This Gringo Was Not The Heffe



Dark-Comedies are an acquired taste, but once you develop it you have the ability to appreciate more satirical comedy.  David Oyelowo attempts to bring this genre to life this weekend in the movie Gringo, a film that has some bite I didn’t expect from a movie this early in the year.  But what zany adventures will unfold when a black man is stuck between the high stakes world of pharmaceutical development and the cartels?  Well that is what this film attempts to answer, and it is my job to give you the 411 on the latest movies to storm the screen.  Let’s go!




-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times



Gringo is a movie that likes to go over the top, with characters that are all about going to one extreme or the other. However David Oyelowo is the character that has a little more dynamic than the other.  Oyelowo is fun to watch, for me being the funniest character with his loud, rambunctious delivery of lines that are loaded with high-pitched panicking screams. Yet he is able to turn that energy around, and focus it to give a character that is worth looking into as he tries to navigate the hostile world he wound up in.  Like his character Harold, Oyelowo keeps things very relatable and invests his time to making a good adventure.

But what is an adventure without a little ethics debate to come into the light.  Gringo does this just right as the conversation of doing the right thing vs. the selfish thing constantly rears its ugly head in the cartel wastelands that this film takes place in. Harold’s journey not only tests his own morals, but inspires others to address their own life choices, from settling on abusive boyfriends to what one will do to get money to accomplish their personal goals.  It fits okay into the movie, but there are some hard hitting dialogue moments to help reassure that the best stuff doesn’t mean the best life.

As stated earlier, dark comedies are a little dryer than other, more modern comedies so you have to be ready for more delivery and timing to do the lifting.  Gringo has some legit comedic moments, really taking an awkward situation and turning it into a tear inducing riot of laughs.  These moments often have a nice, clever zing to them, that Oyelowo maximizes using his natural accent and mannerisms.

And all of these components are able to be placed in a decently paced run time that minimizes the slow and maximizes the thrills.




-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end


You’ve read my reviews, but you know that lazy writing that relies of cursing doesn’t get my stamp of approval.  Gringo has extreme characters that don’t use the most advanced language, relying once more on F-bombs and sleazy pick up lines to do the talking.  While pertinent to the story, for once, and sometimes entertaining, Gringo utilized these tactics too much for my tastes.  Even the yelling of Oyelowo got old, with many of his pleas soon running dry like the desert he ran through.  As such, this movie didn’t really have the comedic punch I wanted, but more a thrill seeking, dark adventure with a little comedic buff thrown in.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that a lot of the funny parts had been advertised to death in the trailers, resulting in the overplayed scene being boring by show time. And once the last scene started to end and all the stories came together, things sort of wrapped up in a chaotic package that wasn’t in time with the movie.  Not the worst mind you, but not what I quite expected from the trailers.





Gringo is okay, and designed for a select audience that wants the darker things in life to be ridiculed.  This film is a legitimate mixture of drama, crime, adventure and comedy, taking these aspects and twisting it into a semi-entertaining story with some moral obligations to address.  While I enjoyed Oyelowo and the well-timed zingers, I still can’t say this was the best, most unique comedy to hit the screen.  The extreme characters, mundane dialog, and chaotic organization (ruined by the trailers), didn’t deliver the expected feel I got from the advertising and as such left more to be desired.  So I recommend skipping this one and hitting something else in the month of March.


My scores are:


Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0



Thrills Are The Hunters, but Story Is The Prey



The horror genre continues to try and limp its way back into the limelight, and outside of the promise of a cheap gimmick, they continue to barely hold a place in Hollywood.  Yet the dark stories they try to sell us are often enough to hook many in tackling the potential scares to see how the cast will do against the supernatural odds.  Strangers: Prey At Night is going to attempt to bait many to come into the theaters this weekend and yours truly is back with another review to help you determine is this the movie for you.  Let’s get this started, shall we?




Thrilling Pace

-Quick Run Time

-Creepy atmosphere

-The 80’s soundtrack

-Wraps Up, kind of


The Strangers doesn’t pull any punches in regards to getting the horror themes started.  A looming threat of death keeps the movie at a good pace, almost like the most dangerous game coming to life with a soap opera twist.  As the “heroes” try to move amidst the maze of trailers, the ever-looming dread lurking in the shadows of the Strangers hunting their prey.  This fast pace keeps the film moving, and due to a wise decision to not get too ingrained in the horror elements, the movie is over pretty quickly.

