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

Volume Two Are The Guardians to Comedy

guaridans

 

It’s the first weekend of May and you know what that means?  No not love is in the air!  It means Marvel studios is kicking off the summer movie brigade with another one of their “super” superhero movies.  In this case, the mercenary team takes to the stars again in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 starring Chris Pratt and a bevel of other characters to lead the charge. Will this intergalactic spoof take us to intergalactic heights, or has it burnt out like a white dwarf?  Robbie K is back with another review, and as always, I appreciate the views.  Let’s get started shall we.

 

LIKES:

 

  • Visual Style
  • Edgier
  • More Action Than the First
  • Comedy Gold
  • Another golden soundtrack

 

Summary: When guardians comes to mind you probably think of a lot of… weird things.  However, if you get past the trippiness of the idea, you’ll see some impressive visuals to get your adventure going.  Marvel studios once ore shows of their special effects prowess, bringing you a display of interstellar stars, explosive laser fights, and unique planets with odd environments. Guardians 2 will have your eyes watering at all the explosions of color and the beautiful actors that inhabit the artificially created setting.  And no lie, it certainly warrants a look in 3-D given everything they stuffed into the film.

Yet with the impressive displays comes the ability to add edge to the movie, and volume 2 brings it in spades. While certainly lighthearted at times, the second addition to the franchise is much darker than its predecessor.  Graphic deaths, hate filled dialogue, graphic violence, and some disturbing visuals are just some examples of this edge, and warrant caution when bringing the kiddos to see it.  Good news though, this edge also dropped a barrier holding back the action, because Volume 2 is loaded with more battles than its predecessor.  Much like Star Wars, the ship and laser battles are loud, flashy, and suspenseful (at times), feeling like a haphazard mess that is perfect for this galaxy. It is not the most spectacular, but it gets the job done and brings loads of laughs with it.

Speaking of laughs, Guardians biggest selling point is the comedic gold buried in the star filled void. The film got a lot of things right, including dynamic comedy styles, such as innuendos, insults, and clever references, each balanced to keep the chuckles coming. And it was only amplified by the fantastic timing and delivery by our talented cast of actors.  Of all the cast, I think Rocket and Drax are the funniest, with Drax’s lines being the best timed and delivered, while Rocket had the edge and best writing. Bottom line is, I have not laughed this hard at the movies in the long time and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  One last thing, the soundtrack is on point again filled with a variety of classics to make your toes tap or get that last emotion out.  In addition, they use some of the songs as a fantastic comedy device, once more illustrating the creativeness at Marvel studios.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Action is not dynamic
  • Drawn out/Cheesy moments
  • Semi Lame villain again
  • The story elements not as tight

 

Summary:  This section was hard to come up with, but here were a few things on the weaker side for me. It starts with the action. I know, Guardians is a comedy movie, but it still portrayed with heavy action moments.  To some degree this is true, but the action is not as dynamic as some of Marvel’s other films.  Much of it is simplistic shooting and monotonous ship battles that slightly differ with a setting change or a different ending to the conflict. When they try to add a little diversity, these moments become drawn out, overdramatic moments that feel like something from the third matrix movie without the intense suspense. They do get points back for some clever spoofs and supporting dialog, but Guardians has a lot of work to do in the action department to rival some of the greater films.

One thing that could help this is to actually cast or develop their main villains to have some more bite to them. In this film, I had difficulty determining who was going to be the primary villain, which made a lot of those drawn-out moments and “suspenseful” battles lacking to me.  Why they keep trying to make these grandiose blowhards whose skills are pathetic is beyond me, but hey grandiosity is the Guardians attaché. Something else that was hard to get on board with the looser story design of this film. It wasn’t linear, and much of the arcs didn’t seem to tie together as I think they envisioned, that is until the end where things hastily tied up. And for me, there was lots of obvious foreshadowing that gave much of this movie away, and if you pay attention you can have everything predicted in 15-30 minutes.  In addition, the Nebula arc had some guts behind it, but still didn’t sit well with me given all the stories crammed into one movie and how incomplete they felt at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The epic trailers did the movie justice, for the most part, and Guardians 2 has plenty of awesome factors that will entertain the masses.  It’s special effects and action are exciting, and the edgier atmosphere opens up for darker plots and comedy that many will like (alongside the killer soundtrack). Yet the story isn’t as put together and some of the drawn-out moments could have been edited down to restore the balance they were seeking. Nevertheless, and as if I could stop you, this movie is one for the theaters, though I warrant caution to those looking to take young ones due to the edge of the film. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

It’s The Circle of Dull! Yet Politically Smashing

The circle

 

Robbie K back, after being off the grid for a week.  Tonight’s review is on the latest “dystopian” feature film called The Circle.  Former Hermione Granger, and more recently Belle, Emma Watson leads the film as she attempts to take us into the workings of a technological conglomerate who has knowledge as its key principle.  Yet the trailers paint a much darker secret hidden in its stony walls, one that promises to be a real nail biter.  Will this movie deliver those thrills, or are we stuck with another wash out?  I’ll do my best to answer that question, so sit back, and please read my latest thoughts.

