What Lurks Beneath The Trailer Of Underwater

Underwater Poster

 

 

The realm of horror, as I have said before, is an avenue that allows the darkest fathoms of the imagination to come to life. Horrors and fears can take on many forms and in some cases the directors capture that terror in the perfect balance.  On the other hand, the modern cinema also ruins the genre when cheap gimmicks fail to scare and become the focus.  So what is tonight’s film all about?  Well Robbie K is here to offer some thoughts and insight as he makes spoiler free review of:

 

Movie:  Underwater (2019)

 

Director:

William Eubank

Writers:

Brian Duffield (screenplay by), Adam Cozad (screenplay by)  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Kristen StewartT.J. MillerJessica Henwick

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Decent Comedy
  • Decent Acting/And Time Worthy Characters
  • Great Pace
  • Suspense Moments
  • Creature Design
  • The Atmosphere
  • The Story Is Okay

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Predictability
  • T.J. Miller Forced Some Times
  • The Chaotic Camera Work at Times
  • Suspension Of Disbelief At Times
  • The Worthlessness of Most Of the Crew

 

SUMMARY:

 

When it comes to a horror movie you can’t help but want to laugh through the movie.  Okay, I need to think of a better transition, but the film succeeds on throwing that comedic relief at just the right moments to help change the energy of the scene.  That aside, the real strength of the movie comes in the cohesiveness of all the little parts that this genre thrives on when done right.  First the acting!  While not award winning, I was very happy to have characters that had more layers than the typical creature fodder Sci Fi Channel has made famous.  Underwater’s crew is different though, as Steward leads the bunch in a thrilling adventure that puts science skills to the test.  Several members make logical decisions, there is great interaction amidst the crew, and the teamwork they show actually paints characters that are worth investing your time in.  And through this adventure, let’s just say there are a lot of things that will test your connection to them.  This film moves quickly, a brisk pace that never dwells long enough for boredom, and takes few detours in the quest to escape the denizens of the deep. Mixing well with the pace comes very suspenseful moments that utilize so many special effects to paint the terrifying canvas of the deep in new ways that will insight nightmares. Some of the moments are all about the setting itself, while others integrate the creatures and allow the use of imagination to paint the terror.  It works fantastically well, and when the revelation of the creatures finally arises, the design does not fail to impress.  Monsters are made of nightmares like this, and they are utilized to a fine degree that does not overshadow the rest of the tale, but still gives you plenty of creature love.  Yet what really ties everything for me is the atmosphere itself.  Underwater uses its name well, and helps blend the adventure into sections that together form a cataclysmic environment.  There are few safe havens in this movie, with the beasts lurking around every corner, and when they aren’t the environment itself is ready to douse the life out of them.  Throw in the use of shadows, fantastic sound editing, and again the tease with imagination that designs that environment. Finally, there is actually a point to all the chaos, with a logical connecting line that actually grants purpose to the antics at hand.  Underwater takes the familiar story, and changes the acts to help keep the adventure fresh and dynamic.

 

Amidst all the treasure, there are some rusted metals that tarnish the movie for this reviewer.  For one the story is pretty predictable, still following most of the rules and trends that the SyFy channel movies do.  A few twists do help stir the sediment up a bit, but you have an idea where it is going.  Thankfully, this predictability is lessened due to the intensity of the scenes themselvesAs mentioned above, there is comedic relief, and while enjoyable at times, there are other times where the awkward joke is too forced or beaten over the head for it to really work.  This works in movies like Deadpool, and while I think it’s curb to show how he is dealing with the stressful situation, there are times I would have liked to see a little more from this character other than another joke.

These are probably minor dislikes for me, so I’ll move on to a few of the things that were more bothersome for me.  As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of chaotic camera work when it comes to details.  While this added to the intensity of the scene, I felt Underwater went a little too crazy at times, using the swirling madness, and shadows a little too much to deprive the details I wanted to see.  This aspect improved near the ending, but the middle parts had a hard time finding the balance between stable and maddening angles.  Next, the suspension of disbelief sometimes is a little laughable for me in this film.  I know, in this genre one must be ready to do this, but hear me out a little.  Again with no spoilers, Underwater sort of does not play by its own rules it establishes at the beginning.  The creatures behavior is erratic, sometimes being aggressive and other times not, which is sort of explained at the times, but then overwritten for me.  Other times it’s about how convenient things work out or don’t work out, which though adds to the intensity of the scene, will in retrospective seem a bit cheesy at how things happen to play out.  If this does not bother you or take away from the suspense, no worries then, but near the end in particular is where I particularly found them stretching their convenience muscles a little too far.  Finally, though the movie is much better with crafting their characters than other creature features, it still has not quite put the finesse in everyone.  For a crew of scientists, drillers, and deep-sea explorers, only one or two really show off the scientific skills that were promised.  Kristen Stewart’s character is the most equipped to handle the job and maybe the Captain, but the rest well, they don’t quite hit the mark for epic battles or adventuring that i had anticipated.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the creature feature is one of the best to emerge from the depths of the Hollywood ocean. Underwater takes us back to the days of classic film storytelling, where a story is designed to tether the scares, special effects of scenery and modern computer work add for decent scare factors, and the intensity of the sequences help net your interest in characters that aren’t just shark fodder like a classic SyFy movie.  While there are still some predictability issues, and the suspension of disbelief starts cooking up things, there are not too many issues that most fans of this genre will be affected.  Again, I’m not particular fond of chaos swirling camera work, but I again admit it adds to the moments and at least gets balanced.  Give all the CGI work, the decent story, and performances, this guy encourages you to head to the theater for this one to enjoy to the most, but if not definitely check it out at home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Horror:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Book To Movie: Where Did The Rest Of The Cast And Story Go?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster

 

Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues.  Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen.  Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it’s not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold.  Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: Where’d you Go Bernadette (2019)

 

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Cate BlanchettJudy GreerKristen Wiig

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness
  • Cute
  • Good Morals
  • Fairly Good Pace
  • Cyndi Lauper Tribute

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Little Melodramatic
  • Dryer Comedy
  • Some rather useless characters/Plots
  • A Little More Connecting
  • No Mystery Whatsoever
  • The Abrupt End

 

Summary:

 

The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play.  Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story.  Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiignot too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburneare all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario) who is integrated into the films.  Yet, it’s really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role.  Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy.  It’s pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette’s journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies.  Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well.  And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that’s a hoot right?

 

While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me.  The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery.  For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience.  Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters.  For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected.  Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process.  Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got.  However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever.  In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette’s journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone.  You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier.  Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the “mystery” is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected.  If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that’s just me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show.  The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love.  Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love.  Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette’s story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie.  As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie.  My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0