This Gringo Was Not The Heffe



Dark-Comedies are an acquired taste, but once you develop it you have the ability to appreciate more satirical comedy.  David Oyelowo attempts to bring this genre to life this weekend in the movie Gringo, a film that has some bite I didn’t expect from a movie this early in the year.  But what zany adventures will unfold when a black man is stuck between the high stakes world of pharmaceutical development and the cartels?  Well that is what this film attempts to answer, and it is my job to give you the 411 on the latest movies to storm the screen.  Let’s go!




-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times



Gringo is a movie that likes to go over the top, with characters that are all about going to one extreme or the other. However David Oyelowo is the character that has a little more dynamic than the other.  Oyelowo is fun to watch, for me being the funniest character with his loud, rambunctious delivery of lines that are loaded with high-pitched panicking screams. Yet he is able to turn that energy around, and focus it to give a character that is worth looking into as he tries to navigate the hostile world he wound up in.  Like his character Harold, Oyelowo keeps things very relatable and invests his time to making a good adventure.

But what is an adventure without a little ethics debate to come into the light.  Gringo does this just right as the conversation of doing the right thing vs. the selfish thing constantly rears its ugly head in the cartel wastelands that this film takes place in. Harold’s journey not only tests his own morals, but inspires others to address their own life choices, from settling on abusive boyfriends to what one will do to get money to accomplish their personal goals.  It fits okay into the movie, but there are some hard hitting dialogue moments to help reassure that the best stuff doesn’t mean the best life.

As stated earlier, dark comedies are a little dryer than other, more modern comedies so you have to be ready for more delivery and timing to do the lifting.  Gringo has some legit comedic moments, really taking an awkward situation and turning it into a tear inducing riot of laughs.  These moments often have a nice, clever zing to them, that Oyelowo maximizes using his natural accent and mannerisms.

And all of these components are able to be placed in a decently paced run time that minimizes the slow and maximizes the thrills.




-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end


You’ve read my reviews, but you know that lazy writing that relies of cursing doesn’t get my stamp of approval.  Gringo has extreme characters that don’t use the most advanced language, relying once more on F-bombs and sleazy pick up lines to do the talking.  While pertinent to the story, for once, and sometimes entertaining, Gringo utilized these tactics too much for my tastes.  Even the yelling of Oyelowo got old, with many of his pleas soon running dry like the desert he ran through.  As such, this movie didn’t really have the comedic punch I wanted, but more a thrill seeking, dark adventure with a little comedic buff thrown in.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that a lot of the funny parts had been advertised to death in the trailers, resulting in the overplayed scene being boring by show time. And once the last scene started to end and all the stories came together, things sort of wrapped up in a chaotic package that wasn’t in time with the movie.  Not the worst mind you, but not what I quite expected from the trailers.





Gringo is okay, and designed for a select audience that wants the darker things in life to be ridiculed.  This film is a legitimate mixture of drama, crime, adventure and comedy, taking these aspects and twisting it into a semi-entertaining story with some moral obligations to address.  While I enjoyed Oyelowo and the well-timed zingers, I still can’t say this was the best, most unique comedy to hit the screen.  The extreme characters, mundane dialog, and chaotic organization (ruined by the trailers), didn’t deliver the expected feel I got from the advertising and as such left more to be desired.  So I recommend skipping this one and hitting something else in the month of March.


My scores are:


Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0



When You Wish Upon A Gun

Death Wish


Bruce Willis a legend that will live on in the halls of action movies.  The stoic face, the rugged muscles, and the ability to wield every type of gun are just some of the qualities that make him stand amongst the heroes of the action world.  Tonight, a fellow friend attends the movies with me to help determine what his next film entitled Death Wish holds in store.  Does another rogue cop movie hold bar, or is Willis just spinning our wheels?  Robbie K and friend are here to provide some info.  Let’s get started!




Comedic Timing:  Shocker, you aren’t going to see this movie for comedy, but Death Wish has it anyway.  While not straight up laughing, slapstick or one-liners, Death Wish’s comedy comes more from the pokes at society this movie portrays.  Primarily aimed at the media blowing up articles into the latest entertainment, Death Wish is not afraid to call us out on turning everything into entertainment. In addition, Willis manages to drop some well-timed insults into the mix, often geared toward the unreliability of the law enforcement that plagues our world.  Such small nuances aren’t the wettest humor, but it works given the tone of this movie.


