Is This Island A Fantasy Worth The Price?

 

Fantasy Island Poster

            It was an interesting television show back in the day, an island that can grant you any desire you want, though at a price.  Welcome to Fantasy Island and the second review of the day is all about the wonderful world of Blumhouse modernizing the classic plot.  Robbie K is back with another look at the silver screen wonders to determine is this trip to paradise worth the scares or not to dare as he reviews:

 

Movie: Fantasy Island (2020)

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

Writers:

Jillian JacobsChristopher Roach

Stars:

Lucy HaleMaggie QPortia Doubleday

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Pace
  • Nods To References
  • The Satisfying Visual Appeal
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development Than Expected
  • Some Twists
  • Michael Pena

 

DISLIKES

  • Most Characters Still shallow
  • Plot Twist is Okay
  • How Random The Island’s Gimmicks Are
  • The Sudden Change Of Plot
  • How Forced The Comedy Is At Times
  • The Rushed Ending
  • Not Scary

 

Blumhouse knows how to churn out the horror movies like a gumball machine, where they come out a quarter a ball and sometimes have no flavor at all.  Fortunately a recurring theme that I like to see is that the movies do go at a decent pace, entertaining and fun to capture a variety of attention spans.  Fantasy Island is a quick paced adventures that tries to juggle “original” stories while still keeping to the feel of the original series.  I appreciated the nods to the references in this movie, some very well integrated, others forced and not as satisfying.  One thing I think many people agreed was that the film immerses itself in the superficial pleasures movies have taken on, mainly in the form of bikini clad hot people, handsome perfect matches, and those oh so satisfying horror elements that etch in our minds.  It’s all about the Pleasure Island effect and for the younger generation it works.  This is also true with the comedy, a movie that does little to integrate wit and wonder, instead going into those reality TV tropes that MTV made famous and latching on to them.  It was funny for me at times, but overall a bit stale and forced.

Yet I’ll give them props that they managed to defy my expectations and give better insight into characters than I anticipated, primarily in three characters whose stories ran a bit deeper than the G-strings the extras wore.  I tried to grapple on to these characters for the most part and figure out if there was a deeper connection to the story over all.  This does not happen that often either, but the movie got me with a few twists and while not my favorite, I have to give them points for surprising me.  My favorite thing would have to be Michael Pena though.  While not the best acting job he has done, I think he inherited the island’s owner role well, and makes for an interesting piece in what could be a series.  I’m not sure where they will take him, but he has that cool, collected charm that is both comforting and deadly at the same time.  He makes for a complex character, who holds many secrets that unfortunately were not fully delivered on for me.

 

Now in terms of what is decreasing scores, that comes in the form of the incomplete and sort of left wing twist they pulled into this film.  First of all, despite trying to develop the characters, they did not quite deliver the full force of development that I think they were going for.  Most of the characters start to represent certain character paradigms, but these political charged issues get swept under the rug for more superficial fun and “horror”.  Even the ones with a deeper well of development sort of become flaky figures whose indecisiveness is more annoying than fresh for this reviewer.  As they try to resolve their character flaws, the after school special approach kicks in to not give a satisfying finish, but instead just bluntly finish the film.  Forced humor does not help make things better, with so many tropes from two of the characters becoming annoying as they fall into the new generational tool bag approach that somehow keeps selling.  The comedy to relieve the “tension” of the film does not work for me and felt unnecessary at times.

Much of this has to do with that plot twist, a curveball that was thrown to offset the stagnant pond, only to cause ripples in wrong way.  It’s a forced introduction to justify the interconnected stories and sort of becomes an eye rolling experience when everything is explained.  It’s because of this twist that the plot of the movie changes, going from horror mystery to action mystery that does little to embrace the alluring wonders this island might have.  Even the plan to handle the island changes three to four times, showing potential indecisiveness or panic at trying to force this twist into the film.  And because of the change in the horror approach, the island’s gimmicks, the things the trailer was using to rope you in, start to become cheesy pieces/obstacles who only serve to push the characters to make bad decisions rather than become the character developing pieces they want.  It’s almost like watching someone cheat on a video game, where the goal is not so much to win, but to survive until the movie’s time runs out.  This lazy finish to a buildup that seemed interesting and further dilutes both the story and scares.

