I Still Believe In Balanced Religion Movies

I Still Believe Poster

 

Religion is a touchy subject to many out there in the world, especially given politics of today and the verbal sharing of the world.  Yet, there is something inspirational in the stories that are told and the miracles they can bring in their messages .  Tonight is another one of those movies that hopes to bring the word of the Lord to life, in a format that’s slightly more modern than the bible they are based on.  Yet, the movie sometimes loses its focus when it gets too preachy, and only those are major devotion will enjoy those moments to the max.  Will this latest romance/drama follow suit, or will we be treated to a fun surprise.  Well sit down and enjoy the ride as we hit up:

 

Movie: I Still Believe (2020)

 

Directors:

Andrew ErwinJon Erwin

Writers:

Jon ErwinJon Gunn

Stars:

Britt RobertsonK.J. ApaMelissa Roxburgh

 

 

LIKES:

  • Cute
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • Passionate Scenes
  • Cool Display of Miracles
  • Some Of The dialogue
  • The Musical Performances… when they happened

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not Much Story With The Family Or Other Supporting Characters
  • Not many Songs or Length Of Songs
  • Almost Feels Incomplete
  • The Acting at Times Is Very Forced
  • Diluted The Impact Of The Story With limited writing
  • Preachy

 

SUMMARY:

A movie with young romance is often very cute in a movie like this, to which this film succeeds at achieving. The relationship may start at awkward, but eventually evolves into something that is adorable to see unfold, especially at the energy it brings to what can potentially be a depressing movie.  Unlike some other movies, the film manages to keep a good pace, always keeping the romance moving towards what will surely be an intense lesson and minimizing how many tangents these films can sometimes take.  Eventually, the movie crosses a barrier though, and drops into a passionate story that shows you just how much these two people love each other.  From all the acts the guy and girl do for each other, this true story is inspiring to see that there just may be hope for the world at times.  The miracles that come out of the woodwork in this film are also pretty cool as well, displays that no one can expect (unless you read about them) again helping drive you to the faith and salvation that comes with it.  Messages like these are only further emphasized by some amazing writing, which could have been adapted from the live letters the couple donated, that are poetic, heartfelt, and even brings tears to much of the audience.  Finally, the musical moments that show off not only praising, but the talented voices of our actors, helped add a little variety to the mix, my favorite being the beach scene that seemed to culminate the power of music. 

 

However, the movie happens to fail on some other things for me that took away from me from this film.  First, despite this being a movie about coming together in the name of the Lord, the family’s involvement was actually a little limiting. Their impact has its moments, but I felt very disconnected with most of the other members, as the two protagonists danced around their relationship, which I guess is what most go into looking forward.  Now maybe the songs make up for it, after all there are plenty of these films where the music comes in to save the day with a stunning performance.  This movie has one moment to have you lift your arms, but outside of a few numbers, the songs are mostly sound bites and quickened performances that get lost to dialogue.  My friend and I both really could have enjoyed the musical spectacles, but alas they did not put stock in it.  As such, the film feels very incomplete in terms of involvement and integration, a shame given the potential of the film from the trailers.  In terms of acting, they are okay, nothing that blew my mind, but was believable in the moments that counted.  However, the movie feels very forced at times, the dialogue in particular coming off a bit cheesy as the actors try to make the words come to life as the chemistry is developing.  Humorous at times, whether meaning to or not, I was hoping that some better writing or adaptations to the lines could have really stood out (which got better as the movie neared its finish).  It’s not that it’s bad, please don’t take it that way, but compared to other movies… the writing did not really amplify this tale like I expected.  Finally, you know it’s coming, but the movie dives into the realm of being preachy again.  If you are a devoted worshipper, this will not impact you one bit, and though faithful to the word I have to put my bias aside.  There are times where the dialogue is very forced to the written word, going to the preachy side that will make people roll their eyes and potentially turn away from the message at hand.  I’m warning you again to go in expecting this, and if you can filter the… cheesy moments out, the message can still get to you.