 

LIKES:

 

  • Nice tool development
  • Emma Watson
  • Culturally Relevant Film
  • Solid Moral Lesson

 

Summary:  We all know technology is becoming the heart of the world, if not already the heart of this country.  And certainly, we all know that these technological marvels often require laborious development and maintenance to get the bugs out.  The Circle portrays this very well, helping to develop the very tool that we all love.  Throughout the journey, you’ll get to see the development of the two-faced beast that is technology, and how it requires tweaking to get just “right”.  Not the highest selling point for a movie, but pretty cool.

 

Of course, we all know many are going to go for the lovely Ms. Watson, to support the super actress they adore.  Good news, Watson does a solid job holding up most of the movie, as she is primary the only main character of the film. Watson brings her charm to the screen once more, portraying intelligence, fortitude and inspiration in a manner that many will latch on to. Her accent is pretty sound (though it fluctuates at times), but she manages to deliver her lines with a decent balance of emotion, to sell her points… most of the time.

 

Yet the biggest strength of these movies is how culturally relevant it is to the audience.  If you didn’t gleam it from the trailers, The Circle is essentially a modernized version of the novel 1984 that once more addresses the issues of control, life sharing, and privacy.  The film is certainly very political, but has a number of powerful lessons to teach about the place of technology and how easily it can be twisted. I myself liked the comments from Emma’s followers, a fantastic representation of the shallow, superficial, and often selfish focus that the internet provides.  The scenes are well developed to deliver the full emotional punch, which while not the most unique, can really shock you to the core at how true it can be.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Cheesy acting at times
  • Other actors diluted
  • Missed character development
  • Ignorant/Idiotic moments
  • Lack of Suspense

 

Summary:  Despite Watson’s strong performance, she is involved in some overly cheesy moments. On many of the emotionally heated moments, she loses her balance and stretches into the overdramatic region, losing her accent and dialogue forte in the process. But even her worst acting doesn’t hold a candle to some of the supporting characters who give either emotionally dull deliveries or lackluster performances.  These moments are noticeable enough to offset the momentum of the movie, and derailing it from the quality the trailers promised.

 

An even worse quality for me was how the other actors of the star-studded cast were reduced to simplistic roles.  Legends like Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt and even the late Bill Paxton are reduced to very linear roles, with little character development or expansion beyond what you’ve seen in the trailer.  With such a strong cast, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the missed potential of this movie and how much this all-star cast could have done to amp up the quality of this movie.

 

Even worse, some of the characters, primarily Emma Watson’s character, become so blindly ignorant that the intelligence they worked so hard building is diluted to an idiotic level.  As a result, I found myself starting to loathe the character and how 180 they took the character. Yes, I understand the premise behind the movie, but it didn’t work for me. Other characters also fell into this mix as well, each built to have this incredible skill that was either not used or rapidly reversed to make the characters seem weak.

 

Yet the most disappointing aspect of this movie…is the lack of suspense. The trailer made this film out to be a mystery meeting dystopian policing. Not the case at all. The Circle has no mystery, laying all the facts on the table and leaving little to be uncovered.  You would think there would be intense moments of espionage, or policing by superiors to build up excitement, right? Sorry, this film doesn’t have that either, with the “exciting climax” not showing up until the last twenty minutes of the movie.  As such, the movie is pretty dull and lacks the entertainment quality you might have been seeking.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Circle is indeed a “scary” film, but it’s mainly due to the reality check provides concerning the dangers technology can provide.  This strong message is certainly the strongest aspect of the movie and Emma Watson was a fantastic choice to deliver it.  Unfortunately, the weak characters, diluted roles, and lack of suspense took away from the entertainment quality of the movie.  Such a dull delivery, leaves me recommending this one for renting at home, or at least recommending you read the book (or books) it is based on.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Sci-Fi Thinker, Action Stinker

ghost in shell

 

Robbie K here, back with another review. This time we review the latest comic book inspired film ghost in a shell starring leading lady Scarlett Johansson as an “epic” cybernetic cop trying to stop terrorism.  With a large cult following, this movie certainly has a lot to live up to in terms of quality, and if you’re not familiar with the series than you are probably hoping action.  What is the verdict?  Please read on to hear my thoughts on the latest film.