Moral Debates:  Another movie, another means to provide a medium to have ethical debates.  Like so many people these days, people take drastic action to make change happen, and Death Wish is just a series of clips that raise this question.  Gun vigilante may seem extreme, but sadly in this day and age it is not, and it makes one wonder how far you are willing to go to bring about the change.  Is it preachy?  Yes, but that underlying theme acts as the character development in this rather simple plot and works to add a little more meaning to the plot.

Edgy action:  If you’ve seen the trailers, you know the movie is meant to be another example of why Bruce Willis is the man with the exciting plan.  Death Wish fulfills that promise, giving you a movie that has drops flashy stunts and CGI for down and dirty shoot outs.  And while crime shootings are often one dimensional, monotone blowouts, Death Wish manages to add some different angles to the mix that are loaded with a dark tone to really bring out the suspense.  What adds even more thrills, is that Death Wish manages to avoid falling into invincible syndrome, giving some more realistic qualities to our hero so you can relate and potentially get hooked into the suspense. With all this edge, it refreshes the action genre that has gotten stale with their ridiculous antics.


Good pace:  A final nod, outside of a well reflected soundtrack, is the pace of the movie.  A little bit of time is needed at the beginning to get things revved up, but once the first gun blazes, things kick up into gear.  Death Wish is a film that is all about pacing, shedding little time on the irrelevant details so you get as much hunting as you could possibly want. It certainly does not feel slow!



Savage, Dark, Suffering:  My friend doesn’t mind this aspect, and truth is I can handle it too, but for others this movie has a little more graphic torturing than you might be thinking.  Those with weak constitutions, may need to avert their eyes a few times at the bloody fates our extras have in store.  If you can’t handle this blood and cringe worthy tactics, you need to think about watching the movie as it’s not all quick finishes and sunshine.  In fact, some may be depressed seeing the light fade out of the eyes of a few of the reaper’s victims.


Blunt ends:  Death Wish’s writing had plenty of storytelling elements and potential plots contained within, but many of these we felt were bluntly dropped into the mix.  The Ice Cream Man for instance held little difference outside of his scene on the trailers, though you thought he might have had a little more sway.  There are other examples of this, each one starting to build steam or provide a new dynamic for Willis’ character, but sadly they didn’t quite develop all these elements that could have been something more.


Action in the TrailersThis is one of those movies that if you have seen the trailer a lot, or have a good memory, you’re going to unfortunately see a lot of familiar scenes.  Most of the action scenes have been completely shown in the trailer, a testament to how long these scenes are. Therefore, watch the trailer enough time, and you’ve got a little in regards to surprises with the action scenes, and not much from the plot either.  A dilution of story, surprise, and suspense, the movie needed a little tweaking to help out break out of the shell.


Unrealistic:  Wow, an action movie that leaves the reality and goes to the realm of fiction, not the first time we’ve seen this happen.  However, given the more realistic tone of Death Wish, you would think they would work a little harder to keep this going.  First there are some plot holes my friend picked out, that came out of left field.  Yeah, they worked to transition the scenes, but some of these stretches were farfetched, unable to support the method behind Willis’ hunt. Then comes the lacking brains, skills, or ingenuity that the black-market population follow.  How in the world did guards not be posted every single hit target these supposedly elite thieves had?  How did Willis find these steps to contact the guys, or vice versa?  Small things for some, but for this reviewer that deviation was hard to stomach. Finally, Willis’ character somehow manages to avoid detection with just a hoodie.  Batman is able to mask via technology and a legitimate costume, but in this day of media/sharing/and the internet, how in did he avoid detection for so long.  If I knew I just had to put a sleeve over my head and look down to be invisible, I would have done this in undergrad.  Thus, the realistic action movie loses its realistic edge.





