Dog Days Go Byyyyyyyyy!

Dog Days Poster

 

Man’s best friend is always the subject of at least one movie of the year.  These films are often filled to the brim with emotion, many of which are capable of making you shed a tear (let’s not go down Marley & Me).  Yet despite the potential heart break, I and many others are hitting the theaters to scope out if the pooches got the power to entertain. Robbie K is back again and here to share his thoughts on the latest films in hopes of helping you with your viewing choices.   So, let’s get started, as I review:

 

Movie: Dog Days (2018)

Director:

Ken Marino

Writers:

Elissa Matsueda (screenplay by),  Erica Oyama (screenplay by)

Stars:

Nina Dobrev,  Vanessa Hudgens,  Finn Wolfhard

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute/Adorable:  A movie about dogs often has the factor that melts our heart and Dog Days is no exception.  The numerous relationships between man and dog are incredibly sweet, a family atmosphere that will thoroughly make fans of many ages smile. You’ll get a wonderful sense of pet ownership as the tales interconnect, and plenty of furry faces to make your cheeks hurt from smiling.

 

Good Pace:  The movie trailer suggest a film that was going to drag in its ridiculous, multi-tale way.  Surprisingly, the movie achieves a presentation speed that will keep most people’s attention and get you out of there feeling like you haven’t lost 4 years of your life.  Again, it helps that the puppies are in a majority of the shots, but the brisk pace cuts out the drab and leaves more for fab.

 

All Characters Used: A star studded cast often suffers from skewed use of characters.  Happily, I can announce that Dog Days achieves the balance that many strive for, keeping both animal and human members integrated in a rather even time interval. Well done guys, well done.

 

Good Chemistry:  The relationship between pet and owner is sacred on many levels, and to capture that relationship in the acting is a challenge that is difficult to obtain.  Fortunately, our cast was up to the challenge, and managed to solidly execute the acting they wanted.  While not Oscar worth, the humans do a great job interacting with each other, bringing believable relationships to the silver screen.  Throwing the dogs in there, the magic only further explodes as the personalities of each group unfold, and begin reshaping into something grander as world’s collide.

 

Good Dialogue:  What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good script for the actor’s to bring to life.  Dog Days may not have the most memorable quotes, meme worthy t-shirt jargon, or even those scenes that will go down in history.  However, much of the dialogue feels like it was grounded in reality, with our character spouting words that feel like normal conversation. It fits well with the theme of the movie, brings a nice freshness into the Hollywood style, and further creates likeable characters that don’t feel as fake. Plus, the good themed morals and heartfelt lessons are not diluted by a grandiose speech.

 

The Dogs:  Of course, this is my favorite aspect, the four-legged wonders are the heart and soul of the movie.  The animal cast hold the personality of most of the shots, come trained with some impressive moods and discipline, and manage to say so much, but yet make little noise.  It’s all of these qualities mixed with those energetic faces that really secures your interest in the film and doesn’t let go until the very end.  Whoever directed the cinematography to fully utilize them, gets an A+ in my book for maximizing the full effect of the crew.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  A movie like this is going to rely on the straight and narrow so that they can secure a wide age group.  The movie drops so many clues messily, you can surely be prepared for what is to come and see it coming a mile away.  I had hoped to be wrong for multiple reasons, but only one clue managed to lead me astray, the rest painted arrow signs to the story.  Perhaps it is to get you prepped for the deeper moments, but a little more surprise would have been nice.

 

Editing:  The movie is nearly 2 hours long, and while I love seeing cute puppies for so long, the tale didn’t need to be that long.  We had at least 20 minutes that could have been directed to different areas, or just cutting it out altogether.  A minor dislike indeed, but still, utilize your editing crew a little better.

 

Silly moments:  The realism is fine, and some of the laughs are cute gimmicks, there are times where the realism is shattered for ridiculous gimmicks.  It’s a little something for everyone, but at least one sequence in particular was a little overdone.  In addition, some of the running jokes should have stopped sooner rather than later. Still, these moments will crack people up, and get those squeals of delight from the younger crowd.