 

The VERDICT:

            I Still Believe has the intended audience built into the title as a passionate, religious focused movie that will either make you raise your hands up or roll your eyes at the antics.  A cute relationship with inspiring moments, the movie manages to move at a fast-enough pace to be entertaining, yet focus on those key moments to nail you with the religious prowess that they wanted.  However, the movie sort of leaves out the other characters, primarily their families that I would have thought would have been front and center in the relationship at hand.  In addition, the acting feels forced, the impact of the scenes dwindled down by incomplete storytelling, forced dialogue, and preachy moments that needed a little more magic.  Throw in that for a song singer there are not many songs to get into… and well you may be disappointed by the full-on presentation.  The key demographic is those of heavy faith, for the majesty of God’s words will fill these audience members with renewed energy.  However, this is not my favorite of the worshipping films and I think others are better at delivering the message at hand.  I think this film is best suited for home viewing, unless you can get a church group to go.  My scores for this film are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance:   6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

A Bloody Good Shot At Trying To Make An Action Spectacle

Bloodshot Poster

            The big hero action flicks have evolved over time with the changing technology, dropping the story driven plot components for the spectacle of booms, punches, and CGI work.  Still, you have to give them props at the creativity they can muster given this day and age.  As such, today, another action flick hopes to rear its adrenaline-fueled head and unleash the bullet storm of box office bucks for the audience.  Will the built, rogue soldier of Vin Diesel be able to bring his legacy to new heights, or is it another cop out of a comic book turned movie.  Robbie K  here to give you the insight in the latest films, before the virus suspends all the films for a time being.  Today we review:

 

Director:

Dave Wilson

Writers:

Jeff Wadlow (screenplay by), Eric Heisserer (screenplay by)

Stars:

Vin DieselEiza GonzálezSam Heughan

 

LIKES:

 

  • Fast Pace
  • Explosive opening
  • Cool Concepts with Semi Realism
  • Decent Fight Scenes
  • Comedic At Times
  • The Editing For the Scenes
  • The Hacker

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Bloated Dialogue At Times
  • Some Of the Overkill use of Slow Motion
  • Shaky Camera Syndrome
  • Limited Use Of Other Characters for Much Of the Movie
  • The CGI At Times

 

Summary:

 

Let’s get to the point at hand, you go to an action film you want the pace and effects to make your adrenaline pump right?  Bloodshot does not pull any stops, dropping right into a battle scene with an explosive opening that brings plenty of what is to come.  Once the story sets up after this, the movie dives into showing off some cool technological components, areas that could very well be seen in the near future given the focus.  It’s these technological prowess that the movie is anchored on, with much of the designs for story, development, and the action scenes all dependent on the augmentations seen.  Fortunately, the movie exploits this to full effect and brings some decent action sequences to the mix, primarily during the explosive climax when all styles of fighting are brought together in a decent finale.  However, the factor that really elevates this movies is all the sound and film editing that supports the CGI scenes in front of me. Explosive sound effects riddle the theater with wall shaking goodness, sound tracks of orchestra elevate the moods and adds that adrenaline rush, all while visuals are blended together beautifully.  It’s definitely these components that were my favorite part of the movie and I think the biggest selling point of this film.  However, there are some comedic moments to help spruce things up, usually well-timed jokes or a cliched line from Vin Diesel’s repertoire as the primary ammunition.  This reviewer though really liked the hacker character though, whose British mannerism and comedy attitude were the biggest relief and fit very well despite being the one pinpoint of light. 

 

However, the spectacle of the film can only distract so long from the rest of the things I did not like as much in this movie.  Predictability is the name of the game, thanks again due to trailers and just the linear telling this film takes.  Obvious foreshadowing from dialogue and a big early scene should give more than enough away for you to realize where the movie is heading, which should allow you to enjoy the spectacle. Bloated dialogue tries to paint a more engaging story, but it does little other than provide weaker backstory and attempts at character development.  Sadly, Bloodshot does not do the best job with backstories and character utilization outside of select scenes where they make a start at using them.  Perhaps a little more mission use of them, meeting some better development would have helped, but where comic books have time the movies did not so they cut their losses.  In terms of the action spectacle itself, the movie hit a few things that I’m not the biggest fan of.  Action scenes can really use their work to emphasize violence, bashing, and that epic finishing move.  However, in this movie, it gets a little overused, showing off cool portrayals of skin damage and anatomical healing, but at the same time making for boring bouts of Vin Diesel walking.  Tough atmosphere it may establish, the overuse was boring at times and I would have loved a little more dynamic work.  Dynamic work though does not mean having to have a camera that looks like it’s in an earthquake movie, and Bloodshot has its moments where sporadic camera shifts don’t bring me into the action, but rather take away from it.  Finally, you will hear the CGI looks bad, and I’ll agree at times it really does look fake and forced, similar to the Smith vs. Neo fight in the Matrix Reloaded.  I’m guessing budget to make the action fights the most realistic got cut, but at least it moves well and has the special effects to lessen the blow.  Still, given all the other impacts it was trying to make, I think Bloodborn could have used a little more polishing on this front.

