What Lies In These Dark Waters? Tune In To Find Out

Dark Waters Poster

 

What does it take to take on the mega corporations of the world?  The answer can vary in many ways, but often it takes a will power for some unknown to try and change the system.  Tonight’s movie is a shining example of that character, one that to this continues to fight against the travesties of the big corporations that seem to run our country.  Such a movie may be cliché by now, but as always I’m here to go over the usual factors and give my opinion on yet another movie.  So with that, let’s get cracking as we review:

 

Dark Waters (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Haynes

Writers:

Matthew Michael CarnahanMario Correa  |1 more credit »

Stars:

Anne HathawayMark RuffaloWilliam Jackson Harper

 

 

Likes:

  • Pacing
  • Travel Through Timeline
  • Good Details Of the Case
  • The portrayal of the Mind
  • Focus On Other members Of The case
  • The Drama On One Level
  • The Acting

 

Dislikes:

  • Animal Killing
  • The Dramatization On Other Point
  • More Behind the scenes of Dupont for completion sakes
  • Elements introduced that were Not Utilized
  • More Anne Hathaway

 

SUMMARY:

 

A biographical drama always faces the challenge with me of being complete and staying entertaining and Dark Waters delivers this for me.  The pacing for the movie works at just the right speed to hit the details without making me feel bored.  Much of this has to do with the presentation of the movie, a nice travel through the 15 years of case busting that Robert Bilott partook in the late 90s to early 2010s.  One will be subjected to multiple facets of the case, getting to see his discovery of each level of corruption in his pursuit of justice against the companies they once represented.  While this may not be the Law and Order intensity television has established, the case has enough believable details with a balance to the drama to help make this important case as thrilling as possible.  That movie magic spices up the fact-finding mission, making sure to integrate other parts of the case such as the farmer who started the investigation, neighbors who started gaining confidence to stand up, and even the law firms that Robert worked for.  Such layered approaches help immerse you into the whole event, rather than selected facets that sometime these movies take in their telling.  An even deeper level though, is seeing the effects of the mind such a stressful case brings with it.  Roberts descent into bringing justice was certainly admirable, but the impact on his personal life, career, and mental health were well-integrated into the mix, helping amplify the internal mind of the worker, and adding to the obstacles of the case.  Yet, most of these aspects are brought to the forefront thanks to the acting of the cast.  Much of this weighs on the producer and lead actor Mark Ruffalo who gets most of the screen time, has to handle the multitude of emotions and physical acting required of this franchise, and finding a way to really keep it believable.  Hathaway as well gets her role down pat as the supporting character who has to make sacrifices of her own, keeping the family running while Robert becomes engrossed in all the literature.  Her skills as the stressed character being pulled to the brim between justice and survival is again super balanced, and again adds extra impact to fulfill the story.  Others get their roles down, but I need to move on to the next part of the review so we’ll do just that.

 

Despite as much of the movie I liked, there were still some things that were not quite my cup of tea.  For one thing, animal killing is one of my weakness when it comes to movie.  While not the worst or saddest thing I’ve seen, there was a scene trying to emphasize the problems with the water that hit me a little more than I wanted.  I would have liked this scene filtered a little more, but hey you got to have a dramatic flair to liven things up.  That brings me to the next limitation for me, the potential overdramatization to which Hollywood can sometimes inject.  To help add splendor you’ve got to put some extra emotion to the mix, but there are times where the dramatic moments are a little too obvious or forced for me.  These cheesy moments sort of took away from the splendor of the moment, but it could also just be my tolerance level is low for these things.  Anyway, the other thing for me is the movie’s incomplete focus of all aspects of the cases as my main limitation.  For one thing, the ruthless Dupont organization gets a good intro to the madness, but much of their interference is behind the scenes through dialogue instead of on camera where one could get the ugly side to come out in full force.  Perhaps it’s because their part can only be speculated, but this might have been the better place to introduce the drama feature of Hollywood.  Other areas that seemed a little lacking were other people being introduced, but then sort of dropped into the wings of obscurity.  A random colleague striving for partnership, another about being pregnant, the grandmother and this supposed tension of his mom with his wife, were some elements alliterated in the dialogue, only to die off like the cattle in the trailers.  It’s a shame, because this could have further enhanced the development, but I guess books will provide those details.  Finally, more of Hathaway’s character was needed for me, especially given the integral cog she played in him getting the case taken care of, while also keeping the home life in order.  I’d have liked to get more of her perspective and allow Hathaway’s talents to shine even more so even if it cost another ten minutes of viewing.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Dark Waters delivered the story I had been wanting to see in the form of a biographical drama.  A thrilling case that took years to build is given great detail to help explain everything happening, while also moving to keep you engaged.  The acting and multiple aspects really do the film justice and give everyone the chance to act to their top game.  It’s true it still is subjected to overdramatization at times, but it’s kept in check to keep things spicy and appeal to the drama seeking nature that is humanity.  I’d have liked a few more elements added to give a better visualization of the corrupt companies, while also giving Anne Hathaway more time to shine, but overall I’m very happy with this.  I feel this film will go under the radar, and to be honest, only the engaging story and acting will attract a theater watch for most.  However, if you are able to catch this at home or Redbox take the 2 hours to uncover the revolutionizing story that is still going on today. 

