A Remake Is Born: Music and A New Face Are Very Appealing

A Star Is Born Poster

            Robbie K with the latest review on another holiday remake, this one hoping to bring the emotional punch that drama lovers well… love. Tonight two acting/singing icons are ready to lead the way, with plenty of reviews already praising the two in making this movie come to life.  Is it worth the hype, or have we been tricked by another Hollywood stunt?  Robbie K here to help guide your viewing pleasures, so let’s get started on my review of:

 

Movie: A Star Is Born (2018)

 

Director:

Bradley Cooper

Writers:

Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by)

Stars:

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam Elliott

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  Hands down, the two leading characters have amazing chemistry together.  Gaga’s mature optimism but realistic grounding craft a strong character ready to brave the storm of drama to come.  She brings the joy and energy to the film to help you get through the dark components of this film.  Bradley Cooper on the other reprises his role of the sultry, depressed like, hero, who is easy on the eyes of the females in my audience and brings a sort of romanticism charm as well.  Together, the duo tango in an amazing, dynamic dance of emotion that so many will grip on to. 

 

Decent Pace:  Another prime example of a drama being heartfelt, but also not crawling like so many of these movies do.  The first hour was over in an instant, and the second act, while not as fast, managed to keep a good run as they maneuvered through all the quirks. It led to my interest being kept for the movie and able to handle the predictable plot.

 

The Story:  The tale from the original is mostly there in a modernized form, reskinning the tale to have much more sex appeal than the original. Although not quite the same setting, the story still comes out strong, crammed to bursting with plenty of life aspects and lessons to hopefully resonate with the audience’s journey.  It’s got a realistic pulse to it, which should charm many of the intended group, and keeps you enraptured as you live their lives through the screen.

 

The Music: By far, the biggest and best component of this film for me was the music.  Like all my fellow reviewers, the magic of this motion picture score is the heart and soul of the characters’ feelings.  These poetic displays of artistry fill much of the screen time, some in the concert fashion, others as the fuel for a montage, it brings the full-on bite and drives home the emotion of this film.  As an additional bonus, you’ll get a mixture of styles though it is limited to country or pop, but still a little variety is better than none right?

 

DISLIKES:

 

Same Country Song: While not too overplayed, Cooper’s contributions to the music fest were not the most dynamic, choosing to play the same song four times and adding little with each replay.  True, I’m not a big fan of country, but in regards to soundtracks, I might try to pull a mamma mia and sample the music to boost soundtrack sales.

 

A Few Slow Parts: Scraping the bottom of the barrel for dislikes, there are a few slow parts that made me tired just watching. These moments were often prelude to another montage to buy some time, certainly a good trick to get you prepped, but maybe not the best in terms of pacing.

 

The Few Unnecessary Shots:  While much of the movie is spot on and necessary for the story, there are those moments that are merely for show to get things hot.  A Star Is Born had a few scenes that were meant to add to the story, but were grazed by as sort of a footnote to not be forgotten.  Sure it works with the new paint job this modernized version brought, and it had a few people hot under the collar, but for this guy, it just added fluff I didn’t need for the story.

 

Predictable:  There are a few surprises to be thrown in, but for the most part this movie isn’t too surprising or twist filled like I like to see. Not much I can say here, but don’t expect too much deviation from the tale.

 

The Okayish Character Development:  I’m not saying that this is weak by any means, but I’m saying compared to the original, I feel the story/character component is not quite as strong as the classic.  The new face of this story is all about the sex appeal and the music and while they did this fantastically, I feel that there was more potential to dive into these characters.  Key tensions are there, and you have enough of the background story to get the gist, but I still think the art of storytelling holds the strongest in the ways of old.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Did a Star is Born live up to the hype that reviewers and commercials built up?  The answer is yes for the most part.  The acting and music are perfect representations of this dynamic love story, capable of wooing you TGIT drama lovers and modern-day romanticists. Still, I think I like the original from what I remember and feel that the cool new look will appeal to the modern-day audiences more than anything else.  Still, I had a good time with this movie and was very pleased at how much I liked the movie given my doubts from the trailers.  So I would say this is the film for this weekend to check out, and have fun with the soundtrack if you so decide to do it.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

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What Does Life Itself Hold In Store?

