Has The Series Fallen To Extinction?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Poster

 

Dinosaurs continue to be the fascinating topic of the prehistorical world and with it the carnage that comes with these gigantic beasts. In the 90’s Jurassic Park reigned supreme in this genre, and brought Crichton’s novel to life in ways we could not imagine.  Nearly three decades later, the technology continues to push the dinosaurs animation to new heights and potentially make the carnage all the sweeter.  Robbie K here, bringing another review on the last silver screen smash to grace the theaters this week.  Let’s get started as I review:

 

Movie:  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

 

Director:

J.A. Bayona

Writers:

Derek Connolly,  Colin Trevorrow

 

Stars:

Chris Pratt,  Bryce Dallas Howard,  Rafe Spall

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation:  Let’s face it, the 90’s brought an incredible baseline of work, and the advancements in animation make these extinct creatures shine like no other. Computer animation brings fluid movements of running, mangling, and hunting, while the robotics creates the realistic sheen that hooks you in. A nice balance between the two styles really crafts the piece together.

 

The Acting:  Pratt is still great, a blend of sarcasm meeting heroic cowboy that sharpens him into a great lead to keep the series alive.  Howard dropped most of the edgy, monotonous tone (and the heels) and with it brings that more dynamic, caring approach to life to round out the roguish nature of Pratt.  As for the rest of the crew, they play their parts well, though I can’t say they were the best approaches direction of the characters I anticipated, primarily Toby Joneswho somehow played a stiff, one dimensional character with little bite.

 

The Pace:  Like the stampeding herd in the trailer, the movie moves at a good pace, always moving and at times trying to keep the action/suspense nature alive.  It shifts easily from one dynamic to another, attempting to keep the drama down and the chaos high.

 

More Dinosaurs:  The movie manages to expand their collection of thunder lizards to terrorize and amaze.  Both carnivores and herbivores will stomp into the group with majestic prowess, or perhaps stalk in with nightmarish grins as they attempt to obtain their next meal.  Regardless, the repertoire is impressive and many get their shining moment to actually warrant their inclusion.

 

The Originality of New Direction:  We’ve understood the cliché of Jurassic Park movies and how a band gets put on an island, forced to pit their instincts against the prehistoric predators. Jurassic World 2 decides to deviate from it and take a more moral dilemma approach.  The movie honestly has a lot more discussion of ethics vs business, mercy vs. survival, and selective vs. global compassion.  Much of the movie is geared towards these tug at your heart issues and trying to pick a side of the two extremes.  While political, the movie will certainly stir up emotions you might not expect in this series.

 

The Character Development: Surprisingly, Jurassic World 2 manages to beef up the character development of some of its leading groups.  Chris Pratt’s Owen really gets under the microscope to examine the connections to Blue, bringing with it a deeper connection to one who was so shallow in the previous installment.  As for Claire… she too gets a little more depth, but surprisingly took the back seat in this movie compared to Pratt, I guess her family was the driving point for evolving, and without them she lacks the motivation.  As for the rest of the crew, there are some decent looks into their lives, but haven’t quite gotten to the multiple layers you might want in a leading role.

 

The Nostalgia: Got to love when your childhood memories and references come back into the screen, and this installment is happy to bring back a few of these moments to have you smiling.  They haven’t quite mastered showing some of the bigger, iconic references, but they got enough for a good start.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

The New Characters:  I don’t know whose direction or decisions it was, but the new characters are a little too modernized for my taste.  Very emotional, angsty characters, the younger cast is a bit too extreme for me and felt like a forced comedic ploy that failed to pick up steam.  The villains themselves lacked much dimension as well, falling into stereotypical, boastful blowhards who have little beyond bragging rights.  Why such extremes?  I don’t know, but they failed to impress me given some of the other baddies to infiltrate the parks.

 

The Twist:  There are a number of these in this film, but one in particular about a character will bring with it a new level of soap opera dynamics.  By doing this they help establish some more motifs to all the madness at hand, but it really didn’t stand and hold place in a movie about creating and unleashing the torrent of dinosaurs.  Sorry guys uniqueness gets an A+, but in the grand schemes not needed.

 

Predictable/Pushed carnage: Since Lost World, the series has been more about the kills as the main source of thrills.  Jurassic World and World 2 were still on that gimmick, not so much setting it up to go with the suspense and storytelling element.  The movie sets up obvious ploys for killing and often relying on stupidity and foreshadowing to set up their kills with little regards to necessity.  I miss the suspense of that first movie and grow tired of the focus of how to make it gore fest, no matter how justified they are.

