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

 

Worth donning the Hood? A Review On Robin Hood 2018

Robin Hood Poster

            The classic tale of Robin Hood is a legend among countries, continents, and media franchises alike.  Various iterations have been forged from the fires of Hollywood’s studios some epic portrayals of the English hero and others that some think should remain lost in the mists of stories.  Nevertheless, Lionsgate is attempting to revive the story again, in hopes that it will be a box office success and potentially lead to another trilogy.  What’s in store?  Robbie K here to help you out with that as we do another review on:

 

Movie” Robin Hood (2018)

 

Director:

Otto Bathurst

Writers:

Ben Chandler (screenplay by), David James Kelly (screenplay by)  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Taron EgertonJamie FoxxBen Mendelsohn

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Actors:  A great movie relies on many things, but most fans go for their favorite actors.  In this film the casting was spot on with Taron Egerton being a prime choice for many given his popularity at the moment.  The English Actor interjects some modern edge to the role, that holds some class, spunk, and as my friends reported a new hot look to the mix. His portrayal certainly has a new sense of honor, but a little more rebellion behind it than the previous renditions.  Jamie Foxx on the other hand certainly has the disciplinary edge of the Little John, dropping his whimsical, clumsy nature for one with more fire and vigor.  Their chemistry is sensational, leading the rest of the cast to craft the next band of warriors for a new generation.

 

Costumes:  If actors are not pretty enough for you, then the costumes may be the ticket to pull you into the film further.  The new Robin Hood is like an Abercrombie designer combining modern flare with old English battle war apparel, to make some impressive looking outfits.  Perhaps in time for the next season Halloween, or maybe a winter coat for the holidays, the new style is certainly appealing in the long run.

 

The Action Flare:  This Robin Hood is certainly the type to take the flashy and flaunt it.  The trailers portrayed the action sensationally well, with graphics that have a certain element and angle that is unique, but also in that cheesy, artificial manner that Hollywood has been a fan of capitalizing on.  Robin’s hood’s flashy effects are probably a large reason for a theater visit, but it’s high energy and speed are certain to entertain younger audience members in their rather loud, visually intense moments.

 

Simplistic: In a sense, the movie at least has a finite presentation that doesn’t fall victim to the convoluted, artistic approaches some choose to do.  As such it brings cheap thrills and simplistic enjoyment in the grand scheme of things.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Sheriff Of Nottingham: No surprise, the bad guy isn’t my favorite character and that is okay However, the movie I don’t think took the character in a direction I thoroughly enjoyed.  This sheriff was a little to political and not enough strategy/action. His slimy nature and story design is lackluster and his inclusion in the film is only focusing on the political game that wasn’t the most entertaining twist on the story. This brings me to the next dislike

 

The Political Game: Robin Hood always had a political message and statement in it, the tale of the ragtag band of mercenaries standing up to rich in the name of the poor.  However, the 2018 remake gets a little too heavy in this aspect, focusing more on the discussions between all authoritarian power honors and the leaders of the rebellion.  This leads to dry dialogue, bloated speeches between the parties, and a small strategic strike at the powers that be.  Political enough for the strongly opinionated, and certainly a smarter approach in terms of dialogue.  Yet, it’s not the most entertaining, which leads to the next dislike.

 

Action:  The special effects are ready to go, with enough explosions and CGI to make Michael Bay proud.  Robin Hood though does not execute the action to the full extent the trailers hinted at for me.  Bouts are short, often reduced to mere minutes where the combination of random shots, CGI arrows, and extras flopping take point.  Sword fights are practically nil, and instead of a tense/engaging action sequence that other installments made famous, the movie is all about flash in the pan effects to get you from one political scene to the next.  It was a valiant attempt to kick the series off, but for this reviewer there are still other versions (namely the Disney version) whose action is much more involved and finessed than this modern rendition.

 

The Pace:  While the actions scenes help break up the monotony of the film, it still didn’t help with the pace of the movie.  Thanks to the political approach of the film, many may find it a bit sluggish in movement as they characters fall into heavy debates of how to handle all the funds.  It gets points for realism, but for me I was hoping for that same epic adventure the tale has been in the past.  After all, with stunts and arrow shots that defy reality, why would one not try to unleash the full potential of the pace and action with it.

