Mulan Poster

            It’s another age old question that comes with each year, why are we getting a live action remake of a Disney classic?  Well the answer comes in many forms, but I’m more about is this remake worth it/good? Given my experience with home releases… these films have not quite held the same bite that the theater has, so I was a bit worried about this delayed feature.  However, my reviewing call has me diving in as I take a look at the latest to hit the small screen from Disney, the live action remake of the film:  

Mulan (2020)

Director:

 Niki Caro

Writers:

 Rick Jaffa (screenplay by), Amanda Silver (screenplay by)  

Stars:

 Yifei LiuDonnie YenLi Gong 

LIKES:

The Culture And Mythos of China

The Looks

The Fighting at Parts

The Sound Track 

The Cinematography

DISLIKES: 

The rushed Story

The Political Prowess Vs. Storytelling

The shoddy Attempts At Making Other Story Components

No Attachment to the Main Characters

Villains are highly downgraded

Comedy Is Forced

Missing the memorable music

The Battles Are short, A bit Cheesy, and Uncoordinated

Battles Lack Suspense

Missing the Spirit Of the Original 

Summary: 

            It is always inspiring to see the surrounding lands of international countries and Mulan gives one the sense of visiting China and it’s beautiful world.  This film’s camera work and design dive heavy into the mythology of the Asian provinces, helping to bend them into the winds of the tale and introduce us to some symbolic values of the culture.  This production focused very heavily on the concepts of honor and the discipline the feudal era of this land instilled on men and women who served the dynasty.  Maybe a bit stereotypical, but I felt the director was able to integrate the components well and give us the political and story elements that we expected to drive our heroine.  The live action Mulan also has a beautiful aesthetic to the characters with the rich patterns, artistic makeup, and props I expected from my limited studies of the ancient lands of China.  I loved the build of the world and settings, feeling immersed partly into the field and taking my place next to Mulan and the world that would be her arena. 

            Speaking of arenas, the fighting of this installment at times steps up its game from the cartoons, breaking out martial arts and weapon styles that I dreamed of doing as a kid.  Mulan herself shows off several styles that mirrored the great Kung Fu Works of Lee and Chan (not nearly as fluid, but grandiose) as she fought the army of extras.  Other characters managed to pull out some impressive moves, with rapid sword play and archery poses that held that exciting touch I love to see in my fights.  While these moments are sparingly, I do give them props for the execution at times and the panning shots of the war as CGI meets real world.  And if you’re a parent you got to appreciate the censorship so that the little ones won’t be corrupted.  Amidst all this is a beautiful soundtrack, filled with the symphonic works of regular cinema orchestra and Chinese instruments working in tandem to help bring more emotion to the scene or sequence.  And despite not having the most vocal work, Christina Aguilera gets her reprise in this film alongside a few other artists at the end to help further broaden Disney Soundtrack creations, which I think came a little too late, but better late than never right?  Yet the best thing for me was the cinematography, and how well it captured the environment, the scale of the fights, and those key moments to help bring this live action more to life.  Mulan’s visual team deserves a lot of credit for helping add flare to the movie, and give you many references and approaches into one semi-cohesive product. 

            However, there were a lot of shortcomings for me in this film, which could have been due to watching it at home magnifying them or just the movie itself.  The story is rushed, with a lot of pieces thrown into the story and then quickly diced out in various sizes.  Caro and her staff tried to inject a lot of things that included stories of training, friendship amongst the soldiers, potential romance, the concept of honor, several villain developing, fighting for herself, and trying to hide her identify.  Sure the other version did this, but it did it better, as this film lacked the balance it needed and the fluid execution that other films have done.  So many of the characters were background, their names barely mentioned and their stories even sadder as they tried to force everything into bite sized pieces.  Only Mulan’s moments held any backbone as her father and hers’s relationship promised a strong beginning, that petered out to Mulan being the only one capable of doing much of anything.  I was not attached to most of the other characters, as there was just no focus on them, little personality, and diluted involvement compared to the loveable band of the cartoon.  To get the arrows shot at me, I feel this is due to the current method of political agenda over story, this one being the focus of a woman defying all odds to save the war.  I have not read the full legend of Mulan, but I expect the writers amplified the woman hear me roar and kind of forgot the other parts of the story.  It was that focus that took away from so much of the potential of the movie and all the other characters that could have made Mulan’s tale even better and more fulfilling.  Even the villains held potential, but sadly the two main villains were reduced to elaborate, overacted one liners, some empty threats, and few ridiculous looking stunts.  I know Shan Yu held little backstory, but there was fear, power, and a merciless mindset to him that made him deadly and a true villain.  This guy had a slight mention of his back story and goals, but that was about it as so much of his promise was washed away with the scattered displays of the other characters and the focus on Mulan’s struggles.  

            In regards to the other areas of improvement, Disney seems to have a hard time being naturally funny anymore, and instead works to force laughter into a film that doesn’t need so much of it.  Live action Mulan has little that made me laugh, only the innocence of a youth and few funny tatters getting a chuckle for me.  Though the movie had great music to set the stage… it still was not the same magic that Disney laid on my ears years ago.  Gone where the whimsical thoughts of the fellow soldiers in song and dance, or the deep ballad Mulan questioning her identity that brought so much life to the cartoon.  Those songs obviously would be out of place in a more serious film, but when you don’t support those components strongly, I started to really miss the campy numbers.  But again this movie was supposed to be more on showing off the warrior side of Mulan and as I said earlier in ways it did.  Yet… in many ways it still failed to pull everything together.  This film’s approach again seemed uncoordinated in how in depth they could go, perhaps due to the political focus, perhaps due to the censorship that Disney seems to force on its groups.  Mulan’s fights are short with most lasting less than ten minutes, and most of the good fighting scenes lasting less than two.  While paying tribute to the classic fights via flying through the air with cables and over the top acrobatics, the movie did a little too much of this and forewent crafting a battle that was coordinated.  Scenes jumped around, passing glances of our main cast doing a movie haphazardly interlaid with Mulan doing know wrong, and even the clashing of armies was reduced to overhead shots that were only okay to watch.  I felt no suspense for any of these fights, because there was no heat and without caring about the characters I did not really have any ties to the fights at hand.  As you can guess, though the cartoon did not have the most action set and worthy fights, it had characters and tense sequences for me because I had grown to care for the small army and that’s what made them special.  This one though… missing so much of that and thus while visually beautiful, creative and storytelling wise they were arrows that missed it’s mark. 

