Teaming Up For Comedic Zings, But Wasp Doesn’t Bring As Much Action Stings

Ant-Man and the Wasp Poster

 

Another weekend, another chance for Disney to take the box office with their franchises.  Tonight, the latest Marvel movie appears to try and steal the bucks from all other competitions as it tries to follow the biggest movie event of the year Infinity War.  Can the rogue hero Ant-Man make a film of wavering size… or is it just a placeholder until Avengers 4 comes to life next spring?  Robbie K here ready to write the review on:

 

Movie: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

 

Director:

Peyton Reed

Writers:

Chris McKenna,  Erik Sommers

Stars:

Paul Rudd,  Evangeline Lilly,  Michael Peña

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun/Family Friendly: If you remember the first movie, you know that these movies are fun and very friendly to just about everyone. Ant-Man and The Wasp continues the family friendly fun and keeping it appropriate for all ages.  The pace keeps things moving, bringing with it a constantly entertaining movie that will keep the audience’s attention with ease. Little kids will be impressed with all the excitement and constant moving, while the comic fans will relish the graphic novel qualities of the film. 

 

Character Development: Despite all the chaos in this film, Ant-Man 2 is all about evolving the characters to the next level.  Scott (Rudd) is all about trying to balance work, family, and saving the world, all while trying to push past the fears that dwell around him.  Hope (Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are on a quest themselves, but while doing this, strive to push past the boundary established form mistakes past.  It’s heartwarming, cute, and surprisingly deeper than expected, but doesn’t divert from the story to make the point, rather integrating this into all the tales.  It works well and develops a crew you want to follow this journey through.

 

Good Main Villain: Marvel baddies have all been extreme characters who go over the edge.  From CGI titans to hormonal, vengeful aspiring kings, the Wave 3 crew has lost much of the balance some of the earlier villains had.  Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is a character that backpedals into a balanced character, an antagonist who won’t annoy you to hating them for their grandiose flaws.  She’s got some backstory, is integrated well to other characters, and remains embedded in the story to develop alongside the rest of the cast.

 

Funny:  See my previous reviews, but Ant-Man 2 rocks in regards to being comedically entertaining.  The writing is the start of this ride, a blend of comedic styles that will appease just about everyone who loves to laugh whether it be from banter or a well-timed insult.  Director Peyton Reed kept things balanced with this work, and therefore didn’t overdo the comedy, or should I say overuse a comedic style. Yet the actors who bring the words to life get the final round of applause for making the most out of comedic gold.  Rudd’s sarcasm, but his relaxed atmosphere works fantastically.  Douglas style is all about dry sarcasm and stoic delivery to counter the energy of just about every character in the crew.  Yet… it’s Michael Peñawho really shines in this movie.  His energy, his confusion, his surprise and his yelling were all fantastic qualities to make him the king of the comedy in this movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Bite from Bad Guys: Ghost has got skills and a story, but she is lacking that bite that Marvel Villains are known to have.  I can’t say much without ruining too much, but this more balanced mercenary is in need of a little more hate/angst to drive her actions, in hopes of making for a more suspenseful tale. In regards to Sonny (Walton Goggins) well he was meant to be a little more deceptive and menacing, but his malice was diluted due to the comedic direction of the movie.

 

Too Much Comedy?: Disney’s last wave of movies is very heavily focused on making people laugh in some form or manner.  While it is always good to laugh, I feel this approach is limiting the potential of the movie to be as balanced and exciting as the first few waves.  Ant-Man 2 is fun and entertaining, but the comedy becomes the primary focus and sort of dilutes the other qualities of the film at times. In the case of this movie it is the suspense and action that take most of the hits.  Speaking of which…

 

The Action:  The First Ant-Man had all the props out to utilize the technology of the hero of varying sizes.  As they train to break in, we get exciting military like strategy, before a very fast and engaging fight between two suits.  This movie started out with a good fight led by Wasp, which showed off girl power to all proportions.  After that… not much else happened even at the end where the exciting climax was a little silly than amazing.  Yes, it is entertaining, but it didn’t have all the pizazz and edge like the first film, and did fall into repetitive maneuvers that were okay.  Again, still fun, but just didn’t reach the levels of the first for me.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the sequel to Ant-Man works on many levels and does its job at the follow-up to the big, bad Infinity War.  It’s placeholder status has plenty of fun, laughs, and entertainment for the whole family and will certainly keep everyone chuckling by some means.  In addition, it has a thousand times better character development than expected, and gives all the players ample involvement in the story, despite all the laughing you will be doing.  Still, it’s not the most thrilling or exciting of the bunch primarily that the bad guys are not as malicious and the comedy floods much of the movie and washing away the other qualities.  However, it is absolutely worth the trip to the theater with your friends and family, to just enjoy the ride.  Of note: The Mid-Credits scene will tie the film to Infinity War and the end credit is another laugh. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

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Go Solo or Go Home?

