A Wrinkle In Story Telling, But A Time In Visuals



Another weekend, another literary classic to be remade by the lovely folks in La La Land.  The movie world continues to scrape deep for the next big fad, Disney brings A Wrinkle in Time to life, ready to unleash magic into the world.  With super star Oprah Winfrey backing the project and a number of stars to further support the film, and potentially bring in the big bucks.  Does it succeed, or should you just read the book?  Robbie K here to provide some insight into the movies ad guide your experience.  Let’s get started!



The Acting:  With a star-studded cast, one hopes for brilliant performances and Wrinkle in Time has some impressive displays of the theater arts.  Storm Reid’s career has started off well in this movie, a nice blend of passion fighting pessimism in a manner that feels very much like the whiney preteen age. Her fellow child actors are impressive, but the adult casts’ experience manages to shine forth.  Oprah’s words re limited, but her regality comes across well in her performance. Mindy Kaling’s lines are a little more dynamic, again executed to be entertaining, and while wise, not the most engaging of characters.  It’s actually Reese Witherspoon who was my favorite, bringing the most spunk, comedy, and character to the movie. Her chemistry with the cast was fantastic and her abilities certainly charmed much of the movie.


The Morals:  Like the book, the movie has a fantastic repertoire of lessons to teach the young audience members targeted by the film.  A Wrinkle in Time greatly praises the concept of hope, imbedding the driving, divine light of inspiring others to better themselves and motivate them to fight.  It’s focus on utilizing the positive to combat the negative emotions is something this world could easily learn from, and even more so in the ability to accept one’s faults and praise one’s strengths.  While a bit preachy in the dialog, the movie has those emotional moments to absolutely sell those life lessons and perhaps promote the next great person for them to endorse.  Still, use this movie as a means to educate those in the way of values of self-worth.


The Visuals:  What can I say, the best part of this movie is the fantastic world building is the world building this movie brought to the silver screen.  A Wrinkle in Time’s selling point is how beautiful the art department made all their characters and settings.  While the realistic Earth scenes are a cavalcade of traditional settings, the real majesty comes when our heroes begin to bend reality.  First the costumes of the misses are incredible, as their personalities erupt to life on each planet they visit.  Makeup and costume blend together perfectly, truly bringing out the beauty of each entity and reflecting their personal view of each world.  And once the costumes are recognized, the creation of the dimensional galaxy gets even better.  My favorite planet is the Flower planet (as advertised on the trailers) as it blended all the color and visual stunning goodness into one area. However, there are plenty of other things hidden in behind the trailers to be impressed with.




The Story:  It starts off so strong, but soon the plot takes a major hit in quality because of how rushed it feels.  Once the traveling begins, the movie’s plot hits a major break and takes a mighty plunged into rushed territory.  Character development, major plot hits, even the mighty antagonist were all kind of bland in this movie, never reaching the full steam past girl power junction.  Why such a literature classic could not build up steam I don’t know, but sadly this movie didn’t quite have all it took to be exciting.


A bit annoying:  The movie has plenty of cute, kid friendly gimmicks, but my word does it crush over into some rather annoying things.  The most annoying for me was how often they repeat the name Charles Wallace, a not only obnoxious name, but an obnoxious calling that was used every five seconds.  As picky as this sounds, I quickly got annoyed at how lackluster the name was and how it was used unnecessarily in every context.  Better luck next time in dialog adaptation guys, perhaps next time you’ll learn how to substitute a name with better descriptions.


The Simplistic Journey:  You might be thinking Disney would pour their hearts into making an interdimensional journey with some style, class and flare their studios can brings.  Sadly, the movie itself still seems to fail in this department for me.  Three worlds make up the entire leg of the journey and while they each have some magic of their own it didn’t feel like quite a detective journey.  So many worlds were reduced to a blurry montage that lasted less than a minute depriving me of a scavenger hunt in order to fit into the two-hour runtime package. With their studio they could have much better on this aspect to extend the mystery, perhaps adding their own leeway and integration of cosmic powers to uncover the clues to finding dear old dad.  Nope, again the movie is just a sad, sad display of tempting visuals and rushed plot.


