A Wrinkle In Story Telling, But A Time In Visuals



Another weekend, another literary classic to be remade by the lovely folks in La La Land.  The movie world continues to scrape deep for the next big fad, Disney brings A Wrinkle in Time to life, ready to unleash magic into the world.  With super star Oprah Winfrey backing the project and a number of stars to further support the film, and potentially bring in the big bucks.  Does it succeed, or should you just read the book?  Robbie K here to provide some insight into the movies ad guide your experience.  Let’s get started!



The Acting:  With a star-studded cast, one hopes for brilliant performances and Wrinkle in Time has some impressive displays of the theater arts.  Storm Reid’s career has started off well in this movie, a nice blend of passion fighting pessimism in a manner that feels very much like the whiney preteen age. Her fellow child actors are impressive, but the adult casts’ experience manages to shine forth.  Oprah’s words re limited, but her regality comes across well in her performance. Mindy Kaling’s lines are a little more dynamic, again executed to be entertaining, and while wise, not the most engaging of characters.  It’s actually Reese Witherspoon who was my favorite, bringing the most spunk, comedy, and character to the movie. Her chemistry with the cast was fantastic and her abilities certainly charmed much of the movie.


The Morals:  Like the book, the movie has a fantastic repertoire of lessons to teach the young audience members targeted by the film.  A Wrinkle in Time greatly praises the concept of hope, imbedding the driving, divine light of inspiring others to better themselves and motivate them to fight.  It’s focus on utilizing the positive to combat the negative emotions is something this world could easily learn from, and even more so in the ability to accept one’s faults and praise one’s strengths.  While a bit preachy in the dialog, the movie has those emotional moments to absolutely sell those life lessons and perhaps promote the next great person for them to endorse.  Still, use this movie as a means to educate those in the way of values of self-worth.


The Visuals:  What can I say, the best part of this movie is the fantastic world building is the world building this movie brought to the silver screen.  A Wrinkle in Time’s selling point is how beautiful the art department made all their characters and settings.  While the realistic Earth scenes are a cavalcade of traditional settings, the real majesty comes when our heroes begin to bend reality.  First the costumes of the misses are incredible, as their personalities erupt to life on each planet they visit.  Makeup and costume blend together perfectly, truly bringing out the beauty of each entity and reflecting their personal view of each world.  And once the costumes are recognized, the creation of the dimensional galaxy gets even better.  My favorite planet is the Flower planet (as advertised on the trailers) as it blended all the color and visual stunning goodness into one area. However, there are plenty of other things hidden in behind the trailers to be impressed with.




The Story:  It starts off so strong, but soon the plot takes a major hit in quality because of how rushed it feels.  Once the traveling begins, the movie’s plot hits a major break and takes a mighty plunged into rushed territory.  Character development, major plot hits, even the mighty antagonist were all kind of bland in this movie, never reaching the full steam past girl power junction.  Why such a literature classic could not build up steam I don’t know, but sadly this movie didn’t quite have all it took to be exciting.


A bit annoying:  The movie has plenty of cute, kid friendly gimmicks, but my word does it crush over into some rather annoying things.  The most annoying for me was how often they repeat the name Charles Wallace, a not only obnoxious name, but an obnoxious calling that was used every five seconds.  As picky as this sounds, I quickly got annoyed at how lackluster the name was and how it was used unnecessarily in every context.  Better luck next time in dialog adaptation guys, perhaps next time you’ll learn how to substitute a name with better descriptions.


The Simplistic Journey:  You might be thinking Disney would pour their hearts into making an interdimensional journey with some style, class and flare their studios can brings.  Sadly, the movie itself still seems to fail in this department for me.  Three worlds make up the entire leg of the journey and while they each have some magic of their own it didn’t feel like quite a detective journey.  So many worlds were reduced to a blurry montage that lasted less than a minute depriving me of a scavenger hunt in order to fit into the two-hour runtime package. With their studio they could have much better on this aspect to extend the mystery, perhaps adding their own leeway and integration of cosmic powers to uncover the clues to finding dear old dad.  Nope, again the movie is just a sad, sad display of tempting visuals and rushed plot.