 

The Stories:  While they achieved the goal of integration, and managed to sew in some inspirational, emotional moments, the story of this film did suffer from what felt incomplete.  Oh, sure they had a nice wrapped up ending, but like many of the cross-tale films, so much sustenance is left out.  Some tales more than others, Dog Days multiple subplots feel like they are bare boned short stories that managed to get tied in hastily.  Cute as they can be, I like a little more depth to the tales, and perhaps decreasing the number of stories was the way to go.

 

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall Dog Days turned out better than I anticipated. It’s a good family movie, where dogs rule and the people don’t do bad too.  This cute, cuddly, moral infused project is really good for a variety of age groups, and will probably pull at the heartstrings as most dogs do.  Given all the fun though, there are some editing and story development areas that still require tweaking primarily to help mature the story into a major hit, and perhaps drop some of the predictability. While I did enjoy the theater presentation, I don’t feel this movie was needed to be seen in the big screen, but if looking for a good family film, check this out, because it was supported by MoviePass.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

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Trying To Build To New Heights, But Only Climbs So High

Skyscraper Poster

 

Disaster movies and action kind of go hand in hand, but seldom does it involve more than trying to dodge whatever artificial natural disaster the Hollywood directors deem up.  Today’s movie review focuses on a film that tries to blur the lines between the two a little better, in what will hopefully be a new twist on the action/disaster movie frontier.  Utilizing the popular leading man of Dwayne Johnsonto carry the movie, there seems to be hope that this Die-Hard copier can potentially bring enough bucks in to get the attention of the modern era.  Does it work? Robbie K here to bring you yet another review this time on:

 

Movie: Skyscraper (2018)

 

Director:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Neve Campbell,  Pablo Schreiber

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Special Effects: The leading point of the movie is the impressive display of CGI in this movie.  Perhaps a little corny at times, the movie really invested well in high definition sound to rattle the theater as the chaos of the crime unfolds. Excessive computer-generated images are the key to bringing the inferno to life, but is still beautiful rendered to design a building that will only be fiction for a short while.  The world crafting gets kudos for me, and will hopefully impress you as well.

 

The Realism:  Despite there being some fiction behind this movie, it is a little more grounded to the real world than one might expect.  The “Pearl” is a building that will soon exist, a setting that is perfect to craft a surprisingly detailed plot.  As the scheme continues to evolve, the realism continues to remain in check, finding kinks in the plot and having to adapt. In addition, even the action keeps things believable, where if a character takes a hit, they actually suffer in terms of performance.  All of this adds to suspense of the film and engaged to this adapted plot.

 

Character Involvement: A movie with as many characters always has me worried about how much involvement they have in the plot.  Die Hard did it correctly as each character had their place and contributions that actually mattered, and fortunately this copy did the same thing.  Most of the characters act as their piece to the puzzle, keeping them integrated into the plot for the entirety of the film and doing a decent job of tying up all loose ends.  Even more so, the characters are designed to cover a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and genre lovers.

 

Good Pace:  The movie movies quickly, gets the suspense going, and does little to try to slow things down.  For guys like me, the movie rocks in terms of few slow parts and keeps the intensity amped up to a level of ten and that just makes for a fun movie in my opinion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Lack of Beginning: The pace may be good in terms of excitement, but I am with many of my friends in that plot development is also key. Skyscraper’s beginning is almost nonexistent, all the set up skipped over to get to the action and drop any chance of escaping the predictable plot line off the ledge within 15 minutes. Any chance at suspense build up is practically gone and the story actually takes a hit because of that. If you’re not in for the story, then you will glaze over this, but for those looking for a little bit of both worlds don’t expect much of an opening.