The VERDICT

            Disney made a fair shot at the tale of Mulan and succeeded on the fronts I think they were wanting to succeed on.  It’s a powerful display of culture and opening up the world of Chinese myth, with costumes and cinematography to really wow those who appreciate these effects.  Those looking for the girl power tale will also be highly pleased with this, for many highlights of the fighting are indeed Mulan’s moves and the training she shows off amidst heavy instrument work and sound editing.  Yet, the film fails to grasp the magic of the last movie and the components it wanted to focus on were disjointed, not well fleshed out, and very lacking if it did not center on Mulan herself.  I did not grasp onto the other characters much at all, I felt no real development of so many elements, and all the facets of the story failed to reach their full potential that I know Disney can make work.  As for the battles, again visually the look beautiful and have nods to classic styles of fighting, but they lack the heart and suspense I think these moments need.  As such, this Mulan lacks much of the spirit the original cartoon held in more ways than one.  Was it worth the thirty dollar admission for early viewing?  The answer is no for me, and I would wait this one out for viewing in December when it opens up.  My scores for this film are:  

Action/Adventure/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0 

Black Is King Of Musical Diaries and Political Fervor Pieces.

            

Black Is King Poster

It is an age of call for change, and an age of inspiration for opinion.  So why would Hollywood not take the shot to make a memorable ad venture to cash in on the moment.  In the age of streaming and “opportunity” movies are trying to still exit at a fraction of the budget and the choices that come with.  Leading the way in this movie is the Queen Bey herself Beyoncé who is taking on a lot roles in this movie in an attempt to culture up the streaming service and inspire change.  Will it work?  Is the Divided commentary true or is there a go between the two worlds. Yours truly is here to give his opinion on the latest movie:  

Movie:  Black Is King

Directors:

 Emmanuel AdjeiBlitz Bazawule  | 1 more credit »

Writers:

 BeyoncéYrsa Daley-Ward

Stars:

 Folajomi ‘FJ’ AkinmureleAdut AkechYemi Alade 

LIKES:  

Visuals

Culture Representation 

Some Of the Music

Short Run Time

DISLIKES: 

Not Really A movie

Not a Fan Of the Music at some points

Abstract Approach a bit too abstract

The Lion King Clips/adaptation not needed

Could have used other singers and numbers

The Monologues 

Politically Charged Over Anything else

Limited Audience Enjoyment? 

SUMMARY:  

            In this divided world of review I have found a few things that I agree are strong components that most should agree on.  The visuals in this montage of Black culture are beautiful, a varying array of camera techniques that help add finesse and diversity to a movie with sort of a common theme.  Overhead shots of the lands allows you to capture the majesty of the African realms, before falling down into the “journey” of the little king running through the streets of the various realms.  Filters help further from bringing back the 90’s style of filming, dark filters to add the dark dangers of the night, and others to bring out the vibrant colors of the costumes, body paint and setting.  That spectacle was the most captivating for me and one can find artistic and non-artistic appreciation for the choices they made.  As sort of stated in the last like, the culture of this film is certainly a big them of the film.  The audience will be subjected to a collage of black life interspersed with the one central character working through it, and seeing that transform to the America side of things is going to be a source of power for many.  I have to say that I enjoyed the costumes, the body paint, and some of the dance styles more than anything else, but others may find more to enjoy that I cannot appreciate.  The music that is in this film I feel fits many of the sequences, and some of them had me feeling the rhythm, style, and energy of the song better than others.  I can’t state the names of the songs or what parts without giving away too much, but those that had more upbeat tempos, or an R&B softness to describe the love aspects of this culture were the things I appreciated the most.  Finally, it’s nice that this visual diary was only one hour and twenty minutes long for it made the things I did not enjoy less impactful due to not being dragged out. 

            On the other spectrum of dislikes for this film, I again found things I agreed with that I did not particular enjoy.  For one thing, its presentation in advertising and samples states the movie of the year, but this is not a traditional movie.  Black is king is more of an abstract collaboration of art styles that tries too hard to be unique for me and is too loose for the plot that was promised.  This very artistic nature means that without an appreciation or relevance to the culture, a bias toward the movement, or loyalty to the artists and culture… you may not appreciate the plot presented.  While the theory of adapting the Lion King to this style seemed promising, I did not enjoy the random quotes from the film, the thin transitions between human and animal characters, and the divergence from the Lion King really did not deliver on the potential it had for me.  Yet, part of this struggle came from trying to balance the Lion King through a new soundtrack while injecting the political fervor of the movement. Black Is King for me seemed more about the musical numbers and compilations than any actual plot and I think many will agree that this style is not going to be for everyone. As stated, not every song and numbers was a winner for me, some of the more hardcore rap and hype rap just not my speed when talking about the struggles and journey of this human Simba.  Second, Beyoncé takes center stage for most of the numbers, sometimes stealing the show right with her ravishing moves and beauty, and other times seeming to be a self-glorifying, look at me number that was lost to me.  Given the number of artists out there to represent the story, and could surely have designed numbers that felt more towards the lion King motif they wanted.  

However, I think that adding that showmanship may have gotten in the way of the other aspect of this movie, the political motivation and inspiration.  The title is only the start of the political fervor in this film, and I can’t say that I agree with the others who say that is not what this movie is about.  The monologues alone are loaded with plenty of lines geared towards inspiration, some poetic and beautiful, and others a bit too strong for me and matching the social media posts I’ve seen.  Eventually the visuals and numbers mirror this and get into a call for change that starts again mirroring the movements you see on the internet.  Without the story and balance I appreciate, this component started too grate on my patience and take me away from the beauty the visuals were keeping me in.  This brings me to the final point, is that this last paragraph sort of makes me think this is a limited audience appreciation and that I believe leads to the dividing results. 

The VERDICT

            Both sides of the argument have fair points in terms of the quality of this movie.  Visuals are beautiful, a strong and diverse approach to let you see the beauty of black culture and the various components of the ethnicity.  With some on the mark numbers and a soundtrack that again represents the culture well, I feel these are the positives to the film that I watched.  However, removing the political bias, the fervor, and other components that are needed to get into the moment is where this film failed for me.  The very abstract approach to storytelling is going to be lost to some, and the Lion King integration was cute and clever but not executed well for me.  With the story sort of lost, the movie then is again a music video empowerment piece that gears towards a certain audience mainly and goes from inspiring to overzealous for me with the political charge.  Thus, if that is what you want, then hop on Disney + and binge watch it with glee. However,  if you are like me and want balance, integration, a story, or at least more of those artists who could blow this representation out of the water, then even one viewing might be a bit much.  I’ll say this… if you go in there with the idea of hating or loving it purely for the name, Beyoncé, or the movement, you are wasting your time, because both styles and scoring extremes I don’t think are true.  With this, my scores are: 

Adventure/Drama/Fantasy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0 

Not Hitting All The High Notes

The High Note Poster

            Another pandemic weekend, another chance to release a movie on to streaming services to try and keep some normalcy alive.  This weekend, a movie that snuck up on me until about the beginning of May arrives to your rental pleasure.  It’s a film with potential drama, comedy, and music, as a potential gaze through the window of stardom tries to make itself relevant in the modern day.  Robbie K here to assess the quality of the latest movie to home release as we look over: 

Movie:  The High Note (2020)

Director:

 Nisha Ganatra

Writer:

 Flora Greeson

Stars:

 Dakota JohnsonTracee Ellis RossKelvin Harrison Jr. 

