InFincible? Or Beyond Hype

Infinity Wars

 

The event is finally here, and boy does it have big expectations to live up to as the culmination of ten years of movies comes rushing in.  With perhaps one of the biggest expectations to meet, can Avengers: Infinity War meet everything we die-hard fans love, or does the over expectation syndrome come into play.  Robbie K with a spoiler free review coming at you to shed some light on the subject.

 

Movie:

Marvel: Avengers Infinity War

Directors:

Anthony Russo,  Joe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus (screenplay by),  Stephen McFeely

Stars:

Robert Downey Jr.,  Chris Hemsworth,  Mark Ruffalo

 

 

LIKES:

 

Character Development: It’s always nice to see character evolve and while the 18 installments before this movie have laid strong foundations, Infinity continues that trend.  Not everyone gets the full red-carpet treatment (with all the characters at hand), but those that do have some deeper trenches we did not expect. You’ll certainly feel things resonate if you’ve been following the story so far and a fantastic means to tie you into the story.

 

Story Twists:  We all have theories about this movie, most centered on who would survive the war for the Infinity Stones.  Despite everything foreshadowed in the trailers, you have no idea what is coming.  Infinity Wars is a universe filled with twists, throwing in suspenseful moments with ease and doing everything to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The trailers were certainly edited to leave out key details, and that mystery was very well appreciated as the revelations began to drop and the story began to click, up until the very end.  Be ready for some answers to lingering questions you may not have realized you have, and some surprises that will have you cheering in delight and excitement.

 

Acting:  A small quality to comment on, and way too many actors to hit up in detail, the acting still lives up to the potential we had set up. All the contenders easily reprise their roles, bringing delight, fun, heroism and heart wrenching moments to life with no hesitation. Mixing the team together, really did feel like an awkward, weird family trying to save the galaxy one minute at a time.  Despite all the characters crammed into this mega hit, the chemistry works fantastically.

 

Comedy:  Marvel’s writing continues to lean towards the comedic stick, trying to garnish the comic plots in a more expansive way to net more audience members in the box office.  Infinity War has plenty of moments mashed into the space epic adventure, a mixture of slapstick, insults, well-timed cursing, and comical references that keep the giggles, guffaws, and laughter coming.  Don’t worry of the darker atmosphere overshadowing the laughs, there will be plenty to try and keep things as bright as possible.

 

Action, somewhat:  The special effects are hands down impressive, especially seeing the stones powers better utilized than just exploding like previous films. All the sound editing and CGI are worthy of the theater spectacle, perhaps the biggest reason to come see in the theater.  Infinity War has some decent brawls that deliver the fist pumping, adrenaline rush you wanted to see as new tricks are unleashed and styles mix together. Especially near the end, there is one particular fight that feels much like an epic video game battle with all the bells and whistles ringing into one.  A little eccentric at times, but hey it is a comic book movie.

 

 

DISLIKES:

Lulls in Action: While there is good storytelling in this movie, an Avengers movie is known more for the fast pace and battles. There are some major lulls in the action, as the three story trails attempt to connect all the pieces in the quest for uncovering the stones.  These gaps are by far entertaining, but at times I felt another battle needed to be integrated, or others extended to keep the pace going. I liked the emotional warfare in this movie, but come on, a little more resistance.

 

The Black Order:  This is only a semi-dislike, but Thanos elite guards were not as “elite” as I had expected.  Gross and creepy looking, definitely. Deadly and threatening in design? Absolutely.  But in regards to their skills, these masters of destruction were kind of… weak and under developed.  It doesn’t mean they don’t get their 15 minutes to shine, but let’s just say these characters really needed more integration in the story for this reviewer to enjoy. 

 

Too Many Characters?: So many people mixed into one movie, brings with it the threat of potentially denying your favorite character the time you want him/her to hold.  It happens in this movie, so take what you can get and run with it as best as you can.  They do a nice job with most of them, but three of the characters got a bit stiff armed that I wasn’t expecting to see.  So, this element could have been tweaked to get a better immersive story in my opinion.

 

The Ending:  I can’t say much about this, but the ending to Infinity War is almost as mixed as the characters in this galactic quest.  There will be many questions generated from it and even more theories as to how the next wave will proceed, which I guess is good to keep interest coming.  However, it kind of felt cheaply delivered and rushed over, in a manner that was sort of a cop out to be honest.  Based on that last sentence, this component is why the ending was not as well-received, not for the questions it generated.

