Runs to Artistic, Emotional Crime, but Lack On Thrills Of Predecessor

Blade Runner 2049

 

There are plenty of movies in Hollywood, only some of which ever reach legendary status that seals their place in history.  These sacred films were usually ended in a manner that didn’t require a sequel, but leave it to the big studios to not leave things along.  Tonight, Blade Runner 2049 premiers to the public, alongside some high review scores and plenty of praise.  Despite the decades long gap, this movie holds promise to be just as good as the sequel.  Robbie K is here to share some thoughts on the latest flick and help guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

True Sci-Fi Crime: The trailers don’t lie when they say Blade Runner 2049 is a crime noire film.  It opens with the reference back to the first film and soon uncovers a mystery that will run the course of the movie. As this occurs, the other parties are seeking ways to hinder our “hero” (Ryan Gosling) from uncovering the truth.  Like a glorified episode of half the crime-dramas on television, Blade Runner 2049 is all about capitalizing on a prolonged crime and mixing as much drama into it to help add character development.  All of this is nicely wrapped up in a science-fiction spin, integrating the floating ships, robots, and large computers as the theater it unfolds in.

 

Emotionally Artistic:  The thing that many reviewers seem to appreciate is that the movie brings a lot of emotional punch to the audience.  Our directors managed to interject a lot of feeling into Gosling’s supposedly emotional character.  As his story continues to unfold, you’ll be submerged into the psychological nightmare he is forced to face.  While the traumatic stress is certainly enough to pull some heart strings, it’s the artistic portrayal of determining one’s self that adds fuel to the fire. Self-Identity, a thing many struggle with, is well-addressed in this film, trying to uncover the truth about his self, all while solving the crime.  Throw in a rather deep, albeit weird, romance story and you will round out the emotional plotlines many seek.

 

Acting:  A character is only as good as the actor who portrays it to life and Blade Runner 2049 is a shining example of quality acting.  Gosling as the lead was a good choice, his ability to play a man with an identity crisis is quite believable, primarily in the way he seems to stand on the border of sane and psychopathic.  While not his best role, I enjoyed seeing the anti-hero part played by him again.  Harrison Ford reprises his edge well enough, but I felt they didn’t utilize him as well as they could.

 

Ana De Armas:  I was happy to see more of Ana in this film, seeing her branch down some more emotional pathways, all while driving the character development of Gosling’s character.  Yet, I can’t lie, that she was beautiful in the various outfits she shifted into during the film.  I got the best of both world in this film, and appreciated the costumes that she sported in her awkward scenes.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not so thrilling:  The first Blade Runner had some suspense to it, the constant thrill of the chase as Ford tried to hunt down the rogue androids.  It kept the pace going, all while integrating the elements I mentioned in the likes section.  Blade Runner 2049 though wasn’t that thrilling to me.  The action was rather bland, the emotion with it almost as flat, and had little suspense outside of how much torture some of the characters could take. I expected a little more spice to the mix, but don’t let the trailers fool you, the thrills were more like spills.

 

Long: If a movie is going to be nearly three hours, it needs to either move, or have an exciting climax.  I found neither of these elements in this movie, but instead a very drawn out movie that seemed to drag.  While the message and artistic license are appreciated, the editors could have really dropped half the footage to get me out of the theater faster.  Perhaps if the ending hadn’t been predictable I would have been more intrigued, but I found myself fighting sleep at times because from these elaborate, and often unnecessary details.

 

Predictable Story and Under Utilized Characters: Blade Runner 2049 might have been a well-built Sci-Fi Crime story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t predictable.  Most of the “twists” I got in the first hour, leaving me nearly two to go until they revealed it.  In addition, my expectations of where the story was going were also shattered as other characters were underutilized for more sappy looks and near depression.  This especially goes for Ford and Leto, who I felt got the short-end of the stick in this film. Throw in some of the loose ends, more like bait for the next film, and it left me unsatisfied with where the story was going.

 

Loud:  Many films are loud in a theater with blaring music and special effects to make the seats shake.  This movie though, just had obnoxious sound effects that were high-pitched groans, mixed with a soundtrack that while unique was not the most pleasing to me. Brace yourselves for this interesting sound soiree, because you are going to hear it a lot.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Blade Runner 2049 is artistic, a visual display that is packed with emotion, Sci-Fi charm, and a crime noire element.  It has much of the same feel as its predecessor, but I felt it lacked the suspense and thrills that the trailers promised back in the teaser. Sadly the predictable story, underutilized characters and audio assault didn’t justify the nearly three hour run time for me.  Don’t see this one when your energy is low folks, or you just might be fighting sleep.