Life Itself Poster

 

This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion.  Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same.  Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight’s movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

 

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

 

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman

Stars:

Oscar IsaacOlivia WildeAnnette Bening

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You know from Fogelman’s work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like.  Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position.  The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs.  These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

 

The Realism:  It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life.  This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in.  If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

 

The Twists:  You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping?  Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn’t do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together.  What many movies (like Valentine’s Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work.  This film, not so much.  Instead, it’s a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa.  These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does.  It’s not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

 

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances.  Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character.  And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time.  It’s stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

 

The Guts:  Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics.  This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them.  And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you’ve got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things.  Well done their guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Let’s get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don’t fight sleep.  Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character’s tale.  While this wasn’t too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span’s limits to not walk out.  Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you’ll be dreading this film.

 

Missing The Story/Development:  Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character’s lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment.  Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn’t quite have the same magic that they really were going for.  A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time.  What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

 

Depressing:  Let’s be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories.  Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down.  When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish.  So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don’t fall victim to the antics.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren’t enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect.  There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don’t have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints.  Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead.  Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Crazy, Rich Cliche

Crazy Rich Asians Poster

            In this modern day, the way of peace is about understanding cultures and trying to respect many things that come with someone’s values.  No this isn’t a political paper for a social studies class, but it makes up a big theme of the movie I’m reviewing tonight.  Tonight’s film is all about the traditions and heritage that comes with certain families and how they can complicate aspects of life for many. Naturally, we love the drama that comes with it, as it provides stories to become immersed into, especially when the pursuit of romance comes with.  Based on a popular book, tonight’s rom-com hopes to bring a lot of people into the box office in hopes of wrapping up the summer with a good romantic aspect to tie us over.  Will it work? Robbie K here to shed some light on the subject as he reviews:

 

Movie: Crazy, Rich, Asians (2018)

 

Director:

Jon M. Chu

Writers:

Peter Chiarelli (screenplay by),  Adele Lim (screenplay by)

Stars:

Constance Wu,  Henry Golding,  Michelle Yeoh

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun:  The movie is overall a fun take on the romantic-comedy aspect.  It has plenty of drama, but somehow uses the traditions and culture to really craft an entertaining tale that incorporates a number of colorful characters to bring out the full emotion.  In addition, the movie has a lot of aspects that the rich culture brings that brings more entertainment to please the masses that come to the film.

 

The Tasteful Jokes: You’ll need to go in expecting stereotypes, but based on what modern TV and movies can do these days, Crazy, Rich Asians keeps it quite tasteful.  Clever wit, a well-timed joke, and the fantastic delivery of lines will have you howling in delight at all the awkwardness this situation brings.  Even better, is how most of the jokes are well embedded into the story, and not just thrown in for the sake of making a joke. Throw in a little justice being dropped and the result is jokes that will have people nodding or smirking in delight at the pokes it brings.

 

The Gorgeous Set/Sequences: With crazy money, comes the ability to get super creative with the parties and celebrations that fill this movie to the brim.  The elaborate houses are certainly a wonderful start, but the shores of Singapore are lined with tourist destinations galore that will have you craving a vacation sometime soon. As boats, towers, and shopping centers begin to unwind. In addition, the movie scores points at bringing a lot of fun into these immaculate settings, fully bringing out the fun and helping you dive into the celebrations at hand.

 

The Music:  The music is fun, fresh, and in the Asian tongues and melodies that fit well into the movie.  While certainly more covers than anything, Crazy Rich Asians does a nice job selecting tracks that either fully agree to the scene, or at least bring the emotions out in full force.  This is certainly most prevalent at the romantic intense moments, primarily in the wedding you saw in the trailer.

 

The Characters:  I’ve already said this before, but the movie’s characters are certainly my favorite aspect of the movie.  Constance Wu and Henry Goldingare fantastic protagonists, managing to bring the passion out in full strength, but not cross over into corny levels as we often see.  Gemma Chanand Michelle Yeohdo their parts justice as well, acting as subplots that run-in tangent with the main plot, but yet add to the story.  In addition, their support of the main story keeps their involvement relevant and fun.  Finally Awkwafinaand Nico Santos, steal the show in their own regards as they help amplify the fun and contribute to the growth of the characters in their own regard. As for the other collection of characters, they play their own part in crafting grandiose farces that are meant to only irritate the nerves of the audience.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Cliché: It’s a romance movie, and sadly Crazy, Rich, Asian follows the tried and true plot of the genre.  It’s formulaic, romantic bouts are flattering, sweet, and full of that mushy love Nicholas Sparks fans loves, yet it is so bluntly predictable that it makes for a yawn inducing plot at times.  So, originality wise it doesn’t win points.