 

Rushed Ending:  Maybe all the slowness means and epic finale to wrap everything up. Sorry, not the case for me.  Robin Hood’s bout with the Sherriff and his elite squad is much more lackluster than most of the films I’ve seen.  The final “battle” is more so a mob riot with only glimpses of actual combat occurring.  A semi impressive the plan, the finale had three errors that took away from the film. It starts with a rather boring fight, throw in a plan that was a little too easy and with little suspense, and then rapidly executed to the point of blink and you’ll miss a few things.  After all the waiting, how could they not end this with a bullseye we had been wanting.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            This rendition is not the complete picture I think Lionsgate was going for, and there is so much more to comment on in areas to improve.  While the casting is good and effects are ready to support the guerilla warfare motif, Robin Hood need some more editing and finesse to bring the most out of the film’s action.  Yet, if you are looking for a more realistic, representation of the political aspect of the days of yore, perhaps this is the hot ticket you have been looking for, and the slower, dryer pace will make you feel right at home.  Nevertheless, I’ll recommend holding out for this film, given everything coming out. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Adventure Thriller: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Take A Drive With Baby Driver

Baby Driver

 

Baby Driver!  When I saw this trailer months ago I had no idea what to think about it just from the title alone.  Yet seeing a star studded cast that included Jon Hamm, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, I had hopes for a good movie.  So, with it rushing into a midweek premiere I managed to finally check it out this weekend.  What’s the verdict on the action/crime movie to hit the screen.  Robbie K here always appreciating your views on his blog.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  I don’t say this too much, but this cast was aces across the board. Let’s start with the lead Ansel Elgort who plays Baby.  At first I was only impressed with his ability to be the awkward silent type, but as the movie progresses Elgort is able to bring a little more to the screen to round out Baby.  His range broadens as more characters are introduced into the film and he has to balance between the two worlds that he lives in.  As kind of his looming shadow, the master villain Kevin Spacey continues to play that cool, calculating, manipulative role that he made famous in House of Cards.  Not too much to be annoying, but not too little to be cheated Spacey really brings depth to a cliché role and keeps things heated up.  As for Foxx, well his acting continues to improve me in spectrum he can cover.  Taking more of the jaded thug approach, Foxx adds the comedic heat to the film with the darker theme taking hold.  I could spend the whole review on the chemistry of everyone, but Baby Driver’s cast is stellar.

 

The Action:  For a crime thriller toting about the stunts and guns, the movie certainly delivers.  Baby Driver shifts the gear into R for reality and manages to deliver sequences that are exciting chases through obstacle laden courses with all the bells and whistles.  Unlike the Fast and The Furious, this movie keeps things on a believable level, requiring actual stunt driving instead of high tech gadgets.  Even the gunplay is exciting, finally adopting the crime motif we had in the mafia movie days instead of the explosion loaded productions famous of modern cinema.  The action is well directed, and used as a supporting tool to keep the film exciting and fast paced without being the only aspect of the movie.

 

The Story:  Most crime stories bore me these days because they get too caught up in either sex or malicious violence.  While Baby Driver is certainly darker in its own accord, it has a story that doesn’t dance in one area.  A combination of love, action, and crime drama, the storyboard writers get props from me for crafting a decently balanced story.  Baby’s character is complicated (though the trailers might mislead you), and they managed to gradually peel this character apart and help him transform into someone completely new.  To do this all while bringing forth a story that doesn’t put me to sleep but keep me on edge is certainly worthy of two thumbs up.

 

The Music:  The theme of Baby Driver is music (he is always wearing headphones if you haven’t seen the trailers), and that means you need a strong soundtrack.  Mission successful on this part too.  While I’m not quite familiar with some of these classics (yes boo me), they music directors selected a fantastic spread to entertain us with.  Across many genres and decades, your ears will be swallowed by a deluge of classics, each fitting with the tone of the movie and providing great sound support to the impressive visuals.  And if you don’t know these tunes, well the internet is still a wonderful thing when used appropriately.

DISLIKES:

 

No unifying crime plot:  In many crime movies, there is a big score, a key target, or some unifying goal.  Baby Driver though doesn’t have that big, impending doom I often like to see, choosing instead to focus more on Baby himself.  While certainly a small dislike, I felt the unifying theme or grand plan could have provided a little more oomph to the story and a way to integrate Spacey’s character even more.

