Fallen Into A New Regime

Angel Has Fallen Poster

            Epic action flicks are always a riot to see because they promise excitement, fun, and potentially some legendary sequences. The army of stars who have portrayed heroic figures continues to grow and in some cases those heroes drop into multiple installments that vary in quality.  Tonight is an example of one such franchise that continues to push that hero to new heights in an attempt to squeeze every dollar out of the franchise.  Could a third installment of the legendary Secret Service agent Mike Banning be one of those movies that is all about the cash and less about the quality?  Well Robbie K is back again to give some thoughts as we finish up the weekend with what will hopefully live up to hopes and expectations I have for it.  Tonight we look at:

 

Movie: Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Director:

Ric Roman Waugh

Writers:

Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay by), Matt Cook (screenplay by)

Stars:

Gerard ButlerPiper PeraboMorgan Freeman

 

LIKES:

  • Constantly Moving
  • Gets the Intensity Starting
  • Nice Use Of Characters
  • The Ending Battle
  • Nick Nolte

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Loud
  • Mystery Lacking
  • Not As Much Exciting Acting
  • Morgan Freeman’s Character Semi Lacking

 

Summary:

 

Like its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen is back in the habit of making a story that is all about moving from danger site to danger site. Banning’s latest journey does not take long to get things moving, bringing the incident to full, explosive power to get the antics going.  The new tale then takes that intensity and tries to run with it the full time, finding few times to quiet down before the next set of problems sets in.  Angle Has Fallen surprisingly does a nice job of integrating the characters, most of them, throughout the film, keeping them involved in the developing plot and having them contribute to find the solution.  Jada Pinkett Smith’s character is there to act as the cat chasing the proverbial mouse, all while helping dig into the mess that Mike has fallen into.  His wife played by Piper is working on her own components and rather than being left to make casual appearances, she actually gets decent inclusion in this film. Yet, it’s the living legend of Nick Nolte who takes the cake for the character of the film for me.  The rugged, rough voiced actor really brings the bitter humor to life, somehow saying so little , but doing so much.  I thoroughly enjoyed this character in what he brought and how he was an attempt to break up the Fallen series monotony.  Yet despite who you grip onto in this sort of action, mystery, crime feature, the ending is my epic conclusion I was hoping to see in this film.  Angel Has Fallen is all about those special effect frenzies that are littered with gun play, explosives, and one man defying all odds.  You won’t be disappointed with the final sequence, as it captures the spirit of the first two after the long wait.

 

In terms of areas of improvement though this reviewer notes that the predictability and lack of surprise makes the hidden/mystery element of this movie a little lame.  You know who is pretty much behind this operation, how they are going to try to execute the plan, and what will most likely happen to counter it.  In fact the only thing to question is who is going to make it to the end.  Had a few more surprises been thrown in, this movie could have had the nice twist to make it stand out.  Sadly, the story and plot were geared more towards the character inclusion and loud antics of the movie.  The Fallen series always struggles with volume control for me and if you have sensitive ears like mine, the intensity of all the high-octane scenes might take its toll on you hearing so look for ear plugs or folding your ears.  The minor things aside, the movie surprisingly does not do much with Morgan Freeman, and if you remember the previous films the president kind of has a big role in each of the films  Maybe due to scheduling or maybe trying to be different, it’s not until the end where the man in charge is finally brought back into the story in an attempt to wrap things up.  And speaking of action, I seem to remember the first two films having much more action than this instalment.  It seems that this film toned back on the action in an attempt to give us a little more story and mystery, which is a shame as I wanted the adrenaline fest these films are.  Certainly there are “exciting” moments, but they swapped many of their guns for some new spins that did not have the same suspense or quality of the memorable moments from the first two.  If that’s up your alley then you’ll love this, but remember the ending has the battles we love, you just got to make it there.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Angel Has Fallen is starting to settle down and try out new venues for telling their story.  Certainly the speed of the film series continues, and the intensity gets things moving quickly to keep you into the film as almost all characters are brought into this chapter of Secret Service agent against the world.  Sadly, the same formula of fighting with lots of guns and ambushing via covert attacks seems to be resting for much of this movie, again trying new gimmicks to make it stand out and reserve the usual techniques for the ending.  It would have worked more for me had they kept the mystery/surprises going to add on to the intensity and leave your jaw dropping.  Still, it’s a fine addition to the franchise and one most will be wanting to see in theaters due to the special effects and speaker shaking loudness. My scores are:

 

Action:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

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Dragon Sized Adventure With Not So Hidden Ending

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Poster

 

 

Movies series are always difficult to let go when they are good.  It’s been years since a beloved book series turned animated film flew into theaters and brought with it a memorable friendship that has led to merchandising galore. Yes, it’s Dreamworks leading duo of Viking and scales, with the third installment to the trilogy hoping to tie things up nicely.  Robbie K back and ready to give you his thoughts on:

 

Movie:  How To Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World

 

Director:

Dean DeBlois

Writers:

Dean DeBloisCressida Cowell (based upon the “How to Train Your Dragon” book series

Stars:

Jay BaruchelAmerica FerreraF. Murray Abraham

 

 

LIKES:

 

Voice Acting

Character Development

Expansion of Story

Animation

Funny

Emotional Infusion

Balanced

 

Summary:

The movie has been all about characters, which in turn has relied on voice acting to bring them to life.  Jay, America and the gang have filled the shoes again, adding the emotional depth to the characters who we have grown up with the last decade or so.  The movie has taken the foundations and built upon it taking the characters to new levels and helping push them to new frontiers that the series requires.  Expanding on the story like it did, this sequel accomplishes the goal of standing on its own, and yet helping the characters evolve into new beings and new stagesIt’s all gorgeously done in the animation we have come to love, and this installment has shown that Dreamworks can continue to push the details of their work to new depths and heights to help bring the mythical beasts to life without going too dark.

Yet, this is a movie meant for kids and you might want to know does it still have the effects that made the first two installments special.  The answer is yes on many levels.  The comedy is still there a good blend of one-liners, banter, slapstick, and adorable, charming presentation that works so well to bring the youthful energy.  Not too overdone, but yet not too adult, the comedy does well to support the other components of the story.  Emotion runs heavy in this film cascading through the emotional roller coaster depending on the scene. Want the thrill of flying?  It’s in there.  Need the touching bond between friends?  Again it’s in there!  Need some other touches?  You’ve got that too.  The third installment continues to find the ability to infuse the emotions and bring you fully into the scene, especially when one adds the musical score to support the visuals.  It works very well, because the writers have found balance of many aspects and it works beautifully to bring all the ages and fans together for the latest ride to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Short

More Action/Thrills

New Dragon Designs

The Villain

The Trailer Syndrome

 

Summary:

For once I actually wanted a movie longer, more so because of some of the other areas I wanted to see improved in this film.  One of these is to get more of that action and thrill that the first two had, the sense of flying into the heart of danger, or through the skies in the daring mission.  Hidden World has these components, but some of the moments didn’t quite have the impact the first two installments did for me.  In addition, I had hoped for a few new dragons that held the designs of those in the journals, getting glimpses of designs that break the molds from those seen before.  It did this somewhat, but I’d have liked to see a few more changes to the mold.  All of these are minder areas for me the majors are next.

The Villain is not the worst and I didn’t hate it, after all the look and malice ooze from him in terms of design and acting.  Yet, the part that failed is I don’t think he had quite the same texture and depth that the previous villains held.  This guy has build up and some impressive skill sets, but I felt that they didn’t quite deliver the terrifying components that they wanted, sort of diluting the villain for the film.  Again, good for the most part, but no quite having the same punch I had expected it.  Yet the biggest thing I held, was that the trailers have given you most of the endings, so if you have the trailer memorized you have much of the film’s ending laid out for you.  So, while it is a good prep for those who are trying to get their kids ready for it, guys like me don’t like having everything laid out for you.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Truth is, the third movie didn’t meet the first one for me in terms of all the wonders I had, but it certainly accomplishes much and as a movie sequel is very, very good.  I hands down love this sequel and found it having the balance the series is famous for, but yet expanding up on it.  With fantastic storytelling, animation that brings it to life, and all the emotions for both adults and kids to love, this series ends on a mighty roar that will take many to new heights and leave you feeling many things by the end of the film.  It did not deliver to the same extent on some things, but the movie hands down took all the made it special and capitalized it.  I loved much of this movie and encourage many to come enjoy the experience in theaters. 