 

My scores are:

 

Biography/Drama/History:  8.0 – 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Do You Come To Play In This Film?

Playmobil: The Movie Poster

 

The Lego Movie shattered the expectations of toy-based movies with a dynamic story, great comedy, decent sequences of actions, and a balance of kids to adult audiences.  While the sequels that followed took stride in their own remark, the first one really opened our eyes to quality kids animation.  Enter tonight’s movie, in the form of Playmobile, a similar design to the classic pegs, but with a little more movement and cost-effective price to appease the younger crowd.  Tonight’s movie offers the same sort of approach, hoping to get the animated holiday feature in before Oscar season swoops in.  What is the verdict?  Robbie K coming in, to give you insight into the next movie and determine if it’s worth a trip to the theater.

 

Movie:  Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

 

Director:

Lino DiSalvo

Writers:

Blaise Hemingway (screenplay by), Greg Erb (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anya Taylor-JoyGabriel BatemanJim Gaffigan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation Is Decent

Cute

Heartwarming Story

Short Run Time

Fun Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Acting Is Mixed

Predictable and Linear

Jokes Sort Of Forced Into The Movie

Action Is Rather Dull

Music Numbers Are Sometime forced

Lame Villain For Me

Not As Well Balanced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Like many animated movies, Playmobil is very nicely designed to bring the family fun atmosphere to the forefront of the show.  Smooth movement, cute design, and nod back to the days of creating worlds with the simple figure, this movie manages to bring imagination back on the big screen.  Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this film is certainly cute, with the short run time of about 80 minutes (not counting credits) being focused on heartwarming, moral filled lessons in a nice dynamic package. It’s a great lesson for the ideal audience of kids, which should bring smiles to the young faces and the parents that accompany them.  Finally, like most kids films, Playmobil is ready to pump the speakers up with original music, that is toe tapping selection of catchy tunes about the morals we need in our lives.

 

Yet the other side of the coins have valid points for me in regards to this film, especially when one sees what was accomplished in other animation films.  For one thing the voice acting is okay, which can either be due to performance or direction of the character.  Anya Taylor-Joy does a decent job, and young actor Gabriel Bateman accomplishes the vulnerable child in over his head role well as he starts discovering himself.  My champions are Gaffigan and Daniel Radcliffe whose characters are probably the most engaging of the supporting characters and bringing the dynamic cast to a rather one-note movie.  Unlike other films, the movie falls short of the dynamic storytelling that other company productions have excelled in.  It’s plot is thin and very predictable, a linear tale with few bumps or surprises to amazing and wow as the writing continues to favor the younger generations filled with jokes and preachy speeches crammed on in.  Sure the humor is cute, but the movie needed better balance for this reviewer and working on making a more exciting tale that utilized the humor and lessons as a supporting role instead of the central pillar.  The action scenes are rather limited, mostly due to the G rating, but also because the villain is another example of a grandiose, pompous, speech expert who does little else.  Because of these two factors, alongside the linear telling, just results in a bland adventure that might not be as entertaining to the older crowd, which is a shame given what they can do in these movies.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Playmobil is not an awful movies, it just doesn’t have the same balance or execution that the Lego movie, or other films for kids have been able to pull off.  Certainly, the animation, story, and cute atmosphere will certainly impress the target audience of youngsters.  Sadly, the fact that the film struggles to find balance in the presentation to the audience with its predictable, G rate film is going to be the biggest obstacle to see this movie.  With a feel much more fitting of a Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney feel, Playmobil is much better suited to a home viewing where the little ones can corral into the living room and watch it for the short run time.  Overall, the movie will deliver to the young generation, but given Frozen is out, Spy in Disguise is on its way, and Star Wars, this film is going to be out of the theater quickly unfortunately.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:   6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

