Fantastic Fun Ferd The Whole Family!

Ferdinand

 

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.

 

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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

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The Story Is Big On This One

Star Wars 8

 

Well it’s finally here!  The epic movie that television has bombarded us with for the last three months has finally appeared from light speed to grace us with another epic installment, or so we hope.  Episode 8 has held the promise of the return of story telling, matching the epic lore of the originals told to hopefully breathe life in a series that has struggled.  Rumors even say it surpasses Empire Strikes Back, the movie that holds the throne of Star Wars quality.  Can this be true?  Has the Force grown strong once more?  Robbie K here to shed light on the rumors and hopefully provide some wisdom.  Get Started, Let’s!

 

LIKES:

 

The Cinematography:  My wise friends stated right off that this movie may be the best filmed of the bunch.  The Last Jedi is a beautiful example of camera work meeting state of the art technology, helping bring the world to life with spectacular visuals.  The various angles keep you engrossed in all the details, and paints a very dynamic battleground to which our cast fights in.  And unlike episode 7, the sound score is back to Williams’ creative work, a blend of old and new that fits into the scene and adds the life to an already vibrant setting.

 

The Acting:  A large cast of characters, requires acting to bring them to life, and the Last Jedi has recruited a phenomenal crew to accomplish this goal.  I can’t go into great details, but here we go.  Mark Hamill brings the fire back into Luke Skywalker with both classic and old Luke style clashing into a complex character. Daisy Ridley takes the simplistic Rey from last time and unleashes her character in full “force” expanding her into a fantastic character that is full of spunk.  Carrie Fisher another victory when on screen, that has the vim and vigor of the wizened princess we loved.  Newcomers Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran were welcomed additions to the cast.  Dern’s chameleon like abilities continue to craft respectable and honorable characters that fit well in Leia’s legacy, with a nice edge to keep things tense.  Tran on the other hand is the hopeful character, that has nice delivery of inspirational dialogue, with a dab of rebellion on the side.  Everyone worked quite well and I wish I had more time to compliment everyone, but trust me it’s good.

 

The Comedy:  A nice quality to have, the comedy in this movie is a nice relief to the darker atmosphere on this side of the galaxy.  The Last Jedi’s writing is a combination of good timing and wit, that beats in time with all the characters.  The ever changing ploys also keeps things fun to watch and had my mentor and I guffawing through much of the movie.

 

The Storytelling:  Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Last Jedi is the presentation in terms of plot in this movie.  Director Rian Johnson dug deep into the lore and ignited it in full form in installment eight, bringing with it rich details that answered much of our questions.  Much of the tale is character development, pushing them hard to expand upon their hastened roles of seven into more complete soldiers to partake this journey with.  The three tales were balanced quite well, spaced out to keep things relevant and each connecting to the big plot as a whole, much like the classic tales were in. These tales are not only adventurous, but filled with strong lessons that this series is famous for preaching.  And yet the biggest part of this I like are the twists integrated in this film.  Many surprises lie in store for this movie, and many of them fit nicely to take the story deeper down the dark hole.  These surprises are perhaps the most engaging parts of the movie, the likes of which weren’t expected much like Empire.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Salvaged Plots:  Despite the strengths I have mentioned in the plot, this modern trilogy still has issues with being too close to the classic series.  A blend of episodes five and six, much of this film is a retelling of those classic arcs that is a little disappointing on their dependence to the old and not trying out new elements. At least it is executed, well right?

Unnecessary Tangent:  One of the story points almost didn’t feel needed, or at least one section of the tangent wasn’t that big of a hit for me.  The world of Canto Bight makes statements, has a connecting point, and a memorable scene, but this small adventure felt out of place in the grand design.  It will bring merchandise opportunities, one of which is a book, but this world didn’t hold much value to me outside of a few laughs and some cool beasts.  Perhaps a little more struggle, or intensity could have redeemed it for me, though it still isn’t too bad for me.

