between these various stories with little guidance.  Things do get better when the lines start to come together, but there are still scenes that still stay confusing at points until the end of the movie.  In addition, the pacing of the stories was uneven at times, with a couple of stories rapidly concluding (so you think), only to reappear after a prolonged gap.  Not the biggest weakness, but things could have been a little better oriented for me.

 

Depressing:  We know war sucks, and this movie’s portrayal of the loss of hope amplifies those feelings. There are so many elements of depression in this movie that you may feel a little down following the opening.  I felt a little tired during this movie, especially during the drawn-out moments that were more depressing and less stressing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Dunkirk is certainly one of the more artistic and clever portrayals of war, dropping Hollywood flare for realism.  Nolan’s impressive directing opens up new worlds of war theater and keeps things fresh with the impressive displays of heroism.  Yet all the good the cinematography and directing is… I missed the Hollywood flare that cinemas bring.  Without that story/entertainment value to it… Dunkirk has some confusing presentations and dragged out moments that can weigh heavy on you.  Still, this movie has plenty to qualify a visit to the theater, and one of the better movies of the summer.  Not the epic wartime thriller, but certainly one of the more realistic, war dramas I have ever seen. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Drama/History:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0