Taking a Turn On The Busy Side

The Turning Poster

 

As the hourglass turns, so too does another movie to join the prize machine of movies that may or may not be worth the coin.  Welcome to Robbie’s reviews and tonight we dive into another horror movie that is going to try and shock us into a new realm of nightmares.  After much advertising, tonight’s film is hoping to turn a few hairs grey and maybe have us scratch our heads in confusion.  Will it work though?  I’ll share my thoughts down below as we get set for another review of:

 

Movie:  The Turning (2020)

 

Director:

Floria Sigismondi

Writers:

Carey W. Hayes (as Carey Hayes), Chad Hayes

Stars:

Mackenzie DavisFinn WolfhardBrooklynn Prince

 

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy Setting
  • Good Acting
  • On 90 minutes
  • Definitely More Unique
  • A More Realistic Tension Bringer

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • So Much To Keep Up With
  • Not the Scariest
  • The Weird Ending At the End
  • The Slow pace
  • Trailer Has Given Much A Way
  • The Lack Of Unique Creature

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Horror movies are coming out super frequent now, and the tactics to scare one are starting to grow stale because of exposure and desensitization, at least to me.  However, The Turning succeeds in that creep factor by helping grant the audience access to the a freaky board that is this bizarre chess game.  In the walls and halls of the mansion are plenty of dark shadows, settling boards, and other tricks to help set the mood.  It’s fantastic use of simplistic sounds and should help get the tension going.  A solid acting set by Davis leads the tale as she balances all set on her shoulders, going from aspiring nanny, to scared sleuth in the short run time.  Wolfhard and Prince as the young wards under Davis’ care, each bringing their own brands of creeps from the sinister smile and delivery of Wolfhard’s character, while Prince has that innocent yet mysterious nature in that angelic smile.  All of these performances work so well to mix with the setting to draw out the true, devious nature of the beast.  Yet, to add more fuel to the fire of likes, the movie also accomplishes something else to help it stand out from other films of this genre.  One is that it’s got a more unique approach to storytelling, which may not be apparent at first, but come the last twenty minutes or so, you’ll start to get another appreciation for the movie that some may like and others will despise.  Looking for realism?  Well, this movie succeeds again with sticking much closer to the realm of truth then the realm of fiction, at least for much of the film, and that component will help ground you to the artistic nature that this film tries to take.  If you like those psychological pushers, then this should be a selling point for you.  As for the best part, it’s all done in ninety minutes, showing that some of these artistic directions can indeed be shown in a reasonable time, take a note of this Oscar films.

 

Yet the film’s direction and unique styles may also be the downfall for the horror buffs and fans who like a little more tradition to their approaches.  First of all, there is a lot to keep up with in this film, as a hodge podge of films from the genre blend together to make a very busy film.  It’s almost like each inspirational film had an impact on the story, which pulled the story all over the place and make it busier than it needed.  As such, the movie starts suffering in turns of clarity and even scare tactics.  Thank goodness for the creepiness, because for me the scare factor was actually a little low, lost to mediocre jump scares, foreshadowing taken a little too far, and the trailers giving too much a way to those with a decent memory or have seen it enough.  It resulted in a feeling of the movie dragging a little longer than it needed, which meant it was a little boring, with only the artistic nature of the movie keeping my interest held.  As you can guess from the trailers, a unique explanation or curse is going to be a bit of long drive and as such you might disappointed with lies in the shadows of the halls.  Finally, the ending itself is not for everyone.  While I give it points for originality, the sudden finale makes for one of those endings that usually rubs me the wrong way, because it’s interesting but also a bit too unique and I’ll leave it at that.  It’s the result of the busy story, and the presentation may mislead you enough to be a surprise, but also potentially tick you off with this direction.  It’s going to really depend on what approach you like, from linear tricks and treats, or unique artistic decisions that are from left field.

 

The VERDICT:

            The trailers did the film a lot of credit at painting a dark, twisted picture that is all about the creep factor.  A film like the Turning is sure to turn a few thoughts towards having more food for thought, and depending on what type of horror fan you are, will determine if you like it.  Points for this reviewer are a fantastic setting established for creepiness and realistic flow.  A good acting cast further brings the horror factor out and a more unique approach gets points in my book given how tough it is in this day and age.  However, this new approach is also potentially a downfall for some as the movie gets really busy, with so much though and direction that you have to figure out if you like keeping track of everything.  Scares took a hit for me in this film, and the slow pace itself leads to potentially a film that will not be the modern preference.  Still, if you are looking for a thought-provoking movie, this piece should give you something to talk about and the theater can help elevate the ambience for sound, though I think the true terror will come from watching it at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