Solo: A Star Wars Story Poster

 

It’s been 40 years in existence, and the galaxy far away keeps expanding into the unknown territory of stories, fun, and action. Despite a rocky start, Disney has been able to finally get the precious cargo of another Star Wars movie to its destination of the theater despite all the failings it experienced.  Can such a history turn out to be valuable like an armada of Star Destroyers, or will it be as worthless as Republic Credits on Tatooine.  Robbie K here with another review on the movie:

 

Movie: Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

Director:

Ron Howard

Writers:

Jonathan Kasdan,  Lawrence Kasdan

Stars:

Alden Ehrenreich,  Woody Harrelson,  Emilia Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  While certainly not the legendary volumes that the original cast brought years ago, I was impressed and happy with what the new cast was able to do.  Alden Ehrenrich as young Han Solo has a level of arrogance and mischief that is recognizable, just not to the proportions Ford brought so long ago.  Clarke, in all her splendor, is certainly fantastic, bringing her regal air to the character Qira, and with it an added complexity to try to keep you guessing.  Harrelson, still playing the cantankerous role again, has it down to an art that mixes quite well in the intergalactic crime world.  Yet the star is Donald Glover, who captured the Lando qualities perfectly and delivered it with the youthful energy so long ago.  It works on levels to form a new band of thieves and helps bring the story semi to life.

 

Fun:  Bottom line of this movie is that I had fun with it, and despite all the terrible set ups and track record that they have had, I enjoyed it. Solo’s story is definitely an adventure, with a fast pace to keep you embedded into the thief’s tale to find out who will make it unscathed through the fire.  While a slightly darker tone, the movie has plenty of comedic relief and lighter moments to offset the dark, making for an enjoyable, semi-balanced movie that will appeal to many.

 

Balanced Comedy:  Let’s face it, Disney’s movies have been working the comedic angle hard into most of their action movies to help ease the tension. Fortunately, Solo manages to keep the comedy perspective better balanced, using it at key moments to maximize the laughs and add some character to the scene.  While much is in the timing and the dialogue, but there are plenty of nostalgic moments to bring a few other guffaws out as well.  It works well with the movie and further establishes the smuggler atmosphere they were going for.

 

Action:  If you saw my video vlogs, you know that I have a thing for action sequences, and after the last Star Wars movie turned away from this, I had my doubts.  Solo’s adventure has at least three stellar action moments to bring to the table, in the form of laser shootouts and high-flying adventure.  The special effects shower in these moments, grabbing you by the shoulders and throwing you into the throngs of the dangers that await Han’s arrogant, rebel without a care attitude.  My favorite moment is certainly the flying scene shown in the trailer, but only you can decide which of the dances of destruction will wow you the most.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Character Utilization: Lots of characters means the struggle of balancing them all, and Solo does do a decent job of giving their cast a moment to shine in the CGI sun.  However, for me, it didn’t mean that they utilized them all to an equal degree. Despite the heavy emphasis on the trailers, many of the new characters are going to have disproportionate time spent on the screen.  While they all play their role in the story, I was still hoping for more integration (like Rogue One), but the group still hasn’t quite found this part down quite pat yet.

 

Paul Bettany:  None of these characters get the shaft treatment than Bettany’s crime lord character.  An antagonist usually has more involvement in the film than just casting a looming shower, and with someone as talented and complex as Bettany, I was hoping to see his talent come to full light.  Bettany’s character needed more development and time, but they dropped the ball in his development department for favor of other trinkets and gimmicks.  The former Vision star held so much potential, but sadly not delivered for me.

 

L3-37’s preachiness: I love droids and I love women, and this droid therefore held high hopes for being the best artificial intelligence to date.  Point to them for making a robot that speaks her mind, pilots a ship, and has some skills in infiltration because they nailed those components.  Yet, there rebel rousing, preach to the masses dialogue was not impressive in the grand scheme of the movie for me.  I was looking for her to really contribute to the plans concocted by the team, but instead they chose to turn her into more of a walking talk box that while passionate is semi-useless outside of merchandizing.