LIKES:  

Portrayal of the Music Industry

Some Comedic Moments 

Kelvin Harrison Jr’s moments

The Ending 

The Music 

DISLIKES:

Disjointed Opening

Much Different Atmosphere of the Movie

Glorifying Shallow Behavior 

Predictable For Much Of the Film

Bad Pacing Of The film

Throw Away Characters

The Lack Of Direction Leading to Missed potential. 

SUMMARY:

            When it comes to portraying Hollywood, movies sometimes go too much magic and not enough reality leading to extreme views of the entertainment business.  I’d say from my studies and talking with friends who have professionally sang, this movie has it’s fingers on the pulse of the difficulties of the music world.  The High Note shows all the red tape, connections, and fickle shifts that can happen in building and maintaining one’s career.  In essence, this is the underlying tale to connect much of the early part of the movie and was the factor keeping me engaged into the film despite all the drama at hand.  To help break up the monotony there are some romantic parts, but the comedy was the more engaging part to liven up the movie with Ice Cube’s part being the main chuckle fest in his delivery and timing, though his scenes did get a little old after some time.  Instead the actor who really saved much of this movie for me was Harrison Jr’s role, the young man bringing a combination of acting and singing that will be those flash in the pan moments that will renew your attention and potentially inspire you to care about one of the characters.  Harrison’s scenes often held the most dynamic moments in all of the film, again expanding on rather shallow characters and adding the pizazz to the music industry movie.  He especially comes to life about half way and near the end of the film, which helps me transition into the next like of how the ending manages to tie stuff together with a little bit of surprise to help add some band, which given the start of this movie is definitely needed.  The ending finally starts making sense of the direction the film is going, and hits with those final emotional punches and gimmicks that left me satisfied and somewhat impressed given most of the movie I watched.  However, the biggest clap for me is the portrayal of music and the brilliant pokes this film does at the trends created over the decades.  The High Note is an homage, and almost a study, of the power of music, helping poetically dissect impact of songs, show the motivational power of the tracks, and even how tastes very for the sake of safety and commercialism.  Covers and plays of the original tracks await the ears of the viewers, but for me the original work holds a lot more heart and emotion to potentially lead to soundtrack sales in the near future.  

            Now those were the likes that I had to stretch out, but this movie definitely has a lot of shortcomings that I personally did not enjoy.  For starts much of the movie is disjoined, nearly the first 45 minutes a finger-painting mess of plots and genres that turn grey instead of a fabulous spectrum of colors.  Curiosity kept me going, but one again directors and writers seemed to try to cater to too many gimmicks to make a cohesive opening.  From viewing the trailers I expected this film to be a drama of pressures of assistant/music life that developed into a buddy movie, but that was only a sliver of the complicated weavings this group chose.  The change in atmosphere was not to my liking mostly because the atmosphere was not smooth, the chaos again just not working given my expectations I walked in with.  Of course, the shallow behaviors of greed, cheap laughs, and elaborate fashions await this film too, and while it works so well for painting the celebrity/high roller life, it at times also becomes too much the focus of the film.  Lost in this setting, dialogue suffers, character development becomes lazier, and the forced insertion of a track gets a bit stale, especially when the diva/bad behavior gets in the way of the messages and power the film I think was aiming for.  While the political aspects  are fortunately kept on a short leash, when they rear their head it’s bit in your face, not so much annoying, but again derailing the fluidity of the scene before me for what would be foreshadowing for an already predictable plot.  I think most of these errors could have had more slack by me, but they are magnified by the very slow pace this movie takes.  Yes, I know I like faster paced genres, but this film’s dragging out, bloated run time with no direction was an uphill battle I waded through, only finding it’s pace nearly 50% of the way into the film where that monotony started going away.  Yet even the second half cannot correct the throw away characters this film holds, which outside maybe four of them, plague this film’s writing.  Rival stars, self-centered best friends, loyal roommates, and even agents are secondary messes that play their part and nothing more, with many reduced to simple one-liners.  Little character development and integration makes this cast feel sort of mashed together, potential plot elements and feeling heavy anchors dropped to sink into the shallow dismay of a mention and nothing more.  Hopefully this review highlights that the film did have a lot of nifty ideas and potential paths for developing a struggling woman in a very chaotic field, but to repeat once more that lack of direction tears much of it to shreds with only the last 30 minutes present to tie it altogether and end with the things I sought out in this movie. 

THE VERDICT: 

            The modern age of movie writing seems to have a lot of agendas, changes, and catering pushed in favor of cohesive plots.  High Note hints at the potential it could have brought with the realistic dives into the entertainment world, the talent of some of its actors, and the awesome music that brings the biggest punches in this drama/music special.  Sadly, it is the lack of direction mixed with too many aspects that really destroys this film for much of the 2-hour run time.  With throw away character, shoddy plot development, and bad pacing with an already unfocused story, you will not get the full bang for the twenty-dollar rental in this reviewers eyes.  As such, this is a big wait for watching at home via streaming, and one should instead find the soundtrack and enjoy the numbers this group brought to play.  Overall, the movie gets the scores of: 

Drama/Music/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.0 

A Bloody Good Shot At Trying To Make An Action Spectacle

Bloodshot Poster

            The big hero action flicks have evolved over time with the changing technology, dropping the story driven plot components for the spectacle of booms, punches, and CGI work.  Still, you have to give them props at the creativity they can muster given this day and age.  As such, today, another action flick hopes to rear its adrenaline-fueled head and unleash the bullet storm of box office bucks for the audience.  Will the built, rogue soldier of Vin Diesel be able to bring his legacy to new heights, or is it another cop out of a comic book turned movie.  Robbie K  here to give you the insight in the latest films, before the virus suspends all the films for a time being.  Today we review:

 

Director:

Dave Wilson

Writers:

Jeff Wadlow (screenplay by), Eric Heisserer (screenplay by)

Stars:

Vin DieselEiza GonzálezSam Heughan

 

LIKES:

 

  • Fast Pace
  • Explosive opening
  • Cool Concepts with Semi Realism
  • Decent Fight Scenes
  • Comedic At Times
  • The Editing For the Scenes
  • The Hacker

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Bloated Dialogue At Times
  • Some Of the Overkill use of Slow Motion
  • Shaky Camera Syndrome
  • Limited Use Of Other Characters for Much Of the Movie
  • The CGI At Times

 

Summary:

 

Let’s get to the point at hand, you go to an action film you want the pace and effects to make your adrenaline pump right?  Bloodshot does not pull any stops, dropping right into a battle scene with an explosive opening that brings plenty of what is to come.  Once the story sets up after this, the movie dives into showing off some cool technological components, areas that could very well be seen in the near future given the focus.  It’s these technological prowess that the movie is anchored on, with much of the designs for story, development, and the action scenes all dependent on the augmentations seen.  Fortunately, the movie exploits this to full effect and brings some decent action sequences to the mix, primarily during the explosive climax when all styles of fighting are brought together in a decent finale.  However, the factor that really elevates this movies is all the sound and film editing that supports the CGI scenes in front of me. Explosive sound effects riddle the theater with wall shaking goodness, sound tracks of orchestra elevate the moods and adds that adrenaline rush, all while visuals are blended together beautifully.  It’s definitely these components that were my favorite part of the movie and I think the biggest selling point of this film.  However, there are some comedic moments to help spruce things up, usually well-timed jokes or a cliched line from Vin Diesel’s repertoire as the primary ammunition.  This reviewer though really liked the hacker character though, whose British mannerism and comedy attitude were the biggest relief and fit very well despite being the one pinpoint of light. 

 

However, the spectacle of the film can only distract so long from the rest of the things I did not like as much in this movie.  Predictability is the name of the game, thanks again due to trailers and just the linear telling this film takes.  Obvious foreshadowing from dialogue and a big early scene should give more than enough away for you to realize where the movie is heading, which should allow you to enjoy the spectacle. Bloated dialogue tries to paint a more engaging story, but it does little other than provide weaker backstory and attempts at character development.  Sadly, Bloodshot does not do the best job with backstories and character utilization outside of select scenes where they make a start at using them.  Perhaps a little more mission use of them, meeting some better development would have helped, but where comic books have time the movies did not so they cut their losses.  In terms of the action spectacle itself, the movie hit a few things that I’m not the biggest fan of.  Action scenes can really use their work to emphasize violence, bashing, and that epic finishing move.  However, in this movie, it gets a little overused, showing off cool portrayals of skin damage and anatomical healing, but at the same time making for boring bouts of Vin Diesel walking.  Tough atmosphere it may establish, the overuse was boring at times and I would have loved a little more dynamic work.  Dynamic work though does not mean having to have a camera that looks like it’s in an earthquake movie, and Bloodshot has its moments where sporadic camera shifts don’t bring me into the action, but rather take away from it.  Finally, you will hear the CGI looks bad, and I’ll agree at times it really does look fake and forced, similar to the Smith vs. Neo fight in the Matrix Reloaded.  I’m guessing budget to make the action fights the most realistic got cut, but at least it moves well and has the special effects to lessen the blow.  Still, given all the other impacts it was trying to make, I think Bloodborn could have used a little more polishing on this front.

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Bloodshot is an action movie that works to pull the thrill of the 90s action back into the modern day.  It’s got great editing to sell the action scenes and give you those thrills, alongside a pacing that works for this genre.  Amidst this technological stunt show, there are a few decent performances, and the comedic work of the Hacker character helps stir some things up amidst the constant fighting on hands.  Still, the movie has an okay science fiction plot that won’t leave as much on an impression, especially given bloated dialogue, limited secondary character use predictably.  Sadly, the stunning editing still needed some polishing with the CGI work itself, primarily during said action moments.  Still given the effects, you could probably find enough reason to check it out in theaters, but otherwise hang out for this one for a home viewing. 

 

My scores are;

 

Action/Drama/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

A Photograph Best Left For Streaming

 

The Photograph Poster

 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I guess it’s a good idea to put a love story out to try and go with the theme of the holiday.  Today’s last review is all about the latest tale to go over the theme of true love and the drama around it.  A movie less advertised, the few trailers I have seen suggested a potential for a powerful movie.  Will this film live up to demands, or are the trailers making this package a little more appealing than it actually is?  Robbie K coming at you with another look at the movies as he reviews:

 

Movie: The Photograph (2020)

 

Director:

Stella Meghie

Writer:

Stella Meghie

Stars:

LaKeith StanfieldIssa RaeChelsea Peretti

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • The Two stories Presented
  • The Cultural Representation
  • The Music of the Movie
  • Lil Rey Howery character
  • The Short Run Time

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictable Plot
  • The Weird Transition Points
  • The Incomplete Tales
  • The Forced Moments
  • Boring At Times Due To Slow Pace
  • Artistic Nature Again Supersedes The Entertainment

 

The Summary:

 

Great romance movies rely on great actors and I had fun with the group who took charge of this movie.  While not the most memorable roles and certainly not the Oscar Winning roles, this film’s characters sell a more realistic relationship than the usual fantasy films.  Issa Rae manages to tone down her comedy roots to pull out a good drama story, awkward and testing the waters, yet strong in her ability to take charge of the situations.  Meanwhile LaKeith hits the typical lead role with a little less grandiosity and arrogance, coming off as a laid-back character with good instincts and romantic drive that was fun to watch.  Their chemistry is not the Nicholas Sparks formula, but it made for a fun relationship to watch and see that love does take work.  Okay, so onto the stories, the Photograph has two tales overlaying one another, in a manner trying to help build a suspenseful conclusion and provide background information to tie the modern story together.  It gets points for trying to give past and present tales a chance to foster, especially in some of the secondary characters that are important to the tale.  Yet, this love story seems to make a valid attempt to implement the culture of the ethnic groups and cities this film takes place in.  Unlike, the usual romantic comedy, this film I felt managed to showcase a variety of traditions and responses to the drama at hand.  It somewhat enhances the experience, and helps add some layers to the typical plots these films take, and helps you get immersed into the setting even further. This is particularly true for the music, a nice collaboration of modern-day music, New Orleans Jazz, and a little New York attitude to help further sell the mood of the movie.   It’s these little touches that really help add some atmosphere to the movie and my favorite part of the film overall.  As for my other two likes, Lil Rey Howery works his comedic magic once again, simplistic dialogue and delivery capturing the comedic atmosphere just right and having me in stitches.  In addition a short run time helps to lessen the dislikes I had for this movie, which are coming up.