 

My Scores:

 

Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

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Flat on Many Levels! Needs A Full Code To Bring To Life

Flatliners

            Death, the inevitable destination that we are constantly reminded of in the various forms of media.  We spend all our time trying to postpone it that sometimes we miss out on life itself.  This weekend’s remake though focuses on hastening to that endpoint all in the name of science.  I’m talking about Flatliners, a movie that many may be “deathly” afraid to see for one reason or another, however this reviewer is back in the theater to bring you some information on the latest silver screen picture.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

Pretty Cast:  You get this from the trailers, but Flatliners is another example of pretty faces taking full front in a movie.  Like MTV meets a horror film, this cast will make young and old hearts beat as the characters dress in either preppy fashion or tight clothing to get the blood pumping.  Made up faces sparkle in the light, despite the ever-pressing doom hanging over them, and even in their worst they still look incredible.  Very important qualities in a movie.

 

Morals Wrapped in HorrorA better reward of this movie is the impressive delivery of some important lessons, one of which was rather personal to me.  The first is not to play with the defibrillator to study death, a lesson we all thought we knew, but guess we could use a refresher. Second is to take responsibility for your actions, and make up for them in an honorable manner.  Third is all about forgiveness, something that everyone can use a reminder of in terms of accepting apologies of those that are sincere.  While a bit theatrical at times, Flatliners delivers its lessons solidly, integrating it into the plot and making it fit well into the story.  This gooey, moral driven center is the sweet reward of the movie and perhaps my favorite component of the movie.

 

Decent Characters: Horror movies often have idiots for characters, or so blatantly shallow you can’t help but root for them to meet their end.  Not the case in this film.  Flatliner’s crew, despite the stupid desire to meet death, actually feel like relatable characters.  Their friendship, their flaws, and their fears were relevant to me, and were well-acted by our beautiful cast. As such, these characters are little easier to latch onto and invest your time into, following them through the nightmare they unleashed. For me, it was Diego Luna I grasped on to the most, his character being a keystone into connecting the elements of the plot.

 

Short Run Time:  Always nice when a horror movie doesn’t drag out too long, lost in the unnecessary details that often aren’t needed. Flatliners did a decent job trimming the fat, keeping things concise (if a bit rushed) and essential to explaining our character’s backstory, while still keeping the plot moving.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not Scary:  Perhaps it’s me seeing so many movies, but Flatliners again failed to shock me.  Outside of the looks they wear when they stop their own hearts (as well as the questionable medical techniques), the movie doesn’t remotely focus on scares of any sort.  There are few vivid images that start down the path, but these fizzle out and become lost in a rather vague concept.  Throw in the rather lax attacks of the entity and well… there isn’t much more to build on to explain the calm pace this movie takes.

 

Vague Creature:  The trailers portray something being unleashed, but Flatliners does a poor job explaining what it is.  A spirit?  A demon? Their minds breaking from all the stress?  The answer is left for you to decipher, but don’t expect much in terms of the evil taking any form. This not only robs the movie of potential scares, but also makes the story confusing and more towards a drama than anything else. While this gets points for making you think, I still would have liked a little more imagination into my monster, or whatever it was.

 

Rushed Elements:  While the characters are better than most horrors, they still are mere shadows to great story works. Flatliners’ dilemmas are hastened through on many levels, a rather pathetic climax with a resolution obtained more easily than the Hulk Smashing through a building.  Some characters got their just desserts on development, but others got off a little easier than expected.  But development would mean a longer movie, so I can’t be too upset.

 

Predictable:  It’s hard to throw surprises in these days, but Flatliners was a little too familiar for my tastes.  In addition to the scares, much of the tale was easy to see coming, and following that pathway just takes away from the originality factor.  With this gone, the special feeling of this movie is further reduced to just another weekend filler.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Flatliners is another example of modern, horror movies with superficial glimmer that is merely gold paint. A pretty cast and good morals don’t offset the fact that movie is just not scary enough, nor original enough, to garnish a theater visit.  The abstract monster that dwells within us all gets you thinking, but come on, we want something to make us lose sleep at night.  Therefore, this mediocre remake gets the following:

 

Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Towering Potential Falls

Dark Tower

 

Stephen King is a master of many things, and Hollywood has never been afraid to capitalize on the epic tales he has crafted over the years.  This weekend his legendary Dark Tower series gets its own chance to “shine” and prove to fans that the series can continue on. Did Sony studios plan to make a “sequel” to the books thrive, or will if fall victim to the shortcuts the film industry often takes.  Robbie K here to share his thoughts on another movie.  Why don’t we get started then?