There Is Mercy In Hollywood when It Comes To Drama

Just Mercy Poster

 

In today’s constantly changing world, it’s always a hassle to find justice in a system with ever “evolving” morals.  As traditions collide, new trends form, and the world does not quite take the moral high ground in favor of reward or pleasure, those that may be innocent have less of a fighting chance.  Thus, the plot of today’s movie tries to show how there are still avenues of good in this world and it is hoping to impress the audience and share it’s story.  Robbie K is back again to give you his thoughts on the latest movies to hit the silver screen, so let’s get cracking as I review:

 

Movie: Just Mercy (2019)

Director:

Destin Daniel Cretton

Writers:

Destin Daniel CrettonAndrew Lanham

Stars:

Brie LarsonMichael B. JordanJamie Foxx

 

 

LIKES

  • Great Acting
  • Emotional
  • A Drama That Moves
  • Multiple Aspects/Complete Picture
  • Fantastic Use Of Soundtrack and Visuals
  • Did Not Feel Like a 2-hour movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • Drama Vs. Real Life
  • Conventional/Predictability

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

This movie has a wealth of positives for me and the true cornerstone comes from the great acting contained in this 136 minutes.  Michael B Jordan continues to prove he is a master of his trade, bringing the incredible persona of the justice seeking lawyer, who is not only competent but empathetic.  He works great with all of the scenes and sequences, naturally reacting and acting to all the players in this drama, and making a central figure to follow.  Brie Larson, the ever-impressive actress herself, dominates her roles and supporting the two figure heads, though I had wished for a little more time with her, she capitalizes on her screen time.  As for Foxx, well not much needs to be said, but again a natural presentation of a man convicted of crimes and believing to be innocent, while on death row mind you.  It’s sleek, and often not forced on you, crafting a character that seems to be exactly what you would expect in this situation, compared to Hollywood’s idea of making everyone yell, scream and fight.  Like Jordan, the man also has great chemistry with his squad and it helps expand the character while also proving how awesome his acting is. Even the secondary characters are for the most part stunning examples of talent, and I enjoyed the integrated crew bringing this gut wrenching tale to life.

That’s just the acting like what about the rest of the movie.  Director Daniel Cretton succeeded in taking a movie I thought would be long and drawn out, and transforming it into a piece that netted my attention and dragged me to motivation station.  It’s an emotional ride that will take you through just about every feeling you can imagine and somehow keep everything in balance.  As mentioned in previous biographies, it manages to inject some good drama into the mix, to entrance you into caring about the story, while managing to avoid the overdramatic flare that reality television does.  This balanced approach is something I enjoy as it allows you to appreciate the story without getting caught up in the soap opera semantics that this world can create.  Additionally, the movie utilizes wonderful visuals and an audio score that manages to fill those scenes with a push that succeeds in bringing out the culture with motivational force.  Finally, the movie achieves another goal that I always mention but seldom see in that it tries to give you a complete approach to how this lawyer fought for justice.  Just Mercy, is all about giving you Bryan’s quest to help those in need, not only focusing on Foxx’s character case, but looking into a few others that were going with it.  The movie then extends to those other characters who are intertwined with Foxx, again helping expand upon the character while helping you dive into Death Row mindsets.  Throw in the families that help, the antagonists, even the assistants that help with drafting forms, getting interviews, and collecting evidence and you get an experience that again brings you into the film.  It’s a wonderful drama, and through all the above-mentioned goodness, makes this movie feel less than 2 hours for the most part, the ending maybe being the exception.

 

Finding dislikes in this movie is difficult for me as I’m trying to be fair, but there were a couple of things I think still take away from a perfect score for me.  There is always that notion of what is fact and what is fiction, and without reading the book, I can’t be certain. I believe Just Mercy has a better balance than most, but there are some times where the drama supersedes the facts a little too much.  This nets interest I know, but a movie like this sometimes paints cultures and traditions a little too extreme, inciting some anger.  In addition, the convention of the genre vs. the predictability is another aspect that you have to try and ignore.  If you read the case files, pay attention to the trailers, or just know the genre as a whole, you will find the usual formulaic approach on record.  It’s not awful by any means, but I have to take it into account when I review.  Finally, I had hoped for a little more involvement in another character, whose story is wrapped up via the end credits, but it’s a minor flaw because they use the good actor to another awesome level.