Is it scary?  The answer to that is surprisingly yes, but more so in how creepy the movie is.  The realism of how people can go crazy and take pleasure in death to set such an elaborate trap gets to me, the chills that such sickness exists to this manner is the biggest element.  As the feeling of being stranded sets in, the movie does a nice job throwing some jump scares into the mix to try and keep you on edge.  So yeah, it has factors that scary.

As for the rest of the movie quirks, well the little gimmick of the soundtrack is entertaining not only in hearing legendary songs rock the theater walls, but also in how the songs match up with the mood of that scene. It makes for an interesting spin, and I liked the cheesy element adding a little class.  And I always do enjoy horror movies that do an ending right and The Strangers wrap up nicely, while leaving a little mystery, shock, and suspense to sweeten the deal for those who don’t want a fairy tale ending.



Crappy Character Development

-Lazy Writing

-Unrealistic Response

-Unnecessary Drawn Out


The Strangers has plenty of things to improve on from the scary base it tries to establish.  For one thing, I like a horror movie where I get to actually know the characters that are potentially going to diet, you know with a backstory and development.  Not the case with this movie, the Strangers both hunters and hunted, are almost one-dimensional with little to no backstory.  Therefore, you are just seeing strange people running around at night and potentially dying…great job guys.

The character development also isn’t the only lazy thing about this movie.  The Strangers has no heart behind it, with so much of it being simplistic, gory thrills and little wit to the adventure at hand.  There were too many coincidences happening from the strangers mysteriously finding them to a clever tool laying nearby.  In addition, the characters were a little too stupid as well, resulting in unrealistic situations that extended the adventure, but were eye rolling more than anything.  When it came to giving motives and more sinister methods, again they failed to elaborate on this, with the only answer being “Why Not”.  Clever guys.  In addition, the prey seemed to be demi-gods, able to not only survive pretty debilitating injuries, but somehow inconsistently respond to those wounds depending on how long they have to run.

And given all the drawn out torture, cutting, and destruction of ligaments in this movie, you would think the rest of their bodies would fail, but nope…they were just fine.  And as for the torture, sometimes it was a little too spread out for me at times, and when given the realistic twist, was a direction I didn’t want to go down.  Oh well, got to love deranged directing right?




            The Strangers attempted to pay homage to a genre that has undergone many face lifts to keep up with the modern era, but it is grossly imbalanced to fully deliver on the promised nightmares it wanted to induce. Sure, there is suspense, a quick pace, and some creepy factors to get under your skin alongside the bloody carnage of torture.  Yet, the Strangers was just lazy on so many levels, relying on too many well-timed gimmicks, one-dimensional characters, and unrealistic responses that just didn’t sell the movie.  So those looking to enjoy a ridiculous man hunt with gore filled torture should go all in for this movie.  However, I recommend skipping this one and rewatching the 2008 version of it instead. 


My scores are:

Horror:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Sexy, Sleek, and A Spy Thriller Indeed

Red Sparrow


Jennifer Lawrence, a chameleon in many forms as to what role she will play and how well she will act in it.  What is never questionable though, is that it will often involve some type of edge, with some anger thrown into the mix.  And this weekend, yet another film for her to exercise her emotions is back in the form of Red Sparrow, the latest spy thriller to sneak into the theaters.  The movie promises to be the same intense dynamics, perhaps with a little sexiness thrown in.  Does the movie have the same fire that it’s lead actress has, or is it another flop?  Robbie K happy to help you out with another movie decision with yet another review.  Let’s get started:




Costumes:  In a spy movie of such caliber, you are hoping that the costumes are going to be chic, sexy, and feel like the super spy role.  Red Sparrow’s costumes are worthy of the mantle of high fashion, being pleasant on the eyes and fitting so well with the roles given to Ms. Lawrence. They add a nice flare to the movie, being utilized to sell her cover and infiltrate the secrets held within all parties, and in such a subtle way as that.  It’s a small like, but one that warrants appreciation.