            Despite the limitations, Death Wish is the action movie to liven things up and bring those edges the series needs.  The realistic tone, with character development is the hard-hitting angle the genre needed, and the morale dilemma is a nice added bonus.  If you are looking for that grittier element, this movie is certainly the one for you, lacking restraints to unleash the violence full swing.  Yet, the movie still needs to watch its story writing making sure to avoid blunt, rushed ends and big stretches to have us believe.  Yet, if you suspend this tie to realism, you will certainly enjoy this thrilling ride.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I’d say yes in this case if you are a fan of the legend.


MY scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Every Move You Make, Every Body You Take

every day


The romantic comedy and drama series, are two genres that often go hand and hand. Unfortunately these movies often lack in the unique department, copying each other’s story like Hallmark copies its own plots.  Yet, they still reign supreme in the movie world, unafraid to remain the cute, cuddly, and melodramatic.  This weekend though, another book adapted to movie takes a shot at relieving us from this mundane rush, to add a little flair back into the romantic atmosphere.  My review, as you can read, is on Every Day, starring Angourie Rice and a mess of other young actors.  What is in store?  Read on to find out my friends.




Acting:  Many romantic comedies involving teenagers are often overacted performances that are not easy for me to stomach in the volumes I see movies in.  Every Day on the other hand manage to keep the acting in check, with performances that felt like kids in every day high school.  As the central character, Rice did a fantastic job of handling the teenager caught between so many lives that require her energy to invest in.  As for the remainder of the cast, all the extras from the jerk boyfriend (Justice Smit) to the final host of A all have their parts to play, and each represent there lifestyle stigmatism well.  Such a dynamic cast kept things fun, and the story more intriguing than the run of the mill romance.


The Morals:  The story is primarily a love story, but amidst the kissing, hugging, and cuddling is a strong series of ethical dilemmas that the characters must face.  It starts with the common moral dilemma of finding respectful love vs. settling, teaching young kids that love does exist outside the realms of popularity and physical aspects.  Soon Rhiannon (Rice) starts crashing into things such as familial discord, self-identity, and trying to move on from something because it’s the right thing to do.  Her ever changing opposite (A) also has plenty to face with his powers too, as each person he inhabits has issues themselves that constantly challenge his happiness and ability to have a life he so desires.  These head scratchers are perfect for the young minds to soak up into and good refresher for any, leaving you reviewing your own ideas upon exiting the theater. Nevertheless, these ideas are well-baked into the tale, perfect to drive the story more.


The Twist:  Let’s face it, romantic comedies have difficulty with surprising me, the plots so predictable and similar that one can’t help but try to fight sleep sometimes.  Every Day’s twist to the story doesn’t defy the predictability in terms of ending, but the concept itself is the intriguing part to this story.  The premise of having your love interest switch to a new body every day crosses a bridge most people haven’t attempted to and it worked for me.  Seeing what new adventures they would go on, how they would solve the next problem, and even how they would make this whole endeavor work were some of the questions keeping me invested in the movie.  However, the biggest question of who or what A is, that is the real thing I tried to figure out.  So many mysteries amidst the romantic atmosphere makes this movie stand out.




The Predictability:  The movie has such a unique twist, one was hoping to have a unique ending in the works as well.  Every Day’s presentation may stand out, but it’s ending falls back in line with the usual endings that this genre is famous for.  While a bit vague at points and somewhat lackluster given the build-up they were providing. However, one should be able to see the ending coming from a mile away, and despite being on the realistic, ethically inclined side, it still lacks the emotional shine you had hoped to see.


Problems Swept Under the Rug: I mentioned how much I liked the ethics in this film and the real life portrayals of the problems that plague the world.  I also would have liked to see those problems have a little more development, pacing, and satisfying conclusion than what I got.  The love aspect get the most attention, there’s a surprise, but as for the other dilemmas, well they get the quick treatment. Some of these make sense because again they are one life A must live and maximize, however Rhiannon’s family problems are ones that she has to live with constantly, so perhaps they should have cultivated a little more integration of these problems into the movie. It would have made an interesting side story to help integrate her family into the picture, providing yet another aspect to help with this awkward relationship.