 

The VERDICT:

            Truth is Just Mercy was a lot better than I had anticipated, taking what looked to be a long, drawn out legal movie and adding spice to the mix.  It’s acting is going to draw most people in to be honest, with a cast that makes this tory all the more impacting to those with an open mind.  Outside of that though, it is an example of the partnership drama and reality can achieve when helmed by a competent director and his team.  Multiple aspects, fantastic use of visuals, and a compelling involvement with all its characters makes this film a fantastic watch and not feel like 136-minute ride.  True there are still some dramatic moments that might be excessive, and you have to be ready for the usual bag of tricks it needs to spring, but outside of extreme fans… you should be okay with it.  Another film I believe can be enjoyed in the theater for stellar acting and storytelling, I implore many to watch this film when it comes out in the home.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

Prepare To Go To War

1917 Poster

 

History is an avenue that is always worth revisiting, for to not review history can lead to us being doomed to repeat it. Wars are part of that history and given the changing environment, various things that often drum up a new war, it’s important to learn now more than ever.  While the World Wars have been done to death though, there are always more stories hidden away that one can learn, to provide that correct insight to potentially stop the future destruction from occurring.  After lots of buildup, awards, and talk though, I hit up the local theater with my buddy to get another look into review country.  Tonight I give my insight into:

 

Movie: 1917 (2018-2019)

 

Director:

Sam Mendes

Writers:

Sam MendesKrysty Wilson-Cairns

Stars:

Dean-Charles ChapmanGeorge MacKayDaniel Mays

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • The Frontier
  • Deep Messages And Emotion
  • Artistic
  • Decent Pace For Most Of The Movie
  • Realistic Fighting
  • Cinematography

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not For The Faint Of Heart
  • Missing Some Action Components
  • The Middle Of the Movie’s Approach
  • A Little Dense

 

 

SUMMARY:

When it comes to a focus on British history and acting, there is always class injected into the presentation of the movie.  In this war movie, that same focus has been curtailed to present the familiar concept of war into a new light.  For one thing, this movie is much more about the acting compared to other battle ballads.  Chapman and MacKay are fantastic in bringing the young cadets lives to bay, acting as the mirror to Britain’s involvement in the war.  The turmoil, the dedication, the friendship, and even the courage to face potential death are portrayed beautifully to cover the wide range of emotions involved with serving in the first great war.  While we have seen great performances bringing out the nightmare that is war though, 1917 manages to bring a new way of telling the story through the frontier itself.  The harsh landscapes, destroyed villages, and lighting are all coordinated to provide the true menace of the war and that beast is often scarier than the fighting itself. Like a Quiet Place, it’s the silent nature of the vast landscape that adds the true emotional tensions.  And as it all progresses the movie continues to show that artistic approach of capturing all the deep messages, emotion, and angles that come with war.  I can’t say much to minimize spoilers, but let’s just say the mission to deliver the messages changes face and approach various times to display one of the most dynamic approaches to war theater dramas.  This even bleeds over into the few fights that show up, trading the flashy Michael Bay sequences for simpler battles that rely on strategy, timing, and fewer shots.  It may not be the most jaw dropping battles to date, but it fits so well into the presentation that it adds to that deadliness this film is showing.  Finally, the real star is the cinematography.  The specials did not lie, the movie is shot beautifully, an almost seemingly continuous shot that immerses you into the experience.  You will feel a part of the brigade to deliver the message, and as a result you’ll get the full amount of terror, intensity, and other components that they directors wanted, and it’s all done with stable camerawork.

 

Yet, this opera also has a few things that did not quite work for me, that while not worth too many point deductions was worth mentioning.  First it’s not for the faint of heart, as the saying of war is hell is true, those with weak stomach may not handle a few things that are displayed.  I can’t say much, but just picture the worst part of war and get yourself prepared, a few of which were a little too drawn out for my tastes.  Past that warning though, the action junkie in me wanted a little more bang for the buck.  I get the realistic approach they were taking, but a little more combat and coordination would have helped spice some things up for me and get the pace moving.  While artistic and realistic, I can’t lie that the movie is rather dense, relying so much on visuals that it leads to a slower paced war tale.  Again, this keeps in time with the artistic nature, but there were some slower parts that had me battling to remain conscious.  And when the movie hits about the middle of the film, the dynamic they take sort of uproots what the trailers promised.  It’s not a bad twist at all and really captivates on the experience of war, but it’s just not what I had intended to see.

