The Road To El Soldado: Paved With Details, Character Development, and Edge

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster

 

Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise.  After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico.  Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path.  Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:

 

Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)

 

Director:

Stefano Sollima

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Stars:

Benicio Del Toro,  Josh Brolin,  Isabela Moner

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Darkness:  A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal.  The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of “heroes”.  In terms of character development, the movie’s edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.

 

The Story:  Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades.  Del Toro’s character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together.  Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in. 

 

The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers.  It’s just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides.  Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love. 

 

The Acting:  By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully.  Brolin doesn’t veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken.  No surprise, it’s Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round.  Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.

 

The Justice:  There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen… actually happen and these moments plain out rock.  I can’t say much more than that so let’s move on to the dislikes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  The movie isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts.  It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots.  Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.

 

Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie’s talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is.  You’ll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players’ parts in this film.

 

Some stretches:  The movie’s complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal.  Sometimes it’s turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it’s the rapid change of character, but Soldado’s road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes.  Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.

 

Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn’t the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving.  Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.

 

More Action:  The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted.  Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional.  Why this was the case?  I don’t know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue.  So, let’s get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre.  It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant.  Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established.  Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components.  It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained.  Good for kids?  Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work.  Worth a trip to the theater?  If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

 

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Dead On Sequel

Deadpool 2

 

Deadpool movies are so hard to review.  It’s not because their super complex, thought provoking, or even artistic symbolism, but it’s more due to the fact of balancing ridiculous antics with serious hero quality.  With the first movie being a breath of fresh air to the massively stuffed superhero movie genre, the sequel had a lot to live up to for pleasing the fanbase once more.  After one of the most amazing advertisement campaigns to date, did this movie break the fourth wall of entertainment once again?  Robbie K here to do his best to help you with your movie viewing pleasures. Let’s go!

 

Movie: Deadpool 2

 

Director:

David Leitch

Writers:

Rhett Reese,  Paul Wernick  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Josh Brolin,  Ryan Reynolds,  Morena Baccarin

 

 

 

LIKES:

Acting:  Given all of Ryan Reynolds ups and downs, the young actor shines so well in the reboot version of Deadpool.  His sass from previous comedy stunts (like Two Guys and A Girl) mixed with his physique/delivery of superhero, leads to a well-developed lead who carries the movie heavily on his costume equipped shoulders.  Brolin comes in again as the villain, bringing his grit to a less CGI rendered height that works well to offset the hyper, ADHD like energy of Deadpool and with it comes great comedic banter.  Much of the supporting cast nails their roles well too, capable of dropping lines and rocking CGI stunts.

 

Domino: Of all of these though, Domino was my favorite character.  In the age of rising female heroes, Domino is a well-developed character who brings so much to the weird table this film sets.  Zazie Beetzreally shines in this movie as a female partner in crime to counter the crazy of Deadpool.  A great character who has a quirky power, this “lucky” girl brings bite to fight Deadpool’s humor, decent skills with a weapon, and surprisingly some enlightened looks at life that bring some zing to the movie. This character was a fantastic addition to the movie that should help expand the audience.

 

Story: A Deadpool comic is often not the most developed in the story department, and given the direction of the cinema… one never knows how a sequel story will end up. Happily, I can report that this sequel did a nice job in the story department, managing to bring a decent plot that helps our characters evolve yet sticking close to the humor vibe of the movie.  It’s nice to see a ridiculous character grow, but still stick to the core qualities and Deadpool 2 did a much better job than I could imagine.

 

Special Effects:  Deadpool’s ridiculous stunts means needing to find some way to make the impossible, possible on the screen. Hat’s off, or in this case masks off, to the department who made all the bouts, mutants, and futuristic technology come roaring to full force to immerse you into the action. Speaking of which,

 

Action: The action of Deadpool 2 is a mixed bag for me, but there are plenty of components that worked well with me.  At the front line, are a number of bouts that have that chaotic, adrenaline fueled themes to it, mixed with snarky comments and unrelenting jokes that keep things fun, exciting, and a great opener. Seeing the moves, they choreographed/crafted, showed promise for some epic finales to come, always a good idea to cast the net and get them caught up early right. More on that later.

