Femme Fatale Fashionista! Anna The Complex Spy

Anna Poster

 

Spy films!  A chance to tell engaging, deep, intense tales utilizing the most unexpected people.  For years Bond has sort of led this revolution, but other films attempt to get into their own secrets that are less flashy and more involved with the espionage component.  This weekend, the latest jab at the spy film comes in the form of a femme fatale, where fashion and lethality mix together in an attempt to make the latest thriller for people, perhaps the female population in particular, to enjoy. Robbie K here ready for another review, this time on:

 

Director:

Luc Besson

Writer:

Luc Besson (screenplay)

Stars:

Sasha LussHelen MirrenLuke Evans

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Acting
  • The Cast
  • The Character Development
  • A Few Action Scenes
  • The Costumes and Wardrobe

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Pace
  • The Convoluted Story and Means
  • The Lack of Action/Stiff Action
  • Emphasis of Sex
  • The awkward Love Triangle
  • The Politics Again

 

Summary:  Spy films are always about the character bringing the bang to the buck for me and that requires good acting.  Sasha Luss was a great front woman for this type of film, decent balance if dialogue, the carrying of the femme fatale energy, the suaveness, and the layered emotion were executed quite well over the course of the film.  Helen Mirren as sort of her mentor/boss, another fine display of the legend’s talents to bring so much to the film.  The cast of the characters works very well together, fashioning a convoluted band of spies who are complex and untrustworthy, perfect for a movie about spies.  Yet amidst the carbon copy roles of the arrogant and monotone spies, Anna actually has a little more to her character hidden in that façade of boredom and eternal calm.  As the story unfolds, Anna starts to reveal more of the dolls nestling in this KGB spy, each layer a different element that you weren’t expecting, until the grand finale reveals the inner desire nestling within.  Impressive to have that sort of buildup in a spy thriller, but welcomed for me.  Fortunately she also manages to have some stimulation thrown in to the mix, and Anna’s got an impressive amount of gunplay accuracy and some hand to hand combat that rivals Black Widows earlier days that helps liven up the movie.  To be honest though, I loved the costumes and wardrobe of the film, with the designers doing a fantastic job of bringing the emotion to the scene through the styles and aliases that Anna wore.  It’s slick, sexy, and stunning in all form that goes so well with the themes of the movie and the character they are building, plus a few members commented how they found the clothes stunning as well, so that aspect is good too.

Here is the problem though, the pace of this movie is not quite as thrilling as the trailers made it to be.  Anna’s presentation is slow, utilizing the ideas of executing acts and then going back in a set of flashbacks to explain how it got there.  It’s unique, but after the third time of doing it, it feels like the Lord of The Rings series of constantly retelling the same tale.  These multi-layered plot elements should engage those loving spy complexity, but the average audience might find themselves snoozing or walking out (the former I had to fight).  Now while the action I think shows off the girl power motif, the problem for me (no surprise) was the lack of action and more so how stiff the sequences became. Anna’s fights are very choreographed, lacking that element of raw action that great sequences hold, and that makes the attempt at injecting suspense a little lacking. Instead the raw passion went into the sexual moments, steamy bouts of animal passion that sort of display the art of seduction to the business at hand.  While parts make sense, I would have liked a redirecting of the energy to some other elements that I had hoped Anna could show off.  Yet, the attempt at character building puts an awkward love triangle into the mix as well, one that sort of elevates the underlying means of the a tale, but again could have been redirected in a better light.  This leads me to probably the source of my limitations, the politics.  Spy films are known for the political components they are trying to usurp, but this one took the modern-day political means into a new light and it did not work for me.  The blatant statements towards modern issues becomes the central focus and in taking time to craft a character that bluntly states it, the rest of the story components sort of faltered for me. 

 

Overall, Anna has the style and suaveness in the character, crafting someone who has the attitude of the girl power movement and a spy with a little more heart nested in the stone-cold shell.  While the movie has a lot of great acting to it, it cannot offset the pace and convoluted presentation, nor the stiff action/focus on sex that did little for me.  Anna’s espionage thriller may have a lot of visual appeal, but it does not quite have the same spy spark that I look for in my spy action thrillers.  The lack of bang, and the okay story make this difficult to recommend for a theater visit, but if you are looking to get your spy flick, or want to be impressed by costume visual prowess, then have a go at this one this weekend.

