Don’t Leavey Your Tissues Behind

Leavey

 

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero.  If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I’m talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed.  What’s the verdict?  You’ll have to read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie.  Based on Leavey’s history (from the little research I’ve done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role.  The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally.  Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero.  You’ll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self.  Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story.

 

Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum.  Not the case for Megan Leavey.  This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time.  The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty.  It’s engaging! It’s exciting!  And it is real!

 

The Dog:  Let’s face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs.  Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog’s status as a warrior itself.  Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory.  If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie.  Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Movie magic drama:  We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth.  While I’m not certain how tough Megan’s life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me.  I’m not talking about the war aspect, we know that’s hell.  No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom.  Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie.

 

The Final Act: Megan Leavey’s film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting.  The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on.  I can’t say much without ruining things, but here it goes.  This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development.  However, the pace changes at this part, doesn’t focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it’s emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman.

 

Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like.  However, I can’t say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters.  With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn’t an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured.  Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.  So, don’t behead me people, I’m just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I’ve seen in a while.  A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie.  With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you’ll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists.  Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show.  Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military.

 

Biography/Drama/War:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Bay-Don’t-Watch! Unless You Want Dumb Comedy

baywatch

 

“Are you ready? Never full of fear?” Poor use of the theme song lyrics aside, one might fear for what is to come with the Baywatch movie.  If you’ve read other websites or seen the google news feeds you know this hasn’t been doing well.  Yet the question remains, is it bad enough to deserve lower than 20%?  Robbie K here to ask that question as I hit the theater trenches to scope out the wonders the bay holds in this relaunch.  So once more, here are my thoughts on the latest “hits” of the Hollywood Box Office!”

 

LIKES:

  • Some of the comedy
  • The Beautiful Cast
  • Dwayne the Rock Johnson

 

Summary: If you’ve seen the trailers, you know this movie is going to attempt to be funny, and at times it succeeds. Despite what some reviews say, Baywatch has its clever moments involving slapstick humor and insult bashing.  There are numerous references buried in the sand of this movie, and even more punches at the ridiculousness of the legendary series.  These quips are fun, tasteful, and on many levels so true at how we ate up the drama. And yes, the cameos are certainly fun to watch and well-timed.

But outside of comedy, the main selling point of this movie is the beautiful cast of lifeguards assembled for this movie.  The trailers have not sold you any lies in regards to the anatomy in this movie and the sex appeal contained within.  Female audience members will certainly enjoy the chiseled features of former wrestler Dwayne Johnson and former Disney Channel singing “sensation” Zac Efron. Beefy bodies and plenty of shirtless scenes had a number of my fellow audience members drooling, or at least making sounds. Fear not guys, you’ll get plenty of chances to make your own sounds and gawk at the lovely figures of Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera  These visions of loveliness not only have a little spice to add to the mix, but plenty of “bounce” to their step that brings energy to the film. In regards to the acting of most of the cast, not bad I must say, but many are reduced to mere shadows of what I had hoped to see. All with the exception of one….

The Rock is still cooking up a storm in terms of his acting.  He led the comedy for me with solid delivery and timing, his lines perhaps the best written of the whole cast.  Using his physical attributes, he does some nice stunt work into the mix helping to add excitement to a rather bland movie.  But his greatest contribution is the energy brought to the film, which kept things fun, balanced, and moving at various points. You can guess that this reviewer felt the most solid aspect of the movie… was the Rock.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Most of the comedy
  • Predictable story
  • Zac Efron’s character

 

Summary:  I said there was some witty moments, but we all knew this was going to be a run of the mill modern comedy.  Baywatch is loaded with shallow comedy that is stupid, crude and in many cases lazy writing.  You can guess that much of it is centered on the stereotypical sex jokes, including a few shots of the genitalia itself. Other comedic ploys focus on prolonged banter between two characters, who randomly stop in the middle of a crisis to argue their points…yeah that’s funny.  Yet many jokes involve taking the clever dialogue and quickly dumping it for…yes pointless cursing that quickly grew stale for me.

You would think the story could try to make up some of the shortcomings, but no… that too failed.  It was a predictable plot from start to finish, with all the relationships, turning points, and big twists known within probably 30 minutes. While this should not be too startling, I had hoped that the stunts and suspense could break it up the mundane plot, but this too failed considerably.  I get it, it’s a cute attempt at making an extended episode reminiscent of the show, but the execution was poor and I think that a stand-up comedy approach might have been better.