 

 

LIKES:

 

Nice Set Up:  Doing my research, I realized where the directors were planning on taking this film franchise and the books it is based on.  The Dark Tower acts as a “sequel” to the books and builds as an introduction to the series.  It sets a nice framework up for those who haven’t read the series and prepares us for an adventure that could span multiple films/shows in the future.  It has simplified the complexity of King’s work and thrown hints at how his worlds are connected, perhaps inspiring some rewatching of his classics.

 

Action Scene: Dark Tower primarily is about opening us up to a world and setting the pieces and that unfortunately doesn’t bring much action.  However, the group managed to put a dazzling piece together involving our gunslinger and a round of minions.  Idris Elba finally gets to show off his legendary skills, outside of acting, as the lone gunslinger in his quest to stop the forces of evil.  The stunts are epic, the editing is on point, and the violence is contained to not be overly gory but still strong enough to be considered action instead of a bland use of a gun.  It took the movie long enough to get to this point, but I thoroughly enjoyed the climax fight.

 

The Acting:  I’m not calling this the world’s best acting, or even Oscar Worthy on most levels, but the acting is decent in the Dark Tower.  Tom Taylor as the new kid with the shine, does a decent job playing the troubled, awkward kid and portraying that strange view of the world.  His other emotions, however, needs a little work as these come off dry, awkward, and sometimes a bit underwhelming given the circumstance.  Matthew McConaughey brings his Lexus commercial approach to the mix, the cool delivery of his lines, holding an air of superiority and malicious intent.  He has the villain role down and instills a bit of chill when he appears on the scene.  Of course, the champion of this movie is Idris himself, hitting the role with 100% accuracy.  Elba’s got the rogue part down and the edgy, loner bravado brings the bang to the proverbial gun.  And the chemistry Elba has with his cast only amps up his skills, a talent I always like to see.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Rushed:  Sure the movie made a nice framework for introducing the series to nonreaders, it failed to deliver those important details.  The Dark Tower leaves a lot questions unanswered in terms of the origins of all the pieces involved in this war.  As for the parts they do fill in, these are lacking on so many levels, lacking real depth or mystery to get you hooked into the film. Even worse, much of the quest has little in regards to obstacles, with most problems being solved with little effort.  You get to hear all about the things lying in wait, but their actual involvement in the movie is little to none.  While this not only limits the story, it also limits the special effects and creature design we could have gotten as well.  A few CGI and makeup effects stand out, but the Dark Tower’s first film is rather lackluster given the potential of King’s books.

 

Anticlimactic:  Much of the movie is rather dull, drawn out in a manner of theoretical talks of ideal brain power, anarchy, and abduction.  All the fancy words and magic didn’t help a limited dialog that can be boiled down into a single-minded set of plots that we hear over and over again.  When things finally get going, and all the hot air from the cast is lit aflame… the action barely catches light before being snuffed out.  With the exception of one scene (see likes), The Dark Tower’s gun slinging is not what I expected.  This is particular true for the final fight between antagonist and protagonist that was more lame than impressive.  All the hype and rivalry to end so abruptly, not the direction I would have taken.

 

Predictable/Lazy:  There was so much potential placed on this movie, and the trailer painted what could have been an epic adventure.  Yet, somewhere the film fell victim to cheap shortcuts, low use of nightmarish effects, and a direction that went down the wrong tangent for an opening. It felt uninspired and lazy at times, and perhaps they cut a lot of good parts to fit into the short run time.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall the Dark Tower is not bad when you understand the plan to expand upon in the years to come.  As a stand-alone film, it does the job of introducing characters and the world, but it failed to reel me into the full-on adventure.  With a rushed plot, easy challenges, and lazy production approach, this film is mediocre at best given the hype of everything.  Therefore, this reviewer recommends holding off seeing this film until Redbox gets it in stock.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Valerian: Movie of a Thousand Visuals

Valerian

 

Comic books, a loveable source of entertainment in many forms.  While superheroes from the DC and Marvel universe shows take the cake, there are a few unique nuggets hidden in the colorful pages.  Valerian is one such series, a sci-fi adventure that held a bounty of potential comic gold that would certainly make for a good movie.  Turns out, Hollywood did its research and this weekend, the cinematic rendition of this tale hits theaters.  With all the hype, I hope this film will be the movie of the summer!  What is my verdict? Let’s get started with another Robbie’s movie review.