The Strong Woman Character:  If it’s a Jennifer Lawrence role, it’s going to involve a strong female role and Red Sparrow is again no exception to the movement of strong female characters.  Dominika has many layers, all built around a solid core value of family, bringing duty and loyalty to the heart of her character.  They build upon these values, weaving a complex character who with each peel exposes layers that continue to evolve with each dive into the dark depths of espionage.  And as more characters join the deadly game, Dominika gets to adapt in an attempt to juggle all the information being handed to her.  And not only do her actions speak volumes, but Dominika has a few lines to throw out that are empowering to many in the theater.  I enjoyed the strong, ever adapting character that hopefully can teach a few lessons amidst the destruction taking place.


True Spy Thriller:  With James Bond films, we’ve been spoiled with the spy and action series blending together.  Yet, the world of espionage is a lot less flashy given the emphasis of blending in and breaching the trusts of so many people. Red Sparrow flies into the territory of representing the espionage game, utilizing heavy writing, ingenuity, throwing out plenty of leads, and utilizing plenty of tactics to complicate the tale.  The mysteries that are presented are the lure to keep you invested in the 2 hour 19 minute run time, all screaming of a true spy thriller that has been missing for some time, including an ending that is worthy of being called a respectable twist.




Slow:  Sadly, the movie is very slow at parts, focusing more on the jargon, psychology, and training that is involved in this harsh environment.  While this is interesting, it is also very hard to keep attention when the plot doesn’t move to keep the thrills going and make learning the information fun.  Spy thrillers need to be thrilling, and I didn’t really get into the plot until the last thirty minutes of the film when the stakes increased dramatically.  Drama fans won’t have quite as big of an issue with this, because the love, sex, and relationships fill these slow moments, but fans like me need to have some coffee before coming in.


Complicated Jargon:  This goes with the slow speed, but Red Sparrow is not a conversation light movie.  Where many movies have simplistic dialogue that leads you in a linear fashion. Red Sparrow however is like one of those word webs, with so much spreading out it can be confusing to piece things together without paying major attention.  So many relationships to keep track of and so much information to maintain, you have to keep everything in check to figure out what the point of all this is.  And given how the tone of the characters fluctuates, it can sometimes be difficult to hear what they are saying as the cavalcade talk in whispers and hushed tones.


Graphic TortureSerial killers rejoice, you’ll see the dark dealings of punishment unfold in very disturbing moments, but for others with weaker constitutions you’ll need to turn away. There is plenty of Red in this movie, and not in the slasher movie cheesiness Hollywood has made famous.  This movie has been majorly grounded in terms of thrills, but with it comes some realism that is more gruesome to see.  I appreciate this darkness to some extent, but the there are some nightmare inducing images, and in some cases a little unnecessary to the story.




            Despite all the mixed reviews, I think that Red Sparrow is a fine film that shows off Lawrence’s talents to be edgy and a strong women character.  The film has plenty of mystery to solve as you try to uncover the true meaning behind this thriller, searching for any information possible.  And given all this convoluted information, this movie certainly is the closest thing to an espionage film we’ve gotten in a long while.  Yet, the movie is slow, and geared more toward romantic drama lovers who could care less about the story and more about the sabotage the characters throw at each other.  Nevertheless, this dark story is not for the faint of focus and should be geared towards those who like a darker story with lots of kinks to unravel.  My scores are:


Mystery/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0


When You Wish Upon A Gun

Death Wish


Bruce Willis a legend that will live on in the halls of action movies.  The stoic face, the rugged muscles, and the ability to wield every type of gun are just some of the qualities that make him stand amongst the heroes of the action world.  Tonight, a fellow friend attends the movies with me to help determine what his next film entitled Death Wish holds in store.  Does another rogue cop movie hold bar, or is Willis just spinning our wheels?  Robbie K and friend are here to provide some info.  Let’s get started!




Comedic Timing:  Shocker, you aren’t going to see this movie for comedy, but Death Wish has it anyway.  While not straight up laughing, slapstick or one-liners, Death Wish’s comedy comes more from the pokes at society this movie portrays.  Primarily aimed at the media blowing up articles into the latest entertainment, Death Wish is not afraid to call us out on turning everything into entertainment. In addition, Willis manages to drop some well-timed insults into the mix, often geared toward the unreliability of the law enforcement that plagues our world.  Such small nuances aren’t the wettest humor, but it works given the tone of this movie.


