When You Wish Upon A Gun

Death Wish


Bruce Willis a legend that will live on in the halls of action movies.  The stoic face, the rugged muscles, and the ability to wield every type of gun are just some of the qualities that make him stand amongst the heroes of the action world.  Tonight, a fellow friend attends the movies with me to help determine what his next film entitled Death Wish holds in store.  Does another rogue cop movie hold bar, or is Willis just spinning our wheels?  Robbie K and friend are here to provide some info.  Let’s get started!




Comedic Timing:  Shocker, you aren’t going to see this movie for comedy, but Death Wish has it anyway.  While not straight up laughing, slapstick or one-liners, Death Wish’s comedy comes more from the pokes at society this movie portrays.  Primarily aimed at the media blowing up articles into the latest entertainment, Death Wish is not afraid to call us out on turning everything into entertainment. In addition, Willis manages to drop some well-timed insults into the mix, often geared toward the unreliability of the law enforcement that plagues our world.  Such small nuances aren’t the wettest humor, but it works given the tone of this movie.


Moral Debates:  Another movie, another means to provide a medium to have ethical debates.  Like so many people these days, people take drastic action to make change happen, and Death Wish is just a series of clips that raise this question.  Gun vigilante may seem extreme, but sadly in this day and age it is not, and it makes one wonder how far you are willing to go to bring about the change.  Is it preachy?  Yes, but that underlying theme acts as the character development in this rather simple plot and works to add a little more meaning to the plot.

Edgy action:  If you’ve seen the trailers, you know the movie is meant to be another example of why Bruce Willis is the man with the exciting plan.  Death Wish fulfills that promise, giving you a movie that has drops flashy stunts and CGI for down and dirty shoot outs.  And while crime shootings are often one dimensional, monotone blowouts, Death Wish manages to add some different angles to the mix that are loaded with a dark tone to really bring out the suspense.  What adds even more thrills, is that Death Wish manages to avoid falling into invincible syndrome, giving some more realistic qualities to our hero so you can relate and potentially get hooked into the suspense. With all this edge, it refreshes the action genre that has gotten stale with their ridiculous antics.


Good pace:  A final nod, outside of a well reflected soundtrack, is the pace of the movie.  A little bit of time is needed at the beginning to get things revved up, but once the first gun blazes, things kick up into gear.  Death Wish is a film that is all about pacing, shedding little time on the irrelevant details so you get as much hunting as you could possibly want. It certainly does not feel slow!



Savage, Dark, Suffering:  My friend doesn’t mind this aspect, and truth is I can handle it too, but for others this movie has a little more graphic torturing than you might be thinking.  Those with weak constitutions, may need to avert their eyes a few times at the bloody fates our extras have in store.  If you can’t handle this blood and cringe worthy tactics, you need to think about watching the movie as it’s not all quick finishes and sunshine.  In fact, some may be depressed seeing the light fade out of the eyes of a few of the reaper’s victims.


Blunt ends:  Death Wish’s writing had plenty of storytelling elements and potential plots contained within, but many of these we felt were bluntly dropped into the mix.  The Ice Cream Man for instance held little difference outside of his scene on the trailers, though you thought he might have had a little more sway.  There are other examples of this, each one starting to build steam or provide a new dynamic for Willis’ character, but sadly they didn’t quite develop all these elements that could have been something more.


Action in the TrailersThis is one of those movies that if you have seen the trailer a lot, or have a good memory, you’re going to unfortunately see a lot of familiar scenes.  Most of the action scenes have been completely shown in the trailer, a testament to how long these scenes are. Therefore, watch the trailer enough time, and you’ve got a little in regards to surprises with the action scenes, and not much from the plot either.  A dilution of story, surprise, and suspense, the movie needed a little tweaking to help out break out of the shell.


Unrealistic:  Wow, an action movie that leaves the reality and goes to the realm of fiction, not the first time we’ve seen this happen.  However, given the more realistic tone of Death Wish, you would think they would work a little harder to keep this going.  First there are some plot holes my friend picked out, that came out of left field.  Yeah, they worked to transition the scenes, but some of these stretches were farfetched, unable to support the method behind Willis’ hunt. Then comes the lacking brains, skills, or ingenuity that the black-market population follow.  How in the world did guards not be posted every single hit target these supposedly elite thieves had?  How did Willis find these steps to contact the guys, or vice versa?  Small things for some, but for this reviewer that deviation was hard to stomach. Finally, Willis’ character somehow manages to avoid detection with just a hoodie.  Batman is able to mask via technology and a legitimate costume, but in this day of media/sharing/and the internet, how in did he avoid detection for so long.  If I knew I just had to put a sleeve over my head and look down to be invisible, I would have done this in undergrad.  Thus, the realistic action movie loses its realistic edge.