 

The Plot Gaps:  For a building that secure and advanced, you would think there would be more contingency plans than the one they had here.  This gap is just one example of the stretches and details you have to ignore to fully enjoy the movie.  In addition, there are feats of strength, stamina, and physics defying moves that are also a little cheesy for the fans who love those extremes.  As these gaps happen, the movie moves quickly to try and forget about them, but still the movie could have used some refining at points.

 

The Jumps:  This was advertised immensely in the trailers and marketing, but the film has that extreme jump that we have grown accustomed to. Yet the movie took that concept and milked it for all its worth.  Skyscraper tries to pay homage to Die Hard in many ways, and while it fits into the grand scheme of the movie, the film goes a little overboard with the gimmicks. All the sacrificing brings that bang for your buck, but in terms of story it’s only okay for me.

 

The Villains Development: I’ll give them props, they have made a better villain than many movies have as of late in the form of Botha (Roland Møller). And while this one of the better villains, it still needed more work in his character development.  Comparing to its inspiration source, the villain started giving us some deeper levels, but then it tapered out and he went back to the generic villain.  A little more insight and integration could have done wonders to expand the tale even more.  Even his side kicks and team held promise, but again they too were overshadowed by the protagonist’s tale, screen time, and jumps.

 

The Action:  Did it fit with the tale?  Yes.  Was it realistic?  Yes. Was it exciting?  Depends.  Skyscraper’s battles are decently coordinate, but much of this lacks the bite that other movies have had.  They are quickly executed, very simplistic, and sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion, but this movie’s feeling of trying to survive the manmade disaster I guess takes precedence over the gun fight.  Not the worst action, but definitely room for improvement.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Skyscraper is an example of impressive movie theater worthy special effects, and surprisingly stays on the realistic qualities these franchises often ignore.  I give it applause for integration of characters, and Johnson doing a fabulous job leading the film.  Still the movie is a diluted piece compared to the movie it copies so much of and therefore needed some amping up in terms of story, villain development and action. Perhaps a little less jumping and a little more time could have given this tale the needed oomph to rock it into higher scores.  Still the effects do render it a good theater film, but if you don’t want this kind of movie… save it until you get home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

The Road To El Soldado: Paved With Details, Character Development, and Edge

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster

 

Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise.  After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico.  Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path.  Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:

 

Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)

 

Director:

Stefano Sollima

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Stars:

Benicio Del Toro,  Josh Brolin,  Isabela Moner

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Darkness:  A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal.  The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of “heroes”.  In terms of character development, the movie’s edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.

 

The Story:  Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades.  Del Toro’s character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together.  Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in. 

 

The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers.  It’s just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides.  Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love. 

 

The Acting:  By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully.  Brolin doesn’t veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken.  No surprise, it’s Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round.  Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.

 

The Justice:  There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen… actually happen and these moments plain out rock.  I can’t say much more than that so let’s move on to the dislikes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  The movie isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts.  It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots.  Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.

 

Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie’s talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is.  You’ll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players’ parts in this film.

 

Some stretches:  The movie’s complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal.  Sometimes it’s turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it’s the rapid change of character, but Soldado’s road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes.  Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.

 

Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn’t the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving.  Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.

 

More Action:  The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted.  Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional.  Why this was the case?  I don’t know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue.  So, let’s get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre.  It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant.  Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established.  Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components.  It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained.  Good for kids?  Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work.  Worth a trip to the theater?  If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

 

Movie Overall: 6.0

Wanted Luxury And Got Decent: Checking In For A One Night Stay

Hotel Artemis Poster

            What does crime, medicine, and dramas all have in common? Well outside of certain episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy, not much to be honest.  However, today those three genres mix together to bring you another movie that will hopefully bring with it some suspense, a little creativity, and some originality that Hollywood needs.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and today we review:

 

Movie: Hotel Artemis

 

Director:

Drew Pearce

Writer:

Drew Pearce

Stars:

Jodie Foster,  Sofia Boutella,  Dave Bautista

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Character Dynamics
  • Sofia Boutella and Sterling Brown’s Characters
  • Realistic Setting
  • Action Scene

 

Summary:  Hotel Artemis is a movie largely dependent on its characters, which fortunately are brought to life by the fantastic talents of the various cast members recruited for the project.  Leading roles by Foster, Boutella  and Sterling K. Brownare by far the most in depth and worthy of billing, but even the supporting characters like Bautista and Charlie Daywho bring their usual styles to the mix to alleviate some of the more somber moments.