The Anticlimactic End:  Again, there is buildup up to how deadly the darkness is and how it will be hunting for our heroes at every turn.  So maybe you might hope that the big, bad, black void had some actual tricks up its sleeve to hinder the young warriors’ journey.  Again, the movie has little exciting climax to act as an impasse, a few emotional shadows and musical sores to try to illicit a response.  However, there is little threat behind the darkness void, which symbolic as it can be is a boring end to what was supposed to be a crossing of the universe.  Sorry, but I expect my shadows to have a little more bite and might when they threaten to plague the universe.  The result is a cute, but rather dull finale to one of the most epic tales of the literature adapted world.




Wrinkle in Time feels like a child’s version of Annihilation, but without the unique and twists the genre could really have used.  It certainly isn’t awful as some may say, with good acting and world building to bring forth an emotional telling of valuable ethics and morals.  Yet, the movie does not meet the expectations placed by the book, for the story has been watered down into a hokey, gimmick filled manhunt that failed to reach its full potential.  Perhaps the director’s cut will go into more details with the abandoned worlds, but I doubt extra time will be able to bring the full might this movie needed to match the literary work.  Not the worst movie to grace the theater, but outside of visuals and some acting, I think this one can be held until home viewing.


My scores are:


Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  5.5


Commute To The Theaters If You Want Mystery and Drama



Liam Neeson, a legend among the action/dram genre ever since Taken premiered years ago.  Despite his best attempts, Neeson cannot seem to escape his typical role, and you know what… fans don’t really seem to care.  Fortunately, there has been some time lapse since his last escapade, but this weekend he is back in yet another intense movie called The Commuter.  Looking to reprise his role once more, can this film triumph, or will it be just another copycat to be lost to the weekend.  Robbie K is back with another review and also always thank you for reading.  Let’s go!




Mystery:  A good mystery always suckers me into a movie and the Commuter has a hum dinger of one to solve.  Upon entering the train and meeting Vera Farmiga, Neeson’s character is dropped into the mystery with clues abound to choose from.  One will have to pay strong attention to the details and dialogue to figure out all the answers, especially with many curve balls thrown in to try and lead you astray.  That grand question of who done it, is the focal point of this entire movie, and the key factor to keeping you hooked in the movie.


The Suspense:  Of course a mystery can only go so far to keeping your interest.  The Commuter has your back again on this, by keeping suspense intertwined with the mystery. Primarily through the pace, the Commuter moves at a fast pace to get you to the answers, taking only a few pit stops along the way to introduce a new dynamic into the mix.  For once, I can’t say there were any major scenes not needed, and with this storytelling, the intensity only deepened.  Then come the actual threats and obstacles that further enrich the story, providing a little more depth to the usual plot that builds the intensity of the case, and keeping things relevant to the story.  Add the finishing touches of dynamic cinematography with major sound editing and you’ve got yourself the successful recipe of another drama.


The Climax:  With all the epic build up promised in this movie, one only hopes the climax is able to meet the demands of the film.  Fortunately, this film did not fail to please me with the ending at hand.  Keeping with the energy of the film, the finale amped up the intensity with action, emotion, and a few twists to finally answer all the questions at hand.  While there was a little convenient moment, the ending manages to bring everything together and leave you feeling fulfilled with true closure and what we can hope leaves no grounds for a sequel.




The Opening:  While the Commuter gets to the suspense quickly, I can’t say I enjoyed the rushed opening the film started with.  A rushed montage that gave you brief glimpses into the life of Neeson’s character clearly spell his life out, perhaps going a little too detailed in all aspects of his life. Ironically this approach left me a little bored and cheated of meaningful relationships with his family, you know the motivation for solving the crime, leaving me feeling he was the only one invested in the relationship.  They even failed to show his family being kidnapped, and depriving of us the full emotional scale that we got with Taken.  I do appreciate trying to get to the goods as soon as possible, but one must make sure to give that character some depth before testing them.