 

Suspension of reality:  I get it, it’s Star Wars and that is Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Still, there has to be some consistency in regards to how you are going to ignore the physics of real life and the lore that came before.  There are moments you will roll your eyes at in terms of the inabilities of the technology, or how uneven the skills seem to develop.  While we could ignore these if they were minor, the movie’s key situation relied on this suspension and it was a little too big of a stretch for me.

 

The Action:  Star Wars is a series that relies on action to pick things up and make add the fire that makes the story shine like the stars.  With a rather intense start, Last Jedi had potential, but soon that potential was lost to the void.  Much of this movie is dialogue, development, and connections, and with it one of the slower paces of the series.  Yes, there were a few moments to help pick up the pace, but much of this was short lives or lacking that laser packing punch I loved in the first installments.  Say what you want about the prequels, but they had some incredible fight scenes that livened things up and the Last Jedi really needed this element for me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Last Jedi is indeed proof that the universe still has life left in the void of the galaxy Lucas created.  It’s got emotion! It’s got character development!  It’s got twists!  All of this is important in developing characters and making them fly off the screen.  Throw in great acting and beautiful cinematography and you have a really, well done film.  Yet, this generation still is not escaping the salvaging of the classic plot points, while their unique aspects need a little tweaking in terms of relevance.  However, the biggest improvement has got to be the action, working to bring the ship to ship combat back to full strength, and really getting those lightsaber battles back up to snuff.  Still, it’s a fantastic film to catch in theaters and definitely a worthy installment to Lucas’s world.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Super Cast Brings Justice To This Franchise:

Justice League

 

What!?  Another super hero movie back in the theaters when we just had Thor?  Competition in the industries leads to many hasty decisions and this one was all about competing with Disney to bring in revenue and stop the juggernaut from ruling the theaters.  DC’s answer to the Marvel success, whipping out Justice League to smash the box office in what is hope to be a redeeming film.  Will this culmination bring us the film we’ve been dreaming of from the DC universe, or will it be another pale attempt to copy Marvel!  Robbie K back to bring you yet another review on the silver screen saga.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Casting:  A movie relies heavily on a cast, especially finding those worthy of holding the mantle of our iconic heroes.  Justice League’s director gets an A+ from me for the cavalcade of talent crammed into the new super team.  While Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are still not the best fillers for their roles compared to others, they did well in their involvement in the film to warrant applause.  Gal Gadot reprises her role fantastically, bringing everything we loved in her stand-alone film and delivering it in spades to this installment in looks, demeanor, and kick butt fighting.  However the highlights are Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller.  Fisher has the chip on his shoulder, passively destructive role down pat, showing the struggles of new power.  Momoa has that brashness/arrogance of a rogue who feels he is above the rules, who soon begins to understand the limits of the lone wolf.  However, Miller was spot on for the role of The Flash, capturing all the charisma, comedy, and nerdism I’ve enjoyed with the modern telling of the fast hero.  The cast works so well together, bringing the roles to life in a very entertaining manner that feels like the League of the past on Cartoon Network.

 

The Comedy:  The hero movies are starting to shift from adventure to comedy genre for me, and Justice League took a major turn down this avenue.  Much of the writing is well-timed, comedic goal, utilizing well-timed cursing, witty sarcasm, and a sharp edge banter that many love, especially when the characters fence with their insults. Of course, the Flash, has a major hand in the laughs, his geeky, naïve admiration of the heroes laying the groundwork for other comedic devices that involve both physical and mental qualities, seriously his face is hilarious.  With this comedy laid out throughout the movie, one will find it hard not to chuckle quite a few times in the movie.