As the actors bring it to life, the character dynamics start to awaken, establishing the realm of crime in the near-future LA and just how fickle trust can be in the underworld.  Those dynamics by far are the driving force of the movie, trying to help figure out how each of the pawns are connected and what will drive them in this high stakes hospital.  Perhaps it’s the setting itself that forces this evolution of characters, as the dingy oasis from the riot outsides places numerous pressure on the group.  As the outside world grows wilder (documented by occasional news blurbs), the characters are forced to interact and face their own dilemmas.  It’s a well-done drama that doesn’t pull any punches in the 2 hour run time so that it may establish so much.

I mentioned in pre-reviews that this movie looked to have some action to further spur the story on and for the most part… that is not the case.  Yet, there is one action scene in particular led by the sexy assassin herself, that is just epic, tense, and a great fit into the story that feels pertinent to the tale as a whole.  I wished there was more of these moments, but that wasn’t the direction they wanted to go.

 

DiSLIKES:

  • Slow at times
  • Charlie Day/Quinto Rants
  • Underutilization of characters/actors
  • More Action
  • Darker Violence
  • Background flops

 

Like some of the more popular dramas on television, Hotel Artemis’ drama is all about try to build tension through the characters and have politics, emotional fervor, and affairs be the selling point. This takes time to adequately develop, and given all the convoluted ties in this movie, it means a pace that isn’t quite adrenaline fueled. Hotel Artemis has its slow points, that easily could have been tightened to reduce the run time or potentially add some more tension/urgency to the mix.  Had there been more action to speed it up, the pace may not have been as much of a low point for me, but I fought sleep a couple of times.

In addition, a few of the directions that the characters were taken were not my favorite renditions I wanted to see.  Primarily in Quinto and Day’s characters, these players in Artemis’ game are more annoying than engaging, leaving me disappointed with the little contribution they played.  Day just rants and curses like someone hopped on coffee, Red Bull, and methamphetamine, while Quinto is just a big baby.  Not quite as fitting given the other portrayals of the crime gang.  Even worse, a few of the characters are super left out, reduced to a few, unmemorable lines or weak character ploys to get to the climax faster.  Jeff Goldblum’s character was one of these guys, and my fears of too many characters came true.

Which brings me to perhaps my biggest dislike of the film, the rushed background stories and flops.  The Nurse’s story is one of the heavy hitters, mysterious and emotionally charged, you expect it to be the epicenter of the movie.  And while it was a key connector, much of the backstory was not that impressive, alliterated, and lacking any major surprise/mind blowing component.  When the big revelation comes… you almost miss the clues and by this point I was done with all the planning, I needed the climactic finish.  Fortunately Nice and Waikiki’s tale had a little more to it, but even then it was only a superficial scratch to what lied below.  All the potential was kind of flown over, therefore this was the disappointment factor for me.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Hotel Artemis is weird and dark, no doubt about it, and truth be told it is a crime/drama with characters that are the central pillar to the story.  Despite a fantastic cast acting their brains out and a character centric plot, Artemis’s main flaws come from not having enough time to fully utilize everyone they wanted, and it resulted in plot teasers that could be expanded on in the future (perhaps in a sequel no doubt).  Such complications were only exacerbated by the slower pace, that begs for more suspense, tension, and action to bring it to life.  Truth be told, this could have been better done as a television series than a solo movie, given them hours to further map out the conspiracy web. Overall, not worth the trip to the theater to be honest, but worth the rent if you are into the alternative Sci-Fi/crime scene.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall 6.0

