Prepare For More All-Out Action Packed War

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Poster

 

Savior, Stoner, Super assassin, these words are just some of the descriptions that come to mind for the star of our next film review.  Years ago, a little puppy unleashed the torrent of the Baba Yaga’s rage as millions of extras were taken out by coordinated destruction in some of the most adrenaline pumping films this decade. John Wick has become a cult phenomenon that has gotten guys like me revved up in all the high-octane fun that comes with the dark action flick.  A third installment has appeared this weekend, with our “hero” now being on the run from the very organization he has served for so long. Will the third installment be able to expand upon the universe, or is it just too much?  Robbie K here with another review on:

 

Movie: John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)

 


Director:

Chad Stahelski

Writers:

Derek Kolstad (screenplay by), Shay Hatten (screenplay by)

Stars:

Keanu ReevesHalle BerryIan McShane

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy

Dogs

Use of Second Characters

Expanding The Story

Fast Pace

Action Sequences/Choreography

 

DISLIKES:

Excessive Violence

Some Underwhelming Story arcs

The Excessive Destruction

Unrealistic moments taken too far at times

The Ending

 

Similar Movies:

John Wick 1 and 2

Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2

Ninja Assassin

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to John Wick you know what you are getting into and in terms of likes the movie just continues to expand upon the legacy of the Baba Yaga! The comedy is dark, much like the tone of the movie, managing to merge a variety of writing styles into the mix to somehow offset the edge this film has.  Even in the dogs there is comedy to a darker sense, but this brings up that the movie actually utilizes its character very well in this chapter.  Halle Berry, McShane, even the Concierge (Lance Reddick) are utilized well in this tale, with adequate screen time and action sequences that are all relevant. The results is an expansion of the story, utilizing the background information, these relationships, and some new characters to evolve the tale even more.  As such, it gives some slight relevance to the violence at hand. Yet, the biggest components to this film are the pace and the action sequences.  John Wick’s choreographed chaos only continues to expand, pushing past the gun play that was semi okay in chapter 2, and opens up some new styles to get your fists (and bloodlust) pumping. From nearly start to finish, there is not much down time from the carnage and if that’s a movie you want… you’ve got it.

Yet, the movie’s glorification of violence sometimes gets to levels that aren’t necessary outside of appeasing that gore craving some might have.  The excessive displays of death are a part of it, but this tactic is not my cup of tea without really needing it for story.  In addition, though there has been expansion of the tale, there were some leads laid out that didn’t quite add to anything other than what the ending sets up. It’s lackluster story telling that merely seems to extend the shelf life of this revenge tale as it sets up its players for the next acts.  Well either that or to provide more moments of destruction which again become a little too much at times.  Often use as a running joke, John Wick 3 sometimes goes to extensive rounds just to have our guys go through some form of breakable glass.  It’s mostly fine, but there are several extensive sequences of just unnecessary destruction to get a laugh and extend the unrealistic moments even further.  In regards, to the unrealistic moments, I understand how much fantasy there is in this series, but there are even limits in the universe that don’t seem to be followed consistently. Wick’s stamina and ability to bounce back from serious injuries is already incredible, but there are times where again the excessive punishment is unbelievable and the rules are redrawn for either a running joke or a god complex.

Let’s face it, John Wick 3 is all about continuing the trend of violence, action, and the dark edge that we have loved in the first two installments.  New fans and old fans should dive right into the adrenaline rush, happy with the guns and hand to hand combat sequences that inhabit this movie.  It’s true, it’s over the top and full of ridiculous moments that have made this series famous, but in this installment, they are going a little too far to push the envelope in regards to stunts, stamina, and death count.  While most won’t be affected, and perhaps love this component, the continued pushing of the edge is also starting to lose the balance that this once had, beginning to get to the levels that the Fast and Furious series are starting to take.  Still, I really enjoyed this film, the action it brought, and all the cinema worthy stunts and special effects make it worthy of a theater visit.

 

Overall my scores are:

 

Action/Crime Thriller: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

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Will You Take Your Holmies To This Screening?

