I Still Believe In Balanced Religion Movies

I Still Believe Poster

 

Religion is a touchy subject to many out there in the world, especially given politics of today and the verbal sharing of the world.  Yet, there is something inspirational in the stories that are told and the miracles they can bring in their messages .  Tonight is another one of those movies that hopes to bring the word of the Lord to life, in a format that’s slightly more modern than the bible they are based on.  Yet, the movie sometimes loses its focus when it gets too preachy, and only those are major devotion will enjoy those moments to the max.  Will this latest romance/drama follow suit, or will we be treated to a fun surprise.  Well sit down and enjoy the ride as we hit up:

 

Movie: I Still Believe (2020)

 

Directors:

Andrew ErwinJon Erwin

Writers:

Jon ErwinJon Gunn

Stars:

Britt RobertsonK.J. ApaMelissa Roxburgh

 

 

LIKES:

  • Cute
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • Passionate Scenes
  • Cool Display of Miracles
  • Some Of The dialogue
  • The Musical Performances… when they happened

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not Much Story With The Family Or Other Supporting Characters
  • Not many Songs or Length Of Songs
  • Almost Feels Incomplete
  • The Acting at Times Is Very Forced
  • Diluted The Impact Of The Story With limited writing
  • Preachy

 

SUMMARY:

A movie with young romance is often very cute in a movie like this, to which this film succeeds at achieving. The relationship may start at awkward, but eventually evolves into something that is adorable to see unfold, especially at the energy it brings to what can potentially be a depressing movie.  Unlike some other movies, the film manages to keep a good pace, always keeping the romance moving towards what will surely be an intense lesson and minimizing how many tangents these films can sometimes take.  Eventually, the movie crosses a barrier though, and drops into a passionate story that shows you just how much these two people love each other.  From all the acts the guy and girl do for each other, this true story is inspiring to see that there just may be hope for the world at times.  The miracles that come out of the woodwork in this film are also pretty cool as well, displays that no one can expect (unless you read about them) again helping drive you to the faith and salvation that comes with it.  Messages like these are only further emphasized by some amazing writing, which could have been adapted from the live letters the couple donated, that are poetic, heartfelt, and even brings tears to much of the audience.  Finally, the musical moments that show off not only praising, but the talented voices of our actors, helped add a little variety to the mix, my favorite being the beach scene that seemed to culminate the power of music. 

 

However, the movie happens to fail on some other things for me that took away from me from this film.  First, despite this being a movie about coming together in the name of the Lord, the family’s involvement was actually a little limiting. Their impact has its moments, but I felt very disconnected with most of the other members, as the two protagonists danced around their relationship, which I guess is what most go into looking forward.  Now maybe the songs make up for it, after all there are plenty of these films where the music comes in to save the day with a stunning performance.  This movie has one moment to have you lift your arms, but outside of a few numbers, the songs are mostly sound bites and quickened performances that get lost to dialogue.  My friend and I both really could have enjoyed the musical spectacles, but alas they did not put stock in it.  As such, the film feels very incomplete in terms of involvement and integration, a shame given the potential of the film from the trailers.  In terms of acting, they are okay, nothing that blew my mind, but was believable in the moments that counted.  However, the movie feels very forced at times, the dialogue in particular coming off a bit cheesy as the actors try to make the words come to life as the chemistry is developing.  Humorous at times, whether meaning to or not, I was hoping that some better writing or adaptations to the lines could have really stood out (which got better as the movie neared its finish).  It’s not that it’s bad, please don’t take it that way, but compared to other movies… the writing did not really amplify this tale like I expected.  Finally, you know it’s coming, but the movie dives into the realm of being preachy again.  If you are a devoted worshipper, this will not impact you one bit, and though faithful to the word I have to put my bias aside.  There are times where the dialogue is very forced to the written word, going to the preachy side that will make people roll their eyes and potentially turn away from the message at hand.  I’m warning you again to go in expecting this, and if you can filter the… cheesy moments out, the message can still get to you.

 

The VERDICT:

            I Still Believe has the intended audience built into the title as a passionate, religious focused movie that will either make you raise your hands up or roll your eyes at the antics.  A cute relationship with inspiring moments, the movie manages to move at a fast-enough pace to be entertaining, yet focus on those key moments to nail you with the religious prowess that they wanted.  However, the movie sort of leaves out the other characters, primarily their families that I would have thought would have been front and center in the relationship at hand.  In addition, the acting feels forced, the impact of the scenes dwindled down by incomplete storytelling, forced dialogue, and preachy moments that needed a little more magic.  Throw in that for a song singer there are not many songs to get into… and well you may be disappointed by the full-on presentation.  The key demographic is those of heavy faith, for the majesty of God’s words will fill these audience members with renewed energy.  However, this is not my favorite of the worshipping films and I think others are better at delivering the message at hand.  I think this film is best suited for home viewing, unless you can get a church group to go.  My scores for this film are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance:   6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Hunting For More Original Satire?

