Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Does The Clock Go Tick Tock? A Review On The House With A Clock In Its Walls Review

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Poster

 

 

Robbie K back with another movie review, this time on the latest kid movie that hopes to bring families together and add some magic to their lives.  Yet, in this day and age, much is unsure about if the movie can survive when champions like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and Star Wars holds.  Hopefully I can answer some of these questions, as we provide an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: The House With A Clock In Its Wall (2018)

 

Director:

Eli Roth

Writers:

Eric Kripke (screenplay by), John Bellairs (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Jack BlackCate BlanchettOwen Vaccaro

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting Chemistry

Good Visuals/Setting

Nice Make Up and Costumes

Charming and Cute

Fun Adventure

Decent Mystery

Good Merchandising

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development

More Use of The Magic Antics

Anticlimactic

Darker Than Intended

A few times oversteps Comedic Boundaries

A Little More Investment In Other Aspects

 

In regards to this movie, it’s an adorable, fun adventure loaded with comedy and adventure to get little ones excited at the possible magic.  Much of this has to do with the impressive visuals, design, special effects, and of course the costumes that they sport.  As the world is built up in terms of all the fun merchandising, the main trio are fantastic, utilizing amazing chemistry they really bring the impromptu family dynamic to full force, complementing each other to strengthen the quirks of each member.  To help tie so many things together, there is a sense of mystery to be had that brings the adventure part, helping bring out the character development that you want, but never really leaving the search for the supposed clock that dwells within.

Yet, with how much fun I had with the movie, there are still some areas of improvement that would make the film even better for me. For one it’s the character development, which while there, holds so much mystery behind it and could have further strengthened the key pillar for me.  As this movie is primarily about the training of magic, I believe I would have liked to see more of the world and spells that the warlocks knew.  They again hint at the wonders they have, but unlike Harry potter, the lacking budget limited the visual portrayal of the powers, leading to disappointing action sequences.  In addition, exercise caution, because this movie dives into darker, more occult like bouts that could be a little too much for the younger age groups, primarily in disturbing them or causing nightmares at the least. These darker themes sometimes overstep their boundaries, and the comedy too can follow in those footsteps to get a bit annoying.

Overall though, the movie did accomplish the goal of storytelling, fun, and magic balance and really leaving me fulfilled with how much fun it brought.  Despite all this though, the movie’s dive into darker territory may limit the audience who can attend as well as limits the amount of magic one gets to see. There is a lot of potential to take this anticlimactic finisher and expand upon everything, but the Clock will need to keep ticking to find even better use of technology to expand upon the tricks of the trade.  So therefore, exercise caution in taking your little one, but unless you are looking for the best movie this week, this film is better left reserved for the RedBox.

The Fall Of A Nation: Crazy Visuals and Extremes Of Violence, Instead of Good Stories

Assassination Nation Poster

            Robbie K back with an abbreviated movie review as we cover a movie with a lot more bite, slander, and just about any sort of graphic violence you can think of.  Tonight, we review:

 

Movie: Assassination Nation (2018)

 

Director:

Sam Levinson

Writer:

Sam Levinson

Stars:

Odessa YoungHari NefSuki Waterhouse

 

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Has Guts To Tackle Issues

Fast Pace

Special Effects/Costumes/Make Up

Solid Political Points

 

DISLIKES:

Too Dark/Graphic

Too Forceful

Little Story

No Good Characters (everyone rotten)

Ridiculous Hyperbole

Lacking Action

 

 

VERDICT:

 

Assassination Nation, gets points for its brazen, fearless addressing of the political hot topics that are hitting the media.  The girls are portrayed well, subjugated to a lot of hard-hitting scenarios that will leave many uncomfortable.  In addition to solid acting, the movie works well with special effects and a fast pace to stoke the chaotic fires that light up from the start of this movie.  It is going to speak deeply to people who like extreme, political stand points, with each character holding some outlying personality quirk to jump on board with.