 

The Cheesy Tertiary Characters:  Dramas are all about extreme characters to stir the pot and get people addicted to the madness to come.  This film takes those moments a little too extreme, making these ridiculous characters even more eye rolling than needed.  I could have stomached it better had they integrated this group into the plot, but sadly they were reduced to a diluted farce whose sole role was to bring a big joke, or jab at the main character.  Not the best use of these groups, but hey at least we got a laugh.

 

The Incomplete Story: A book has load of time to develop the story and give you the in-depth details that many crave.  The film though did it’s best to balance the imagination into a 2-hour run-time and keep it entertaining.  While they accomplished the task of making the rich lifestyle explode on screen, and infuse the girl power, strong woman role, the other parts of the story were sub-par.  I’ve hinted this up in the characters, but there was strong underutilization of characters, including Awkwafina, and I would have liked to see their involvement span out more.  In addition, there were other family dynamics that showed potential, but then flunked out and went broke with only a few gags to try and recover.

 

Trailers Revealed Much: I don’t think there is much explaining, but there are a lot of scenes that have been elaborated too much by the trailers.  So hopefully you haven’t been obsessed watching the trailers too much.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

            Overall, Crazy, Rich, Asians works for the romance movie, not crossing too far into the cheesy realm, but still not escaping it either. You will find the scenes fun, entertaining, and at times charming, but the film is also a spectacle of what you can do with obscene amounts of money.  Still, the formulaic presentation is rather stale and incomplete, meaning you should rent the book and get the full story.  My recommendations are it is worth checking out, but better reserved for the home viewing over the actual theater minus maybe a date movie or girl’s night out.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Wasn’t Board With This One, But Not The Original

Overboard

 

Another weekend, another remake, and this one is a doozy as Hollywood goes back to the 80s in the terms of its inspiration.  The movie to be copied this time is that classic starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, involving amnesia, backwater families, and of course a lot of stereotypical humor.  And surely from that (or reading the title) you can guess what I’m reviewing.  So let us cut the chit chat and get started as yours truly reviews:

 

Title: Overboard (2018)

 

Director:

Rob Greenberg

Writers:

Leslie Dixon (story),  Bob Fisher (screenplay)

Stars:

Anna Faris,  Eugenio Derbez,  John Hannah

 

 

LIKES:

 

Chemistry:  Let’s face it, this isn’t going to be the next award winning performance, and you aren’t going to see realistic portrayals of emotional turmoil, so don’t expect that.  While the comedy acting is forced, the thing I enjoyed of this movie is the chemistry between the whole cast.  Fans of Overboard know about the plot of a character getting amnesia and being made to believe they live in a drastic change to their world.  The convoluted lie requires coordination and the cast I felt did a nice job selling as if they too believed in this lie.  Each actor/actress felt like they knew each other well, and made this bizarre, extended family/community that was involved in the adventure.  As for the leads, well they played the ridiculous characters quite well, but there is only so much you can do with a ridiculous script.

 

The Pace:  Remakes can sometimes feel like a drag depending on the direction they take, but surprisingly Overboard makes a nice go at keeping things entertaining.  There is enough energy in the film to help make the adventure fun, and I myself was surprised when I looked down and realized an hour had passed.  So despite how rushed and out of sorts things may be, the movie at least doesn’t feel like a slug in molasses in terms of pacing.

 

Cute and Fun:  Perhaps the biggest selling point for the movie is just how family friendly this movie is.  My showing alone spanned all ages and ethnicities, each enjoying the fun the film brought and the lessons it can of course teach us.  Numerous coos and awwwws of adornment filled the theaters, and I admit I found myself loving the charming nature of the movie.  This is definitely one for a group or family outing, because it’s just a fun movie to watch if you’re open to ridiculous antics that don’t involve too much vulgarity or over the top stupidity.