 

The VERDICT:

            The rumors about this movie are true, it’s an amazing display of war visualization that was able to break free from the traditional war story movie.  British acting alongside award winning cinematography are the key components for this film, setting the screen for that wild war frontier where emotions run wilder than the bullets from guns.  True, I would have liked a little more war sequences and excitement, and I could have done with a little less dense dialogue, but overall it’s a solid movie and worthy of the praise.  Again, not for the faint of heart at times, but this reviewer encourages to catch this one in theaters when you can. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/War:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

What Lurks Beneath The Trailer Of Underwater

Underwater Poster

 

 

The realm of horror, as I have said before, is an avenue that allows the darkest fathoms of the imagination to come to life. Horrors and fears can take on many forms and in some cases the directors capture that terror in the perfect balance.  On the other hand, the modern cinema also ruins the genre when cheap gimmicks fail to scare and become the focus.  So what is tonight’s film all about?  Well Robbie K is here to offer some thoughts and insight as he makes spoiler free review of:

 

Movie:  Underwater (2019)

 

Director:

William Eubank

Writers:

Brian Duffield (screenplay by), Adam Cozad (screenplay by)  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Kristen StewartT.J. MillerJessica Henwick

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Decent Comedy
  • Decent Acting/And Time Worthy Characters
  • Great Pace
  • Suspense Moments
  • Creature Design
  • The Atmosphere
  • The Story Is Okay

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Predictability
  • T.J. Miller Forced Some Times
  • The Chaotic Camera Work at Times
  • Suspension Of Disbelief At Times
  • The Worthlessness of Most Of the Crew

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to a horror movie you can’t help but want to laugh through the movie.  Okay, I need to think of a better transition, but the film succeeds on throwing that comedic relief at just the right moments to help change the energy of the scene.  That aside, the real strength of the movie comes in the cohesiveness of all the little parts that this genre thrives on when done right.  First the acting!  While not award winning, I was very happy to have characters that had more layers than the typical creature fodder Sci Fi Channel has made famous.  Underwater’s crew is different though, as Steward leads the bunch in a thrilling adventure that puts science skills to the test.  Several members make logical decisions, there is great interaction amidst the crew, and the teamwork they show actually paints characters that are worth investing your time in.  And through this adventure, let’s just say there are a lot of things that will test your connection to them.  This film moves quickly, a brisk pace that never dwells long enough for boredom, and takes few detours in the quest to escape the denizens of the deep. Mixing well with the pace comes very suspenseful moments that utilize so many special effects to paint the terrifying canvas of the deep in new ways that will insight nightmares. Some of the moments are all about the setting itself, while others integrate the creatures and allow the use of imagination to paint the terror.  It works fantastically well, and when the revelation of the creatures finally arises, the design does not fail to impress.  Monsters are made of nightmares like this, and they are utilized to a fine degree that does not overshadow the rest of the tale, but still gives you plenty of creature love.  Yet what really ties everything for me is the atmosphere itself.  Underwater uses its name well, and helps blend the adventure into sections that together form a cataclysmic environment.  There are few safe havens in this movie, with the beasts lurking around every corner, and when they aren’t the environment itself is ready to douse the life out of them.  Throw in the use of shadows, fantastic sound editing, and again the tease with imagination that designs that environment. Finally, there is actually a point to all the chaos, with a logical connecting line that actually grants purpose to the antics at hand.  Underwater takes the familiar story, and changes the acts to help keep the adventure fresh and dynamic.

 

Amidst all the treasure, there are some rusted metals that tarnish the movie for this reviewer.  For one the story is pretty predictable, still following most of the rules and trends that the SyFy channel movies do.  A few twists do help stir the sediment up a bit, but you have an idea where it is going.  Thankfully, this predictability is lessened due to the intensity of the scenes themselvesAs mentioned above, there is comedic relief, and while enjoyable at times, there are other times where the awkward joke is too forced or beaten over the head for it to really work.  This works in movies like Deadpool, and while I think it’s curb to show how he is dealing with the stressful situation, there are times I would have liked to see a little more from this character other than another joke.