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Bloodshot is an action movie that works to pull the thrill of the 90s action back into the modern day.  It’s got great editing to sell the action scenes and give you those thrills, alongside a pacing that works for this genre.  Amidst this technological stunt show, there are a few decent performances, and the comedic work of the Hacker character helps stir some things up amidst the constant fighting on hands.  Still, the movie has an okay science fiction plot that won’t leave as much on an impression, especially given bloated dialogue, limited secondary character use predictably.  Sadly, the stunning editing still needed some polishing with the CGI work itself, primarily during said action moments.  Still given the effects, you could probably find enough reason to check it out in theaters, but otherwise hang out for this one for a home viewing. 

 

My scores are;

 

Action/Drama/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

The Way Back To Realistic Drama

           The Way Back Poster

 

Sports movies, they take on all sorts of shapes, sizes, and budgets, as studios try to tell inspiring stories through the world of athletics.  Tonight, the man of many faces and struggles, is recruited to help bring that face up to hopefully inspire millions to overcome the obstacles life throws at them.  Yet, in the modern age, balancing that budget and handling the politics gets in the way of execution of the movies and with trailers being master edit pieces one can only wonder what is in store.  So I’m going to do my best to give you my thoughts as I review:

 

Movie:  The Way Back (2020)

 

Director:

Gavin O’Connor

Writers:

Brad Ingelsby (screenplay), Gavin O’Connor

Stars:

Ben AffleckJanina GavankarMichaela Watkins

 

 

LIKES:

  • Inspirational Tale
  • Realism
  • Piano Work
  • Seeing Influence At Times
  • Affleck’s Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Disjointed Plot Elements
  • The Realism at Times
  • The Pacing Of the Movie
  • The Other Characters
  • The Lack of Movie Heart At Times
  • The Masking Of A Sports Movie

 

 

Summary:

Inspirational tales can be seen even in the simplest actions/speeches (just look at social media tales) and in a big screen adaptation, The Way Back accomplishes the goal.  Jack’s (Affleck) story is one that many people suffer from in the form of PTSD being handled by booze, and those men and women who have to work to find the light.  It’s a convincing performance that takes the realism of life and layers it thick into the film at hand with simple, direct dialogue and scenes that show that struggle.  An engaging piano score in the back leads to helping add on to the struggles of someone dealing with personal struggles, not really as a major orchestra or pop hit playing, but instead simplistic pieces that dwindle in the background.  The combination of these elements, alongside some grey camera filters, helps put you in the mindset of coping with trauma, and potentially finding the healthier means to get better and move from the incident.  I enjoyed the results, by seeing some of the players’ lives change, subtle changes in character that gradually got better, and the potential foreshadowing it brought (again goes with the realism).  Yet, the biggest like is the acting from Affleck himself.  As the central, and pretty much sole focus of the movie, Affleck takes his personal struggles and gives you a very good performance.  It’s not an original role, it’s not a massive role, it’s not even an Oscar role, but it’s a realistic figure that you can relate to in some form or manner.  Seeing the downfall, the remorse, the suffering in his face slowly change depending on the moment is a strong display of his acting skills to make this sort of adaptation of his life.  If you like realistic characters like this, who aren’t flashy or dramatically designed, you should be okay with this film.

 

