Pretty Lesson Wrapped In A Mundane Package

I Feel Pretty

 

Comedy takes on many forms and faces, sometimes absurdly clever and other times simplistic slapstick meant to be over the top.  It’s a genre that offers the most variety, bringing many people into the theaters to make the movie-going experience fun.  Given the volume of movies pumped out by the studios though, I find it hard to get stoked for movies that look questionable.  So, tonight’s review held much mystery as to what was in store.  Nevertheless, Robbie K is back in action to share his thoughts as he reviews:

 

Film: I Feel Pretty

 

Directors:

Abby Kohn,  Marc Silverstein

Writers:

Abby Kohn,  Marc Silverstein

Stars:

Amy Schumer,  Michelle Williams,  Emily Ratajkowski

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute, Not Crude:  Schumer’s quality is usually how much vulgarity one can cram into a 2-hour film in hopes of bringing nonstop laughs. I Feel Pretty washes that crude nature away, focusing instead on a cuter movie that’s more awkward than bluntly grotesque.  Such a change was refreshing to see, and for once not too distracting from the story/morals of the film.

 

One component of the Story:  I Feel Pretty’s story is very basic, but one component in particular stands out and that is the lesson of inner beauty and self-confidence.  Like a distorted version of Shallow Hal, the movie is designed to isolate the importance of believing in oneself and how one can succeed if done right.  Yet go too far, and one crosses the line to arrogance, becoming the very thing they hated being judged by.  These lessons were fun, structured, and in the final scene delivered well with writing that actually had fire, fury, and emotional punch to deliver the teachings they wanted to present.

 

Ethan:  This comedy had me chuckling at times, often due to a well-placed quip, or awkward scenario playing out.  Yet the most consistent source of laughs was Rory Scovel as Ethan.  The male lead had in both my friend and I’s opinions the best delivery of his lines, writing that was the least over the top, and reactions that were appropriate for the mess Schumer’s character landed in.  Even his nonverbal comedy hit the mark, the simplistic facial expressions enough to emphasize the shock factors this movie brings.  In addition, Ethan was a major adorable factor for the relationship, grounding the ridiculousness the relationship held.

 

DISLIKES:

Rather Bland:  Surprisingly, the lack of crude comedy resulted in the movie feeling rather bland at times, almost like a forced, water downed version of usual style.  The slower, lackadaisical parts were hard to keep my eyes open for, making the movie drag at parts that could have been left out.  In addition, the lack of gimmicks that she is known to bring were quite absent in this movie, making this movie feel quite off for both my friend and me.  So, don’t expect to be in stitches the whole time in this film.

 

Ruined by Trailers: It happened again, despite the few times I saw this trailer, I hadn’t expected practically all of the funny parts to be revealed in the movie.  I Feel Pretty was sorely ruined by the trailer, leaving little sustenance in the actual movie itself aside from some cute romance, a few chuckle worthy moments, and of course some attractive models.

 

Over the Top Comedy:  While not cruse, I Feel Pretty still suffers from overusing comedic ploys as the sole means of laughing.  The movie lacks much clever comedy, or even a dynamic array of comedy to mix things up, forcing one to sit through mindless banter, half-mumbled complaints, and dare I say boring dialogue for most of the movie.  Even her drunk moments lack that bite to shake things up, again resorting to whiney, bouts of crying that did little to make us laugh.

 

Messy Story:  A strong message brings about a solid foundation to build a story upon, but again the movie got lazy, failing to expand beyond what was shown in the trailer.  Character development is practically missing in this movie, lost to the mockery of inner beauty to outer beauty.  Ethan may be sweet, but his history is a mystery, with little evolution past the quirky, heart of gold man ready to sweep in and start a relationship with the protagonist.  As for the best friends, I can only laugh at the fact they were even introduced, for these women are practically absent during much of the film.  And in regards to the impasse of work, even that was rather anticlimactic and weirder than anything else.  The summary of this dislike, too many loose ends and lack of comedy to offset these weak story arcs.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

I Feel Pretty held so much potential, but once more the comedy realm has failed to expand upon gimmicks.  The film holds an incredible moral lesson, and the final scene drops the hammer to shatter the glass of believing in oneself.  That’s it though, for the cute nature and the quirky relationship… this game just does nothing to help with the shortcoming of the film.  It’s bland, with over the top (stale) tactics doing little to correct the rather messy story.  Throw in the trailers containing the gold nuggets buried deep in the movie, and you realize there is not much to warrant a trip to theater with this one.  It’s target audience is a girls’ night out for a group looking to relate to a comedy. Otherwise you are just wasting your time.  My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Super Cast Brings Justice To This Franchise:

Justice League

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

Designed to Snatch Your Money! One-Liners Don’t Make The Movie

snatched

 

The second weekend of May is always a crapshoot when it comes to movies, often with emphasis on first part of the word.  Robbie K is back and in the trenches with another review, starting off with a movie he was despairing to see. I’m talking about Snatched, the latest “comedy” starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. If you have seen the trailers, you know this movie was painting a pretty “simplistic” picture, and I didn’t have much hopes for it.  What lies behind the sparkly sheen of blonde hair?  Read on my friends to hear my thoughts on the latest movie to hit the big screen.

 

LIKES:

  • Clever at times
  • Goldie Hawn
  • “Touching at moments”
  • Beautiful scenery

 

Summary:  Let’s face it the trailers didn’t establish much potential in the movie, but this reviewer has to admit chuckling at times.  There are some well-timed jokes in this movie, and the delivery itself sometimes is spot on to perfect the humor. Yet the parts that kept me laughing, were the ones involving Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes, an unlikely cop duo that really works in this movie and maximizes their short screen time.  And while these two are certainly the laughs for me (and a good chunk of the small audience), it was Miss Hawn who stole the show for me.

Okay this wasn’t her best role, but Hawn’s first big screen appearance in a long time was a lot of fun to watch.  Like much of her cast she was funny at times, but what this reviewer liked the most was how balanced they made her character. She was fun, feisty, and the moral compass the film, trying to keep them alive all while trying to be mature.  And yet there was vulnerability, and a little bit of growth that was dare I say “touching” at times. Hawn’s character brings some relevant issues to the table and tackles them in a fun and emotionally fulfilling way.

The best thing, and yes, I’m grasping for straws here, for me in this movie is the beautiful shots of EcuadorCinematography is not usually my favorite part of the movie, but for Snatched, it works as the brilliant countryside and jungle are brought to life via bird’s eye view shots and wide angle pan shots.  The jungle is really brought to life in this film, including the CGI crafted animals that dwell under the foliage. Throw in some fun music to add some pep to it and you get a combination that adds a little “atmosphere” to the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Simplistic story
  • Violent
  • Political Preachy
  • Annoying, Crude Jokes

 

Summary: But where those likes work for me, there are a variety of dislikes that leave an imprint on my mind.  It starts with the story. No surprise, Snatched is going to win any Oscars for its story, which is pretty pitiful for the most part.  Like many modern comedies, the plot is at a bare minimum of the two being kidnapped and trying to get back home. There is little deviation from this frail backbone of a plot, with little character development despite the numerous openings they had.  With two actresses who have quality chemistry, should have been easy to use the mother-daughter relationship to evolve their characters and give the movie some guts.

Instead the character development was replaced by violence and not the cool, special effect kind you find in fantasies.  No, Schumer’s comedy style decides to make the violence mindless accidents that try to be funny, but only come out ridiculous, pointless, and a little insulting at times (usually due to banter). Such simple-minded comedy is welcome occasionally, but much of Snatched comedy is highly overused.

Yet the violence is nothing compared to the political preachiness of the movie.  The touching moments are certainly cheesy, drawn out dialogues reminiscent of 90’s sitcoms.  Yet I would still take these soap box morals compared to the political humor embedded in this film.  Snatched does not sugar coat the platforms Schumer and the crew are stuck on.  And while I give them props for their bravado, the hard-hitting jokes just get old after the 18th, poorly written joke hits your ears. The sexism jokes in particular are not my particular favorites, and are fine examples of stupid writing taking preference over that balanced wit I like.  Unfortunately, this is the nature of the entire movie, stupid one liners, dragged out banter, and ridiculously crude jokes crammed into a 90-minute run time.  Obviously, this is Schumer’s normal style, but in this movie, the lack of few other supportive qualities means the stupidity gets old quickly, primarily Schumer acting like a drunk, whiny brat.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

No surprise Snatched is not the funniest comedy of the year.  It’s unbalanced, filled with stupidity, stale tactics, and meme worthy stills that will wind up on the internet within the year.  While I know Schumer’s presentation is not the greatest, she is most certainly not the worst thing about the film.  It is instead the lack of any purpose, structure, and story that leaves this movie an annoying mess that is getting low scores.  So, who should go see this movie in theaters?  My observations point to female fans of Amy Schumer’s comedy, otherwise do your best to skip this film and wait for Netflix to pick I up. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Comedy:  5.0

Movie Overall:   4.0

Quality Sci Fi has Arrived

arrival

            Science fiction is a genre that gets a bad rap by many often because it is mixed in with science fiction/fantasy (e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, and etc.). However, there are occasions where, if you give the series a chance, you’ll find a film that is a work of art.  Tonight, a few friends and I checked out Arrival to see what all the hype was about.  Is this movie truly worthy of the praise, or is it just overhyped advertisements?  You know the drill, read on to find out…please.