 

The Action:  If you’ve read my reviews on previous DC movies, you know that the action is often weak for me when comparing to Marvel’s masterpieces.  Happily, the comic book battles that hooked us from the comics have finally started arriving.  Justice League, much like Thor, have a number of exciting moments that act as stepping stones to the excitement at hand.  Much of these brief stints are more entertaining than some of Marvel’s skirmishes, able to grab the serious tone of DC and deliver a darker fight to ensnare us.  The semi-diverse fights bring out the technology bangs, and really deliver an action-packed punch that much of this universe has lacked. Finally, this studio is getting things right.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Shallow Story/Characters:  There is a reason Marvel divided their universe into multiple, single character focused stories, in that it builds up the characters for one to latch onto.  With their failing enterprise, DC skipped a lot of steps to go directly to the group movie and as a result the character development is lacking.  Enough ground work has been laid to get the gist, but Justice League has too many story elements in it to give that satisfying feeling of accomplished storytelling.  With little mystery, buildup, and sometimes even challenge, this film’s adventure is a little rushed for this reviewer, culminating into a rather bleak, predictable mess.

 

Snyder-Vision:  The slow moving special effects were great so long ago, and still have an emotional bite to them that really maximizes the kill.  Yet Snyder can’t seem to listen to the audience members/critics, or is rebelling because he won’t stop overusing it.  Justice League continues the trend of utilizing the tactic for nearly every exciting scene, sometimes in good taste, and often in more egotistical, eye-rolling displays of drawn out cinema.  Hope you like seeing every detail at half speed, because you are going to have your fill.

 

The final battle:  After all the preparation, all the little battles to tease you, one hopes for that defining climax that really puts the battle over the top.  Justice League dropped the ball on this for me, not in terms of being lame (like Suicide Squad), but instead not being much different from the trailers.  This final battle has had much spoiled in the advertising, and rather than building upon it, like the Avengers, the movie held little flare outside of the battle with the Steppenwolf. That gigantic army you saw in the trailers… doesn’t really do much, which was so disappointing with all the hype they placed.  It was a good start DC, now finish with that bang we all want to see.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

If you read other reviews, you’ll see this movie was panned, but this critic found much to enjoy in this movie.  It’s fun, funny, and a rather good introduction to future team movies with an incredible cast to boot.  Sure, it still has some rough story patches, and they haven’t quite understood the execution of a good finale (or the balanced use of slow-motion).  Still, it’s the best movie of the DC universe for me overall, and a good comic book movie to boot.  Naturally, I’ll recommend this for the theater, and implore you to enjoy the comedic ride and chaotic action at hand in what will hope be a starting point to the next wave of DC movies. 

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

Mo, Mo, Mo of the same thing

bad moms 2

 

Mom, a title that holds great responsibility, stress, and undying love for the offspring they have bore. Christmas, a holiday that brings so much joy, and yet also stress, to millions under the code of love and joy. But the reality of the situation is that the modern world has contorted these two things into a nightmarish expectation where one never feels they have done enough or messed up to have everlasting complications. Thus, we arrive at today’s movie review that mashes these things together in a film called Bad Moms Christmas. What’s in store? As always my friends, Robbie K asking you to hang out and read another movie review and guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

Same atmosphere: Often a sequel comes along and deviates from the formula that brought it success. The Bad Moms team on the other hand had no problems dropping the same tactics into the film to entertain the masses. Our cast of characters holds all the quirks you fell in love with in the first film including: Kathryn Hahn’s sexual abrasiveness, Kristin Bell’s naïve awkwardness, and Mila Kunis’ edgy, guns to the wind anger. The formula continues to doll out the laughs, fortunately in a slightly altered setting to make it fresh.   Rest assured fans of the series, the Bad Moms train runs strong on what you love.

 

Acting: No award winning roles here, but the girls continue to flex their acting muscles in this sequel. Kunis manages to portray all the ire of a tired mom, yet balance it with the compassion that most have for the holiday season. Hahn manages to further adulterate an already filthy role, but do so in a manner that somehow has redemption. As for the new comers, they too play their parts quite well, with Christine Barinski playing the most complicated of the roles, and further proving age has tempered awesomeness.