 

The Story/Sequel Set Up: Fans of the legend series will know the roots of this story lie in the original trilogy, which while not the best of the books certainly had its pizazz.  Solo definitely scavenged these books, took the bones and built them up to this tale.  The story works in regards to highlighting aspects of his life and sticking to the origins decently enough to merit the tale.  What I didn’t like though, was how the story was very piece meal at times, a rushed montage of various episodes from his life that had it been given a television series would have been more fleshed out.  They did a nice job of reaching a decent run time, but this movie was geared too much in setting up for what can be another movie series. Plenty of hints dropped at what lies in store, but unlike the original trilogy, the movie doesn’t feel quite complete, but instead dependent on a second movie to bring things to full circle. Not my favorite way of doing things, but Solo manages to still be a semi-complete talked… for now.

 

The Ending:  After all the excitement and close calls, you hope the ending brings that final conflict to really tie things together.  For me, the ending to Solo was not that at all, another rushed conclusion to try to tie up one arc and open the door for the next. I’ll admit, it had some nice revelations that again hint at further movies or spin-offs to come, which gets a plus in that regards (despite still not bringing a strong antagonist back into the canon). Yet, the ending decides to go down the other skill of smugglers and tries to trick you with obvious ploys and foreshadowing to take that twist away.  Even worse, the ending “fight” is short lived and rather dull compared to the glimmer of the previous scenes mentioned.  Applause goes for the attempts at diving deeper into the character, but it still could have used some spice to pep it up.

 

Overall:

 

Solo turned out much better than anticipated, bringing a very charming and fun movie that certainly delivers on the promise of exploring a beloved character.  It’s got comedy, action, love, and darkness to drive the tale, and really makes an adventure that will take you to lightspeed.  Yet, the movie is still part of the cog of another series, limiting itself so that they can open up more films or the spin-off to tell the complete story. So, while fun, the movie still doesn’t fill complete to me and that is not my favorite formula.  Still, I recommend a weekend trip for this one for most of the family and friends who like the series.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

A Rampage of CGI, Comedy, and Over The Top Moments

Rampage

 

`           Video game movies have a steady record of failing to meet expectations placed on them by the gaming community.  Yet this year alone, two video game franchises have been unleashed on the screen with decent success and quality.  Perhaps, this is the start of a video game movie renaissance, but in the world of movie magic, you never know what lies behind the community.  So naturally I’m back in the trenches to provide to you another review as I cover:

 

Movie: Rampage

Director:

Brad Peyton

 

 

Writers:

Ryan Engle and(Carlton Cuse

 

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Naomie Harris,  Malin Akerman

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  In a movie about giant monsters going on a rampage, it’s up to the actors to try and put on a performance to make us believe they are nearly destroyed by these artificial creations. Fortunately, the Rock is able to deliver his magic again, not the best performance mind you, but believable enough to craft a relationship with the artificial monkey.  Naomie Harris isn’t too bad either, capable of expressing fear at the possible end of the world, but not so much past those components.  Akerman has the vicious corporate tyrant face down, and the ice-cold stare of a woman perturbed with the hand fate dealt in her science experience, though flops at the end to maintain that edge.  Finally, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a champion at bringing comedic spark to the mix, a sarcastic modern day cowboy whose mannerism and wide smile will craft a more charming version of Negan.

 

The Comedy:  With Dwayne Johnson, you can always expect the film to have some comedy, and no surprise…Rampage delivers on this.  Sure, the concept of the movie itself is hilarious enough, and even the acting/writing can be unintentionally comedic to leave you chuckling.  However, the intended comedy comes primarily from the one liners packed into Johnson and Morgan’s lines. Their rapier delivery is sharp, well-timed, and has just enough emphasis to maximize the sting these insults and lines bring.  Throw in some of the vaudeville with George the CGI monkey that is cute, yet edgy, and you get some surprising laughs that you might not be expecting.

 

The Graphics/Special Effects:  No surprise, a movie about CGI behemoths needs good computer work and Rampage delivers on these hand over fist.  Smooth animation, well-crafted realism, and some originality help bring these monsters to life on the big screen in a way that leave many with mouths agape.  These titans of terror, have fantastic sound editing to go along with their visual prowess that brings everything together to unleash the full might of these beasts.  As for the carnage itself, the special effects department delivers on this as well, combining pyrotechnics and manmade visuals to craft their visual representation of the classic arcade game.  The effects themselves pay much homage to the platform they were built upon and in the last 40 minutes of the film, one will feel as if they have dived into that classic game.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Cheesiness: Despite the concept itself being a major stretch, the movie had hopes for making the most out of it.  They did to a level, but there were a lot of components that were still too ridiculous or forced to bare. Some of this includes the way the dialogue was delivered, the random plot elements thrown in, and even some of the chaos itself dropped a little over the top for me and my friends. And because of this stretch of the imagination, other components suffer such as the story, speaking of which.