 

Being a romantic comedy I’ve come to expect the predictable plot and I got it.  The problem is, though artistic, the movie’s presentation does not help take the predictable edge away and thus leads to a bit of a boring tale for yours truly.  The two stories, while decently detailed, have weird transition points back and forth, leading to a haphazard baton pass that does not deliver quite the punch I think they were going for.  In addition, both stories felt a little incomplete for me, having just a few highlights that actually worked to provide character details, while the rest was drama fluff that only bloated the run time and bide the inevitable conclusion. Perhaps, a little more creativity and integration would have strengthened both tales, but a rushed conclusion just did not have that power the buildup was.  In addition, the forced moments of the comedy, romantic interests, and cheesy dialogue did little to add to the story and went back into eye rolling territory for me.  It may be part of the formula for these movies, but after seeing the cultural pizazz this film was doing… I had hoped to see a little more development was needed.  With all this disorganization and predictable story, the movie’s artistic approach sort of supersedes the entertainment aspect that quite honestly was boring at times.  The constant dance around the issues, the lack of creativity to help expand the relationship, or even the missing fun that this genre is known really could have been improved upon to make this film more fun and entertaining.  While artistic nature is always important, when it gets too convoluted to make the film boring is when you lose this reviewer.  Thus, other audience members and I agreed that if you did not relate to the culture, or enjoy the convoluted truncated tales, you might not enjoy this film fully.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Photograph has intricate pieces that suggest it is going to be a deeper love story that defies the traditional rom com story this genre is famous for.  While it’s got good acting, a unique presentation of two tales, and lots of cultural integration that classes up the act, the movie gets a little lost in the artistic nature that it makes the movie less entertaining.  Truncated plots, rushed finishes and a slower pace did not mix well for me and only extended the run time to a predictable ending was not the way to go for me despite the artistic approach.  The movie needed to mix in a little more of the fun stereotypes that we love in rom com to help offset the more lackluster parts.  A little more focus on design, details, and integration would have helped them get a better movie out of it and have that passionate project they were going for.  Should you go to the movie theater to see it?  The answer for me is no, unless you love a more cultural piece than detailed, complete story.  Otherwise hit this one up in the streaming future. 

 

My Scores are: 

Drama/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

And It’s All Downhill For This Remake

 

Downhill Poster

            The age of remakes and rebranding continues to reign supreme in the modern Hollywood days, and this weekend we have several movies falling into this category.  Today my first review is on a movie that looks to hold some semi-promise upon viewing of the trailer, as a potential comedy or drama with an interesting cast.  Based on the film Force Majeure, today’s reskin attempts to add a Western twist to the mixing the culture of European films with the energy of American cinema.  Will it work?  That’s where I come in to give my thoughts as I review:

 

Movie: Downhill (2020)

 

Directors:

Nat FaxonJim Rash

Writers:

Jesse Armstrong (screenplay by), Nat Faxon (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Julia Louis-DreyfusWill FerrellMiranda Otto

 

 

LIKES:

  • Beautiful Setting
  • Orchestra Music
  • Deep Morals and Meaning
  • Occasionally Funny

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Acting Is A Touch Overdone
  • The Kids Involvement In the Film
  • Focus On the Awkward
  • The Banter That Is Not Fun
  • Feels Both Lows and Truncated
  • Attempts to insert Culture With Art
  • Could Not Pick Drama Vs. Comedy

 

I guess it’s not a good thing when the setting is one of the highlights of the film.  Well Downhill accomplishes capturing the European mountain setting in all its splendor and lights the fire to want to go participate in the winter wonderland of the Alps.  All the snow, culture, and promises of a good vacation are very appealing in this movie and made for a wonderful landscape to play this remake in.  When the orchestra music cues, the ambience only grows and helps immerse you into the world a little more, helping again expand into the cultural territory that the film is trying to capture in this repaint.  Then comes the actual story, one thing about European films is their focus on strong morals told in artistic ways, and Downhill manages to do this decently from my perspective.  The art of loving a family, but trying to love yourself is something I think many people this day and age don’t realize is important to balance and the film tries to show that balance in a rather odd manner.  It’s not perfect, but there are several moments of dialogue that are well written or at least adapted, that I think can be used in schools and youth groups to educate.  Finally, this does have two comedians in it, and there are some funny moments in here that have a fine timing to relieve the more somber tone of the film, so points for trying to balance the American comedy style into the mix.

 

Yet the film’s likes fall off from those points and begins to tumble into the tundra of incomplete or odd for me in terms of this movie’s presentation.  The acting, a staple in a movie like this, is not quite fitting for me on most levels. Ferrell himself seems to struggle with being serious and in this position, grabbing any rope he can to come off suffering and filled with drama. Much of his acting with suffering involved looking hungover, and I felt the struggle was only presented a few times well.  Dreyfus succeeds better, but her character’s direction for this film was a little more complaining and whining, rather than balanced suffering.  I enjoyed her scenes more, but even her performance did not rope me into the film.  When the kids come into play, again they are annoying characters who seem to portray a particular generational stigmatism to the film, but do little to actually contribute to the story.  As such, the tools they became were almost not needed and I can’t say I enjoyed their inclusion in the film, not due to the acting but just the character development.

Instead the film seems to focus on the awkward atmosphere of the topic of divorce, especially in a unique circumstance involving an avalanche.  Unlike Marriage Story, this film seems to dive deep into how a couple can turn a conversation into a war, and make life difficult for all who get roped in.  Comedic moments with friends getting pulled in do little to alleviate the monotonous banter that fills this movie, with the two lead actors doing nothing but having these either prolonged shouting matches with the same dialogue, or short quips cutting each other off.  Most of this was not fun for me and thus having to watch the sadness that follows these fights, left me fighting sleep, and a cold. It almost feels that this movie ran out of time when I got to the end of the (mercifully) short run time, where they were trying to find a balance between artistic presentation and entertainment.  I appreciate trying to adapt the European presentation, but with the cast assembled and the trailers presentation, it seems this reskin should have focused more on the comedy given how many people walked out of the theater during my presentation.  However, the truncated character development moments, alongside a rather quick finale, let me feeling robbed of a true spectacle.  In addition, the inability to pick a lane of comedy vs. drama did not help as well, for many times the movie flipped its approach like a car sidewinding through morning traffic.  These jerky, quick transitions messed up the atmosphere of the movie and by the time they stopped making this transition, it was time to wrap things up.