 

Comedy:  Again, Overboard is a bit forced, but a major strength of the writing is the blending of comedic genres to help get things going. While the slapstick and forced meme worthy comments are a bit much, the writing actually has its clever moments in regards to comedic delivery, movie references (and not just the first overboard) and poking fun at cultural/ethnic trends that are actually respectable and classy. Making fun of over the top telenovelas, or about the inability for people to work are just some of the pokes in store for this movie, and it’s quite entertaining to watch.   Overboard has a little something for most in is execution and that dignified comedy gets an A+ in my book.

 

The Music:  Finally, the energy of the movie is also attributed to the music that is pumped through the max amplitude speakers of the theater. It’s not that diverse, primarily international electronic music, with a little Latin salsa flair thrown in as well. Still, the infectious beat and high energy nature of the tracks adds a little pizazz to the movie and may have you dancing in your seat.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Over Top Moments: The over the top comedy is cool at points and entertaining to most, but it gets a tad old after a while. Overboard’s antics got a bit stale, and the forced moments, primarily the delivery, soon become appealing only to the extreme kids at heart and kids.  They start to back off near the end when the morals and story develop, but at the beginning it is a little difficult to stomach the torrent of grossly delivered lines.  Sorry, if you are a fan of this comedy, no means to insult.

 

Story Not Quite As Put Together:  In the original, the story was still ridiculous, but they were able to flesh out and develop the characters and relationships to an astounding degree to tightly wrap things up in a nice bow.  While this telling is complete, the integration of everyone into the story is just not quite as complete as the original, nor was there as much as resistance to the integration into the new life.  I missed that gradual development and felt while this one was more fun, it wasn’t quite as complete as the other movie.

 

Not unique:  The only other thing I can say is that movie is still missing that unique theater experience.  It’s a comedy that tries to hit a little bit of everyone’s needs, but the result is a broad, generic comedy that doesn’t quite live up to what it aspired to be.  While fun and entertaining at times, the comedy didn’t have all that bite it wanted, so that toio loses points, but hey it is a remake.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overboard is not a movie that is worth the extreme hate it is getting, which is mostly due to the comparison with the original. True… it’s not as well put together as its predecessor, but within this remake is a fun, entertaining moral filled fest for the whole family.  It’s a great family movie that will hit the funny bones for a lot of people, and it has that energy to keep you engaged for the nearly 2 hour run time.  Still, this movie isn’t the most unique film in the whole arsenal of comedy, which makes recommending it in theaters difficult.  I suggest going for a fun family night out, and a definite rent in the future, but definitely don’t hate on it without giving it a try.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.0 (more family than romance)

Movie Overall:  5.5

Like Day And Night, This Romance Is Always Dancing

Midnight sun

 

Love stories seem to come a dime a dozen these days and this reviewer has seen his share of carbon copy plots.  Yet, despite these time worn tales, audience members continue to flock to these films in hopes of recapturing the spark or romance and seeing our heroes thrive.  With this modern audience though, there needs to be gimmicks thrown in as well, to not only spice things up but keep the movie memorable.  Midnight Sun is one of these movies (as well as the source of my review) and this novel turned movie is hoping to entertain in this jam packed weekend.  Will it work?  I’m here to help answer that question, so get ready for another Robbie’s movie review, only condensed.

 

LIKES:

-Funny

-Charming

-Realistic

-Decent Acting

-Nice Twist

-The Musical Score

 

A love story of course has to have love, kissing, and all that other stuff that makes audience members go “Awwwww”  or clap in delight.  Midnight Sun has got that, but what this reviewer likes is the extra charisma infused into the movie.  For one thing it’s got comedy, not the over the top, ridiculous slapstick YouTube is filled with, but instead has a wittier side with well-timed flirting, awkward moments blown up, and Rob Riggle’s natural comedic ability. The comedy is very charming, much like the movie, with a natural feel that keeps the mush grounded and the story an entertaining adventure away from the big budget productions.

Hands down the movie gets props for me for the realism it holds and the sustenance it brings by avoiding that overdramatic mess we tend to get.  Midnight Sun has that two teens in love vibe to it, but what impresses me is how the love story isn’t the only focus of the movie.  Instead there is a making the most summer vibe, adding a little adventure for you to ride along with. The acting presented by  Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger is enough to sell this new-age, teenage love without crossing over into the overacting or melodramatic proportions. This exciting, new relationship is fun to watch, and the added twist only helps engage the audience into this stereotypical relationship to help add some originality to the twist as well.