Queen Of Political Drama, But Slim On Secondary Character Development. Editing Convolutes Story

Queen & Slim Poster

 

Another holiday, another week to try and get the most out of the movies and the shopping frenzy of Black Friday.  Tonight’s feature is another political drama that will potentially lead to much discussion, potential motivation, and certainly a lot of discussion about the quality of the movie.  Given the heated reviews I’ve seen so far, I’m going to do my best to put an objective focus on this review and give you heads up as to whether or not one should take this film in for the holiday theater run.  Let’s get started as I look at:

 

Film: Queen and Slim (2019)

 

Director:

Melina Matsoukas

Writers:

Lena Waithe (screenplay by), James Frey (story by)

Stars:

Daniel KaluuyaJodie Turner-SmithBokeem Woodbine

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Symbolism
  • Adventure mixed with Morals
  • Cultural Representation Tasteful At Times
  • Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Long
  • Slow Pace
  • Super political at parts that detracts from story
  • Secondary character are sort of at lost
  • A bit stereotypical at times
  • Lazy writing in dialogue at times
  • Predictable
  • Editing Issues

 

The Verdict:

 

Queen and Slim’s two main leads are stellar, taking very shallow characters and evolving their performances with to match the development. Their chemistry is fantastic with each other, really delivering a believable relationship that does not feel forced or scripted, but rather natural and flowing.  It’s this component that will be the core foundation for the film, as both Kaluuya and Turner-Smith are capable of delivering the politically charged content in heated yet classy ways.  As you can guess, this movie has a lot of hot topics built into it, and the movie utilizes the cinematography to bring lots of symbolism into the film. Sequences are designed to capture the full power of many topics of interest, attempting to again balance the heat of the moment with an objective take sort of capturing a news debate in a more entertaining form.  Queen and Slim’s adventure is definitely a road trip that should be engaging for target audiences of drama/political lovers, but for those looking for messages to motivate you should see this achieved as well.  Preachy at times (as most of these films are), this tale does a nice job of instilling the writer’s values into a classy, ethical manner that will provide some food for thought and reanalyzing one’s approach to these arguments. In addition, several members in my audience mentioned that they appreciated the cultural representation at key moments and the importance of pride and reputation as several secondary characters showed.  I found that though stereotypical, it was tasteful compared to what other movies have done in the past.  Finally, the music has enough musical genres to make an entertaining soundtrack, with R&B, Rap, and Hip hop ready to blast through the speakers during transition sequences.  Not the most relevant in terms of story, but a good soundtrack is always welcome in my book to get my feet moving.

 

However, I agree with my reviewers there are some decisions made in this movie I felt detracted from the messages and story they wanted to tell.  My limitation starts with the length of the film and the pace that did not support the length.  Much of the film feels very drawn out, bloated sequences that did not need to be present, while other times it was a little too focused on pointing out the obvious.  As I mentioned earlier, Queen and Slim requires the two main characters to be the focus of all the political writing in the movie.  While they excel at this, the supporting characters are a little too much in the background for my tastes.  Like connecting the dots, the farther the two travel the more diluted the characters become, leading to plain interactions with most, often to introduce a new angle and conversation topic to discuss.  I’ll admit I liked seeing the influence the two had, especially at the end, but I had hoped for a little more progression and pertinence than what we got.  The truth is that this film really focuses on hitting all the political issues so hard that it sort of drives off from the story and leave the main characters in side scenes while the people they have talked to “evolve” so to speak.  Most of these scenes were… okay, but a couple were so convoluted and unnecessary, that I only saw it as a more time extension than quality shot, again meant for a politically charged audience.  Throw in much of the writing is again back to lots of cursing and insults to go with the stereotypical portrayals and well, you sort of drown the better writing in this representation.  Overall, the main thing that this movie suffers from is the editing and trying to be too tastefully political in the sequences sort of diluted the incredible potential of the story.