 

The Inhumane Moments: The director wanted to elicit emotional responses and he managed to succeed very well.  However, in this installment, those moments are sometimes a little too inhumane for my taste and a little unnecessary at times.  Fallen Kingdom is going to continue passing the baton of who the real monsters are, but for me this director has a little more sadistic side to the cinematography and plot elements he wants to show. Being an animal lover, no matter how savage they are, it was hard to see some of these moments come to fruition and enjoy the film.  If you’re like me, steel yourself, because there are going to be some over the top moments to punch you hard and leave you feeling depressed.

 

Didn’t Feel Jurassic: The movie held so much potential for another island adventure that showed danger, mystery, and more of that great survival of the fittest we thrive on in the series.  However, this part was rushed, simplified, and very lacking until the big run from the volcano scene.  The movie missed all that suspenseful, thrilling moments for the ethical debates, and the though the second act turned out stronger than I expected, it still didn’t hold the elements (or the bite) of the movie I longed for.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            In truth, Jurassic World 2 is a decent sequel that tries out some new things to try and evolve the dinosaurs’ reign on the silver screen. Given the new morale dilemmas, the character development and increase in gimmicks like more dinosaurs and better animation, the movie is obviously worth the trip to the theater.  However, the movie still does not quite have the feel of the movies proceeding it, lacking the thrilling adventure of defying debt, for more soap opera and convoluted antics.  In addition, the twist and heartbreaking moments may deter you from enjoying the movie at full potential.  As for it being appropriate for kids… it depends on their ability to handle the cruel treatment of animals, adult themes, and darker moments (Endoraptor is nightmare inducing) that are often loud.  So targeted age is probably 12 and up.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Incredible Follow Up

Incredibles 2 Poster

            It’s another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another “masterpiece” to win the hearts of many.  After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay.  Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations.  Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures.  So, let’s get started.

 

Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

Stars:

Craig T. Nelson,  Holly Hunter,  Sarah Vowell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  If the trailers didn’t paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many.  Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family’s drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.

 

Balanced First Act: Pixar’s team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2’s first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion.  It’s primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.

 

Relevant:  While I can’t relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people.  For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others.  Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.  Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society.  By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.

 

Animation/Action:  The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling.  While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix.  Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random.  Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar’s approach to action.

 

Comedy:  Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix.  The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs.  Jack-Jack’s cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though…Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn’t do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.

 

Inconsistencies in Story Components:  The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects.  During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components.  No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won’t care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you’ll start to realize these moments.  At this point, I’ll state that some of the new characters didn’t have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.

 

Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack’s antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of.  The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me.  In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack’s-Jack’s power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity.  I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.

 

Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction?  Me too!  Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight.  The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story.  Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with.  Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don’t know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It’s a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had.  With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film.  However, the movie still didn’t quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn’t maintain that balance I loved.  Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way.  Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in.  Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

Ocean’s 8 Is Not Quite An 8

Ocean's 8 Poster

 

When it comes to crime thrillers, most will immediately identify Ocean’s 11.  This movie was big back in the day, modernizing the crime film, and solidifying some of the mainstays of the decade’s biggest stars.  Many films have followed suit, but none quite establishing the legacy the Oceans series did, and this weekend, they will attempt to do it again, but establish a different group to lead instead. Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Ocean’s 8

 

Director:

Gary Ross

Writers:

Gary Ross (screenplay by),  Olivia Milch (screenplay by)

Stars:

Sandra Bullock,  Cate Blanchett,  Anne Hathaway

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun: No doubt about it, I had fun in this film.  Watching the new adventure unfold brought a renewed energy to this series that contained many elements and styles to have you chuckling or smiling in delight.  The new 8 has captured a portion of the original trilogy’s mood, but twists it into a more entertaining tale than you might expect.

 

Balance:  My pre-review stated concern that the movie’s dynamic was going to be solely comedy and political power for women, but my concerns were wrong.  The writers managed to interject key comedic moments that had wit and timing behind them to capitalize on the laughs.  Even more impressive, is how they showed off how awesome these women were, but didn’t quite rub it in our faces via preachy monologues and aggressive, anti-male lines. The result was a more respectable, and acceptable screenplay.

 

Fast Pace:  The movie didn’t drag like I was concerned with, moving a fairly quick pace and utilizing the screen time to make it fun.  My first-time check was almost 1-hour in and could not believe so much time had passed in such a little amount.  Such a speed adds a little energy to it, keeping you entertained and further adding to the enjoyment of the movie.