 

LIKES:

  • Decent Sci-Fi Plot
  • Cool visuals
  • Nice character design
  • Okay acting

 

Summary:  I’ll lay it out now, I haven’t read nor seen any ghost in the shell media, so I can’t justify how it matches.  However, from a movie perspective, this film has a decent Sci-Fi plot that fits into the genre where anything can happen.  A dark plot about cybernetics, Ghost in The Shell again diverts from the fantasy train, and takes a more realistic (albeit theatrical) turn into science territory of humans becoming robots.  The more realistic plot is not much of a stretch and provides an ample medium to create awesome visuals to sell that realism.

And that, my friends, is the best part of this movie.  Ghost in the Shell’s visuals are impressive, overlaying futuristic advertising onto a real life setting that doesn’t look cheesy.  In all honesty, it is like taking a look at what Japan can look like in the future and how our desire to “progress” can ruin it.  Outside the city look, the characters themselves look like something out of a comic, each with a flare that scream Japanese animation.  While some looks are certainly worth a chuckle, a few characters like Major (Johansson) and Kuze (Michael Pitt) are well developed, looking sleek, deadly, or horrifying and standing out in terms of the realistic design you are seeking.

But while visuals are impressive, you also hope the actors can bring their characters to life in a way that will meet expectations.  Happy to say, the cast did a decent job in their goal, though again I’m uncertain how the characters are supposed to act having not read the comic.  If Major is supposed to be very monotone and hardly reactive, Johansson nails that approach, hardly diluting from the calm, stoic battle mode of the robotic assassin.  Pitt having to act like a tortured (albeit enlightened) terrorist wins points for gruesome tactics, prolonged speeches, and many other things that a cyberterrorist is expected to have.  The rest of the cast is decent, but we have limited space and more to cover, so let’s wrap and say the rest aren’t bad given their little screen time.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Little involvement with other characters
  • Plot is very predictable and dragged out
  • Action is sub-par most of the time

 

Summary:  My dislikes start with the lack of involvement in other characters.  Johansson carries most of the film as major, taking much of the screen time and stunts this movie requires.  Her team “helps” out at certain points, and her director certainly gets some good jabs in, but overall the other characters are almost pointless.  For being an elite team, Section 9’s agents did little to impress me and that team approach could have amped up the movie. This is especially true given how lackluster the plot was.  While realistic, Ghost In A Shell has little in terms of uniqueness to justify the nearly two hour run time.  Even if you haven’t read the books, the ending can be seen from a mile away and the delivery wasn’t spectacular enough to wait for (at least for me).  The dramatic flare and character development are certainly nice, don’t get me wrong on that, but the “exciting” climax I was waiting for just wasn’t there.

This brings me to the action component.  Ghost In the Shell was promoted as action packed and exciting, but for me it was mediocre at best.  A nice Matrix style opening shows promise for the movie, but it doesn’t take long for the stunts to be diluted to quick, unimpressive bouts that last mere minutes (if not seconds).  There is little challenge to the fights, and little technology used, which is disappointing given the movie is all about technology.  And after all the waiting you would think an epic fight at the end, but no, it’s just Johansson running from CGI bullets until a very dramatic finish occurs. This boring display of technology just made the nearly 2 hour run time seem worthless, given the promise the trailers made.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ghost In The Shell is a visual display that certainly representative of its comic book origins. Unfortunately, outside of these impressive visual displays, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to what I expected from the trailers. The story is mediocre and the execution is flawed, to promote a boring mess with only character development as its redeeming grace.  Despite the impressive design of the movie, this reviewer does not recommend this one for the theater, unless you go in with low expectations. Instead hold out for home rental and instead read the comic book it is based on. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Life, or Did They Mean Death?