 

Romance Aspect:  I’m not saying this is bad, and again I’m grasping at most straws, but Baby Driver’s romance component needs a little work.  Lily James and Elgort have some decent chemistry and work well together in the scenes where they are paired.  However, I feel that this component was a little glazed over up until the climax where the crap starts to hit the fan.  Expanding this role again would have tied some things together and integrated the cast a little better to complete the story.

 

Part of the Ending:  This dislike is again complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain.  Baby Driver’s ending is certainly unique and took many directions I liked in the form of being non-cliché, artistic, and exciting on many levels.  Yet about fifteen minutes of the ending was dragged out entirely too long and started hitting that ridiculous level Hollywood often hits.  The vicious parts were a little overdramatic and the predictable twists just led to more run time that wasn’t really needed. Still it wrapped up nicely and had a self-gratifying finish, it just didn’t need to be that complicated.  

 

The Verdict:

 

I agree with many that Baby Driver is one awesome film.  Despite the weird title (which yes is a song title), it works on many levels primarily in regards to a suspenseful action tale with strong story elements.  Baby Driver is an example of what movies can be if done right and I for one recommend hitting this movie in theaters. Of note, use caution when taking younger audience members due to the violence please.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Crime/Music:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Had No Problems Sleeping Through This Movie

sleepless

 

Crime Thrillers seem to be the rage this weekend, as this is my third movie with the genre tag to review.  My latest review is on Sleepless starring Jamie Foxx. From the trailers, this film looks like a mash up of Triple 9 with Taken, and perhaps with a lower budget. Can the man of many talents make this movie, or is it just another knock off meant to take our money.  Robbie K here and as always please read on for my input on the latest films to hit the silver screen.

 

LIKES:

  • Complicated Crime Story
  • Michelle Monaghan’s dynamic character
  • Humorous

 

Summary: For those worrying about this being another mindless action flick, you have nothing to worry about.  Sleepless is more convoluted relationships and chasing rabbit holes than anything else.  Much of the story centers on trying to uncover the truth behind a massive drug dispensing ring and who the true leader is.  There is not much more I can say past this simplistic plot, but this predictable theme remains constant throughout the entire tale.  In fact, the only good thing past this simplicity is Michelle Monaghan’s character, a very passionate (and obsessive) cop caught between a lot of rocks and hard places.  Her fiery determination, single minded sense of justice, and act first ask later attitude adds the needed excitement to this otherwise bland tale.  And the movie is surprisingly humorous, though how much is on purpose vs. accidental remains to be seen.  Much of the movie has very “silly” moments that had me   laughing by how cheesy and out of place it was (e.g. random people showing up, surprisingly bright dealers forgetting to check things, and a seemingly endless supply of ammunition). These ridiculous notions made a targeted serious movie, end up an indirect comedy for this reviewer.

 

DISLIKES

  • Gets stale quickly
  • Dropped concepts that don’t work
  • Action nothing like Taken
  • Lacked a uniform direction

 

Summary: As I mentioned earlier, Sleepless main theme is walking around a casino trying to find the goodsThis endless game of hide and go seek the drug got old fast, as a giant bag full of cocaine continued to disappear despite all the high technology and hired help.  Watching Foxx and the rest of the cast go in endless circles lost its entertainment value quickly, and lacked very little suspense.  In addition, much of the concepts they highlighted in the trailers did not last long in this movie, which was very disappointing to say the least.  The whole kidnap the kid and try to find him was over in five minutes, and the rest of the drama was very lackluster compared to the other films I saw this weekend. An even bigger disappointment was the lack of real action in this movie, a big selling point promoted in the trailers.  Surprise, surprise, the action is diluted down to a few staged fist fights and a little shoot out that won’t be high on the most thrilling fights listFor this reviewer, all these shortcomings came from what seemed a lack of direction in what type of movie they wanted.  Instead of an epic action movie with a crime theme, we got a circular tale where nothing was really accomplished until the final ten minutes.  This my friends is the biggest shortcoming of the film, and the missed potential it held.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Sleepless certainly doesn’t live up to its name, as I found myself fighting sleep from the boredom I had watching this tale.  Outside a convoluted crime ring, and some humorous antics, this movie did not deliver the thrills it set its sights on.  If you’re looking for a gory, adventure where we walk around a fancy casino, then check this movie out, but this reviewer encourages you to save the time (and money) by skipping this movie.  I can maybe suggest if for Netflix, but even that is a bit of a stretch for this movie for me. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Thriller: 4.0

Movie Overall:  4.0