Yet the worse thing for me was Zac Efron’s character.  Don’t turn click off the review quite yet, hear me out, this is in no way all Efron’s fault.  The former High School Musical star is playing the same role he always does and is starting to go off the deep end.  However, the design of this character was annoying on so many levels that it was hard to not wish a swift end for him.  The development was weak at best, minus a few well-developed scenes, and the fact that he had some of the lamer comedic moments didn’t help things at all.  But when you got the body he built up, I guess you don’t have to do much in this movie to win the favor of the audience.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Baywatch is clever at times and fulfills its promise of shallow laughs, Dwayne Johnson having energy and of course the sex appeal. They certainly polished their actors for this one so that audiences would get a feast for their eyes, but sadly that’s the only thing this reviewer can share.  Baywatch has much balancing to do for the sequel that could come, and really needs to focus on the wittier comedy and less on the innuendos.  Certainly, you should hold out for this movie to grace Netflix or RedBox.

 

My Scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Drama:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

Everything You Have Seen Before

everything

 

Coming of age movies have come in a variety of styles, packages, and of course quality. While the number of generational novels (and subsequent movies) have increased over the decades, their quality has decreased for many, lost to the gimmick of modern, superficial entertainment it has become. And so here comes yet another addition to the teenage book movie collection Everything, Everything! Interesting title aside, I must admit I didn’t have high hopes for this movie, but nevertheless I’m back in the theater to give you the thoughts on yet another film.  Let’s get it on…figuratively that is.

 

LIKES

  • Good pace
  • Great chemistry
  • Realistic, not annoying
  • Twist

 

Summary:  Okay, when it comes to love stories…we know I find the pace to be slow and often boring, (yes, I’m a robot). However, in Everything, Everything, that trend was finally broken.  No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you my friends, you read right.  Everything, Everything keeps the pace moving, making sure to bring prompt, concise introductions and dive right into the story at hand. No this doesn’t mean they skip over too many things (admit haven’t read the story), but it keeps the adventure going, all while maintaining the romance involved.

What helped accomplish this?  In all honesty, I think it was the chemistry that made the movie, with the two stars Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson having a fantastic relationship with each other.  They play off each other’s emotions, seem to like working with other, and maximize the energy they bring to the screen.  It’s like they are actually in love with each other, or at least friends, and that sold the relationship/story for me.  An added bonus is that the relationship felt like a real example of a developing relationship, forgoing the cheap antics of cheesy love that most romantic comedies choose.  They weren’t instantly soul mates or magically destined to succeed.  So, nice to see that portrayed every once in a while.

Yet the main thing that sunk me into the tale was the twist in the story.  It takes a lot to surprise me in movies (I’ve seen so many after all), but this movie was able to covertly hide some nuances that seemed inconsistent were instead hints at what was to come.  While it took place a little late, it really brought the film to full circle and ended the film with a powerful finale.  Nice job my friends… nice job.

 

DISLIKES

  • A slow abridged start
  • A few overacted moments
  • Some odd directions
  • Dropped characters
  • Uniqueness is kind of missing

 

Summary:  I know what you’re thinking, you’re contradicting yourself again.  Hear me out, overall the pace worked for me, but the opening took a little time to take off the ground. The introduction was a little dragged out and slow, merely a compellation of moping scenes with a monologue overlapping to explain the abridged, somewhat underdeveloped details. 

In addition, the movie takes some odd turns in the film, going into some pointless tangents that were odder than anything.  A common metaphor is the astronaut to which she compares her life to, a symbol of being a long individual stuck in the vast, empty void.  Cool symbolism, but it gets lost in these trippy side arcs of the astronaut trying to do mundane tasks in the background while our characters act out their text messages.  I’m guessing it was trying to be funny, but this weirdness was an unneeded distraction that did little but make me think some drugs could have been involved.  Well that and helping distract from some of the more overacted moments. Despite a rich chemistry between each other, there were times that reaction failed to activated, leading too some flat attempts at get tears going.  Fortunately, these eye rolling moments were kept to a minimum.

And while the story was good overall for me, there are still a few other flaws that hit me.  First of all, the trailers spent some time building up a few characters (such as the nurse and for a while the mother), only for them to drop them out of the picture for a long while.  Why the dropped story?  Why the potential for a little emotional build up to really kick things up?  Probably for more kissing and declarations of love I suppose.  Still they cheated us out of some good character interactions, leaving us to explore those components by reading the book.  How dare they!

