Don’t Leavey Your Tissues Behind

Leavey

 

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero.  If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I’m talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed.  What’s the verdict?  You’ll have to read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie.  Based on Leavey’s history (from the little research I’ve done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role.  The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally.  Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero.  You’ll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self.  Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story.

 

Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum.  Not the case for Megan Leavey.  This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time.  The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty.  It’s engaging! It’s exciting!  And it is real!

 

The Dog:  Let’s face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs.  Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog’s status as a warrior itself.  Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory.  If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie.  Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Movie magic drama:  We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth.  While I’m not certain how tough Megan’s life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me.  I’m not talking about the war aspect, we know that’s hell.  No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom.  Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie.

 

The Final Act: Megan Leavey’s film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting.  The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on.  I can’t say much without ruining things, but here it goes.  This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development.  However, the pace changes at this part, doesn’t focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it’s emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman.

 

Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like.  However, I can’t say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters.  With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn’t an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured.  Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.  So, don’t behead me people, I’m just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I’ve seen in a while.  A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie.  With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you’ll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists.  Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show.  Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military.

 

Biography/Drama/War:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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