 

The Story: Okay it’s based on a video game that had thread thin plot to being with, but that’s no excuse to improve upon things in this day and age.  Improvements were made to an extent, but the story lacks a lot of sustenance that could have helped craft a more engaging story.  The character background information is minimal at best, built enough to provide introductions and some sense of internal conflict, but lacking in other departments to really make dynamic characters to grasp onto. Even worse, the pace of the movie is off, emphasizing how weak the story is at times and making it drag as it attempts to build up tension for the climax at the end when the hammer finally drops.  Had these elements been tinkered with, perhaps we would have been more engrossed in the movie.

 

More Action:  You’ve stuck it out through the ridiculous plot, been teased by the small, and often pointless skirmishes, and you’ve gotten through the lacking characters.  Now it’s time for the epic battle, right?  Wrong.  Rampage’s end game starts out so promising as the video game spectacle of army vs. beast unfolds in epic quality with the theater rattling in high amplitude sound.  Then it kind of fizzles out, focusing on the human component for nearly fifteen minutes with no sign of the beasts.  Had this part been more thought out, intricate, and exciting itself this would have worked, but since this wasn’t the case it failed.  When the beasts begin battling each other, this too needed more thought put into it to bring some originality and creativity to the battling behemoths.  Given all the prep work for it, my friends and I were disappointed to not have more gusto behind this clash of the titans.

 

The VERDICT: Rampage turned out better than I had expected, but the film still had much more to bring to the table to deliver on the expected promise of action.  Comedy, acting and graphics were spot on in this big budget special effects piece, however they needed to use this budget to add more to the grand bout of carnage and fury.  A lackluster story that succumbs to cheesiness and mundane tactics, Rampage needed to dig deeper to unlock the primitive energy locked up within.  Perhaps a sequel will improve upon it and they will put more action into the next installment, but for now it’s an okay starting point.  Should you see it in theaters?  For the effects lone yes, but this guy recommends holding out for some other spectacles coming in the near future.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

Ready For Action, Visuals, Nostalgia

Ready Player One

 

Robbie K back with another review and tonight it is on movie I have been looking forward to for a very long time.  The latest book gone pop culture, tonight’s film is all about the references (and merchandising) as the world seeks out an adequate video game movie to come to life.  So, let’s get started with a slight alteration to the style, as I review:

 

Title: Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer:  Zak Penn

Original Author: Ernest Cline

Starring: Tye Sheridan,  Olivia Cooke,  Ben Mendelsohn

 

 

LIKES:

Acting:  Let’s get this like out of the way (as most won’t care).  The cast of this highly CGI world is on point in regards to making their characters come to life.  Sheridan in particular does a lot of the heavy lifting, balancing the geek, leader, and vulnerable roles all into a nice admirable package.  Cooke has the edgy, heroic nature down, a virtual Wonder Woman who combines brain and skills to deliver the sassy goods to the group. These two have wonderful chemistry together, two leaders who incite a rebellion of imagination, accomplishing it with grace that many young actors fail to deliver.  Ben Mendelsohn makes a good villain as well, a corporate wannabe who has only the eyes for cash and lacks the brains to go with the brash. 

 

World Creating/Visuals:  No surprise here, Spielberg’s team invested a lot of time bringing the world to life.  Ready Player One’s visuals are stunning, taking the imagination of Cline’s book and making it pop to life on screen.  The various planets all have dynamic visuals to bring each one to life, with exciting, pristine villas grounded by the rugged battlefields of volcanoes.  The real world of a future dystopian society is nicely created with their settings and with direction meshes well with our heroes’ journey through the cyberspace.  And as for the characters themselves, the team managed to recreate the various pop culture references in fantastic design but adding its own twist to correlate with the movie.  The heroes have that video game feel, immersing you further into the virtual reality setting as if you were part of the rebellion.

 

The Action:  The trailers promised action, and by George did it deliver… on most of the movie.  Ready Player One starts strong with some action-packed sequences where racing and FPS/Third Person battles reign supreme.  The theater shakes with the intensity and brings a promise that the rest of the movie is going to be just as fun.  The rest of the sequences semi-deliver on this promise, primarily the final battle that has some incredible parts.  Nonetheless, Spielberg’s department did a bang-up job bringing the rush that video games bring, primarily the selling point for seeing it in the theater. 