These are probably minor dislikes for me, so I’ll move on to a few of the things that were more bothersome for me.  As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of chaotic camera work when it comes to details.  While this added to the intensity of the scene, I felt Underwater went a little too crazy at times, using the swirling madness, and shadows a little too much to deprive the details I wanted to see.  This aspect improved near the ending, but the middle parts had a hard time finding the balance between stable and maddening angles.  Next, the suspension of disbelief sometimes is a little laughable for me in this film.  I know, in this genre one must be ready to do this, but hear me out a little.  Again with no spoilers, Underwater sort of does not play by its own rules it establishes at the beginning.  The creatures behavior is erratic, sometimes being aggressive and other times not, which is sort of explained at the times, but then overwritten for me.  Other times it’s about how convenient things work out or don’t work out, which though adds to the intensity of the scene, will in retrospective seem a bit cheesy at how things happen to play out.  If this does not bother you or take away from the suspense, no worries then, but near the end in particular is where I particularly found them stretching their convenience muscles a little too far.  Finally, though the movie is much better with crafting their characters than other creature features, it still has not quite put the finesse in everyone.  For a crew of scientists, drillers, and deep-sea explorers, only one or two really show off the scientific skills that were promised.  Kristen Stewart’s character is the most equipped to handle the job and maybe the Captain, but the rest well, they don’t quite hit the mark for epic battles or adventuring that i had anticipated.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the creature feature is one of the best to emerge from the depths of the Hollywood ocean. Underwater takes us back to the days of classic film storytelling, where a story is designed to tether the scares, special effects of scenery and modern computer work add for decent scare factors, and the intensity of the sequences help net your interest in characters that aren’t just shark fodder like a classic SyFy movie.  While there are still some predictability issues, and the suspension of disbelief starts cooking up things, there are not too many issues that most fans of this genre will be affected.  Again, I’m not particular fond of chaos swirling camera work, but I again admit it adds to the moments and at least gets balanced.  Give all the CGI work, the decent story, and performances, this guy encourages you to head to the theater for this one to enjoy to the most, but if not definitely check it out at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Horror:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

These Little Women Are Growing Up InTo The Modern Era

 

Little Women Poster

 

It’s been done a thousand times, yet the it still remains a timeless classic that has the masses flock in.  When Ms. Alcott wrote her book, she hit gold in regards to the representation the story brought and how it would work regardless of the generations.  Through movies, television specials and even plays/operas, the tale of the four Little Women continues to find property in the homes of many.  So despite only a year passing since the last installment, I’m back in the trenches to once again review the latest twist on:

 

Movie: Little Women (2019)

 

Director:

Greta Gerwig

Writers:

Greta GerwigLouisa May Alcott (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Saoirse RonanEmma WatsonFlorence Pugh

 

LIKES:

  • Surprisingly moves
  • Nice Twist On The Presentation
  • The Recreation Of History
  • Very Good Writing
  • Classy And Contained
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES

  • The age difference did not transition well
  • Did not use the Characters To The Fullest
  • Too Much Amy At Times
  • The Political Rants At Times
  • Sometimes a New Twist Gets Lost
  • Some Incomplete moments
  • Meryl Streep’s Untapped Potential
  • Laurie’s Character At Times

 

Summary:

 

As a reviewer, I do my best to acknowledge the majesty of the source material, but Little Women was never my favorite book when I read it back in the day.  Despite how slow the book moved for me, this rendition I felt captured the essence of the book, while keeping it entertaining and moving for the 135 minutes  To keep this tale fresh, the movie managed to put a new twist into the movie by telling the tale via a series of flashbacks.  While I missed the linear part of the tale, the flashbacks did occur in a linear fashion as to how Jo’s life changed.  The transitions of her remembering were fantastic, and clever, holding that artistic style and connection between past and present that I so very much like.  Where last year’s rendition was all about modernizing the tale, this year went back to the traditional 19th century world, bringing class, poise, family, and hardship back in beautiful details.  The setting screams Civil War design, the cultural mannerisms between social classes blended into the story in a naturally flowing manner that helps bring the story to full strength.  The costumes only elevated it further, showing how society really held confidence in the clothes, all while helping bring out the hardships of the time and the envy of the fancy dresses they wore.

Presentation aside though, Little Women succeeds in bringing dialogue to life and filling it with rich, meaningful material that should be inspiring, realistic, and representative of the source material.  Don’t expect too many meme and one-liners quotes to fill this movie, it’s much deeper, capturing the importance of education and societal banter that the book was all about.  Despite the new political fervor that this movie holds, the writing was able to take the progressive movement and keep it relevant to the story, with few times stepping off the path to rub the moments in my face.  I appreciate this balance and more so how Gerwig managed to keep much of the story focused on the character development than the political components it’s built on.  Finally, it all is brought to full life by the actresses that played our characters.  There are too many to really go into too many details, but I’ll come out and say the chemistry of the bunch works to establish the rag tag, dysfunctional family and all its endeavors.  Saoirse Ronan is the point character, and her fiery passion was perfect for the role of Jo, in all her strong, assertive tones.  Florence Pugh brings her strong presence to the film, managing to keep her calm demeanor for the cultural side, while bringing the juvenile emotions to the younger side out in full force.  Timothée Chalamet as well makes a very quirky Laurie as well that I liked many aspects of.  Overall, the cast was great and I felt it was a wonderful group to help bring the tale to life.

