Queen Of Political Drama, But Slim On Secondary Character Development. Editing Convolutes Story

Queen & Slim Poster

 

Another holiday, another week to try and get the most out of the movies and the shopping frenzy of Black Friday.  Tonight’s feature is another political drama that will potentially lead to much discussion, potential motivation, and certainly a lot of discussion about the quality of the movie.  Given the heated reviews I’ve seen so far, I’m going to do my best to put an objective focus on this review and give you heads up as to whether or not one should take this film in for the holiday theater run.  Let’s get started as I look at:

 

Film: Queen and Slim (2019)

 

Director:

Melina Matsoukas

Writers:

Lena Waithe (screenplay by), James Frey (story by)

Stars:

Daniel KaluuyaJodie Turner-SmithBokeem Woodbine

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Symbolism
  • Adventure mixed with Morals
  • Cultural Representation Tasteful At Times
  • Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Long
  • Slow Pace
  • Super political at parts that detracts from story
  • Secondary character are sort of at lost
  • A bit stereotypical at times
  • Lazy writing in dialogue at times
  • Predictable
  • Editing Issues

 

The Verdict:

 

Queen and Slim’s two main leads are stellar, taking very shallow characters and evolving their performances with to match the development. Their chemistry is fantastic with each other, really delivering a believable relationship that does not feel forced or scripted, but rather natural and flowing.  It’s this component that will be the core foundation for the film, as both Kaluuya and Turner-Smith are capable of delivering the politically charged content in heated yet classy ways.  As you can guess, this movie has a lot of hot topics built into it, and the movie utilizes the cinematography to bring lots of symbolism into the film. Sequences are designed to capture the full power of many topics of interest, attempting to again balance the heat of the moment with an objective take sort of capturing a news debate in a more entertaining form.  Queen and Slim’s adventure is definitely a road trip that should be engaging for target audiences of drama/political lovers, but for those looking for messages to motivate you should see this achieved as well.  Preachy at times (as most of these films are), this tale does a nice job of instilling the writer’s values into a classy, ethical manner that will provide some food for thought and reanalyzing one’s approach to these arguments. In addition, several members in my audience mentioned that they appreciated the cultural representation at key moments and the importance of pride and reputation as several secondary characters showed.  I found that though stereotypical, it was tasteful compared to what other movies have done in the past.  Finally, the music has enough musical genres to make an entertaining soundtrack, with R&B, Rap, and Hip hop ready to blast through the speakers during transition sequences.  Not the most relevant in terms of story, but a good soundtrack is always welcome in my book to get my feet moving.

 

However, I agree with my reviewers there are some decisions made in this movie I felt detracted from the messages and story they wanted to tell.  My limitation starts with the length of the film and the pace that did not support the length.  Much of the film feels very drawn out, bloated sequences that did not need to be present, while other times it was a little too focused on pointing out the obvious.  As I mentioned earlier, Queen and Slim requires the two main characters to be the focus of all the political writing in the movie.  While they excel at this, the supporting characters are a little too much in the background for my tastes.  Like connecting the dots, the farther the two travel the more diluted the characters become, leading to plain interactions with most, often to introduce a new angle and conversation topic to discuss.  I’ll admit I liked seeing the influence the two had, especially at the end, but I had hoped for a little more progression and pertinence than what we got.  The truth is that this film really focuses on hitting all the political issues so hard that it sort of drives off from the story and leave the main characters in side scenes while the people they have talked to “evolve” so to speak.  Most of these scenes were… okay, but a couple were so convoluted and unnecessary, that I only saw it as a more time extension than quality shot, again meant for a politically charged audience.  Throw in much of the writing is again back to lots of cursing and insults to go with the stereotypical portrayals and well, you sort of drown the better writing in this representation.  Overall, the main thing that this movie suffers from is the editing and trying to be too tastefully political in the sequences sort of diluted the incredible potential of the story.