   Yet, the trailers have not done this movie justice in how they are selling it, which is going to be the core of my dislikes for this movie.  It starts with the plot elements, The Way Back sort of crams a lot of life events and stories into 1.5 hours and watching this I felt it’s very rushed components.  The side stories that try to integrate Affleck’s characters are not very detailed or integrated, as they help add key moments to drive Jack’s life.  Unlike other movies like Hoosiers and Remember the Titans, the Way Back really drops the ball in the big picture aspect, choosing to hover around the gravity of Affleck’s character.  Realistic and potentially artistic mindset of a PTSD patient aside, the realism actually took away from this movie for me at times in how it limited not only the story, but the other pieces of the film.  First, the pacing.  The Way Back is not the most even paced film with slow moments taking reign in between big peaks of excitement.  While it is not the slowest movie for me, the consistent blandness does not make for the most entertaining film, relying on you the audience member to appreciate the realism at hand.  Second is the other characters of the film.  Having to do more with focusing one character than the others, the film fails to really make the other characters a worthwhile investment.  It feels like the Mighty Ducks film when we are just looking at Bombay alone, rather than having the team interact with him and drive him to be better.  As such, outside of some funny moments and a few grains to show what Jack’s actions sewed, the rest of the cast gets sidelined to focus on the issues at hands.  Now again, this realism is important for the artistic style, but the trailers sort of promised the magical sports treatment that I do rather enjoy seeing.  That’s where point three comes in is the lack of movie heart/magic that these films have come to enjoy.  Think back to your favorite moments of Remember The Titans, Hoosiers, or Miracle, those goose bump raising sequences where magic, planning, and over dramatization get you into the full energy of the movie and goes the extra mile.  That’s absent in this film, which was disappointing given how they could have designed some of the recovery moments with Affleck and the other characters.  Yet, the lack of magic is missed the most in the sports scenes.  I’m a victim of loving those overdone sequences of the good guys fighting the goliaths, with creative plays, dialogue to spur on the competitors, and the energy of being part of that fight.  Instead, this movie just shows brief clips of the players doing typical drills/shooting only to stop and show the score of the game in a rather boring and disappointing montage.  Even the big game sort of drops the ball, finally showing a little more of the game, but still not in the manner that other sports film icons have done.  It leads to again an offset pace and rather boring climax, bogged down again by the focus on one character.  That was the biggest disappointment is not integrating the sports part of his life with the personal and thus the disconnecting continued to shine through.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Way Back proves you can make a movie portraying pertinent issues with sports practice and not have the Hollywood effects drown it out.  You just have to make sure you are expecting it.  This film succeeds in the realism of portraying one man struggling to find his way back from a terrible time in life, but through work, patience, and support can get better.  It accomplishes the inspirational story in a calmer manner and using the central focus of Affleck, whose acting brings this role to life, you will be pleased with the story presented.  Yet, if you go in here looking for another sports film integrated with life lessons… you may disappointed.  So many disjointed side plots get the realistic treatment of being haphazardly integrated and not fully fleshed out.  It leads to uneven pacing for me, alongside underutilized secondary characters and the relationships that could have formed with the central character.  The realism also seems to take the entertainment magic away, especially when it comes to the sports moments that you might be coming to see.  Don’t expect drawn out games and those heroic moments that you’ve become accustomed to my friends, because they are not here.  As such, the final thing is that the inspirational tale is here for this film, but the problem is other movies have done this better like Remember the Titans, Miracle, and Hoosiers.  Given all this though, if you want realistic acting and a tale of succeeding, then this guy suggests a visit to the theater, but otherwise hold out for home viewing on this one.

 

My Scores are:

 

Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

 

This Call Is Wild Fun And Deep Adventure

 

The Call of the Wild Poster

 

The literary classics continue to face the test of time with their strong writing, hard morals, and often original characters.  Yet, in the days of flash in the pan excitement, reality television, and Youtube viral videos, these books get lost.  Fortunately, Hollywood continues to have the chance of using its bloated budget to potentially keep them relevant in the modern world.  Tonight, the movie to start my review week with one of these epic literary pieces in the form of Call Of The Wild.  Yet, will the talked about graphics and mediocre trailer ruin the literary masterpiece, or can it get you howling at its quality.  Let’s get going as I review:

 

Movie:  Call of The Wild (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Sanders

Writers:

Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Karen GillanHarrison FordCara Gee

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Harrison Ford’s Narration
  • The Development of Buck
  • The Morals Of The Book Brought To Life
  • Deeper than expected
  • Beautiful Setting

DISLIKES:

 

  • Story Elements Are Blunted
  • Pacing A bit Off At Times
  • A Few Really Sad Moments
  • The Graphics Are not the Most Realistic
  • Trailers Have Given Some Decent Scenes Away

 

SUMMARY:

 

The book is a tale of adventure and self-discovery through the eyes of a dog, and the movie manages to get this spirit and do it right.  Call of The Wild’s film is a multi-layered adventure, that like a good play has various acts that do great with development of the character.  Much like most dogs’ spirits, Buck’s journey has a lot of fun and energy to it, which is infectious and important for hooking you into the tale at the hand.  Harrison’s Ford narration manages to sort of personify the serious nature of the journey though, the rough and rugged voice setting a tone that somehow prepared you for things to come while also highlighting the energy of the dog on screen.  The combination of these elements accomplishes the rare task of artfully developing a nonexistent animal, the human qualities striking relevance, while the cute animal side ignites the childlike vision that a dog brings out.  And through this character, the morals that London brought out years ago, come rushing out in full emotional force, hopefully inspiring and teaching the audience some important lessons always worth revisiting.  This surprisingly balanced narrative and relevant characteristics made this movie deeper than I expected, helping to round out the emotions of the tale and defying my expectations of silly banter that sometimes plague these movies.  I’ll admit it nearly made me tear up at times, but that’s the sign of a great developments of relationships and intriguing characters that I enjoy watching.  Finally, the setting itself is beautiful, whether it be the wide angled shots, or the digitally recreated tundra, the Yukon land manages to take your breath away while bringing out the wild.