 

LIKES:

 

Part of the story:  Science Fiction stories with fantasy can go either way in quality as seen in a wide variety of movies. Part of Valerian’s story captures a sincere element that tugs at the heart strings concerning one of the races.  While not the most complex of stories, this subplot has a nice dynamic to it as you learn of the race and their fight for survival.  A few other tangent tales are decent as well, primarily one concerning Rihanna  character Bubble the exotic shape shifter.  This tale had a little heart to it, it just needed more to be complete.

 

The Graphics:  The trailers weren’t kidding when they hyped up the graphics of this movie.  Valerian’s strongest selling point is the beautiful visuals contained in its computer-generated setting.  It starts with the creatures that inhabited the galaxy and expands beyond that to bring out some truly imaginative world building that this day and age can perfect.  The cities themselves are polished with each level having its own sense of style, “class” and personality that was captured in the high definition graphics.  One will certainly see the budget went into the design of this movie, and many of the scenes are certainly geared towards the 3-D ride they want to take you on, especially in those chase scenes.  Is it as good as Avatar’s visuals?  While certainly imaginative, Valerian has some polishing to do to match the realism in that film.  However, the creatures are certainly more diverse than those found in its blue cousin’s world.   Of note:  I would have loved to see more costumes and makeup to offset the technology and add a little more realism to the mix.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Story Overall:  While there is one component that touched my heart, Valerian has issues in the story department overall.  Much of the tale is a rather rushed mess, devoid of any sustenance that the trailers promised.  The dark looming threat that threatened to collapse the artificial city is nothing what I expected. Truth be told, the big revelation was kind of lame and expected (I was able to decipher much of the mystery within the first hour.) There was little suspense in the tale, and the execution didn’t add much “flare” to it.  In regards to character development, that was also lacking, the two leads barely evolving past their superficial soldier roles from the beginning.  The result were boring characters that I had difficulty attaching to.  I can’t say the acting or chemistry between the two was not the strongest, which did not help their case any further.

 

Action:  Or should I say lack of action.  Despite the promises by the trailers, Valerian is rather lax in regards to stunning action sequences.  The blaster scenes hold some potential, but are rather bland and short-lived to get hyped up for.  A few chase scenes manage to inject a little speed into the pace of this movie, but unfortunately you have seen the entire scene in the trailer, leaving little more to get hyped about.  The close combat scenes weren’t much improved, with many of them being overacted, forced, and somewhat sluggish. While certainly not absent, Valerian’s visual style should have had more exciting action to compliment it, but sadly that was not the case.

 

Under use of creatures:  With all the world building and alien design, you would think they would utilize it more. Unfortunately, much of the creatures and behemoths are shown off only in passing and have little relevance to the story.  Ironically, most of the extras are just humans dressed in interesting outfits, while the rest of the CGi creatures remain isolated from our heroes.  The lack of integration made for an underutilized cast, and the loss of creativity was difficult to see. Hopefully this will be rectified in future installments.

 

Editing:  Perhaps the biggest dislike for me was some of the poor editing in this movie. Valerian has two sequences that were weak integrations into the plot, feeling irrelevant in the grand scheme.  One of these scenes adds nearly 30 minutes to the movie, and if deleted would do little damage other than dropping one celebrity exotic dance. Why this was the start of the rescue…I don’t know, but it weakened the film by kinking up the pace of the film.

 

The Verdict:

 

It’s true that Valerian has stunning looks, animation, and world building, but outside of that there isn’t much to say wow too.  I haven’t read the comic book, but this movie did not feel as if it brought the story to life, nor the action the novel most likely held.  Without these components, or better editing for that matter, the 137-minute run time is a bit of a snooze fest in regards to sci-fi operas.  Still, the visual effects are certainly theater worthy, but I still heed caution in seeing this one on the silver screen.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Web-Slinging Sensation: Comedy Returns To Spiderman

Spiderman

 