 

The costumes:  My lord was wardrobe on point, crafting incredible outfits for our stylish sisters to wear (when they aren’t dressing like bums). Ocean’s 8 is a grown women’s fantasy closet, with numerous designs to reel the targeted audience in and keep it lodged in for the full 2 hour run time. Throw in some very fancy, gorgeous accessories and jewelry, you might understand why many in my showing were oohing and aching for most of the movie.  Such a suave style fits well with the characters of the movie and it adds personality to an already colorful cast.

 

Acting:  It’s decent, what else can I say.  Ocean’s 8 is not going to have award winning nominations, but Sandy B and her team get props for not only bringing each character to life, but also creating a new family that show the makings for future development and tension in the future.  Kudos also go out for utilizing each character fairly well, not necessarily perfect, but much better than most films, even integrating cameos to interweave with the leading ladies.

 

James Corden:  A final nod goes to Corden’s appearance in the movie. His introduction brings with it a new sense of comedy that feels much like his talk show moments we’ve fallen in love with.  New story elements are teased with him, but Corden somehow further amplifies the fun and had the audience laughing the most of the film.  A well-timed and integrated move my friends, and one I hope will come in future installments, should they decide to go that direction.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Carbon Copy:  The first movie was epic and really broke ground, but this movie… not so much.  Ocean’s 8 feels more like a big game of steeling dress up items than a true crime/drama, it lacks some of the unique elements and the energy isn’t quite there to feel original.  The result is a formulaic film that emphasizes new qualities in a criminal team, that is a major set up for future installments.  Yes, it falls victim to franchise mode, which causes the movie to suffer elsewhere, like…

 

Semi-Use of Nostalgia: Acknowledging that this is a movie meant to establish its own stride, Ocean’s 8 tries to utilize nostalgia to help spice things up.  I can say they hit some great moments to it, integrating it to help further the plan, but other times was just a nod that didn’t have quite the same emphasis as the bigger moments.  George Clooney’s reference in particular felt very lazy to me, but potential sequels may correct this component or at least shed some light on things.

 

Weak Character Development: Like the other Ocean’s movies, the criminal team didn’t quite get a hard self-reflection/revelation that other films in this genre has.  Ocean’s 8 tries to get things rolling, primarily in Bullock and Blanchett’s character’s guidance, but much of it is a generic, diluted mess that doesn’t feel invested by the writers.  As for the other characters, yeah they are rather superficial sub-plots, much of their desires not even remotely fleshed out contributing to an incomplete writing or foreshadowing for more franchise moments coming. This is franchise planning at its “finest” the plan for more movies to explain, instead of letting the first movie do some heavy lifting.

 

Lack of Plausible Opposition/Tension:  Ocean’s 11 had plenty of parts that kept you on your toes and your interest engaged, perhaps even convincing your mind that the team won’t make it.  Ocean’s 8 has severely diluted the tension, with very few obstacles to come close to standing in their way.  Perhaps it’s the fun nature, or a subtle nod that women are better planners, but I felt the “exciting” climax was not quite as suspenseful or engaging as the predecessors.  This film needed a little direr strait to get you caring about them, perhaps again awaiting another film to bring more opposition to the mix.

 

The Trailers Ruined Twists: Watch one trailer semi-closely, and you now have the surprises robbed from you, including the two bigger treasures hidden in this film.  Ocean’s 8 marketing was good, but perhaps it did a little too well to ruin some plot points. If you haven’t watched it, you are in luck, otherwise get ready to be less surprised based on what you remember.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Ocean’s 8 isn’t as horrible as may predicted it to be, and much of this comes from the fear of heavy bombardment in female comedy/principles.  Yet, the group did a great job balancing those components in, striving to find balance between nostalgia and newness, comedy and seriousness, and women vs. men’s parts in plans succeeding, seeing these women dressed up in fantastic features strengthened the fun this movie brought, helping to keep the energy flowing. Yes, it requires some more uniqueness to be put in, and the character development certainly needs an overhaul, especially if they add another woman to the brigade.  Even more, this potential series need s to tighten its focus and bring some suspense to the movie to maximize its effect.  Still, this movie is worth the theater visit, primarily with girls groups, mostly due to the bond the ladies bring… and it’s the only crime film out right now.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5 -6.6

No Blocks About It

Blockers

 

Another weekend, another movie and tonight Robbie’s Reviews is hitting the comedic flick of the week with a few of his family members and friends.  In a made for television name, tonight’s film promises the possibility of some scenes that are going to be funny, but probably cringe worthy at the inappropriate scenarios at hand.  As usual though, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the subject matter.  So enough chatter, time to review:

 

Title:  Blockers

Director: Kay Cannon

Writers:

Brian Kehoe,  Jim Kehoe

Stars:

Leslie Mann,  John Cena,  Ramona Young

 

LIKES:

 

-Pace:  Many comedy movies have issues with pacing, often falling to the extremes and spoiling the atmosphere of the movie.  Blockers manages to keep much of the movie nicely balanced, spending enough time to deliver laughs, but escape drawing it out for too long to grow stale. The story continues to move, keeping the movie fun and manages to avoid dragging.