The Anticlimactic End:  Again, there is buildup up to how deadly the darkness is and how it will be hunting for our heroes at every turn.  So maybe you might hope that the big, bad, black void had some actual tricks up its sleeve to hinder the young warriors’ journey.  Again, the movie has little exciting climax to act as an impasse, a few emotional shadows and musical sores to try to illicit a response.  However, there is little threat behind the darkness void, which symbolic as it can be is a boring end to what was supposed to be a crossing of the universe.  Sorry, but I expect my shadows to have a little more bite and might when they threaten to plague the universe.  The result is a cute, but rather dull finale to one of the most epic tales of the literature adapted world.




Wrinkle in Time feels like a child’s version of Annihilation, but without the unique and twists the genre could really have used.  It certainly isn’t awful as some may say, with good acting and world building to bring forth an emotional telling of valuable ethics and morals.  Yet, the movie does not meet the expectations placed by the book, for the story has been watered down into a hokey, gimmick filled manhunt that failed to reach its full potential.  Perhaps the director’s cut will go into more details with the abandoned worlds, but I doubt extra time will be able to bring the full might this movie needed to match the literary work.  Not the worst movie to grace the theater, but outside of visuals and some acting, I think this one can be held until home viewing.


My scores are:


Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  5.5


DCOM or D-Bomb



Disney Channel Original Movies, are all the rage on the cable station, with epic promotion, marketing, and merchandizing to build up the film for your little ones.  Back in the day, these movies actually did a decent job telling predictable stories, that held some suspense and impressive stunts in a variety of sports and disciplines.  Since the new age of Disney though, these stories have taken a major hit in their quality, resorting to marketing gimmicks and dance numbers to do their lifting and dumping the story down the drain.  After the success of Descendants, the studio that brought the villain prodigy tales to you, brings another movie to the small screen, in hopes of maximizing the ratings again.  Robbie is back with another review on TV movies, so let’s get started, shall we?




The Message:  Disney is taking some bold moves in their political statements, doing little to disguise the messages contained in the movie.  Zombies is a flat-out statement about how wrong racism is, with the entire writing/cinematography set out to show the horrors of prejudice.  The movie shows the various responses to the candor of segregation, and the right and wrong ways to fight all under the prowess of changing things that need to be changed.  In addition, the movie has a strong focus on being yourself, learning to change things that are toxic about yourself, not because someone doesn’t like it. 


The Leads:  Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly are the stars of the show, getting a majority of the camera time.  Milo has a fresh energy about him, giving the movie that entertaining, fun quality you want in a DCOM.  He manages to transition between silly and serious smoothly, never crossing into the realm of overacting.  In addition to acting, his dance moves, singing, and ability to act like a savage, brain hungry monster are worth noting as well.  Meg on the other hand is the strong, women protagonist that is the trend of Disney at the moment.  While not wielding spears or martial arts that leave extra reeling in pain, Meg’s public speaking and political games are the highlights of her character’s ability.  Like Milo, she has a good balance in her tones and acting style, alongside an impressive facial acting that speaks the emotions and tone of the scene.  She injects energy at the right moments but stands as the symbol of hope/change in this installment.  And in terms of singing, her harmony with the actors is astonishing and quite honestly my favorite voice of the group. 


The Dance Numbers:  The focus of this movie is obviously the musical numbers.  What will most likely be a hot selling item, these numbers capture the energy and spirit of the movie.  Unlike other musicals that focus on adjusting their styles to make a nice blend for the track, Zombies sticks to the major pop meets electronic beat.  While not as dynamic, this allowed for some impressive choreography that brought in some breakdancing, some line dancing, and even more so the cheerleading flips and dynamics.  These numbers work in the theme of the movie and again highlight the singing talents of our stars.




