An Unnecessary Sequel, But It’s Great Quality “Four” All! Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 Poster

            Pixar, one of the two big animation studios vying for the spot of number one in the great world of movies.  In competition with Walt Disney Studios, though supposedly working together for the big company, the studio that blew our minds long ago is back with another “new” movie.  Having difficulties launching new ideas, Pixar seems to fall back on their time-honored films in an attempt to expand upon their timeless characters.  While often good, how far the movie can go is always the question, but these guys have managed to find the magic time and time again.  So I am here once more to review the latest installment to see if Pixar can keep in time with their storytelling.  Robbie K here and get ready for another review this time on:

 

Movie: Toy Story 4 (2019)

 

Director:

Josh Cooley

Writers:

John Lasseter (original story by), Andrew Stanton(original story by

Stars:

Tom HanksTim AllenAnnie Potts

 

 

LIKES:

  • Animation
  • Voice Acting
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Good Pace
  • Evolution Of Bo Peep and Woody
  • Three-Dimensional Villain
  • Super Emotional to Grip You

 

DISLIKES

  • Trailers Revealed A lot/Predictable
  • New Guys are Okay/Gimmicky
  • The Ending Makes The Points In Three Pointless
  • The Older Characters Are Not Utilized Well

 

Summary:  It’s Disney and It’s Pixar, you know the animation is going to be awesome as beautiful, and improving, graphics are integrated with color and sound design to bring the world to life.  Throw in the voice acting and once more the movie has crafted the usual media to bring their characters to the forefront of Disney heroes and heroines. And through their magic they have crafted fun characters, their army finding a way to bring comedy and emotion to the movie and produce a fun paced movie that entertains many ages and preferences. Yet what impresses me in this movie, is how well they developed some of their characters once more.  Bo Peep, a character who had little involvement out of snarky comments and a crush in the first two installments, is back with a complex story that is balanced, poised, and realistic to really latch onto.  Woody’s ever evolving tale matches perfectly with it, a lock and key that push these characters to new levels and somehow bridges the issues of the first installment.  Even more impressive is Pixar’s way of adding depth to the villain, somehow managing to put more layers in outside of just megalomaniac personas that are famous in Disney movies. This utilization of storytelling and character development, is the example of Disney’s ability to make emotionally gripping tales that pulled me into the adventure once more, keeping my interest and I believe pulling younger members in as well.  It’s those emotional moments that somehow seem to complete the movie and leave you with yet another satisfied conclusion, until they need more money and make the fifth movie.

  Yet, the movie still runs into the art of predictability, not entirely, but certainly enough has been ruined by the copious trailers to have given much away. And much like the trailers and specials, Toy Story also has a new cast of characters to merchandise off to the younger wards.  The new characters are fun, and serve their purpose of bringing laughs, quotes, and new ideas for toys.  They contribute their points, but unlike the original bunch, the involvement with them is not quite as engaging as previous installments.  Through in that the older characters we have grown up with over the last two and half decades are rather poorly integrated and you have some disappointing components to me.  I’m from the school of if you are not going to keep them integrated into the story meaningfully, why put them in to begin with, and this was especially true for Toy Story 4.  Finally, and probably picky, the conclusion of this movie sort of overwrote all the hard work of Toy Story 3 for me.  Certainly there are new lessons to learn at a new stage of the journey, but given the time frame between three and four, I would expect them not to so quickly displace what the gang did in three.  But hey that’s just me.

 

Overall, the movie is still a work of art, showing that despite ending the movie well, they can find way to keep it going.  Toy Story 4 has heart, class, and does such a good job of expanding its main characters to continue the supposed hero’s journey.  The new characters are fun, the world is still colorful, and it’s all presented in an entertaining and meaningful pace that I thoroughly enjoy.  Sure the tale is still predictable, the characters are imbalanced, and the ending did offset three for me a bit, but the truth is the movie is a fantastic tribute to the art of the animation studio that is Pixar.  No surprise it is worth a trip to theater so take the family, or yourself and get out to enjoy it as the emotional tale of the summer hits theaters this weekend.  Otherwise, it’s definitely one to go on the must see at home list for me.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

 

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Prepare For More All-Out Action Packed War

 

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Poster

 

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

 

Movie: John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)

 


Director:

Chad Stahelski

Writers:

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

Stars:

Keanu ReevesHalle BerryIan McShane

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy

Dogs

Use of Second Characters

Expanding The Story

Fast Pace

Action Sequences/Choreography

 

DISLIKES:

Excessive Violence

Some Underwhelming Story arcs

The Excessive Destruction

Unrealistic moments taken too far at times

The Ending

 

Similar Movies:

John Wick 1 and 2

Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2

Ninja Assassin

 

SUMMARY:

 

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

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

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

 

Overall my scores are:

 

Action/Crime Thriller: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

Getting Wicky With It!

wick-2

 

The Boogeyman has had a lot of different forms over the years from grotesque features, grossly deformed into the vision of nightmares to a man with slicked back hair and a… depressed look on his face?  No, I’m not delirious my friends, but the reference I made is to the codename of John Wick, the legendary assassin of 2014. After a thrilling, and complete conclusion, one may have thought Wick’s journey ended there.  Obviously, Hollywood did not think so and thus comes Chapter 2 of the action adventure and whatever, random target that is assigned.  Robbie K here, and today we take a look at John Wick: Chapter 2.  Let’s get started!