This brings me to the last dislike, the lack of uniqueness.  Despite the twists, surprises and decent pace, Everything, Everything still lacks that unique touch that we all still look for.  It has all the familiar elements of this genre, with little deviation and originality to compliment on.  If this familiarity is what you want, then great, because that comfort is present in the movie.  However, if you are looking for something with a little more pizazz and originality… then you will want to move along.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despite lacking originality, this reviewer is pleased to see a quality coming of age movie hit the theaters this weekend.  Everything, Everything certainly has everything you want in a teenage chick flick with a decent pace, good acting chemistry, and a nice twist to spruce things up.  Yet it still is that familiar story of love Hollywood likes and lacks a lot of theater worthy elements that make it worth the admission price.  Therefore, I can recommend this movie for a visit if you’re looking for a good book movie, but I still recommend waiting for Redbox to see this film. 

 

My score is:

 

Drama/Romance: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

It’s The Circle of Dull! Yet Politically Smashing

The circle

 

Robbie K back, after being off the grid for a week.  Tonight’s review is on the latest “dystopian” feature film called The Circle.  Former Hermione Granger, and more recently Belle, Emma Watson leads the film as she attempts to take us into the workings of a technological conglomerate who has knowledge as its key principle.  Yet the trailers paint a much darker secret hidden in its stony walls, one that promises to be a real nail biter.  Will this movie deliver those thrills, or are we stuck with another wash out?  I’ll do my best to answer that question, so sit back, and please read my latest thoughts.

 

LIKES:

 

  • Nice tool development
  • Emma Watson
  • Culturally Relevant Film
  • Solid Moral Lesson

 

Summary:  We all know technology is becoming the heart of the world, if not already the heart of this country.  And certainly, we all know that these technological marvels often require laborious development and maintenance to get the bugs out.  The Circle portrays this very well, helping to develop the very tool that we all love.  Throughout the journey, you’ll get to see the development of the two-faced beast that is technology, and how it requires tweaking to get just “right”.  Not the highest selling point for a movie, but pretty cool.

 

Of course, we all know many are going to go for the lovely Ms. Watson, to support the super actress they adore.  Good news, Watson does a solid job holding up most of the movie, as she is primary the only main character of the film. Watson brings her charm to the screen once more, portraying intelligence, fortitude and inspiration in a manner that many will latch on to. Her accent is pretty sound (though it fluctuates at times), but she manages to deliver her lines with a decent balance of emotion, to sell her points… most of the time.

 

Yet the biggest strength of these movies is how culturally relevant it is to the audience.  If you didn’t gleam it from the trailers, The Circle is essentially a modernized version of the novel 1984 that once more addresses the issues of control, life sharing, and privacy.  The film is certainly very political, but has a number of powerful lessons to teach about the place of technology and how easily it can be twisted. I myself liked the comments from Emma’s followers, a fantastic representation of the shallow, superficial, and often selfish focus that the internet provides.  The scenes are well developed to deliver the full emotional punch, which while not the most unique, can really shock you to the core at how true it can be.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Cheesy acting at times
  • Other actors diluted
  • Missed character development
  • Ignorant/Idiotic moments
  • Lack of Suspense

 

Summary:  Despite Watson’s strong performance, she is involved in some overly cheesy moments. On many of the emotionally heated moments, she loses her balance and stretches into the overdramatic region, losing her accent and dialogue forte in the process. But even her worst acting doesn’t hold a candle to some of the supporting characters who give either emotionally dull deliveries or lackluster performances.  These moments are noticeable enough to offset the momentum of the movie, and derailing it from the quality the trailers promised.

 

An even worse quality for me was how the other actors of the star-studded cast were reduced to simplistic roles.  Legends like Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt and even the late Bill Paxton are reduced to very linear roles, with little character development or expansion beyond what you’ve seen in the trailer.  With such a strong cast, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the missed potential of this movie and how much this all-star cast could have done to amp up the quality of this movie.

 

Even worse, some of the characters, primarily Emma Watson’s character, become so blindly ignorant that the intelligence they worked so hard building is diluted to an idiotic level.  As a result, I found myself starting to loathe the character and how 180 they took the character. Yes, I understand the premise behind the movie, but it didn’t work for me. Other characters also fell into this mix as well, each built to have this incredible skill that was either not used or rapidly reversed to make the characters seem weak.