He can do whatever a spider can!  He is super brainy and has the ability to fight crime against a number of villains with interesting powers.  And he has had two reboots in the last two decades.  Yes, I’m talking about Spiderman, the young high school student who wears the coolest pajamas ever and has some pretty wicked powers.  This weekend, Disney studios gets their hands on the series, in hopes of breathing life back into the series and expanding their already vast repertoire of films.  Can Disney repeat its magic?  Robbie K here to give you the updates, and as always, I appreciate your reading and fun.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Not another origin story:  With all the reboots, cartoon series, and comics (if you still read), we know how the web slinger obtained his powers via radioactive arachnid science projects.  As such, the storyboard writers decided to scrap doing another reboot of this and dived right into the fun at hand.  Thank the lord!  Spiderman homecoming skips the boring, lacking power component, so that you get the most bang for your buck in regards to super power heroics and Spiderman clichés.  The presentation of this film is rather creative, using a selfie video to give a unique perspective on everything this Spiderman has gone through so far.

 

Fun and Funny:  Spiderman Homecoming takes a different approach from most of the other superhero films in that it feels like a high school student life only with…powers.  The result is a film that is fun, simplistic, and as me and my friend agree comedic.  This tale is all about making you laugh with a fantastic dialog, great delivery, and a cast that only amplifies it.  It’s not easy making a high school film that isn’t an afterschool special, drama filled, soap opera and still make it entertaining to watch.  But Disney was able to do it again.  While the production team has a lot to do with this, most audience members are going to give props to the acting.  Tom Holland again rocks the role, taking his cameo from Civil War and running… I mean slinging with it.  He is the first actor in this modern age to capture both the nerdy peter parker and the smart mouthed Spiderman, giving you the character you wanted made for some time.  Now throw in Michael Keaton portraying a villain who didn’t make you cringe, yawn, or sympathize for the performance they were asked to play.  The dynamic between them works and to take a lamer villain like the Vulture and make him respectable gets thumbs up from me.  And they utilized their entire cast very well, keeping their big-name contenders involved without robbing the main actor his time to shine.

 

Ned:  But my friend and I agreed that the best part of the film was Peter’s sidekick Ned played by Jacob Batalon. This character had me in enough stiches to require Spiderman to web it up.  Batalon delivers his lines perfectly, and makes the already comedic gold shine where others would fail.  He feels like a devoted fan boy and it works to keep things entertaining.  The cast did a great job sharing Peter’s secret with him and having him as the devoted friend wanting to do whatever he can to live as a super sidekick.  This character’s work is dynamic, it’s fun, and shows not all cleverness has been lost to cheap slapstick ploys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Special effects are so so:  I don’t know if it’s the costume, the approach, or what, but the special effects didn’t impress me as much as they usually do. Spiderman’s movements looked fake at times, and the weapons (outside of Vulture’s costume) were a bit hokie looking.  Not the biggest dislike, but worth noting.

 

Migraine inducing flashes:  Not really a dislike, but a forewarning is a few scenes involving some flashes, explosions, or morphing that may give one a giant headache or induce a migraine.  Three people in my showing, complained of auras from the film, so those with these type of migraines, or even worse seizures, may want to have caution and be prepared.

 

Editing/Lack of Action:  Biggest dislike for me is more so the lack of action.  No surprise, Robbie wants his superheroes to have at least one engaging fight, but that wasn’t the case for me in this film.  While Homecoming was funny and entertaining, it still lacked the bite that superhero films have had.  The fights were short lived, didn’t involve too many spectacular moves, and the villains didn’t have any impressive moves.  We know Spidey’s universe have some of the most unique powers of the bunch, so why in the world didn’t they show that off more.  Of note, the battles do keep in theme with the movie, and are emotional in regards to character development, that is a plus.  Yet a 134-minute run time needed a few more suspenseful moments to get the full effect.  Either that or cut out the extra laugh, unnecessary moments to shorten the run time.  Sorry guys, but editing is still in need of work.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Spiderman Homecoming is certainly one of the better installments of the modern Spiderman age.  It certainly is one of the more enjoyable comedies I’ve seen in a while, and takes some of the darker edge that has been building over the last few installments.  A great use of cast, good writing, and many other fun gimmicks works on so many levels and will entertain many.  Yet it isn’t the most exciting film of this universe, nor did it need to be over 2 hours long. Still, it’s a great addition to the library and one I look forward to seeing continued and integrated into the rest of the films.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Oh yeah (as if I can stop you), it is worth it.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.5

 

Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Mehlien: The Tactics/Production Are Not Out Of This World

alien covenant

 

Alien… a franchise that has continued to take many forms over the last four decades. While some of its evolutions have been weaker and worthy of forgetting, there have been some forms that will forever hold throne in the realm of good science fiction horror.  Tonight, Alien Covenant launches in US theaters, unfortunately to a mixture of reviews slamming it enough to call it worse than its predecessor Prometheus. So, alongside my friend Jeff, we hit the theaters to see what it’s got after all the buildup and hype.  Robbie K back and as always, I’m here to share my thoughts.