The Story:  While the message is good, the story really took steps down in terms of quality.  For one thing, the story isn’t unique, just a carbon copy of half of their stories, which are often diluted versions of classic movie stories.  But ignoring this, the movie is not fleshed out very well with so many plot holes and stretches having to be taken to even semi-piece the tale together.  The character development is rushed and sloppy, the love story fairly cheap and pathetic (when they aren’t singing), and the impasses are laughable as they resolve with little to no effort.  It’s obvious that the focus was music, because much of this story looked for opportunities to introduce another song number, sacrificing key plot points.


The Other characters:  Not everyone will fall into this dislike, but a large number of the characters are lame to put it as nicely as I can.  These characters are those with extreme flaws/prejudice, who fail to move an ounce during the first 85 minutes and often present their grandiose ways in an overacted direction.  I can’t tell how much of this is due to the direction and writing, but these characters are certainly some of the weaker ones to grace the Disney line up.  Characters like Bucky and his squad in particularly are the worst, in terms of their inconsistency and presentation.  And the parents of the crew/fans are only a couple of paces behind.


The Writing:  This would explain a lot in terms of the other dislikes, but the writing was kind of shoddy in this film for me.  Dialogue is limited in terms of anything unique, with only the anti-segregation lines holding any sustenance to them so you can get some mimicking from your kids started.  Outside of that, I’ve already stated that the writing built everything around the dance numbers, leading to rushed plot lines, rapid character development that is almost nonexistent, and just poor planning in general. 


Cheap Production:  I know TV movies don’t have the biggest budget, but seeing as Disney is essentially the money maker of the world, they could have done better than this.  Zombie’s stunts are not the greatest in terms of special effects, with many props looking snazzy, but very cheap. Sure, the light shows and setting look decent, but they can’t mask another big dislike, they couldn’t find another team/different uniforms to switch them into.  You pay attention, you see that the football teams and cheerleaders are all the same.  It’s not the fact that unique teams are key to a movie, it’s the laziness that the movie had when they have the means to go all out.  In addition, beating the same team over and over, means again a lack of developing story/tension.


Lazy on Soundtrack:  You just heard me say I like the soundtrack, so why on Earth am I putting this as a dislike. Simple, because half the track is unique and the other half are just reprisals that often pale to the first mix.  Descendants, Teen Beach Movie, and even High School Musical do a nice job with keeping their tracks different, unique, and with as few remixes as possible.  Zombies failed on this level, cheating the fans out of unique mixes just to cut some costs.  Why Disney didn’t fun this DCOM more so, I don’t know, but it didn’t impress me in these regards.  At least the numbers didn’t have those annoying, lazy lyrics like some tracks have had though… right.





            Zombies, in my opinion, was a massively overhyped movie that promised a lot more than it delivered.  I’ll admit it was fun at times, energetic, and a great medium for promoting anti-segregation (always a plus) and that the acting and dance numbers did their jobs.  However, this installment makes me fear tor the future of DCOMs if all they focus on is the music and the merchandizing that will follow.  This team cut a lot of corners, shucking originality, deeper development, and meaningful dialogue and comparing it to other DCOMS that remain hidden in their vaults, it’s sad.  I’m hoping they will utilize the star actors and the supporting zombies in future projects, but the company needs to get their act together if they plan to keep their DCOMS from further plunging down into crappy depths. 


My scores:

Musical/Romance: 5.0

Movie Overall:  3.0

Coco will have you scream Ayeeee yeeeeee Yi Haha! Powerful Music To Bring To Live Culture



Thanksgiving, the holiday of turkey, football, preparation for materialistic shopping, and…Disney.  If you are an avid movie goer, you know the mega corporation is all about capitalizing on the holiday with one of their famous animation movies.  This year is no different, with Walt Disney Animation Studios taking a step back and allowing Pixar to come in with another big hit to sweep best picture category at the Oscars.  Tonight, yours truly hits the theater to scope out Coco, the Hispanic story of music, family, and the dead.  Robbie K here with another review, let us get started.