Moral Debates:  Another movie, another means to provide a medium to have ethical debates.  Like so many people these days, people take drastic action to make change happen, and Death Wish is just a series of clips that raise this question.  Gun vigilante may seem extreme, but sadly in this day and age it is not, and it makes one wonder how far you are willing to go to bring about the change.  Is it preachy?  Yes, but that underlying theme acts as the character development in this rather simple plot and works to add a little more meaning to the plot.

Edgy action:  If you’ve seen the trailers, you know the movie is meant to be another example of why Bruce Willis is the man with the exciting plan.  Death Wish fulfills that promise, giving you a movie that has drops flashy stunts and CGI for down and dirty shoot outs.  And while crime shootings are often one dimensional, monotone blowouts, Death Wish manages to add some different angles to the mix that are loaded with a dark tone to really bring out the suspense.  What adds even more thrills, is that Death Wish manages to avoid falling into invincible syndrome, giving some more realistic qualities to our hero so you can relate and potentially get hooked into the suspense. With all this edge, it refreshes the action genre that has gotten stale with their ridiculous antics.


Good pace:  A final nod, outside of a well reflected soundtrack, is the pace of the movie.  A little bit of time is needed at the beginning to get things revved up, but once the first gun blazes, things kick up into gear.  Death Wish is a film that is all about pacing, shedding little time on the irrelevant details so you get as much hunting as you could possibly want. It certainly does not feel slow!



Savage, Dark, Suffering:  My friend doesn’t mind this aspect, and truth is I can handle it too, but for others this movie has a little more graphic torturing than you might be thinking.  Those with weak constitutions, may need to avert their eyes a few times at the bloody fates our extras have in store.  If you can’t handle this blood and cringe worthy tactics, you need to think about watching the movie as it’s not all quick finishes and sunshine.  In fact, some may be depressed seeing the light fade out of the eyes of a few of the reaper’s victims.


Blunt ends:  Death Wish’s writing had plenty of storytelling elements and potential plots contained within, but many of these we felt were bluntly dropped into the mix.  The Ice Cream Man for instance held little difference outside of his scene on the trailers, though you thought he might have had a little more sway.  There are other examples of this, each one starting to build steam or provide a new dynamic for Willis’ character, but sadly they didn’t quite develop all these elements that could have been something more.


Action in the TrailersThis is one of those movies that if you have seen the trailer a lot, or have a good memory, you’re going to unfortunately see a lot of familiar scenes.  Most of the action scenes have been completely shown in the trailer, a testament to how long these scenes are. Therefore, watch the trailer enough time, and you’ve got a little in regards to surprises with the action scenes, and not much from the plot either.  A dilution of story, surprise, and suspense, the movie needed a little tweaking to help out break out of the shell.


Unrealistic:  Wow, an action movie that leaves the reality and goes to the realm of fiction, not the first time we’ve seen this happen.  However, given the more realistic tone of Death Wish, you would think they would work a little harder to keep this going.  First there are some plot holes my friend picked out, that came out of left field.  Yeah, they worked to transition the scenes, but some of these stretches were farfetched, unable to support the method behind Willis’ hunt. Then comes the lacking brains, skills, or ingenuity that the black-market population follow.  How in the world did guards not be posted every single hit target these supposedly elite thieves had?  How did Willis find these steps to contact the guys, or vice versa?  Small things for some, but for this reviewer that deviation was hard to stomach. Finally, Willis’ character somehow manages to avoid detection with just a hoodie.  Batman is able to mask via technology and a legitimate costume, but in this day of media/sharing/and the internet, how in did he avoid detection for so long.  If I knew I just had to put a sleeve over my head and look down to be invisible, I would have done this in undergrad.  Thus, the realistic action movie loses its realistic edge.





            Despite the limitations, Death Wish is the action movie to liven things up and bring those edges the series needs.  The realistic tone, with character development is the hard-hitting angle the genre needed, and the morale dilemma is a nice added bonus.  If you are looking for that grittier element, this movie is certainly the one for you, lacking restraints to unleash the violence full swing.  Yet, the movie still needs to watch its story writing making sure to avoid blunt, rushed ends and big stretches to have us believe.  Yet, if you suspend this tie to realism, you will certainly enjoy this thrilling ride.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I’d say yes in this case if you are a fan of the legend.