 

In terms of the things that did not work for me though, it starts with the lack of aging between the two-time gaps.  I found that for everything accomplished in this day and age, the ability to make younger and older characters is starting to be easy street.  Yet, Little Women did not even try to make the women look older in the future, outside of a little height, some heavier eyes, and that’s about it. It’s a little lazy for me and I think I would have enjoyed seeing the transition a little smoother, but this a minor component. A more major flaw is the imbalance of characters for me at times.  Jo of course is the center stage, and while the other girls get their time, they just did not have the same oomph as Jo.  This is especially true for Emma Watson and Laura Dern, two great actresses that got their acting prowess in, but there was more that could have been done.  Meanwhile, Amy was the character with much focus, and the stubborn antics and whining were not my favorite components to see for nearly 2 hours.  I understand it’s part of the source material, but I really wish it had a better balance.

In regards to the story components, they worked for me for the most times, but the new presentation style sometimes got foggy in regards to the placement in the story.  I felt that the flipping back and force started to lose the pacing and balance near the end, where they realized how long the movie was running and had to make cuts that chopped up the ending tales.  As such, the story at times feels incomplete, or watered down such as Meg’s marriage, Jo’s feelings for other characters, and even Beth’s major ordeal.  Though 2018 may not have been the best story, I’ll admit I had more emotional connection than this one near the end.  In addition to the character imbalance, the legendary Meryl Streep capitalizes on her scenes, but once more I wanted to see more of her character integrated through the tale, especially given the antagonistic character she plays.  Finally, Laurie in this one has such potential and shows off the full emotional spectrum, but again at the end felt his ending was rushed and lacking the full emotions.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With so many renditions of this movie, new features are always the way to expand the shelf life of this movie.  This tale of the classic title accomplishes the goal of bringing the classic tale back to the big screen, and balances the classiness with the fire that comes this day and age.  Great settings recreated the culture and to have the unique twists of flashbacks to help establish the writing and characters was fantastic for me.  The acting brings it out even further and is probably the biggest selling point of the film for me.  Yet, the main limitation for me is that the movie starts to lose its balance the farther the film goes in.  I would have liked to have seen more of the characters balanced in, while also not getting too lost in the new presentation style and balancing the story amongst others.  If it ran another hour, it might have been the perfect time, but hey, a three-hour movie is a lot to ask this day and age.  My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Trying To Dance Into New Light, But Claws Away It’s Own Potential

Cats Poster

 

 

There is something to be said about the theater.  This avenue of artistic storytelling has produced some of the most interesting and unique stories the world has ever seen, deriving a plethora of fan bases who play their tracks everywhere.  That field requires demanding performances with limited technology to bring worlds to life, requiring a little imagination to fill in the gaps.  So for an era where imagination can be a struggle given the variety of media we have to do the lifting for us, and thus movies like this one I’m reviewing are there to give access to the majesty of the theater.  Tonight, the legendary Cats is on the prowl, in hoping of raking in a few bucks despite the power house of Star Wars coming out.  Will it be a dance to success, or is it going to be a dying cat only capable of crying out for a few scraps of attention.  Robbie K here to give you some insight as I look at:

 

Movie:  Cats (2019)

 

Director:

Tom Hooper

Writers:

T.S. Eliot (poetry collection “Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats”), Lee Hall (screenplay)

Stars:

Taylor SwiftFrancesca HaywardIdris Elba

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Setting
  • The Design Of Each Cat (though odd)
  • Some Of The Song And Dance Numbers
  • The Pace

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Limited Story
  • Some Song and Dance Numbers
  • The Fake look sometimes
  • Not utilizing the Cast Well
  • Not Taking The Creative Liberties When They should have
  • Just Limited Over All

 

Summary:

As stated earlier, the theater is able to bring out some truly wonderous things with the limited technologies they have compared to CGI computer animation.  The movies accomplished those limitations by helping turn the limited set into a magical paradise of alley cat wonder.  Kitchens, alleys, bedroom, and more are all magnified to new proportions, giving us the perspective of the cat and adding sort of an obstacle to it as well.  This new playground offers avenues for unique dancing, creative colors that blend well with the cats design, and keep to the realistic world the play painted so long ago.  As for the cats themselves, the world of animal meeting human takes a new realistic sheen in the movements of tails, ears, and paint, really capitalizing on the mannerisms that the actors are asked to do.  Those realistic movements, along with the fur that surrounds them really gives a sheen to the actors and helps keep up with the performances.