 

My scores are:

           

Animation/Action/Adventure: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5

Den Of Deceit: Will This Movie Steal Your Attention

Den of thieves.jpg

 

Robbing banks, a past time for many characters in Hollywood and often the setting for a very engaging story line.  Early renditions of this movie often added a little comedy to the atmosphere at the preposterous lengths they have to go to score the big score. As tastes have matured though, the crime genre has strapped on a more violent, angst-filled, gun fest where the darker the tale, the more you wail.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and tonight I set my sights on Den of Thieves, a movie with leading man Gerard Butler taking point to get you into the theater.  What’s in store for this semi-advertised movie?  Read on to find out.

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting: You want angst filled cops and vengeful mercenaries, look no further, because this cast has you covered with their skills.  Gerard Butler still has the candid cop role down, utilizing his gruff and ire of Leonidas, without the abs or honor. It works so well as an entertaining character, one you might enjoy as you watch him unload his full might into the epic crime case at hand.  His supporting cast amplifies the rogue cop team aspect, saying little, but at least providing the looks. Pablo Schreiber has the villain role down pat as well, cut throat and to the point, but also strategic and in control of his emotions.  The culmination is a respectable villain, whose portrayal is so calculating you don’t know what Schreiber went through to capture it.  Finally, O’Shea Jackson Jr. gets props for his role as Donnie, another character that is complex and stuck between two worlds and having to adjust to two situations.  He pulls off the mannerisms and emphasis well crafting the third big character of the film.

 

The Character Chemistry:  While the acting brings each character to life, it’s the direction and writing that really makes these characters shine for me.  Donnie, Merriman, and Big Nick have that awkward triangle relationship going, trading love and friendship for a crazy game of manhunt and keeping secrets. Much like Catch Me If You Can, Den of Thieves is a darker twist to the crime chasing thriller, with a rivalry that calls for each character to up the ante to go for the score and obtain their goals.  Numerous audience members reacted to the tactics they threw out, often aimed at the other’s personal life to hit them hard.  How low will they go?  You don’t know, but it creates some suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

The Multiple Levels: A good crime movie is clever, tricky, and often convoluted to minimize the chances of the plan actually working.  Den of Thieves accomplishes this complexity quite well, with the title acting as a symbol for all the deceit contained in this movie. While certainly vengeful, the strategies of Big Mike and Merrimen are like a massive scale chess game, each move trying to draw their opponents out in an attempt to divert from the real goal at hand. And the identity of that underlying goal is constantly changing, each revelation peeling a layer back until the core is finally revealed at the end. Those fans of crime shows are going to enjoy this, because it is that plot only bigger.

 

Well Detailed:  This movie accomplishes the crime story telling quite well.  The characters are pretty well developed and they get points for expanding upon the generic roles we have seen in countless media.  However, what I really appreciated, was seeing the dots connected, no stone left unturned in explaining how the entire plan connected.  All the cronies, all the planning, every detail accounted for in this grand scheme.  I like a movie that tells a complete story, and Den Of Thieves accomplished this task.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Language: A minor dislike, the band of thieves and cops fall victim to expletive heavy dialogue once more.  Every ounce of frustration is represented in some curse word, often leaning towards the F-Bomb, but occasionally diverting to another term in the limited glossary.  Happily, most of it is relevant to the dialogue and not too overdone.

 

Big Nick’s Tangents: When Nick is engaged in the battle of wits, the story moves and things seem relevant.  While I applaud the attempt at expanding his character, Mike’s personal life does not fit well into the whole depth of the movie.  Outside of painting some personal problems he has, these issues don’t get too much in the way of his job.  So why did we dive into these issues?  Is it some personal growth they are trying to set up?  Is it a means to develop a plot device to be utilized later?  No, it seems like it was just some expansion on the run time and a way to chisel away from the rogue cop physique.  Had it been left out, probably would have resulted in about thirty minutes cut out, which would have been good.

 

More Action: The trailers paint this to be a high velocity crime chase and I had such high hopes for this to be the case.  It showed promise with the opening scene, the firefight that gets the tale started being intense, exciting, and even better… not one sided.  After the adrenaline rush ebbs, you see the suspense building, and at parts it seems things are going to come to full boil.  And then things fizzle out and you are left with more dialogue and drama until the final fifteen-minute bout at the end.  These moments are awesome, but Den Of Thieves could have really used a few more exciting features to keep things on the edge and speed things up. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Den Of Thieves is a more concentrated version of the cable crime shows that fill the mainstream line up.  This dark tale is ready to keep you on your toes, as the tennis match of skill, deceit, and vendetta filled antics makes for an interesting twist on these casual roles.  However, the biggest selling factor is the complexity of the film and tumbling down the rabbit hole.  The things that bring this movie down for me are the need for more action and some useless tangents that don’t add much to the story.  As such, this brings the movie down a peg in terms of excitement and added some unnecessary minutes to an already long movie.  Still, the convoluted tale is enough to be theater worthy and I recommend a visit on this one. 