 

 

The Hunt Poster

 

 

The left-wing movies often are wild cards that have a hard time getting the recognition and credit they deserve.  Unlike so many other big chains, these movies dare to defy the normal with their approaches, taking radical chances to deliver an original film that manages to stick in your mind.  Unfortunately, these artistic visions can often be too out there, ahead of their time or too boring that they get shuffled into the forgotten realm.  However, reviewers like me are taking a dive into the ,movie to see if this film successfully defies the big chain tales that many love to hopefully do it justice.  Let’s get started I take a look at:

 

Movie: The Hunt (2020)

 

Director:

Craig Zobel

Writers:

Nick CuseDamon Lindelof

Stars:

Betty GilpinHilary SwankIke Barinholtz

 

Likes:

  • Run Time
  • Original
  • Campy
  • Funny In Weird Ways
  • Changing Tale
  • Few Slow Parts
  • The Ending Sequences

The Awesome Artistic Satire Of The Film

 

DISLIKES:

  • Broke a Cardinal Rule
  • Language At Times
  • The Opening Sequence
  • Crappy Character Development
  • Too Silly At Times
  • The Sometimes Too Political Nature Of It

 

Summary:

 

This tale already started off right with the promise of a shorter movie, not only for time saving components, but also for the potential of a good exciting tale.  Well, The Hunt did this for me in the weirdest ways.  First off, its ironically original, despite what the trailers suggest, deeper into the film though you get a much more original presentation that turns out to really fit in this crazy world they unleashed.  Campy tropes and movie mannerisms come out in full effect, and much like the movies of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s,, the cheesy approach really works.  That corny nature not only works for the action and pacing, but the comedy that again works in weird ways.  The Hunt is one of those movies that is overly aggressive for much of the film, but given the theme of the movie that quirky sense of humor starts to come out and wind up being funny when all is revealed.  In addition, the brilliant change in the movie’s presentation of the story opens up a sort of mystery as to what is the true bizarre source of the film.  By putting out so many questions and keeping that air of mystery keeps you intrigued as to how deep the rabbit hole of hunting goes, leading to again a more engaging tale.  An added bonus, the movie ends up having few slow parts to go with it too, with the pace, time span, and weird mystery leading to few drawn, out conversation heavy moments.  When all of these moments start finally converging at the end, the climactic finish really feels climactic as the ending sequences unleash the torrent of action goodness you were looking for in this thriller.  It pulls the pieces together, reveals much of the secrets, and just finishes in the manner you’ve come to both expect and not expect, just like this movie says it would and keeps that weird energy going all the way.  When pulling all this together, the movie’s artistic satire on political division, typical human responses to just about everything, and sort of the daydreaming fantasies of how some of this drama could be resolved.

 

As I have said before though, these left field flicks are not afraid to cross the lines and sometimes it’s a little too much for this reviewer.  While not the worst breaking of one of my rules, the film did hit one of my no-nos that affected me a bit more than I care to admit.  Fortunately, it was short lived, but still a slight rewrite could have fit with the scheme of the film and been a little better for me.  However, past that, the movies focus on crude language and threats occasionally got into the lazy writing arena that again is more annoying than creative for me to see.  Past these two though, the movie’s flaws that really stood out started with the opening sequence.  Upon the start, the movie throws some odd curveballs that made me start to hate it and walk out.  A very rapid introduction, and some rather crappy character development left me feeling like I had been cheated by the trailers again, and was left with a shock culture film that did little more.  Fortunately, the movie worked the story better, but the character development did not improve much past two characters… which stunk with the potential it had.  I would have liked a little more sustenance behind the characters, but doing that would have shattered the illusion of comedy they were going for.  This brings me to my next point, the silliness of the film.  While clever, witty, original, and artistic, the over aggressive comedy of the film may have also been a slight downfall in terms of the story/character development.  By taking this ridiculously campy focus, so much else was crammed to fit this scheme that I felt it got a little too forced at times.  Yet I will have to admit I’ll take the forced comedy over the forced politics that this movie does.  While artistic and wholly satisfying to see at the end, the very dramatic, politically charged dialogue hit a nerve, primarily in how much I dislike social media ranting.  The movie crossed the territory at times, and though pointed out how ridiculous things could be… the movie sometimes got a little too preaching of political agendas that were not fun.