Yet, the movie fails to impress me because of how in your face, political warfare it is, making sure to be extremely liberal in its approaches to address all the wrong in the world.  If that’s not enough, for me I had issues with getting behind the characters who had little that was good about them, and seeing the dark, intense montages of stupid antics, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse did not make for the most engaging material.  As all of these aspects were blown to large proportions, the darker, gore filled edge they injected brought the shock value, but failed to add to the story.  And finally, when the moment came to use that ridiculousness to make our “heroines” fight the good fight, the action turned into short lived, anti-climactic skirmishes that mostly looked to blood instead of moves.

Overall, the movie succeeds in its mission to shock you into engaging with the political qualms that this film is loaded with.  If you are ready to put yourself into that setting and test your patience and character with the extreme ideas and scenes in this film, then this is the movie for you.  Otherwise, skip this shallow plot film and revisit a classic, because there is better use of time then the gore fest this movie is.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime: 5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

Dare To Join This Clan For the Film?

BlacKkKlansman Poster

 

Robbie K back again with another review, this time on a biography that showed promise for being a wild, crime filled law.  Yet, there was the potential political game embedded in it that looked to get in the way, bringing concern that this movie may go down the wrong pathway.  Nevertheless, I’m back to give you yet another review in hopes that I can help shed some light onto whether the movie is worth its weight in money.  Let’s get started on the review of:

 

Blackkklansman (2018)

 

Director:

Spike Lee

Writers:

Charlie Wachtel,  David Rabinowitz

Stars:

John David Washington,  Adam Driver,  Laura Harrier

 

 

LIKES:

 

Great Setting

Costumes And Makeup

Clever Comedy

Awesome Sound Editing

Fantastic Acting

Strong Lessons

 

Blackkklansman is one of those movies that brings you back in time to all the crazy events of history.  The setting alone feels like a blast from the past, as we drop into the war against segregation from the unique perspective of an undercover agent. Amidst the world building of this movie, comes an impressive display of retro fashions of the time, bringing nostalgia and a certain panache to the film.  In addition, the fantastic soundtrack and sound editing brings that needed dynamic that represents emotion.  While the film is certainly strong in the drama/crime aspect, the comedy is reserved for those with a dryer sense of humor.  Clever wit awaits the audiences for this movie, forgoing the over the top slapstick for a richer laugh generator.  Of course, all of this fails without great acting, and this film’s two leads reach the goal of bringing the times to life and representing the story it wanted to tell.  This strong work helps sell the strong lessons of what history can teach, wrapping it up in very grandiose, preachy method that rolls with the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Aggressive dialogue

Too Dry at Times

Slow Pace

The Ending?

 

 

Back in the day, the politeness and filtering were highly more advanced than today’s standards.  Sadly, the accurate yelling and vocabulary is a little too much for me, hearing all the derogative slanders, hating, and passionate politics just got to eye rolling proportions.  Fan who don’t like all the forbidden words of sailor talk, need to already turn away from this movie, though it still has nothing on Django Unchained and Phone Booth. Trying to offset this is the comedy that totally goes down the dryer route, but sometimes it becomes more a desert wasteland devoid of the usual comedic ocean.  This leads to some fewer entertaining choices, and with it a slower, dragged out piece.  Blackkklansman is horrible for pacing with me, establishing fantastic details, but sort of shirking the time management thing in advance of a complete story Still, the movie needed some spice to well spice things up so that the monotony could be broken up at times.  Finally, the ending.  Symbology and tributes are there to help motivate and teach the life lesson contained in this viewing.  However, the real error I have is that the ending itself seems out of place for me. I get it, the movie was showing some current events, but it just didn’t fit with the story they were trying to tell, which was about the past.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Blackkklansman is an artistic piece of work, that makes some parts of history fun to revisit.  However, the movie still needs some help with maximizing the entertainment/suspense element in their work.  Given the dry, barren joke pool and an ending that doesn’t quite click, you can see why the film gets some points docked away from it.  Still, looking for the informative, big-budget portrayal of the events that took place, the movie does warrant some applause for the ability to make history come to life once more.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Can’t say so, unless you want a political work of art… literally.

 

My scores:

 

Biography/Comedy/Crime: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

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

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