 

LIKES:

  • Strong acting chemistry
  • Awesome Science Fiction story
  • What a twist

 

You want to make a strong movie; you need strong cast to act the tale out.  Arrival has all that and a bag of chips with the crew assembled for this movie. Amy Adams leads with a stellar, or interstellar, performance that was one of her strongest performances in a long time. She played scientific and emotional, crafting a character that was very admirable to watch as she worked to decipher the alien language. Jeremy Renner plays the supporting scientist, whose expertise adds another dynamic to the mix to not only provide some clues, but also a potential friendship to Adams life.  The two together feel like a scientific team striving to help the world, and their chemistry mixes well that you would expect of the lead actors. In regards to Forest Whitaker, his military colonel performance is strong, rugged, and a bit suspenseful to help add some antagonism that also fits well with his costars.

But the acting isn’t the only thing you are looking for in a Sci Fi movie right?  You want a good story that blends reality with some advanced science concepts, right?  Good news, Arrival delivers on this aspect crafting a fairly realistic tale that is believable and not loaded down with special effect explosions.  The tale has mystery behind it, which will hook you into the film and carry you for the ride as one tries to figure out the aliens’ purpose. An added suspense is brought in by the time constraints placed by our overzealous military humans who strive to attack if a message cannot be conveyed.  As for you character developing folks, don’t worry there are plenty of sequences to illuminate the mystery behind our group, helping to add some depth to what would otherwise be a stereotypical role And the twist, well our story writers managed to surprise a number of people with a revolution that was both mind blowing and emotionally satisfying.  I was able to pick out a few “big” reveals, but they paled in comparison to the main revelation in store for you.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Alien Design
  • A few unanswered questions
  • Slow at points

 

   It is really hard to find errors for me in this film, so much of this is simply picky things that really won’t ding the scores.  The first is the alien design.  Our mysterious visitors were not that impressive for me, lacking any threatening features. Without revealing anything, they seemed to be a simplified copy of another creature seen in a movie series a few years ago.  Nevertheless, the things they did were really well animated and cool to watch, and despite not looking impressive were certainly intriguing to watch. Again a small weakness

In addition to all the good things I said about the movie, Arrival is a movie that will warp your mind and keep you asking questions.  Yes, it is a movie you have to pay attention to and will keep you thinking as you try to fathom the plot.  With the constant moving pieces and the multiple stories, you might wonder if they cover everything.  And for the most part they do as our writers make sure the film comes together in the end to deliver the messages and punch it has.  Pay attention America and you might just learn something.  Despite everything coming together though, there is one question my mind craved to know (which I can’t reveal) and I have to wonder what the whole point of the visit was when the ending finally came.  Again another small dislike for me.

 In fact, the only dislike that I may have to dock off is the pace of the movie.  Arrival isn’t the fastest moving film, and there are times where the movie seems to unnecessarily drag at times.  The movie sometimes dives a little too deep into the details (e.g. traveling to the ship, traveling the ship’s hallways, or seeing some of the character developing scenes). While these moments certainly bring the setting to life, the repeated scenes and extra details may not have been as necessary as they thoughtWhen the ending wraps up nicely though, these extra details feel welcome.

 

THE VERDICT:

I got to hand it to Arrival for delivering on the promises the trailers built up. The film is a true science fiction masterpiece that is intriguing, thought provoking, and suspenseful in one package. Those who aren’t big fans of alien films ought to give this one a whirl not only to have a good mystery, but also for the emotional backstory of our lead character.  Despite the slow pace of the film, our team brought a fantastic story together, one that I hope will be recognized for the intelligence behind it.  And if you are looking for a good twist, well get ready to have your mind blown.  Small weaknesses aside, this movie is definitely worth a trip to the theater for many people.

 

My scores:

Drama/Mystery/Sci Fi:  9.5

Movie Overall: 9