 

My scores are:

Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

GeoPower! This Storm Is Stronger Than Expected

Geostorm

 

There are very few things scarier than a natural disaster.  The sheer power contained within these storms, droughts, and floods is something we as humans have difficulty containing.  Now what would happen if that power could be harnessed by humans, manipulated to our whim in order to keep our world acclimated and functioning perfectly?  Could such a thing be used for good, or would it merely be repurposed as a weapon?  This question is the key concept in my next movie review, titled Geostorm, the latest disaster flick to “storm” into the theaters.  Pun aside, Robbie K is back for another overview, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

The Sound:  My first like is the incredible sound editing Geostorm contains within it.  These editors “blew” me away with the fantastic renditions of Mother Nature’s torment, capturing all those destructive sounds and unleashing them into the theater.  Lightning filled maelstroms, horrendous fires, and bone chilling ice storms all drop with mighty blow, causing the theater to rumble in delight.  This effect may not seem like much, but it really rounds the experience out and immerses you into the havoc.

 

The Visuals:  No surprise here, Geostorm’s visuals are also beautiful displays of technology.  We know this genre is all about making disasters look real, and this film brings that power out with little hesitancy.  Watching destruction unfold is breathtaking, as the terrifying mayhem of the manmade storms unfold, helping you experience the horror without actually being there.  Geostorm’s displays, although limited in number, are the selling point of this film, especially during the exciting moments when our characters are trying to navigate their way through the destruction.

 

Acting:  Sometimes these disaster movies tank on the cast, resulting in whiny, nimrod characters who are asking to be sucked up into a twister.  Not the case for this film. Geostorm’s cast is actually fantastic in bringing their characters to life, and also brings an awesome team to the mix to diversify the genre.  Gerard Butler was a solid choice for the lead, combining action gruff with scientific strategy to craft a tough as nails character to lead the project.  This dynamic nature made a fun hero to root for while seeing him evolve past his flaws.  Jim Sturgess does a bang-up job in his role as well, playing the role of the neurotic congressmen forced to choose between family and job.  His character required a much broader class of emotions, and he manages to hit all of these with little trouble. As for the female leads of Abbie Cornish and Alexandra Maria Lara, these women were incredible displays of girl power in the modern world.  No super powers needed here, for these women have intelligence, ferocity, and heart as they tackle all the demands this movie placed on them, and all with a realistic touch.  I wished they had utilized them a little more, but they maximized their screen time.

 

The Story:  Despite how cheesy it looked, Geostorm’s story was better than I expected.  The characters have some backstory not lost to the storm, requiring them to grow much like the threat of total cataclysm. During the actual presentation itself, Geostorm is nicely divided into four sections each occurring simultaneously and playing important roles to the dilemma at hand.  Throw in a little mystery to figure out the culprits, and you have a more engaging story line than we typically see in these films.  All in all, they managed to execute this ridiculous concept quite well for me.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Storm moments:  Despite the promise of major cataclysm, Geostorm is surprisingly bare of storm sequences for much of the movie.  Many of these scenes are in the background, with only a few having that thrilling, on the seat edge. In addition, despite being thrilling, these moments get a little too ridiculous, the sheer unrealistic maneuvers violating the science without the technology to do so.  While I appreciate, the disasters fitting into the movie, they still needed a little refining.

 

The Predictability: Geostorm tries its best to throw you off the trail to the culprits, but the trailers and obvious foreshadowing will give you the answer within the first 30 minutes. In addition, the fate of other characters is not surprising at all, mostly because they figure things out minutes within the film.  Had it not been for the visuals and exciting pace, the story would have been drab and put me to sleep.  I’ll admit there was a nice little uncertain moment, reminiscent of a few other flicks you are certain to remember.  Past that though, it’s a predictable mess indeed.