 

The VERDICT:

            This reskin was not the best face lift Hollywood has given in my opinion.  Though cinematography has revealed a wonderful setting and the artistic approach sells the lessons at hand, the film itself is rather boring.  This is primarily due to the presentation having difficulty choosing a lane to present the film, with artistic display vs American entertainment battling it out for first.  Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus can’t seem to find the chemistry for an award-winning performance and the other characters do little to enhance the experience outside of awkward banter and some forced comedy.  It goes to show that a movie like this can keep an original skin and be appreciated, like we saw in the Academy Awards, but for this reviewer, the remake is not worth the trip to the theater.  I would suggest this is at best a free stream or watching on cable to get your best investment. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  5.0

Movie Overall: 3.0

Does This Film Have Rhythm

The Rhythm Section Poster

 

The history of spy thrillers is much like the characters we have come to know and love, filled with various identities that range in quality.  Depending on the type of edge and style that is mixed with the thriller though (deep seated espionage and character development vs. gun slinging escapades) the fan base is very mixed on the quality of the film.  Tonight, one such movie tries to take a shot at it in hopes of being a memorable addition to the movie.  With a trailer that looked slow and gritty, I can’t say I was looking forward to it, but several movies have surprised me in the recent months.  Robbie K here ready to share his thoughts, as we look at:

 

Movie:  The Rhythm Section (2020)

 

Director:

Reed Morano

Writers:

Mark Burnell (screenplay by), Mark Burnell

Stars:

Blake LivelyJude LawSterling K. Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • A Different Character Development
  • A Decent Mystery Component
  • More Focused Spy Thriller
  • Good Performances Given Limited Range
  • A Decent Look At the Morals That Come With Revenge

 

DISLiKES:

 

  • The Lack Of Major Interaction With Family
  • Time Warp Skip
  • Convenient Forgetting Of Skills
  • A Little Drawn Out
  • Action Scenes A Little Too Plain
  • Some Shaky Camera Scenes
  • Jude Laws Mixed Involvement
  • Some Rather Intense Torture Moments

 

 

SUMMARY

 

There are a lot of nuances about this film that are difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best.  The film focuses a lot more on character development than action (as expected from the film), but the movie takes a different seat in developing not so much the back story, but the dive into the new life that Lively’s character takes.  It’s a dive into the darker aspects and morals that come with a revenge tale and while a bit cliché I give the director props for his choices in diving into that dark place.  The constant turmoil of decisions, the reflection of the lives she holds in her hands, and the ever-driving fuel of revenge are all balanced in a manner that is quite gripping for those that like being into the mind of the protagonist.  Yet, as the psyche of the character begins to develop, the story also starts to develop a few other components spy movies are notorious for portraying.  For one thing, there is a decent mystery component in discovering the identity of the person behind the whole ordeal and who is friend vs. foe.  I nearly had the twist, so it hopefully it will give you a mind teaser to drive your interest into the film.  As you can guess, the focus of this film is all about the espionage component, using more tricks of the trade and seduction than actual gun play and combat.  Fight scenes are realistic to support it and again, the movie has realistic flavor to it and should please those type of fans.  It’s all brought to life by a decent spectrum of acting.  Law comes out sort of an edgier version of his character from Captain Marvel, whose dialogue and opening moments work very well for me.  Brown’s character has a more cornerstone moment, and utilizes the drama repertoire from his television days to good use.  No surprise, it’s Lively who sells much of the movie, with a character that has stacked components to it and shows her ability to handle a darker, somber roles.  There are times where it’s a little cheesy and drawn out, but overall I liked her skills.

 

Now onto some of the things I wasn’t a big fan of, for there were several in this movie.  For one thing the whole story is based on her love of the family driving her actions, but this film did not do the backstory well.  Dropped to lots of repetitive shots of silently interacting with her family, the interaction with the family is more repetition and tearing up from Lively than sustenance acting, a shame given the potential I had hoped to see.  Still, the thirst for revenge seems to be able to get someone trained super-fast, because without the dialogue cue I would not have much knowledge of the time span of this film.  The realistic nature of the film drops out at this quick pace of progression to develop skills that supposedly take years to master.  It is funny, because those skills are surprisingly dropped at convenient times to help make the plot work, something that made me roll my eyes a bit given how much they bragged about it. This is something that I don’t quite think is the right component for a spy skill feature.  You can probably guess this as well, but the lack of major action or even moving plot with a super villain made this movie feel a little slow for me too, and the gritty nature of the film did not help to add energy to the movie.

This takes me to the next point the action scenes themselves.  Given this is no James Bond, the Rhythm Section’s action is again more realistic, where injury and blows leave debilitating marks instead of just some boo boos.  While this is nice to see, it leads to these moments being a little too plain for me, with clichéd chases, less suspense and only a little bit of excitement added to it.  Part of this had to do with the shaky camera work, which while not the worst, really was not needed to help add to the suspense ,when that money could have gone to better coordination.  In addition, the man who trained her and seems to be going to the depths of hell with her in the trailer, is really not used that much either.  While Jude Law maximizes his scenes, I was disappointed in the way they handled the character and relationship of the two at times, which again was disappointing given the start the film had.  Finally, those with weak constitutions need to skip out on this film, because the fights and training may be a bit too close to traumatic experiences to be enjoyed. 

 

The VERDICT:

            The Rhythm Section is not going to be the film for everyone, because it’s a slower, drier spy thriller that really focuses on the espionage and not the action.  Lively leads the film with a good performance, diving into the madness of revenge while helping figure out the true evil that caused her such grief.  If that’s the kind of spy thriller you desire this movie is going to be for you.  However, if you are like me, this appreciation of the spy class needs a little tweaking with a better pace, less convenient dropping of skills, a time lapse that is not to be believed, and better use of Law were all needed to take this film to its true potential.  While not awful, the movie still did not meet the surprise I really wanted leading to this movie being mediocre for this reviewer.  I believe, the movie is best left to a home view to maximize your potential, unless you really are a big Blake Lively fan, then you can knock yourself out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Mystery:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Taking a Turn On The Busy Side

The Turning Poster

 

As the hourglass turns, so too does another movie to join the prize machine of movies that may or may not be worth the coin.  Welcome to Robbie’s reviews and tonight we dive into another horror movie that is going to try and shock us into a new realm of nightmares.  After much advertising, tonight’s film is hoping to turn a few hairs grey and maybe have us scratch our heads in confusion.  Will it work though?  I’ll share my thoughts down below as we get set for another review of:

 

Movie:  The Turning (2020)

 

Director:

Floria Sigismondi

Writers:

Carey W. Hayes (as Carey Hayes), Chad Hayes

Stars:

Mackenzie DavisFinn WolfhardBrooklynn Prince

 

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy Setting
  • Good Acting
  • On 90 minutes
  • Definitely More Unique
  • A More Realistic Tension Bringer

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • So Much To Keep Up With
  • Not the Scariest
  • The Weird Ending At the End
  • The Slow pace
  • Trailer Has Given Much A Way
  • The Lack Of Unique Creature

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Horror movies are coming out super frequent now, and the tactics to scare one are starting to grow stale because of exposure and desensitization, at least to me.  However, The Turning succeeds in that creep factor by helping grant the audience access to the a freaky board that is this bizarre chess game.  In the walls and halls of the mansion are plenty of dark shadows, settling boards, and other tricks to help set the mood.  It’s fantastic use of simplistic sounds and should help get the tension going.  A solid acting set by Davis leads the tale as she balances all set on her shoulders, going from aspiring nanny, to scared sleuth in the short run time.  Wolfhard and Prince as the young wards under Davis’ care, each bringing their own brands of creeps from the sinister smile and delivery of Wolfhard’s character, while Prince has that innocent yet mysterious nature in that angelic smile.  All of these performances work so well to mix with the setting to draw out the true, devious nature of the beast.  Yet, to add more fuel to the fire of likes, the movie also accomplishes something else to help it stand out from other films of this genre.  One is that it’s got a more unique approach to storytelling, which may not be apparent at first, but come the last twenty minutes or so, you’ll start to get another appreciation for the movie that some may like and others will despise.  Looking for realism?  Well, this movie succeeds again with sticking much closer to the realm of truth then the realm of fiction, at least for much of the film, and that component will help ground you to the artistic nature that this film tries to take.  If you like those psychological pushers, then this should be a selling point for you.  As for the best part, it’s all done in ninety minutes, showing that some of these artistic directions can indeed be shown in a reasonable time, take a note of this Oscar films.

 

Yet the film’s direction and unique styles may also be the downfall for the horror buffs and fans who like a little more tradition to their approaches.  First of all, there is a lot to keep up with in this film, as a hodge podge of films from the genre blend together to make a very busy film.  It’s almost like each inspirational film had an impact on the story, which pulled the story all over the place and make it busier than it needed.  As such, the movie starts suffering in turns of clarity and even scare tactics.  Thank goodness for the creepiness, because for me the scare factor was actually a little low, lost to mediocre jump scares, foreshadowing taken a little too far, and the trailers giving too much a way to those with a decent memory or have seen it enough.  It resulted in a feeling of the movie dragging a little longer than it needed, which meant it was a little boring, with only the artistic nature of the movie keeping my interest held.  As you can guess from the trailers, a unique explanation or curse is going to be a bit of long drive and as such you might disappointed with lies in the shadows of the halls.  Finally, the ending itself is not for everyone.  While I give it points for originality, the sudden finale makes for one of those endings that usually rubs me the wrong way, because it’s interesting but also a bit too unique and I’ll leave it at that.  It’s the result of the busy story, and the presentation may mislead you enough to be a surprise, but also potentially tick you off with this direction.  It’s going to really depend on what approach you like, from linear tricks and treats, or unique artistic decisions that are from left field.

 

The VERDICT:

            The trailers did the film a lot of credit at painting a dark, twisted picture that is all about the creep factor.  A film like the Turning is sure to turn a few thoughts towards having more food for thought, and depending on what type of horror fan you are, will determine if you like it.  Points for this reviewer are a fantastic setting established for creepiness and realistic flow.  A good acting cast further brings the horror factor out and a more unique approach gets points in my book given how tough it is in this day and age.  However, this new approach is also potentially a downfall for some as the movie gets really busy, with so much though and direction that you have to figure out if you like keeping track of everything.  Scares took a hit for me in this film, and the slow pace itself leads to potentially a film that will not be the modern preference.  Still, if you are looking for a thought-provoking movie, this piece should give you something to talk about and the theater can help elevate the ambience for sound, though I think the true terror will come from watching it at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

There Is Mercy In Hollywood when It Comes To Drama

Just Mercy Poster

 

In today’s constantly changing world, it’s always a hassle to find justice in a system with ever “evolving” morals.  As traditions collide, new trends form, and the world does not quite take the moral high ground in favor of reward or pleasure, those that may be innocent have less of a fighting chance.  Thus, the plot of today’s movie tries to show how there are still avenues of good in this world and it is hoping to impress the audience and share it’s story.  Robbie K is back again to give you his thoughts on the latest movies to hit the silver screen, so let’s get cracking as I review:

 

Movie: Just Mercy (2019)

Director:

Destin Daniel Cretton

Writers:

Destin Daniel CrettonAndrew Lanham

Stars:

Brie LarsonMichael B. JordanJamie Foxx

 

 

LIKES

  • Great Acting
  • Emotional
  • A Drama That Moves
  • Multiple Aspects/Complete Picture
  • Fantastic Use Of Soundtrack and Visuals
  • Did Not Feel Like a 2-hour movie

 

DISLIKES:

  • Drama Vs. Real Life
  • Conventional/Predictability

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

This movie has a wealth of positives for me and the true cornerstone comes from the great acting contained in this 136 minutes.  Michael B Jordan continues to prove he is a master of his trade, bringing the incredible persona of the justice seeking lawyer, who is not only competent but empathetic.  He works great with all of the scenes and sequences, naturally reacting and acting to all the players in this drama, and making a central figure to follow.  Brie Larson, the ever-impressive actress herself, dominates her roles and supporting the two figure heads, though I had wished for a little more time with her, she capitalizes on her screen time.  As for Foxx, well not much needs to be said, but again a natural presentation of a man convicted of crimes and believing to be innocent, while on death row mind you.  It’s sleek, and often not forced on you, crafting a character that seems to be exactly what you would expect in this situation, compared to Hollywood’s idea of making everyone yell, scream and fight.  Like Jordan, the man also has great chemistry with his squad and it helps expand the character while also proving how awesome his acting is. Even the secondary characters are for the most part stunning examples of talent, and I enjoyed the integrated crew bringing this gut wrenching tale to life.

