Gentlemen Come Calling In Quality

The Gentlemen Poster

            Have you ever wondered what the dry atmosphere of Downton Abbey would be like if presented in the form of a mafia movie?  Yeah me neither, but it is the thought that came to mind when I was watching this film today.  A trailer that was sort of lost on me, today’s work directed by Guy Ritchie had me a little undecided how this film would go.  Potentially a stuffy, slow, hard edged movie with lots of cursing and torture, I could only imagine what I would get, especially when another fan left in a rant 20 minutes into the film.  What was the end result?  Robbie K here to give you some insight as he checks out:

 

Movie:  The Gentleman (2020)

 

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

Guy Ritchie (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (story by)

Stars:

Matthew McConaugheyCharlie HunnamMichelle Dockery

 

LIKES:

  • The Humor
  • The Character Usage
  • The Mystery/Politics
  • The Connections
  • The Presentation
  • The Censorship of violence, for the most part
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Excessive Cursing For Me
  • Missing Some Action
  • The Extended Ending
  • Some Stereotypical Annoyances
  • The Rapping Video
  • Slow At Parts

 

 

SUMMARY

 

When it comes to the British writing style, this reviewer always looks to the potential for balanced writing.  Sure enough, this is one of the times where the writing is truly representative of a masterpiece in multiple facets.  This tale contains some amazing humor to it, not so much in the form of slapstick, one liner filled form, but a much deeper levels that uses timing, setting, and wit to maximize the laughs.  It’s dry I’ll admit, but the humor goes so well with the plot at hand that it adds rather than distracts from the enriching plot that this film contains.  With this supporting component, the movie continues to get better in the way it balances so many things to make an engaging mafia tale.  First the character usage, the movie is filled with a lot of stars and they are utilized very well, with so many (including secondary characters) having a purpose and contribute to the film in a way or manner to make their inclusion worthy.  While it seems spotty at first the movie’s progression begins to start connecting all the players in the game, starting to unravel and help give pieces of the story without ever giving away the big mystery.  It’s this balance of connections with the mystery that for me was the biggest engaging piece to the movie, that teasing to see how deep the politics run always being that itch you can’t scratch.  Yet, for a movie about crime lords, you know politics is going to make an appearance and once more they impressed me with the presentation.  Again choppy, The Gentleman appealed to me because the politics had heat, tension, but were not so drawn out and convoluted to be boring, something not easily accomplished in this day and age for a movie.  Yet if that’s not interesting enough, the movie also manages to sneak in a more unique presentation, told through the imagination and sleuth of Hugh Grant’s character, who is filling the pieces with his evidence and theories to help piece the story together.  The genius for me is, the holes he has acts as the missing pieces for you to try and string together the ideas yourself before the big reveal.  You might also be concerned for violence, after all, the crime lords with this much power do not show the nicest attitudes to those that threaten them.  Fortunately, the movie manages to censor most of the extreme violence and torture that these movies can be famous for, and this little extra class did not take from the movie, but only added.  Finally, all of this is fantastically acted, with each major character executing their role in so many levels I could take another page to describe.  Let’s just say McConaughey has found a new favorite role for me, finally ditching the super sleazy for a role that is much more complete to show off his talents.  Hunnam as well was indeed a fantastic pillar character, filled with a level of emotional complexity that seems to be so monotone, but yet contains layers that unravel.  I did not find too many overacted moments and was very thrilled with seeing so many stars shine.

 

Yet, there are still some styles of this movie that did not quite hit me as hard as the others, at least in terms of liking it.   First of all the cursing.  Old record, I know, and given my own mouth sometimes it’s becoming less, but there are a few words used freely in this movie that were a bit excessive.  Part of the culture, great, but like in Django overuse of the word soon starts to become lazy and stale for this writer.  While I enjoyed much of the toned-down storytelling, I’m always partial to a bit more excitement to help spice up the mob war films.  A shoot out here or there could go a long way but the satire and humor in this film sort of dilutes the action that starts forming, before dropping back into the mincing tactics.  Anyway, looking at the character profiling, the film is both genius and frustrating for me in its generational portrayal, with the contenders for the crown. At the same time the stereotypical summaries of each generation are little overdramatic and extreme, leading to sort of annoying moments that weren’t the worst, but felt a little out of place (this is especially true for Henry Goulding’s character).  I’ll admit there are also some bloated moments in the film, but these are few and far between and as stated, a little swap out with some action could have helped with these moments, again few and far between.  The part that really stuck out for me was the rapping.  Kudos for the art behind it, the impressive speed at which they rap, and the dance stunts in the back, but that’s about all I’m going to say in terms of appropriate.  When the video first appears it sort of does not make sense, but thankfully the writing uses it as a good plot device to help make up for how forced and advertising it seems.  Like I said earlier, it’s a generational stereotype that was a bit annoying to watching and were probably the most annoying characters of the bunch, despite having some of the coolest moves.  Again, thank goodness for the writing making up for them.  Sadly, the other thing that was both funny, yet again excessive is the ending, a few fake out and extension that almost feel like last minute tag-ons that may or may not have been needed.