 

A Genetic Twist To Horror That Is Semi-Gripping Until the End

Hereditary Poster

 

Robbie K here, ready to try and do another movie justice in his reviews and observations.  Tonight’s focus is on a horror movie that looked very disturbing, chilling to the bone, and potentially containing a high creep factor to really make you squirm in your seats.  Yes, assuming you read the title of the movie on your way into this review I’m giving you my thoughts and observations on…

 

Hereditary (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Aster

Writer:

Ari Aster

Stars:

Toni Collette,  Milly Shapiro,  Gabriel Byrne

 

LIKES:

Creepy:  The trailers didn’t lie, Hereditary is creepy as heck and not afraid to flaunt it in so many forms.  While not loaded with jump scares that many love, Hereditary is all about using shadows and the edge of your vision to make you see things. It uses subtle sounds to keep you on the edge, and reveals just enough to keep you further engrossed in the thrills. Hereditary also is not afraid to cross the line to really get a reaction going, sometimes to the point of intensely disturbing visuals that one does not expect to see.  Yet, my friends and I all agreed that the true creep factor comes from how realistic this movie is, at least at the beginning.  The questions of how much is true and how much potential psychosis is helps depict some of the more extreme cases of mental illness and how dangerous and intense this disease can be. 

 

The Setting:  A creepy movie requires a setting to bring it to life and this movie has got that going on for it too.  The house is classic, semi isolated from town, with enough nooks and crannies to generate shadows that hide in the light.  It’s not these random temples or abandoned houses, but an actual lived in home that brings that realism to light and immerses you into the movie.  And if you don’t care about the creepy shadows and lights the movie holds, then just enjoy the beauty of the house, especially if you were dragged to the movie to begin with.

 

 

Dynamic Story Changes: A fancy way of saying twisting transition, Hereditary’s writer certainly new how to adjust the script to bring a different atmosphere with the movie.  At first more of a psycho thriller with some potential horror elements, the movie manages to gradually fluctuate into other genres.  It evolves into different types of horrors, and with it brings more levels of disturbing twists to begin to connect semi-vague pieces together. It certainly a bit haphazard and mashed like a play, but I give props for a writer willing to switch gears from time to time. In addition, some of the lengths they go to shake things up are certainly risky, but with it generating some reaction you weren’t quite expecting. 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Long:  Heritage certainly does the job of tying up loose ends and making sure everything is explained (which of course is a like). Sadly, it takes a little too long to get to that point and in a very complex manner that is almost like going around your elbow to get to your thumb. The second act, and partially the third act, were very drawn out, boring to the point of trying to make these connections in a mask of coping mechanisms.  Again, it’s realism and portrayal are awesome, but as the direction of the movie starts to change, these weird transitions start to feel a bit too odd and not worth your time.

 

The Goofy Faces:  Some of the movie tried to bring some torturous reactions in the non-verbal acting.  Poor Toni Collette came off with some rather goofy, perhaps unintentional, faces that were funny and looked more like being stoned or maybe getting brain freeze. Her son Peter (Alex Wolff) didn’t turn out much better, as his own facial dynamics were, well goofy as well, primarily in that buck toothed, stoned look that was meant to be exhaustion.

 

The Acting:  Don’t get me wrong, the acting was mostly decent, if not good, primarily in the portrayal of mental illness and fear.  Yet there were times where hysterical crying, yelling, and blubbering were again a little too much and went down the wrong path.  I’m not trying to pick on Wolff, but his hysterical crying was a little too forced for me and seemed incredibly fake compared to the rest of his performance.  Why this gimmick was done more than once, not really known, but I can’t say that it was a direction I would have taken.

 

The Tongue Clicking: Not quite an as annoying as the trailers made it out, the use of the tongue clicking was decent at times, but a little over used.  Whether it was the amplification by the speakers, or maybe just the excessive/random moments, this device started to grow annoyingly humorous and needed to stop.  Thank goodness they got light of it and didn’t bombard us too much with it.