 

ComedyIn truth, the strongest weapon in Deadpool’s arsenal is the comedy that this film is drenched in, and by drenched I mean caught in a deluge.  This sequel picks up where the last left off and with it comes a cornucopia of styles all hectically crashing together in a giant abstract masterpiece. Nothing is safe from Deadpool’s adulteration, as the red garmented maniac brings vulgarity, ridiculous finishes, pokes at stories, comics, movies (including the franchise itself), and of course slapstick that transitions to so much more.  I kept laughing my head off in this movie and loved the writing, cleverness, and of course mid-credit scene that victoriously finishes the movie off and delivers the answer to the wishes and prayers of the fan base.  So, so good.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Over the top moments: Deadpool I know is all about breaking the 4thwall on just about everything he can.  And certainly, in this installment, the writers did their best to break that mold as often and intense as possible.  Given the laxer ratings, Deadpool 2 shows no qualms with crossing the line. Primarily the cursing, Deadpool 2 doesn’t know when to quit in terms of vulgar cursing and certainly goes down inappropriate avenues I didn’t particularly enjoy.  A minor one at best, be warned that anything is possible with a mad mercenary.

 

Comedic Stints Go on and on: Like this review, Deadpool’s comedic banter sometimes treks on for too long.  Those liking to see two smart alecks duke it out in a battle of insults, fake outs, and sarcasm for minutes on end will be delighted with the writing of this movie.  I admit I did like it at first, but near the end this ploy had soon started to wrinkle like Wade’s face.

 

Action: While I certainly liked the action for much of the movie, I can’t help but admit I was a little disappointed as well.  Sure, the humor is awesome, the inappropriate battle moves fit well, and it felt like a Deadpool sequence come to life with little to no punches pulled.  Yet, I’m still spoiled on some of Marvel’s glorious cinema wars and had hoped we’d get some match ups to give them a run for its money.  The epic climactic fight didn’t quite have the on the edge, clap in your seat, scream in excitement epic fights that the trailers had hinted at. Those moments were fly-overs in an extended montage.

 

Predictable:  My buddy is right in saying that the movie certainly goes a different route than presented in the trailers.  However,… the movie (perhaps as a stunt itself), dropped too many hints to lead you down the path to the answers that awaited.  I was able to figure out all the twists with ease, and not have my mind blown as I thought it would.  Another small dislike, but hey got to be honest at times.

 

Character use:  The trailers promoted the heck out of X-Force, making sure that we got our eye fill on just about every angle of Deadpool’s own team to rival the goody two shoes X-men.  And while the characters got their time to shine in comedy moves, their overall contribution to the film was cheated out in my opinion.  Maybe that’s what the comics have done, or perhaps it was a brilliant comedic ploy.  However, don’t promote characters so heavily if you are going to dilute them so much. Even his fellow mutants from Xavier’s got a bit of underplay, another example of too many pieces leading to sacrifices being required to not make the film too long.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Truth is… I loved Deadpool 2 and while I had some issues, (which are pickiness of course), the movie accomplishes the goals of being a comedic spoof of superhumans that brings that bite to eat we hungered for.  It’s fast paced, it’s witty, and it still keeps the story going on a level I didn’t expect and this provides the breath of fresh air again that the first one did. Still, it’s not a perfect movie for me and I still hope to get some more action and character usage in the next installment should Disney not limit Fox’s creativity on it.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Absolutely, though be warned that the movie is not designed for younger audience members, those with weak constitutions to blood, violence, and vulgarity, or those not ready to step over the abyss into craziness.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

 

InFincible? Or Beyond Hype

Infinity Wars

 

The event is finally here, and boy does it have big expectations to live up to as the culmination of ten years of movies comes rushing in.  With perhaps one of the biggest expectations to meet, can Avengers: Infinity War meet everything we die-hard fans love, or does the over expectation syndrome come into play.  Robbie K with a spoiler free review coming at you to shed some light on the subject.

 

Movie:

Marvel: Avengers Infinity War

Directors:

Anthony Russo,  Joe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus (screenplay by),  Stephen McFeely

Stars:

Robert Downey Jr.,  Chris Hemsworth,  Mark Ruffalo

 

 

LIKES:

 

Character Development: It’s always nice to see character evolve and while the 18 installments before this movie have laid strong foundations, Infinity continues that trend.  Not everyone gets the full red-carpet treatment (with all the characters at hand), but those that do have some deeper trenches we did not expect. You’ll certainly feel things resonate if you’ve been following the story so far and a fantastic means to tie you into the story.