This brings me to the last two points.  First the ending of the film feels very rushed. The twist getting forced at the end sort of discombobulates the pace of the plot and as the waves are settling, the directors seemed to want to quickly tie it up to not go past two hours.  The piece meal finish is not very suspenseful and the quick wrap up only has some relief from the heart string pulling shot that comes in the final moments of the film.  Yet the biggest thing is, the scares of the movie are rather null and void.  Fantasy Island has little in terms of bone chilling terror or mentally scarring moments, again forced to dilute these components to keep the PG-13 rating.  It’s this lack of scares that sort of makes the movie boring and thus, I had wished they had gotten a little more creative with their gimmicks the way Scary Stories did back in August. 

 

The VERDICT: 

            Is this movie as bad as a 22 on Metacritic?  I don’t really think so.  Fantasy Island falls into the trend of making a superficial movie that has all the gleam to attract you with little sustenance to keep you nourished.  It’s a great opening horror movie for the younger generation to wet their feet, as it attempts to get some relatable issues on the table, add a small amount of character depth, and still give the “thrill” of the chase.  Yet where the movie falters is in its ability to really tie this adventure together, managing to put a twist into the film, but not in the artful form to pull everything together.  Even worse, the movie’s rushed ending and lack of scares just makes this an MTV television series with a more bloated budget.  While the performances do their best to handle the characters, there is not enough meat to this islands presentation to say it’s the best horror movie, but there are enough special effects gimmicks that can make a night out with friends worth the theater visit. Otherwise hit this one up later on down the road when it hits streaming.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Horror:   5.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

 

Sonic Grabbing The Rings For Family Fun This Weekend

 

Sonic the Hedgehog Poster

 

Video game movies have had a rough track record despite the potential they have to rock our socks off.  In an effort to make real, live action movies, the CGI worlds that have become legend are often reduced to twisted follies with only small diamonds in a very rough piece.  Not all films have failed mind you, but a majority have not quite reached the expectations placed on the pieces by the fanbase.  The solution could be to simply make a digitally designed movie, but the argument becomes how if you do that you could instead just make a better game. Well this week’s headliner is a series that has had a lot of ups and downs that has muddied his gaming waters, so a movie may be exactly what is needed to jumpstart the blue blur’s career. Is the film worth it despite a questionable trailer and redesign of his image?  Well, Robbie K is going to give his thoughts once more as he reviews:

Movie: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writers: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller

Stars: Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, James Marsden

 

LIKES:

  • Funny
  • References
  • Moves at a Good Speed
  • The Action Is Family Friendly Appropriate
  • Jim Carrey’s Performance
  • Surprisingly Deeper

 

Dislikes:

  • The Teasing
  • Plot is Predictable
  • Suspension of Disbelief
  • Robotnik’s character at times
  • More Chase Scene Less Cheesy/Sob story Finish
  • Some Humor A Little Too Forced

 

SUMMARY:

The movie was already loaded with a lot of heat given the stink made with the first trailers.  The redesign is to be respected, because the design presented is indeed fun and nostalgic to look at, despite being in a film loaded with more realistic characters and drones.  Nevertheless, the likes start with a good comedy basis, a blend of witty references and kid friendly humor that takes the family friendly track and runs with it.  The trailers promised a family friendly environment and the film delivers, taking enough of the sonic framework to shout out to geeks like me and then painting it with that Disney like coat that younger audiences love.  An added bonus, the references extend outside of the sonic games, making some nods to some other classic scenes from superhero movies that shined in their own movie bombs (think Fox’s super hero movies).   It works for me; the balance opening a lot of doors for the fanbase to enjoy and hopefully inspire new interest in the hedgehog’s adventures.  One favorable result, the movie moves at that fast pace that is entertaining enough to be fun, yet slow enough to allow things to flesh out everything about our characters.  Working with that pace is the action, grabbing the speed of the genesis video games and keeping the speedsters moves going strong as he fights the evil genius’ robotic drones.  While a little less action packed then I like, the movie keeps the family friendly energy going further into fight scenes, never going too dark, violent or aggressive to damage the psyches that so many people worry about.  In addition, the comedy extends even further into these moments to always keep it light hearted.  Even the villain himself, Robotnik, manages to come across family friendly, with the insane obsession of being right and a genius driving his actions towards a darker side, but having that clumsy buffoon we saw in the comedy cartoon decades ago.  Carrey for me succeeds in bringing out both sides, the transitions and facial expressions both overexaggerated and yet appropriate given the direction they took with him.  While I still prefer a digital, fat guy who is Sonic’s familiar rival, I’ll admit this was probably one of the better live action castings for me and the performance was a great revisit to the film I loved so much.  Finally, the deepness of the movie surprisingly works again for me because not only does it allow Schwarz to evolve Sonic’s voice, give some better integration and performance with Marsden’s character, and add some emotion to bring the film to a better an all around hit for this reviewer.

 

Regarding the movie’s dislikes, ironically this has to do with the catering to the younger audience.  For one thing the movie is all about teasing for the next film, a minor dislike and usually one I ignore, but yours truly did not enjoy all the little teases to introducing new characters, only to be thrown back into the new direction.  Most likely a set up for a series or more movies depending on the success, the untapped potential of Sonic’s origin was the more intriguing story for me and yet was the most limited of the bunchAs such, the predictable, geared towards family Hallmark approach takes center stage and the familiar antics don’t get too many points for originality in my books.  I get it, I over-analyze things as a reviewer, but in terms of scoring the predictability of this film is not the biggest selling point for fans of the series who like the fight for mobius vs. finding a place on Earth. Part of this comes from the trailers giving too much away with their over relenting advertising, delivering several key jokes a few times for me.  Other parts are the suspension of disbelief and even the world’s logic of physics that are suspended to make the story work, which for me is again cute for the family, but could have been a lot better had they dived deeper into the original lore. The same can be true for Robotnik as well.   This constant back and forth between funny comedic prop and villain work for trying to get everyone into the film, but I think was too forced at times for me to fully say it was the best villain.  The comedy again can be forced too much as well, whether it be Sonic’s one liners zinging in faster than he can run, or Robotnik’s personality disorder getting too much focus instead of sending out more drones or maximizing his robotic army (I guess for future sequels right).  Finally, the actions scenes are again awesome to watch and for the most part do fit with the theme. Then the final fight happens and suddenly we drop that energy for another dialogue heavy, feat of super ability that was more preachy/cheesy finish than the climactic finish I was hoping would happen.  If you love that anime style grandiosity, it’s a perfect way to finish, but if you want a little more sonic and logical finish like me, I did not quite enjoy the fight finale.

 

The VERDICT

                Despite all the criticism and hate this film has gotten, alongside the character design, Sonic really is a fun film that will hit a lot of audience members.  Nostalgia, comedy, and kid friendly film are the selling points for going to see this one in theaters.  Throw in good action, a fast pace, and some great performances for Sonic and Robotnik and it only helps seal the package for seeing this film.  However, the movie is still not without its flaws with the gear towards the kid/family audience being one of the most limiting components for me.  While I appreciate this adventure breaking the walls, the gamer in me who has loved the Mobius arcs would have liked to see that direction over this integration into our world for the originality and game feel I want with video game movies.  Separating that out though, it’s the modern trend of making kids movies comedy fests crammed with one liners, forced sappy moments, and toning down some of the action scenes that were the biggest limitations for me.  All in all, the movie succeeds in accomplishing the goal of being fun for all ages and a solid opener to a potential franchise. My encouragement is again to catch this one in theaters for the fun and effects, but otherwise get the hedgehog on Redbox or streaming soon.