 

The Nostalgia/Reference Hunting:  However, the biggest selling point for me was the thrill of hunting down all the cultural Easter eggs/icons that they paid a fortune to portray. My eyes were busy seeking everything crammed in this movie, trying to see which 80’s icons made the cut.  While 80% are video game references, you’ll find various movie, television, and song references shading the oasis, most cleverly brought in to bring life to the scenes in a meaningful way.  I’ll admit, the replay value of this movie comes in trying to track down everything hidden, like the Easter egg prize they are all seeking.  The key demographic of this movie is going to be the fans, nerds, and gamers, as their eager eyes will enjoy seeing their favorites come together to battle the corrupt evil at hand. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Lack of Challenge:  Let’s get this settled, the movie is not the book, and to be fair a movie about the actions of the book might have been duller to the general audience.  However, the movie could have taken a page for challenging puzzles and cultural integration, because it didn’t quite execute this component as well.  Most of the quests for the key were diluted compared to brainteasing nightmares of the novel, that could have involved more research and diving than what we got.  In addition, some of the solutions were a little more like backdoor cheats than true solutions to the impasses at hand.

Character Development:  I agree again with my fellow reviewers that the character development suffered a bit as well.  Parzival and Art3mis get some decent backstories and growth, but the other characters are sort of thrown into the movie like hamburgers on a flat top.  They have those moments that sizzle, only to quickly become fully cooked and dropped back into the background.  Even worse, the legendary skills that were boasted in the book/movie are not really delivered for our supporting cast, such a shame really.  Not the worst character use, but also not what I had expected.

 

More Action: Surprise, surprise, Robbie wants more action.  Ready Player One’s scenes are incredible at times, almost as if we have visors on our heads and living the game.  The problem for me is… they were too short at times and didn’t feel complete for me.  I didn’t feel this too much until near the middle of the movie when the film hit a slow snag and could have used one or two battles to liven it up.  However, the biggest thing I wanted, was seeing the millions of dollars of references used more than the fleeting glances we got.  The moves done were cool but watching Parzival and crew work together with the iconic game crew rather than background noise would have been nice.

 

I-ROk:  This character wasn’t utilized much in the book, so seeing him mentioned in the credits was a surprise. Sadly, they didn’t do much with this character, to the point where he was almost not needed.  The gaming community knows about epic hunters, villains, and rogues, but this movie failed to deliver on those grounds, instead getting a sarcastic flop.  While the main villain was expected to be a rather incompetent jerk, his prized mercenary should have had a little more bite to back things up.  Perhaps then the epic climax might have worked a little better, well that and maybe foregoing the van chase at the end… that wasn’t needed as much.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Ready Player One the movie is not the book, and the purists who want that book to real life are going to be disappointed with the changes that were made to liven it up.  However, Spielberg’s take on the film works in regards to action, visuals, and giving us the ultimate finder book of geek references.  While the story needed some more wit and character development, the main tweaks needed to be using more of their merchandizing, more of their characters, and pushing their villains to be more.  Had these elements been more explored, it would have given this movie more of the finesse it was looking for.  Still, this adventure deserves a theater run given the special effects. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

War Ready For Action. Needs Repairs For A Story

Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Giant Robots or Giant Monsters, which of the two titans is the better combatant for the silver screen?  That question has continued to test audience members discussion boards as behemoths like King Kong and Godzilla try to usurp the title from Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Tonight’s movie though, doesn’t make you choose, because it combines the two in an epic throw down that will hopefully please both sides of the spectrum.  Pacific Rim Uprising rears back to make some noise this weekend, and yours truly is here to report his findings on the latest silver screen smash to guide your viewing needs.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

Special Effects:  Most will be tired of the CGI haven these movies have become, but yours truly appreciates the work that went into unleashing the havoc.  The design of the new robots gets a round of applause, with sleek angular designs, some new tricks, and a fluid movement that fit well with the Japanese monster movie feel.  Monster wise, the Kaijou aren’t as prominent as the first film, but once breached, the monsters have got their own unique design that is odd, but again fitting in theme, with movements that again work with the pace of the movie.  And of course, all the lights, punches, and collapsing buildings are beautifully brought to life in all their dazzling, speaker rustling greatness. 

 

The Story:  While certainly not the best to grace the screen, the movie’s predictable plot has a few twists and spins on the mix to keep things interesting.  In a movie where smashing and fights are the key, you don’t always get the deepest tale, but it works in explaining what happened in the ten years and the whole grand design of the plot.  Unlike its predecessor, the movie managed to cut off a lot of fat to present this in a neat, less than 2-hour, package.  As such, you have all the elements to put a reason behind the fighting and keep as many characters as involved.

 

The Acting:  Believe it or not, the acting is a step up from other films in this genre.  The main stars of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny all work in that dysfunctional family united by challenging times way.  Still, they all manage to bring some power to otherwise simple characters that are semi-engaging to watch.  Of all of them… I think Boyega gets my vote for having the best acting of all, being pushed across all realms to make a balanced character.  As for Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, they are the comedic relief and do it well, but also manage to have some involvement in the story (nice directing) and not trying to sell themselves anyway. 