Holmes & Watson Poster

 

Sherlock Holmes has many forms, some of which are immortalized in our minds and others we wish could get a face lift and some reinvigoration.  Nevertheless, the eccentric detective of Scotland yard gets another revisit this holiday season, this time with a much more comedic direction than most versions tend to focus on.  Can the legendary comedian team that gave us Step Brothers, step up to a new relationship? Robbie K is here to share his thoughts on the another review as I take a look at the film:

 

Movie:  Holmes and Watson (2018)

Director:

Etan Cohen

Writers:

Etan CohenArthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were created by the late) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Stars:

Will FerrellJohn C. ReillyRalph Fiennes

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Quick Run Time
  • Funny At Times
  • References To Other Versions
  • Secondary Character Was Funny
  • The Song

Summary:  As the reviews come in, you are seeing a lot of negative components, but I can say that despite this not being everyone’s cup of tea, the movie at least is short, running around the 1 hour and 20-minute mark, meaning you’ll get out of there fairly quickly.  In this short film, the movie manages to find some nuggets of well-timed lines that somehow held some wit behind the bantering.  Often for me it had to do with the references to other versions of the detective, with nods to the Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch creations that are super popular.  When it comes to these moments that is the component that I found the most entertaining.  Well that and the secondary character of Millie, whose simplistic bouts of nonverbal comedy had some of the better time laughs than either Ferrell or Reilly could drum up. Of note though, the little song number that Ferrell and Reilly get to perform had some zest to it, so I give them props for including that.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Paper Thin Story
  • Mystery Was Boring
  • Lazy Writing
  • Too Forced Of Humor
  • Missed Comedy Opportunities
  • Fixation on Banter
  • Diving Down Politically Heated Topics

Summary: Holmes and Watson’s first weakness comes from the paper-thin story they tried to sell with the comedy antics.  A very simplistic tale that tries to throw in shallow character development and a mystery, this version certainly did not focus its efforts on trying to have something to ground the comedy too.  The mystery itself is lackluster and overshadowed by the ridiculousness of the film and given the obvious answer as to whom is the culprit, makes for a plot that will have difficulties standing up to the law of good movies.

Of course, most fans of Ferrell may not really care or expect the story, because he is after all known for being the king of slapstick, banter, and inappropriate comedy.  While this movie follows that formula, it’s writing did not quite match the quality of other Ferrell flicks and not just because of the missing story. Holmes and Watson had trouble finding its stride, forgoing classic one-liners for mindless banter and arguing between the titular characters, or extended bouts of over the top slapstick that didn’t pack the punch the scenes sound effects had.  It was comedy that was too forced for me, the lines blunt displays of stating the political injustice we still complain about, which doesn’t have the intended prowess it wanted.  When those styles failed, they switched to the obsessive self-pleasing jokes that although had good chemistry between actors, again treaded down the gross pathway instead of the funny for me. And the worst part is, all of it is in forced accents, the characters pushing into overdramatic displays of emphasizing the words in very forced accents.  All of this boils down to work that either has grown too stale to work in the modern age, or was too forced and lacking the finesse earlier films held.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Holmes and Watson’s trailers have not sold you any lies, it’s a mess of predictable plot antics with overzealous comedic attempts that the two are famous for.  Yet the film does not have the same quality that the duos first film had all those years ago.  Is it because the comedy is stale, or is the focus on being too forced of comedy?  I don’t know the answers, but there is some serious need for plot development and better-balanced comedy to assist for any future installments.  As such, the movie missed its mark on a lot of things, needing to step back to the clever tipoffs, and timing than overstuffing the film with comedic banter. Thus, I can’t recommend this one for the theater, encouraging to hold out until Netflix picks it up.  Sorry guys!