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

The Surprising Fun Of One Harley Quinn Movie

 

Birds of Prey Poster

            DC comics is coming in hard to beat the rush of Marvel/Disney’s next phases.  With an interesting track record of quality and not so good quality, the superheroes in this dark universe are doing their best to make their mark.  As such, tonight’s film is going to try to cash in on the superhero craze before the other films of February come in ready to hit us with their shots.  The trailers did not leave me with high hopes, but you never know what lies beneath the trailers of the modern editing techniques.  Robbie K is coming back in with another write up as he looks at:

 

Film: Birds of Prey (2020)

 

Director:

Cathy Yan

Writer:

Christina Hodson

Stars:

Margot RobbieRosie PerezMary Elizabeth Winstead

 

LIKES:

 

  • Funny Writing
  • Good Use Of All Characters
  • Expansion Of Characters
  • The Action At The End
  • Feels Very Much Like A Comic Book Presentation
  • Margot Robbie’s Portrayal of Harley  past the first act

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring At Times
  • The Presentation At Times
  • The Cursing At Times
  • The Action Is Okay In The Middle Of the Movie
  • Slow Motion Over Use
  • The Politics Again
  • The Main Villain Is Lame… again

 

SUMMARY:

 

A Harley Quinn tale is always a challenge in direction, do you go comedy, do you go action, do you go horror, or is it a little of each.  Birds Of Prey tries the latest of the bunch and works hard to try and please all fans of the delightfully delirious antihero and her rambunctious ways.  My pal and I both agreed that the writing has the comedic punch, finding its stride mid film for me, but flooding the time with forced humor to try and get you laughing.  Once balanced, the writing is fun and feels much like the modern comic book writing I love reading at my local book store.  Even more impressive for me is that they were able to use all the characters in their arsenal to make the film fun and dynamic.  You’ll get to see all your advertised characters play their part, including backstories, action scenes, and their own brand of comedy.  I’ll give them props for getting this wrecking crew together, and achieving the goal of balance that I always seek in these movies.  Seeing the comic book presentation was at many times a plus for me, adding creative style that flowed with Harley’s psyche and captured the spirit that graphic novels bring.  It’s that element that I feel will draw fans of the series in, but yet keep those less inclined to reading to enjoy it.  Outside of character expansion and comedy the movie also has some decent action moments that will stick in the minds of many.  While not as flashy and coordinated as some of the most epic Marvel battles, Quinn’s brigade has got the promised edge, that emphasizes each characters talent, all while selling the message the trailers flaunted from the start.  Aggressive at times yes, but for the most part it was different and a bit fun at times.  Yet the biggest enjoyment for me was seeing the evolution of Harley herself once the first act finished that is.  Robbie does a great job with the character, somehow capturing the insanity, but then able to take the evolution of the character to new heights.  Seeing how Harley changes and the emotional spectrum that comes with it, I’m very happy with the character development defying my concern that it will just be too much crazy. 

 