 

Story Twists:  We all have theories about this movie, most centered on who would survive the war for the Infinity Stones.  Despite everything foreshadowed in the trailers, you have no idea what is coming.  Infinity Wars is a universe filled with twists, throwing in suspenseful moments with ease and doing everything to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The trailers were certainly edited to leave out key details, and that mystery was very well appreciated as the revelations began to drop and the story began to click, up until the very end.  Be ready for some answers to lingering questions you may not have realized you have, and some surprises that will have you cheering in delight and excitement.

 

Acting:  A small quality to comment on, and way too many actors to hit up in detail, the acting still lives up to the potential we had set up. All the contenders easily reprise their roles, bringing delight, fun, heroism and heart wrenching moments to life with no hesitation. Mixing the team together, really did feel like an awkward, weird family trying to save the galaxy one minute at a time.  Despite all the characters crammed into this mega hit, the chemistry works fantastically.

 

Comedy:  Marvel’s writing continues to lean towards the comedic stick, trying to garnish the comic plots in a more expansive way to net more audience members in the box office.  Infinity War has plenty of moments mashed into the space epic adventure, a mixture of slapstick, insults, well-timed cursing, and comical references that keep the giggles, guffaws, and laughter coming.  Don’t worry of the darker atmosphere overshadowing the laughs, there will be plenty to try and keep things as bright as possible.

 

Action, somewhat:  The special effects are hands down impressive, especially seeing the stones powers better utilized than just exploding like previous films. All the sound editing and CGI are worthy of the theater spectacle, perhaps the biggest reason to come see in the theater.  Infinity War has some decent brawls that deliver the fist pumping, adrenaline rush you wanted to see as new tricks are unleashed and styles mix together. Especially near the end, there is one particular fight that feels much like an epic video game battle with all the bells and whistles ringing into one.  A little eccentric at times, but hey it is a comic book movie.

 

 

DISLIKES:

Lulls in Action: While there is good storytelling in this movie, an Avengers movie is known more for the fast pace and battles. There are some major lulls in the action, as the three story trails attempt to connect all the pieces in the quest for uncovering the stones.  These gaps are by far entertaining, but at times I felt another battle needed to be integrated, or others extended to keep the pace going. I liked the emotional warfare in this movie, but come on, a little more resistance.

 

The Black Order:  This is only a semi-dislike, but Thanos elite guards were not as “elite” as I had expected.  Gross and creepy looking, definitely. Deadly and threatening in design? Absolutely.  But in regards to their skills, these masters of destruction were kind of… weak and under developed.  It doesn’t mean they don’t get their 15 minutes to shine, but let’s just say these characters really needed more integration in the story for this reviewer to enjoy. 

 

Too Many Characters?: So many people mixed into one movie, brings with it the threat of potentially denying your favorite character the time you want him/her to hold.  It happens in this movie, so take what you can get and run with it as best as you can.  They do a nice job with most of them, but three of the characters got a bit stiff armed that I wasn’t expecting to see.  So, this element could have been tweaked to get a better immersive story in my opinion.

 

The Ending:  I can’t say much about this, but the ending to Infinity War is almost as mixed as the characters in this galactic quest.  There will be many questions generated from it and even more theories as to how the next wave will proceed, which I guess is good to keep interest coming.  However, it kind of felt cheaply delivered and rushed over, in a manner that was sort of a cop out to be honest.  Based on that last sentence, this component is why the ending was not as well-received, not for the questions it generated.

 

The Fight at Wakanda: The biggest selling point of the trailers was that war on the Wakandan plains, where Wakanda soldiers join the elite squad to fight thousands of CGI aliens.  With all the storytelling elements building up to the climax, I had very high hopes this battle was going to be the climactic piece to bring it all together.  I’ll admit, there are some parts that are true creative genius, but much of the battle was glazed over, dull, and missing so much of the battle chemistry I had expected. Quick finishes to semi-suspenseful moments, and much shorter than I anticipated, this battle was certainly the element I was most disappointed with.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Infinity Wars didn’t quite live up to the hype that the marketing brought with it, but this does not mean it was a bad movie.  A very edgy tale awaits the theaters, with twists and character development waiting to evolve our characters to the next level, with a few flashy battles to liven things up and comedy to ease the tension.  Yet, this project may have been a little too big to tackle, leading to many things being glazed over in trade for others.  Try to lower your expectations and I think you will be okay, just try to accept that there will be answers to come, one just has to wait.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0