Trailer Syndrome:  Sadly, The Commuter suffers from the trailers giving a majority of the story away.  While not all secrets are revealed, enough twists are shown in the brief 3 minute promotions to help you piece the movie together before it’s even started.  As if that weren’t bad enough, one also can see those obstacles coming a mile away, making the movie become a bit more predictable and less intense.  As it is the suspense and mystery that are key to getting the most out of this movie.  If you avoid the trailers or are able to drop it out of their minds, no worries, but if you remember these like I do…get ready to be very familiar with these scenes.


Semi-Rushed suspects:  In movies like clue, and the original murder on the orient express, one become quite engaged in the stories of the those under suspect.  However, The Commuter’s cast are only semi-expanded upon in this movie and often in misbalanced proportions.  Based on how often a character is used can certainly give you hints to their involvement, but these secondary characters are not well-integrated into the movie at times outside of some comedic relief.  Sure, you get enough of their story to piece their struggles, but there was much more to be had.




The Commuter is a movie that I quite enjoyed, and is a welcome opening to what will most likely be more Neeson led dramas in the future.  A strong mystery ties the action, suspense, and drama into a neat little package that builds up in intensity until the exciting climax emerges to wrap things up.  Sadly, there are some editing tactics and semi-rushed development choices that take away from the character Neeson plays.  Why they won’t expand on his character and give him more depth I can’t answer, but it would have been a plus if they had given him a little more to work with so he wouldn’t be just another Taken knock off.  Still, so long as you avoid the trailers, this movie is worth a trip to the local theater to entertain and tease your brain. 


My scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Extra, Extra, See All About It!



Hollywood, the new political battleground that continues to take public issues and launch a campaign for their favorite charity.  Assuming you weren’t under a rock over the last few years, you know things have heated up in glamour land, igniting another battle between the government and fine dressed actors/actresses.  One bullet to be fired this weekend is the Post, a tale describing the newspaper’s attempt to fight censorship by the government. With legendary actress Meryl Streep and actor Tom Hanks leading the way under Steven Spielberg’s direction there is much promise held in this film.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K here to share some opinions and guide your movie going expertise.  Let’s go!




Realistic: You want a movie that feels like a capture of real life?  Look no further, because the Post has many components to please the realism fans that flood the theaters these days.  The magical finesse is more of a glaze in this film: a small sound editing here, some dramatic music there, all to help maximize the emotion of the scene. Outside of that though, The Post is more of a recreation of the events of that time period and the life of the press in their pursuit of the truth.  Therefore, you history buffs are really going to fall for this film.


Acting:  The highest component of this film is the acting, which is to be expected given the headliners of the film.  Streep continues shine, her talents and skills coming to full front as she plays Kay Graham.  A recent widower, concerned mother, and recent business owner who not only had to balance all these roles, but face the challenges set before by the government.  Streep manages to dive into each of these positions and really portray the struggles Graham felt.  No overacting here, Streep continues to show why she is a champion at the Academy Awards and her ability to blend acting with realism with no divisible lines.

Hanks as her opposite is yet another great move, diving into the stubborn, career driven paper chief of Ben Bradlee.  Where Streep’s character is all about trying to stand up for her paper without compromising her morals, Hank is all about the rough-edged road of getting the story, sometimes ignoring the other things around him to get it.  This performance is powerful again, delivering the lines with that drive and passionate spectrum Hanks is famous for.  Together these two make the world come to life, both able to hold their own, but truly greatest when together on the battlefield of morale grounds. 


The Writing: The Post has great writing, no surprise given Spielberg’s ability to make history come to life.  Gone are cheesy one-liners and over the top monologues, and in their place a script that is loaded with a natural dialogue exchange, clever wit, and realistic reactions to these problems.  Strong writing like this makes for a smooth ride for the actors bringing the words to life and developing their characters with little to no fear.




The Pace:  A movie like this has to deliver the morals in a manner that is both motivational and entertaining.  It accomplished the motivational component, but sadly lost on the entertainment component for me.  Part of this was due to the pace. The opening scenes tickled my fancy, but that intrigue was lost to a very monotonous speed of slow as dirt.  While the freedom of the press issue is the main topic of discussion, all the other life components were included in great details, which led to tangents not necessarily needed and longer run times.  Seeing the persona life was important, but not worth the dragging velocity this movie hit at various points of the movie, especially at later showings.  Even worse, these tangents led to a delay in getting to the heart of the issue, which is what this movie is all about.