 

  Queen and Slim is a drama that has important messages for the world to see and think on, and does a decent job with not making them too aggressive.  Yet, in terms of an entertaining story that has the full picture of suspense, discussion, and storytelling it still has areas of improvement to go.  It’s the editing and how much they wanted to include that I think got this film in trouble, and because of the side tangents and attempts to personify the problems in this character, the story got scattered.  For those that want their political ideals represented and relate to the trials each character has, this movie is a theater visit, but for the rest of the audience, I feel the investment at a home watch is going to be key to maximizing your experience. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

 

Unsheathing the Comedy And Drama, Knives Out’s Tale Is Sharp!

Knives Out Poster

Mystery movies can certainly be fun, but the refined art of mapping out a crime can be a challenge in this world with ever shrinking attention spans.  However, there are still writers and directors out there ready to give it a try in hopes of bringing thought out plots back into the popular trend.  Tonight’s review holds such a promise and even more so it holds another redeeming trial for a director whose involvement in Star Wars was not the best received.  With lots of advertising, I’m sure you have seen the trailers so let’s get going as I review:

 

Film: Knives Out (2019)

 

Director:

Rian Johnson

Writer:

Rian Johnson

Stars:

Daniel CraigChris EvansAna de Armas

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • The Cinematography
  • The Plot Is A Good Mystery
  • Better Twists Than Anticipated
  • Involvement With Most Of The Cast
  • The Comedy

 

DISLIKES:

  • Some rather worthless characters
  • The Run Time
  • The Pace
  • Perhaps A Little More Murder

 

The VERDICT:

With an assembled cast such as this, you can best bet the acting will be at least moderate, and for me it was a fantastic display of work.  All parties assembled really play the dysfunctional role well, portraying the motive filled shouts and complaints to an art that did not annoy or go overboard.  Too many names to place, I’ll say that Craig was entertaining in his role of Colonel Saunders (a running joke) meeting James Bond as the detective, primarily in his interactions with Marta.  Ana de Armas was the star for me not only because of her character, but more so in the way she played the levels of emotion perfectly and interacted with the squad the most to balance this art.  Past the acting, the movie really picks up in terms of the visual presentation, feeling much like a detective movie from the 50s-80s, but modernizing it to the present day.  It should captivate many mystery lovers, but more so generic fans who can point out a lot of devices and nods to famous detective sagas.  However, the movie’s main selling point is the presentation of the story that let’s face it has been told time and time again in a Hallmark like fashion.  Johnson, for me, accomplished the role of bringing out a good mystery, not only in the classic hunt for clues and mapping out suspects, but adding some nice twists to the mix.  If you are paying attention to time and some info, you’ll start getting an idea, but this film’s twists (no matter how convoluted) do manage to spruce up the dusty manor of detective works.  An even better angle for me, is the character utilization, while not perfect, every character has a purpose in some form or angle, with few sitting off to the sides as just mere bodies to fill a convenient hole or bridge.  If not for the sake of the plot, then the character was used for comedy and that may be my favorite part of this movie.  Knives Out manages to be very humorous in the regards of the comedy aspect, with well written dialogue, delivery of those lines, and timing wrapping up nicely to leave many laughing during my showing.  That I feel will be a pull for many audience members, though don’t expect usual slapstick, banter, and ridiculous, logic defying stunts to be pulled here, or you’ll be disappointed.

 

For such an artistic film though, there are still a few things I would have liked tightened up.  Though all characters were utilized in some form, I can’t lie at least three could have had more involvement than what they did.  Hinting at being a part of the plot, these characters were left to the passing comments or joke props until that one moment a clue contributed.  That family engagement they sold in the trailers, needed some more development for me to keep everyone entangled in the mess as opposed to on the side.  In addition, the plot could have used a little more murder and threats to help spice up the drama/mystery, as I am partial to the deadly games of hunting in my movies, than anything else.  For a movie selling that murder, I had kind of expected something else, but it’s a mere trinket.  I can say the thing I had the hardest time with was the run time and the pace.  Knowing it’s a Johnson movie, I expect it to be long, and for the most part the movie ran at a good enough pace that it did not feel super long, but other times did show the dragging I dreaded.  I can say that there were parts that could have been cut out to shorten the length, or at least rewritten to include the character interaction I mentioned above.