 

My scores are:

Action Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Wasn’t Board With This One, But Not The Original

Overboard

 

Another weekend, another remake, and this one is a doozy as Hollywood goes back to the 80s in the terms of its inspiration.  The movie to be copied this time is that classic starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, involving amnesia, backwater families, and of course a lot of stereotypical humor.  And surely from that (or reading the title) you can guess what I’m reviewing.  So let us cut the chit chat and get started as yours truly reviews:

 

Title: Overboard (2018)

 

Director:

Rob Greenberg

Writers:

Leslie Dixon (story),  Bob Fisher (screenplay)

Stars:

Anna Faris,  Eugenio Derbez,  John Hannah

 

 

LIKES:

 

Chemistry:  Let’s face it, this isn’t going to be the next award winning performance, and you aren’t going to see realistic portrayals of emotional turmoil, so don’t expect that.  While the comedy acting is forced, the thing I enjoyed of this movie is the chemistry between the whole cast.  Fans of Overboard know about the plot of a character getting amnesia and being made to believe they live in a drastic change to their world.  The convoluted lie requires coordination and the cast I felt did a nice job selling as if they too believed in this lie.  Each actor/actress felt like they knew each other well, and made this bizarre, extended family/community that was involved in the adventure.  As for the leads, well they played the ridiculous characters quite well, but there is only so much you can do with a ridiculous script.

 

The Pace:  Remakes can sometimes feel like a drag depending on the direction they take, but surprisingly Overboard makes a nice go at keeping things entertaining.  There is enough energy in the film to help make the adventure fun, and I myself was surprised when I looked down and realized an hour had passed.  So despite how rushed and out of sorts things may be, the movie at least doesn’t feel like a slug in molasses in terms of pacing.

 

Cute and Fun:  Perhaps the biggest selling point for the movie is just how family friendly this movie is.  My showing alone spanned all ages and ethnicities, each enjoying the fun the film brought and the lessons it can of course teach us.  Numerous coos and awwwws of adornment filled the theaters, and I admit I found myself loving the charming nature of the movie.  This is definitely one for a group or family outing, because it’s just a fun movie to watch if you’re open to ridiculous antics that don’t involve too much vulgarity or over the top stupidity.

 

Comedy:  Again, Overboard is a bit forced, but a major strength of the writing is the blending of comedic genres to help get things going. While the slapstick and forced meme worthy comments are a bit much, the writing actually has its clever moments in regards to comedic delivery, movie references (and not just the first overboard) and poking fun at cultural/ethnic trends that are actually respectable and classy. Making fun of over the top telenovelas, or about the inability for people to work are just some of the pokes in store for this movie, and it’s quite entertaining to watch.   Overboard has a little something for most in is execution and that dignified comedy gets an A+ in my book.

 

The Music:  Finally, the energy of the movie is also attributed to the music that is pumped through the max amplitude speakers of the theater. It’s not that diverse, primarily international electronic music, with a little Latin salsa flair thrown in as well. Still, the infectious beat and high energy nature of the tracks adds a little pizazz to the movie and may have you dancing in your seat.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Over Top Moments: The over the top comedy is cool at points and entertaining to most, but it gets a tad old after a while. Overboard’s antics got a bit stale, and the forced moments, primarily the delivery, soon become appealing only to the extreme kids at heart and kids.  They start to back off near the end when the morals and story develop, but at the beginning it is a little difficult to stomach the torrent of grossly delivered lines.  Sorry, if you are a fan of this comedy, no means to insult.

 

Story Not Quite As Put Together:  In the original, the story was still ridiculous, but they were able to flesh out and develop the characters and relationships to an astounding degree to tightly wrap things up in a nice bow.  While this telling is complete, the integration of everyone into the story is just not quite as complete as the original, nor was there as much as resistance to the integration into the new life.  I missed that gradual development and felt while this one was more fun, it wasn’t quite as complete as the other movie.