Unrealistic:  No duh, a person switching lives every day is totally unrealistic, however that’s not the component I’m talking about.  Instead, Rhiannon’s unrealistic component is how little her school work and discipline suffers despite skipping as much as she does.  If many had pulled the antics she did, they would have been expelled, fortunately the power of love seemed to have rescued them.  This component is ignorable to most, but for me it was cheesy and unobtainable, only taking away for the story.


Unanswered questions:  The movie invests an entire ten minute dialogue to try to explain the origins of A’s powers.  As such, at the end I was hoping for some actual answers and hopefully get a nice tie up to A’s journey of body invasion.  Once again, story fails to fill in the gaps, giving little information to clarify the fog of A’s life, in favor of teaching a lesson about moving on.  Yeah, they took the emotionally stirring route, but in terms of story, they should have closed this book much better in regards to answers.




            Every Day breaks the mold on the typical romantic comedy presentation with its unique concept of a lover switching bodies with each passing 24 hours. All the morals that come with this responsibility add an extra layer to the a generic plot, helping to keep your mind engaged instead of rapidly decaying into a lazy sponge that rom coms have come up with.  And those twists that seemed so admirable, didn’t quite reach the pinnacle of what I’m sure the book was able to accomplish.  Problems are ignored or swiftly wrapped up, the ending still remains predictable and sadly the questions raised are left only slightly answered.  Therefore, this romantic comedy stands out on some qualities, but still drowns in the mundane tactics that Hollywood has become. So worth a trip to the movie theater?  Mixed results on this, but overall hold out for Redbox or a date night film at best.


My scores are:


Drama/Fantasy/Romance:  7.0

Movie overall: 5.5

Annihilates The Mundane Sci-Fi, But …



The Science Fiction genre, a group of films that often get wrapped up in other genres that they stray far from the roots established long ago.  A true science fiction, is often a thriller that tests the limits of reality, dives deep into the psyche of the characters, and often brings a fictitious world that we can only dream of to life.  And this weekend, another movie looks to fall into this category and actually belong into it.  Annihilation starring Natalie Portman looks to be a movie that contains many strange elements, wonders, and thrills to warrant a venture into the movie theater again.  What lies in store?  Well Robbie K would be happy to share his thoughts with another review.  Let’s get started!




The World Building:  Within Annihilation, lies the anomaly called the Shimmer and within it a world that has been mutated by some unknown force.  As our “heroes” for lack of a better word venture into the gasoline mixed with water looking border, the world contained within is a wonder in itself.  Our world’s natural flora and fauna are bizarrely twisted into these contorted visuals that look natural, beautiful, and a true representation of the genetic crossing that we all studied in school. The world’s scientific art continued to grow only deeper and darker as they traveled further into the void, the animation and creativity being unleashed into the chaotic skew with no limitations.  Some of these creations are stunning in terms of color, while other times they are the things of nightmares, whose movements and designs will leave you huddled in your chair. 


Science Fiction Thrills:  In addition to the world itself, Annihilation is all about the true Sci-Fi adventure.  An unending suspense hovers over the air, the tension always mounting at what lies within the glades of this weird dimension.  The mystery of what is causing this continues to build across the course of the movie, as well as if our heroes will make it to find the answer.  Annihilation’s threats do exist outside, but even more dire is the psychological warfare the Shimmer plays on our girls.  Disturbing imagery is only one assault to their psyches, as they are pushed from all fronts to confront whatever it is eating them inside.  And in addition to bringing suspense, the characters get some major development, shelling out their background information and helping them adapt to the ever-changing world around them.  This culmination is very entertaining and truly worthy of the sci-fi mantle in terms of plot.


Deep:  A good science fiction movie makes you think, and Annihilation has got you covered in this element as well.  As you try to solve the mystery of the movie and the fantastic twists that get thrown in, you’ll find deeper meanings behind the actions of the movie.  Many of these are head scratchers, trying to figure out just what the Shimmer is doing.  While not as complex as Arrival or Matrix, Annihilation still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to bend your mind and get you trying to process all the weird information it throws at you.  As you process this, you may uncover deeper, morale dilemmas, horror filled thoughts of the future, and even the fragility of order are all up for questions.  This artistic flare is certainly a score booster, though fair warning that these deeper meanings are also disturbing at times too.