Speaking of performances, the true spectacle of the movie comes from the performance factors that the stage show is always known for.  With the impressive visuals, the performances sort of explode on stage, new choreography mixing with old to unleash the true amazingness that the art of dance brings.  Old styles like ballet, classical dance, and tap dancing will captivate the classic fans, while the new styles of hip hop, break dancing, and other styles add a modern pizazz to them.  All the style mix well, and the giant dance number in the middle proves this the best, taking place just before my favorite number of the alley cat who tap dances.  Those who are big on giant musicals, and like the modern retake on it are going to find this as the selling point for the movie, especially given the pace most of these numbers bring to the movie, which is another positive given some of the limitations.

 

Yet the movie’s theatrics can only carry it so far in the grand scheme of movie comparison for this reviewer.  First off, the limited story.  I know, it is Cats a play all about introductions that was derived from a poetry book. Despite this though, the movie could have expanded upon the story, taken some creative liberties, and helped diversify this film from the play and give it that movie spin, (potentially this was to appease fans).  While not the movie’s fault, there are some numbers where the modern twist did not improve upon, and these numbers were a little boring for this reviewer, but again they at least keep these numbers in tune with the original so I can’t really dock too many points for this.  Instead, a more valid point could be some of the details that they did not buff out in the transition from humans to cats.  The CGI work is impressive, but I’ll admit that the faces for most of the cast still look a little fake. I would have liked some make up and prosthetics to help with the blending and correct this, for the stage make up I think still reigns supreme in this contest and should not have cost too much to add on in the grand scheme of the budget.  As for the cast, there are a lot of stars that came to perform and to be honest… I don’t think they utilized them well at all.  The film had only a handful of cats running the show from scene to scene, and all the big names had their numbers and dropped to the background.  I know, again they are keeping in time with the play, but in the regards for the cast of this movie, the price tags that came should have been expanding upon and utilize these big stores to the max.  That is where I believe the limitation of this movie really lies, not maximizing on the potential they could have taken to expand the story.  While I appreciate loyalty to the fans, a film version of this could have taken some liberties to expand the story, integrate the characters more, and even add some new formulations to make this movie shine (like Disney has done with most of the live action remakes).  Instead, the traditional approach has left this movie feeling very plain, one dimensional, and kind of boring in the grand scheme.  Given the potential they had going, that might have been the biggest let down.

 

The  Verdict:

            Cats is what you expect from the trailers, a big musical number that is all about dancing and soundtracks and little of anything else.  The technology prowess reigns supreme in bringing the world and visuals to life, and many of the new twists to the songs give it a breath of fresh air to liven things up.  Yet, this face paced dance flick just really does not deliver on many things outside of the lavish numbers.  Rather than taking some liberties to expand the story and use of the characters, the movie sticks a little too close to the traditional roots, leaving it very simple and kind of dull in the grand scheme of things.  If you are looking to experience the show for the first time, this could be a decent substitute, but for those in love of the plays or looking for a musical with more sustenance, heart, and coordination, well you should go in with lower expectations.  As such, I’m mixed in terms of telling you if worth a theater visit, but for the stage show, effects, and visual numbers the theater will assist, but for everything else, watch this one at home instead.   Due to the missed potential this movie could have done, I’ll give this film a: 

My Scores are

Comedy/Drama/Family:  5.0

Movie Overall:  4.0

Is This Going To Bomb? Bombshell Review

Bombshell Poster

 

Politics!  They seem to be everywhere and in everything, and in this social media charged day… well it only continues to get more extreme.  Yet, the movies are a perfect place to tell stories that are covered by the news, helping act as a PSA to the corruption the world can cause.  My first review today is about a political film, that takes the champions of the current movements and puts them in the iconic roles who started the removal of corruption.  What’s in store?  Well, this reviewer is going to take a non-political, non-biased review as he looks the film:

 

Movie: Bombshell (2019)

 

Director:

Jay Roach

Writer:

Charles Randolph

Stars:

Charlize TheronNicole KidmanMargot Robbie

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • The Setting
  • Decent Pace
  • Good Use of Main characters
  • Fantastic Acting
  • Contained Political Fury
  • Factual Approach and Detailed
  • The Makeup

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Character Utilization Imbalance
  • The unnecessary introductions of every character
  • The Side story that sort of was not necessary
  • Kate McKinnon side story to some extents
  • Did not appreciate the Asides
  • Lackluster Suspense

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

A historical movie is all about getting you into the moment and immersing you into the world, and today’s technology continues to make that happen.  Bombshell drops you right into the warzone of the Fox News Scandal and with it brings the world alive as you see the secrets behind the close doors of the executive board room.  All the desks, hallways, and offices paint the suspense and add the elements needed to get the emotions going, that slight touch to help get you more into the world.  The make up as well transforms our cast of characters into the spitting image of those involved, helping to add that realism element to it, and for fans of the story help impress you with the magic of movie make up.  It’s a great recreation of the characters and the combination of setting and costumes does the background lifting to help you get into the mix.