 

Not unique:  The only other thing I can say is that movie is still missing that unique theater experience.  It’s a comedy that tries to hit a little bit of everyone’s needs, but the result is a broad, generic comedy that doesn’t quite live up to what it aspired to be.  While fun and entertaining at times, the comedy didn’t have all that bite it wanted, so that toio loses points, but hey it is a remake.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overboard is not a movie that is worth the extreme hate it is getting, which is mostly due to the comparison with the original. True… it’s not as well put together as its predecessor, but within this remake is a fun, entertaining moral filled fest for the whole family.  It’s a great family movie that will hit the funny bones for a lot of people, and it has that energy to keep you engaged for the nearly 2 hour run time.  Still, this movie isn’t the most unique film in the whole arsenal of comedy, which makes recommending it in theaters difficult.  I suggest going for a fun family night out, and a definite rent in the future, but definitely don’t hate on it without giving it a try.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.0 (more family than romance)

Movie Overall:  5.5

An Icon of Lost Potential

Emoji

 

In today’s world, the phone isn’t used quite as the inventors pictured, with actual calling being replaced by texting and snapchat.  But one item has been developed to replace the words that are too difficult to write: Emojis. In desperation, Sony has developed a film about these icons in an attempt to break the bank with another hit animated series.  Can they succeed, or will this movie be nothing but a bombardment of sad faced emojis?  Robbie K here to answer that question for you with another review.

 

LIKES:

 

The Animation:  You can say a lot of negative things about the movie, but one plus for this reviewer is the beautiful display Sony’s team has designed.  Like many movies, the characters move with fluid grace, transitioning through their adventure with little jumpiness.  High Five (James Corden) in particular has impressive moves, as having a hand expand beyond simple hand movements can be tricky business.  In addition, I enjoyed the visualization of the world within our phone, finding clever design in the development of the internal universes of each app (primarily Instagram’s frozen pictures).  I’ll admit, the characters aren’t realistic like Pixar, or even super creative design, but there is cleverness in the world itself.

 

It’s Cute:  When it comes to cartoons/animated marvels, the pendulum can swing to either side of the age spectrum.  Fear not those with little kids, this movie is certainly geared towards the younger side, filled to the brim with color, simplistic jokes, and over the top slapstick that will make many giggle.  Sure, there are a few drier jokes that adults will get, but for the most part this movie goes back to basics for family friendliness.  One won’t have to worry about inappropriate gestures or innuendos in this film.

 

The Morals:  Movies are a powerful tool to teach the lessons we humans are too ignorant to learn from mentors, school, and the quickly fading trend of reading.  Emoji’s movie solid lesson of being yourself and not conforming to the traditional ways is as good rehash of the traditional lesson.  Those who stand out from the norm will find great relevance to Gene (T.J. Miller)  and Jailbreak’s (Anna Faris) quest and most likely grab on to the characters.  It’s also always good to see a lesson in friendship as well, quoting the movie as “Better to have one good friend, than a bunch of fake fans followers”.  The strong emphasis on this will hopefully break through the persistent firewalls of your subconscious and get you contacting your buddies.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Story:  Despite the morals infused into the story, the overall quality of Gene’s tale is very basic at best.  The Emoji movie has little sustenance to it, diving more into cramming the jokes in the short run time. After all the world building I had hoped for a little more depth to navigating the apps, facing the dangers of the cyber terror that lurk in our phones. I wanted suspense! I wanted exploration of a selection of apps. I wanted an adventure that had a little more depth behind it. I got very little of that.  All the obstacles they faced were fairly easy to circumvent, and often not worth mentioning at how lame they were. Certainly, they did a few things right (Just Dance 4), but for the most part, it was a huge loss of potential at decoding the craziness of our obsession with phones.

 

Humor:  Humor can be fun when balanced, but unfortunately Emoji movie lacks that balance, once again swinging the pendulum to the younger audience.  Most of the jokes are very simple statements that lack any finesse, or decent delivery to maximize the laughs. Much of the humor is dry, and although has adult components, lacks that clever zing that other films/programs do. James Corden rectifies this a little with High Fives self-absorbed personality, but even his banter gets stale after a while.  With all of the comedians in this movie, I really had expected more of this movie, but again missed potential.

 

Boring: If you haven’t gleamed it from the first two categories, then this should sum this up, Emoji movie is boring. There is no suspense to the adventure, and let’s face it no point, to the challenges at hand.  I found myself looking at the clock wondering how much longer I had in the ridiculous presentation of smart phone gimmicks.  Cute is always great, but it is better left to YouTube and Kid shows that are in short spans of time. Without the jokes to back it up, nor an impressive voice performance, there is just little to scream entertainment outside of watching a child’s smile light up at the colorful presentation.

