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

 

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Every Move You Make, Every Body You Take

every day

 

The romantic comedy and drama series, are two genres that often go hand and hand. Unfortunately these movies often lack in the unique department, copying each other’s story like Hallmark copies its own plots.  Yet, they still reign supreme in the movie world, unafraid to remain the cute, cuddly, and melodramatic.  This weekend though, another book adapted to movie takes a shot at relieving us from this mundane rush, to add a little flair back into the romantic atmosphere.  My review, as you can read, is on Every Day, starring Angourie Rice and a mess of other young actors.  What is in store?  Read on to find out my friends.

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Many romantic comedies involving teenagers are often overacted performances that are not easy for me to stomach in the volumes I see movies in.  Every Day on the other hand manage to keep the acting in check, with performances that felt like kids in every day high school.  As the central character, Rice did a fantastic job of handling the teenager caught between so many lives that require her energy to invest in.  As for the remainder of the cast, all the extras from the jerk boyfriend (Justice Smit) to the final host of A all have their parts to play, and each represent there lifestyle stigmatism well.  Such a dynamic cast kept things fun, and the story more intriguing than the run of the mill romance.

 

The Morals:  The story is primarily a love story, but amidst the kissing, hugging, and cuddling is a strong series of ethical dilemmas that the characters must face.  It starts with the common moral dilemma of finding respectful love vs. settling, teaching young kids that love does exist outside the realms of popularity and physical aspects.  Soon Rhiannon (Rice) starts crashing into things such as familial discord, self-identity, and trying to move on from something because it’s the right thing to do.  Her ever changing opposite (A) also has plenty to face with his powers too, as each person he inhabits has issues themselves that constantly challenge his happiness and ability to have a life he so desires.  These head scratchers are perfect for the young minds to soak up into and good refresher for any, leaving you reviewing your own ideas upon exiting the theater. Nevertheless, these ideas are well-baked into the tale, perfect to drive the story more.

 

The Twist:  Let’s face it, romantic comedies have difficulty with surprising me, the plots so predictable and similar that one can’t help but try to fight sleep sometimes.  Every Day’s twist to the story doesn’t defy the predictability in terms of ending, but the concept itself is the intriguing part to this story.  The premise of having your love interest switch to a new body every day crosses a bridge most people haven’t attempted to and it worked for me.  Seeing what new adventures they would go on, how they would solve the next problem, and even how they would make this whole endeavor work were some of the questions keeping me invested in the movie.  However, the biggest question of who or what A is, that is the real thing I tried to figure out.  So many mysteries amidst the romantic atmosphere makes this movie stand out.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Predictability:  The movie has such a unique twist, one was hoping to have a unique ending in the works as well.  Every Day’s presentation may stand out, but it’s ending falls back in line with the usual endings that this genre is famous for.  While a bit vague at points and somewhat lackluster given the build-up they were providing. However, one should be able to see the ending coming from a mile away, and despite being on the realistic, ethically inclined side, it still lacks the emotional shine you had hoped to see.

 

Problems Swept Under the Rug: I mentioned how much I liked the ethics in this film and the real life portrayals of the problems that plague the world.  I also would have liked to see those problems have a little more development, pacing, and satisfying conclusion than what I got.  The love aspect get the most attention, there’s a surprise, but as for the other dilemmas, well they get the quick treatment. Some of these make sense because again they are one life A must live and maximize, however Rhiannon’s family problems are ones that she has to live with constantly, so perhaps they should have cultivated a little more integration of these problems into the movie. It would have made an interesting side story to help integrate her family into the picture, providing yet another aspect to help with this awkward relationship.

 

Unrealistic:  No duh, a person switching lives every day is totally unrealistic, however that’s not the component I’m talking about.  Instead, Rhiannon’s unrealistic component is how little her school work and discipline suffers despite skipping as much as she does.  If many had pulled the antics she did, they would have been expelled, fortunately the power of love seemed to have rescued them.  This component is ignorable to most, but for me it was cheesy and unobtainable, only taking away for the story.

 

Unanswered questions:  The movie invests an entire ten minute dialogue to try to explain the origins of A’s powers.  As such, at the end I was hoping for some actual answers and hopefully get a nice tie up to A’s journey of body invasion.  Once again, story fails to fill in the gaps, giving little information to clarify the fog of A’s life, in favor of teaching a lesson about moving on.  Yeah, they took the emotionally stirring route, but in terms of story, they should have closed this book much better in regards to answers.