 

The VERDICT:

            To be honest, I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie and how much the trailers did not ruin the experience for me.  British settings, humor, and styles of writing continue to prove successful in balancing a lot of balls and I’m super impressed with how much correlated together in this piece.  The drama, the mystery, the presentation, and the politics are all super well represented in this gang war, never getting so caught up in details to be boring, but not slighted to feel robbed of good development.  That unique presentation we talked about only further adds some fun edges to it, and works with the gaps to help keep you engrossed.  Finally, the actors really bring the characters to life and worthy of several awards with how well they bring these strange characters to some cool levels.  Yes, the writing is still a little overdone at times, there are some annoying moments/stereotypes to consider, and a few slow parts that could have been ironed out.  However, the balance of this movie and just fun, classy writing really make this one a worthy trip to watch in theater for performances, and a definite check in at home when you get the chance. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime:  8.0 (not as much action)

Movie Overall:  7.5 – 8.0

War Ready For Action. Needs Repairs For A Story

Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Giant Robots or Giant Monsters, which of the two titans is the better combatant for the silver screen?  That question has continued to test audience members discussion boards as behemoths like King Kong and Godzilla try to usurp the title from Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Tonight’s movie though, doesn’t make you choose, because it combines the two in an epic throw down that will hopefully please both sides of the spectrum.  Pacific Rim Uprising rears back to make some noise this weekend, and yours truly is here to report his findings on the latest silver screen smash to guide your viewing needs.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

Special Effects:  Most will be tired of the CGI haven these movies have become, but yours truly appreciates the work that went into unleashing the havoc.  The design of the new robots gets a round of applause, with sleek angular designs, some new tricks, and a fluid movement that fit well with the Japanese monster movie feel.  Monster wise, the Kaijou aren’t as prominent as the first film, but once breached, the monsters have got their own unique design that is odd, but again fitting in theme, with movements that again work with the pace of the movie.  And of course, all the lights, punches, and collapsing buildings are beautifully brought to life in all their dazzling, speaker rustling greatness. 

 

The Story:  While certainly not the best to grace the screen, the movie’s predictable plot has a few twists and spins on the mix to keep things interesting.  In a movie where smashing and fights are the key, you don’t always get the deepest tale, but it works in explaining what happened in the ten years and the whole grand design of the plot.  Unlike its predecessor, the movie managed to cut off a lot of fat to present this in a neat, less than 2-hour, package.  As such, you have all the elements to put a reason behind the fighting and keep as many characters as involved.

 

The Acting:  Believe it or not, the acting is a step up from other films in this genre.  The main stars of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny all work in that dysfunctional family united by challenging times way.  Still, they all manage to bring some power to otherwise simple characters that are semi-engaging to watch.  Of all of them… I think Boyega gets my vote for having the best acting of all, being pushed across all realms to make a balanced character.  As for Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, they are the comedic relief and do it well, but also manage to have some involvement in the story (nice directing) and not trying to sell themselves anyway. 

 

The Action:  I’ve gone through all the stuff you might care about, but let’s face it, this series is more known for its action and that’s what you want.  Well, for this reviewer it a step up compared to the first installment.  Timing the movie, about 70% of the film involved some type of action, a majority involving the metallic behemoths fighting one giant obstruction after another.  The battles have more variety than part 1, managing to help one differentiate one battle from another.  What makes me even happier to report, is that the team listened to reviews and actually utilized their other robots more, instead of dropping them out in five minutes flat.  While still not the greatest utilization of secondary robots, it was miles better for me in the long run, making the last 30 minutes of the movie, an action-packed climax to close the story out.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Comedy at Times:  The movie is ridiculous, I get it, but the comedy sometimes is a little too ridiculous and distracting from the overall tone of the movie.  A random aside here and there works, but when over utilized as it is in this film, well…then it gets rusty and breaks down.  In addition, there are some asides that felt awkward at the moment they chose to unleash it, jumping in amidst the action scenes when they would have fit in other realms.  These culminations weren’t my favorite use of comedic relief, as I think it crossed into corniness a few times.

 

Shallow Character Development:  Monster movies are seldom about our main characters growing a lot, but we’ve had previous installments capable of achieving this balance.  Pacific Rim Uprising is not one of these movies.  While Boyega’s Jake has a little more complexity in terms of everyone knowing him, the rest of the cast have less depth to them past a few traumatic backstories to garnish them up.  This is highly evidenced in the other pilots outside the main crew who after getting named are reduced to the shadows given the grand complexity of the film.  Uprising proves too busy to invest in its characters, but most may not care as long as they get a good smashing.  Still better than the last few transformers though. 