Life

 

What is life?  That is a question that so many researchers have tried to answer over the centuries.  And what better way to try and answer that question than with a Hollywood movie production starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal.  My last review this weekend is on the movie called Life, a science fiction/horror film hoping to provide the scares of the March season. But will contact with this film give you the chills, or send you running to the ills…with disappointment. Robbie K here with another review. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • True Science Fiction
  • Evolution of the creature
  • Creepy and horrifying
  • Good characters

 

Summary:  We know most science fiction movies fall short of the genre, focusing more on the fantasy element and special effects (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.)  Life though hits the genre right on the mark, dropping us amidst an international space station where research about Mars is underway.  As the chaos unfolds, the crew has to use their training, knowledge, and science (and not gigantic guns) to try to outwit the beast before it gets them.

And speaking of the creature, “Calvin” as it is called has an interesting design at the start looking like a fungus.  Yet the spores quickly evolve into a deflated looking star fish, and from there began to evolved into a truly destructive creature.  Calvin’s metamorphosis is perhaps the creepiest aspect of this film, as his search for the crucial ingredients (food, water, and oxygen) drives it to savagery (it will make you look at star fish in a whole new way).

Outside of that though, some other factors that brought the thrills and chills start with the realistic setting.  There rendition of the international space station looks pretty close to our own world’s, minimizing the fantasy component to keep one ground in the horror the team tries to present, establishing a feeling that this could happen.  To go alongside this, the other factor is how alone one feels on the station. Much like the first Alien movie (to which this pays homage to), you feel the isolation of the station as if you are the prey Calvin seeks.  This added edge truly brings the horror aspect full circle

Finally, the characters also help amplify the horror component of this film.  It is nice to see the human cast not be a bunch of idiotic, shallow teens for once, but instead educated scientists fighting for survival (while also not being the single-minded buffoons that often take these roles). The cast was dynamic, each specialized but capable of covering their team members should something happen.  Such development led to characters you actually rooted for, instead of against them as we often see in horror films.  And the actors all played their roles fantastically, from Ryan Reynolds sarcasm, to Jake Gyllenhaal’s scary accuracy in someone with social anxiety.

DISLIKES:

  • Unneeded dramatic opening
  • More evolution of the creature
  • Predictable ending (though nice twist)
  • Savagery of kills

 

Summary:  A minor dislike I know, but Life’s dramatic capturing of the capsule in the first twelve minutes was really unnecessary.  All I gleamed from this opening was technical displays and a little excitement to get the mood going.  There are probably a few other scenes that could have been left out as well, but these were minor compared to the big stink they made with this opening sequence.

Unnecessary scenes aside, the other thing I would have liked was more development into the creatureDon’t get me wrong, the final form was creepy, but after all the changes happening in the beginning (which were a stretch mind you), the team suddenly brought it to a halt.  Yes, they tried to explain it via “science”, but this abrupt halt just broke pace/balance the movie was establishing, which felt a little off for me, right down to the end.

Speaking of ending, Life’s trailers hint at what the conclusion is, and based on my observations I had a good idea where it would go.  I wanted things to be different, but sadly the ending can be predicted within 30 minutes of the show time (assuming again you haven’t watched the trailers).  Albeit there was a nice twist to try and throw you off, Life’s directors didn’t go the full distance to prove my observations wrong.

Yet the biggest beef I have with this movie is the dark, disturbing, savageness the directors instilled. If you’re a fan of watching gore filled deaths, suffering, and depressing looks this movie will send “out of orbit”.  For me though, these moments only take away from a movie if done too much or in the wrong manner.  My biggest strike comes from the graphic death of a lab mouse (which broke my heart as most animal cruelty does).  That’s only the start of Life’s grotesque hunt as Calvin finds disturbing ways to attack the band of researchers in immense detail. Why the directors felt the need to focus on such disturbances…I don’t know, but in this case less would have been more, as the first Alien flick did long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Life is one of the better science fiction, horror films I’ve seen in years.  It drops the grandiose serial killers and idiotic victims, and upgrades to an adapting monster hunting intelligent people. This realism crafts a more suspenseful tale that kept me engaged, while crafting that horrifying atmosphere I love.  While most of my dislikes are small, the mutilation involved, alongside some scientific imbalances, really didn’t impress me in this movie and the predictable ending didn’t necessary wow me as well.  Is this worth a trip to theater?  If you are looking for a good horror film, then by all means hit the theater for it.  As for weak constitutions, skip this one and save some time.