 

MY VERDICT:

 

            Every Day breaks the mold on the typical romantic comedy presentation with its unique concept of a lover switching bodies with each passing 24 hours. All the morals that come with this responsibility add an extra layer to the a generic plot, helping to keep your mind engaged instead of rapidly decaying into a lazy sponge that rom coms have come up with.  And those twists that seemed so admirable, didn’t quite reach the pinnacle of what I’m sure the book was able to accomplish.  Problems are ignored or swiftly wrapped up, the ending still remains predictable and sadly the questions raised are left only slightly answered.  Therefore, this romantic comedy stands out on some qualities, but still drowns in the mundane tactics that Hollywood has become. So worth a trip to the movie theater?  Mixed results on this, but overall hold out for Redbox or a date night film at best.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Fantasy/Romance:  7.0

Movie overall: 5.5

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

 

 

Let Patriotic Pride Ring

patriots-day

 

Mark Wahlberg and disaster movies seem to go hand and hand these days and this weekend brings the latest installment in his library.  Today I got to see Patriots Day, a movie that dramatizes the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.  Like all disaster movies, it holds the promise for inspiring the audience or stirring up emotion.  But has Hollywood hit its saturation point?  Hi Robbie K here, with a new abbreviated review of Patriots Day.  Let’s get started

 

LIKES:

  • Very Detailed
  • Good visual/audio techniques
  • Emotionally strong movie

 

Summary:  When it comes to historical movies we like details and Patriots Day does not fall short in portraying this tragic event.  From the bombings to the manhunt, you get to see the thrilling, and sometimes chilling, journey to bring the case to a close. The movie shows the events from the perspectives of many involved including victims, cops, and the terrorists themselves.  An even more impressive twist is the smooth integration of real life security clips that helps keep the facts in check, while also showing the inspiration of the movie.  When you take these clips, and mix them with the movie magic of scene and music editing, you get incredibly powerful scenes that are certain to inspire you.  I agree with the trailers that Patriots Day is one of the most emotional stirring pieces to grace the silver screen this year.  So many sequences promote the concepts of uniting in the face of danger, perseverance of spirit, and American pride.  It had many in my viewing sniffling and certainly got some goosebumps going in this reviewer.  Therefore, Patriots Day editing is certainly the selling point of this movie.

 

DISLIKES  

  • Movie magic overdramatizes
  • Some editing issues
  • May poke some snakes

 

Summary: As seen many times in Hollywood, the magic of the cinema sometimes steps into overdramatic role.  Patriots Day, despite how emotionally stirring it is, does cross into preachy side at times. While it certainly is inspiring, much of the ending moments (primarily the dialogue) is geared towards American pride that may be seen as boastful.  In addition, some people may not appreciate the portrayal of the various characters, perhaps thinking they were too extreme in their renditions.  Yes, some of the audience said this during the movie.  But outside of overdramatic moments and extreme portrayals, the only other component for me was some of the editing lapses in the movie.  There are certain scenes that attempt to show some of the background info on the characters (e.g. dating, guys getting high on weed, etc) which were certainly entertaining or aggravating.  However, these moments were either not timed right, or more often not needed for me to get the emotional kick of the movie.  And to be honest, most of these clips do extend the cast’s screen time.

 

The Verdict:

Patriots Day is a movie that will bring some sort of emotion to most audience members.  The detail is fantastic and makes you feel a part of the team in this epic manhunt, establishing that rage to capture the bad guys.  The special effects and audio score will only deepen your immersion into the story.  However, be ready for some political discussions and potential airing of grievances when you see the very extreme portrayals in this movie. Overall though, this movie is a solid opening to the year and a welcome break up from the mundane.

 

My scores:

 

Drama/History/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

We had 20 years to prepare…we needed more

ID 2

 

We’ve had 20 years to prepare…so did they. It’s a tag line that has rang through the theaters for the last year and this weekend the bad, intergalactic, space bugs from 1996 have returned with a vengeance. Hi Robbie K here, and today we review yet another summer sequel entitled Independence Day: Resurgence. As always, I’m here to share my thoughts, ideas, and opinions to inform whether this sequel is a success or a flop. Let’s get started.