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Crime: 5.5-6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0-5.0

BumbleBee Did Not Stumble For Me

Bumblebee Poster

 

Hollywood touches everything it can, finding topics that can potentially be turned into a new movie franchises until every inch of profit is squeezed out.  A toy series turned cartoon, that soon became a live action motion picture series that at one time blew our minds and soon blew our wallets.  After many hardships, the series was about to crash and burn, until the Bay era was handed over to a new team to try and bring it back to life.  Tonight, the full world release is upon us and given the trailers, can this film succeed where the others have failed?  That’s where my review comes in, so here we go as I review:

 

Movie: Bumblebee (2018)

 

Director:

Travis Knight

Writers:

Christina Hodson (screenplay by), Christina Hodson(story by)

Stars:

Hailee SteinfeldDylan O’BrienMegyn Price

 

 

LIKES:

 

Character Development: Bumblebee starts off on the right foot by bringing some character development the film sorely needed.  The titular characters get a gross dive into the psyche, finding new ways to expand the quiet hero’s role outside of new weapons to shoot. In addition, Steinfeld’s character is much more realistic than the mess we had in the other five installments.  Her history, her outlook on life, and social dynamics are covered extraordinarily well, making sure to connect the points and actually give some growth.  The relationship between the robot and girl is heartwarming and an appealing dynamic to invest your time into.

 

The Story:  The movie succeeds again where the others had trouble. While not the most in depth, this prequel, and potential reboot, does make a much more connected plot that wasn’t too cheesy or stuffed in comic craziness.  It bridges the Cybertron to Earth transition well, while setting up the plot for potential sequels, while also standing on its own with the previously mentioned character development.  Dropping the convoluted tangled subplots opened the movie to more fun in both comedy and action.  Speaking of which.

 

Comedy: Ever since number one Transformers has had a special spot for overdone comedy antics and ridiculous levels of meme worthy gags.  Noticing the declining trend in quality of the jokes, Bumblebee’s writers did a fantastic job of integrating some fresh laughs into the mix without going too far into the stale territory.  The 80s nostalgic references and pop culture power with Bee is sensational and by avoiding the tacky toilet humor, it doesn’t lose its stride. Even more impressive is how the comedy flows into the story, working with it and not trying to overtake it as has been seen in the past.  A few tangential scenes did occur mind you, but limited their time limit to get back on track in the short time limit.

 

Pacing:  The last two films proved that the writing struggled to fill the nearly 3 hour run times with engaging material, leading to a sluggish rambling with little value.  Bumblebee shines here as well, not only by shortening the run time by nearly an hour, but also with a pace that kept moving and in time with the other antics. As such, don’t expect too much boredom in this installment.

 

The Action:  Hands down the aspect I was watching for the most, Bumblebee again manages to achieve the goal of improving upon the action that it sold for so long.  The yellow bug had much more epic and fluid moves, with improve choreography and some dynamic sequences that were captured beautifully and not lost too sketchy camera work.  Throw in the fact that the special effects weren’t too overdone, nor the focus of the film, and it led to cleaner action moments that hooked me into the get go.  By not forcing the action too much, I think it made the moments shine a little brighter, and kept the theater quality up.

 

The Soundtrack:  When it comes to the 80s, you know the music was legendary in its synthesizers and emotional rantings.  Well, Bumblebee seems to have a good ear for some legendary tracks and while comically integrated well, the selection was just wonderful to listen too throughout the film.  Be ready to tap your toes to the beats my friend, or at least get set for lip syncing.

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Action:  A small dislike, but an action junkie like me wanted more of the epic display of battling between robotic factions. Cybertron was a great introduction, but why could we not get more of it throughout the film.  Perhaps another prequel about the war for Cybertron will be in the future, but a little more of the fighting on Earth could have helped relieve this want.

 

Attention To Detail: Again, a small dislike, but Bumblebee’s writers may have missed some of the story elements from the previous film. The way this is set up suggests that this film will be reboot of the series, a good thing in terms of story. Yet if it is going to continue on and serve as the first film in the Michael Bay Series, then it loses points for trying to ignore the details they once cherished.

 

John Cena:  His character isn’t bad, and his acting fits the character, but I was disappointed with the way to took the character given the previous history of human agents.  Cena’s character goes through the usual ringers, but misses the target in terms of being a little too silly, not getting the full integrative procedures, and not having the same bite that others have had.  As such, I kind of felt it was a wasted character for me, and could have been an added character bonus and story plot for whatever the plans for this series are.  Not utilizing this actor to the mix… was a wasted opportunity.