 

My scores:

Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

“Go-Go” Power Rangers! You Special Effect, Dramatic, Power Rangers

Power Rangers

 

In the 90’s Saban unleashed onto our homes five teenage heroes dress in multicolored, state of the art underwear.  What followed was legacy of aspiring actors fighting men in ashen grey costumes, before turning their attention to unique costumed antagonists that tried to stop their quest. And to this day Power Rangers continues to be a hit amidst the adolescent world as Nickelodeon continues to inspire them to fight as the rainbow warriors.  So of course, we needed a movie to really seal the deal, based on the original series that started it all.  Robbie K here to cover another movie.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Nostalgia
  • Comedic
  • Decent Character Depth
  • Special Effects
  • Action

 

Summary: If you were a fan of the series like I was, then you will certainly be looking for that nostalgic adventure you had as a kid.  Well the movie is able to bring some of that back as traditional characters (in new, hot, youthful skins) return to fight the forces of evil. But past the new cast, you’ll be go go going crazy for all the throwbacks including: Zords, monsters, Rita’s dramatic speeches, cameos, and of course the suits.  It’s fun to relive those childhood moments, making one laugh at all the memories that come rushing back in this new adventure.

But if nostalgia won’t make you smile, then certainly the comedy of the movie will be an entertaining factor.  Power Rangers surprisingly is funny (and not in the cheesy way the classic series was).  Each of the teens has their moments where they put their foot in their mouth or get a taste of humility as they eat pavement.  But it is Billy who steals the show, as the autistic youth delivers well-timed comedy that grounds all the drama brought by this new generation of rangersYes, you heard me drama, this origin movie has far more drama than the series had back then and with it some surprising character depth.  Where the 90’s was cutesy love and bullying, this movie goes deeper down the teenage angst path.  It works at times and helps expand on what once was limited roles.

As for the action, Power Rangers is also decent in this category as wellThis film has some fast-paced karate chopping action, that quickly melds into robot on monster smashing.  The special effects are semi impressive, not so much in terms of realism, but capturing the spunk of Power Rangers.  The Zords in particular are much smoother, and the modern twist on their design matches the edgier theme of the movie.  And of course, there are lots of thrilling explosions and sound effects to bring it all to the front.  While not as cheesy as Saban’s classic fights, the battles in this film still have that energy we all fell in love with.

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Drama/Issues
  • Darker Theme Feels Out of Place
  • Rita Repulsa direction/Goldar
  • Missing some weapons
  • More Action

 

Summary:  Despite the deeper lore of the series, the teenage issues were also a little eye rolling as well.  I know not to expect a masterpiece, but this Power Ranger plot felt like an after school special meeting a special effects show.  I’m sure this will speak to many of the modern generation, but these issues just felt out of place compared to those in the 90s.  Plus, the rebellious, delinquent protagonists aren’t necessarily the ideal role models for the younger generations. Perhaps it was also the darker atmosphere that also detracted it from me.  Despite added suspense and danger, the darker moments made the movie less fun for me at times. And to be honest, some of the darker moments were a bit disturbing at times, so please exercise caution if your kids are easily scared.

Speaking of scary, the new direction they took with Rita Repulsa was not the most comforting thing to see.  This portrayal was much more nightmarish, replacing Rita’s grandiosity with pure insanity and lust as she feasted on “gold” from every source.  While the edginess wins points for danger, the creepy (somewhat adulterated) portrayal of Rita did not impress me, nor did the overacting (again dramatic) walks/speeches she made through the movie. In addition, I wasn’t a fan of the new Goldar, wondering why they replaced the cheesy (yet creative) chimera design for a CGi…golden…Velveeta monster?  Yes, the monsters certainly lacked that design we all loved, for again darker, edgier forms.

In regards to the action, well as always, I wanted more.  Power Rangers runs just a little over two hours, but only about twenty minutes of that is actually action.  It would have been nice to have a little more investment in the combat scenes to really deliver the promised punch the first 90 minutes promised.  For one thing, it would have been nice for all the weapons, not just a random appearing sword, to make an appearance as they fought for the sake of the world.  That minor detail aside, the kung Fu scenes could have been longer, and the Zords could have had a little more coordination than just one or two taking a punch.  In addition, the edgier Rita needed some more time to show off her skills (other than speeches and walking through CGI streets).

 

 

The Verdict:

 

Power Rangers is certainly a fun stroll down memory lane, filled with plenty of nostalgic references to make you feel sort of like a kid again.  With a new edge comes character development and special effects that for the most part work.  Yet, there are still some balance issues that need work, including stepping back from the darkness and increase the emphasis on action (and story).  Still not a bad origins story.  Worth a trip to the theater?  For the special effects and adventure, definitely, but there are other movies better worth the price of admission. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0