 

The GOOD:

  • Action scenes better animated
  • Original cast rocks the screen
  • Comedy

 

Back in 1996, I remember being wowed by the “state-of-the-art” graphics the first installment brought in. Watching the planes take on the big bad pod ships used to have me on the edge of my seat and cheering in delight. Well twenty years gave us plenty of time to prepare better special effects and the battles are an even better display of computer processing power. The new combat ships fly much smoother, the explosions are much bigger, and the laser blasts are even more multicolored on the big screen. While the art design is a little hokey at points, the visuals are geared towards more exciting action moments, hoping to bring more detail to yet another 3-D showing. It’s flashy and over the top to say the least, but it certainly lives up to what the trailer promised.

But even better for this critic was seeing the characters from 20 years back in the seat. The original cast (for the most part) made up the quality parts of the movie. Jeff Goldblum dives right back into his character bringing both satirical comedy with serious “science” to try and save our cans again. Bill Pullman as the president also carries the same, over zealous, patriotic spirit that united our world to fight against the menace from the sky. But it was Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun (the crazy haired anatomy who supposedly died in the first film) whose roll I mostly enjoyed. The original cast just brought the nostalgia back to me and helped keep me grounded in the ridiculous plot unfolding. The new characters weren’t bad mind you, and the younger cast has a promising future, but their characters were more sex appeal than anything else.

Yet the thing that was most entertaining in this film…was the comedy. I know, not what you expect right, but Independence Day 2 brought more comedic punch than anything else. Spiner’s character is like something out of the Big Bang where curiosity, obsession, and nerdiness are unleashed with a Sheldon Cooper presentation. The quirky one-liners, extremely silly drama, and slapstick humor was indeed entertaining for me, albeit distracting from the goal of the film. There are plenty of other pot shot comments and moments through the film involving unnecessary tangents (like sailors getting drunk) to impromptu parenting that are all there to relieve the “tension” that was built up.

 

 

 

The BAD

  • Not as suspenseful
  • Lacks emotional punch/connection
  • The Story for Pete’s sake

 

Independence Day 2’s weaknesses start with the lack of suspense. I remember in the first movie being scared stiff as the clock ticked away to some unknown move by the creatures, or in that terrifying alien surgery scene. But in this movie…nothing of the sort happened. This usually is the case when 3-D computer visuals are the focus, and ID2 is another example of flashy special effects diluting the suspense they meant to bring.

But the suspense is not the only thing lacking in this movie. Again in the first film, I remember being sad or angry when characters were eliminated (poor Jimmy). You felt the punch in the gut, but scream/cry out in frustration. This film didn’t even come close to that for me. Key characters, who we had little time to get acquainted with, were lost in the most rushed ways that you didn’t have time to process the emotions before being whisked to another flashy display. Oh well, who needs emotion in a science fiction right? That seems to be the thought these days.

Perhaps the thing that robbed the movie of all these qualities though was the ridiculous story of ID2. I know the first installment was not the most realistic, and had plenty of plot holes and cheesiness to meet your fill. However, this sequel took all that and amplified ten fold. The plot essentially had too much it tried to accomplish, trying to make everything bigger, badder, and bolder while still trying to capture the nostalgia. In my opinion, they put too much emphasis on the bigger aspect, making the giant ship ridiculously giant to cover the entire Atlantic is just one example of the over the top antics that failed to deliver. They might have been able to deliver on the threat, but I feel they tried to jam too much into the film that they failed to bring any strong plot to the mix. And they way they ended, I shudder to think of how cornier the next installment is going to be.

 

The Verdict:

Surprise, surprise, Independence Day Resurgence is not quite the sequel we were hoping it would be. The over the top grandiosity and rushed pace fail to deliver a semi decent plot, and the comedy, while enjoyable, only further dilutes from taking this film seriously. While the visuals are certainly the strongest aspect, and the original characters breathe some life into the blandness, they took too much emphasis in my opinion. And that ending…a rushed, convenient sweep up that robbed me of any satisfaction whatsoever. Based on this review you can guess that the only redeeming quality for a theater visit is the special effects. This reviewer however, encourages you to wait for this to hit home.

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 7.0 (for the action)

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0