 

Soundtrack: Yeah this isn’t going to be a big factor for most, but a good soundtrack adds some spice to a movie. Bad Moms Christmas has one fantastic set of beats to rock the background, each capturing the energy, awkwardness, or mood of the scene at hand. While certainly not the biggest selling point of the movie, you’ll be surprised how much the laugh comes from the music representing the scene.

 

The morals: Don’t roll your eyes, you know I’m a fan of story and not just mindless simple laughs. Bad Mom’s Christmas manages to squeak in a few life lessons in the movie, utilizing the second act to primarily sell the heart string pulling moments. Like an awkward Hallmark card, they portray the hardships of motherhood and grandparenting quite well, focusing on the tension that may come with this relationship. It grounds the laughs and provides the purpose to the movie, again delivered in a surprisingly classy, though cheesy manner that maintains the fun and doesn’t take too long to deliver.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy Dialogue Writing: Biggest regret again comes in the form of lazy dialogue I about half the movie. It starts with Kunis seeming to have only the F word as the literary device to express herself on just about everything. Follow that up with Kathryn Hahn using the B word or a sexual innuendo in every scene and again you get an old trick. With what little trickles this comedy spring has, you can rest assure it dries up pretty quickly in terms of writing. I recognize this is part of the movie, but certainly Hollywood has a little more wit to it for writing and not relying on an app for writing.

 

Characters: I know this is a comedy and you want laughs, not necessarily character development. The way Bad Moms ended though, our girls actually had matured, evolved, and grown up a little in their lives. That kind of went out the window at the beginning of the film, almost resetting their lives as if the first movie did not exist. Fortunately the extras are able to drop a few checkpoints in to prove that wrong, but when you go for laughs and blockbuster bucks… you don’t get consistency sometime.

 

The other mothers: The movie sells that this film is going to be nothing more than a conflict between the main cast and their moms. For one of them this is true, but for the others… they are put in the back with the exception of a few fun, and well-timed, jabs to bring out laughs. They try to salvage the relationships at the end in a rushed crescendo to cover their bases, and it does the job for the most part. However, I can’t lie that I was disappointed with the integration of the other characters as well as they did Kunis’s relationship.

 

The VERDICT:

 

When going to see Bad Mom’s Christmas, you get what you pay for the most part. It’s silly, it’s raunchy, and it’s the same type of film you fell in love with in the first installment, only with a holiday theme. I’ll admit I had fun with the laughs and enjoyed the characters “evolving” again, and appreciated how nicely wrapped up it was. Yet, it is the same old hat, with lazy writing still taking the forefront with the underutilized grandmother only further weakening the structure. Still not the worst film to grace the theater, though probably not needed to be honest. It’s a fun trip to the movies for a girls night out, but outside of that… leave it for the Redbox.

 

My scores:

Comedy: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0

 

God of Thunderous Laughs

Thor

 

He’s big, he’s flashy, and he has locks of hair and a body that slays many.  Yes, he’s Marvel’s own Thor, and tonight is his third solo movie’s release date.  In hopes of smashing the box office, Disney has brought the God of Thunder back with a darker twist in hopes of reigniting the magic of Marvel.  Welcome to Robbie K’s movie reviews and tonight we analyze, observe, and share my opinions on yet another movie to hit the silver screen.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Special effects: Disney’s team is the master of money, which entitles them to deliver a dazzling display of cinematography magic. Thor Ragnarok is another example of how the Marvel universe can be brought to life.  Dazzling special effects fill the big screen in the form of nature’s wrath, flying projectiles, and monsters of various designs. While certainly not the most realistic of the graphics, Disney’s group crafted fluid animation, colorful spectacles, and of plenty of speaker blowing sound effects to go with it. If that’s not enough of a selling point, then how about the special effects of Chris Hemsworth’s body will be happy to please the eyes of many female fans, plenty of shots according to my friends tonight.