 

The Decepticons:  The antagonist robots have got some more flare and sass than a few of the other portrayals, but something that still blows my mind is that the studio struggles to maximize on some of the heavy hitters the show once had .  Don’t get me wrong, the two in this film were still deadly rivals for Bee to fight, but they just lacked depth, and investment again when once more they had the potential to start out on the right foot.  Perhaps if there had been more Cybertron, or they had chosen a historical legend to be the main head this would have helped this area, but for now the record of still choosing some nameless borgs rings true ad they need to get a better handle for the next movie.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Okay, the cinematic Transformers is still not perfect, but this movie is definitely a fun installment that greatly improved on the weaknesses the original 5 were holding.  With greater character development, a wonderful relationship investment, comedy that worked with the story, and action that was miles better given they used better camera work and coordination, this series could finally get the upgrade it needed.  However, the film still needs to find some investment into the other characters for me, and choose the route it wants to take from here as either reboot (my preferred option) or continuation, as this will help make up for a few details and choices that didn’t quite work for me.  One thing for certain though is this:  the balance of story, character development, and action was miles above the Bay quintology, and proves that special effects is not the answer to Transformers.  Definitely worth a trip to theater for the special effects though.  My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5

No Blocks About It

Blockers

 

Another weekend, another movie and tonight Robbie’s Reviews is hitting the comedic flick of the week with a few of his family members and friends.  In a made for television name, tonight’s film promises the possibility of some scenes that are going to be funny, but probably cringe worthy at the inappropriate scenarios at hand.  As usual though, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the subject matter.  So enough chatter, time to review:

 

Title:  Blockers

Director: Kay Cannon

Writers:

Brian Kehoe,  Jim Kehoe

Stars:

Leslie Mann,  John Cena,  Ramona Young

 

LIKES:

 

-Pace:  Many comedy movies have issues with pacing, often falling to the extremes and spoiling the atmosphere of the movie.  Blockers manages to keep much of the movie nicely balanced, spending enough time to deliver laughs, but escape drawing it out for too long to grow stale. The story continues to move, keeping the movie fun and manages to avoid dragging.

 

-Story/Layout:  Cannon’s direction finally returns to the quality I have longed for since Pitch Perfect.  Breaking from the series, this directors was able to lay a nice story down as the foundation, anchoring the comedy to a relevant point and thereby maximizing the laughs.  Too balance the chaos though, the movie actually drops some character development into the mix, helping evolve the characters from simplistic idiots with extreme flaws and have you like them in the end.  Then to throw some morals into the mix, some of which have some class and heart to them, to help pull you into this…adventure in parenting.

 

-Dynamic Comedy: A comedy has to have pizazz, remain engaging, and often take a few turns to really remain entertaining to me.  Blockers, despite all the wrong moments, managed to accomplish this for the audience and me chuckling/laughing through much of the movie.  This movie pulls no punches, spreading the humor amongst the genres of sexual promiscuity, slapstick humor, comedic banter, college antics, the awkwardness of sex, and surprisingly a lot of popular culture references.  With the writing keeping all these antics adequately mixed and pertinent to the story, they delivered a very fun film to deliver on the promise of laughs, laughs, laughs.

 

-John Cena: For this reviewer, the real champion of this film was the wrestling legend himself. Cena accomplished so much in this film in the way of comedy, managing to take the over-the-top writing of a naïve, overprotective parent and make it more humorous than annoying.  His delivery has that tone that adds that necessary factor to maximize laughs, and seeing his facial expressions as he continues to fall into the strangest traditions only helps to leave you chuckling so hard you might drown out the speakers.

Dislikes:

 

-Lazy Writing:  While much of the writing is well done, filled with wit and pizazz, the one element that fails is the language aspect.  While cursing may not be as annoying to other fans, having some of the words aimlessly thrown around just isn’t my cup of tea.  It’s lazy to throw in cursing as much of the sentence fillers and Blockers fails this challenge at times.

 

-Banter Comedy/Annoying Moments:  Banter comedy is a mixed bag of tricks for me, but seldom has a movie found banter to make me laugh.  Blockers had a few moments, but there are times where the banter is drawn out too long to remain entertaining.  Even more so, some of the banter lacked that comedic magic the rest of the film had, resorting to mundane arguing that dragged on a little to long for me, adding unnecessary length.