Hands down, bringing everything together was the musical score.  Part hot topic hit list and part orchestrated score, Midnight Sun has a great blend of these tracks that fit the scenes perfectly and add the extra emotional punch to pull at your heart strings. One may not expect music to add much, but in this movie it really works to add that extra element of flair.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

-Predictable

-Under-utilized characters

-Acting sometimes fades

-Tangents that weren’t developed

 

Despite all I liked about the movie though, there were still some areas of improvement to help boost the quality of the film.  First of all, the story’s nice twist works for originality, but it still is predictable as heck.  The movie essentially spells out what is going to happen, straightening out the twists and keeping it on safer, though more emotional, grounds. It took away the suspense component for me, but it did not breach the integrity of the emotional dynamic of the movie.

A bigger disappointment though, is the underutilization of the other characters that are supposed to support this adventure. While I recognize this is a love story about the two, the movie goes out of the way to make some strong introductions to characters that are supposed to be key players as well.  The dad gets his due, but I was rather disappointed with the lackluster integration of the best friends that after getting introduced don’t really contribute to the adventure as was promised. Most of the appearances are reduced to cameos or brief quips, with their potential stories fizzling out before it has a chance to build up.  While the musical moments have a nice flair to them, the other tangential adventures don’t provide much to the film outside of a few life memories one should experience. The potential to expand on so many relationships, which is a key part to life, was lost to some other plot points that I would have liked expanded.

As for the acting, well like the subplots, there are times where it flounders with both Thorne and her male counterpart seeming to fall out of character.  Those awkward pauses are a bit flatly acted and a little hard to believe in the love between lovers.  Fortunately, the writing and romantic gestures are enough to offset tis inconsistency, but still the performance feels like something off of Freeform at times.

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Midnight Sun has panache that makes it an enjoyable tale to watch.  It’s got class, fun, entertainment and a musical soundtrack that brings all those emotional moments together.  It’s true the movie is a predictable mess, and could have used some more expansion into the adventure/friendship component that makes life fun.  Yet that promise of excitement with the spark of new romance can lead to enjoyable experience, assuming you don’t watch all the trailers and ruin it. In regards to the theater component, I recommend holding off on this medication for a theater visit, but scope it out on rentals asap. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

DCOM or D-Bomb

Zombies

 

Disney Channel Original Movies, are all the rage on the cable station, with epic promotion, marketing, and merchandizing to build up the film for your little ones.  Back in the day, these movies actually did a decent job telling predictable stories, that held some suspense and impressive stunts in a variety of sports and disciplines.  Since the new age of Disney though, these stories have taken a major hit in their quality, resorting to marketing gimmicks and dance numbers to do their lifting and dumping the story down the drain.  After the success of Descendants, the studio that brought the villain prodigy tales to you, brings another movie to the small screen, in hopes of maximizing the ratings again.  Robbie is back with another review on TV movies, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

The Message:  Disney is taking some bold moves in their political statements, doing little to disguise the messages contained in the movie.  Zombies is a flat-out statement about how wrong racism is, with the entire writing/cinematography set out to show the horrors of prejudice.  The movie shows the various responses to the candor of segregation, and the right and wrong ways to fight all under the prowess of changing things that need to be changed.  In addition, the movie has a strong focus on being yourself, learning to change things that are toxic about yourself, not because someone doesn’t like it. 

 

The Leads:  Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly are the stars of the show, getting a majority of the camera time.  Milo has a fresh energy about him, giving the movie that entertaining, fun quality you want in a DCOM.  He manages to transition between silly and serious smoothly, never crossing into the realm of overacting.  In addition to acting, his dance moves, singing, and ability to act like a savage, brain hungry monster are worth noting as well.  Meg on the other hand is the strong, women protagonist that is the trend of Disney at the moment.  While not wielding spears or martial arts that leave extra reeling in pain, Meg’s public speaking and political games are the highlights of her character’s ability.  Like Milo, she has a good balance in her tones and acting style, alongside an impressive facial acting that speaks the emotions and tone of the scene.  She injects energy at the right moments but stands as the symbol of hope/change in this installment.  And in terms of singing, her harmony with the actors is astonishing and quite honestly my favorite voice of the group. 