 

Action: Remember the first Thor where there wasn’t much battling, but more babysitting?  Yeah, well the Thor group managed to take the action of the avengers, and kind of cram it into this movie. Ragnarok, spares no time diving into the action, and keeps it spread throughout the entire 130-minute run time.  The darker themes of the story certainly allowed this, and thank goodness, the directors took hold of the opportunity.  While Thor certainly gets more of the seat gripping battle scenes, this movie provides the other cast some rather impressive scenes.  And finally, Marvel has broken the cycle of lame villains, giving Hela (Cate Blanchett) some bite instead of just barking. With all these contenders and the edginess of the movie, you can rest assured that the dullness of Thor has been broken.

 

Comedy: By far though, Thor Ragnarok’s biggest selling point is comedy the series is so famous for.  The third installment is perhaps the funniest of the bunch, trading whiny complaints of assistants and naked walks by old professors Instead, the writers decided to fill the movie with a lot of diverse comedic ploys to keep the chuckles coming.  Slapstick humor, well-delivered one-liners, wacky catchphrases, sarcasm, and banter to no limits. Ragnarok has all this in fantastic amounts to keep the movie as fun and entertaining as possible.  Even better, is how the comedy is also integrated into the action scenes, showing that the writers in Marvel haven’t lost their talent after all.  The music itself is also funny comedic relief, sounding like something out of an 80’s video game, in all its dazzling, electric keyboard glory.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Missing Character StoriesRagnarok has a lot of good with it, but one thing that was slightly annoying was how some of the characters lacked complete background information. Valkyrie in particular was a little rushed, leaving out some key things that could have made her an even deeper character.  Even Hela herself has a rather shallow story, glazing over what could have been some cool sequences for some overdramatic banter about how hurt she was.  Outside of Thor and Loki (who have had movies to weave their tale), the backup characters seemed slightly diluted in the grand scheme of the movie.

Overhyped Action:  Don’t get me wrong, Thor had plenty of excitement to amp up the pace and excitement of the movie.  Unfortunately, the sequences are rather short-lived, or more comedic than actually exciting.  With the bar set high for me, I was hoping that the scenes were going to be more intense, filled to the brim with fist punching, lightning throwing, and sword wielding incredibleness.  And just as the momentum was building, they dropped it for more comedy and banter between Thor and some other character.  This particular scenario was especially true for Hulk Vs. Thor, which while entertaining, was disappointing on the exciting action part. While the conclusion managed to build up my hope, it too didn’t have quite the zing I had hoped.  Despite all this though, I still enjoyed the action.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth is, Thor Ragnarok, while being dark, is one of the more entertaining films of the bunch on so many levels.  It’s got a fast pace to keep things going, action to liven up the scenes, a villain who doesn’t entirely stink, and comedy to keep the dialogue fun as well.  If you’re like me you will be laughing almost the entire movie, but if you are ones preferring over the top slapstick and innuendos out the wazoo, then slow your roll for this movie.  While I would have loved to see more character development (and use) of the secondary characters and a little more excitement in battles, truth is this is one of the better Marvel films in a while.  And of course, with all the special effects, this reviewer can’t help, but recommend you see this movie in theaters.  Beware though…this movie is a little more inappropriate for younger audience members not only due to the more adult comedy, but also for the language used in this film.  Exercise caution please when choosing this film, and plan a babysitter if you don’t want little ears hearing course dialogue. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

“Let’s Play A Game” Again. Piecing the Story In Place Of the Gore-Y

Jigsaw

 

“Let’s Play A Game”, those simple words haunted the theaters for years, signaling the start of yet another slasher movie in the Saw series.  What started out as a unique twist to the serial killer saga was only the start to a face cringing, spine tingling, sometimes nauseating saga that hooked people in until around the sixth-seventh iteration when it finally ended.  That was until this year, where the saga was to be reanimated in hopes of bringing more bucks to the theaters.  Will this eighth installment have the ability to defy death like it’s protagonist antihero, or is it dead like the poor victims of his games.  Only one way to find out and that is read my friends, so let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Fast-Pace:  With all the slow movies I have been seeing, I give props to the Saw series maintaining their consistent pace.  From start to finish, the tale keeps moving, sparing no second for unnecessary details or attempts at prolonged character development. The mystery of figuring out the identity of the game master, mixed with the spread-out trials that promise a messy end are well-balanced to keep things going.