 

The Fight at Wakanda: The biggest selling point of the trailers was that war on the Wakandan plains, where Wakanda soldiers join the elite squad to fight thousands of CGI aliens.  With all the storytelling elements building up to the climax, I had very high hopes this battle was going to be the climactic piece to bring it all together.  I’ll admit, there are some parts that are true creative genius, but much of the battle was glazed over, dull, and missing so much of the battle chemistry I had expected. Quick finishes to semi-suspenseful moments, and much shorter than I anticipated, this battle was certainly the element I was most disappointed with.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Infinity Wars didn’t quite live up to the hype that the marketing brought with it, but this does not mean it was a bad movie.  A very edgy tale awaits the theaters, with twists and character development waiting to evolve our characters to the next level, with a few flashy battles to liven things up and comedy to ease the tension.  Yet, this project may have been a little too big to tackle, leading to many things being glazed over in trade for others.  Try to lower your expectations and I think you will be okay, just try to accept that there will be answers to come, one just has to wait.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

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All Aboard For Interstellar Love and Visuals

passengers

 

Space! The final frontier…and the setting for so many movies in this day and age.  Welcome to another Robbie K movie review.  Tonight’s focus is on Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as they voyage the stars in a pretty cool (albeit odd) looking ship.  Based on the trailers this science fiction adventure looks to have romance, drama and mystery, but is this the case?  Can these two mega stars bring a love story to life?  As always read on to hear my take on Passengers!

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Acting
  • The love story component
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Beautiful score

 

No surprise here, the acting is one of the leading components in this movie.  Jennifer Lawrence’s edgy mood is very welcome in this setting, painting a character that is vulnerable yet strong when faced with the dilemmas. Her emotions are so well-balanced in this film, painting a realistic character that many will anchor too.  Yes, her cracking voice is getting a little stale, and she is playing similar characters, but it works so well.  As for Pratt, again the man impresses me with dynamic characters. Pratt substitutes his normally silly persona for a more serious nature, and it works well.  He sells his idolization of companionship, radiates misery from the isolation and betrayal, and still manages to come off heroic at parts.  And the chemistry between these two is a reaction gone well.  Pratt and Lawrence sell their passion for one another, almost as if they are actually in love with each other. Not easy considering Hollywood relationships these days.

Speaking of the love story, Passengers’ strongest story component has to be the relationship of the characters.  It’s a very dramatic tale packed with emotion that fluctuates between blissful happiness and heartbreaking revelations.  As stated, the actors’ chemistry helps sell the story, but the writers did a nice job designing this tale to be not only passionate, but believable.  Yes, my friends, Passengers isn’t a Nicholas Sparks fairy tale, but actually highlights the work involved with a relationship, nice work guys.  And for those who want passionate love making scenes, it’s got a few to spice up the film, but not so much to fall into the overdone (or pornographic realms).  Well done guys, well done!

Yet my favorite component has to be the beautiful visuals and music score that was designed for this film.  Hollywood certainly knows how to create eccentric looking ships on the outside, but seldom do they create a large world within.  The attention to detail is astonishing, each section meticulously designed to fit with the theme of the station. Even the engineering components have a logical explanation in regards to their purpose in the ship.  And these settings are further amplified by the orchestral score that accompanies it.  While many symphony tracks sound the same, Passengers adds a little something to help it stand out, especially during the spacewalk scenes where the music established both the beauty and spirit of adventure.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow at the beginning
  • No mystery
  • The science fiction dilemma is semi rushed
  • Fourth character almost unnecessary

 

We know some movies take time to build steam, but Passengers certainly struggles to get its ion drives going.  The opening sequences are devoid of any edge, serving to introduce the ship and the dilemma involving one of our characters.  However, this montage probably could have been cut down a bit to get to the exciting parts of the story (and cut down on the run time).  In addition, the boring opening could be due to the lack of the mystery.  Despite the teaser line put in the trailer, you’ll get 95% of the answers in the first twenty minutes of the film.  I had so looked forward to uncovering a conspiracy regarding their abrupt waking, but sadly the explanations are lackluster. The only mystery that remains is the technical explanations for what happens, which most viewers will not give a darn about.

In regards to the science fiction component, Passengers is both good and bad in this category.  The good is the ship, the technical jargon, and the looming threat of insanity in the void of space.  However, the bad far overshadows the good for me.  Passengers dilemma starts out pretty low key and remains low key for much of the film. Then at the drop of a hat things escalate to danger levels in mere minutes, a solution comes even faster, and the resolve is predictable and quite corny at parts.  Even the introduction of a fourth character played by Lawrence Fishburne can’t save the rushed plot development.  Fishburne’s role is touching at points, but the writers diluted his role to merely providing quick answers and a trinket to get the job done.  Such a shame that the mystery and dilemma could not have shined like the love story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Passengers surprised me by how much I enjoyed watching the movie.  While a bit slow at the beginning, I enjoyed the love story and sense of adventure our characters shared as they hurtled through space.  In addition, the beautiful visuals and strong attention to detail further impressed me, designing a set worthy of special effects awards at the Oscars.  Outside the love story though, I was disappointed with the lack of mystery and rushed dilemma they placed in this movie.  For once, I think the movie needed to be longer, to help make a more suspenseful film and get a little more kick to the relationship.  This film is worth a scope for romantic audiences and those who like beautiful visuals.  However, in regards to story over all, save this one home viewing. 