Savage/Disturbing:  With a title like Annihilation, one needs to be ready for darker undertones and source material.  However, this movie goes down a very graphic path that was able to penetrate my desensitized shell.  Found footage reveals some rather violent outcomes for previous teams, with little to no censorship of details that are capable of causing some to lose their lunch.  The savage nature of the beasts and the violence held within just about everything in this film throws no punches, again choosing to display the gory details that fail to dampen. 


Flashbacks:  The flashbacks are certainly for character development and some of them set the story up nicely for the bombs to be dropped.  Others however, are unnecessary details that did little other than show the suffering we already knew she held and expand the run time.  Complete as it was, I didn’t quite pick up on the significance of some of these wasted scenes and could have held better storytelling elements to help build the suspense.  Not all of these have to be eliminated, but editing could have used some tightening up to make everything more relevant.


Deeper supporting characters:  The movie is primarily about Natalie Portman, shocker there, and at the start it showed some promise that the other members of her team would be more integral to the mission.  Yet, things decrease fairly fast to where the other characters soon become rushed plot lines, trinkets to tax Leah (Portman)’s conscience and further push the psyche limitations of everyone.  Had they given some better relationships, a little more teamwork, and integration of all characters, perhaps then we would have had even stronger development and thrills to enjoy.


The Weird Ending: You know that feeling you get when after the big wait the ending turns out to be something you didn’t/or maybe never wanted to expect?  Well Annihilation was kind of like that for me.  The twist at the end was great, bringing relevance to some of the flashbacks, and really blowing your mind.  However, the entity itself is not quite as awe-inspiring or terrifying to say the least.  The source of the trouble is abstract, creepy, and very hard on the ears as it tries to communicate in sounds you have heard in the trailers. This final scene is super prolonged, and quite uncomfortable at times to watch as this dance of perverted awkwardness commences. Is it unique?  Yes, but it still didn’t quite match what I wanted.  And for those who don’t like abstract thinking and deciphering the conclusion yourself, hate to break it to you, but you won’t get all the explanations you might be looking for.  Yeah, it’s weird.





            Annihilation may have looked weird, and it’s true it is an odd spectacle to behold to the general audience.  However, it is a true sci fi thriller in meaning, thought provoking, stunts, and world building, to the level that fans of the genre will be pleased with what the studio brought out to you. It’s weaknesses for me come in it went a little too far down the weird pathway, going too savage and abstract to provide a clear picture at times.  The use of flashbacks was stylish at times but overdone as it sacrificed the chances for other characters to get some more time on the screen.  Still, if you are looking for that dark, story that makes you scratch your head, then Annihilation is the movie for you to check out.  For those who qualify, this movie is worth a trip to the theater, but for others kip this as long as you can to avoid disturbing those with sensitive constitutions. 


My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Failure of Biblical Proportions



Biblical movies are hot topic films that often don’t get their fair reviews, wedged between two extremes that are unrelenting.  While there have been some amazing films to capture the lessons of the Lord, there are others that fall short of the glory.  This weekend, another attempt to bring the stories to visual splendor this time focusing on the tale of Samson and Delilah.  You may not have seen the trailers, but the teaser did not hold much promise for this film, with a Taylor Lautner look alike taking center screen amidst a lot of extras.  Still, yours truly hits another round of movies to bring you another review.  Does this film succeed or is it just bleeding your pockets dry?  Let’s get started on the analysis, shall we?



Orchestra work:  Not the most unique or creative, but the orchestra work in Samson brings an emotional curb to the scene or sequence it is covering.  The booming cannons, the sharp trumpets blaring honorably, and the deep drums all combine to form a symphony that mirrors the ferocity of Samson’s strength. Without this track, the edge portrayed in the trailer would not be there.


Biblical Look:  Okay, okay I’m drawing straw here, but the setting looked like a decent representation of old world towns, palaces, and shacks.  Samson’s cast have a bountiful environment to work in, from dried up forests, to the open desert plains.  The shots are beautiful, and some of the made-up settings look legitimate, especially the outside shots of the CGI built palaces.  A nice start, but the budget needed to be expanded to really clean up the rougher edges of the setting.