 

Obsidian Fury:  As cool as the name and design, I had hoped the new bot would have more point to it, but this is again where the movie fails on at least a story level.  The antagonizing robot brings a pretty epic fist fight, but plot wise it felt out of place, a tangent leading down a path that was as cold as the artic frontier it somewhat takes place in.  Yes, there are some purposes it serves, but as the movie’s plot progresses, its relevance became less and less for me, until it was just a convenient distraction.

 

Trailer Syndrome:  One thing this day of advertising is famous for, is revealing too much in shorter movies like this.  Pacific Rim Uprising’s biggest spoiler is that much of that awesome last battle has already been shown in the trailers.  Catch all three of the trailers and you pretty much have pieced 75% of that sequence, with the other 25% feeling very nostalgic/overdramatic.  I had hoped for some more dynamic moments to bypass that syndrome, or less advertising, but I didn’t get my wish again.  So, avoid the trailers and you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a monster/robot movie.  It gives you the CGI thrills, spills, and chills in terms of design and the sound editing beautifully complements it.  While the story is not the deepest, it works for the most part, allowing plenty of time to cram in the action you oh so wanted to see.  Yet, the movie still has to work on its balance learning to not cram so much into the film and maximize on elements that the movie is going to be known for.  In addition, stop revealing everything in the trailers and it means less elaborate scenes you have to shoot to make up for it.  So, looking for a monster vs. robot’s movie?  Look no further, because this film is a success in terms of the action and big battles that are theater worthy.  As a film as a whole though, the movie still has a lot of repairs to make, before it becomes war ready.  Oh well, we at least have a soundtrack to get you revved up. 

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

You Can’t Fight What The Trailers Promised: Simplistic, Vulgar, Banter Filled Comedy

fist-fight

 

The comedic genre has certainly changed colors over the years. What once was about dry wit, goofy antics, and cheesy puns has transitioned into a far more aggressive routine that throws away the clever for the meme worthy.  And this weekend, another movie attempts to join the ranks of this category in the form of Fist Fight starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube. Does this movie stand out among the hundreds that come before it, or will it blackout to the higher quality works?  Robbie K here sharing his opinions once more on the newest “hits” of the theater.

 

LIKES:

  • Well timed moments
  • Delivers on its promise
  • Good moral/cultural references

 

Summary: My likes start with some well-timed comedic moments involving well written dialogue and some slightly unique zingers.  Charlie Day’s neurotic delivery makes up a good chunk of these moments, but Ice Cube’s reactions often add a needed zing to maximize the laughs.  Even Tracy Morgan gets a few moments to shine that had me laughing the most of all. Yet these moments are rare, and surrounded by a sea of much simpler comedy which is exactly what the trailers promised.  There are few surprises in this film, meaning it is just wholesome, simplistic fun at an overpriced ticket.  No complex plot twists. No clever spin on a bad situation. And not even a complex plan to circumvent the fighting is present in this movie, just straightforward slander and fist punching “goodness.” Yet, there is a ray of hope.  Surprisingly, Fist Fight has a strong moral about standing up for yourself and trying to find confidence.  It also tries to point out that action has consequences, trying to inspire the younger audience members to curb their own traditions to a calmer, more respectful level. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Banter gets old
  • Crude Humor that isn’t clever
  • Annoying Student Characters
  • Lazy Writing…again

 

Summary: As I stated earlier, the movie delivers what the trailers promised.  One thing portrayed was comedy centering on mindless banter.  Fist Fight has a few moments where our character try to battle their limited wits in a contest of words and “logic” to prove their points. Yet most of these moments crossed the line into annoying territory, dragging everything out to eye rolling proportions.  If this is your style, then this movie is for you, but this reviewer got a bit tired of this theme, primarily when Charlie Day and Jillian Bell fell into the same conversations of drugs and inappropriate sex, which fell into the line of pure stupidity.  But Jillian Bell’s dialogue isn’t the crudest component to this movie.  Fist Fight’s rough high school setting is filled with tasteless trends involving pornographic themes, detailed masturbation moments, and enough male genitalia references to last you a life time.  The crude humor has its moments where it is well played, but much of it crosses into the excessive territory that quickly loses its comedic strength.

Even worse, is how annoying, disgusting, and self-centered the youth who center on the crudeness are.  Fist Fight’s population of extras are a massive swarm of selfish, arrogant, disrespectful brats whose cleverness is wasted on dangerous, over the top pranks.  At times, you only wish Charlie Day or Ice Cube to smack them upside the head to offset the extreme stereotypes of the movie. Yet the biggest dislike for me, is the lazy writing that plagues this film.  Despite some clever references and well-timed zingers, Fist Fight is just one giant calamity of cursing and relentless pleading.  Long time followers know I’m not the biggest fan of the F word, so you can guess that being bombarded with the word over and over again did nothing for me.  I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times the word hit home, but hearing teenagers and faculty alike using it haphazardly did nothing to impress me, or even make me laugh.  But again, if this doesn’t bother you, then this dislike will not phase you.