MY scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0


Game On For This Night Of Fun

Game night


Comedies, another genre that crashes into theaters, like waves crashing on a beach.  Whit is often lost in the flood of comedy movies, but every so often, the minds are able to once again give us something fresher to laugh at.  Today’s flick involved the ever-popular game night, a tradition that works its way into the homes of all ages to help with establishing friendly rivalries, a local watering hole, and the chance to drink and compete.  Tonight I finish my reviews with Game Night starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, which hopes to amp up the stakes of tradition for the chance at big wins and adventure.  Let’s get started on the review to determine if the house paid.




-Multiple comedy styles

-An intriguing mystery

-Decent Character Development

-Clever Adventure at times


Game Night is a comedy that works well in terms of the multiple styles of comedy packed into the small-time frame of the movie.  Slapstick, stupidity, one liners, over the top stunts, and overacted delivery are balanced together to keep things interesting and fun in the 100 minutes or so of content. And while much of this is dumb fun, there is an intriguing mystery to ground it all to a common point and keep things in line.  How far does the rabbit hole descend in terms of crime, you’ll have to see for yourself, but there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing.  Surprisingly, Game Night’s players have a little more background than the usual pawns of this genre, with each member dealing with some issue that plagues them.  Themes like responsibility, jealousy, and self-worth are all here, gradually expanded upon as the teams try to find the clues to rescuing their kidnapped colleague.  It’s a clever adventure and gets my two thumbs up in terms of a unique flair.




-Sometimes too stupid

-Tried to Hard

-More Game Night Antics needed


No surprise, this movie is jam packed with idiotic antics to tickle the funny bone.  At first these gags were good, some of the running jokes building momentum to deliver some well-timed punches.  Soon the audience and I started to give pity laughs at the jokes being entirely too stupid, dragging on to levels that made napping look like a better option.  Even worse, sometimes the characters tried too hard to be funny, Bateman in particular putting too much behind his delivery.  These moments are fairly obvious and start to overshadow the game night qualities I was hoping this movie had.  Given all the mysteries, and theme of game night, I had hoped for a little more antics that mirrored the games one usually plays at a game night, like an intense scrabble mystery, or a Jenga like obstacle course.  Instead, the movie resorted to the usual stunts and tactics, that while entertaining at times just lacked the originality they could have held.




When it comes to comedies, Game Night wins in terms of the variety of comedic ploys it unleashes in such a short time frame. With an intriguing mystery and some decent character development, you will get a decent adventure compared to most other ridiculous comedies that grace the theater. Still, Game Night suffers from overacted antics and stupidity that gets stale quickly, lacking that full-on game night cleverness you might have expected.  It is a start mind you, but there is plenty to work with should a second game night be picked up should it make enough money this weekend. As much fun as this movie is, I can suggest a trip to the theater for this one for a group night out, but otherwise hold out until the rental services get it.


My scores are:

Comedy/Crime/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5


Annihilates The Mundane Sci-Fi, But …



The Science Fiction genre, a group of films that often get wrapped up in other genres that they stray far from the roots established long ago.  A true science fiction, is often a thriller that tests the limits of reality, dives deep into the psyche of the characters, and often brings a fictitious world that we can only dream of to life.  And this weekend, another movie looks to fall into this category and actually belong into it.  Annihilation starring Natalie Portman looks to be a movie that contains many strange elements, wonders, and thrills to warrant a venture into the movie theater again.  What lies in store?  Well Robbie K would be happy to share his thoughts with another review.  Let’s get started!




The World Building:  Within Annihilation, lies the anomaly called the Shimmer and within it a world that has been mutated by some unknown force.  As our “heroes” for lack of a better word venture into the gasoline mixed with water looking border, the world contained within is a wonder in itself.  Our world’s natural flora and fauna are bizarrely twisted into these contorted visuals that look natural, beautiful, and a true representation of the genetic crossing that we all studied in school. The world’s scientific art continued to grow only deeper and darker as they traveled further into the void, the animation and creativity being unleashed into the chaotic skew with no limitations.  Some of these creations are stunning in terms of color, while other times they are the things of nightmares, whose movements and designs will leave you huddled in your chair. 