 

Decent Characters: A horror movie often has many brain-dead characters begging to be chainsaw fodder.  Fortunately, Saw movies continue to choose players who have a little more complexity and skills than many of the Spring Break teens favored. The tradition lives on, as each player has a little more buried within, still having a few obviously destined corpses, but others who have a shot at making it out.  And for those not in the game, but trying to solve the mystery, they too have some layers to them that may or may not be pertinent to the story.  It’s those engaging elements that are crafted in the story, making them more engaging to follow.

 

The Presentation:  Another component I still like is the presentation of the movie.  Many go for the kills, but the better component for me is how they separate the story into two settings.  One is still the players trying to escape the closes thing to hell’s torture chamber, while the other are the outside characters hunting down the “maniac” that continues to weave his traps. The ability to entangle these two components, balancing their timing to provide clues and hints to the story all while keeping you invested in the game.  Such a dynamic presentation provides those checks and balances necessary for a slasher movie, and keeping things as fresh as possible.

 

Twist:  As many of you know, Saw movies are all about the ability to throw that last wrench into the gears to blow your mind.  Despite my experience with predicting endings, this one got me.  The questions I asked were on the right path, but they were able to drop enough interfering factors to throw me off the trail.  Jigsaw once again impresses me with their storytelling, and their mastery of presentation.  I can’t say much more, but ask the right questions and you might get the answers.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy Deaths:  Those first few movies were convoluted in their traps. They had designed devices that were an impressive display of imagination, horror, and engineering that gave everyone a kick in terms of design.  While Jigsaw still has the impressive connections and storytelling, it unfortunately fails in the terms of the traps themselves.  They are surprisingly simple for the most part, and a little more reserved than I expected in this modern era. Yes, there is still plenty of blood in this battle for moral consequences, but they didn’t involve quite as much skin crawling madness.

 

Acting a little cheesy:  Despite the engaging characters, there are times when there are a few inconsistencies in the character’s intelligence, or often the case their acting.  While decent for the most part, the writers hit some blocks in terms of dialogue or direction they wanted the characters to go.  There are those moments the “tension” overwhelms them into hysterical messes that are cheesy rather than believable. In addition, the dialogue sometimes gets lazy, just going into expletives than conducive dialog.  A weak dislike yes, but I’m drawing on straws.

 

The potential for a series:  Like the original series, I had hoped for an ending, but then this movie showed up.  While I did enjoy it, I am worried that the way this movie ends sets up the potential for a new series to start.  Sure, this means more Saw goodness, but it also means the potential to dilute this movie into another run of the mill series that will become a product of lazy producing.  Hopefully that won’t happen, but these days series are the prize most companies seek.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Jigsaw is the piece of the puzzle that brings quality back to the lovely massacre series. Going back to the roots, the writers were able to bring back a brilliant presentation and characters you can follow.  All the nostalgic qualities rush in with the deadly traps, bringing that fast-pace, twisting tale that captivated us all those years ago.  While still not the first movie, especially in terms of death design and potential to revive the series, it was a welcome addition to the series.  So, if you are looking for the horror movie of the month, Jigsaw is your answer for the theater my friends. 