The Climax:  While I appreciate the lack of movie magic, this movie needed a little enchantment to pump the tension up and make those lessons come alive even more.  The Post does a nice job of setting up the problem and explaining the information at hand. Yet the buildup would hopefully lead to an emotion/tension packed debate between the two parties to really get the crowd fired up.  Not the case in this film my friends, as much of this part is reduced to a short montage of brilliant sets and well adorned extras.  Spielberg could have had another gold mine of approval by the critics if he had added that little extra oomph to give our characters the satisfying dramatic action they deserved.  I won’t tell you how it goes, but I can say the suspension was practically extinct at the end for this reviewer.





            The Post is an important movie for many, primarily those who pursue the truth and are hindered by the oppressiveness of power.  Spielberg certainly crafted a winner in regards to realism, writing, and direction in guiding the actors.  With Streep and Hanks really bringing the players to life, this movie is a total Oscar nomination eater in regards to the artistic component.  However, the pace really suffers from the realism and dilutes the climax into an under impressive finale that does not scream of Spielberg’s prime work.  This glorified documentary would have held better premise on Netflix, because this movie was overhyped for me, with the acting being the exception to the rule.  So, save your cash and wait for a RedBox rent in my honest opinion. 


Biography/Drama/History:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Royal Flush In Acting, Writing and Fashion. Be Game For This Smart Film

Molly's game

            Celebrity status is sometimes not all it’s cracked up to be, especially in these days where every eye and ear is monitoring for a juicy story.  This was never truer than the case of Molly Bloom, the former Olympian turned lawbreaker all through the flip of a card.  If you’re like me, you had no clue about this tale, but thankfully the studios have pulled together another cinematic marvel to tell another story.  Will this movie live up to hype and do a biography right, or is it just another glory trip to pull our addictions and con out our hard earned money?  Robbie K here is back with yet another review on the latest movies to hit the theater.  Let’s get started.



The Costumes/Wardrobe:  As a reviewer, I strive to appreciate all aspects of a movie, including the wardrobe to make a part come to life. The department achieved its goal of designing outfits to fully portray the professionalism of Molly (Jessica Chastain), all while being a stunning sight for your eyes. Each dress, coat, and accessory beautifull accented Chastain’s naturally beauty, but also managed to reflect the attitude/mood of the scene.  As the wardrobe reflected the emotional tension to indirectly add took the movie, it also serves as a fashion show for those who love this aspect


The Pace:  The movie is one of the longer films this year at nearly 150 minute run time, and for a drama that can seem like a lifetime.  Fortunately, the team did a stellar job keeping the pace quick and moving, but not so fast to devoid details. This balanced presentation kept my interest in the details without becoming too lost in the convoluted, emotional warfare that dramas are famous for.  I at one point looked at my watch and stated, wow 90 minutes have already past, not something I normally see.


The Presentation of the story:  Molly’s game is a very interesting tale to say the least, seeing the tribulations she faces and her character’s resilience to it all.  Naturally, this is not the original tale, but the presentation helps pump life into the plot.  One component is in the past, a self-told narrative guiding you through her journey up the ranks of the poker pit and the players who participated in it.  The second component are the events of her case presentation, where she and her lawyer work to uncover the psychological game going on in Molly’s head.  These two parts constantly wrap around themselves during the movie, each part escalating the tension of the adventure and guiding you to the goal of what the consequences will be of Molly’s choices. This presentation has been done before, but this movie really finessed it, possibly leading to the pace I enjoyed so much.


The Writing:  I agree with fellow reviewers that the writing in this movie is one of the strongest pillars this movie is based on.  It’s realistic, it’s emotional, and it’s clever on many fronts as it balances various ploys to make the lines come to life. Well-timed sarcasm, monologues that convey a large emotional spectrum, and the dialogue itself feels very realistic, but yet has enough magic in it to charge the scenes with that fire you strive for in a drama. And with this strong foundation, the acting has a base to spring off of for award winning performances.