For all the good it held though, there were things about this movie that still were not the most fun for me. My first thing is how boring the film can be at times, a drawn-out comedy gag, or another nonlinear character intro that required you to try and remain focused on yet another tangent is not a challenge I looked for in this film.  As for the presentation, well the graphic novel feel was great, but the constant tangents and dives into side stories, or back tracking got a little overdone for me.  Just as we were getting ready to get into an exciting part, we took another tangent to give us details that were sort of important and more comedic that some fans enjoyed more than others.  I’ll make the next quick, the cursing is not the typical super movie, but back towards the grittier side with some of the code red words that little ears may not need to hear.  Sometimes I think they go overboard, but my friend did not think so, thus exercise caution as to what you are ready to hear before bringing kids.  In addition, the action as I said is a little grittier itself, and for much of this movie the action is going to feel like mob antics than super hero exploits.  Those with weak styles of torturing and savagery need to avoid this movie, while those hoping for better, over the top action films… will not be quite a fan of the battles in this tale.  With the exception of the ending, the battles were a little simpler and focused on the comedy edge than the exciting edge.  Certainly filled with that wow factor or girl power component, the main flaws for the action in the film were much of the stunts seen in the trailers, and how slow motion gets overused again.  If you love seeing your executions in the full detail, drawn out finishing move, you will have no problem, but I like the balance of well-coordinated stunts with just the right touch of Snyder vision to emphasize the ultimate finisher.  This was not the case for me in much of the film, and some of the choreography looked a little too forced or stiff given some of the other things I’ve seen.  Then comes the politics of the film.  Yes… we knew this was going to be a politically empowered film, and while I think it did an okay job for much of it, there was still that factor of making all the villains scumbags with little redeeming qualities to be the polar opposites of our crew.  While a few did have better balance, this polarization of characters did not impress me when it came to balance, especially when it came to the main villain.  Another example of a villain with more bark than bite, the man’s biggest weapons are resources and a threatening demeanor.  After all the theatrics… it was again another time where the big boss was just disappointing for me, despite how good the ending felt.  DC has struggled to give much of its villains the balance and skills that Marvel has done, and I hope future renditions will work on this.

 

The VERDICT:

            You may have heard this is the best DC movie in the longest time, and others not so much.  This reviewer thinks that the film is the middle of the pack, beating my expectations on many things, but still looking for some tightening up to help get the same levels that Wonder Woman and Shazam held for me.  It’s got the edge, the attitude, the fun and the use of characters and character development was a major selling point for me.  I found this to be a fun comic book movie though, with a new aged flare and promise for some more fun films starring Ms. Robbie.  However, I’d like the politics to be toned back a bit, put some more though into the villains like they did the protagonists, and make the action have the dynamic energy that I know they can do and not rely so much on the slow-motion versions that DC loves.  Still, this movie I think is worth a trip to the theaters and would encourage you to get out there and see it if you have time.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5 

 

 

A Family Adventure that Does Little To Excite

Dolittle Poster

 

 

Another night, another time at the movies and with that we set forth on an adventure that will hopefully be worth the time investment.  Former Iron Man runner, has changed into a new set of duds as he goes into exploring a new universe.  The trailers paint this one as a fun, adventurous movie, that looks to have mystery, comedy, and a little excitement in search of the next big thing.  However, we all know trailers can make things look more golden than they actually are.  Well yours truly is back and ready to give some thoughts as he sets sail with Robert Downey Jr.in the film:

 

Film:  Dolittle (2020)

 

Director:

Stephen Gaghan

Writers:

Stephen Gaghan (screenplay by), Dan Gregor(screenplay by)  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Robert Downey Jr.Antonio BanderasMichael Sheen

 

LIKES:

  • Great Voice Acting
  • Decent Balance Of Characters
  • Okay CGI
  • Some Meaningful Moments
  • Funny At Times
  • The Ending Credits
  • Cute Family Movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Direction Of Dolittle
  • A Little Too Forced Humor
  • The Adventure Is Boring
  • Villain Doesn’t Deliver
  • Action is Simplistic
  • The Story Predictable
  • Low Impact Impasses that Are Too Easy To Overcome

 

Summary:

 

