New Age, New Strengths, New Weaknesses: Welcome To International Men In Black

Men in Black: International Poster

 

They don’t exist outside of Déjà vu!  They are protecting us I supposedly only one suit that they never take off.  And they have faced more interesting specimens of the galaxy than we can ever imagine. I’m talking about the Men IN Black and they won’t let you remember about all the stuff you may or may not have seen. Welcome to Robbie’s movie reviews and today we are going to be looking at yet another movie hitting the silver screen. Today is the latest iteration of a beloved 90s franchise that has seen it’s ups and downs.  Can the latest installment/reboot find the stride, or are we once again stuck with another rushed production that should have had more time or never existed?  Let’s take a look at:

 

Movie: Men In Black International (2019)

 

Director:

Gary Gray

Writers:

Matt HollowayArt Marcum  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Chris HemsworthTessa ThompsonKumail Nanjiani

 

LIKES:

  • Decently Paced
  • New Aliens and Designs
  • Nostalgia
  • Simplistic Story
  • Funny
  • Kumail Nanjiani’s character

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • More Aliens
  • Predictable
  • Plot Missing Some Wrap ups
  • Other Acting Is A Little Forced
  • Missing That Natural Humor
  • Underutilized characters
  • Not Campy Enough
  • The Political Messages… again

 

SUMMARY:

A Men In Black Movie is all about being an entertaining spectacle of comedy, story, and latching on to our heroes and finding some moving pieces.  This new installment may not have our favorite agents we started with (in physical form at least), but it holds a few treasured components that kept it entertaining for me.  For one it’s a movie with few slow parts, moving from one component to the next with little time for impasses to really drive character development, but maximize laughs and entertainment. The New aliens and designs are refreshing in the component that they are bringing back the creativeness that brings renewed energy into the series, especially in regards to some of the new criminal aliens who have edge and artistic designs mixed in.  With all the newness you might be fretting that the old feeling has been lost, and to be honest I found some qualities that still remain to be fun and remind you of the older days.  For one there is plenty of nostalgia lining this movie, maybe not in the full integration of other movies have done, but certainly a few nods to the adventures our first band had.  Simplistic story still stays strong as well, with little twists and turns to spin your head or make you think, but not so simplistic to be absolutely stupid or boring, for the most part any way.  The key thing that stays here though is the humor, finding the same formula of modern times by cramming jokes in as many styles as possible.  That variety is good, bringing some dynamic choices to the mix to try and cater to a number of audience members and hopefully leaving you in tears.  Yet the winner for me is Kumail’s character Pawny.  The Middle Eastern actor’s character left me in stitches bringing his usual brand of comedic delivery with well time interruptions that were perfect for me.  In addition the character remains pertinent to the story as well, only having a few times where his manners were forced on me.  An excellent character for this reviewer.

 

Yet for all the good they did for me, the modern reboot of the series has not achieved the goals that the first series did for me. For one thing, more aliens could have been introduced, or even better integrated into the mix.  All the introductions and new designs should have had a little more time to brew to perfection and perhaps be relevant to the inclusion outside of a joke or two. Villains, supporting characters, even the main heroes felt underutilized to me, simplistic shells of main characters that hold secrets, but like the organization remain hidden.  As such, I did not get quite attached to these two new agents like I did K and J, and that leads to a less engaging story for me overall. In regards to the story itself, well that too is sort of lacking.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s got the components famous in this series, but they were not as well put together because of the new approach.  It’s predictable for one thing and leaves little surprise in how things are going to pan out from obvious foreshadowing.  Story elements started being hinted at, but then the plot lines fell flat or remained sort of untied, perhaps in suggesting a future installment. The fact that the characters are not quite as engaging leaves flat pieces to play out, who become more focused on comedy than being a hero.  Most of all, the story is just missing that campiness overall that the 90s made famous and that took away some of the things that made the first trilogy special.  Without that factor, that natural humor was sort of lacking, forced upon me much like the ghostbusters from a couple of years ago.  They almost try too hard for me and at times that obvious digression from the story to make a joke id not impress me as much.  This is especially true with the political humor, once again trying to force emotional surges into the movie to deliver the real-life issues. Sometimes the writing was perfect and well-integrated, but often it fell to deaf ears because it was not needed, potentially left to the interviews and subconscious meetings than anything else.

 

   Overall, the film turned out to be fun and entertaining. The modern twist is far from perfect, but it shows the series can age well with the right guidance and motivation. It still needs balance and shying away from the forced jokes, alongside crafting characters that I actually care about instead of the comedic, political husks I was getting.  Men In Black International though has plenty of old and new blended in and the new little guy Pawny should certainly make up for a number of flaws given his character ironically has more layers than the leading cast.  Due to the special effects, this one lands in the see in theaters territory, so check it out, but in terms of the quality movie overall, you can probably check this one out at home to be honest.  So my scores for the movie are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

 

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Isn’t it Actually Clever!