            Despite the limitations, Death Wish is the action movie to liven things up and bring those edges the series needs.  The realistic tone, with character development is the hard-hitting angle the genre needed, and the morale dilemma is a nice added bonus.  If you are looking for that grittier element, this movie is certainly the one for you, lacking restraints to unleash the violence full swing.  Yet, the movie still needs to watch its story writing making sure to avoid blunt, rushed ends and big stretches to have us believe.  Yet, if you suspend this tie to realism, you will certainly enjoy this thrilling ride.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I’d say yes in this case if you are a fan of the legend.


MY scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0


Annihilates The Mundane Sci-Fi, But …



The Science Fiction genre, a group of films that often get wrapped up in other genres that they stray far from the roots established long ago.  A true science fiction, is often a thriller that tests the limits of reality, dives deep into the psyche of the characters, and often brings a fictitious world that we can only dream of to life.  And this weekend, another movie looks to fall into this category and actually belong into it.  Annihilation starring Natalie Portman looks to be a movie that contains many strange elements, wonders, and thrills to warrant a venture into the movie theater again.  What lies in store?  Well Robbie K would be happy to share his thoughts with another review.  Let’s get started!




The World Building:  Within Annihilation, lies the anomaly called the Shimmer and within it a world that has been mutated by some unknown force.  As our “heroes” for lack of a better word venture into the gasoline mixed with water looking border, the world contained within is a wonder in itself.  Our world’s natural flora and fauna are bizarrely twisted into these contorted visuals that look natural, beautiful, and a true representation of the genetic crossing that we all studied in school. The world’s scientific art continued to grow only deeper and darker as they traveled further into the void, the animation and creativity being unleashed into the chaotic skew with no limitations.  Some of these creations are stunning in terms of color, while other times they are the things of nightmares, whose movements and designs will leave you huddled in your chair. 


Science Fiction Thrills:  In addition to the world itself, Annihilation is all about the true Sci-Fi adventure.  An unending suspense hovers over the air, the tension always mounting at what lies within the glades of this weird dimension.  The mystery of what is causing this continues to build across the course of the movie, as well as if our heroes will make it to find the answer.  Annihilation’s threats do exist outside, but even more dire is the psychological warfare the Shimmer plays on our girls.  Disturbing imagery is only one assault to their psyches, as they are pushed from all fronts to confront whatever it is eating them inside.  And in addition to bringing suspense, the characters get some major development, shelling out their background information and helping them adapt to the ever-changing world around them.  This culmination is very entertaining and truly worthy of the sci-fi mantle in terms of plot.


Deep:  A good science fiction movie makes you think, and Annihilation has got you covered in this element as well.  As you try to solve the mystery of the movie and the fantastic twists that get thrown in, you’ll find deeper meanings behind the actions of the movie.  Many of these are head scratchers, trying to figure out just what the Shimmer is doing.  While not as complex as Arrival or Matrix, Annihilation still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to bend your mind and get you trying to process all the weird information it throws at you.  As you process this, you may uncover deeper, morale dilemmas, horror filled thoughts of the future, and even the fragility of order are all up for questions.  This artistic flare is certainly a score booster, though fair warning that these deeper meanings are also disturbing at times too.



Savage/Disturbing:  With a title like Annihilation, one needs to be ready for darker undertones and source material.  However, this movie goes down a very graphic path that was able to penetrate my desensitized shell.  Found footage reveals some rather violent outcomes for previous teams, with little to no censorship of details that are capable of causing some to lose their lunch.  The savage nature of the beasts and the violence held within just about everything in this film throws no punches, again choosing to display the gory details that fail to dampen. 


Flashbacks:  The flashbacks are certainly for character development and some of them set the story up nicely for the bombs to be dropped.  Others however, are unnecessary details that did little other than show the suffering we already knew she held and expand the run time.  Complete as it was, I didn’t quite pick up on the significance of some of these wasted scenes and could have held better storytelling elements to help build the suspense.  Not all of these have to be eliminated, but editing could have used some tightening up to make everything more relevant.


