Attempting To Send Us To The Moon. A Review Of First Man

First Man Poster

 

Reaching to the stars, traveling through the final frontier, and making contact with the unknown is what the science fiction authors are all about.  To think that the dream was realized years ago is a feat many still to this day question. Tonight, my review is about the adventure to the stars and the men who led the way.  Wrapping up my revies this week, tonight yours truly analyzes the largely advertised, potentially award winning, biography about Neal Armstrong entitled:

 

Movie:  First Man (2018)

 

Director:

Damien Chazelle

Writers:

Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)

Stars:

Ryan GoslingClaire FoyJason Clarke

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  A big role like this requires big talent and Gosling has stepped up to the new psychologically heavy, portrayal of the man who journeyed to the stars.  His depth portrayal of the role is top notch, a balance of a dramatized role that feels realistic and very reflective of the psyche of space travel.  Claire Foy on the other hand drops into a very regal and strong role, expressing the other side of the coin as the wife of an astronaut. Their chemistry works together, and the focus on each one leads to amazing performances that makes for endearing characters.

 

The Immersive Experience: You want to feel like you are blasting off into space?  You’ve got it!  You want to feel like you are being strained by an overwhelming array of G Force?  You’ve got it.  You want? Okay I think you get it.  First Man’s team did their best to get you strapped into the space exploration experience and did a fine job in my opinion.  One will feel like they are experiencing this first hand, with a screen that rattles, sound effects that dropped you into the heart of the mission, and a number of technical terms to further enroll you in the experience.

 

The Setting:  I’m a sucker for movies successfully taking you back in time. First Man takes us back into the time period of the 60s, bringing the cars, looks, houses, and hairstyles to really bring you into the decade of exploration.  First Man keeps all the themes rolling and adds that extra bit of magic by introducing a gritty filter to help you achieve the effects of watching the events through the new reels of yore.  This may not seem super cool or necessary, but that extra nostalgia helps pull the experience to new heights so nice work there.

 

Unique Approach: First Man decides to go a little more abstract in its presentation than the normal historical documentary.  A realistic portrayal with minimal magic, First Man is always about taking an event and then having you reflect on it.  The result is a psychological trial of experiencing the stress of this field of research, that helps with experiencing the historical prowess of this space travel.  While this approach will not be for everyone, it gets points for making an effort to be unique and artistic while also to the point.

 

The Portrayal of Struggle: I agree with my fellow audience members that First Man did a fantastic job expressing the difficulties of getting this mission off the ground.  From the failures of the testing modules, the setbacks of equipment burning out, and to the very stresses of the rocket itself, all of it is nicely detailed in this movie.  You’ll not be subjected to montages or magical findings, but instead get the bare facts to provide the full on knowledge of the issues this program faced.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Other characters:  It’s not that the other characters are bad, it’s the fact that they aren’t utilized as well as I wanted.  Much of Armstrong’s group, with the exception of the wife, are only fragments of the story overall.  I wanted to see more interactions with them, get their input and contributions to the story, instead of the dram filled moping they chose to focus on.  Why they did this I don’t know, but I believe the abstract approach has much to do with this.

 

The Heavy Jargon:  I mentioned earlier how the movie immerses you and sadly it does this a little too well.  The special effects drown out a lot of meaningful conversation in this movie, reducing the lines to mumbling, incoherent rants that aren’t easy to follow. Even for what you can hear, the movie relies very heavily on jargon and technical lingo, which if you don’t subscribe to physics or rocket science may not be the most interesting thing to listen to.