 

The Action:  I’ve gone through all the stuff you might care about, but let’s face it, this series is more known for its action and that’s what you want.  Well, for this reviewer it a step up compared to the first installment.  Timing the movie, about 70% of the film involved some type of action, a majority involving the metallic behemoths fighting one giant obstruction after another.  The battles have more variety than part 1, managing to help one differentiate one battle from another.  What makes me even happier to report, is that the team listened to reviews and actually utilized their other robots more, instead of dropping them out in five minutes flat.  While still not the greatest utilization of secondary robots, it was miles better for me in the long run, making the last 30 minutes of the movie, an action-packed climax to close the story out.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Comedy at Times:  The movie is ridiculous, I get it, but the comedy sometimes is a little too ridiculous and distracting from the overall tone of the movie.  A random aside here and there works, but when over utilized as it is in this film, well…then it gets rusty and breaks down.  In addition, there are some asides that felt awkward at the moment they chose to unleash it, jumping in amidst the action scenes when they would have fit in other realms.  These culminations weren’t my favorite use of comedic relief, as I think it crossed into corniness a few times.

 

Shallow Character Development:  Monster movies are seldom about our main characters growing a lot, but we’ve had previous installments capable of achieving this balance.  Pacific Rim Uprising is not one of these movies.  While Boyega’s Jake has a little more complexity in terms of everyone knowing him, the rest of the cast have less depth to them past a few traumatic backstories to garnish them up.  This is highly evidenced in the other pilots outside the main crew who after getting named are reduced to the shadows given the grand complexity of the film.  Uprising proves too busy to invest in its characters, but most may not care as long as they get a good smashing.  Still better than the last few transformers though. 

 

Obsidian Fury:  As cool as the name and design, I had hoped the new bot would have more point to it, but this is again where the movie fails on at least a story level.  The antagonizing robot brings a pretty epic fist fight, but plot wise it felt out of place, a tangent leading down a path that was as cold as the artic frontier it somewhat takes place in.  Yes, there are some purposes it serves, but as the movie’s plot progresses, its relevance became less and less for me, until it was just a convenient distraction.

 

Trailer Syndrome:  One thing this day of advertising is famous for, is revealing too much in shorter movies like this.  Pacific Rim Uprising’s biggest spoiler is that much of that awesome last battle has already been shown in the trailers.  Catch all three of the trailers and you pretty much have pieced 75% of that sequence, with the other 25% feeling very nostalgic/overdramatic.  I had hoped for some more dynamic moments to bypass that syndrome, or less advertising, but I didn’t get my wish again.  So, avoid the trailers and you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a monster/robot movie.  It gives you the CGI thrills, spills, and chills in terms of design and the sound editing beautifully complements it.  While the story is not the deepest, it works for the most part, allowing plenty of time to cram in the action you oh so wanted to see.  Yet, the movie still has to work on its balance learning to not cram so much into the film and maximize on elements that the movie is going to be known for.  In addition, stop revealing everything in the trailers and it means less elaborate scenes you have to shoot to make up for it.  So, looking for a monster vs. robot’s movie?  Look no further, because this film is a success in terms of the action and big battles that are theater worthy.  As a film as a whole though, the movie still has a lot of repairs to make, before it becomes war ready.  Oh well, we at least have a soundtrack to get you revved up. 

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

The Panther King

Black panther

 

Another Marvelous weekend is here and it holds another Disney branded film to be released into the local theaters.  The superhero theme of the weekend strays from the normal leads you’ve seen in the last few years, one who has more ferocity than the usual crew, maybe outside of the Hulk.  Yes, I’m talking about Black Panther, and after much anticipation it is here and ready to unleash the cat within.  Does this highly awaited film meet expectations?  Robbie K is here to help out, with yet another movie review.  Sit back, relax, and read on as I help out with your movie going pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

The Cinematography:  A good hero movie requires good visuals to bring it to life, and Black Panther reigns supreme on this level.  After some unique storytelling art at the beginning, the movie resorts to beautiful blends of real-life, breathtaking shots and impressive visuals.  The movie drops you into what feels like a technologically advanced city, complete with James Bond like gadgets that feel super in themselves.  Black Panther’s camerawork is also very dynamic, energetic enough to increase the action, but contained enough to not leaving you nauseous or confused.