 

The Complexity:  A complex plot makes you think, makes you question, and more importantly keeps you engaged.  This movie accomplished those goals, but when the ending finally came through and the final transition happened, the complexity felt stupid and unneeded.  Again, it supports the ending, but because of how much I didn’t like the ending, this complexity just didn’t feel the right direction to me outside of extending the film. Complexity can be good with a real good finish, (which some may like), but for this reviewer the ends didn’t justify the means.

 

The Ending:  You saw this coming, but Hereditary’s ending wasn’t the one I had in mind from the trailers.  A surprise can be good, but to quote my friends, the ending had completely leaped over the gap to another movie altogether that didn’t quite fit all the way with the direction the first act did.  It was almost like two screenwriters wrote the two halves, came together and tried to paste them together (even though there was supposedly only one writer).  While the broad transitions will grip more people in, the movie’s grand finale wasn’t my cup of tea, though it may explain the disturbing steps this writer planned. And some of the end game decisions, rushed, pointless, and really not pleasant to look at (fans who see the movie will know what I’m talking about).

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The other reviews are right, this movie keeps you guessing, has a number of twists, is creepy and hard to stomach, and not afraid to go down the dark abyss to bring you shock.  So, bravo in thinking outside the box and crafting a rather original tale with a dynamic component to it.  Yet, this movie’s tinkering with the plot was unnecessarily complex, with a few gimmicks/deliveries not really keeping in tone with the genre and the ends not justifying the lengthy journey I took to get there.  If you like the Lords of Salem, you are going to enjoy the approach this movie takes, as it feels very similar in a lot of components. Yet, if you want a more linear, straightforward movie, hold your horses for later this year when other films are supposed to grace the silver screen.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery: 8.0

 

Movie Overall:  7.0

Drifting Between Beautiful Scenes and Monotonous Slow Pace

Adrift Poster

 

The words based on a true story are always good tags to hook audience members into the cinema.  Seeing humans go through these extreme vents brings a sense of thrilling adventure in hopes of crafting a story that one can relate to.  Tonight’s story promises such a thing, as young actor and actress set out to the expanse of the sea, facing the unhindered forces that lie in waiting.  Robbie K back with another review, helping share his thoughts on the movie:

 

Film: Adrift

 

Director:

Baltasar Kormákur

Writers:

Aaron Kandell,  Jordan Kandell

Stars:

Shailene Woodley,  Sam Claflin,  Grace Palmer

 

LIKES:

 

Cinematography:  The movie’s high point is the beautiful shots of the big, blue, wet thing (ocean) and the beauty and terror it contains.  Adrift spends a lot of time on the surface of the Pacific, so it’s natural for them to have to find unique angles to fully immerse you in the journey of being stranded at sea. You’ll get to transition from boat, to under the sea, to the beautiful horizons that paint the setting and with appreciating the serene calm sailing can bring.

 

Acting:  Claflin and Woodley captain the ship of this film pretty much the whole time, so if you aren’t a fan of their work… then sit this one out. However, for the rest of the crew, the combo does a decent job of crafting their respective characters from whatever proverbial clay they were written in.  Claflin shines in the loner, philosophical voyager, opening up new doors for Woodley’s character to walk through and continue the story.  Woodley though has the hardest job of the bunch, going from the vagabond, see the world atmosphere to the survivor against the odds role.  Seeing her unleash the fury of exhaustion, dehydration, and potential delirium is epic, but not as much as watching her take control of the nightmare that life cast on her. All in all, not the strongest acting chemistry, but still a grand craft.

 

The Makeup:  Having to transform the actors from normal hipsters to sickly, on the verge of death of those stuck without many supplies.  The cosmetics involved in this production are phenomenal, subtle transitions taking place to document the strain the sea and sun are providing on the days long journey.  Whether it’s the paling complexion of blistering skin, to the wound inflicted from the hurricane storm, you’ll get chills at the realism to these visuals.