 

Likes:

  • Dry sense of humor
  • Visuals and special effects
  • Stable camera work
  • Lots of action and excitement

 

Summary:  There isn’t much in regards to John Wick, so finding a like outside of action, but one component is the dry sense of humor this film has.  Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a man of few words, but the few he speaks are worth a good laugh.  The writers win points for a dialogue that is both pun filled and classy, timing them at key points to maximize laughs while sticking to the stoic nature of our players.

 

Yet the humor is just an added bonus to what is John Wick’s strongest feature, the action.  All the reviews are in agreement that Wick is back with more action than ever imagined, as this one-man army unleashes a storm of well-placed bullets, knife slashing (and sometimes pencil) stand offs, and Marshal Arts punches.  Wick’s skills with a pistol (among other weaponry) are intense displays of choreography, proving that you can coordinate extras dying to imaginary wounds in an exciting way.  The hand-to-hand combat also gets points, not quite as developed as the 70s and 80s movies, but still an enjoyable element to mix things up. Helping support all the action is impressive special effects, which adds the extra flare and touch that gets our hearts pumping (e.g. explosions, crashes, and comic book bashing sounds). You can guess there is plenty of blood to go around too (for you gore seeking fans), which adds more to the chaos and violence at hand that somehow… adds a bit of satisfaction to the mix.  But even better, is the entire film has stable camera work that keeps you scoped on the action without making you vomit due to vertigo.  Overall, this exciting package gets two thumbs up in its etiquette, design, and impressive work on the action.

 

Dislikes:

  • Keanu’s acting (at times)
  • Simplistic story
  • Overstepping boundaries at times
  • Some fights a bit blocky
  • Unorthodox presentation
  • Slower parts a bit…too slow

 

Summary: While we never expected an academy for this performance, there are times where Keanu’s acting is a bit too lax.  His lines are meant to be serious, but come out awkward, effortless, and sometimes bored at the unoriginal dialogue.  While this certainly isn’t a big weakness, there are moments where this acting took away Wick’s awesome factor, or made me chuckle unintentionally.

 

Acting aside, the story is another limiting factor that Wick really needs some fine tuning on.  Yes, I know story isn’t the main theme of this series (hence why I make a genre rating people), but movie overall this film’s plot is a little less put together than its predecessor.  A random guy shows up, tells a vague back story to establish a weak connection, and then becomes another revengeful chase across two cities.  All the convoluted (shallowly explained) relationships and teases did nothing but make more targets for Wick and did nothing to add to the story for me.

 

Finally, while the action is indeed awesome and well done, there are still a few limitations that hit this quality.  First, those who aren’t fans of repetitive gun play and headshots, need to skip this film…because that is a majority of the action.  But outside of repetition, the action sometimes oversteps the boundaries of realism.  A car mercilessly being smashed (and smashing) yet still running, a number of injuries that magically heal, and the inaccuracy of other assassins are just some of the eye-rolling moments of this film. In addition, some of the fist fights get very blocky, have awkward pauses, or lack the edge (music and sound effects) that make the fighting less exciting and more we just extending screen time.  Another component I didn’t like was how they reduced Wick’s fighting of other assassins to a messy set of montages that seemed out of place and were lackluster compared to Wick fighting off nameless extras.  Such missed potential for memorable rivalries, and more diverse fights. And even more missed potential, was the slower parts not taking time to advance a story, or establish better character dynamics, which made for some dragged out moments.

 

The Verdict:

 

Wick’s journey of revenge and killing is certainly more exciting than his last ordeal.  The emphasis is on the action, with a majority of the film geared towards the stunts, effects, and violence, so adrenaline junkies strap up and hit the theater.  However, if you are looking for the complete package of story, dynamics, and balance, then this film isn’t the right one for you.  Wick still lacks a lot of other qualities in the movie overall category.  Worth a trip to theater?  Yes, as the special effects and excitement are made for the theater.  But if you can’t handle extreme violence then skip!

 

My scores:

Action/Crime/Thriller:  8 (for the action)

Movie Overall: 5