 

Mindset vs Program: The abstract direction taken in this movie works for getting into the head of the characters, and you’ll get plenty of shots of Gosling trapped in his mind, moping in a teary-eyed mess as he relives his experiences.  It’s beautiful artistically, but it’s not the most entertaining as I came to see more of the design to get to the moon.  Like Hidden Figures I wanted character development and integration than psychological reflection that a book is better at hitting. Regardless, this approach didn’t quite work in terms of my expectations or entertainment value

 

Dragging Pace:  The biggest thing for me… is this movie is slow at times.  It has to do with how long it takes for us to get into the meat of the program, only to be then be dogged down by more personal life components than the exciting tests you want to see.  As such, this constant up and down presentation that didn’t quite work for me and had me fighting sleep at times.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            First Man is different from what I expected.  It’s unique presentation is going to be the make or break for modern audiences and whether or not they will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a realistic, well-acted, artistic, immersive approach will enjoy the historical representation of this movie.  However, if you wanted that Hollywood magic, entertainment, and more like a story presentation, than this film is not going to be your cup of tea.  First Man is certainly a piece of work, but it all depends on the type of experience you want.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I think so for the effects and the food for thought, but otherwise hold out until next week when blockbusters return. k

 

My Scores: 

Biography/Drama/History:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

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A Royale Mystery/Thriller With Big Characters

Bad Times at the El Royale Poster

 

Dark movies offer the potential for a fantastic story, filled with twists, turns, and elements that you didn’t see coming.  My second review of the week is one such movie, with a trailer that teases one into taking a dive down another distorted rabbit hole to find a land of wonder and shock that will have you talking for days. With a cavalcade of stars and the hints of secrets, this drama looks to be the next big discussion to come.  Does it deliver?  Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Bad Times At The El Royale (2018)

 

Director:

Drew Goddard

Writer:

Drew Goddard

Stars:

Jeff BridgesCynthia ErivoDakota Johnson

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Central Pillar on this one, Bad Times At The El Royale relies heavily on the cast to bring the characters to life. Diving into the gritty roles is tough, but they nail their execution of complicate characters with plenty to hide.  Their chemistry is solid, their conveying of emotions on point, and in regards to becoming one with the characters, I think they succeeded in this endeavor.  One will find their involvement in these characters super.

 

The Details:  A movie that is character centric like this one requires a lot of detail to get you invested in their lives.  Mission Accomplished, because the El Royale is super focused on the background information and doing its best to describe the situations leading up to their pilgrimage to the infamous hotel.  You want those dram infused plots and over the top issues, look no further my friends, because it has it all densely packed into bite sized pieces to easily digest.

 

The Tension:  Not suspenseful, but somehow still tense, El Royale is like those exciting moments in a soap opera where a lot of things happen in a short amount of time.  As a result, the tension gradually increases until the final act where it finally snaps and things really start to amp up, a great use of this technique, which when combined with the next like helps keep you into the film.

 

The Mystery:  The trailers promised dirty, little secrets and that mystery of what is hiding in the closets of everyone also keeps you into the film.  Each person has that slight little layer and it is the act of piecing this together that adds a little fun to this rather dense film.

 

The Twists/Turns:  An even more impressive move, making some movies to really surprise me.  While I didn’t necessarily jump, this movie came close to startling me a few times with the twists that it decided to take.  In addition to adding a little spice to the movie, these twists helped push the story to new dynamics, further strengthening the character dynamics and keeping you on your toes.  So get ready for a little bit of gasping at the decisions they make.

 

The Music:  Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and El Royale’s juke box and guests contain some fun lyrics that represent the times and mood. Funk, Jazz, Soul, and a little Rock and Roll are there to tease your ears with a delightful melody that is cleverly infused into the mix.  Not the high point I know, but what a great soundtrack nonetheless.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Imbalance of Characters: It’s seven detailed characters and you want them all on screen.  El Royale has done this quite well with most, but there are at least two of the cast that were rather lackluster in their full involvement compared to others.  The director and story team seemed to have one group to base most of the story around, and while interesting, was a little disappointing to not get more into the characters than what we got. I guess that’s where book formulations come in huh?

 

The Underwhelming Secret: While the individual secrets are engaging and interesting, the big secret of the hotel wasn’t quite as impressive. Perhaps it is the presentation, or maybe it is just how it gets semi lost in the characters themselves, but the big secret is only marginal in terms of surprise.  I think a little more scene development or at least get some dialogue that stands out a little more in this already heavy dialogue movie.

 

More Suspense than Tension: Again, the tension was welcomed, but a little substitution of suspense to speed up the pace would have been my preference. A little more chasing and close calls in the pursuit of truth could have added some of the spice I think the movie needed to bring the full, mind blowing revelations to life.