Deeper supporting characters:  The movie is primarily about Natalie Portman, shocker there, and at the start it showed some promise that the other members of her team would be more integral to the mission.  Yet, things decrease fairly fast to where the other characters soon become rushed plot lines, trinkets to tax Leah (Portman)’s conscience and further push the psyche limitations of everyone.  Had they given some better relationships, a little more teamwork, and integration of all characters, perhaps then we would have had even stronger development and thrills to enjoy.


The Weird Ending: You know that feeling you get when after the big wait the ending turns out to be something you didn’t/or maybe never wanted to expect?  Well Annihilation was kind of like that for me.  The twist at the end was great, bringing relevance to some of the flashbacks, and really blowing your mind.  However, the entity itself is not quite as awe-inspiring or terrifying to say the least.  The source of the trouble is abstract, creepy, and very hard on the ears as it tries to communicate in sounds you have heard in the trailers. This final scene is super prolonged, and quite uncomfortable at times to watch as this dance of perverted awkwardness commences. Is it unique?  Yes, but it still didn’t quite match what I wanted.  And for those who don’t like abstract thinking and deciphering the conclusion yourself, hate to break it to you, but you won’t get all the explanations you might be looking for.  Yeah, it’s weird.





            Annihilation may have looked weird, and it’s true it is an odd spectacle to behold to the general audience.  However, it is a true sci fi thriller in meaning, thought provoking, stunts, and world building, to the level that fans of the genre will be pleased with what the studio brought out to you. It’s weaknesses for me come in it went a little too far down the weird pathway, going too savage and abstract to provide a clear picture at times.  The use of flashbacks was stylish at times but overdone as it sacrificed the chances for other characters to get some more time on the screen.  Still, if you are looking for that dark, story that makes you scratch your head, then Annihilation is the movie for you to check out.  For those who qualify, this movie is worth a trip to the theater, but for others kip this as long as you can to avoid disturbing those with sensitive constitutions. 


My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Failure of Biblical Proportions



Biblical movies are hot topic films that often don’t get their fair reviews, wedged between two extremes that are unrelenting.  While there have been some amazing films to capture the lessons of the Lord, there are others that fall short of the glory.  This weekend, another attempt to bring the stories to visual splendor this time focusing on the tale of Samson and Delilah.  You may not have seen the trailers, but the teaser did not hold much promise for this film, with a Taylor Lautner look alike taking center screen amidst a lot of extras.  Still, yours truly hits another round of movies to bring you another review.  Does this film succeed or is it just bleeding your pockets dry?  Let’s get started on the analysis, shall we?



Orchestra work:  Not the most unique or creative, but the orchestra work in Samson brings an emotional curb to the scene or sequence it is covering.  The booming cannons, the sharp trumpets blaring honorably, and the deep drums all combine to form a symphony that mirrors the ferocity of Samson’s strength. Without this track, the edge portrayed in the trailer would not be there.


Biblical Look:  Okay, okay I’m drawing straw here, but the setting looked like a decent representation of old world towns, palaces, and shacks.  Samson’s cast have a bountiful environment to work in, from dried up forests, to the open desert plains.  The shots are beautiful, and some of the made-up settings look legitimate, especially the outside shots of the CGI built palaces.  A nice start, but the budget needed to be expanded to really clean up the rougher edges of the setting.


The Biblical Message:  In these types of movies, one strives to learn the Lord’s lessons, perhaps as a means to reconnect with their spiritual side.  Samson manages to do this, using both the narratives and physical prowess scenes to help spread the message of going to God.  The latter in particular are very pronounced prayers, going out of the way to dramatize the kneeling and shut eyes as he communicates with God.  This usually follows with some super hero feats, from bashing a person’s rib cage in with a punch or pushing open a gate that has no chance of opening.  Combined with the music, church goers will love seeing the power of God manifest in Samson’s deeds.



Unpolished Acting/Writing:  One major problem with Samson is that much of the movie feels unfinished, unpolished, and quite weak.  Many of the characters act at one extreme or the other, with many of the performances almost feeling like they were uninterested in the part.  When dramatic moments hit, the prolonged speeches, and acts of passion were on the other end of the spectrum, very melodramatic and a little cheesy.  I can’t pinpoint if this is due to the writing, the direction, or something else, but it didn’t meet the Oscar quality they might have been shooting for.