That’s just the acting like what about the rest of the movie.  Director Daniel Cretton succeeded in taking a movie I thought would be long and drawn out, and transforming it into a piece that netted my attention and dragged me to motivation station.  It’s an emotional ride that will take you through just about every feeling you can imagine and somehow keep everything in balance.  As mentioned in previous biographies, it manages to inject some good drama into the mix, to entrance you into caring about the story, while managing to avoid the overdramatic flare that reality television does.  This balanced approach is something I enjoy as it allows you to appreciate the story without getting caught up in the soap opera semantics that this world can create.  Additionally, the movie utilizes wonderful visuals and an audio score that manages to fill those scenes with a push that succeeds in bringing out the culture with motivational force.  Finally, the movie achieves another goal that I always mention but seldom see in that it tries to give you a complete approach to how this lawyer fought for justice.  Just Mercy, is all about giving you Bryan’s quest to help those in need, not only focusing on Foxx’s character case, but looking into a few others that were going with it.  The movie then extends to those other characters who are intertwined with Foxx, again helping expand upon the character while helping you dive into Death Row mindsets.  Throw in the families that help, the antagonists, even the assistants that help with drafting forms, getting interviews, and collecting evidence and you get an experience that again brings you into the film.  It’s a wonderful drama, and through all the above-mentioned goodness, makes this movie feel less than 2 hours for the most part, the ending maybe being the exception.

 

Finding dislikes in this movie is difficult for me as I’m trying to be fair, but there were a couple of things I think still take away from a perfect score for me.  There is always that notion of what is fact and what is fiction, and without reading the book, I can’t be certain. I believe Just Mercy has a better balance than most, but there are some times where the drama supersedes the facts a little too much.  This nets interest I know, but a movie like this sometimes paints cultures and traditions a little too extreme, inciting some anger.  In addition, the convention of the genre vs. the predictability is another aspect that you have to try and ignore.  If you read the case files, pay attention to the trailers, or just know the genre as a whole, you will find the usual formulaic approach on record.  It’s not awful by any means, but I have to take it into account when I review.  Finally, I had hoped for a little more involvement in another character, whose story is wrapped up via the end credits, but it’s a minor flaw because they use the good actor to another awesome level.

 

The VERDICT:

            Truth is Just Mercy was a lot better than I had anticipated, taking what looked to be a long, drawn out legal movie and adding spice to the mix.  It’s acting is going to draw most people in to be honest, with a cast that makes this tory all the more impacting to those with an open mind.  Outside of that though, it is an example of the partnership drama and reality can achieve when helmed by a competent director and his team.  Multiple aspects, fantastic use of visuals, and a compelling involvement with all its characters makes this film a fantastic watch and not feel like 136-minute ride.  True there are still some dramatic moments that might be excessive, and you have to be ready for the usual bag of tricks it needs to spring, but outside of extreme fans… you should be okay with it.  Another film I believe can be enjoyed in the theater for stellar acting and storytelling, I implore many to watch this film when it comes out in the home.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

Prepare To Go To War

1917 Poster

 

History is an avenue that is always worth revisiting, for to not review history can lead to us being doomed to repeat it. Wars are part of that history and given the changing environment, various things that often drum up a new war, it’s important to learn now more than ever.  While the World Wars have been done to death though, there are always more stories hidden away that one can learn, to provide that correct insight to potentially stop the future destruction from occurring.  After lots of buildup, awards, and talk though, I hit up the local theater with my buddy to get another look into review country.  Tonight I give my insight into:

 

Movie: 1917 (2018-2019)

 

Director:

Sam Mendes

Writers:

Sam MendesKrysty Wilson-Cairns

Stars:

Dean-Charles ChapmanGeorge MacKayDaniel Mays

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • The Frontier
  • Deep Messages And Emotion
  • Artistic
  • Decent Pace For Most Of The Movie
  • Realistic Fighting
  • Cinematography

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not For The Faint Of Heart
  • Missing Some Action Components
  • The Middle Of the Movie’s Approach
  • A Little Dense

 

 

SUMMARY:

When it comes to a focus on British history and acting, there is always class injected into the presentation of the movie.  In this war movie, that same focus has been curtailed to present the familiar concept of war into a new light.  For one thing, this movie is much more about the acting compared to other battle ballads.  Chapman and MacKay are fantastic in bringing the young cadets lives to bay, acting as the mirror to Britain’s involvement in the war.  The turmoil, the dedication, the friendship, and even the courage to face potential death are portrayed beautifully to cover the wide range of emotions involved with serving in the first great war.  While we have seen great performances bringing out the nightmare that is war though, 1917 manages to bring a new way of telling the story through the frontier itself.  The harsh landscapes, destroyed villages, and lighting are all coordinated to provide the true menace of the war and that beast is often scarier than the fighting itself. Like a Quiet Place, it’s the silent nature of the vast landscape that adds the true emotional tensions.  And as it all progresses the movie continues to show that artistic approach of capturing all the deep messages, emotion, and angles that come with war.  I can’t say much to minimize spoilers, but let’s just say the mission to deliver the messages changes face and approach various times to display one of the most dynamic approaches to war theater dramas.  This even bleeds over into the few fights that show up, trading the flashy Michael Bay sequences for simpler battles that rely on strategy, timing, and fewer shots.  It may not be the most jaw dropping battles to date, but it fits so well into the presentation that it adds to that deadliness this film is showing.  Finally, the real star is the cinematography.  The specials did not lie, the movie is shot beautifully, an almost seemingly continuous shot that immerses you into the experience.  You will feel a part of the brigade to deliver the message, and as a result you’ll get the full amount of terror, intensity, and other components that they directors wanted, and it’s all done with stable camerawork.

 

Yet, this opera also has a few things that did not quite work for me, that while not worth too many point deductions was worth mentioning.  First it’s not for the faint of heart, as the saying of war is hell is true, those with weak stomach may not handle a few things that are displayed.  I can’t say much, but just picture the worst part of war and get yourself prepared, a few of which were a little too drawn out for my tastes.  Past that warning though, the action junkie in me wanted a little more bang for the buck.  I get the realistic approach they were taking, but a little more combat and coordination would have helped spice some things up for me and get the pace moving.  While artistic and realistic, I can’t lie that the movie is rather dense, relying so much on visuals that it leads to a slower paced war tale.  Again, this keeps in time with the artistic nature, but there were some slower parts that had me battling to remain conscious.  And when the movie hits about the middle of the film, the dynamic they take sort of uproots what the trailers promised.  It’s not a bad twist at all and really captivates on the experience of war, but it’s just not what I had intended to see.

 

The VERDICT:

            The rumors about this movie are true, it’s an amazing display of war visualization that was able to break free from the traditional war story movie.  British acting alongside award winning cinematography are the key components for this film, setting the screen for that wild war frontier where emotions run wilder than the bullets from guns.  True, I would have liked a little more war sequences and excitement, and I could have done with a little less dense dialogue, but overall it’s a solid movie and worthy of the praise.  Again, not for the faint of heart at times, but this reviewer encourages to catch this one in theaters when you can. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/War:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5