 

The Pace:  By far the movie’s big limitation for me is the length meeting the pace.  You have to be ready to invest in characters, and almost like reading a book, be ready to focus more on the details and theatrics instead of the special effects and action that Hollywood loves.  While I appreciate this, the movie dragged a little too much for me and sometimes got too in depth to keep me awake.  In addition, there are times it crawled for me and the ending of shoving in those last bits of detail wasn’t the best the ordering for me to be super impressed. As such, I would have liked to have more excitement or thirty minutes cut from the overall time to find that happy medium.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The secret to this movie is, that the El Royale has a fantastic set of players to move around it’s weird, classic halls.  With a character centric plot filled with tension, mystery and twists, the El Royale is a very close book in movie form I’ve seen. Yet, for those looking for a little more excitement and pizazz this movie is going to be tough to watch late at night because it slow and missing a little bit of flare I think it needed. So if you can handle 2.5 hours of heavy dialogue and drama, you’ve got the movie of the weekend for you, but if you need a little more Hollywood magic… you need to sit this one out. 

 

 

My scores are:

 

Mystery/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

Will It Give You Goosebumps Again?

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Poster

 

The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible.  With the first installment doing pretty well, it’s no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine.  Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit?  Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:

 

Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Sandel

Writers:

Rob Lieber (screenplay by), Rob Lieber (story by)  |2 more credits »

Stars:

Wendi McLendon-CoveyJack BlackMadison Iseman

 

 

LIKES:

 

Family Friendly:  The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature.  This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing.  Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.

 

Good Pace:  Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down.  From the get go, you’ll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most.  Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.

 

Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine’s descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research.  The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.

 

The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it.  The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books.  A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.

 

DISLIKES:

Under Utilization of Characters:  The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping.  Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he’s there, but not much more I can say .  They really diluted “Stine’s” part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.

 

Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement.  Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor.  Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.

 

More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn’t use their creatures to their full potential either.  Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect.  Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn’t have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.

 

Predictability/Trailer Spoilers:  My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch.  These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie.  Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.

 

The Story Component: It’s not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment.  Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript.  Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something.  Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie.  With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart.  However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures.  It’s a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

A Remake Is Born: Music and A New Face Are Very Appealing

A Star Is Born Poster

            Robbie K with the latest review on another holiday remake, this one hoping to bring the emotional punch that drama lovers well… love. Tonight two acting/singing icons are ready to lead the way, with plenty of reviews already praising the two in making this movie come to life.  Is it worth the hype, or have we been tricked by another Hollywood stunt?  Robbie K here to help guide your viewing pleasures, so let’s get started on my review of:

 

Movie: A Star Is Born (2018)

 

Director:

Bradley Cooper

Writers:

Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by)

Stars:

Lady GagaBradley CooperSam Elliott

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  Hands down, the two leading characters have amazing chemistry together.  Gaga’s mature optimism but realistic grounding craft a strong character ready to brave the storm of drama to come.  She brings the joy and energy to the film to help you get through the dark components of this film.  Bradley Cooper on the other reprises his role of the sultry, depressed like, hero, who is easy on the eyes of the females in my audience and brings a sort of romanticism charm as well.  Together, the duo tango in an amazing, dynamic dance of emotion that so many will grip on to. 

 

Decent Pace:  Another prime example of a drama being heartfelt, but also not crawling like so many of these movies do.  The first hour was over in an instant, and the second act, while not as fast, managed to keep a good run as they maneuvered through all the quirks. It led to my interest being kept for the movie and able to handle the predictable plot.

 

The Story:  The tale from the original is mostly there in a modernized form, reskinning the tale to have much more sex appeal than the original. Although not quite the same setting, the story still comes out strong, crammed to bursting with plenty of life aspects and lessons to hopefully resonate with the audience’s journey.  It’s got a realistic pulse to it, which should charm many of the intended group, and keeps you enraptured as you live their lives through the screen.