Rushed Story:  The acting can be stomached, but the story, well that is where things really take a dive.  Samson’s tale is epic, and one would hope to see that legendary story have all the meaning and development it needed.  Sadly, this film failed to bring the story to full light.  All the major points are covered, but much of it is a rushed, diluted mess that lacks suspense, quality, or even satisfactionCharacter deaths happen in the blink of an eye, punishments lack the movie magic to actually make you feel the pain in your heart and given the writing/acting…things don’t feel believable in the performance. Like many movies, they seemed to try and cram everything in to a short run time and it didn’t work for me.


The Action:  Okay, seeing a Hebrew take on corrupt, pigheaded soldiers, is always satisfying given the portrayal of bad guys in Hollywood.  However, Samson’s strength falters not in terms of power, but in terms of quality in the fight scenes itself.  Much of the movie is just the well-toned body of Taylor James being framed in a close up, with him performing the same, habitual punch/bash over and over again.  Oh yeah, they have a little mix up, but it’s nothing impressive as it resorts back to the usual bashing before seeing a shot of a poor extra pretending to die.  Sword play is lacking, suspense again is gone, and even the main bad guys feel weak in terms of epic villainy and thrilling fights.  Like much of this movie, they cut corners on this aspect and it didn’t pay off.



            The legendary story of Samson is an epic one about the power of God and filled with morals about trusting the Almighty one with your life.  Sadly, this film was not able to glorify it the way it needed to be.  Whether it is due to a limited budget, a short time limit, or rookie status, the movie cut too many corners as they tried to cram everything they could into a short time frame.  Mediocre acting, rushed story, and lackluster action more than overshadow the visuals and message in this movie, setting another example of how Hollywood doesn’t necessarily mean quality.  So, while the spiritual power is good, Robbie recommends skipping this installment at least until RedBox that is… and I can only marginally recommend this. 


My scores are:

Action/Drama:  4.5

Movie Overall: 4.0


Freed At Last, Freed At Last



The international best seller that changed the world is a topic of much debate.  Tasteless porn vs. incredible love story, this series has two extreme groups fighting for superiority on what is the truth to the Grey series.  However, since many people don’t read these days, Hollywood has brought a visual representation to us to help stem the tide and get more people discussing the content of E.L James work.  And so, yours truly, alongside some very kind friends, heads into the trenches to give you another review on what is what in the movies.  Let’s get going!




The Romance:  The romance, as the fans will call it, has finally improved to the levels many wanted it to be from the start.  Fifty Shades Freed finally has our actor’s chemistry mixing well to portray a more realistic love story than what I’ve seen.  Rather than bland, uninterested looks, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan finally have some heat into their acting actually seeming to love each other than just tolerate.  The drama that fans want is packed into their on-screen time, a nice balance of overdramatic anger, passion, and desire in their little game of domination cat and mouse.  While still unbelievable at times, the magic finally raised to a new level for the final installment.


The JokesSuch a dark delicacy as this requires some more adult humor, and Fifty Shades Freed’s writing is able to bring this humor to full blast.  Clever alliterations, metaphors, and puns are well integrated into the goopy, lovey dovy, romantic bologna this movie is famous for.  These comedic devices are well-timed and well-delivered to maximize the punch that comes with it and had my friends and I chuckling.  Had there been a few more of these moments, the movie’s writing might have gotten even more points for creativeness and magic.


Semi-Tasteful: Despite the sultry atmosphere contained in these films, the censorship is still decent enough to add some class to the movie.  Rather than diving into the pornographic details that some of the fan-base loves, the movie keeps the camera work on the upper areas, straying away from the lower anatomy.  Even the love making scenes have been tempered a bit to not dive into XXX levels, but it barely skims by this.  Still, the small bit of class gets my nod of respect.


The Ending:  My friends and I agreed that the nice little nod to the series as the end was a good way to cap of the series.  Simplistic and predictable yes, but for those super fans, it is the emotional finesse you may have come to expect in the series.  And for the beginning credit, and only clip, it’s the ending that had many in my showing ahhing in delight.


The Music:  My final nod is at the director of music, who once again picks a slamming song track to represent the emotion of the scene.  A combination of genres, the selections are worthy of another soundtrack worth purchasing, assuming you are into those kinds of things.