 

Underutilized team:  Like many films, our protagonist becomes part of a special team in charge of fixing the problem.  Unfortunately, after the introductions, most of the team is essentially useless save two members who actually get more screen time.  While not as bad as the gang from Wonder Woman, this group just didn’t feel needed in the grand scheme of the picture and could have been utilized in a more conducive environment to add a little more suspense in the mix. Either that or cut the characters to help the budget.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite the cheesy idea, Geostorm was a welcome change to the natural disaster movie collection.  Stunning special effects, a Sci-Fi Esque story, and dynamic characters are certain to entertain fans of this genre and bring with it a nice twist.  However, if you are looking for a storm movie, you need to pick another tale as the disasters are a minimum or overly cheesy to be believable.  Throw in some weaker story elements and predictable plot, and you further weaken the storm they were trying to bring.  Overall not a bad film at all, and the special effects are more than worthy of a theater visit. Otherwise check this one out when it hits home release.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

An Adrenaline Pumping Sequel of Chaotic Violence

London

 

Better late than never I always say, and therefore I’m back in the trenches again to bring you another movie review. Today’s film is London Has Fallen, an unexpected sequel to ever popular action film Olympus Has Fallen. If you remember the first film, things like explosions, action, and that it was the Gerard Butler version of Die Hard should come to mind. And while adrenaline junkies (like myself) enjoyed the thrilling stunts and explosions, I certainly didn’t expect enough ground to make a sequel. Nevertheless, let’s get down to another review.

 

Like its predecessor, London Has Fallen is about one thing: action. Within the first thirty minutes the excitement breaks out, flashing guns, detrimental explosions, and extras flopping violently in the streets. From there, the violence only escalates, amplifying the action and intensity with each passing minute of the film. The fights are well choreographed and somewhat diverse to keep the gunplay “fresh”, and utilized different styles of warfare to bring some variety to an otherwise straightforward combat approach. In terms of the quality of these scenes, the production team did their jobs well again with very stable camera work and sound effects to bring you fully into the stunts.

 

With all these flashy sequences though, one might wonder if there is more to this blockbuster, popcorn flick. In terms of story, London has Fallen is not bad. It is another tale of revenge brought about by the overzealous use of weapons and warfare. As a result, the multiethnic bad guys create an elaborate trap to bring our heroes to London to execute them. The simplistic motive, although unoriginal, certainly worked with the movie and gave a realistic explanation for all the violence. Only problem was the execution. Where the first movie gave a little insight into the set up, London forgoes the planning stages and jumps right into the chaos. While certainly realistic, all of the targeted deaths happen in the blink of the eye with everything going conveniently well. It made the whole introduction to all the officials rather pointless and robbed the movie of some potential suspense. At least the emotional connections of Butler’s character help bring some edge to the movie…though some of these moments are a bit too convenient.

 

Speaking of Butler, let’s talk about the acting. Despite being the action thriller, London Has Fallen does a decent job with the acting. Butler again leads the cast with the same gruff, heroic demeanor we’ve come to know and love. His delivery of bodyguard jargon and witty one-liners (many sounding similar to Die Hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes) was very humorous.   Yet he had some deeper moments in this movie that smoothed the rough edges and give him a broader emotional spectrum. Eckhart reprises his role as well and his sullen, calm poise is perfect for the presidential role. Together the two make a wonderful brotherhood that is very entertaining to watch, which is good since they take 85% of the screen time. Our supporting cast deserves a shout out as well, each playing their part (no matter how short) to the fullest with only a few trudging into the cheesy side of things.

 

In terms of weaknesses of this movie, London Has Fallen has a few limitations that need to be addressed. First is that it is a very simplistic story, devoid of twists or surprises in favor of more action. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always hope for a shocking twist to vamp the story up instead of a predictable mess. Second is that some of the characters were rather pointless to begin with when you see the theme of the movie, even some of the bad guys who were built up died quite plainly. With regards to some of the stunts, well they crossed from impressive into incredibly cheesy, the overuse of CGI alongside bending reality too much instead of realizing its limits. A final note is that some of the violence was a bit graphic for my taste, or at least was done without much point. Seeing extras suffocate or be slowly stabbed to death does not bring much satisfaction to this reviewer, but those who like edge will be elated to see what London has in store for you.

 

Overall London Has Fallen is one of the better action movies of the year. It’s exciting, its flashy, and it has great special effects that keep you engaged in the movie. The acting is decent for the movie and brings a fun friendly relationship that brings you further into the film. But you can’t deny what it is and that is a simplistic, popcorn flick devoid of any real meaning or substance, outside of people are greedy and war sucks (shocker there right?) Yet the special effects itself, alongside Gerard Butler, are more than enough reason to recommend seeing it in theater. Despite all this good though, the limitations do drop this movie in the mediocre category overall.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0