 

The Dance Numbers:  The focus of this movie is obviously the musical numbers.  What will most likely be a hot selling item, these numbers capture the energy and spirit of the movie.  Unlike other musicals that focus on adjusting their styles to make a nice blend for the track, Zombies sticks to the major pop meets electronic beat.  While not as dynamic, this allowed for some impressive choreography that brought in some breakdancing, some line dancing, and even more so the cheerleading flips and dynamics.  These numbers work in the theme of the movie and again highlight the singing talents of our stars.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Story:  While the message is good, the story really took steps down in terms of quality.  For one thing, the story isn’t unique, just a carbon copy of half of their stories, which are often diluted versions of classic movie stories.  But ignoring this, the movie is not fleshed out very well with so many plot holes and stretches having to be taken to even semi-piece the tale together.  The character development is rushed and sloppy, the love story fairly cheap and pathetic (when they aren’t singing), and the impasses are laughable as they resolve with little to no effort.  It’s obvious that the focus was music, because much of this story looked for opportunities to introduce another song number, sacrificing key plot points.

 

The Other characters:  Not everyone will fall into this dislike, but a large number of the characters are lame to put it as nicely as I can.  These characters are those with extreme flaws/prejudice, who fail to move an ounce during the first 85 minutes and often present their grandiose ways in an overacted direction.  I can’t tell how much of this is due to the direction and writing, but these characters are certainly some of the weaker ones to grace the Disney line up.  Characters like Bucky and his squad in particularly are the worst, in terms of their inconsistency and presentation.  And the parents of the crew/fans are only a couple of paces behind.

 

The Writing:  This would explain a lot in terms of the other dislikes, but the writing was kind of shoddy in this film for me.  Dialogue is limited in terms of anything unique, with only the anti-segregation lines holding any sustenance to them so you can get some mimicking from your kids started.  Outside of that, I’ve already stated that the writing built everything around the dance numbers, leading to rushed plot lines, rapid character development that is almost nonexistent, and just poor planning in general. 

 

Cheap Production:  I know TV movies don’t have the biggest budget, but seeing as Disney is essentially the money maker of the world, they could have done better than this.  Zombie’s stunts are not the greatest in terms of special effects, with many props looking snazzy, but very cheap. Sure, the light shows and setting look decent, but they can’t mask another big dislike, they couldn’t find another team/different uniforms to switch them into.  You pay attention, you see that the football teams and cheerleaders are all the same.  It’s not the fact that unique teams are key to a movie, it’s the laziness that the movie had when they have the means to go all out.  In addition, beating the same team over and over, means again a lack of developing story/tension.

 

Lazy on Soundtrack:  You just heard me say I like the soundtrack, so why on Earth am I putting this as a dislike. Simple, because half the track is unique and the other half are just reprisals that often pale to the first mix.  Descendants, Teen Beach Movie, and even High School Musical do a nice job with keeping their tracks different, unique, and with as few remixes as possible.  Zombies failed on this level, cheating the fans out of unique mixes just to cut some costs.  Why Disney didn’t fun this DCOM more so, I don’t know, but it didn’t impress me in these regards.  At least the numbers didn’t have those annoying, lazy lyrics like some tracks have had though… right.

 

 

The VERDICT;

 

            Zombies, in my opinion, was a massively overhyped movie that promised a lot more than it delivered.  I’ll admit it was fun at times, energetic, and a great medium for promoting anti-segregation (always a plus) and that the acting and dance numbers did their jobs.  However, this installment makes me fear tor the future of DCOMs if all they focus on is the music and the merchandizing that will follow.  This team cut a lot of corners, shucking originality, deeper development, and meaningful dialogue and comparing it to other DCOMS that remain hidden in their vaults, it’s sad.  I’m hoping they will utilize the star actors and the supporting zombies in future projects, but the company needs to get their act together if they plan to keep their DCOMS from further plunging down into crappy depths. 

 

My scores:

Musical/Romance: 5.0

Movie Overall:  3.0

Freed At Last, Freed At Last

Freed.jpg

 

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!

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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?

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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