 

So in conclusion, what are the thoughts on this controversial movie/tale.  To be honest, I do think it is a reimagining of Clue, and took a step into the modern world to help reach out to the new audiences.  It’s got the presentation of a mystery, with twists to help bring our well-acted characters together and entertain us with their drama. Comedy is also pulled out of the sheath and I think these two elements are the biggest selling factors to brave the nearly 2.5 hour run time Johnson has put forth.  As such, I feel this movie is worth a shot at hitting the theaters for those looking for a drama/mystery/comedy, while others will most likely enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

 

My scores for Knives Out are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama:   9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

It’s A Beautiful Film For Thanksgiving!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Poster

 

In today’s world, it is so funny to see who we idolize in our world given the rise of reality television, political filters being removed, and politics making grandiose characters.  However,  amidst the islands of these extreme characters, there are real champions who strive to make others happy and the darkness of the world a little more manageable.  Mr. Rogers was considered by many to be one of those saints, making a program that was entertaining and yet moving in his approach to the real world. So why not make a film that dives into the life and impact that Mr. Fred Rogers had, and put it just at the forefront of the season of giving.  Well my friends, Robbie K is back for another look  at the latest film to determine if it is worth the price of admission.  Let’s get started as we look at:

 

Movie:  A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2019)

 

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Micah Fitzerman-BlueNoah Harpster

Stars:

Tom HanksMatthew RhysChris Cooper

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Nostalgia
  • Presentation
  • Balance Of Story And Rogers Involvement
  • The Character Development
  • The Comedy and Writing
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Pace
  • Some Character Utilization
  • Drama vs. Realism Question

 

The VERDICT:

 

While the documentary dove into the history of Rogers, this installment helps bring the magic of one man’s impact on the world.  A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood is an artful film that captures the magic of Rogers’ approach to life and presents it in a style that seems to be a doctored-up version of the show.  The transitions using Roger’s model like world were cute, alongside how they presented the meat of the subject as a surrealistic episode that somehow acts as a counseling session to the audience members.  This film balances the story of the other characters and incorporates Rogers involvement in the world, leading to a fantastic portrayal of character development without discarding all the other components of the film.  Writing wise, it will hit the hearts of many, rich with wisdom and thought-provoking material without being too preachy or forced as many movies can be.  The comedy is subtle, a natural inclusion that is not artificial, leading to a genuine laugh that adds a layer to the movieFinally, the acting is the cornerstone of the film, Hanks execution of Rogers spot on in many ways, while Rhys as the journalist is a wonderful antagonist to Hanks, whose performance is a display of the kind of commitment friendship sometimes takes.  While the rest of the cast is there to support the group in many ways, it’s these two alongside the presentation that delivers the hammer.

There are few dislikes I have for this film personally, with many of these a little nitpicky on my part.  For one thing, the pace and content are not going to be for everyone, but the pace in particular had me fighting sleep at times.  In addition, I had hoped other characters would have been worked into the mix, while others sort of forgone, to really tie in all of Roger’s aspects in his attempt to help Lloyd.  Finally, there are moments where reality vs. dramatization come into play, questioning the choices of the shot or sequence that while symbolic were not fully necessary for me. 

 

Overall though, the movie is a beautiful portrayal of the messages the beloved kid’s host had, and the impact he had on so many.  It’s not going to be for everyone, and it certainly is not the most engaging in terms of entertainment or originality.  Yet, for those that love dramatic biographies, or need a spiritual message into the movie, this humble look at the sad parts of life and how to maintain humanity should be a welcoming start to the spirit of the holiday season.  So wrapping all of this together, my scores for this film are:

 

Biography/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0-7.5

Is This a Bridge To The Next Big Crime Movie? 21 Bridges Review

 

21 Bridges Poster

 