The Acting: Hands down though, the acting of this movie is what brought it too life and tied all these pieces together.  The supporting cast of secondary characters did their jobs well, capturing the pompous, greedy nature of the gambling addicts and mixing in the frat boy irresponsibility that Molly describes.  Michael Cera and Kevin Costner shine in their moments that speak of the great writing that this film has to offer.  Hands down though, it’s the two leads who deserve the most credit.  Idris Elba continues to show off his skills, portraying intelligence, concern, parentage, and moral obligations to craft an engaging opposite for Chastain work with.  He anchors Molly’s strong will and turns into constructive storytelling, all while bringing the benign terms of law to a relevant life.

Yet it is Jessica Chastain who does most of the heavy lifting in this movie, playing the title character and running with it on all levels.  In addition to the looks (both in similarity to Molly and stunning fashion), Chastain brings Molly to life on all fronts.  You feel the suffering in the character, and almost get pulled into the mental struggles that hit her as the moral tests come at her from all fronts.  She manages to keep all the emotion in check, and crafts a complex character that has your opinion shifting of her over the course of the film. The directors managed to design so much in this role that is going to inspire and empower many to achieve the greatness she portrays.  I hope she wins the best actress for this film, because she was phenomenal.




The Hollywood glamor:  It’s always tough to write this dislike, but you have to wonder how much Hollywood buffing they put into the film.  Of all the biographies I have seen, I feel this one was one of the more grounded tales that hit both sides of the argument.


The Editing Direction: For the most part this movie is solid in terms of run time and details.  However, there was extra fluff at times that was unnecessary for me.  Some of the montages involving clients making jerks of themselves didn’t seem necessary for me and added unneeded length to the film. The result was a few boring parts that were a little tiring, but even these weren’t the worst I have ever seen.   Outside of a little tightening on the dialogue, there wasn’t much for this category to comment on.


The Jargon: Perhaps the most unenjoyable thing about this movie for me is the heavy use of jargon in this movie.  Molly’s game is loaded with poker, law, and business lingo that many audience members may not appreciate during the heated moments.  It adds the intelligence quotient to the mix, but without the definitions in front of you, and the amount of traffic in the scenes, this is the weakest aspect of the writing.  Positive side, it inspires me to research these terms, but in the heat of the moment it’s a little overhwhelming.


The Verdict:

            Molly’s game is a great movie that is an artful representation of biography meeting drama.  A blending of smart writing, an engaging presentation and incredible talent to bring it all to life is what you’ll get in this movie, and much of it is held in the arms of Chastain.  Her character has so much for audiences to grasp on to and in the case of female goers, empowering performances shine bright in this film. Yes the movie is not original, and it is subject to Hollywood magic fluffing things up as well as some jargon heavy dialogue.  Yet, this movie still wins for one of the better dramas to grace the theater in a while.  I highly recommend a vist to the theater for this one.


My scores:


Bigoraphy/Drama:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0


Third Time is the Semi-Charm: Pitching A Final Shot

Pitch Perfect 3.jpg


It started with a song that roped a group together, and it has blown up into one of the most popular comedies to serenade the stage.  The movie is Pitch Perfect and the trilogy comes to a close tonight as the Bellas take center screen once more to sing their “potential” swan song.  After copious media advertisements, does the third installment have the vocal chords to shatter our ear drums in delight?  Or does it fall to bad singing in the shower.  Robbie K here to once again give you his thoughts on a movie.  Let’s go




Back to its comedic roots: Pitch Perfect has always been globally popular thanks to the comedic antics of the cast at hand (primarily Rebel Wilson). Pitch Perfect 3 returns to those roots and brings back clever writing, inappropriate remarks that are well-timed, and banter that somehow works despite how silly it is.  Much of the overacting from the second film is gone, and it proves that balance and timing go a lot farther than comedic meme stuffing.