 

LIKES:

  • Back to Alien tactics
  • Danny McBride isn’t a stoner
  • Science Fiction Elements
  • Loose ends somewhat tied up

 

Summary:  Low and behold, Covenant finally returns back to the elements we fell in love with years ago.  Nostalgia runs wild in this movie as Daniels and her colleagues work to survive the nightmare that dwells in this movie.  Narrow Hallways filled to the brim with shadows as the “perfect” organism seeks out its prey, amidst shrieks, acid blood, and that infamous lethal tongue? The gimmicks are all there, alongside the science fiction element this series is famous for.  Biology is certainly one of the topics they focused on this one, in hopes of adding some plausibility and “realism” to the series.  My buddy and I both agreed that this component did some nice damage control and added a unique twist to the mix.

A particular like for me was finally seeing McBride in a new role.  If you’re a fan of classic McBride acting like an idiot constantly on drugs and spouting nonsense, you won’t see that side of him in this film.  For me this is refreshing, and McBride finally crafted a character I didn’t want to punch in the face, but instead relished as he took a major role in the story. While I certainly would have liked a little more him in the film (not something I say often), McBride works on so many levels for me in this film.

Finally, the story element of the movie.  When last, we left the series, Prometheus left so many freaking questions and confusion that we needed another movie to explain the movie.  Good news, Covenant comes in to tie up those loose ends, helping bridge the gap between the new and old and answer some questions we have asked for a while.  In doing so it adds an…interesting element to the mix and doesn’t raise as many questions as Prometheus did…. Thank the lord for that.

DISLIKES:

  • Weak opening
  • Most characters practically worthless
  • Weird gimmicks
  • Overzealous gore
  • Inconsistent story line

Summary: Reading some of my fellow reviewers’ writings I have to agree with many of the dislikes in this movie.  Much has to do with the story, and it starts with the weak, almost pointless opening that causes all the trouble. It’s lazy writing, with a random element thrown in to get things going that barely makes sense other than some special effect firework display. Throw in the pointless cameo (again) and you are left with a bitter taste from the start.

Unfortunately, that’s only the start, for Alien Covenant continues to take hits in the plot development, primarily in the character story aspect. Much of the cast is pretty much pointless outside of being fodder for the aliens, with few having any backstory or an understandable name.  We get it, Aliens is all about nameless characters facing the elements, but the first two installments were successful in integrating some of them into plot and bestow significance. In addition, someone wasn’t paying attention to their details, because Alien Covenant offset some of the details Prometheus set.  While it may not be a big deal to the layman, most fans of the series though are going to notice…yeah, we nerds can be a pain in the butt. Still, I didn’t like some of these lack of attention to detail and will most likely do everything in my power to theorize a story to cover this gap.

Nope… instead this movie wanted to try out some new gimmicks in multiple departments including weird kissing scenes, that notorious black crud, obsessions with “love”, and of course new types of creatures.  I’ll give them points for some originality, but the gimmicks were a little off the wall even for me (who is pretty dang weird).  Even worse, the gimmicks are kind of unnecessary or neatly explained in a single sentence. Instead the new gimmicks, as well as much of the movie was all about the gore.  Alien Covenant keeps to the displays of blood, going strong for the insanely detailed displays of blood (both CGI and real) and people getting torn to bits, by a less impressive looking Xenomorph.

 

The VERDICT

            Aline Covenant is pretty much what you expect from the series since Alien 3 emerged out into the theaters.  It is all about the gore filled hunt, mediocre story, all wrapped in a science fiction exterior.  A plus side is again the Alien tactics and tying up loose ends, but unfortunately it still lacks a lot of story, relevant gimmicks, and balance the first two movies had. Perhaps, should a next one be made, they will tie up more loose ends and obtain a little more storytelling.  In addition, the insane obsession with death and gore might be diluted as well, though I highly doubt this given modern audiences obsession with killing.  Worth a trip to the theater?  For the fans of the series, yes, otherwise hold out until RedBox for this one folk.

 

My scores are:  

Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5