 

Story elements abound though, I’ll admit the book is often much better, at least in terms of details.  This film’s acts sometimes are a little bit truncated, story components that seemed to be pretty deep and intense suddenly dropped, despite some foreshadowing.  I won’t spoil it for both those in the dark and the know, but these quick finishes were reduced to some mere dialogue and would have liked some creative liberties to maybe help finish these tales with more drive.  In addition, the pacing feels a bit off as well, the moments that are meant to be big impasses or stressful moments quickly overcome.  I guess reading the book I envisioned these moments longer and grander, but to keep up with modern attention spans, they sort of quickened these moments to cram more of the adventure into the run time.  Well that and the sad moments too.  While I give praise for emotional investment, there are times during this movie where the visualization of the sadder elements can really be a bit much for those who have a strong aversion to the cruelty that these digital animals face.  I’m just not the biggest fan of these moments, and though not as bad as some others, there are times where it really got me depressed so… yeah.

Now it’s time to hit the two big components that people have been commenting on in the reviews that take some things away.  The first thing is the predictability/ruining the trailers have brought. I’ll agree some the trailers have given much of the first two acts away, not only showing off the more impressive CGI moments, some key story elements, and perhaps a little bit about the direction the movie is going.  There are still some surprises, but still get ready for some predictable moments to come your way, including those who have not read the book.  As for Buck’s CGI, alongside other members, the animation and physiology are captured beautifully and quite accurately on many levels.  The design though, the human qualities from eye brows, shifty looks, and human gestures (cute as they may be) do not come off the most realistic in quality.  If you can’t get by this, then you’ll not enjoy this film and miss the bigger parts, but if you can take this as just a small weakness and go with the energy it creates you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            While it may not give the time needed to bring the full details out, this iteration of Call Of The Wild is certainly better than I anticipated.  Buck’s journey holds many levels of enjoyment from comedic fun and cuteness to the deeper, heart heavy moments that will help you invest into the movie.  The acting with CGI dogs is surprisingly fun and all the sense of adventure and character development makes for a much more balanced tale.  Certainly some elements are blunted, with truncated finishes to most of the acts, quick bouts of overcoming the impasses, and even some sadder moments that you see coming, but can’t turn away from.  As I said in the full review, the CGI is great in terms of physiology and injecting energy, but the realism and cartoonish effects are a little less impressive given other feats of technology.  If you can appreciate the positives of this style though, you are in good shape, but if not, then skip this film.  In terms of visiting the theaters for this one, the answer is yes due to enough adventure and special effects to get you in.  Just exercise caution with taking little ones due to the sadder moments that are to come. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

A Photograph Best Left For Streaming

 

The Photograph Poster

 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I guess it’s a good idea to put a love story out to try and go with the theme of the holiday.  Today’s last review is all about the latest tale to go over the theme of true love and the drama around it.  A movie less advertised, the few trailers I have seen suggested a potential for a powerful movie.  Will this film live up to demands, or are the trailers making this package a little more appealing than it actually is?  Robbie K coming at you with another look at the movies as he reviews:

 

Movie: The Photograph (2020)

 

Director:

Stella Meghie

Writer:

Stella Meghie

Stars:

LaKeith StanfieldIssa RaeChelsea Peretti

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • The Two stories Presented
  • The Cultural Representation
  • The Music of the Movie
  • Lil Rey Howery character
  • The Short Run Time

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictable Plot
  • The Weird Transition Points
  • The Incomplete Tales
  • The Forced Moments
  • Boring At Times Due To Slow Pace
  • Artistic Nature Again Supersedes The Entertainment

 

The Summary:

 