The Animation:  Pixar/Disney are the kings of animation, and they have proven themselves again in this CGI masterpiece. Coco’s characters are dynamic, presented in so many forms that give the family a spectrum of characters.  Despite a majority of the cast looking carbon copied version of skeletons, Pixar managed to inject subtle differences to make primary and secondary characters stand out.  The living members also got the anatomy altered as well, going so far to represent all stage of life (i.e. old and senile, young and energetic, and even pregnant).  Past designs, the movement itself is incredibly detailed. The subtle gestures in walking/running, the accurate capture of facial gestures for conversation, and more importantly the incredible finger motions of Miguel and cast playing the guitar.  A statement of Pixar having incredible attention to detail wasn’t kidding, because this thing was gorgeous.


Spirit animals:  One stand out feature of this movie are the cool spirt animals that inhabit the land of the undead.  The flying jaguar, while one of the most outstanding displays, is only the tip of the iceberg, and these creatures are sprawled out in the world.  I found it cool to see the creativity of blending common animals into a piñata like creation, each feature designed to add finesse and flare to mix and represent the culture of Mexico.


The Culture: Disney movies always have a way of capturing an element of the real world.  Coco’s theme is all about the Mexican culture and the various customs that we as viewers only have an inkling of understanding.  Pixar managed to bring that culture to life not only in design, but in the story, they have developed in this tale. Their belief in the afterlife is the foundation this tale is built on, allowing other things like soap operas, fiestas, food, and the western film culture.  And within all these elements are the important customs of family, the passion of music, and the pursuit of dreams through hard work All of these are beautifully integrated into the mix, occasionally crossing into cheesy territory, to craft a very stirring tale. 


The Music: By far the biggest element for me though, has to be the music of Coco.  Disney is always spectacular with their soundtracks, but Coco stands out to me as one of the more unique sets of music to come out of the studio.  Instead of grandiose symphonies, or Oscar designed symphonies, Coco’s music is all about representing the musical culture of Mexico.  Each song builds around the acoustic guitar as the primary instrument in its calm, yet vibrant strings.  Such a simple instrument packs an emotional kick, especially once the supporting instruments and the voice bellow out to unleash the pent-up emotion of our characters.  The songs build into the story, and are used as the primary tools for accomplishing Miguel’s goals and represents a variety of artistic styles this culture has.  It’s dynamic, it’s fun, and its relevant to the story, all big points in this reviewer’s eyes.




The opening short: While separate, the opening number is still part of the show. Olaf’s frozen adventure, while cute, was just another compilation of short songs to refresh Disney’s cash cow for the last few years.  Sure, some of the songs are powerful (the ending in particular), and the message tugs at my strings, but it lacked a lot of sustenance for just more songs.  Thank goodness Coco’s music redeemed this quality.


More with the creatures:  I like the spirit animals, I just didn’t like how much of a background they were.  With such cool concepts, you think that Disney would have found a way to capitalize on these monsters’ involvement in the world whether it be searching for clues, chasing our heroes, or having more bang in the final setting.  Even without their integration, the studio downplayed their powers a bit, showing inconsistencies with the potential they developed in these creatures.


Lackluster Excitement:  Thinking back to Pixar’s previous works, there are usually those edge on the seat moments that have you questioning the fate of the heroes (Toy Story, Incredibles, even Cars).  Coco not so much for me.  The movie stays pretty safe, with predictable antics, calm action scenes, and a final obstacle that didn’t do much for me in the suspense role. There seemed to be little hindrance to our character’s journey, and in many cases that hindered the development we could have seen.  This film blows the cultural relevance out of the water, yet it still missed its potential for a complete package without the action.


Many Book of Life elements:  This movie stands out on its own in so many concepts and the songs are much more original.  Yet, there is a lot of this movie based off of Book of Life, and in many cases less vibrant and unique than the predecessorIn my opinion, I felt the Book of Life was the more exciting of the two tales and I like this design more than the scale this one took.  Still, Coco holds a lot of finesse that the Book failed to have.