 

The Acting:  Marvel movies sometimes tank in this section, but again Black Panther raises the bar on this levelChadwick Boseman retains the regality of T’Challa from Civil War but adds more conflict and growth to the character as he struggles with the mantle of king. Michael B. Jordan comes back with a fire, once again showing that he earns his spot in Hollywood with an emotionally charged performance that seethes with that raw edge. Lupita Nyong’o brings the balance to the movie, portraying a character that acts as a solid bridge between all parties, keeping her dynamic performance balanced at the same time, while Danai Gurira grounds the characters down with her strong will and fantastic stage combat skills.  Letitia Wright is the comedy of the film who has a fantastic delivery of the well-written lines this movie has.  Almost all parties involved nailed their roles, with the chemistry between everyone favorably mixing to create what felt like a tribe.  Fantastic job casting director.

 

The Comedy: Marvel is all about making you laugh, sometimes making that the focus of the film and other times as a nice add-on.  Black Panther took the latter for me and was tastefully done to perhaps be one of the best executions of the Marvel Universe.  In this darker movie, there is a lot of tension and raw nerves exposed in the Savannah drama, with many negative emotions running rampant like the predators of the plains.  Yet, intermixed in this intensity is comedic gold, or vibranium in this case, well-placed to maximize laughs and clever to avoid the usual slapstick staleness that plagues most movies.  This style of comedy didn’t detract from the movie but added another layer to help reset the tension and keep you engaged in the movie from start to finish.  Plus, you’ve got a nice combination of styles in store as well, so two thumbs up for that.

 

The Emotion in the Story:  The movie does not have the most unique story, something hard to accomplish in this age of saturation. Yet this Marvel version of the Lion King is packed with so many moments to send one into an emotional fervor, sending you on a roller coaster ride of feelings.  Black Panther will be inspiring to many, bringing approving claps and motivation to change the world.  It’s a moral filled tale that brings out the dynamic use of technology, the importance of family, and the dilemmas of a new king having to face.  While I’m not the biggest supporter of dramas, Black Panther manages to make the drama feel less soap opera like that many movies fail to avoid. 

 

The Ending:  Many f Marvel’s movies often fail to find that satisfying ending to conclude the awesome tale.  Black Panther, manages to keep everything going from start to finish and brings all the building tension to full boil with an exciting climax.  All the characters are brought into the mix, having some involvement in the conflict at hand, as they fight in impressive choreographed battles.  And while our combatants dance in the virtual field, the story continues to progress and the characters develop with each swing of the weapon.  It utilizes all the elements that they had developed during the movie, which goes to show story telling is still alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Impressionable Hate:  More of a warning, the main villain is not only skilled and deadly, but has a surprising amount of hate contained in his chiseled body.  Killmonger is a character that has a lot of issues, and his plot to change the world is something that can motivate impressionable minds down the wrong avenue.  Be careful when taking friends and younger audience members to the film who have difficulty understanding character flaws.

 

Martin Freeman:  The movie did an okay job with the former hobbit, but I expected a lot more from Freeman’s character.  Though there is some comic relief, and a little action with his character, Freeman really didn’t feel that pertinent to the story until near the very end.  Such a legendary actor deserved some more relevance to the plot, some extra comedy, or at least some better development to justify the price tag that comes with him.  Not the weakest character mind you, but not what I expected.

 

More Action:  No surprise, Robbie want’s more action in his Marvel movie.  With Black Panther, I had worried that most of the excitement was ruined in the trailers, especially with a huge gap between those action-packed sequences.  Had it not been for the ending, I would have been disappointed in this quality, but still I wanted more to be unleashed in this movie to put T’Challa’s skills to the test.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Black Panther is by far one of the better Marvel films to grace the theaters and shows promise for the future of the series.  The tale has fantastic visuals to bring the world to life, alongside amazing writing and acting to further bring Wakanda to the playing field. It keeps its characters engaged and fills the 2-hour 15-minute run time with an emotional fervor to keep you integrated into every aspect until that incredible ending sequence.  However, the movie still has a few limitations including needing a little more action, a dab more of Martin Freeman’s relevance, and a slight decrease in predictability to make this a perfect film in the Marvel universe.  Still, the film gets massive props for reviving the Marvel movement this year.  So definitely get out there and see Black Panther and unleash the beast that dwells within all us comic book fans. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

A Cure To Extra Movies Telling The Story!

Death Cure

 

Books, once the primary medium for telling stories, has now become the newest screenplay source for Hollywood.  The big wigs are back this weekend with another dystopian novel coming up to the big screen in hopes of concluding the tale with that justice fans demand.  As these series are a mixed bag (Hunger games vs. Divergent), one may wonder how this book will fair, especially with the mixed response the first two have had.  Robbie K here, hoping to help you out with another movie weekend and hopefully save you some time and money.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Strong Opening:  You always like your movie to grab your attention from the start, and the Death Cure is happy to accommodate.  The movie takes little time to get the excitement going, pumping into an action scene and kicking the pace off to 4th gear.  Even after the scene finishes, the movie sets things up quickly, to keep the pace and tension going, a plus given the long run time. I myself enjoyed the opening act of the film and how it was able to establish all three-story fronts and run them in tandem, accomplishing the balance of concise and complete.