 

-Inappropriate Moments:  Rated R movies continue to push the envelope for what can be on screen, and Blockers shows plenty of private areas in situations I never want to see again. Still, this film is all about strapping on a pair and getting ready to see things that twenty years ago would never land in a theater showing, some of which make Fifty Shades scenes look like child’s play.  While not the worst I’ve seen, there were plenty of uncomfortable moments that weren’t so humorous as disgusting to me.

 

-Some Story Flops:  Past the comedic portion though, the only other major dislike I had was some of the story choices they made.  There are a lot of moving elements in this movie, and unfortunately the writing/directing dropped some major plot points.  Ike Barinholtz’s character’s story elements take the biggest hits of the bunch, elements that merely tease at a deeper/richer tale that could be relevant to many.  In addition, there are some other components that are somewhat forced into the mix, most of these being gross stereotypes of American lifestyle that are semi-entertaining, but nothing more than a visual representation of how superficial we can be.  There were even a few characters not needed for this film, so that more annoying moments could sneak in (I’m looking at you wife of Ike).

 

 

The VERDICT:

Blockers is by far one of the better comedies to move back into theaters for the longest time.  While not the wittiest tale to grace the theaters, it does accomplish a lot of over the top moments to bring laugh after laughs, thanks again John Cena. Even better, is the story to keep this dynamic comedy moving, with a pace that is incredibly structured to maximize everything they wished to bring this.  Yet, the movie still suffers from lazy writing at times, going down lackluster dialogue, overdone banter, predictable plot lines, and some incidents that cross way over the line.  Still, the movie accomplishes the goals of superficial laughs and a cute, weird tale earning it some bonus points.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Would say no, but it really works for a group movie so can be good to visit in this case, otherwise, stay home for this film.

 

My scores are:

Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

War Ready For Action. Needs Repairs For A Story

Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Giant Robots or Giant Monsters, which of the two titans is the better combatant for the silver screen?  That question has continued to test audience members discussion boards as behemoths like King Kong and Godzilla try to usurp the title from Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Tonight’s movie though, doesn’t make you choose, because it combines the two in an epic throw down that will hopefully please both sides of the spectrum.  Pacific Rim Uprising rears back to make some noise this weekend, and yours truly is here to report his findings on the latest silver screen smash to guide your viewing needs.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

Special Effects:  Most will be tired of the CGI haven these movies have become, but yours truly appreciates the work that went into unleashing the havoc.  The design of the new robots gets a round of applause, with sleek angular designs, some new tricks, and a fluid movement that fit well with the Japanese monster movie feel.  Monster wise, the Kaijou aren’t as prominent as the first film, but once breached, the monsters have got their own unique design that is odd, but again fitting in theme, with movements that again work with the pace of the movie.  And of course, all the lights, punches, and collapsing buildings are beautifully brought to life in all their dazzling, speaker rustling greatness. 

 

The Story:  While certainly not the best to grace the screen, the movie’s predictable plot has a few twists and spins on the mix to keep things interesting.  In a movie where smashing and fights are the key, you don’t always get the deepest tale, but it works in explaining what happened in the ten years and the whole grand design of the plot.  Unlike its predecessor, the movie managed to cut off a lot of fat to present this in a neat, less than 2-hour, package.  As such, you have all the elements to put a reason behind the fighting and keep as many characters as involved.

 

The Acting:  Believe it or not, the acting is a step up from other films in this genre.  The main stars of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, and Cailee Spaeny all work in that dysfunctional family united by challenging times way.  Still, they all manage to bring some power to otherwise simple characters that are semi-engaging to watch.  Of all of them… I think Boyega gets my vote for having the best acting of all, being pushed across all realms to make a balanced character.  As for Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, they are the comedic relief and do it well, but also manage to have some involvement in the story (nice directing) and not trying to sell themselves anyway. 