 

My scores:

 

Crime/Horror/Mystery:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Nolan, Dun Got It Right

Dunkirk

 

War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?  Entertaining movies, that is what it is good for.  Hollywood has numerous examples of wars from the various historical times in our human legacy. Many of these installments focus on a hero who saved the war, or a band of brothers that bravely faced the odds to hold the line.  In most cases though, you can bet there will be violence, explosions, and often graphic portrayals of the hell contained in our squabbles.  I finish my weekend reviews with Dunkirk, which is the latest installment in the Christopher Nolan library.  Can the Dark Knight director work his magic in war?  Or does it fizzle out like a dud bomb.  Robbie K here to give his opinions.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Layered Story:  Many war movies are the linear tales of the hero who will win the battle.  Dunkirk diverts from this main path and instead presents its plot from three viewpoints that overlap at various times.  A cryptic opening doesn’t do much to explain this, but eventually the plots coincide and your mind is blown by the presentation.  This element, though confusing at times, adds that unique flare to the movie that keeps your interest piqued as you connect the journeys of those involved.  In addition, the multiple viewpoints give you a more complete picture of the war, further bringing the history to life in a manner Hollywood special effects is famous for.

 

Realism:  We know the doctoring editing and story writers can make to score big bucks in the box office.  These moments often lead to overdramatic, eye-rolling moments that war dramas can be.  Dunkirk again shines in the unique department in terms of crafting the story to be realistic in many details.  You’ll be pulled into the war in this film, grounded in the nightmares that plague the battlefields and the internal struggle that all involved face.  I felt plagued with the emotional guilt in the choices made in this film, while also concerned with the consequences that could follow those choices. The film’s focus on the people and not the battle works on so many levels, and makes you interested in the characters more so than the special effects.  Nice choice again Noland!

 

The Cinematography:  Dunkirk doesn’t have a lot of lines, award winning dialogue, or even one-liners that we as humans like.  Instead it is the cinematography and editing that bring Dunkirk to life and make it shine in the theater’s dark halls.   While the special effects are certainly impressive (though not that showy), it’s really the camera work that brings the mood out in the form of hope seeking faces that are suffering through the onslaught dealt to them.  Throw in the powerful musical score and mix in the little line delivery and you get that recipe for emotional bombardment that brings respect, empathy, and pride of the sacrifices made by troops long ago.

 

Short run time:  Such a dynamic, sounds like it would take forever…fortunately Nolan’s direction kept the movie under 2 hours and brought quality out in that short time.  This is an example of good directing and editing, and proof that you can have a quality film in a short time limit.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Missing that Hollywood Story:  Realism is good, but I certainly missed having a flared-up story to grip onto.  Dunkirk is a quality movie, but it isn’t as much fun as I have had with other war movies.  It lacks some of the big, bang excitement made famous in other war movies, and the realistic psychological approach can drag at times.  The result is not the action-packed survival I had hoped for, but I can always rewatch Hacksaw Ridge for that. And while I enjoyed the layered story approach, I again think it was confusing at times to piece things together without a central story, plot, or goal (outside of survival/rescue) to hook onto.

 

The placement of certain scenes: My buddy and I agreed that there were points to this movie that were difficult to follow.  Much of this came from the odd placement of clips in the movie and the rapid transitions between these various stories with little guidance.  Things do get better when the lines start to come together, but there are still scenes that still stay confusing at points until the end of the movie.  In addition, the pacing of the stories was uneven at times, with a couple of stories rapidly concluding (so you think), only to reappear after a prolonged gap.  Not the biggest weakness, but things could have been a little better oriented for me.

 

Depressing:  We know war sucks, and this movie’s portrayal of the loss of hope amplifies those feelings. There are so many elements of depression in this movie that you may feel a little down following the opening.  I felt a little tired during this movie, especially during the drawn-out moments that were more depressing and less stressing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Dunkirk is certainly one of the more artistic and clever portrayals of war, dropping Hollywood flare for realism.  Nolan’s impressive directing opens up new worlds of war theater and keeps things fresh with the impressive displays of heroism.  Yet all the good the cinematography and directing is… I missed the Hollywood flare that cinemas bring.  Without that story/entertainment value to it… Dunkirk has some confusing presentations and dragged out moments that can weigh heavy on you.  Still, this movie has plenty to qualify a visit to the theater, and one of the better movies of the summer.  Not the epic wartime thriller, but certainly one of the more realistic, war dramas I have ever seen. 

 

My scores:

 

Action/Drama/History:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0