The Biblical Message:  In these types of movies, one strives to learn the Lord’s lessons, perhaps as a means to reconnect with their spiritual side.  Samson manages to do this, using both the narratives and physical prowess scenes to help spread the message of going to God.  The latter in particular are very pronounced prayers, going out of the way to dramatize the kneeling and shut eyes as he communicates with God.  This usually follows with some super hero feats, from bashing a person’s rib cage in with a punch or pushing open a gate that has no chance of opening.  Combined with the music, church goers will love seeing the power of God manifest in Samson’s deeds.



Unpolished Acting/Writing:  One major problem with Samson is that much of the movie feels unfinished, unpolished, and quite weak.  Many of the characters act at one extreme or the other, with many of the performances almost feeling like they were uninterested in the part.  When dramatic moments hit, the prolonged speeches, and acts of passion were on the other end of the spectrum, very melodramatic and a little cheesy.  I can’t pinpoint if this is due to the writing, the direction, or something else, but it didn’t meet the Oscar quality they might have been shooting for.


Rushed Story:  The acting can be stomached, but the story, well that is where things really take a dive.  Samson’s tale is epic, and one would hope to see that legendary story have all the meaning and development it needed.  Sadly, this film failed to bring the story to full light.  All the major points are covered, but much of it is a rushed, diluted mess that lacks suspense, quality, or even satisfactionCharacter deaths happen in the blink of an eye, punishments lack the movie magic to actually make you feel the pain in your heart and given the writing/acting…things don’t feel believable in the performance. Like many movies, they seemed to try and cram everything in to a short run time and it didn’t work for me.


The Action:  Okay, seeing a Hebrew take on corrupt, pigheaded soldiers, is always satisfying given the portrayal of bad guys in Hollywood.  However, Samson’s strength falters not in terms of power, but in terms of quality in the fight scenes itself.  Much of the movie is just the well-toned body of Taylor James being framed in a close up, with him performing the same, habitual punch/bash over and over again.  Oh yeah, they have a little mix up, but it’s nothing impressive as it resorts back to the usual bashing before seeing a shot of a poor extra pretending to die.  Sword play is lacking, suspense again is gone, and even the main bad guys feel weak in terms of epic villainy and thrilling fights.  Like much of this movie, they cut corners on this aspect and it didn’t pay off.



            The legendary story of Samson is an epic one about the power of God and filled with morals about trusting the Almighty one with your life.  Sadly, this film was not able to glorify it the way it needed to be.  Whether it is due to a limited budget, a short time limit, or rookie status, the movie cut too many corners as they tried to cram everything they could into a short time frame.  Mediocre acting, rushed story, and lackluster action more than overshadow the visuals and message in this movie, setting another example of how Hollywood doesn’t necessarily mean quality.  So, while the spiritual power is good, Robbie recommends skipping this installment at least until RedBox that is… and I can only marginally recommend this. 


My scores are:

Action/Drama:  4.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

The 15:17 to Realism

15-17 to paris.jpg


Biography movies, another genre victim to dramatization, editing cuts, and wild cards in terms of quality to tell the story.  Yet the great Clint Eastwood has proven to be quite the artist to bring these movies to life in that dark, emotional, presentation we all love.  So, with another biography being released this weekend, yours truly is back to the trenches to give you some insight into the latest movies to sweep the nation.  What is in store for you?  Please read on to find out as I cover: The 15:17 to Paris.



Realistic: The movie’s highlight for me is how realistic the journey is, at least in terms of how their life progresses.  That Hollywood magic of instant success, of things falling into the right place at the right time, are essentially absent in this film.  You’ll get to see the struggles of the character’s lives, feel the stinging defeat at the limitations that were in their way, and experience the frustration at the ambiguity life holds. If realism and facts are your preference in these movies, then this film delivers on this premise and probably as close to the truth as you’ll get outside of talking to them.