The Character Development Story: The third installment has a lot going on to wrap up the show, but the story most endearing and true to the series is Beca’s development.  Like the first film, the plot is all about testing Beca again in the qualms of life, choosing which aspects of her life she is to pursue in her road to success and happiness.  While comedic, and a little rushed at times, her growth as a character is touching, blending the painful growing up moments with the emotional zing that hits you in the heart.  This component is by far the most solid ground of the film.


The Music: It wouldn’t be a Pitch Perfect without music and this movie comes back in spades with the remixes of a number of songs.  The acapella numbers certainly are the most impressive and energetic of the bunch, though they still lack in regards to choreography, shimmer, and comedy that we have seen in the past.  Additional songs with actual instruments also have a nice twist to the franchise, especially the new riff off scene that is sure to stick in your minds.  For me though, there needed to be more and I missed the competition component of the film, despite how much they made fun of it.


The Conclusion: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a solid conclusion, and Pitch Perfect 3 does not disappoint with the final sequence.  It captures the spirit of the girls, brings their relationship to life, and solidly wraps up this journey that has been progressing over seven years.  Does this mean the series has to be rebooted?  No, there are plenty of docks to launch from should, and probably most likely will, Hollywood want to pick it back up.  Nevertheless, count this reviewer happy with the ending of this film.




The Hosts:  I’ve always loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins banter in the films, as the writing is unique, the delivery exaggerated but fun, and the randomness just perfectly timed.  This film though really weakened their characters for me, turning them into annoying, unnecessary extras who seemed forced into the story.  I admit, I chuckled a few times, but the writing was much weaker for me with these characters and it might have been better left out to make room for other plots/characters.


The Dropped Characters: The hosts were just the start, as Pitch Perfect’s cast loses a couple of members at the start that I hadn’t expected to see… well dropped.  While I appreciate dropping the crappy romance tales of the second movie, and even seeing the girls grow up, some of the decisions in this movie I didn’t agree with.  Letting these characters fade into the background, started to become plot ploys, that were forced, simplified, detours to unite the gang or quickly fill in gaps.  I guess it’s better than having them just stand in the background, but it’s not much of an improvement to see fan favorites once again become background characters. 


The Weak Rivals: I mentioned this earlier, but Pitch Perfect 3 once again makes washed-out rival bands whose potential is sucked dry after one scene. Why? I can’t answer that question, but the three bands that we are introduced have an awesome riff-off and small partial numbers that are the only quality participation on their part.  The promise of combined tracks, duets, and heated rivalry was broken, again letting these characters dropped into annoying story ploys that are more bark than bite.  It does get points for creativity, but not many given what they were substituted for.


The Other Parts Of The Story: I love the character development in this arc, but the other plots…not so much.  Pitch Perfect 3 has a boat load of subplots trying to compete for attention.  Sadly, many of these are again rushed messes, trying to give the movie a little bit of everything to please the audiences.  Some cute romances, some “surprise” life events, and some backstories are the more positive of these, but the Fat Amy tale was out of place for me.  I liked learning about her history, but the crime element of it didn’t seem to fit into a music movie, though it certainly agrees with the comedy…primarily pitch perfect 2’s comedy.  These parts weren’t the worst thing mind you, it just felt like too much in one film for me that took up more time.  Time that could have been spent on more musical spunk.


The Verdict:

Overall, Pitch Perfect Three is still the fun, girl power film the dedicated fans will enjoy.  The humor has been toned back to Pitch Perfect One level, the numbers are still just as toe-tapping, and there are plots that work so well to wrap everything up in a honorable manner.  Yet, the movie still has trouble with its plot balance, and utilizing its characters to the fullest still eluded them in this film.  I like this one better than 2, but the original still rings the bell as the champion of this series.  Worth a trip to the theaters?  Yeah, I think it is, but there are other options that are probably better.


My scores:


Comedy/Music:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Welcome To The Jungle



The drums beat heavy in the air, the impending sound of doom resonating with their deep sounds indicating another threat on the horizon.  Those tribal instruments were just one component of the adventure Jumanji was back in the 90s, well that and about a thousand other things that made for a fun adventure.  Now, decades later, the jungle is to be unleashed once more to the modern generation in hopes of reviving the adventure once more, perhaps for more sequels.  Robbie K here to give you the 411 on the latest movies, so let’s get started!