 

My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Guns, Horses, And Unbalanced Screen Time: Welcome Back To The Wild West!

seven

            It’s been a while since we had a western movie, and even longer since we had a good one. This weekend hopes to break this drought, by releasing the remake to the 1960s classic the Magnificent Seven.  Does the Wild West fit into to the modern day expectations, or will the archaic times of the past fall on blind eyes?  As always, I’m here to report on the latest films to hit theaters and give you the scoop.

 

LIKES

  • Great Cast
  • True Western Film
  • The action!

One important aspect to any Western is who you cast as the gunslingers.  In this installment, the casting director gets major props for the team assembled. Denzel Washington is the perfect lead, as his attitude and bravado are choice qualities for someone a rebellion leader. Chris Pratt balances his teams martyr attitudes by providing his comedic delivery and energy helping to relieve the tension of the movie.  The rest of the squad play their roles perfectly and brings a unique quality to the team to develop a unique posse.

While the cast is a great start, it is only one part to the Western formula.  It requires setting, simplistic goals, open frontier, lots of extras in limited clothing, and a villain you most likely will hate.  Magnificent Seven brings all these aspects in splendid detail, with a modern day design many want in the 21st century. This movie will pull you back in the days of the frontier adventure of classic Westerns from riding horses through the desert wastelands to the gun slinging battles the era was famous for, you know before the hero settles into the saloon for a drink. This film is representative of the nostalgic genre Hollywood capitalized on decades ago and is devoid of extraterrestrial twists (Cowboys and Aliens) or weird mechanical spiders (Wild Wild West) to taint the well water.

Yet the greatest component for me was the action of this movie. Magnificent Seven delivers the promised Western action, with massive bullet slinging battles unfolding for nearly half of the movie. One will certainly get an adrenaline rush as the two sides let their guns talk in high definition special effects at break neck speeds.  Our heroes use their wits and diverse skills to keep the battle dynamic, all while poor extras convulse to imaginary bullets “hitting” their bodies. The ending sequence alone kep me on the edge of my seat and provided an emotionally sitmulating climax that we hope for in these movies.  Yes, it is the typical, blockbuster popcorn tactics most films are famous for, but it works so well in this film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Lackluster Antagonists
  • Some rapid character development
  • Unbalanced characters…at times

As I mentioned, Magnificent Seven certainly has villains representing the genre, but sadly they still didn’t shine in this film. The land baron Bogue has all the stereotypical  qualities of a baron including an insatiable greed and ruthless mechanisms to obtain his desires, but he still is quite unimpressive in other departments. Yes, I get that’s the point of most Western villains, but usually they have a set of lieutenants to enforce their roles. In this film, many of the antagonists  were not that impressive and many of their “victories” were cheap, conventionally written ploys to maximize their money.  In addition, the hyped up fights sometimes are drawn to a hasty, unchoreographed conclusion that left me disappointed. Oh well, at least the uncredited extras were capable of a good shot or two.

Another limitation for me was the rushed backstories of most of the characters. Magnificent Seven’s cast has some complicated histories, and we get a decent look at the skeletons that dwell in their closets.  There could have been more though to it though, not only to develop them more, but give some of the band more screen time. The quick overcoming of their personal fears or the convenient brotherhood formed was a little bit of a stretch for me. Fortunately they had the action to distract you from this limitation and keep the pace moving.

Finally, the biggest dislike was the unbalanced use of the seven.  I know, the top billed are destined to get the most screen time so directors get their money’s worth. Denzel, Pratt, and Hawke lead the cavalry, complete with detailed backstory, impressive set of skills, and a majority of the lines. Our other cavalcade have their moments as well, including meme worthy one liners, impressive moves, and unique costumes to seal their place.  Yet there were times where they were severely underutilized, reduced to quite mumblings or a fleeting dive into the the building. This is mainly true for the Warrior (Martin Sensmeier) and the Outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who although have some fitting moments, are off camera for much of the film and almost thought to be dropped out of the film at random times.