 

The Presentation: As mentioned in my pre-review vlog, I worried about a very monotonous presentation where it would just be a thousand sequences of drifting crafted together. While this is still true, the team brought a presentation style that managed to break up the monotony of the shots. Adrift is a mixture of past and present, intertwining between the two the way waves merge in a storm.  You’ll start out in the present, but quickly dart back into the past, trying to connect motivations and background to the matters at hand.  It does a decent job of balancing the two timelines, and helps give some more depth to the leads, even though one doesn’t speak much during much of the present.

 

 

The Twist:  Get ready for the doozy of a twist my friends, because Adrift has got one for you. Pay attention and you might get it within three minutes of the start of the film, yet go in there without the power of observation will be blown away by the surprise.  I can’t go much more into that, so let’s move on.

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable Ending:  Come on… if it’s based on a true story, you kind of know what is going to happen if someone made it back to tell the tale.  Adrift’s setting is still a remarkable feat of survival, but you know what the ending is going to be…mostly.  As such, the suspense gets a little ebbed from this and as such takes away from the entertainment value for me.

 

Semi-Developed Characters:  Also, from my pre-review, you know that I feared them skirting over character details due to some attention being strung elsewhere (cough love cough).  Adrift met this expectation in full for me.  While not the flattest characters, there was still a lot more to explore and develop in their lives.  However, the back-forth presentation led to some choppy scenes that left little time to really expand on the characters past drop the bomb lines. I’ll admit, they are strategically placed, but the development is disjointed and over run by the Sparks’ like presentation of love and connection. So much potential, again lost to love antics.

 

The Presentation:  Yes, I liked the presentation breaking up the movie, but at the same time they went a little overboard switching between timelines.  At segments of the movie, the crew left little time to become immersed into the scene, before pulling the rug out and tripping you back to a small detail. These switches got annoying at points and one or two transitions edited out could have made for more conducive scenes, see near the end during the hurricane moments.

 

The Length/Pace: Despite all their best attempts though, Adrift still cannot sail away from the slow currents of presentation.  It’s a slow movie, and drags at parts that made even my friend sigh in boredom as we waited for something to happen.  One hopes you enjoy the cinematography, because you are going to get a lot of it as you wait.  The hurricane scene doesn’t come in until past the halfway point, and when combined with the predictable ending… it’s only the drama left to fill in the time. Therefore, if you go solo or at least without a date, you’re going to feel the 2-hour time length of this movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

         Adrift is not a bad movie, it’s just one that needs a little wind to the sails to justify the two-hour runtime tagged with it.  Sure, beautiful settings, a decent acting, and a twist give it some momentary squalls to blow through the time, but overall the movie floats on dead water, I guess to give you the full experience.  I acknowledge the feats the main character accomplishes, but it’s place for immersion is in the form of the books that document, instead of the big budget shooting that we got.  Those looking for drama and love are the key audience here, but otherwise skip this film for something else coming in a few weeks, or is already here.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

 

Tully, Or Not Tully? That Is The Question

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The artistic movie is one that makes one think, makes a bold statement, and often pushes the boundaries on the normal cinematography.  Some of the movies that fall in this category are Juno and Young Adult, two movies that are all about pushing one to address morale and social issues that are becoming ever abundant in this world. This weekend, the studio continues its trend, with another film that looks to address some social quirk in hopes of shedding the light on the topic.  Robbie K is back with a written review on the latest movie called:

 

Movie: Tully

 

Director:

Jason Reitman

Writer:

Diablo Cody

Stars:

Charlize Theron,  Mackenzie Davis,  Mark Duplass

 

 

LIKES:

The Acting:  Charlize Theron continues the fantastic work of bringing characters to life, curbing her usual sullen mood and silky-smooth voice and transforming it to something truly wonderful.  She brings the suffering of postpartum depression out in full fold and crushes it with her amazing talent, and for once the extreme characters she normally plays are gone, replaced with someone you can grip on to.  Then bring in Mackenzie Davis as Tully, who brings vibrant energy, rational thought, and a new outlook to mix things up and brighten the mood.  The chemistry between the two leads is a defining strength of this movie, which keeps the conversation going and the pace moving.