The Sex:  Let’s get this out of the way.  No surprise, I’m not the biggest fan of watching two actors make strong, awkward, and often strange sex fantasies come to life.  And Fifty Shades Freed was more than happy to throw a lot of these vivid images at me.  While a bit classy, these scenes didn’t fit into the story as much for me, nor did I really appreciate how fast and rapid they were crammed in.  The positive side is that these montages are at most 3.5 minutes long, but I’ll never look at ice cream the same way again…. Ewwwww.


Secondary Characters:  I don’t remember the books quite well, but I’m fairly certain the secondary cast goes farther than their cinematic doppelgangers.  Yes, I know the story is mainly about the star-cross lusters, I mean lovers, but this supporting group of families and friends should be you know… more supportive.  So why were much of the supporting band reduced to mere minutes of screen time with little to add to this tale?  A few clips of beautiful people, a tempting dramatic flair that goes nowhere, a shallow proposal that is cute but lacking, and some shotty presentation of key story elements are all they contribute.  After such integration in the first film, I had hoped for these components to strengthen as well, but they failed on this aspect for me outside of the fact that so many of them were pretty to look at.


Boring Tension:  Let’s face it, the story is not the best part of these series, but I had hoped that the antagonist would have had more bite to his coiffed hair.  Fifty Shares Freed did little to amplify the deadliness of Hyde, outside of making him look and sound even more insane.  The promise of a man with more brains and strategy was lost to low grade soap opera antics that just served as an example of poor planning.  I’ve seen better villains in a cheesy soap opera, and this anticlimactic climax was so disappointing to see fail.  While many may not be looking for super excitement, this reviewer would have liked to see more bite than bark.  Oh well, at least more room for love, right?




            Overall, Fifty Shade Freed has improved in regards to the romance that this series has tried to sell.  The heated passion between the main characters took some major steps towards progress in this series, alongside the jokes, the soundtrack, and the nicely packaged ending.  However, the story itself is laughable, with all these plot points and known character diluted into less concentrated beings that are only there for a quick head nod out of the series.  Fifty Shades Freed is a glorified soap opera on the big screen, and therefore not worth the price of admission in my opinion, no matter how passionate, emotional, and hot it may seem.  Save this one for the privacy of your own home and your imagination. 


My scores are:

Drama/Romance/Thriller:  5.0

Movie Overall:  4.0


A Little More Development Would Have Made This 12 Stronger

12 strong.jpg

            The World Trade Center attack, a day that will forever live on in the history of the American society.  From this event, our military launched a new war that targeted terrorism, and the escalating threats that hid in the shadows.  We’ve had plenty of tales about the heroes who acted on that day, uncovered the leads to locating the leaders of the attack, and potential occupations of territories of those who might continue their work.  This weekend, yet another campaign heavy feature comes to theaters entitled 12 strong, the declassified story of the Horsemen who fought back.  What lies in this political drama?  Robbie K here to answer that question in hopes of guiding your viewing pleasures.  Let’s’ move out!




The Pace:  Some military dramas get lost in all the political jargon and build up, but this movie manages to dive through that medium quickly to get to what you want to see. While the opening hour is on the slower side and dialogue heavy, it eventually takes off when the first battles begin to rock out.  From there, the rest of the movie is tense ride, moving at a consistent speed to bring suspense and intensity at what lies in the Middle Eastern range.


The Dialogue:  The story of the horsemen may be action heavy focused, but my buddy and I agreed that the dialogue was well done in this movie.  One component is between the soldiers, a realistic, almost natural, exchange of insults, jabs, and venting that represents the bond the soldiers have.  Well-timed jokes relieve some of the tension, and the comedic punch is subtle but perfect to get a good laugh out of you.  When the action starts up, you’ll get your feel of military jargon, as the soldiers call out strategic maneuvers and call in air strikes utilizing the coordinates.  While not the most creative writing here, it’s a component that helps pull you into the heat of the moment.  The strongest writing though, comes in the philosophical debates between Captain Mitch (Chris Hemsworth) and General Dostum  (Navid Negahban). A contest of wills takes place numerous time between the two leaders, and in it contains Hollywood inspired lines designed to open your minds to bravery, empathy, and what it means to fight.  These moments are the most moving, and in it a great study on the hell war truly is.