The story of Dolittle has come in many packages, but this one held promise as Pirates meeting cute animal stories.  The digitally created cast has fantastic voice acting, with many creatures being a dead ringer for the people embodying them.  It’s not the most emotionally distraught or tight performance, but it works for the funny characters at hand and should delight the young and young at heart.  With a star-studded cast and plenty of animals, I have to say they accomplish their task of getting as much of the participation of the characters as they could.  I enjoyed the contributions they had to the adventure and found their comedy a selling point for most audience members.  The CGI work is not the most impressive at times, but it worked for me and helped get the animal movements down well, and making this odd cast come to life.  The animation is fluid, and the ability to anthropomorphize these cast of creatures.  While most of this works is to bring comedy to the film, presented in slapstick, goofy delivery, and a few ridiculous sequences designed for the young, it somehow also adds some other level of connection to the movie as you root for the safety of our crew.  Most of the film is about that level of comedy, but at its core lies some of those heartwarming moments that we love to see in these types of films.  Some of these moments are fully appreciated at the end, primarily in the closing moments and end credits that bring yet another art style to the mix that was interesting and fun to watch.  The result is that the movie is all about the classic family movie that has sort of been missing for some time, and will be perfect to take the grandkids too. 

 

However, the reviews coming in make some valid points and I believe these areas could have been improved upon to make this a better movie.  For one the direction of Dolittle himself is odd, a man broken by events, the eccentric genius approach is one part interesting and two parts odd.  A complicated history awaits, but yet the movie never goes with it, lost in him being too silly, isolated, and single track minded to really expand upon this complex character.  And much like the other animals, the comedy is sometimes a little too forced for me, jokes jammed into awkward moments and banter that took the adventure from exciting to corny at times for me, as it became a quest for the next joke.  For me, the adventure became boring very quickly, too simplified and linear with little challenge to stand in our crew’s way.  Where were the exciting ship to ship battles that made our crew face their fears?  What mysteries and challenges await in the palace halls we saw in that trailer?  What about that dragon?  Well… the trailers deceive you into thinking these are real threats, but the truth is that the watered-down action and the challenges just don’t really deliver much outside of a G rated starter movie.  Even the villain is kind of lame, an eccentric looking doctor is about all the threats he has got, as the former leader of vampires/werewolves has taken on the role of one liners and being kind of a nimrod, who poses little threats.  Again this makes for a cute, family friendly film adventure, but in terms of exciting story that could start a series, that’s where it fails for me.

 

The VERDICT:

            I did not hate this movie, but I was disappointed in the direction it chose to take in this rendition for this story.  The trailers painted this as an epic adventure with CGI animals, but instead we got a much kid friendlier adventure that was more about the laughs, slapstick, and cramming of animals than anything else.  It’s positives for me are all about how cute this adventure is with them capitalizing on the CGI animals as the main anchor point the target audience will love.  This film sort of felt like the films I watched as an introduction adventure growing up, simple and wholesome, with just enough added spunk to be above a nick junior movie.  However, where I think the movie fails as the reviewers have said is the missed potential they had suggested to me with the trailers.  The central character is loveable,  but not really a detailed RDJ character that we’ve seen him master like his other films.  The animals are fun, but again they seem so simplified and prop like that I have a hard time investing in most of them.  And worst of all, the atmosphere is so kiddy that the adventure aspect is diluted down to lackluster levels, which may not please the parents or older siblings that are accompanying them.  Therefore, all the conveniences and incomplete story for me are going to be the hardest blows to the quality of this film. 

 

My scores for the film are:

Adventure/Family/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Do You Come To Play In This Film?

Playmobil: The Movie Poster

 

The Lego Movie shattered the expectations of toy-based movies with a dynamic story, great comedy, decent sequences of actions, and a balance of kids to adult audiences.  While the sequels that followed took stride in their own remark, the first one really opened our eyes to quality kids animation.  Enter tonight’s movie, in the form of Playmobile, a similar design to the classic pegs, but with a little more movement and cost-effective price to appease the younger crowd.  Tonight’s movie offers the same sort of approach, hoping to get the animated holiday feature in before Oscar season swoops in.  What is the verdict?  Robbie K coming in, to give you insight into the next movie and determine if it’s worth a trip to the theater.