 

Yet the most disappointing aspect of this movie…is the lack of suspense. The trailer made this film out to be a mystery meeting dystopian policing. Not the case at all. The Circle has no mystery, laying all the facts on the table and leaving little to be uncovered.  You would think there would be intense moments of espionage, or policing by superiors to build up excitement, right? Sorry, this film doesn’t have that either, with the “exciting climax” not showing up until the last twenty minutes of the movie.  As such, the movie is pretty dull and lacks the entertainment quality you might have been seeking.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Circle is indeed a “scary” film, but it’s mainly due to the reality check provides concerning the dangers technology can provide.  This strong message is certainly the strongest aspect of the movie and Emma Watson was a fantastic choice to deliver it.  Unfortunately, the weak characters, diluted roles, and lack of suspense took away from the entertainment quality of the movie.  Such a dull delivery, leaves me recommending this one for renting at home, or at least recommending you read the book (or books) it is based on.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Sci-Fi Thinker, Action Stinker

ghost in shell

 

Robbie K here, back with another review. This time we review the latest comic book inspired film ghost in a shell starring leading lady Scarlett Johansson as an “epic” cybernetic cop trying to stop terrorism.  With a large cult following, this movie certainly has a lot to live up to in terms of quality, and if you’re not familiar with the series than you are probably hoping action.  What is the verdict?  Please read on to hear my thoughts on the latest film.

 

LIKES:

  • Decent Sci-Fi Plot
  • Cool visuals
  • Nice character design
  • Okay acting

 

Summary:  I’ll lay it out now, I haven’t read nor seen any ghost in the shell media, so I can’t justify how it matches.  However, from a movie perspective, this film has a decent Sci-Fi plot that fits into the genre where anything can happen.  A dark plot about cybernetics, Ghost in The Shell again diverts from the fantasy train, and takes a more realistic (albeit theatrical) turn into science territory of humans becoming robots.  The more realistic plot is not much of a stretch and provides an ample medium to create awesome visuals to sell that realism.

And that, my friends, is the best part of this movie.  Ghost in the Shell’s visuals are impressive, overlaying futuristic advertising onto a real life setting that doesn’t look cheesy.  In all honesty, it is like taking a look at what Japan can look like in the future and how our desire to “progress” can ruin it.  Outside the city look, the characters themselves look like something out of a comic, each with a flare that scream Japanese animation.  While some looks are certainly worth a chuckle, a few characters like Major (Johansson) and Kuze (Michael Pitt) are well developed, looking sleek, deadly, or horrifying and standing out in terms of the realistic design you are seeking.

But while visuals are impressive, you also hope the actors can bring their characters to life in a way that will meet expectations.  Happy to say, the cast did a decent job in their goal, though again I’m uncertain how the characters are supposed to act having not read the comic.  If Major is supposed to be very monotone and hardly reactive, Johansson nails that approach, hardly diluting from the calm, stoic battle mode of the robotic assassin.  Pitt having to act like a tortured (albeit enlightened) terrorist wins points for gruesome tactics, prolonged speeches, and many other things that a cyberterrorist is expected to have.  The rest of the cast is decent, but we have limited space and more to cover, so let’s wrap and say the rest aren’t bad given their little screen time.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Little involvement with other characters
  • Plot is very predictable and dragged out
  • Action is sub-par most of the time

 

Summary:  My dislikes start with the lack of involvement in other characters.  Johansson carries most of the film as major, taking much of the screen time and stunts this movie requires.  Her team “helps” out at certain points, and her director certainly gets some good jabs in, but overall the other characters are almost pointless.  For being an elite team, Section 9’s agents did little to impress me and that team approach could have amped up the movie. This is especially true given how lackluster the plot was.  While realistic, Ghost In A Shell has little in terms of uniqueness to justify the nearly two hour run time.  Even if you haven’t read the books, the ending can be seen from a mile away and the delivery wasn’t spectacular enough to wait for (at least for me).  The dramatic flare and character development are certainly nice, don’t get me wrong on that, but the “exciting” climax I was waiting for just wasn’t there.

This brings me to the action component.  Ghost In the Shell was promoted as action packed and exciting, but for me it was mediocre at best.  A nice Matrix style opening shows promise for the movie, but it doesn’t take long for the stunts to be diluted to quick, unimpressive bouts that last mere minutes (if not seconds).  There is little challenge to the fights, and little technology used, which is disappointing given the movie is all about technology.  And after all the waiting you would think an epic fight at the end, but no, it’s just Johansson running from CGI bullets until a very dramatic finish occurs. This boring display of technology just made the nearly 2 hour run time seem worthless, given the promise the trailers made.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ghost In The Shell is a visual display that certainly representative of its comic book origins. Unfortunately, outside of these impressive visual displays, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to what I expected from the trailers. The story is mediocre and the execution is flawed, to promote a boring mess with only character development as its redeeming grace.  Despite the impressive design of the movie, this reviewer does not recommend this one for the theater, unless you go in with low expectations. Instead hold out for home rental and instead read the comic book it is based on. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Three Slashes For Wolverine. Slash, Slash, Slash Hooray!