 

Acting: To make these classics come to life, one must get the cast just right to bring these characters off the page.  Well the squad who was cast long ago, continues their strong work of capturing Thomas and his band of merry men.  Dylan O’Brien is the leading man again, getting the rebellious, battle hardened leader role down.  Stoic and heroic are his leading qualities, but handling that emotional vulnerability that comes with the role was a challenge well accomplished by this actor.  Ki Hong Lee, while not quite the champion he was in the first two installments, still keeps his calm in his role, securing the suffering portrayal and for once not sounding sexual when a character screams.  Kaya Scodelario as Theresa was a little dry and mundane at times, but starts to redeem herself and get her complexities down at the climax of the movie. And my favorite of the characters, Newt played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster who got all the emotions right, played the transition roles to point, and delivered some of the best speeches I’ve heard in a character. 

 

The Suspense: What I liked about this movie the most though, is how well they captured the suspense and tension of the film.  Unlike the earlier installments that hit those dead moments, the third installment manages to keep things always moving and on the edge.  With suspense and thrills packed in, it’s hard not to get lost in all the action on board and its nail biting, cleverness.  Loaded into this excitement though, is a bounty of emotions that rope you into the character’s struggles and tether the chaos to the story.  Riding this roller coaster was very satisfying, and personally, I loved how engged these characters were into the film as the epic conclusion started to arise.

 

The Final Scene: And after all this excitement, comes a finish that was perfect to wrap up the chaos at hand.  While not the most complete in terms of answers, the finale’s combination of epic soundtrack, emotional monologue, and cinematography brought goosebumps to my skin, and no it wasn’t due to a virus.  It’s this final punch that finally shows you can take a book series and end it epically, so stick around ladies and gents to see how trials finish up.

 

DISLIKES:

 

No refresher:  In most of these movies, the writers are able to remind you of the previous events in either dialogue or an opening montage.  Death Cure doesn’t remotely try to attempt to give you a refresher course, and for those who haven’t seen the films or reread the novels, you are on your own for connecting the dots.

 

The Length: You know there has to be massive entertainment or an engaging twist to keep you hooked into the movie.  And while Death Cure was exciting, I couldn’t justify the movie being past 120 minutes.  Much of the extra length came from drawn out chases and dialogue that were bloated examples of arrogance.  These moments might have held tension, but eventually got too drawn out for me, and had be begging for a conclusion.  Nevertheless, the suspenseful moments of the film sometimes turned into ridiculousness for me, because they seemed to move at half speed to get to the predictable ending.  More editing would have been a plus here.

 

The Coincidences:  Can’t tell if this was the theme in the book, but did the events really rely on this much serendipity and suspense of belief.  I’m not talking about the dystopia feel, or the zombie like cranks that seemed to be the latest overplayed creature.  No, my beef  comes with how inconsistent or stretching one sees them take with things like bullet proof glass suddenly breaking, convenient structural integrity collapse, and how the creatures somehow don’t attack the outskirts of the last city.  With all of these conveniences, it was hard for me not to laugh at these choices as they became a rather weak wrap up.

 

Reduction of Characters:  I give these guys props for integrating so many characters, but this film kind of dropped both plot and characters into the background, more than I would have expected.  Some of our heroes from the last movie have barely ten minutes in the film, and other major villains don’t have quite the bite that one would have expected from the trailers.  Even new characters making their appearance were a little drab, not in terms of looks, but again in a leaner story that I thought was more prominent in the book than on the screen.  Why we didn’t see more of these rag tag mercenaries and supporting characters , I don’t know, but again balance is key.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Maze Runner: Death Cure was a good conclusion to the trilogy for this reviewer.  The cast continues to remain strong, with a strong set of scenes to grip you into the action and lock in the suspense to come over the 120 minute run time.  And the fact they crafted a finale without going into an extra film wins bonus points for me. However, the movie is a bit unnecessarily long for me, failing to impress with exaggerated chase scenes that come to a convenient ending. In addition, the characters they highlight in the trailers, primarily the new antagonists, needed some better balance for me to help bring this final installment to the top.  Still, given all the excitement and special effects, as well as an emotionally packed story, this trilogy’s finale is worth a trip to the theaters.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0