Okay, now that we are past those aspects though, what else can you tell us about the movie you liked.  Well it starts with the pacing for me.  Political movies, especially political biographies, are often slower paced and getting lost into the details of a convoluted story.  Fortunately, Bombshell keeps things moving at a steady pace, always working towards the goal of the girls against abusive boss, but also keeping the character development going. For a movie packed with stars, this films did not fail to utilize its cast well, making sure to give the whole story from multiple aspects and giving as complete a tale as possible.  Because of this approach, you can find a champion to be behind, maybe due to the morals they stand behind or perhaps having similar experiences or stories to relate to.  It’s all brought to light in a fantastically acted manner, by a cast who have portrayed these characters beautifully, all while keeping the heated tension in checkTheron probably takes the lead for me of all the cast, her character getting the most involvement, but also in just the sheer diversity of emotions she had to portray in the short amount of time. As for Robbie and Kidman, they succeed in their roles as well, hitting their accents, emotions, and struggles perfectly and helping immerse me into the full journey to success.  As for Lithgow, well stunning performance by him as always and one I quite enjoy to continue seeing as he tackles the roles of people from history.

As for the story itself, the movie succeeds in bringing a political, factual piece to record and keeping it rather contained.  Unlike some other movies that have come out this year, Bombshell manages to keep many scenes relevant, deliver it’s point quite well, and not rub it in my face that this was an immoral incident.  Much of the dialogue, the details they included, and even the thoughts of the cast have relevance to the tale and add those extra details to help you get to the bottom of the corruption at hand.  By taking this approach, and containing the political fury, Bombshell was able to deliver what felt like a factual approach to the film, and by including the CEO’s perspective, got to see a more accurate portrayal than what other movies sometimes do. 

 

However, Bombshell is far from a perfect movie in terms of cinematic design for me when compared to other films.  For one thing, the character utilization is not quite equal for me, with again Theron getting the majority of the scenes while her other cast mates sometimes fall into the background.  The trailers portray this to be three on one going against the boss, using teamwork and experiences to help gradually prove the truth.  Yet, the movie is nothing like that, with the stories semi connected, but not coordinate and feeling more like a Venn diagram where three circles happen to coincide at times.  To sort of add onto this, you’ll start getting introductions to a lot of other people in the news, or history with the news into the movie for your viewing pleasure.  I appreciate the compass, and I think fans who have read, or know the story will like seeing the casting for the figures, but I also think given the little they are involve in this movie the extra effort to point them out was lost on me.  All these supporting characters just added little outside of visual examples of the CEO branch’s side with little to counter the strength of the others.

Other detours that did not do it for me were a few of the side stories that they used to help for character development or political prowess.  Despite how contained it was, the movie did sometimes step back into stirring the flames and going on subjects that will divide the audience.  The Trump story shows what the CEO was doing to try and manipulate favor of his employees, but the level of depth into the argument I did not think was quite necessary for the grand story.  In addition, the Kate McKinnon story had its moments that added to the story, but again dove into unnecessary avenues that added extra time and took away from the main story.  These asides, as well as the breaking the fourth wall, were techniques that did not quite hit me as an audience member, but I’ll give them nod as an inspirational call to the key demographics that this movie is trying to inspire. It’s again the use of these super preachy, political hits that detract from the story and will be received well by a limited audience in my opinion.  Finally, the lackluster suspense was another limitation for me.  Call me spoiled by the magic of movies, but I had expected a lot more fight into this movie, and some added drama could have spiced up things quite well had they added a little more suspense and obstacles.  Those anchors they introduced or some more of the executives trying to use their power, all could have been integrated to make a more exciting picture.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Bombshell is a great installment to the biography world because it makes a realistic story, that seems more factual than dramatic.  It uses good visuals and great acting to help with bringing the story to life and gives a complete tale that should be inspirational for many.  Throw in that it kept the political frenzy to a minimum, and the film opens up to a wider variety of people who can see the horrors these women faced.  Yet, the movie still has not quite found the art of drama vs factual and could have used a little pep in the department to help unleash the full impact and excitement of the movie.  In addition, the side stories and over-political moments still creep in and though not the worst I’ve seen, felt they added little to the story over all, but stuck around for some representation politics.  Overall, the movie is not awful or overbearing, but it could have had the same impact but on a streaming service or rental and that is where I would encourage you to watch it. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0