Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3

 

“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.

 

LIKES:

Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.

 

Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.

 

Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.

 

DISLIKES:

Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.

 

Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.

 

Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.

The VERDICT:

Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Man of Classy Wit and Realism, but Not so much Action

Uncle

            Hollywood is really big on making mountains of money from molehills of ideas. This weekend, that molehill is a sixties television series about a spy group bent on stopping global terrorism from occurring. My movie review today is the Man from U.N.C.L.E, a movie that has been greatly endorsed in the premovie showings at my local theater. So with all the hype, and the potential for another good spy movie, I have once again gone back to my home away from home to bring you another review. Let’s get started!

When it come to spy movies one never knows what directions they will take. Will it be a comedic one where spies bumble around like idiots? Is it going to be action packed and filled with guns and bombs? Or maybe a very technical movie filled with high specks and stealth? For this movie the answer was a blend of action and comedy, and in a way that wasn’t overly cheesy. The Man from U.N.C.L.E takes you back into the world of old fashion spy films where our leading spies were sent to uncover by use of deceit and stealth. The whole film is laced with numerous sequences of our team sneaking around highly guarded facilities, using simplistic tools to quietly get to their goals. This isn’t some James Bond or Mission Impossible moment where overdramatic music blares in your ears as guns blaze and explosions rattle the walls. Instead it’s got more cleverness behind it, involving coordination between the two countries as they put aside their differences and played to their strengths. It took a more “realistic” approach, where adaptation, observation and a silver tongue go farther than any pistol can.

While I do appreciate the cleverness, the action sequences the cast promised were somewhat lacking. An opening chase scene was rather bland and a little overdone, but did have some impressive moves that an elite spy would have. Past that there are a few chase scenes, and a couple of quick shoot em up moments that took on an interesting, and somewhat dizzying, camera perspective. Without those adrenaline rushing moments, I can’t lie that I was a bit bored at all the stealthy maneuvering. The lack of a unique plot also didn’t help move things along and at times the movie dragged for me as they dodged around the goal. Some plot “twists” help liven things up and help give a little unknown to the film, but it still didn’t do much to bring excitement to the film.

What makes up for the action though is the witty comedy this film carries. Instead of crude vulgarity or stupid one-liners that will surely make memes, this film chose to let the situation bring the funny. Many times I chuckled as the spies blunders led to some other fools misfortune, a dark twist often following that was quite humorous. Our two spies hardly reacting to the situation further made the comedy better, their moot expressions syncing with the simplistic dialog. The banter was fun too, as the rivalry between the two male leads had them acting like fighting siblings, with the lady spy acting the role of the mature mother. Eventually this trick got old school, but there were some real comedic genius moments.

Putting the comedic aspect aside, the biggest strengths of this movie are the setting and the acting of the film. Our design team did a fantastic job bringing the feelings of the 60s, and the classic series, back to life in high definition glory. The outfits are the backbone of the look, the various skirts, cardigans, and thick blazers really popping out amidst the retro scenery. Bringing the classic cars into the picture only further amplified the blast to the past, especially the old radios and tunes that blared through the speakers and further capture the energy of the ages. The soundtrack of the picture is really fun as well, and the symphony score further ups the dramatic edge that gives a little flair to the mix. All of it blends well together, and helps take the nostalgic flair up a notch!

Acting wise the movie is solid as well. Henry Cavill takes the generic spy caveat and runs with it, making himself sound like a pompous twit. He uses that debonair and cockiness to speak his silver tongue and accomplish his goals, while fighting the emotional turmoil set on him. Armie Hammer going the Russian path was actually not as bad as I imagined him to be, and he captures the accent decently to sell his role. Hammer’s done a 180 and added a creepy edge to his portfolio with quiet intensity and an insanity complex that makes him dangerous on multiple levels. However, his downfall is the temper tantrum moments and dramatic shaking of his hands when his anger comes to full boil. I think the director may have gotten a little to into a comic book character if you know what I mean. Alicia Vikander does a nice job with her role as well, managing to cover a broad spectrum of characters and play all of them fairly strong. Not to mention she looks cute in all her retro outfits and pumps. Together the three of them make a good team together, and have a natural chemistry to their teamwork that could make for some interesting sequels.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E is not the most exciting spy movie I have seen, but it certainly has class and realism to it. Sure it could have used some action kick to it, and I would have liked a little more originality to it. Overall though, it’s not a bad movie and I think it would be a good rent movie in the long run. I still recommend Mission Impossible 5 over this one, but fans of the series should give it a shot.

Scores:

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0