Isn't It Romantic Poster

 

Rom Com’s, the genre that is all about establishing the hopes and dreams that love can be perfect, establishing the hope of a true happy ending. Yet, we all know that love is hard work, and that while a positive force, these movies can sometimes establish unrealistic dreams that can be distracting.  Last night, the movie of the holiday season hopes to put a little more realism into the love genre and bring with it some laughs to brighten up a potentially depressing season. Robbie K back with another review, this time on:

 

 

Movie:  Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Strauss-Schulson

Writers:

Erin Cardillo (screenplay by), Dana Fox (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rebel WilsonLiam HemsworthAdam Devine

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

– Short Run Time

– Fun Atmosphere

– Funny

– Clever Writing

– Good Message

 

Summary:  In a movie like this, length is not necessary, and I think that Isn’t it Romantic did a nice job of getting the holiday laughs out without taking away too much time from life.  It establishes a fun environment that is mindless humor, practically ripping apart the false themes of Valentine’s Day and romantic comedies to show you don’t have to be dating/in a relationship to have fun.  The fast-paced laughs, upbeat pace, and lack of care for telling a serious story, accomplishes the goal that the movies can do, which is to go out there and lose yourself into a fun movie, and I think it worked well.

For being a comedy though, you want laughs, and surprisingly this movie accomplished it by being able to make fun of itself and genre. While certainly ludicrous, Isn’t It Romantic has some clever design to the approach of making fun of love movies. Some of the things we either love or take for granted, such as the stereotypical montages and linear plot, they find a way to poke at as Rebel Wilson experiences them.  Off the side comments about how the locations change, the magical timing of a character appearing, even the time warp factor from those random scenes of transit are prey for the writing of this film.  In addition, Rebel Wilson’s usual style has been curbed to not be so raunchy and it works for me in allowing her comedic delivery/timing taking the load instead of just the random banter she is famous for.  That balance is what helped open up the fun factor for me and throw in the dance number(s) as well and you actually seal the deal.

Yet, the movie does manage to have a serious side, bring a few key messages alongside the comedic slew of one-liners.  Surprisingly, they are deeper than expected, managing to teach he audience some personality building traits, but keeping in tune with the fun atmosphere of the film.  Preachy at times?  Yes, but again it works in terms of not taking the movie seriously.

 

DISLIKES:

 

– Not original

– Corny at times

– The Hemsworth curse

– Trailer Syndrome, sort of

– Overdone at times

– Plot progressed a little too fast

 

Summary:  Despite how much fun I had at the film though, as a reviewer there are elements of the movie overall to comment on.  First off, the originality is not really there.  True, it was low expectations that it would be super original, but like the films it makes fun of, Isn’t it romantic does not have that dynamic originality that some scream for.  It’s predictable tale is very generic, with obvious plot components being set up minutes into the film, which could have used some deviation. And even funnier, I think that parts of the plot were pushed a little too hasty, which I get is the point of its movie, but still could have had a few extra minutes to offer some of the character building.

  In regards to the comedy, well as clever as it turned out to be there were still times where the usual, modern approach of trying too hard for a laugh came out.  For some of these moments it was the blatant corniness that was too much, less frequently than expected, but capitalizing on that cheese factor when it came out.  Like any Rebel Wilson comedy, there were also times where going too far with a joke or letting a running joke go too long happened again.  This was mainly in regards to the gay sidekick or the new rival (a plot point not really mapped out), which while still funny did at times go stale. Yet, the biggest aspect of the comedy was the Hemsworth curse as I call it, which involves taking the charming, eye candy for the population and turning him into a brainless idiot.  I get it, the genre can do this to people, recognizing again that’s the point of this film, but the Hemsworth character could have actually utilized the charm to have better comedic development than the blatant babbling that came from him. Most probably won’t have this dislike, but for me I would have liked the better character use of him like they did a few other of the counterparts.  And of course, the trailers have hit some key moments and bludgeoned them to death, so… don’t be surprised to remember a third of the movie depending on how much you watched it. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite all the predictability, cheesiness, and over the top acting though, Isn’t it Romantic may have been the movie I had the most fun with this week.  The movie makes fun of a series that is sometimes taken too seriously, and the fact that it has some respectable wit to it just proves that you can find some balance in the comedy genre.  That fun atmosphere was perfectly timed with the holiday, and really is a film that friends, couples, even singles can enjoy in the approach they took.  I’d say that while it lacks a lot of the theater quality effects (e.g. special effects, a booming soundtrack, and thunderous sound effect), it still accomplishes being able to get lost into the film and make for a fun time worthy of hitting the theater.  Therefore, I’d say to hit this one up in the week and have some fun like I did. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Fantasy/Romance: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Little More Development Would Have Made This 12 Stronger

12 strong.jpg

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Drama/History:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5