The Messages:  The dialogue does much of the lifting in this category, but 12 Strong also has enough visual representation on the culture of the battlefield that was the war on terror.  Perhaps there is some studio magic to gloss up things, the movie did a solid job portraying the Arabic cultures and approaches to war on all sides.  Honor and dignity are heavy in the population, and not all factions are as heated as the terrorism associated with it.  Seeing this duality not only supports the dramatic storytelling, but does a solid job at educating the audience that not everyone out there is an enemy.


Action: Okay now the part you really want to know about.  The action of 12 Strong delivers what the trailer promised.  Special effects heavy sequences erupt to life as Hemsworth and company unleash their disciplined fury onto the poor extras that are heavy in this film.  Exciting gunplay is the main theme of the mix, all sharing a similar foundation, but with some tweaks to help each battle stand out.  As many of my fellow reviewers agree, the movie’s final battle is the best of the bunch, packed with emotion, tension, and all out courage and glory that America loves to see as they ride their horses into the fray.  A powerful cinematic score will assist in bringing the whole shebang to life.  Not the strongest of all the movies I’ve seen, but dang strong in its own right.





Too Long:  For a movie that is action packed, you would think that the story could be told in under 2 hours.  Yet, this movie was a little too long at points for me.  It starts with the delayed opening, taking nearly an hour to get to the first battle the movie promised.  Sure, the information is presented in a concise manner, but how much of it was really needed is the question that remains.  In addition, the movie took some tangents to give you the whole journey, admirable in terms of capturing every detail, but not done well enough to be fully pertinent to the movie.  This story takes some unnecessary tangents that didn’t get the time it needed, acting as quick acknowledgements to the soldier’s lives and nothing more.


Hard To Differentiate Soldiers:  Another problem with this movie is how much the soldiers seem to blend together in this movie.  You’ve got Hemsworth who sticks out like a sore thumb, and a couple of other members that have a unique quality to them to help differentiate them.  Much of the cast though are just bearded big men who all have a vendetta to settle with the terrorists.  Sacrificing logical combat gear choices, like helmets and armor, they try to give some visual cues to help each member stand out, but their identities still aren’t really prominent for the audience to grab onto.  They relied on Hemsworth too much to do the lifting, letting his good looks do most of the eye grabbing.  In addition, none of the other soldiers had strong background development, with only the ones with family getting any glimpse of a life.  They try to give a few of them some screen time at parts of the movie by splitting the team, but most of the supporting antics fall to quick sequences that could have been left out.


Army Of One: Exciting as the battles are, 12 strong is more like 1-5 strong in the grand scheme of things.  Hemsworth is the soldier whose perspective you’ll get the most of, despite being the member who has had the least combat experience.  Where other movies do a nice job of integrating all members of the team in some way, but this film sort of glazed over the contributions of the others.  Don’t get me wrong, the other troops have some displays of their skills, but they just don’t have that unique component other military films do.  Even the main villain sometimes get lost to the sea of extras, with only some close ups of sneers to shine the spotlight on.  Again, the movie relies of Hemsworth to do most of the lifting, and it really could have achieved more had the others been more involved.




            When it comes to action films, 12 strong is the leader for the new year at the moment.  While the movie starts out slow, the second act gets things going, primarily thanks to the action sequences that are loaded in this movie. Still, the movie manages to get some good dialogue into the mix that, in tandem with the visual effects, does a nice job delivering the emotional messages about the culture of war.  However, the movie was a little too long, going down too many paths that, while entertaining, did not provide much to the story.  Such a shame, as the other members of the platoon could have used some development to not only add more to the battles, but also help the other cast stand out a little more.  Given all these things though, the movie is the pick of the weekend to go see in theaters, due to the special effects and storytelling at hand.


My Scores:


Action/Drama/History:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5



Forever A Mediocre Love Story

Forever My Girl


Another weekend, another massive launch of movies and this weekend my reviews start with a little romance to spice up January. I’m talking about Forever My Girl, the movie utilizing Nicholas Sparks name to rope customers in.  The trailers make this one to look cute and another generic romance movie, but you never know what will come out of the fancy wood work of Hollywood.  Robbie K is back with another review to help you out with selecting your viewing choices.  Let’s get started!