 

The Verdict:

 

No surprises here, Fist Fight is a movie that is mediocre at best.  A few cheap laughs, a simplistic story, and some surprisingly strong morals will be the guiding light of entertainment in this film. Those who like the styles of shows like Workaholics, Sunny in Philadelphia, or movies like Get Hard are probably the ideal audience for this movie and the most likely group to see it in theaters.  But the lazy writing, extreme level of inappropriateness, and portrayal of warped ethics are not enough to make this movie stand out in terms of quality or uniqueness. And depending on the person, you may be either entertained, offended, or straight up disgusted by this film.  So, is this movie worth a trip to the theater?  The answer for me is no, and you are better waiting for this on Redbox or Netflix. 

 

My scores:

 

Comedy: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0

 

 

Don’t Get Hung Up on This One

The Gallows

            Let’s skip the fancy introductions and word play, this is another Robbie K review with a focus on yet another horror movie. Today we jump into the latest teen horror movie entitled the Gallows, which also acts as another attempt to revive found footage films. From the trailers it looks “interesting” (to be nice), but I didn’t hold much hope for this film. So let’s get started…

Like most found footage films you can expect bumpy camera work giving you details about the perilous journey to unfold. I have to admit that the camera work isn’t too horrible in this film, most of the time stable enough to give you the same shots of the abandoned school. The crew also gets points for some clever ideas on switching the camera perspective from the camcorder that starts our journey to cell phones equipped with a night vision application. But the good stops there. Much of the time our cast is running from the unseen force that is Charlie, the camera unfortunately swaying to and fro with not stability. Sure it brings a little more reality and edge to the picture, but too much of it left me annoyed at the lack of details. In addition, the multiple camera angles were an interesting twist, but they were executed in the wrong manner. When the doors close and you hear someone screaming you can get an idea of what is going on? So why then do I have to see footage minutes later showing what I pretty much already knew. To do this not once, but about three times didn’t make it any better, and much of the time was more cheesy than anything else. Oh well, with a $100,000 budget, I guess you have to get as creative as you can right?

But you probably want to know if the Gallows is scary right? In a one word summary, NO. The Gallows is cheesy, all horror drowned out by the ridiculous characters tale integrated around it. At first you get the chills as the suspense builds and you wait for that first moment of terror. In fact, the scariest part of the whole movie is the setting itself, a school after hours where one can feel abandoned in the dark hallowed halls. Why is a school so scary? Most likely because it is real, a place we can all relate to, one that is supposed to safe from such horrible fates. That comfort is robbed though when the school closes and the lights go out, the unknown frontier of the dark instigating that primal urge of fear. But past the dark halls, the scares are diluted to comical level. For one thing, the teenagers are idiots, obnoxious, rude, and annoying examples portraying the typical behavior of the average American youth. I found myself having no pity for them, waiting for their stupidity to get them in a situation they couldn’t talk their way out of. In addition that building suspense is rapidly dropped, as the hunt unfolds in a manner of minutes, each predictable moment unfolding the way you expect. And the story that explains all this is rather… lame. At first it seems a simplistic tale of Charlie exacting revenge on pay defilers, but it quickly becomes more convoluted, a plot that has a few soap opera factors to it that again make it cheesy.

            As for Charlie himself, well the team dropped the ball on that one too. Again they started off strong, doing some subtle, traditional scare tactics that invisible specters do. Your imagination begins to paint a scary, creepy picture of what the creature looks like, and what tools he will use to torture our victims. Then you see him for what he is and well… it is very disappointing. Charlie is just a modern looking version of Jason Voorhees where the mask is replaced with a sack, and the machete is replaced with a noose that can skirt ceilings. This diluted version lacks the edge that the classic killer had and quite honestly represents the product of a low budget. There isn’t much more I can say about this, other than Charlie’s main scare is his lurking in the shadows in that manner that makes you want to look over your shoulder.

The Gallows is a movie that is as cheesy and cheap as the budget they used to make the film. A film filled with predictable scares, a shallow story, and obnoxious characters do not make for a good scare film. Throw in the camerawork, lack of diversity and low budget villain and again you don’t have much to go on. Thus, this reviewer cannot recommend this film for the theater, and would say it was better cast on the SyFy channel where cheesiness is welcomed. I can’t even think of a group to go see this in the theater other than teenagers looking for a good, “cheap” scare.

My scores are:

Horror/Thriller: 4.5

Movie Overall: 3