Great romance movies rely on great actors and I had fun with the group who took charge of this movie.  While not the most memorable roles and certainly not the Oscar Winning roles, this film’s characters sell a more realistic relationship than the usual fantasy films.  Issa Rae manages to tone down her comedy roots to pull out a good drama story, awkward and testing the waters, yet strong in her ability to take charge of the situations.  Meanwhile LaKeith hits the typical lead role with a little less grandiosity and arrogance, coming off as a laid-back character with good instincts and romantic drive that was fun to watch.  Their chemistry is not the Nicholas Sparks formula, but it made for a fun relationship to watch and see that love does take work.  Okay, so onto the stories, the Photograph has two tales overlaying one another, in a manner trying to help build a suspenseful conclusion and provide background information to tie the modern story together.  It gets points for trying to give past and present tales a chance to foster, especially in some of the secondary characters that are important to the tale.  Yet, this love story seems to make a valid attempt to implement the culture of the ethnic groups and cities this film takes place in.  Unlike, the usual romantic comedy, this film I felt managed to showcase a variety of traditions and responses to the drama at hand.  It somewhat enhances the experience, and helps add some layers to the typical plots these films take, and helps you get immersed into the setting even further. This is particularly true for the music, a nice collaboration of modern-day music, New Orleans Jazz, and a little New York attitude to help further sell the mood of the movie.   It’s these little touches that really help add some atmosphere to the movie and my favorite part of the film overall.  As for my other two likes, Lil Rey Howery works his comedic magic once again, simplistic dialogue and delivery capturing the comedic atmosphere just right and having me in stitches.  In addition a short run time helps to lessen the dislikes I had for this movie, which are coming up.

 

Being a romantic comedy I’ve come to expect the predictable plot and I got it.  The problem is, though artistic, the movie’s presentation does not help take the predictable edge away and thus leads to a bit of a boring tale for yours truly.  The two stories, while decently detailed, have weird transition points back and forth, leading to a haphazard baton pass that does not deliver quite the punch I think they were going for.  In addition, both stories felt a little incomplete for me, having just a few highlights that actually worked to provide character details, while the rest was drama fluff that only bloated the run time and bide the inevitable conclusion. Perhaps, a little more creativity and integration would have strengthened both tales, but a rushed conclusion just did not have that power the buildup was.  In addition, the forced moments of the comedy, romantic interests, and cheesy dialogue did little to add to the story and went back into eye rolling territory for me.  It may be part of the formula for these movies, but after seeing the cultural pizazz this film was doing… I had hoped to see a little more development was needed.  With all this disorganization and predictable story, the movie’s artistic approach sort of supersedes the entertainment aspect that quite honestly was boring at times.  The constant dance around the issues, the lack of creativity to help expand the relationship, or even the missing fun that this genre is known really could have been improved upon to make this film more fun and entertaining.  While artistic nature is always important, when it gets too convoluted to make the film boring is when you lose this reviewer.  Thus, other audience members and I agreed that if you did not relate to the culture, or enjoy the convoluted truncated tales, you might not enjoy this film fully.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Photograph has intricate pieces that suggest it is going to be a deeper love story that defies the traditional rom com story this genre is famous for.  While it’s got good acting, a unique presentation of two tales, and lots of cultural integration that classes up the act, the movie gets a little lost in the artistic nature that it makes the movie less entertaining.  Truncated plots, rushed finishes and a slower pace did not mix well for me and only extended the run time to a predictable ending was not the way to go for me despite the artistic approach.  The movie needed to mix in a little more of the fun stereotypes that we love in rom com to help offset the more lackluster parts.  A little more focus on design, details, and integration would have helped them get a better movie out of it and have that passionate project they were going for.  Should you go to the movie theater to see it?  The answer for me is no, unless you love a more cultural piece than detailed, complete story.  Otherwise hit this one up in the streaming future. 

 

My Scores are: 

Drama/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

And It’s All Downhill For This Remake

 

Downhill Poster

            The age of remakes and rebranding continues to reign supreme in the modern Hollywood days, and this weekend we have several movies falling into this category.  Today my first review is on a movie that looks to hold some semi-promise upon viewing of the trailer, as a potential comedy or drama with an interesting cast.  Based on the film Force Majeure, today’s reskin attempts to add a Western twist to the mixing the culture of European films with the energy of American cinema.  Will it work?  That’s where I come in to give my thoughts as I review:

 

Movie: Downhill (2020)

 

Directors:

Nat FaxonJim Rash

Writers:

Jesse Armstrong (screenplay by), Nat Faxon (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Julia Louis-DreyfusWill FerrellMiranda Otto

 

 

LIKES:

  • Beautiful Setting
  • Orchestra Music
  • Deep Morals and Meaning
  • Occasionally Funny

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Acting Is A Touch Overdone
  • The Kids Involvement In the Film
  • Focus On the Awkward
  • The Banter That Is Not Fun
  • Feels Both Lows and Truncated
  • Attempts to insert Culture With Art
  • Could Not Pick Drama Vs. Comedy

 