 

The Music: By far, the biggest and best component of this film for me was the music.  Like all my fellow reviewers, the magic of this motion picture score is the heart and soul of the characters’ feelings.  These poetic displays of artistry fill much of the screen time, some in the concert fashion, others as the fuel for a montage, it brings the full-on bite and drives home the emotion of this film.  As an additional bonus, you’ll get a mixture of styles though it is limited to country or pop, but still a little variety is better than none right?

 

DISLIKES:

 

Same Country Song: While not too overplayed, Cooper’s contributions to the music fest were not the most dynamic, choosing to play the same song four times and adding little with each replay.  True, I’m not a big fan of country, but in regards to soundtracks, I might try to pull a mamma mia and sample the music to boost soundtrack sales.

 

A Few Slow Parts: Scraping the bottom of the barrel for dislikes, there are a few slow parts that made me tired just watching. These moments were often prelude to another montage to buy some time, certainly a good trick to get you prepped, but maybe not the best in terms of pacing.

 

The Few Unnecessary Shots:  While much of the movie is spot on and necessary for the story, there are those moments that are merely for show to get things hot.  A Star Is Born had a few scenes that were meant to add to the story, but were grazed by as sort of a footnote to not be forgotten.  Sure it works with the new paint job this modernized version brought, and it had a few people hot under the collar, but for this guy, it just added fluff I didn’t need for the story.

 

Predictable:  There are a few surprises to be thrown in, but for the most part this movie isn’t too surprising or twist filled like I like to see. Not much I can say here, but don’t expect too much deviation from the tale.

 

The Okayish Character Development:  I’m not saying that this is weak by any means, but I’m saying compared to the original, I feel the story/character component is not quite as strong as the classic.  The new face of this story is all about the sex appeal and the music and while they did this fantastically, I feel that there was more potential to dive into these characters.  Key tensions are there, and you have enough of the background story to get the gist, but I still think the art of storytelling holds the strongest in the ways of old.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Did a Star is Born live up to the hype that reviewers and commercials built up?  The answer is yes for the most part.  The acting and music are perfect representations of this dynamic love story, capable of wooing you TGIT drama lovers and modern-day romanticists. Still, I think I like the original from what I remember and feel that the cool new look will appeal to the modern-day audiences more than anything else.  Still, I had a good time with this movie and was very pleased at how much I liked the movie given my doubts from the trailers.  So I would say this is the film for this weekend to check out, and have fun with the soundtrack if you so decide to do it.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

This Venom Contains Laughing Side Effects

Venom Poster

 

Marvel holds many cards in the world of Hollywood, and despite the hope of a united universe, Sony pictures still holds off in giving us a united front for our superhero crew.  Tonight, a new contestant enters the park, not so much a hero as an antihero, this creature has pulled in a noble fanbase and inspired a number of other characters in the process.  If you’ve got the hints you know what I’m reviewing, so let’s get started as Robbie K reviews:

 

Movie:  Venom (2018)

 

Director:

Ruben Fleischer

Writers:

Scott Rosenberg (screenplay by), Jeff Pinkner(screenplay by)

Stars:

Tom HardyMichelle WilliamsMarcella Bragio

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Dark Aspect:  You’ll see a lot of jabs at this movie, but this installment at least gave us a taste of the darker side of the titular character. The movie dips into how not everything is gold in the realm of superpowers, as well as how grey everything can really be in the complex world of humans vs. the unknown.  It also allowed for some more intense action scenes to come into play, including some finishes the fanbase has been looking forward to for some time.

 

The Action… sort of: There are moments in Venom that feel well at home with MCU level style of battling.  Venom has at least two winning sequences for me that have explosions, choreographed take downs of extras, and some sweet utilization of CGI to bring out Venom’s fluid, whip like movements to bare.  It’s not the most dynamic, but it is miles above his first appearance back in Spiderman 3.

 

Sound Editing:  Probably not what most are looking for, I enjoyed the sound effects brought by the movie team.  You’ve got the alien slithering, the roiling growls of the hungry beast, plenty of speaker shattering booms, and enough effects to wrap together to make for the action scenes. 