 

The VERDICT:

 

You’ve seen the reviews of my colleagues, and they aren’t far from the truth… Emoji movie was a miss for Sony in terms of quality.  The lackluster jokes, lack of challenge, and reserved wit were not the right steps to take in this inconsistent adventure for success.  In fact, the best thing of this film is the animated short for Hotel Transylvania that precedes it.  Still, if you are looking for a safe, family trip to the movies, you’ve got the Emoji movie to save your bacon.  However, I highly recommend reserving this one for Netflix. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  4.0

Movie Overall:  2.0  

Get Ready To Rock And Troll!

Trolls.jpg

            Trolls!  When you think of these mystical creatures most minds will picture tall, ugly creatures with pronounced booger filled noses and living under a bridge. But if you are a fan of the toys, many might remember the half-naked, multicolored hair figurines with the happy, semi creepy, smiles. I’m sure you’ve guessed the movie from the theme now right?  Yes, today I review DreamWorks’ Trolls starring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES

  1. Colorful, Animation: No surprise here, DreamWorks knows how to animate and Trolls is yet another example of their talent. Our characters run, jump, sing, and more importantly dance in impressive style that brings the unique world to life. The colorful characters (in both skin tone and personality) are charming, and the energy they infuse into the scenes adds another element to the animation.  And the design of all the creatures is very unique almost as it is being designed for…merchandise.

 

  1. Very Fun, Positive Movie: If you didn’t get this from the trailers, Trolls is a movie all about being upbeat, fun, and very positive in nature.  The pint sized cast will keep you laughing through the entire movie, spreading joy as they dance across the land. I found my spirits lifted through much of the movie as the trolls explained the tried and true lesson of happiness coming from within.  Yes, it is a bit preachy, but it was nice to see positivity as the main theme for a change instead of some political issue masked in another form.

 

  1. Kicking Soundtrack: The best thing for me in this film though was the awesome tunes our music directors picked for the list. Many of the songs are as upbeat and energetic as the trolls who are singing them.  Much of the songs are covers of famous songs, but these remixes work very well and represent the theme of their accompanying scenes as Kendrick, and sometimes JT, led the way. The dance numbers were even more impressive, filled with fireworks, light shows, and choreography that you always dreamed the little toys could do.  This reviewer sees ITunes blowing up with Trolls soundtrack sales and it’s for a good reason.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. A little stupid/kiddy: Before you shout blasphemy hear me out. Yes, animated features are geared towards kids and meant to be silly at times. But adults know there are times where it goes too deep into that territory.  Trolls has a few of these moments that sort of derailed the momentum of the movie.  Fortunately, these moments are few and far between, but this reviewer felt the storyboard team could have used the time to better develop characters and make the story more complex. Speaking of which…

 

  1. Simplistic Story: If you haven’t guessed from the trailers (and this review) Trolls isn’t the most complex story to grace the market. Again hear me out. Think about films like Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, or most Disney films. They usually have deep plot lines with dynamic relationships and character development. Trolls has a little of this especially in the stories of Branch and Bridget who need the biggest personality adjustments of the bunch.  Outside of that…the film lacks depth, because most of the characters are on happy pills who only want to dance and sing.  While this is certainly entertaining, the simplicity is a bit predictable and boring at times. I guess they focused more on music and dancing instead of storyboard.

 

  1. Pointless Characters: My biggest peeve has to be the missed potential with the characters. Trolls has a very diverse cast from the glitter infused Guy Diamond to the four legged, hat wearing, giraffe troll Cooper…yeah. Anyway, such interesting characters would hopefully have a little more involvement in the film. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much with these characters outside of a few good zingers and some simplistic, comical moves during a chase.  Certainly a cast like this could have had some interesting powers to donate on their quest (music blasting, super hair strength, heck even manipulating their hair into crafty shapes). But nope, these characters are reduced to nothing more than merchandising whose colors are meant to hypnotize your children to wanting more toys.  I guess this is how the studio will make the cash back from all the stars they drafted in this movie. Nevertheless, Trolls secondary characters need some development in future (inevitable) sequels.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

            Trolls is a fun, energetic dance party packaged into a ninety-minute run time. The music is the strongest aspect of the movie and the colorful animation is designed to support it. And when your toes aren’t tapping, the dialogue and voice acting are sure to give you some laughs along the way. However, there was some wasted potential in terms of stories and characters, which could have made this movie so much better had they captured it. Regardless, DreamWorks has released a decent product this weekend and it was nice to see some positivity for once.  Do I recommend this one for the theater?  Hmmm, I think you could skip this one and wait for DVD, but definitely check out the soundtrack soon to get a fun treat for the ears.

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0