Coco is certainly one of the more culturally relevant Pixar movies to come out of the studio.  It’s design and animation are gorgeous, the creativity is on point, and so much of it is packed with tasteful portrayals of this beautiful culture.  Yet, it still has a few shortcomings for me to make it a perfect movie.  They dropped some of the potential they built up and the excitement element could have been amped up with more struggles as well.  When all is said and done though, Coco is by far one of the better films to hit the theaters this November and I strongly encourage many to flood the theaters and scope it out.  And for those with little ones obsessed with Frozen, this movie is only going to be better for them.


My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

Descending Further Into Quality

Descendants 2


Robbie K here with a little change up.  Instead of hitting the silver screen with this review, I analyze the latest Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) to premier tonight.  Our film focus tonight, the sequel to Disney’s latest merchandise extravaganza Descendants.  If you don’t know what this series is about, it focuses on the offspring of the Disney villains and their quest to find themselves amidst a plethora of chaotic assignments.  Like many DCOMs, legendary director Kenny Ortega returns to bring you music and kid-friendly drama that keeps breathing life into Disney Channel.  Tonight, the sequel is back to keep the momentum going and try to retain some quality back to the cable network.




Villain Kids:  In most movies, the story is only as good as the antagonists to fight and in this case Uma (China Anne McClain) is an improvement over last movie’s band of baddies.  Descendants one tried to reinstate the classic baddies, with subpar casting and actors who semi looked the part. The direction of the movie though put the kids in the forefront and the villains in the back, resulting in rather boring/cheesy performances.  With the kids being the focus, the new villain of Uma gets the focus and development needed, and her malicious planning are nice qualities.  Her second in command Harry Hook (Thomas Doherty) is the enforcer who has some mad skills to bring to the table and actually does something to up the ante in a rather calm series.  With kids at the focus, the doors open wide for more adventure at hand.


The Message:  DCOM movies are all about teaching a lesson, and Descendants 2 keeps that time honored magic alive.  Where Descendants was all about not being your parents and marking your own path, the sequel focuses on finding yourself as the main theme.  A good lesson we can all use a refresher on that only loses a little power by the preachy delivery.  Of course, there are other minor plots to help teach a few more subjects on friendship, courage, confidence, and knowing when a rule needs to have a new spin. All good messages for young ones to get bombarded with, and an applause at Disney doing it right.


The Story:  The first movie did a nice job introducing all the relationships of the world while embedding it in plots of doing villains’ bidding, but also battling yourself when morals conflict. Yet the story was very simple and lacked the kick that it needed to be fully entertaining.  Descendants 2 was a step up, building on those relationships and using them to tell a new story that involved exploring more of the isle.  The added “suspense” was again a step in the right direction, and the increased urgency only brought more suspense to the mix. 


The Songs:  By far my favorite component was the soundtrack.  After seeing Descendants a thousand times over the last two years, I made my list and found only a couple of songs I found timeless.  In this installment, the five out of six tracks will most likely be coming to my Ipod.  The dance numbers were much better for me and they fit very well into the theme of the movie instead of just being jammed in at random intervals ( see Evil Like Me and Ridiculous).  The new soundtrack has edge and really kicks up the beat.  Nice improvements guys.

Acting:  One thing I must give props to though, is the acting.  Descendants cast is super talented and each brings a dynamic energy to the movie that really sparks magic into the DCOM world.  Dove Cameron steals the show with her fantastic ability to direct a character and mold it into a believable performance.  She also brings singing and dancing to the mix that mirrors the emotions present in her character. Cameron Boyce as Carlos has the energy and moves to impress, even more this time with the dance numbers.  Sofia Carson is brains, beauty, and passion with focus on her singing coming out in this movie.  Sofia’s dramatic air somehow brings the group together and keeps the extreme personalities grounded.  Booboo Stewart as Jay has more lines in this movie, and brings that action packed, stunt oriented edge the movie continues to need.  Just maximize his talents more please.  Finally Mitchell Hope does a nice job as King Ben, reprising his well to the full effect and refining it to meet the needs of the scene.  The cast’s chemistry is impressive and Ortega’s guidance keeps things strong, selling the relationships that this movie depends on.  