Cop dramas have continued to storm the television cable channels for decades in an attempt to rope us into the exciting life of the public service department. Despite the numerous switches in uniform (e.g. numerous shows), these things continue to be very popular in both reruns and new episodes watched.  In the world of movies though, well they seem to have left the big screen, with most not taking the chance to tell a story when episodes can do it so better.  Today though, we have a movie that after several delays is finally coming out in hopes of making its name in the cinema world.  Robbie K here to offer some quick thoughts as I review:

 

Director:

Brian Kirk

Writers:

Adam Mervis (screenplay), Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay)

Stars:

Chadwick BosemanSienna MillerJ.K. Simmons

 

 

LIKES:

  • Moves Quickly
  • Detective Story
  • Not Politically Infused
  • Good Acting, on most accounts
  • Realistic
  • Action Scenes Are Pretty Decent

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Same Plot as A Recent Movie
  • The Writing At Times
  • Some Characters Are Wasted
  • More Action Scenes

 

SUMMARY:

 

Cop dramas appeal, according to my friends, is that they are contained in episodes that are short run times and cookie cut episodes so you have not invested too much time.  Fortunately, 21 Bridges is doing the same thing, leading to a quick pace and short run time to tell the story, avoid the fluff, and capture the crime component in a nice package.  A detective story at the core, 21 Bridges focuses on the intelligence gathering and coordination to paint the visual picture of catching two cop killers in an impressive display of technology and intuition.  This King T’Challa without the Marvel syndrome manhunt really works for those like me who enjoy the crime busting element more than the political components that come with these series, and I enjoyed not having politics shoved in my face.   As my buddy also said, the movie is also realistic, adding that mortal edge to the movie to help once more drive the suspense, for one lucky shot or ambush is going to lead to a world of trouble for all parties.  This even bleeds over to the action scenes, which are exciting when they show up and yet never venture too far into the Fiction realm where superpowers and super solider syndrome come into play.  Finally, the acting ties it all together, every actor taking their role and bringing it to life in a realistic means.  While everyone deserves a nod, it’s Boseman who is the star and heavy lifting as a believable cop, with a super smart skill of hunting down crime.  It’s multi-layered at times, yet never out of control, as the action and intelligence combine to make things look even more impressive as he mixes well with his crew.

 

Yet the movie suffers from some major components for me in regards to the quality or originality of the movie, especially given the number of delays this movie had in release.  In regards to the acting, I’d have liked to have seen more character involvement with some of the other culprits in this movie.  This manhunt brings a lot of players in only to sort of drop them in the background within minutes of introduction.  I’m of the mindset of using characters in a film to the fullest, but if this is a series set for sequels, this blow is not quite as bad for me.  The writing at times is a little too simplistic and lazy for me, once more taking the realism factor a tad too far in making them swear at every chance they get.  At times it fits, but this reviewer is all about finding ways to balance the cursing with, you know not too much cursing as it gets annoying, bloated, and for me comes off lazy.  In addition, I had expected a lot more action given the trailers, but the realism factor sort of gets rid of the gunplay, and puts instead a more style of chasing, running, and hiding.  Perhaps the opening sequence was a false lead, but I had hoped for more of those moments between elite agent and his prey.  Yet, the biggest thing for me that is the biggest limitation is the predictability and staleness of the plot.  Most originality is dead, I get it given the market, but this movie coming so close to Black and Blue, alongside sticking too close to other plots it makes the tale a little boring without some more theatrics.  The predictability of the plot had me hoping for twists, but it just did not work despite the attempts at deception.

 

The VERDICT:

            When it comes to crime drama, 21 Bridges is an old tale with a fresh coat of paint.  It works well for those who are fans of the television crime show syndicate, with a fast-paced detective story where a central character will be your anchor to the familiar movements of the series.  It’s very well contained in terms of realism, has a great cast to follow, and enough elements of the shows to please fans without getting lost in politics.  Yet, the film fails in terms of originality, sharing too much with recent crime films, not utilizing other characters well, and the action scenes not being the most memorable to justify the predictable plot. Still, if you are looking for something to break up the rerun monotony of the crime TV shows, then check this one out and enjoy the fresh coat applied.  Otherwise, hold out on this one for a watch at home movie on your favorite streaming or rental app. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama:  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