Science Fiction Thrills:  In addition to the world itself, Annihilation is all about the true Sci-Fi adventure.  An unending suspense hovers over the air, the tension always mounting at what lies within the glades of this weird dimension.  The mystery of what is causing this continues to build across the course of the movie, as well as if our heroes will make it to find the answer.  Annihilation’s threats do exist outside, but even more dire is the psychological warfare the Shimmer plays on our girls.  Disturbing imagery is only one assault to their psyches, as they are pushed from all fronts to confront whatever it is eating them inside.  And in addition to bringing suspense, the characters get some major development, shelling out their background information and helping them adapt to the ever-changing world around them.  This culmination is very entertaining and truly worthy of the sci-fi mantle in terms of plot.


Deep:  A good science fiction movie makes you think, and Annihilation has got you covered in this element as well.  As you try to solve the mystery of the movie and the fantastic twists that get thrown in, you’ll find deeper meanings behind the actions of the movie.  Many of these are head scratchers, trying to figure out just what the Shimmer is doing.  While not as complex as Arrival or Matrix, Annihilation still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to bend your mind and get you trying to process all the weird information it throws at you.  As you process this, you may uncover deeper, morale dilemmas, horror filled thoughts of the future, and even the fragility of order are all up for questions.  This artistic flare is certainly a score booster, though fair warning that these deeper meanings are also disturbing at times too.



Savage/Disturbing:  With a title like Annihilation, one needs to be ready for darker undertones and source material.  However, this movie goes down a very graphic path that was able to penetrate my desensitized shell.  Found footage reveals some rather violent outcomes for previous teams, with little to no censorship of details that are capable of causing some to lose their lunch.  The savage nature of the beasts and the violence held within just about everything in this film throws no punches, again choosing to display the gory details that fail to dampen. 


Flashbacks:  The flashbacks are certainly for character development and some of them set the story up nicely for the bombs to be dropped.  Others however, are unnecessary details that did little other than show the suffering we already knew she held and expand the run time.  Complete as it was, I didn’t quite pick up on the significance of some of these wasted scenes and could have held better storytelling elements to help build the suspense.  Not all of these have to be eliminated, but editing could have used some tightening up to make everything more relevant.


Deeper supporting characters:  The movie is primarily about Natalie Portman, shocker there, and at the start it showed some promise that the other members of her team would be more integral to the mission.  Yet, things decrease fairly fast to where the other characters soon become rushed plot lines, trinkets to tax Leah (Portman)’s conscience and further push the psyche limitations of everyone.  Had they given some better relationships, a little more teamwork, and integration of all characters, perhaps then we would have had even stronger development and thrills to enjoy.


The Weird Ending: You know that feeling you get when after the big wait the ending turns out to be something you didn’t/or maybe never wanted to expect?  Well Annihilation was kind of like that for me.  The twist at the end was great, bringing relevance to some of the flashbacks, and really blowing your mind.  However, the entity itself is not quite as awe-inspiring or terrifying to say the least.  The source of the trouble is abstract, creepy, and very hard on the ears as it tries to communicate in sounds you have heard in the trailers. This final scene is super prolonged, and quite uncomfortable at times to watch as this dance of perverted awkwardness commences. Is it unique?  Yes, but it still didn’t quite match what I wanted.  And for those who don’t like abstract thinking and deciphering the conclusion yourself, hate to break it to you, but you won’t get all the explanations you might be looking for.  Yeah, it’s weird.





            Annihilation may have looked weird, and it’s true it is an odd spectacle to behold to the general audience.  However, it is a true sci fi thriller in meaning, thought provoking, stunts, and world building, to the level that fans of the genre will be pleased with what the studio brought out to you. It’s weaknesses for me come in it went a little too far down the weird pathway, going too savage and abstract to provide a clear picture at times.  The use of flashbacks was stylish at times but overdone as it sacrificed the chances for other characters to get some more time on the screen.  Still, if you are looking for that dark, story that makes you scratch your head, then Annihilation is the movie for you to check out.  For those who qualify, this movie is worth a trip to the theater, but for others kip this as long as you can to avoid disturbing those with sensitive constitutions. 