 

Movie:  Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

 

Director:

Lino DiSalvo

Writers:

Blaise Hemingway (screenplay by), Greg Erb (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anya Taylor-JoyGabriel BatemanJim Gaffigan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation Is Decent

Cute

Heartwarming Story

Short Run Time

Fun Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Acting Is Mixed

Predictable and Linear

Jokes Sort Of Forced Into The Movie

Action Is Rather Dull

Music Numbers Are Sometime forced

Lame Villain For Me

Not As Well Balanced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Like many animated movies, Playmobil is very nicely designed to bring the family fun atmosphere to the forefront of the show.  Smooth movement, cute design, and nod back to the days of creating worlds with the simple figure, this movie manages to bring imagination back on the big screen.  Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this film is certainly cute, with the short run time of about 80 minutes (not counting credits) being focused on heartwarming, moral filled lessons in a nice dynamic package. It’s a great lesson for the ideal audience of kids, which should bring smiles to the young faces and the parents that accompany them.  Finally, like most kids films, Playmobil is ready to pump the speakers up with original music, that is toe tapping selection of catchy tunes about the morals we need in our lives.

 

Yet the other side of the coins have valid points for me in regards to this film, especially when one sees what was accomplished in other animation films.  For one thing the voice acting is okay, which can either be due to performance or direction of the character.  Anya Taylor-Joy does a decent job, and young actor Gabriel Bateman accomplishes the vulnerable child in over his head role well as he starts discovering himself.  My champions are Gaffigan and Daniel Radcliffe whose characters are probably the most engaging of the supporting characters and bringing the dynamic cast to a rather one-note movie.  Unlike other films, the movie falls short of the dynamic storytelling that other company productions have excelled in.  It’s plot is thin and very predictable, a linear tale with few bumps or surprises to amazing and wow as the writing continues to favor the younger generations filled with jokes and preachy speeches crammed on in.  Sure the humor is cute, but the movie needed better balance for this reviewer and working on making a more exciting tale that utilized the humor and lessons as a supporting role instead of the central pillar.  The action scenes are rather limited, mostly due to the G rating, but also because the villain is another example of a grandiose, pompous, speech expert who does little else.  Because of these two factors, alongside the linear telling, just results in a bland adventure that might not be as entertaining to the older crowd, which is a shame given what they can do in these movies.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Playmobil is not an awful movies, it just doesn’t have the same balance or execution that the Lego movie, or other films for kids have been able to pull off.  Certainly, the animation, story, and cute atmosphere will certainly impress the target audience of youngsters.  Sadly, the fact that the film struggles to find balance in the presentation to the audience with its predictable, G rate film is going to be the biggest obstacle to see this movie.  With a feel much more fitting of a Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney feel, Playmobil is much better suited to a home viewing where the little ones can corral into the living room and watch it for the short run time.  Overall, the movie will deliver to the young generation, but given Frozen is out, Spy in Disguise is on its way, and Star Wars, this film is going to be out of the theater quickly unfortunately.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:   6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Is This a Dark Fate For The Series?

Terminator: Dark Fate Poster

 

The Terminator timeline is like a game of connect the dots that suddenly gets more dots and has to be redrawn.  No matter how many times we think the story is over, the team’s quest for more bucks finds ways to try and give “unique” stories, but still keep it in the universe.  After the reception of the last film, I can’t lie that I’m surprised a sixth installment is coming.  Yet here we are, ready to review the latest entry into the Sci-Fi franchise.  What’s ins tore?  Well Robbie K is here to shed some light and potentially alter your future.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

 

Director:

Tim Miller

Writers:

James Cameron (story by), Charles H. Eglee (story by)

Stars:

Linda HamiltonArnold SchwarzeneggerMackenzie Davis

 

 

Likes:

  • Good Acting
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development
  • Surprisingly Deeper
  • The Graphics At Time
  • The Pace
  • The Action