 

The VERDICT:

            If you want a Western, Magnificent Seven is certainly your best shot.  This production will immerse you into the world of cowboys and well more cowboys, with engaging characters for you to grip to. However, the action is the selling point of this movie and provides the exciting edge that has been lacking for much of this month.  Yes, I would have liked a little more character balance and better villains, but overall I really enjoyed this movie.  I certainly recommend this movie for a theater visit to a wide variety of audience members, but be warned this is a darker version of the tale you love.  And darkness leads to violence that may be a bit too much for some younger audiences.

 

My scores:

Action/Western: 9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Welcome Back To the World: Nostalgia, Action, and Predictable

Jurassic World

            The year is 1993, you go to the theater for Dinosaurs and get the thrill of your life watching humans run from mega sized monsters with the urge to kill. Spielberg’s classic Jurassic Park instilled in us a sense of wonder, excitement, and for some of us nightmares as the monsters devoured our cast. Following that, the series hit some rough patches that while visually impressive, lacked the quality the first one did. After a fourteen year hiatus, a fourth installment has finally emerged from the primordial soup to bring us back into the adventure. Tonight I review Jurassic World, so let’s jump into the excitement and see if it lives up to hype.

Jurassic World reintroduces the park, which has been upgraded with the latest toys of the modern era. This installment brings us back into the excitement of the park, as you become part of the crowd and experiencing the exhibits first hand. Stunning CGI visuals have once more brought the prehistoric monsters to life, animated beautifully to parade about the park. While not as realistic in terms of textures as the animatronic cousins from the 90’s, this reviewer was impressed at the detail they put into making Jurassic World pop off the screen. You’ve seen most of the magic unfold already on the trailers, but trust me that there is still plenty of sights to behold on the big screen. Seeing the Mosasaur leap out of the water, or watching the terrifying Indominus Rex storm across the fields, the terror you felt back in the day returns with it. When combined with the special effects and sound editing, the scenes are even more thrilling and immersive, so much that you forget you are even watching a movie.

The visuals aren’t the only thing that will have you reminiscing back to the original trilogy though. No my friends there are plenty of tributes paid in Jurassic World that had me smiling in delight. It’s obvious the design team went back to the roots to craft this adventure, (finally), and managed to pull some of the best qualities from World’s predecessors, such as locations, kills, and plot elements, and put a new twist on them. Most of the twists often have are involve action, exciting moments where the orchestra’s melodies booming over speakers as our heroes strive to survive. Yes, you read right, Jurassic World is certainly not boring or slow, with almost the entire two hours thrilling in some aspect. And believe it or not the filming and editing itself is on target as well. Camera work is stable, all details captured to maximize the carnage and chaos of the digital images while also capturing the emotions of our group.

While most of the movie is action, don’t think that is the only thing you will get in this movie. Amidst the excitement are plenty of touching, emotionally heavy moments that are sure to move you in some way. Some of the scenes involving the dinosaurs and Chris Pratt’s character had me almost tearing up, while other times I rolled my eyes at the preachy messages they painstakingly made. Fortunately there is humor thrown into the mix that had me laughing more times than not. Most of the comedy was intentional, some of the dialog timed at just the right moment to break the tension. Some of the jokes were a little pushed on me, but I must say that overall it works, especially with Pratt leading the group in his dynamic ways. The emotional spectrum is well done in this film, and goes back to all the aspects of the first one you love.

Like always though there are some pieces to this movie that aren’t all there. First off the build up in the park wasn’t there for me in the film. Normally there is an epic buildup to the inevitable dinosaur busting out to hunt, but this film didn’t have quite that much thrill that I was looking for. Things progressed too fast before the crap hit the fan, it did leave me a little disappointed. That minor point aside there are times where the ridiculousness of Jurassic World gets stretched a bit much, and no I don’t mean the raptor training bit that actually worked. Sure this is a movie where dinosaurs are no longer extinct, but there are a few moments that are a little too stretched or hard to swallow, but again this is a minor moment. The major weakness to this movie is how predictable it is. World’s plot writing team really laid out the plot of this movie in the first half hour such as: who would die, how they would die, and how the problem would resolve itself. Thus you can guess I wasn’t too terrified or surprised by most of the moments in this movie, though there were some nice surprises. I don’t think this will be a problem for most, but this reviewer has to dock some points for this weakness.

Jurassic Word is on point as my friend would say, and is a great reintroduction into Crichton’s world. That excitement you felt visiting the park returns once more, and despite the lack of suspense build up, the tale has a much better story than I expected. It certainly is one of the Action/Adventure movies I’ve seen in a while, and the visual effects are certainly worthy of a big screen visit. Do you see it in 3-D? I can’t answer what it did for the movie, but the 2-D movie was certainly great. So my recommendation is go see it soon.

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0