The References:  It’s always fun to get pleasant memories of your childhood refreshed with a nostalgic reference.  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, tips its hat towards a couple of Easter eggs that will take you back to the nineties.  The animatronic animals, the familiar sounds of wild life hidden in the bushes, and a few shout outs to previous characters were well placed to revive the spark the prequel made long ago.


Acting:  Okay, this film isn’t going to win any major awards for best actor/actress, but that doesn’t count it out for quality, entertaining talent.  Dwayne Johnson is still a rugged, stud adventure type with a smolder and skill for comedic sarcasm.  Kevin Hart has the rant style down, focusing on energetic, loud delivery with a little cursing to sweeten the pot.  Jack Black provides the awkward comedy, yet manages to take it one step further by acting like a girl trapped in a man’s body, including all the mannerisms that modern teenage girls exemplify. Karen Gillan is edgy, angst filled, yet somehow reserved to bring a fighter not fueled by raging hormones of stress.  While it doesn’t sound that different, there are a couple of things that impressed me.  The first is that the chemistry between these actors, which seemed very natural as they bounced their insults and dialogue off of one another.  The second component is how the actors seemed to portray not only the qualities of their avatar, but also of the kids trapped inside them.  Much like Jack Black, the actors all had to balance teenage adolescent with epic adventure role and it worked very well for me.


Comedy: By far the strongest component for me though is the laugh fest hidden in the foliage of the artificial jungle world.  Jumanji 2 was one of the funniest adventures I’ve seen in a while, filled with a plethora of comedic styles to tickle your fancy in a variety of ways.  Insult humor, one-liners, meme worthy antics, and even sexual innuendos are all crammed into the 2-hour run time.  Spreading the humor throughout kept things fresh for me and changing up the style only further kept me laughingHowever, the component I loved was how tasteful the stupidity was, managing to combine wit and slapstick into a blend that is just a hoot to watch.  I feel this style will work for a wide variety of ages, though beware of the occasional curse bomb to light up the screen.





A Little Corny/Stretch:  Welcome to the Jungle is a stretch in many regards, however there are times where the movie treks of the already ridiculous path.  Some of the action scenes have stunts that defy physics, or performances that are pushing the limits at times.  These inconsistencies are easy to ignore for the most part, and really don’t ruin much with all the fun to be had.  Yet, these components are a little cheesy at times, fake looking even more so, and dilutes the message in a preachy fashion.


The Bad Guy:  The main villain has a cool power to use, but sadly the villain doesn’t utilize it very well.  In addition, the primary antagonist and his cronies are a little anticlimactic in terms of threatening the jungle, being more roar than bite.  A few lousy maneuvers, a threat here or there, and some lame NPC minions just didn’t do it for me in regards to development and design.


Missing Adventure:  As fun as the video game twist was on the movie, I missed the component of the board game that made the original the adventure it was.  Remember the terror of the unknown as the dice rolled and the swirling green mist formed into a message?  How about seeing the horrors of the jungle out into the real world and our heroes having to do everything to keep the board safe?  Yeah, those thrills are what Jumanji was about as the beasts were unleashed in special effect glory.  This movie focused a little too heavy on the biker gang motive and sort of ditched the jungle component for me.  I missed the animal part of this adventure and the blending of these threats together, and the adventure they crafted.




            Welcome to the Jungle is a very fun movie and I was not disappointed as I could have been. It’s funny, with a great cast to bring the crew to life and a great energy to keep one entertained throughout the whole movie.  Yet, the comedy seemed to be the main focus, because the balanced laughs really overshadowed the adventure component the first movie had within it.  Still, many ages will enjoy what this movie has to offer and will be quoting this movie for quite some time after it leaves theaters.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, though save your dough and don’t see it in 3-D.


My Scores:


Action/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Fantastic Fun Ferd The Whole Family!