 

The Action:  I’ve gone through all the stuff you might care about, but let’s face it, this series is more known for its action and that’s what you want.  Well, for this reviewer it a step up compared to the first installment.  Timing the movie, about 70% of the film involved some type of action, a majority involving the metallic behemoths fighting one giant obstruction after another.  The battles have more variety than part 1, managing to help one differentiate one battle from another.  What makes me even happier to report, is that the team listened to reviews and actually utilized their other robots more, instead of dropping them out in five minutes flat.  While still not the greatest utilization of secondary robots, it was miles better for me in the long run, making the last 30 minutes of the movie, an action-packed climax to close the story out.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Comedy at Times:  The movie is ridiculous, I get it, but the comedy sometimes is a little too ridiculous and distracting from the overall tone of the movie.  A random aside here and there works, but when over utilized as it is in this film, well…then it gets rusty and breaks down.  In addition, there are some asides that felt awkward at the moment they chose to unleash it, jumping in amidst the action scenes when they would have fit in other realms.  These culminations weren’t my favorite use of comedic relief, as I think it crossed into corniness a few times.

 

Shallow Character Development:  Monster movies are seldom about our main characters growing a lot, but we’ve had previous installments capable of achieving this balance.  Pacific Rim Uprising is not one of these movies.  While Boyega’s Jake has a little more complexity in terms of everyone knowing him, the rest of the cast have less depth to them past a few traumatic backstories to garnish them up.  This is highly evidenced in the other pilots outside the main crew who after getting named are reduced to the shadows given the grand complexity of the film.  Uprising proves too busy to invest in its characters, but most may not care as long as they get a good smashing.  Still better than the last few transformers though. 

 

Obsidian Fury:  As cool as the name and design, I had hoped the new bot would have more point to it, but this is again where the movie fails on at least a story level.  The antagonizing robot brings a pretty epic fist fight, but plot wise it felt out of place, a tangent leading down a path that was as cold as the artic frontier it somewhat takes place in.  Yes, there are some purposes it serves, but as the movie’s plot progresses, its relevance became less and less for me, until it was just a convenient distraction.

 

Trailer Syndrome:  One thing this day of advertising is famous for, is revealing too much in shorter movies like this.  Pacific Rim Uprising’s biggest spoiler is that much of that awesome last battle has already been shown in the trailers.  Catch all three of the trailers and you pretty much have pieced 75% of that sequence, with the other 25% feeling very nostalgic/overdramatic.  I had hoped for some more dynamic moments to bypass that syndrome, or less advertising, but I didn’t get my wish again.  So, avoid the trailers and you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a monster/robot movie.  It gives you the CGI thrills, spills, and chills in terms of design and the sound editing beautifully complements it.  While the story is not the deepest, it works for the most part, allowing plenty of time to cram in the action you oh so wanted to see.  Yet, the movie still has to work on its balance learning to not cram so much into the film and maximize on elements that the movie is going to be known for.  In addition, stop revealing everything in the trailers and it means less elaborate scenes you have to shoot to make up for it.  So, looking for a monster vs. robot’s movie?  Look no further, because this film is a success in terms of the action and big battles that are theater worthy.  As a film as a whole though, the movie still has a lot of repairs to make, before it becomes war ready.  Oh well, we at least have a soundtrack to get you revved up. 

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

 

Third Time is the Semi-Charm: Pitching A Final Shot

Pitch Perfect 3.jpg

 

It started with a song that roped a group together, and it has blown up into one of the most popular comedies to serenade the stage.  The movie is Pitch Perfect and the trilogy comes to a close tonight as the Bellas take center screen once more to sing their “potential” swan song.  After copious media advertisements, does the third installment have the vocal chords to shatter our ear drums in delight?  Or does it fall to bad singing in the shower.  Robbie K here to once again give you his thoughts on a movie.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

Back to its comedic roots: Pitch Perfect has always been globally popular thanks to the comedic antics of the cast at hand (primarily Rebel Wilson). Pitch Perfect 3 returns to those roots and brings back clever writing, inappropriate remarks that are well-timed, and banter that somehow works despite how silly it is.  Much of the overacting from the second film is gone, and it proves that balance and timing go a lot farther than comedic meme stuffing.