I guess it’s not a good thing when the setting is one of the highlights of the film.  Well Downhill accomplishes capturing the European mountain setting in all its splendor and lights the fire to want to go participate in the winter wonderland of the Alps.  All the snow, culture, and promises of a good vacation are very appealing in this movie and made for a wonderful landscape to play this remake in.  When the orchestra music cues, the ambience only grows and helps immerse you into the world a little more, helping again expand into the cultural territory that the film is trying to capture in this repaint.  Then comes the actual story, one thing about European films is their focus on strong morals told in artistic ways, and Downhill manages to do this decently from my perspective.  The art of loving a family, but trying to love yourself is something I think many people this day and age don’t realize is important to balance and the film tries to show that balance in a rather odd manner.  It’s not perfect, but there are several moments of dialogue that are well written or at least adapted, that I think can be used in schools and youth groups to educate.  Finally, this does have two comedians in it, and there are some funny moments in here that have a fine timing to relieve the more somber tone of the film, so points for trying to balance the American comedy style into the mix.

 

Yet the film’s likes fall off from those points and begins to tumble into the tundra of incomplete or odd for me in terms of this movie’s presentation.  The acting, a staple in a movie like this, is not quite fitting for me on most levels. Ferrell himself seems to struggle with being serious and in this position, grabbing any rope he can to come off suffering and filled with drama. Much of his acting with suffering involved looking hungover, and I felt the struggle was only presented a few times well.  Dreyfus succeeds better, but her character’s direction for this film was a little more complaining and whining, rather than balanced suffering.  I enjoyed her scenes more, but even her performance did not rope me into the film.  When the kids come into play, again they are annoying characters who seem to portray a particular generational stigmatism to the film, but do little to actually contribute to the story.  As such, the tools they became were almost not needed and I can’t say I enjoyed their inclusion in the film, not due to the acting but just the character development.

Instead the film seems to focus on the awkward atmosphere of the topic of divorce, especially in a unique circumstance involving an avalanche.  Unlike Marriage Story, this film seems to dive deep into how a couple can turn a conversation into a war, and make life difficult for all who get roped in.  Comedic moments with friends getting pulled in do little to alleviate the monotonous banter that fills this movie, with the two lead actors doing nothing but having these either prolonged shouting matches with the same dialogue, or short quips cutting each other off.  Most of this was not fun for me and thus having to watch the sadness that follows these fights, left me fighting sleep, and a cold. It almost feels that this movie ran out of time when I got to the end of the (mercifully) short run time, where they were trying to find a balance between artistic presentation and entertainment.  I appreciate trying to adapt the European presentation, but with the cast assembled and the trailers presentation, it seems this reskin should have focused more on the comedy given how many people walked out of the theater during my presentation.  However, the truncated character development moments, alongside a rather quick finale, let me feeling robbed of a true spectacle.  In addition, the inability to pick a lane of comedy vs. drama did not help as well, for many times the movie flipped its approach like a car sidewinding through morning traffic.  These jerky, quick transitions messed up the atmosphere of the movie and by the time they stopped making this transition, it was time to wrap things up.

 

The VERDICT:

            This reskin was not the best face lift Hollywood has given in my opinion.  Though cinematography has revealed a wonderful setting and the artistic approach sells the lessons at hand, the film itself is rather boring.  This is primarily due to the presentation having difficulty choosing a lane to present the film, with artistic display vs American entertainment battling it out for first.  Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus can’t seem to find the chemistry for an award-winning performance and the other characters do little to enhance the experience outside of awkward banter and some forced comedy.  It goes to show that a movie like this can keep an original skin and be appreciated, like we saw in the Academy Awards, but for this reviewer, the remake is not worth the trip to the theater.  I would suggest this is at best a free stream or watching on cable to get your best investment. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Does This Film Have Rhythm

The Rhythm Section Poster

 

The history of spy thrillers is much like the characters we have come to know and love, filled with various identities that range in quality.  Depending on the type of edge and style that is mixed with the thriller though (deep seated espionage and character development vs. gun slinging escapades) the fan base is very mixed on the quality of the film.  Tonight, one such movie tries to take a shot at it in hopes of being a memorable addition to the movie.  With a trailer that looked slow and gritty, I can’t say I was looking forward to it, but several movies have surprised me in the recent months.  Robbie K here ready to share his thoughts, as we look at:

 

Movie:  The Rhythm Section (2020)

 

Director:

Reed Morano

Writers:

Mark Burnell (screenplay by), Mark Burnell

Stars:

Blake LivelyJude LawSterling K. Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • A Different Character Development
  • A Decent Mystery Component
  • More Focused Spy Thriller
  • Good Performances Given Limited Range
  • A Decent Look At the Morals That Come With Revenge

 

DISLiKES:

 

  • The Lack Of Major Interaction With Family
  • Time Warp Skip
  • Convenient Forgetting Of Skills
  • A Little Drawn Out
  • Action Scenes A Little Too Plain
  • Some Shaky Camera Scenes
  • Jude Laws Mixed Involvement
  • Some Rather Intense Torture Moments

 

 

SUMMARY

 

There are a lot of nuances about this film that are difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best.  The film focuses a lot more on character development than action (as expected from the film), but the movie takes a different seat in developing not so much the back story, but the dive into the new life that Lively’s character takes.  It’s a dive into the darker aspects and morals that come with a revenge tale and while a bit cliché I give the director props for his choices in diving into that dark place.  The constant turmoil of decisions, the reflection of the lives she holds in her hands, and the ever-driving fuel of revenge are all balanced in a manner that is quite gripping for those that like being into the mind of the protagonist.  Yet, as the psyche of the character begins to develop, the story also starts to develop a few other components spy movies are notorious for portraying.  For one thing, there is a decent mystery component in discovering the identity of the person behind the whole ordeal and who is friend vs. foe.  I nearly had the twist, so it hopefully it will give you a mind teaser to drive your interest into the film.  As you can guess, the focus of this film is all about the espionage component, using more tricks of the trade and seduction than actual gun play and combat.  Fight scenes are realistic to support it and again, the movie has realistic flavor to it and should please those type of fans.  It’s all brought to life by a decent spectrum of acting.  Law comes out sort of an edgier version of his character from Captain Marvel, whose dialogue and opening moments work very well for me.  Brown’s character has a more cornerstone moment, and utilizes the drama repertoire from his television days to good use.  No surprise, it’s Lively who sells much of the movie, with a character that has stacked components to it and shows her ability to handle a darker, somber roles.  There are times where it’s a little cheesy and drawn out, but overall I liked her skills.

 

Now onto some of the things I wasn’t a big fan of, for there were several in this movie.  For one thing the whole story is based on her love of the family driving her actions, but this film did not do the backstory well.  Dropped to lots of repetitive shots of silently interacting with her family, the interaction with the family is more repetition and tearing up from Lively than sustenance acting, a shame given the potential I had hoped to see.  Still, the thirst for revenge seems to be able to get someone trained super-fast, because without the dialogue cue I would not have much knowledge of the time span of this film.  The realistic nature of the film drops out at this quick pace of progression to develop skills that supposedly take years to master.  It is funny, because those skills are surprisingly dropped at convenient times to help make the plot work, something that made me roll my eyes a bit given how much they bragged about it. This is something that I don’t quite think is the right component for a spy skill feature.  You can probably guess this as well, but the lack of major action or even moving plot with a super villain made this movie feel a little slow for me too, and the gritty nature of the film did not help to add energy to the movie.

This takes me to the next point the action scenes themselves.  Given this is no James Bond, the Rhythm Section’s action is again more realistic, where injury and blows leave debilitating marks instead of just some boo boos.  While this is nice to see, it leads to these moments being a little too plain for me, with clichéd chases, less suspense and only a little bit of excitement added to it.  Part of this had to do with the shaky camera work, which while not the worst, really was not needed to help add to the suspense ,when that money could have gone to better coordination.  In addition, the man who trained her and seems to be going to the depths of hell with her in the trailer, is really not used that much either.  While Jude Law maximizes his scenes, I was disappointed in the way they handled the character and relationship of the two at times, which again was disappointing given the start the film had.  Finally, those with weak constitutions need to skip out on this film, because the fights and training may be a bit too close to traumatic experiences to be enjoyed. 

 

The VERDICT:

            The Rhythm Section is not going to be the film for everyone, because it’s a slower, drier spy thriller that really focuses on the espionage and not the action.  Lively leads the film with a good performance, diving into the madness of revenge while helping figure out the true evil that caused her such grief.  If that’s the kind of spy thriller you desire this movie is going to be for you.  However, if you are like me, this appreciation of the spy class needs a little tweaking with a better pace, less convenient dropping of skills, a time lapse that is not to be believed, and better use of Law were all needed to take this film to its true potential.  While not awful, the movie still did not meet the surprise I really wanted leading to this movie being mediocre for this reviewer.  I believe, the movie is best left to a home view to maximize your potential, unless you really are a big Blake Lively fan, then you can knock yourself out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Mystery:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0