Cute:  The trailers didn’t lie at how adorable this movie is.  While many will flock to the gritty action films of darkness and bullets, others will enjoy the calmer nature of this film.  The film is that same cute mush that romance movies bring, filled with both family morals and promises of true love surviving anything. As down home family life begins to settle on the screen, my audience members oohed and ahhed at all the sympathetic madness the film brought in spades.  Yet the cutest thing in this movie is adorable little girl that ties everyone together, and speaking of which…


The Little Girl:  Billy is by far a crown jewel of the film, a blend of sweetness and sassiness with great writing to help her stand out from the kid roles of Hallmark Channel. Abby Ryder Fortson was a perfect casting pick for the film, her high pitched voice, cute face, and silly antics a perfect reflection of the adventurous nature 8 years have.  She somehow managed to deliver her lines in a manner that was very fun, energetic, and not too annoying, which is difficult to do with a kid role. Fortson gets bonus points for how natural the role felt and not forced upon me.


Not Slow:  Romance movies often are slower for me, not only because of lack of action, but more so for how many tangents they go down.  Forever my girl was able to avoid treading down these diverging paths decently, easily able to loop back to the main path and get back to the love story at hand.  It keeps things moving, gives you the superficial thrills that many crave, and does it all in a nice 100 minute run time.  Exactly what the attention span of modern audience members want.

Jessica Rothe:  If you read my review of Happy Death Day, you’ll know I loved the lead actress Jessica Rothe, and this movie shows her dynamic abilities quite well.  Again the woman blew me away with her performance, capable of injecting so many emotions in what was such a simple role.  Strength, love, heartbreak, and hope are all components she portrays well in her character and does it in a manner that will appease romantics, while also not sending you into eye rolling territory.  While her beauty certainly draws your eyes to her character, I fell in love with the qualities of this character and more so how she seemed to fit well in the setting of the movie.  Plus, she was able to play a sentimental, romantic movie role that didn’t want to make me slam my head into the armrest.




Unoriginal: Sadly, the movie starts losing points with how unoriginal the story was.  I know, the original tale is essentially dead, but this movie really didn’t make any big stretches to be unique.  Much of the plot is a carbon copy of Nicholas Sparks and Hallmark, unable to blend them into any special presentation.  As a result, the movie is very predictable, with few twists to bring in any suspense or excitement to spice things up.


Too Many Plots To Balance:  All the mashing of romantic movies into one piece can sometimes be an incredible thing, but in this film… it didn’t work for me.  A strong foundation was promised by the trailers, and in truth it had a firm ground to spring off of.  However, one soon gets to see all the plots come crashing into a messy pile up of underdeveloped, half-baked moments that only semi-fit.  These entangled tangents didn’t do much for me, and all these shallow semi-stories left me wanting more. Had they sacrificed some of these plots and added some impasses, this charming story could have been more engaging and won points for more suspense to amp up the love.  I think there was just too much to work with, but too some more is better.


Too rushed: This goes back to the balance issue, but surprisingly I think this movie moved a little too fast.  I understand things move fast in a movie, but many films are able to create the illusion of time passing by, or at least putting a lot of struggles to develop the character in a short amount of time.  Forever my girl though, did not accomplish this task, with things settling too fast to: 1) be believable and 2) be deep enough to maximize the emotional response of the film.  In addition, it left little time for the secondary characters to flourish themselves or become super relevant to the plot.  It would have been great to expand on these roles, but alas there was just no time.


The Acting:  I’m not saying these were the worst performances at all, but there were times where the acting was a bit of a stretch for me.  While Fortson and Rothe stayed pretty consistent and at the top of their game, the other characters were not so skilled/fortunate.  Many of the country accents seemed a little forced for me, constantly teetering between impressive and phony.  A few of the actors really could not get the emotions off the ground, and others tried to force too much stress in their roles that came out at half mast for me.  Even the lead Alex Roe struggled to handle all the emotions his character had, sometimes feeling unmotivated to his character Liam.  Again, it’s not horrible, it just needed more polishing to really get things together.


The Verdict:


            Forever My Girl is sweet, angelic, and moral packed tale that these movies are famous for in this Hollywood, cinematic world.  A charming cast with a moving plot are the highlights of this movie, and a good filler for those waiting for the steamier stories to come.  However, this glorified Hallmark movie suffers from too many plots coming together and an improper balance to handle them.  The result was a very rushed movie where characters, acting, and sub-plots all suffered from their inability to decide on the plot.  Therefore, this culmination, while entertaining, suffers a lot from this fast paced approach and leave one wanting more out of this film. 