Dropped plot elements: If you haven’t followed the animated shorts and accompanying books, then this won’t affect you.  However, the super fanbase will note other characters missing from Auradon’s halls.  Many characters are absent in this film, and even those from the first film have been reduced to back burner secondary appearances with little involvement in the main plot.  Audrey, Jane, even Doug are not nearly as involved, most likely to give the newbies more screen time.  Unfortunately…

New elements lacking:  Outside of Uma and maybe Harry, many of the new characters are also reduced to smaller roles than I anticipated.  Newcomers Dizzy (Anna Cathcart) and Gil (Dylan Playfair) have been the highlights of the recent advertising campaign, but sadly don’t do much in this film.  In addition, many of the dramatic buildups, foreshadowing, and magic are actually played less than I originally thought.  Guess dancing and sword fighting are more important than complete plots.  One warning I have for future installments is to not grow so big to drop other characters, or face the threat of devouring yourself by inconsistencies.

Rushed Plot:  Descendants holds a lot of potential to be an epic tale, and that first book by De La Cruz was an epic introduction filled with that potential.  The movies unfortunately have lost that balance and go for the rather rushed conclusions that make many DCOMs lacking.  Number 2 did not improve on this element, but worsened as they tried to shove too many plots into the short run-time.  Much of the conflict is dropped quickly, the tasks and trials are rapidly completed, and new elements are haphazardly dropped without any buildup or heat.  I know they are shooting for time constraints, but with something this big… you can take your time and go a little longer.  Younger audiences won’t care about this, but older ones like me would appreciate a little more dramatic play ups.  In addition, don’t set up potential plots and drop them like a bad habit (see Chad Charming subplot).  That incomplete presentation is a little disappointing with legendary directors in the mix.


Anticlimatic ending:  I know, this is a movie geared for younger generations, we can’t have too violent of a fight.  The sword fight did a decent job of bringing the appropriate action especially the tangle between Harry and Jay (Booboo Stewart).  However, another struggle at the end showed off some semi-decent computer work in a very…bland manner.  I can’t reveal much more, but an epic tangle could have come in that wasn’t so…abruptly stopped.  Kids watch lion King, Aladdin, and Incredibles, they can handle more than G rated punches.  Add some “fire” to the mix, or throw in some close calls to mix things up and actually bring fear to the mix.


The Verdict:


Overall, Descendants 2 stepped its game up on many levels with their villains, story, and songs.  Yet it still succumbs to the modern spin on DCOMs to go for musical gimmicks and diluted themes that while entertaining are not the only sustenance of the film.  Descendants 2 story has room for improvement in regards to integrating its characters more, and could take a lesson from the books in regards to adding some suspense to the film.  Still, it is one of the better DCOMs I have seen in a long time, and certainly the more impressive sequel to grace the small screen.  With a little more work and some other feedback from you fans… Descendants 3 (which I feel will come) can be even more exciting. 


My scores:


Family/Musical/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3


“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.



Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.


Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.


Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.



Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.


Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.


Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.


Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 


My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0


It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago.  Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts.  Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece.  So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground.  With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.



  • Follows the Classic Plot Well
  • The Setting is beautiful
  • Costume
  • Animation (for the most part)
  • Casting is well-done
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere


Summary:  You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling.  Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist.  To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate.  And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals.  Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition.  Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic.  Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around.  All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.


In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled.  Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the sameEmma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist.  Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me.  I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case.  Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight.  The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.





  • The Music
  • Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
  • Times Forced Acting
  • Coincidental Moments
  • Missing Charm of 1991


Summary:  The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story.  This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original.  Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked.  Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast).  Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).


Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes.  Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bayAgain, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?


Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced.  Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration.  And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie).  Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.


All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.




With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many.  It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart.  While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy. 


My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0



Have Funna, Watching Moana


            It wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without a Disney animated feature to grace the silver screen.  And this weekend the animation studios are at it again with another masterpiece sure to be nominated for best animated picture of the year.  The name of the movie this time is Moana, a tale of Polynesian mythology wrapped up in a nice, Disney magical package.  Will this movie net Disney the best picture of the year award, or is it just another filler until Pixar’s next work?  Robbie K happy to bring you another review this holiday season.  Let’s get started.