 

The Character Development Story: The third installment has a lot going on to wrap up the show, but the story most endearing and true to the series is Beca’s development.  Like the first film, the plot is all about testing Beca again in the qualms of life, choosing which aspects of her life she is to pursue in her road to success and happiness.  While comedic, and a little rushed at times, her growth as a character is touching, blending the painful growing up moments with the emotional zing that hits you in the heart.  This component is by far the most solid ground of the film.

 

The Music: It wouldn’t be a Pitch Perfect without music and this movie comes back in spades with the remixes of a number of songs.  The acapella numbers certainly are the most impressive and energetic of the bunch, though they still lack in regards to choreography, shimmer, and comedy that we have seen in the past.  Additional songs with actual instruments also have a nice twist to the franchise, especially the new riff off scene that is sure to stick in your minds.  For me though, there needed to be more and I missed the competition component of the film, despite how much they made fun of it.

 

The Conclusion: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a solid conclusion, and Pitch Perfect 3 does not disappoint with the final sequence.  It captures the spirit of the girls, brings their relationship to life, and solidly wraps up this journey that has been progressing over seven years.  Does this mean the series has to be rebooted?  No, there are plenty of docks to launch from should, and probably most likely will, Hollywood want to pick it back up.  Nevertheless, count this reviewer happy with the ending of this film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Hosts:  I’ve always loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins banter in the films, as the writing is unique, the delivery exaggerated but fun, and the randomness just perfectly timed.  This film though really weakened their characters for me, turning them into annoying, unnecessary extras who seemed forced into the story.  I admit, I chuckled a few times, but the writing was much weaker for me with these characters and it might have been better left out to make room for other plots/characters.

 

The Dropped Characters: The hosts were just the start, as Pitch Perfect’s cast loses a couple of members at the start that I hadn’t expected to see… well dropped.  While I appreciate dropping the crappy romance tales of the second movie, and even seeing the girls grow up, some of the decisions in this movie I didn’t agree with.  Letting these characters fade into the background, started to become plot ploys, that were forced, simplified, detours to unite the gang or quickly fill in gaps.  I guess it’s better than having them just stand in the background, but it’s not much of an improvement to see fan favorites once again become background characters. 

 

The Weak Rivals: I mentioned this earlier, but Pitch Perfect 3 once again makes washed-out rival bands whose potential is sucked dry after one scene. Why? I can’t answer that question, but the three bands that we are introduced have an awesome riff-off and small partial numbers that are the only quality participation on their part.  The promise of combined tracks, duets, and heated rivalry was broken, again letting these characters dropped into annoying story ploys that are more bark than bite.  It does get points for creativity, but not many given what they were substituted for.

 

The Other Parts Of The Story: I love the character development in this arc, but the other plots…not so much.  Pitch Perfect 3 has a boat load of subplots trying to compete for attention.  Sadly, many of these are again rushed messes, trying to give the movie a little bit of everything to please the audiences.  Some cute romances, some “surprise” life events, and some backstories are the more positive of these, but the Fat Amy tale was out of place for me.  I liked learning about her history, but the crime element of it didn’t seem to fit into a music movie, though it certainly agrees with the comedy…primarily pitch perfect 2’s comedy.  These parts weren’t the worst thing mind you, it just felt like too much in one film for me that took up more time.  Time that could have been spent on more musical spunk.

 

The Verdict:

Overall, Pitch Perfect Three is still the fun, girl power film the dedicated fans will enjoy.  The humor has been toned back to Pitch Perfect One level, the numbers are still just as toe-tapping, and there are plots that work so well to wrap everything up in a honorable manner.  Yet, the movie still has trouble with its plot balance, and utilizing its characters to the fullest still eluded them in this film.  I like this one better than 2, but the original still rings the bell as the champion of this series.  Worth a trip to the theaters?  Yeah, I think it is, but there are other options that are probably better.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Music:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Web-Slinging Sensation: Comedy Returns To Spiderman

Spiderman

 