My scores are:

Drama/Music/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0


Extra, Extra, See All About It!



Hollywood, the new political battleground that continues to take public issues and launch a campaign for their favorite charity.  Assuming you weren’t under a rock over the last few years, you know things have heated up in glamour land, igniting another battle between the government and fine dressed actors/actresses.  One bullet to be fired this weekend is the Post, a tale describing the newspaper’s attempt to fight censorship by the government. With legendary actress Meryl Streep and actor Tom Hanks leading the way under Steven Spielberg’s direction there is much promise held in this film.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K here to share some opinions and guide your movie going expertise.  Let’s go!




Realistic: You want a movie that feels like a capture of real life?  Look no further, because the Post has many components to please the realism fans that flood the theaters these days.  The magical finesse is more of a glaze in this film: a small sound editing here, some dramatic music there, all to help maximize the emotion of the scene. Outside of that though, The Post is more of a recreation of the events of that time period and the life of the press in their pursuit of the truth.  Therefore, you history buffs are really going to fall for this film.


Acting:  The highest component of this film is the acting, which is to be expected given the headliners of the film.  Streep continues shine, her talents and skills coming to full front as she plays Kay Graham.  A recent widower, concerned mother, and recent business owner who not only had to balance all these roles, but face the challenges set before by the government.  Streep manages to dive into each of these positions and really portray the struggles Graham felt.  No overacting here, Streep continues to show why she is a champion at the Academy Awards and her ability to blend acting with realism with no divisible lines.

Hanks as her opposite is yet another great move, diving into the stubborn, career driven paper chief of Ben Bradlee.  Where Streep’s character is all about trying to stand up for her paper without compromising her morals, Hank is all about the rough-edged road of getting the story, sometimes ignoring the other things around him to get it.  This performance is powerful again, delivering the lines with that drive and passionate spectrum Hanks is famous for.  Together these two make the world come to life, both able to hold their own, but truly greatest when together on the battlefield of morale grounds. 


The Writing: The Post has great writing, no surprise given Spielberg’s ability to make history come to life.  Gone are cheesy one-liners and over the top monologues, and in their place a script that is loaded with a natural dialogue exchange, clever wit, and realistic reactions to these problems.  Strong writing like this makes for a smooth ride for the actors bringing the words to life and developing their characters with little to no fear.




The Pace:  A movie like this has to deliver the morals in a manner that is both motivational and entertaining.  It accomplished the motivational component, but sadly lost on the entertainment component for me.  Part of this was due to the pace. The opening scenes tickled my fancy, but that intrigue was lost to a very monotonous speed of slow as dirt.  While the freedom of the press issue is the main topic of discussion, all the other life components were included in great details, which led to tangents not necessarily needed and longer run times.  Seeing the persona life was important, but not worth the dragging velocity this movie hit at various points of the movie, especially at later showings.  Even worse, these tangents led to a delay in getting to the heart of the issue, which is what this movie is all about.


The Climax:  While I appreciate the lack of movie magic, this movie needed a little enchantment to pump the tension up and make those lessons come alive even more.  The Post does a nice job of setting up the problem and explaining the information at hand. Yet the buildup would hopefully lead to an emotion/tension packed debate between the two parties to really get the crowd fired up.  Not the case in this film my friends, as much of this part is reduced to a short montage of brilliant sets and well adorned extras.  Spielberg could have had another gold mine of approval by the critics if he had added that little extra oomph to give our characters the satisfying dramatic action they deserved.  I won’t tell you how it goes, but I can say the suspension was practically extinct at the end for this reviewer.





            The Post is an important movie for many, primarily those who pursue the truth and are hindered by the oppressiveness of power.  Spielberg certainly crafted a winner in regards to realism, writing, and direction in guiding the actors.  With Streep and Hanks really bringing the players to life, this movie is a total Oscar nomination eater in regards to the artistic component.  However, the pace really suffers from the realism and dilutes the climax into an under impressive finale that does not scream of Spielberg’s prime work.  This glorified documentary would have held better premise on Netflix, because this movie was overhyped for me, with the acting being the exception to the rule.  So, save your cash and wait for a RedBox rent in my honest opinion. 


Biography/Drama/History:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0