My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0


Early Age Comedy

Early Man

            This year is a big year for sports with both Winter Olympics and The World Cup ringing in the sporting events that we all flock too.  The latter event in particular is one of the most recognizable sports of all time and a big influence for a variety of games, television series and of course movies.  My review today is one of those movies, about this international sensation that tries to put a comedic spin on the potential origins of this obsession.  As you’ve read, today’s review is on the latest animated adventure Early Man, the stop motion/clay animation like movie to try to charm the modern-day audience.  What is in store?  As always read on to find out!



AnimationNo surprise, an animated movie has good animation, but Early Man gets bonus points in terms of using more traditional methods to make the story come to life.  This film’s animation is solid, with fluid motion being beautifully presented as they practice stone age soccer.  I admire the fact that they did not take short cuts in this film and appreciate the unique character design that the studio presented, no matter how odd they look.  Early Man certainly isn’t the prettiest of the animated features, but it does net points in the unique category.


Story:  Yes, the movie is certainly one of the more childish based movies, but the story is surprisingly deeper than you might be imagining.  Early Man is indeed a comedy centered in soccer and trying to have the little guy beat the big guy.  However, loaded with this time-tested tale is a story that involved building confidence, the development of the mentor, and of course the quality of teamwork.  These values are well-crafted into the fun at hand, putting some relevance to the antics at hand.  And of course, the movie is wrapped up in that family friendly package you G-PG seekers are looking for, though be warned there are a few words (not cursing related) that may be repeatable by little ears.


Clever:  Early Man is certainly not the most unique story, but the humor has a bit more wit behind the mindless babbling that sometimes comes out.  The writers settle on the British style of laughs, using accent heavy presentations, pokes at popular cultures, and some inside, cultural reference jokes that I thoroughly enjoy.  While the movie has a lot of slapstick for kids, the adults will get some chuckles at these references, some of which are indeed only understandable by older ears.


The Pig:  One character that particularly stands out is the pig.  This studio always seems to give more prowess to their animal characters than humans, with Hognob being no exception to the rule.  Semi-anthropomorphized, Hognob has the most dynamic nature of all the cast of heroes.  With little, to no words, the pig is able to bring a lot of feelings to the scene while also bringing the most laughs.  His constant attempts to save his masters, act as a decoy, and even training with the team makes for some entertainment.



Too Silly:  Despite the cleverness behind the movie, Early Man is still geared toward the younger audiences.  Therefore, the silly, kiddy factor takes the helm and steers it headlong into that area.  All the slapstick humor of soccer injuries, impossible chases, and attempting to devour various people/animals are going to be the majority of the humor you’ll see.  It is well timed at certain points, but this humor got stale quickly for me and sometime was unimpressive.


Anticlimactic:  The premise of the film was soccer match between the stone and bronze age, therefore you were hoping for a semi-epic match against the two.  Unfortunately, the exciting climax actually gets diluted by the funny business, reduced to a few quick plays, some over the top slapstick, and a very lackluster finale.  It seems like they still need to take a page from Disney, and actually deliver on a big bang finale to make the journey worth it.  Had they been able to expand upon this, add some more tension, and smarten up the comedy a little more, the older audience members could have enjoyed this. 


Rushed/Lacking:  In a world owned by the mega studio Disney, unique is hard to come by without their big-time budget.  Early Man is certainly a unique idea, but the problem was they didn’t deliver through with it.  Much like the climax, the movie failed to put our characters through ordeals to make them have meaningful development.  Despite being cute, and somewhat funny, most of the characters have difficulty with being relatable, resulting in a slightly dull group.  In addition, the desire to appease to a younger crowd also had this movie pacing blindingly fast and therefore leaving little room for actual plot building.  While by far not the worst tale to drop into theaters, Early Man still needs work for any future sequels.



Early Man is an animated feature that gets points for the hard work of stop motion animation.  It’s a cute adventure that has a family friendly story, with a couple of characters that will make you laugh at various points.  The problem is, that the movie was focused too much on the younger audience and failing to expand into the territories needed for older members.  Early Man’s concept needed more developing and attempt to moisten the dry comedy this movie has contained within it.  In addition, the film needed a little more friction to add thrills to the story, thereby getting more engaging characters to latch onto.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You are better off checking out Peter Rabbit instead, but I’d save this one for a home rent. 


My Scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5