logan

 

The X-men series is a story that on many levels is close to my heart in the form of comics, games, and the 90s animated TV show.  In the movieverse though, there have been some triumphic downfalls and surprising successes in Fox studios’ telling of the mutant force. This weekend, Logan attempts to breathe life back into the series, with what looks to be a different take on the hero genre. What’s the verdict?  Unless you have clairvoyance as a super power, you are going to have to read to find out.  

 

LIKES:

  • Fresh Twist
  • Comedic Relief
  • Strong Character Development
  • Strong Villain
  • Action we Really Wanted

 

Summary:  Fox seems to have realized that twists can be a good thing (Deadpool) and have decided to integrate the anti-hero switch-up into the mix. Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) journey dives into the darker corners of the X-Men world, to a place where allies are few and hope is practically nil.  This more forlorn setting opened up avenues for greater storytelling, primarily in developing Logan as a character (which seems to have been the goal for most of the X-men movies). One will get to dive into his inner character, facing the specters that haunt the supposedly invincible Wolverine from media past. It is in this regard that X-Men finally got the villain quality right in regards to Logan being his own worst enemy.  Logan’s inner doubt is perhaps one of the strongest villains this universe has known, and provides a constant challenge to the development and well-being of not just him, but the other characters of the film. And it is thanks to this that Logan has a lot more emotion packed in than other superhero films have had in the past.  To my surprise, Logan has a nice balance of comedy to relieve the darker moments, timing most jokes perfectly to emphasize the simple dialogue.

Biggest relief from the “darkness” though comes in the form of the action, which finally delivers the promised fights we’ve been waiting for.  That five-minute clip in Apocalypse was a sample of the high-adrenaline fights in this movie. Logan traded flashy CGI light shows for a choreographed chaos that involved blending martial arts with classic Wolverine claws.  The intense dances of death, mixed with the exciting score and sound effects, will make up for much of the lackluster fights of the past and match the expectations are imaginations set all those comic books ago.  And while I wanted more action (because I always do), Logan does a nice job spacing the fights out to be mostly relevant to the plot of the story. A small side note, I wished there had been a little more diversity to the fights, but it’s a small critique.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring at Times
  • A Weak Villain
  • Language at times
  • Animal Grunting
  • The Psychic moments
  • Unnecessary Gore?

 

Summary:  You’re probably laughing at my contradictory statements, but Logan is a movie that is kind of boring at times.  Character development takes time, dialogue, and more “peaceful” moments of not tearing someone’s throat out to do right.  Unfortunately, Logan’s dark atmosphere mixed with these dialogue rich moments can drag at times. Their cross-country journey has more than a few unnecessary sequences, where detailed tangents added little benefit other than a few whimsical jokes or build up to a fight down the road.  It’s not that these scenes didn’t need to be deleted, just shortened to be more relevant (and time efficient). But much like a Western, which this movie feels like, these slower, moral filled moments are the deserts that span between oases.

What also didn’t help was how the villains in this film were still kind of lame.  Inner Logan is deadly, but the ranger with the metal arm and his employer’s other “elite” projects still fall into the lame category. Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) is all bark and little bite, barely doing anything but making threats and occasionally firing a gun, when his more effective lackeys were spent. It’s fortunate these bad guy roles are limited, including the mediocre twist to the mix.

The other biggest dislike is the unbalanced aggressiveness this film has with it.  I know, Wolverine is an aggressive character. Does that mean we have to reduce his normally clever dialogue with an unhindered use of the F word?  Apparently in this film it did, and the lazy dependence on the cursing still remains a tiresome ploy for me.  In addition, this film really dipped into the animal grunting and roaring of not only Logan, but Laura (Dafne Keen) as the two continuously (and at times annoyingly) scream. Also overdone were some of the aggressive psychic moments that became drawn out sequences of torture that is both fulfilling and unnecessary at the same time.  And as for the violence, Logan steps this game up (which is why the fights rock), but the level of gore involved has been upped as well.  Those thinking of taking younger audience members need to note the R rating, because you’ll be subjected to maiming, decapitation, and other blood filled moments that for me really didn’t need to be to that level.