 

-Story/Layout:  Cannon’s direction finally returns to the quality I have longed for since Pitch Perfect.  Breaking from the series, this directors was able to lay a nice story down as the foundation, anchoring the comedy to a relevant point and thereby maximizing the laughs.  Too balance the chaos though, the movie actually drops some character development into the mix, helping evolve the characters from simplistic idiots with extreme flaws and have you like them in the end.  Then to throw some morals into the mix, some of which have some class and heart to them, to help pull you into this…adventure in parenting.

 

-Dynamic Comedy: A comedy has to have pizazz, remain engaging, and often take a few turns to really remain entertaining to me.  Blockers, despite all the wrong moments, managed to accomplish this for the audience and me chuckling/laughing through much of the movie.  This movie pulls no punches, spreading the humor amongst the genres of sexual promiscuity, slapstick humor, comedic banter, college antics, the awkwardness of sex, and surprisingly a lot of popular culture references.  With the writing keeping all these antics adequately mixed and pertinent to the story, they delivered a very fun film to deliver on the promise of laughs, laughs, laughs.

 

-John Cena: For this reviewer, the real champion of this film was the wrestling legend himself. Cena accomplished so much in this film in the way of comedy, managing to take the over-the-top writing of a naïve, overprotective parent and make it more humorous than annoying.  His delivery has that tone that adds that necessary factor to maximize laughs, and seeing his facial expressions as he continues to fall into the strangest traditions only helps to leave you chuckling so hard you might drown out the speakers.

Dislikes:

 

-Lazy Writing:  While much of the writing is well done, filled with wit and pizazz, the one element that fails is the language aspect.  While cursing may not be as annoying to other fans, having some of the words aimlessly thrown around just isn’t my cup of tea.  It’s lazy to throw in cursing as much of the sentence fillers and Blockers fails this challenge at times.

 

-Banter Comedy/Annoying Moments:  Banter comedy is a mixed bag of tricks for me, but seldom has a movie found banter to make me laugh.  Blockers had a few moments, but there are times where the banter is drawn out too long to remain entertaining.  Even more so, some of the banter lacked that comedic magic the rest of the film had, resorting to mundane arguing that dragged on a little to long for me, adding unnecessary length.

 

-Inappropriate Moments:  Rated R movies continue to push the envelope for what can be on screen, and Blockers shows plenty of private areas in situations I never want to see again. Still, this film is all about strapping on a pair and getting ready to see things that twenty years ago would never land in a theater showing, some of which make Fifty Shades scenes look like child’s play.  While not the worst I’ve seen, there were plenty of uncomfortable moments that weren’t so humorous as disgusting to me.

 

-Some Story Flops:  Past the comedic portion though, the only other major dislike I had was some of the story choices they made.  There are a lot of moving elements in this movie, and unfortunately the writing/directing dropped some major plot points.  Ike Barinholtz’s character’s story elements take the biggest hits of the bunch, elements that merely tease at a deeper/richer tale that could be relevant to many.  In addition, there are some other components that are somewhat forced into the mix, most of these being gross stereotypes of American lifestyle that are semi-entertaining, but nothing more than a visual representation of how superficial we can be.  There were even a few characters not needed for this film, so that more annoying moments could sneak in (I’m looking at you wife of Ike).

 

 

The VERDICT:

Blockers is by far one of the better comedies to move back into theaters for the longest time.  While not the wittiest tale to grace the theaters, it does accomplish a lot of over the top moments to bring laugh after laughs, thanks again John Cena. Even better, is the story to keep this dynamic comedy moving, with a pace that is incredibly structured to maximize everything they wished to bring this.  Yet, the movie still suffers from lazy writing at times, going down lackluster dialogue, overdone banter, predictable plot lines, and some incidents that cross way over the line.  Still, the movie accomplishes the goals of superficial laughs and a cute, weird tale earning it some bonus points.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Would say no, but it really works for a group movie so can be good to visit in this case, otherwise, stay home for this film.

 

My scores are:

Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

A Wrinkle In Story Telling, But A Time In Visuals

Wrinkle

 

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!

 

LIKES:

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.

 

 

DISLIKES:

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.

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

Commuter

 

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!

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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 VERDICT:

 

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!

Post

 

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!

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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 VERDICT:

 

            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