He can do whatever a spider can!  He is super brainy and has the ability to fight crime against a number of villains with interesting powers.  And he has had two reboots in the last two decades.  Yes, I’m talking about Spiderman, the young high school student who wears the coolest pajamas ever and has some pretty wicked powers.  This weekend, Disney studios gets their hands on the series, in hopes of breathing life back into the series and expanding their already vast repertoire of films.  Can Disney repeat its magic?  Robbie K here to give you the updates, and as always, I appreciate your reading and fun.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Not another origin story:  With all the reboots, cartoon series, and comics (if you still read), we know how the web slinger obtained his powers via radioactive arachnid science projects.  As such, the storyboard writers decided to scrap doing another reboot of this and dived right into the fun at hand.  Thank the lord!  Spiderman homecoming skips the boring, lacking power component, so that you get the most bang for your buck in regards to super power heroics and Spiderman clichés.  The presentation of this film is rather creative, using a selfie video to give a unique perspective on everything this Spiderman has gone through so far.

 

Fun and Funny:  Spiderman Homecoming takes a different approach from most of the other superhero films in that it feels like a high school student life only with…powers.  The result is a film that is fun, simplistic, and as me and my friend agree comedic.  This tale is all about making you laugh with a fantastic dialog, great delivery, and a cast that only amplifies it.  It’s not easy making a high school film that isn’t an afterschool special, drama filled, soap opera and still make it entertaining to watch.  But Disney was able to do it again.  While the production team has a lot to do with this, most audience members are going to give props to the acting.  Tom Holland again rocks the role, taking his cameo from Civil War and running… I mean slinging with it.  He is the first actor in this modern age to capture both the nerdy peter parker and the smart mouthed Spiderman, giving you the character you wanted made for some time.  Now throw in Michael Keaton portraying a villain who didn’t make you cringe, yawn, or sympathize for the performance they were asked to play.  The dynamic between them works and to take a lamer villain like the Vulture and make him respectable gets thumbs up from me.  And they utilized their entire cast very well, keeping their big-name contenders involved without robbing the main actor his time to shine.

 

Ned:  But my friend and I agreed that the best part of the film was Peter’s sidekick Ned played by Jacob Batalon. This character had me in enough stiches to require Spiderman to web it up.  Batalon delivers his lines perfectly, and makes the already comedic gold shine where others would fail.  He feels like a devoted fan boy and it works to keep things entertaining.  The cast did a great job sharing Peter’s secret with him and having him as the devoted friend wanting to do whatever he can to live as a super sidekick.  This character’s work is dynamic, it’s fun, and shows not all cleverness has been lost to cheap slapstick ploys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Special effects are so so:  I don’t know if it’s the costume, the approach, or what, but the special effects didn’t impress me as much as they usually do. Spiderman’s movements looked fake at times, and the weapons (outside of Vulture’s costume) were a bit hokie looking.  Not the biggest dislike, but worth noting.

 

Migraine inducing flashes:  Not really a dislike, but a forewarning is a few scenes involving some flashes, explosions, or morphing that may give one a giant headache or induce a migraine.  Three people in my showing, complained of auras from the film, so those with these type of migraines, or even worse seizures, may want to have caution and be prepared.

 

Editing/Lack of Action:  Biggest dislike for me is more so the lack of action.  No surprise, Robbie wants his superheroes to have at least one engaging fight, but that wasn’t the case for me in this film.  While Homecoming was funny and entertaining, it still lacked the bite that superhero films have had.  The fights were short lived, didn’t involve too many spectacular moves, and the villains didn’t have any impressive moves.  We know Spidey’s universe have some of the most unique powers of the bunch, so why in the world didn’t they show that off more.  Of note, the battles do keep in theme with the movie, and are emotional in regards to character development, that is a plus.  Yet a 134-minute run time needed a few more suspenseful moments to get the full effect.  Either that or cut out the extra laugh, unnecessary moments to shorten the run time.  Sorry guys, but editing is still in need of work.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Spiderman Homecoming is certainly one of the better installments of the modern Spiderman age.  It certainly is one of the more enjoyable comedies I’ve seen in a while, and takes some of the darker edge that has been building over the last few installments.  A great use of cast, good writing, and many other fun gimmicks works on so many levels and will entertain many.  Yet it isn’t the most exciting film of this universe, nor did it need to be over 2 hours long. Still, it’s a great addition to the library and one I look forward to seeing continued and integrated into the rest of the films.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Oh yeah (as if I can stop you), it is worth it.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.5