  • Fun, new setting
  • Comedy
  • Soundtrack was kicking


We all know Disney makes fun films, but Moana’s fun comes in form of the beautiful settings of the Pacific. Stepping away from the castles, this film will enchant you as you set sail on the majestic oceans and the mythical creatures that inhabit them.  The world is colorful and dynamically shaded to match the tones of the film, which give the film a little energy to spice things up. No surprise, the animation is fluid (as always) as realistic movements (both living and nonliving) are captured in this breathtaking CGI. While I didn’t see it in 3-D, this film’s design would have popped out more with the special effects, therefore earning a recommendation to give it a try if you wish.

But a Disney movie isn’t just about the scenery, oh no you have to have characters that make you laugh and you can latch onto.  Moana continues this trend, with the lead character (Moana) being the ever inspiring, girl power rocking, role model that most leads are.  In terms of laughs though, Maui has you covered on this field.  Dwayne Johnson delivers in the film, his bold, brash, and loud delivery matching the charisma of the demi-god. The hero has plenty of silly qualities to him, clever one-liners, slapstick antics, and a dancing tattoo which kept me laughing through most of the film.  Throw in an idiotic chicken and anthropomorphic ocean and the you get a unique team for tickling your funny bone.

My favorite aspect of this movie though has to be the soundtrack. This movie finally took a step back into the Disney renaissance world.  A fantastic orchestra work sets the stage for adventure, bold brass instruments blaring and drums pounding as the boat coasts out into the wild.  Other scenes have a more elegant touch to them to match the touching moments, rounding out the emotion of the film in a complete package. But many will fall in love with the original music our cast composes, bringing the upbeat, inspirational tone that will have young and young at heart hitting repeat over and over again.  The soundtrack was perfect for this movie, and yours truly loved the islander twist to spice the tunes up.



  • Not as exciting as other adventures
  • Unnecessary scenes
  • Missed potential


While Moana was fun and beautiful, it wasn’t the most thrilling tale to grace the library. The film lacked suspense for me, never finding myself at the edge of my seat fearing for our heroes. Perhaps it was the obvious foreshadowing, or the fact that very little of the threats seemed deadly, but more cuddly and silly.  Plus, the character development was a little lacking at times, so there didn’t seem the looming threat of Disney killing a favorite character.  Without the excitement, the adventure did grow a bit dull in terms of thrills, but fortunately the fun and animation make up for it. 

An even stronger dislike was how unnecessary some of the scenes were in the film for me.  A few of the moments, were impromptu sequences meant to instill a sense of urgency, an effort I appreciate.  However, the urgency had already been established and these scenes added little to the overall emotion or plot of the story.  Unfortunately, the biggest sting was entering one “supposedly” dangerous island that Maui builds up.  It had such build up and potential, and then they dropped it.  This island could have been a very unique and dangerous world that added some edge and diversity to the film in regards to bizarre flora and fauna.  Yet, they quickly skimmed over this part to get to an obnoxious character (the conflict with him rather lackluster), which left me a tad disappointed. Sadly, no other creatures or beasts appeared from the depths to enhance the adventure, nor any major challenges to gradually enhance the skills of our heroes. The bottom line of this dislike, is that the editing was slightly off track for this reviewer and could have been expanded upon to add more depth and excitement to the film.




Moana is another fine example of how awesome Disney is at animation. Beautiful visuals bring alive a unique world that will make you crave to be on the majestic waters of the pacific islands.  In addition, it’s a very fun movie that contains both laughs and music to instill the positive energy that Disney films love to do around the holidays. Despite all of this though, it wasn’t the most exciting adventure for me and I really would have liked to see more of the mythology brought into the tale to further develop our loveable characters (and more of the cute pig too). Still, this film is worth visiting in the theaters for all ages and will spread some early holiday joy over you and those you love. 


My scores:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5