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictability
  • The Unnecessary Politics
  • The Computer Graphics
  • Bloated At Points
  • More Action Needed
  • Convoluting The Timeline Even Further

 

SUMMARY

 

A Terminator movie has never been known for Academy Award winning performances, but this reviewer will not lie that he enjoyed the acting.  The classic champions of the franchise succeed in reliving their characters, bringing a new light to the simplistic roles, but yet being familiar.  Meanwhile newcomers like Davis and Reyes succeed in fitting into the new roles that the franchise wants them to take.  It’s not the most complicated of the roles, but the it works for the premise of the film.  The writing stems from those characters being the simple cat and mouse game with a little gun play involved, but in this installment the comedy seems to be there once more to offset the darker tones, with simple jokes integrated into natural conversation that make fans like me laugh.  All of this boils down to more dynamic characters, where people are much more than simple fodder for the terminators, but instead starting to show more heart and wisdom then what I think I have seen in any film.  This opens up into a surprisingly deeper film, finally achieving characters that we want to see, instead of the generic one-dimensional shells that are no better than the robots they are fighting, which is something I enjoyed.  Yet, this does not mean the Terminators have deviated too much from their normal delivery of the Terminator films.  The computer graphics have continued to improve, helping beef up action sequences, and help design one of the deadliest series to date.  These qualities are the thumbs up of computer technology in this film and things I absolutely love to see.  When it comes to the pace of the film, Dark Fates keeps things moving, refusing to linger too long as they chase/hunt continues and the defense plans need to evolve.  For guys like me, this pace is welcomed, because it keeps things exciting, but yet does not move so fast that the character development is rushed.  The heavy dialogue moments are then interrupted by some decent action sequences, with the first and last moments holding the planning and execution of scenes I like.  Fights are vicious, fun, exciting, and have the darkness to allow for some seriously awesome moves and struggles that are fitting of this series.

 

Sadly with all the stuff I enjoyed of the film, there are still some things the series is working to find balance in for me.  First, the predictability of the story is probably one of the most obvious things I’ve seen in a long time.  Attempts to hide the truth are poorly diverted, with too many nonverbal cues and obvious bait liners present to point the trend along the entire time until the “big’ reveal at the end.  Like, many films, Terminator 6 has fallen victim to the political messages of the time, with some lines, and the twist, a little too focused on these issues that did not seem quite a needed in this tale.  All these political entanglements with attempts to throw us off the scent led to the film being a little bloated, the over 2 hours run time that not needed when there were some things that could have been cut.  At this point you might be saying, who cares about the story, I’m in this film for the thrills and chaos.  Well even at this point Terminator’s team still has a few things to tune up.  For one thing, the computer work may have thumbs up in design and sound editing, but they still have not mastered the ability for the smoothest/most realistic looking action.  There are some movements and transitions that still look a little corny to me, and I laughed at the obvious actor placement that they threw into the mix.  In addition, there could have been either a few more action moments or maybe a little more evolved action to again make the entire time investment worth it.  Terminator’s opening moment sets the bar high, and it would have been nice to see the momentum carried on, or at least the finale having even more bite to go hand in hand with the storytelling.  Overall though, this film is all about further convoluting the timeline and potentially opening up for the next chapter that is “different” but yet the same.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Going into with lower expectations, I’ll admit I enjoyed Dark Fates on a variety of levels.  Old and new cast team up to start the legacy of the film off right, brining character development that is deeper than anticipated and style that is aggressively awesome.  With fast pace and action to keep things moving, alongside some impressive video and sound editing, this film delivers on the special effects boom.  Yet, the film still cannot find the full balance it needs, bringing predictability and politics to what should be a film that is willing to take a step into new realms.  Throw in some work with the special effects and better finesse of the action scenes, this bloated part of the film could have been filed away to make a better film.  Still, worth a trip to the theater for this one, especially for fans of the series. 

 

My scores are: 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0