A Fun Vacation:  The chronicle of the heroes’ journey has some pretty fabulous settings that they transverse too.  As the trio begin to tour Europe, you really get to see some fabulous sights of the culture held on that continent.  The way the film is presented, this component of the movie is a fun breakup of the drama, and if you’re like me and haven’t traveled internationally, a nice way to drink in the settings.  In addition, this was probably the most entertaining component of the film.


Cinematography:  The movie also gets massive props for the utilization of camera work to sell the emotion of the moment.  Eastwood’s latest film doesn’t have the most memorable moments in acting, but the camera picks up the slack.  Key close ups, dynamic angles, and a constantly evolving structure are the components that help bring this tale to life for me.  Once the sound editing and musical scores come in, that is when the scenes come together and paint the emotional tension of the film.


Quick Pace:  Can’t lie, biographies sometimes knock my energy out depending on how long and slow they go.  Like the train though, this movie moves at a very brisk pace, unyielding to the distracting tangents and keeping the film on pace.  As such, this film didn’t lose me and I got to appreciate the tale from start to finish.




Overdramatic opening:  The film starts with a glimpse back into the hero’s childhood days, which can be a tough time.  For me though, these opening moments were where the acting suffered the most.  Many of the teachers seemed to be overly grandiose in their negativity, their attitudes, and prejudice towards the kids.  During parent-teacher conferences, these discussions turned into absurd arguments that seemed more extreme than necessary and to the point of eye-rolling for me.  It’s all based on perspective, but the monstrous portrayal of these teachers either indicates action for their termination, or another example of movie magic gone wrong.


Piecemeal Presentation:  I liked the presentation at the start, the integration of the actual event, intertwined with their history.  So, I’m unsure why this concept was dropped a third of the way into the film and ditched for a different presentation. Even weirder, is that the movie felt very piecemeal to me, starting down one angle only to again drop it without any major resolution.  Eastwood’s team kept taking leaps and bounds across the story including: hastily finishing the kid story, dropping the challenges in training, and in many cases forgetting the other major characters.  Speaking of which…


One character vs. Three:  The trailers say the film is about the three heroes of the movie, and it starts out that way.  Then once again the other characters get pushed to the back burner, pretty much forgotten until halfway through the final act.  Were the other’s tales just that lacking?  Was it because only one of them did a lot of the physical work in the actual event the reason he was awarded most of the screen time?  Honorable as this may be, the false advertising didn’t impress me so much in the film on something that based its promotion on three characters.  Sorry guys, but the occasional shot of the friends doesn’t count as major storytelling.


Overhyped End:  Don’t get me wrong, hostile attacks in any form are intense, scary, and traumatic.  Yet, the hype the trailers placed on this movie was not fulfilled for me.  The tension was low, the theatrics were gone, and in truth it was over in the blink of the eye.  Again, I appreciate the realism, but a little magic at this point could have amped up the suspense and pulled me more into the story. I guess when you expect all three to have majorly stopped the incident, you expect bigger bang, so shame on me for that.  Still, not the most climactic thrills to grace the screen. 





            Eastwood is famous for biographies, but this one didn’t have quite the investment, heart, and dynamic his other works have had.  The 15:17 to Paris is certainly a more realistic movie, that keeps a quick pace and nice cinematography to tell pieces of a tale.  While I enjoyed the vacation, aspects presented in the film, the movie failed to unite the fragments together, leading to a very haphazard and unfinished tale for me to enjoy.  With all the hype, I expected more of Eastwood’s dramatic flair to take hold, but this film didn’t quite live up to what the trailers presented.  So, if you’re looking for a realistic, big budget documentary hit the theaters, but my opinion is to save this one for a legal home viewing. 


My scores:

Drama/History/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

Freed At Last, Freed At Last



The international best seller that changed the world is a topic of much debate.  Tasteless porn vs. incredible love story, this series has two extreme groups fighting for superiority on what is the truth to the Grey series.  However, since many people don’t read these days, Hollywood has brought a visual representation to us to help stem the tide and get more people discussing the content of E.L James work.  And so, yours truly, alongside some very kind friends, heads into the trenches to give you another review on what is what in the movies.  Let’s get going!




