What Does Life Itself Hold In Store?

Life Itself Poster

 

This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion.  Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same.  Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight’s movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

 

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

 

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman

Stars:

Oscar IsaacOlivia WildeAnnette Bening

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You know from Fogelman’s work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like.  Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position.  The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs.  These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

 

The Realism:  It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life.  This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in.  If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

 

The Twists:  You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping?  Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn’t do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together.  What many movies (like Valentine’s Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work.  This film, not so much.  Instead, it’s a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa.  These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does.  It’s not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

 

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances.  Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character.  And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time.  It’s stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

 

The Guts:  Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics.  This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them.  And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you’ve got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things.  Well done their guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Let’s get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don’t fight sleep.  Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character’s tale.  While this wasn’t too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span’s limits to not walk out.  Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you’ll be dreading this film.

 

Missing The Story/Development:  Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character’s lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment.  Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn’t quite have the same magic that they really were going for.  A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time.  What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

 

Depressing:  Let’s be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories.  Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down.  When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish.  So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don’t fall victim to the antics.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren’t enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect.  There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don’t have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints.  Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead.  Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

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Life, Death, Lessons: A Dog’s Philosophical Tale

dogs-purpose

            Robbie K here with another review on the latest thing to hit the silver screen. Today our focus is on a movie about man’s best friend, the dog, and the incredible things they do for us.  Despite all the discussion this movie has drummed up, I still paid a visit to the theater to see what they had in store.  What’s the verdict?  As always read on (or skip down) to what my thoughts are on what looks to be an emotionally uplifting movie.

 

LIKES:

  • Cute Puppies
  • Comedic
  • Emotionally powerful Sequences and Dialogue

 

Summary: If you have seen the trailers (or read the title), you hopefully know this is a movie about dogs and what they can do.  And fortunately, this movie delivers on the promise of showing just how adorable our canine compatriots areMuch of my fellow audience members squealed in delight as the dogs chased their tales, ran all over the house, and shared their love in hugs and kisses.  An added bonus is that many of these moments are also funny, either at just how cute they are or an intentionally funny line.  Josh Gadd voicing the various dogs was a smart decision, his casual observations and delivery matching the dogs looks so well. Yes, there are moments where they try a little too hard, but overall the family friendly themes will be a welcome sight.

And for the older audience members, be ready for some powerful punches to the feelings with this movie.  A Dog’s Purpose is filled to the brim with moments that will have many tearing up, primarily at just how much these four legged friends do for us.  The messages in this film hit hard thanks to the visual and audio editing, the scenes design to capture the raw emotion behind the dog’s eyes.  Yet, even Gad’s dialogue gets the water works rolling, not only for the wisdom they share in those words, but also in how well it matches my vision of how a dog would speak.  A Dog’s Purpose certainly has the emotionally fluffiness you would expect, however there are some limitations we must address.

 

DISLIKES:

  • The imbalance of stories/Simplicity
  • Dennis Quaid as the selling point
  • Depressing

 

Summary:  Okay, so did I really think this tale was going to be a deep well of twists, turns, and surprises?  The answer is no. However, I had hoped that such a straightforward tale would have had a little more balance to the mix.  A Dog’s purpose is told in four tales that turn out to be one full circle (which is cool), however there was an imbalance in how much they spent on each story and their purposeThe first tale about Bailey gets the greatest emphasis (and time), building up the relationship between man and dog.  However, the other tales are far less developed, much more rushed in terms of character building with a focus on fun and quick lessons.  Don’t get me wrong, these stories do have a place, I just expected more contributions from these parts based on the trailer.  I also expected Dennis Quaid to have a bigger role, but the “legendary” actor is surprisingly simple in the grand scheme of the movie.  His fans shouldn’t expect much from him in this movie, as his part is reduced to maybe fifteen minutes of a quick wrap up to what could have been a deep relationship.

Yet the biggest dislike for me in this movie, is how depressing it can be at times.  We all know this movie was going to have tearful moments (again see the trailer), but never did I expect to see so much suffering and detailed scenes of the dog passing.  A Dog’s Purpose will certainly get animal activists screaming, for the directors decided that in order to deliver the full emotional effect, you had to see them suffer or die on screen.  If you can’t handle seeing this amount of detail on screen, then skip this film. The after effect of the scene will linger for a bit, but the cuteness and happy themes eventually return.  However, I’m not the biggest fan of a dog death scene, let alone three of them.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

A Dog’s Purpose is indeed one of the most emotional movies of the year. It is certainly one of the best portrayals of an ideal relationship between man and dog, and will have many families laughing at the cute antics at hand.  But don’t let the puppy faces and Josh Gad fool you, as this movie has many depressing moments of abuse and death to get your anger boiling.  Overall the story has much to teach, but don’t let the promise of Dennis Quaid, four dogs, and the cuteness fool you into thinking this is a perfect story.  Yet despite all the hate this movie is getting, it’s still a decent drama overall that doesn’t drift too far into what I call soap opera territory.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Honestly I would say hold out for home, but if you want to see this make sure your family is prepared for the depression at hand. 

 

My scores are:

Adventure/Comedy/Drama: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0