 

Tom Hardy:  The star of the show and perhaps the best casting call for this movie, Hardy is certainly the leading component of his film.  His ability to play an awkward, down on his luck, vigilante reporter is quite spot on, as well as the uncanny ability to play a crazy person as well.  It came off naturally, held good chemistry with the rest of the crew, and certainly was entertaining to watch him interact with a digital, altered voice of Venom.  I’ve said it before, but Hardy’s ability to play any type of role continues to be present in his acting.

 

Comedy: Like most Marvel movies, Venom is loaded with comedy to get you laughing and ironically may be the biggest aspect of the movie.  Both intentionally and unintentionally, the movie had me laughing, primarily at the banter between Venom and Eddie Brock through much of the movie.  The insults are on point, the delivery of the lines, and even Venom’s questionable morals are all entertaining for this reviewer and probably the biggest point one should go in wanting to see.

 

The End Credits Teaser: Not fully relevant to Venom, the post credit scene is worth the wait and hints at a huge potential for the next Sony-Marvel production coming in December.  A little teaser to see if you want to take a trip into that.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The CGI:  Still better than anything I could do, Venom didn’t quite have the same definition and attention to detail that its Disney infused brothers do. The graphic are a bit messy, for although fluid, looks like living spaghetti trying to take form in many ways. Perhaps an homage to the early 2000s graphic style, Venom needed some upgrading to match the graphic expectations that the movie fans most likely desire.

 

The Story:  Hinting and promising so much in the trailer, Venom’s story department does hit the dark aspect that this antihero demands. Yet, it still took shortcuts for this film, skipping over a lot of build-up, character development, and even just plot development to get to the goods and comedy I guess.  Other characters are very one-dimensional and shallow, relationships are very fickle and seem to switch faster than a light switch, and in many cases crosses into cheesy proportions that didn’t work for me.  Grandiose displays may be something that younger audiences like,, but the story element still needs some tweaking to get to the Disney level.

 

The Other Symbiotes: I get this was the start of the franchise, but the advertisements really hammered into us the potential to see other creatures more than Venom take some screen time.  Sadly, they skimped on these as well, forcing to barely touch on these creatures before moving on to another poor plot point.  The main antagonist in this film didn’t get much time worth warranting, once more digging at the weaker storytelling of this studio. Even Venom took some time getting himself on screen, a sad use of merchandising rights when it could have been so much better.

 

The Anticlimactic Action: Venom does have some nice action scenes as mentioned before, but the problem is that they are often short lived or very carbon copy.  The chase scene showed promise, and the first-time combat had its moments, but they utilized their tricks a little too quickly.  The ending promised a potential to have a real, epic clash of the Symbiotic titans going, but again Sony cut the corners and left me wanting more to show off their powers.  Venom was very underpowered in this film, and they did little to utilize the keys handed to them.

 

The props for the mid-credit scene:  Actor choice for the surprise guest at the film is 50:50 to me, but the props to make him come to life… not very good for me.  Should a Venom 2 make it to the big screen, I’m hoping their wardrobe department makes some better efforts to get the next antagonist in.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Go in expecting a comedy and you will love this movie and have the most fun.  However, in regards to the full picture part of the film, it still has more to develop before it meets expectations set by Disney.  Hardy and some mediocre action scenes can bring some entertainment, but it doesn’t quite hit the home run outside of that. It’s a bit cheesy at times, a little overboard in terms of the comedy, and doesn’t quite deliver on the action, other symbiotes or even the story.  Yet, it has enough special effects kicks to warrant a theater visit, but only if you can handle the limitations mentioned. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Hart Tries To HadDISH out some laughs

Night School Poster

 

Robbie K back with a second review of the evening, this time focusing on Kevin Hart’s latest production of an adventure we’ve kind of seen in the past.  Yes, in the world of comedy, Hart’s movie may seem like generic pieces, but you never know what surprises are going to be in store from the little man with the big personality.  So let’s get back in the theater and take a look at if school is really in session as we review:

 

Movie:  Night School (2018)

 

Director:

Malcolm D. Lee

Writers:

Kevin HartHarry Ratchford

Stars:

Tiffany HaddishKevin HartBrooke Butler

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Chemistry: Acting is exactly what you expect from Hart’s films, ridiculous, funny, and over the top.  Yet somehow, this ragtag group of high school dropouts works well together to craft an impromptu family that is entertaining to say the least. Between the two leads though, well that’s where the magic really occurs.  Haddish is very brash, crude, and still as wild as ever in her delivery of dialogue.  Hart on the other hand rambles like he always does, wavering his voice to levels while once again acting like a bozo unable to have a serious conversation.  The dynamic between the two is top tier though, one part a peeing contest to see who is smarter than whom, and one-part teacher-student level that brings that emotionally satisfying side these films can bring.  Nevertheless, the chemistry between the actors works super well.

 

Funny:  With a Hart movie, I can never tell how much I’m going to laugh, but when it came to Night School, I believe about half the movie had me in stitches.  Hart’s antics are still funny at times, where the delivery and dialogue fit together so well that it left me in tears.  Haddish as well has some major laughs, but for her, I preferred the other angle that she brought.  No it was the supporting cast and their sequences that I think brought me the most labs, integrating them into odd scenarios that worked so well.  Slapstick humor that involved dislocation, awful attempts at flirtation, and babysitting antics that go wrong.  The result is the cheaper laughs that we all know and love.

 

Good Pace:  A comedy movie needs to keep moving and for the most part the film works well to keep things engaging despite the predictability to come.  It jams a lot of comedy to not feel boring and does everything it can to keep you laughing, so you’ll get your money’s worth out of this one.

 

Message:  A comedy with a message is not uncommon, but this film gets a special nod to tackling the difficulties with learning disabilities, honor, and hard work ethic that again are needed for the constant reminders. Night School may wish to poke fun at the adventure of a GED, but make no mistake that they portrayed the serious subject matter with the bite it needed to stand out.  Thanks to those messages, the directors did a nice job of using this to ground the silliness and actually bring purpose to the chaos at hand.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Unoriginal most of the time: The problem with these movies for most is the fact of it being more of the same. Night School does stand out because it has more serious moments, but aside from that the comedy styles are reflective of the other movies.  You’ve got to be super big on the rantings, ramblings, and babbling of Kevin Hart characters, with a high tolerance to things going too high-volume arguments that he is famous for.  It doesn’t have the full unique spin of some of his other comedies and it just fills the gap between the bigger films coming.

 

Trailers Ruined some Big Scenes:  Given the media blow out of this movie, you can bet that there will be some things ruined in this film.  Sadly, the bigger scenes have had enough exposure to lose the edge for me, with a number of big comedic moments beaten over the head before the movie ever started. Now fortunately there are enough new scenes to pick up the slack though, but still hate to see the comedic potential fall.

 

Dropped Plot Point:  I know, these comedies aren’t all about character development or story, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the trouble of introducing family if you aren’t going to take them further.  Night School has a number of these moments that they could have pursued, but nothing more prevalent than Teddy’s family who didn’t have much involvement despite their introduction in the beginning. Lots of comedic potential, but again dropped in favor of other areas.

 

The Editing:  There are two meanings to this dislike.  First there were scenes that could have been left out or tightened up to help cut down on team and trim the extremely stupid back to manageable levels.  However, the part that didn’t work for me was the fact that some of the dialogue did not match up with the lip movements of the group. Obviously some reworks into the dialogue were done, so why did we not get reshoots or better editing to correct it.  While not the biggest effect on the movie, this inconsistent editing is not the way to go for detailed reviewers.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Let’s face it, Night School is not going to be the most original, the most award winning, or even the cleverest ideas to come to the market.  However, it is a very fun movie where the chemistry of the cast, the grounding of the comedy, and the pace are going to be very entertaining to the masses. I can say this is not my favorite of his films, but holds the middle of the ground for this guy because it is indeed funny.  Yet, a little more editing, some originality, and perhaps a little more diversity in the comedy and it could have been a top-notch addition to the Hart library.  Still, the movie is worth a visit to the theater with friends or in a group, otherwise, hold out to the streaming release in a few short months. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0