 

Good Pace:  Most of the movies by this directing/writing combo is often slow and too drawn out for me.  This was the opposite case for me in this film, as Tully managed to tell the tale in a very concise manner, at a speed that was engaging to watch.  A nice crafted story to make things work, this movie shouldn’t induce any sleep for most.

 

Beautiful Makeup:  I don’t know if Theron had to put on weight, or a there were good prosthetics, but the work-up is beautiful in this movie. Theron looks pregnant for the whole 20 minutes she is carrying her baby, and the after body goes through a metamorphosis reflecting the post-partum body.  It’s impressive, accurate, and quite well done to immerse you further into the character’s life. 

 

Realism: The thing about these movies, is that they tend to be on the more realistic side than most blockbusters. Tully continues this trend and does a swell job of crafting a tale related around a serious disease, collecting various struggles, hazards, and emotional torrents of this delicate time.  While there are still some movie magic moments, the film I think hits the highlights to exemplify the suffering these women have after birth, and more so in the valuable lessons life has to offer.

 

Morals:  There are plenty of scenes to entertain and show off Theron’s talent.  However, this reviewer loves the three powerful moments where lessons are taught. Tully’s story drops some beautiful dialogue down to address the imbalances that modern society manages to look over.  Keeping your ears open, Tully will attempt to break your glass ceilings on issue such as parenting, happiness, and marriage, providing some sound advice to help balance the numerous responsibilities involved in these parts of life.  I for one loved how casual it felt and hope to see such natural dialogue in the future installments of this universe.

 

Twist:  The movie has a nice “twist” to help get some responses out of the audience.  While this reviewer called it at about forty-five minutes into the film, most will like what Cody’s writing has in store.  Get ready for a nice symbolic mix-up that mostly fits into the film, because you’re going to appreciate the integration it has to offer.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Hasty Conclusions: Tully is filled with analytical moments in an attempt to dissect all aspects of motherhood.  While these components are relative and essential, the film fails to decently tie up some of the problems her family has.  True, it’s about her growth and taking steps to improve on herself and family, there were a few solutions that came too easily or were left as only a glimmer of hope.  I’ll agree the ending is wrapped up, but it’s just not as wrapped up as I had hoped.

 

Limited Audience: These movies may be artistic, but they are also very limited in who will get the most out of this movie.  Tully’s audience is going to be for those who have experienced the hardships of motherhood, battled the grasp of post-partum depression, or have lost their way in marriage/life.  Outside of that, the general audience is going to close themselves off to the artistic approach of this movie

 

Twist Offsets Energy: For once, Cody’s writing managed to actually excite me in its education about life and unique approach to tackling it head on.  As Tully and Theron go on their adventures to clear the clouds of distress, I started to feel better and enjoyed watching the nanny piece life back together.  Then the twist comes in and offsets that journey, an accurate representation of life, the surprise disheveled the great pace and approach for a predictable tangent that hastily wraps it up.  I applaud creativity, but after enjoying such a good pace, it stunk to see it ripped out and offset the vibes it put out.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Tully turned out to be better than I had expected. The script is strong, pushing for change in a natural way and fostering growth along a number of important life lesson battlegrounds.  A great chemistry makes for engaging characters and the twist is there to mix things up.  However, Tully still suffers from hitting a limited audience group and outside of still being an exhausting movie, the ray of hope in the gradual solving of problems gets offset by the twist and leads to a rather hasty conclusion.  Still, the movie is much better than expected, though you might be better off waiting for this movie to hit home viewing unless you are going as a focus group. 

 

My scores are

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall: 7.0