In the shadow of the epic saga, there lies an animated field where flowers grow, birds sing, and bulls romp around smelling the fauna.  No, I’m not drunk, I’m talking about Ferdinand the Bull, the latest kid’s animated feature to stamped on to the silver screen. Blue Skies Studio has been advertising this film like crazy, in hopes of nabbing the younger audience this weekend.  Yet with Disney knocking these films out of the park is there any hope for the other studios to put out quality work?  Robbie K here happy to answer that question, as we hit yet another Robbie’s movie review.





Animation: It’s an animated movie and as such you want the animation to be well good.  While not the most realistic looking film to drop into our laps, Ferdinand still has a wonderful style that brings the world to life.  The cartoony looks of the character, a common theme in Blue Sky production, adds to the fun of the film, and will be a welcoming sight to your little ones.  The world has dynamic shades of color to mirror the tone of the setting, and a majority of it explodes to life in a manner that kid’s movies only can. And of course… the anthropomorphized animals move beautifully in all aspects from the simple act of speaking to even break dancing. 


Voice work:  In an animated work, it’s up to the voice work to also bring the characters to life and Ferdinand accomplishes this goal quite well.  John Cena is surprisingly a great voice actor, bringing some range in his emotional spectrum I didn’t quite expect from the gigantic tower of a man. Kate McKinnon in all her glory, is the comedic punch to the film with a very energetic delivery that gets toned down a few times to roll her character back in serious mode.  Of course the other supporting voices lend their roles well with Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, and Gabriel Iglesias all contributing to the fun at hand in their own special way, and yes fluffy was my favorite. And as an added bonus, most of the characters have decent screen time, meaning you don’t get shortsighted like many films do.


The Fun:  This movie is exactly what the advertisements promise, a fun, simplistic adventure that brings a lot of enjoyment to the screen.  Ferdinand’s antics are simply cute, like a big puppy trapped in a big body that is awkward and klutzy. What starts as simplistic slapstick though soon evolves, recruiting some rather witty jokes, a poke at some cinema references, and a dance off that will be legendary on YouTube for some time.  All these little gestures combine to maximize the laughs, and while much of this is geared towards kids, there are some jokes that adults will appreciate.


The emotions:  While this movie is certainly more on the humorous side, it’s also got a great delivery to tug at the heart strings.  Ferdinand’s moral code is inspiring, his perspective of love, loyalty, friendship, and courage fantastically told in the camera work and cinematic score.  I didn’t tear up, but the things the digital bull did carved a smile on my face for a majority of the movie.  It’s nice to see such balance in the film.




A little too simplistic:  One thing that is difficult to compete with Disney is their unique worlds and ideas they build.  Ferdinand, despite being fun, is not that unique of an environment compared to the magic of Walt and is lacking that creative spark that has become famous in modern animation.  In addition, the movie doesn’t have the most complicated twists to the mix, which works for the younger audience, but could have added a little more pep to the step.


McKinnon’s jokes:  While McKinnon is a fantastic voice actor and infuses energy into the mix, there are times where she goes a little too far in her joking.  The writer’s capitalized on her SNL talents, but sadly they went a little too far.  Kate’s character Lupe is very sporadic, extremely silly, and at times very irritating.  Imagine a drunk toddler with an ADD twist, and you’ll get a good idea of what her character is like, including regurgitation and memory lapse for the whole family.  Yes, there are those golden moments where it works, but for me, well Lupe’s over trying was a downfall for me in the long run.  Thank goodness for those grounding moments, because without them… well I wouldn’t have been pulling for them.


More hedgehogs:  Final small dislike, wanted more hedgehog power to bring up the magic.  They were my favorite characters of the bunch, and I would have liked to see them shine a little more.




            Ferdinand is fun, wholesome, family entertainment that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.  With great animation and voice work to guide the way, this movie will be a fantastic trip for you and the whole family. Despite the fun to be had though, it still needs some tweaking in a few areas to really bring out the masterpiece.  In comparison to a Disney film, it has a lot of work to catch up on, but most families should not mind with the fun adventure to be had.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Yeah, I can say it would be, especially for a nice holiday church outing. 


My scores:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall  6.5-7.0