 

  Queen and Slim is a drama that has important messages for the world to see and think on, and does a decent job with not making them too aggressive.  Yet, in terms of an entertaining story that has the full picture of suspense, discussion, and storytelling it still has areas of improvement to go.  It’s the editing and how much they wanted to include that I think got this film in trouble, and because of the side tangents and attempts to personify the problems in this character, the story got scattered.  For those that want their political ideals represented and relate to the trials each character has, this movie is a theater visit, but for the rest of the audience, I feel the investment at a home watch is going to be key to maximizing your experience. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

 

Solid Bond Movie, but Lackluster in Action

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His name is legend among the spy films, his actions so big that one actor could not handle them alone. And this man with a license to kill likes his martinis shaken not stirred. Yes today I’m focusing on the latest James Bond movie Spectre. Actor Daniel Craig has carried the torch of England’s elite killer for the last three installments, facing many ups and downs in terms of movie quality. What treats does Spectre offer? As always I will do my best to answer these questions in the latest Robbie K review.

If you have seen the commercials, then you have seen the taglines that this is the best Bond movie ever. After seeing the movie myself, I have to say that Spectre feels like a classic Bond adventure. The movie focuses on the espionage and information gathering area, as Bond seeks areas left by a cryptic message while trying to connect all the pieces of the puzzles. While the dialogue may a bit dry, I found this to be a well done spy movie that utilized thought and manipulation over more aggressive forms of information gathering. And all of it is done with 007 suaveness, as Craig uses silver tongue and skillful craft to uncover the mystery.

As for the story itself, it too has many classic Bond elements that have been modernized to appease today’s audience. Spectre contains a bad guy with too much power and a thug who seems practically invincible that stands in our “hero” way. However, this series continues to tie more of Bond’s personal dram in the film for character development. I didn’t think the story was bad, but I can’t say that I was impressed with the predictable “twists” the movie had and the convenient tie up in the form of Waltz’s character Oberhauser. I guess I was expecting a little more cleverness and surprise to Spectre than what I got, and a little more excitement to further support the 2.5 hour time length.

Speaking of action, Spectre did not have the spark of excitement its predecessors had. Most of the scenes are chase scenes, with Bond showing off his gorgeous, bulletproof cars as he puts the petal to the metal. These chases were not thrilling to me, simplistic speeding down roads with some comedic jibes thrown in instead of the cliché pings of bullets sailing through the air. The fistfights have a little more gusto to them, with a savagery that looks like something off the Discovery channel. However, the bashing lacks any real suspense, and the near invincibility of the thug makes him worthy of being in a comic book. As for gadgets and gunplay, they have been diluted to quick bouts of Bond wiping the floor with the extras, again lacking any suspense. This mentality bled into the ending as well, leaving us with yet another anticlimactic chase scene that was unsatisfying and boring.

The spectacular aspects of this movie are the acting and the production quality. Craig still brings his calm, collected, and rather monotone delivery to the role, truly bringing the Bond style we have come to expect. Waltz does a great job playing the role of the deranged, delusional vision (which seems) to be second nature to him now, and is a nice rival to Bond, despite his limited involvement in the film. Lea Seydoux as the new Bond woman brought both familiarity and a refreshing spin, while still retaining that classic Bond girl sexiness. As for Q, the nerdism continues, with Ben Whinshaw adding that edge we all love of the organization’s lead inventor.

Production quality wise Spectre is fantastic. The film is loaded with over the top special effects with pyrotechnic explosions lighting up the theater. Stable camera work keeps all the details in focus and captures the emotion of the characters to the full effect. And all of it comes together with incredible sound effects that make the theater rumble with triumphant thunder. Despite how lackluster the action is in this movie, our production team managed to truly escalate and capture the fullest potential for most of the movie.

Spectre certainly has all the atmosphere of a Bond film, delivering the charismatic charm that only 007 can bring. With witty dialog, character development drama, and a cast that brings it all to life, it certainly is hard to dock points. However, Spectre is lacking in excitement and suspense, with lackluster action and a rushed plot. At the length the film is, such dull really takes away from quality for this reviewer. Is it worth a trip to theater? Outside of the sound effects, Spectre was not worth the ticket price and better saved for a rent at home.

My scores for Spectre are:

Action/Adventure/thriller: 7.0

Movie Overall: 7.0