The Romance:  The romance, as the fans will call it, has finally improved to the levels many wanted it to be from the start.  Fifty Shades Freed finally has our actor’s chemistry mixing well to portray a more realistic love story than what I’ve seen.  Rather than bland, uninterested looks, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan finally have some heat into their acting actually seeming to love each other than just tolerate.  The drama that fans want is packed into their on-screen time, a nice balance of overdramatic anger, passion, and desire in their little game of domination cat and mouse.  While still unbelievable at times, the magic finally raised to a new level for the final installment.


The JokesSuch a dark delicacy as this requires some more adult humor, and Fifty Shades Freed’s writing is able to bring this humor to full blast.  Clever alliterations, metaphors, and puns are well integrated into the goopy, lovey dovy, romantic bologna this movie is famous for.  These comedic devices are well-timed and well-delivered to maximize the punch that comes with it and had my friends and I chuckling.  Had there been a few more of these moments, the movie’s writing might have gotten even more points for creativeness and magic.


Semi-Tasteful: Despite the sultry atmosphere contained in these films, the censorship is still decent enough to add some class to the movie.  Rather than diving into the pornographic details that some of the fan-base loves, the movie keeps the camera work on the upper areas, straying away from the lower anatomy.  Even the love making scenes have been tempered a bit to not dive into XXX levels, but it barely skims by this.  Still, the small bit of class gets my nod of respect.


The Ending:  My friends and I agreed that the nice little nod to the series as the end was a good way to cap of the series.  Simplistic and predictable yes, but for those super fans, it is the emotional finesse you may have come to expect in the series.  And for the beginning credit, and only clip, it’s the ending that had many in my showing ahhing in delight.


The Music:  My final nod is at the director of music, who once again picks a slamming song track to represent the emotion of the scene.  A combination of genres, the selections are worthy of another soundtrack worth purchasing, assuming you are into those kinds of things.





The Sex:  Let’s get this out of the way.  No surprise, I’m not the biggest fan of watching two actors make strong, awkward, and often strange sex fantasies come to life.  And Fifty Shades Freed was more than happy to throw a lot of these vivid images at me.  While a bit classy, these scenes didn’t fit into the story as much for me, nor did I really appreciate how fast and rapid they were crammed in.  The positive side is that these montages are at most 3.5 minutes long, but I’ll never look at ice cream the same way again…. Ewwwww.


Secondary Characters:  I don’t remember the books quite well, but I’m fairly certain the secondary cast goes farther than their cinematic doppelgangers.  Yes, I know the story is mainly about the star-cross lusters, I mean lovers, but this supporting group of families and friends should be you know… more supportive.  So why were much of the supporting band reduced to mere minutes of screen time with little to add to this tale?  A few clips of beautiful people, a tempting dramatic flair that goes nowhere, a shallow proposal that is cute but lacking, and some shotty presentation of key story elements are all they contribute.  After such integration in the first film, I had hoped for these components to strengthen as well, but they failed on this aspect for me outside of the fact that so many of them were pretty to look at.


Boring Tension:  Let’s face it, the story is not the best part of these series, but I had hoped that the antagonist would have had more bite to his coiffed hair.  Fifty Shares Freed did little to amplify the deadliness of Hyde, outside of making him look and sound even more insane.  The promise of a man with more brains and strategy was lost to low grade soap opera antics that just served as an example of poor planning.  I’ve seen better villains in a cheesy soap opera, and this anticlimactic climax was so disappointing to see fail.  While many may not be looking for super excitement, this reviewer would have liked to see more bite than bark.  Oh well, at least more room for love, right?




            Overall, Fifty Shade Freed has improved in regards to the romance that this series has tried to sell.  The heated passion between the main characters took some major steps towards progress in this series, alongside the jokes, the soundtrack, and the nicely packaged ending.  However, the story itself is laughable, with all these plot points and known character diluted into less concentrated beings that are only there for a quick head nod out of the series.  Fifty Shades Freed is a glorified soap opera on the big screen, and therefore not worth the price of admission in my opinion, no matter how passionate, emotional, and hot it may seem.  Save this one for the privacy of your own home and your imagination. 


My scores are:

Drama/Romance/Thriller:  5.0

Movie Overall:  4.0