 

The Verdict:

 

Logan is an improvement over many of the X-men films in regards to storytelling, action, and character development.  Yet it’s failings for me come in the form of some editing quirks, unbalanced dialogue, and overly aggressive gore. It matches the themes of the modern graphic novels, but I felt with some balancing the movie could have been even better.  I feel the movie is worth a trip to the theater though, but please think twice before taking kids to see it.

 

My scores:

Action/Drama/Sci-Fi: 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Before The Editing Falls!

before-i-fall

Today’s review is on Before I Fall, a cryptic title that can symbolize so many things in the world of Hollywood.  If you have seen the trailers, they portray this movie as another endless time arc installment where days continue to repeat until a solution is found.  But outside of that, it was uncertain if the aim was horror, drama, thriller, or just straight up Sci-Fi.  So, to solve this question, I’m back in the trenches to give you my thoughts on the film, in hopes of answering your questions.  Let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Great looking cast
  • Fun Soundtrack
  • Decent acting
  • Nice Story
  • Good Lessons

 

Summary: Okay let’s start with the shallower likes of the film with how great the cast looks. Before I fall’s primary actors are beautiful, cute, and many are adjectives that people can use to describe themThose looking to enjoy 90 minutes of eye candy will get their fill as Zoey Deutch and her teenage friends fill the camera with their flare. If looks aren’t your style, and you go to the movies for music (ironic no?), then you’re in luck because the movie has some fun tracks laced in that again are very fitting and for me toe-tapping as well.

Okay enough of the small likes, let’s get to the good stuff.  Movies with an all teen cast are often susceptible to becoming overacted messes that are more annoying than anything else. Not the case for this film. Before I Fall’s leading ladies have created believable relationships that describes the high school experience.  The “deep” bonds of a click that are strong, yet so fragile, is a common element in this movie, as well as the hardships teens feel in the pseudo-adult world of being a senior.  I felt the love, the hates, the struggles, and the anger all nicely balanced in this film, and kind of connected with some of the issues they had.

While the acting is decent, the story is the stronger quality for me that drove emotion home.  The answer to the question, for those who haven’t read the book, is Before I fall is more drama mixed with the Sci-Fi quality of looped time (e.g. Mean Girls meets If I stay with Ground Hog’s Day repetition).  I don’t know how the combination works for you, but for this reviewer it wasn’t that bad given my initial expectations of horror.  One of the things I appreciated, was how the diverse the days were.  With movies that involve repeating the same day, often the scenes grow stale by the third iteration.  While this happens at some points (the classroom scene), Before I Fall did a nice job changing up each day as Deutch’s character discovers the problems in her life and grows as a person.  And being a guy who appreciates character development, this movie’s strongest aspect is indeed strengthening a fairly shallow character and teaching us some life lessons in the process, before the big “twist” (again assuming you haven’t read the book).

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Lacking in some areas
  • Scenes hastily thrown together at times
  • Preachy
  • Drawn Out

 

Summary: Film adaptations of books are always lacking given the time constraints and budget a film has.  Before I Fall has a lot of things tied well together, but there are still some weaker components that need some amping up. The protagonist’s life is surprisingly complicated for a teenage role, with many demons waiting to face Sami.  I applaud their attempts to cover all these issues, and while they did a decent job, I felt some of the qualities were lacking.  Many scenes felt rushed, or haphazardly thrown into the mix, lacking the needed development the book most likely had.  This lackluster development resulted in fairly simplistic scenes that takes away its theater quality.  What also took away from the theater quality was how preachy components of the movie.  Hearing Sami randomly go into bouts of loving/appreciating her friends, went down the eye-rolling path for me, as they layered on the cheese heavily. But if you are about the deeper bonds of passion, and straight to the point dialogue, this dislike won’t really affect you.  But overall, this reviewer felt many of these dislikes led to an incomplete picture, with lots of drawn out moments to one of the two predictable endings that, while emotional, wasn’t the big excitement I had hoped for.

 

The Verdict:

 

While I haven’t read the book, Before I fall is indeed a nice refreshing taste on the teenage drama genre.  The film seems to be a culmination of many movies brought into one story, with a creative use of the time-looping theme to explore lots of avenues that are missed in movies these days.  Throw in some decent relationship building with some good lessons and you have what feels to be a semi-decent portrayal of the book.  Yet, the film still needed some fine tuning in the editing compartment to bring full life to this rather simplistic (and clichéd) tale. Overall, this reviewer feels this movie is best left to a home viewing, but encourages you to send your teenagers and pre-teens to this film if you are looking for something.

 

Scores:

 

Drama/Mystery:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0