 

The VERDICT:

         The movie certainly surprised me in how fun it was as the first act opened up too much better components that were hidden by the trailers.  It was campy and original, adding some nice surprise and  to create an engaging and fast paced film with an ever-changing premise.  Most things flowed naturally, and the underlying mystery of what pulled everything together and why kept me engaged in the film to get to that fitting end.  An exciting climax and the brilliant poking at the ridiculousness of our extreme society tendencies further wraps this odd piece with a casing of fun ridiculousness that will be remembered.  Yet, this is not going to be a hit for those too hooked on the limited violence and straight and narrow tale presentation.  The Hunt has a lot of times stepping over the line and if you are sensitive to that stuff, you may be blinded from the smarter things this movie has.  I implore you not to walk out of the opening sequence despite the chaotic, simplistic, nightmare it starts out as. Yet, be ready for some over silly moments, lackluster character development, and very in your face political components to raid your ears. If you can’ handle these annoying trends that seem to continue to grow and infest entertainment, you need to stay away. However, if you can enjoy that wit and see the bigger pictures and components, you’ll be in good shape to enjoy this film and can recommend hitting this one up in theaters. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Horror/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

The Way Back To Realistic Drama

           The Way Back Poster

 

Sports movies, they take on all sorts of shapes, sizes, and budgets, as studios try to tell inspiring stories through the world of athletics.  Tonight, the man of many faces and struggles, is recruited to help bring that face up to hopefully inspire millions to overcome the obstacles life throws at them.  Yet, in the modern age, balancing that budget and handling the politics gets in the way of execution of the movies and with trailers being master edit pieces one can only wonder what is in store.  So I’m going to do my best to give you my thoughts as I review:

 

Movie:  The Way Back (2020)

 

Director:

Gavin O’Connor

Writers:

Brad Ingelsby (screenplay), Gavin O’Connor

Stars:

Ben AffleckJanina GavankarMichaela Watkins

 

 

LIKES:

  • Inspirational Tale
  • Realism
  • Piano Work
  • Seeing Influence At Times
  • Affleck’s Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Disjointed Plot Elements
  • The Realism at Times
  • The Pacing Of the Movie
  • The Other Characters
  • The Lack of Movie Heart At Times
  • The Masking Of A Sports Movie

 

 

Summary:

Inspirational tales can be seen even in the simplest actions/speeches (just look at social media tales) and in a big screen adaptation, The Way Back accomplishes the goal.  Jack’s (Affleck) story is one that many people suffer from in the form of PTSD being handled by booze, and those men and women who have to work to find the light.  It’s a convincing performance that takes the realism of life and layers it thick into the film at hand with simple, direct dialogue and scenes that show that struggle.  An engaging piano score in the back leads to helping add on to the struggles of someone dealing with personal struggles, not really as a major orchestra or pop hit playing, but instead simplistic pieces that dwindle in the background.  The combination of these elements, alongside some grey camera filters, helps put you in the mindset of coping with trauma, and potentially finding the healthier means to get better and move from the incident.  I enjoyed the results, by seeing some of the players’ lives change, subtle changes in character that gradually got better, and the potential foreshadowing it brought (again goes with the realism).  Yet, the biggest like is the acting from Affleck himself.  As the central, and pretty much sole focus of the movie, Affleck takes his personal struggles and gives you a very good performance.  It’s not an original role, it’s not a massive role, it’s not even an Oscar role, but it’s a realistic figure that you can relate to in some form or manner.  Seeing the downfall, the remorse, the suffering in his face slowly change depending on the moment is a strong display of his acting skills to make this sort of adaptation of his life.  If you like realistic characters like this, who aren’t flashy or dramatically designed, you should be okay with this film.

 

   Yet, the trailers have not done this movie justice in how they are selling it, which is going to be the core of my dislikes for this movie.  It starts with the plot elements, The Way Back sort of crams a lot of life events and stories into 1.5 hours and watching this I felt it’s very rushed components.  The side stories that try to integrate Affleck’s characters are not very detailed or integrated, as they help add key moments to drive Jack’s life.  Unlike other movies like Hoosiers and Remember the Titans, the Way Back really drops the ball in the big picture aspect, choosing to hover around the gravity of Affleck’s character.  Realistic and potentially artistic mindset of a PTSD patient aside, the realism actually took away from this movie for me at times in how it limited not only the story, but the other pieces of the film.  First, the pacing.  The Way Back is not the most even paced film with slow moments taking reign in between big peaks of excitement.  While it is not the slowest movie for me, the consistent blandness does not make for the most entertaining film, relying on you the audience member to appreciate the realism at hand.  Second is the other characters of the film.  Having to do more with focusing one character than the others, the film fails to really make the other characters a worthwhile investment.  It feels like the Mighty Ducks film when we are just looking at Bombay alone, rather than having the team interact with him and drive him to be better.  As such, outside of some funny moments and a few grains to show what Jack’s actions sewed, the rest of the cast gets sidelined to focus on the issues at hands.  Now again, this realism is important for the artistic style, but the trailers sort of promised the magical sports treatment that I do rather enjoy seeing.  That’s where point three comes in is the lack of movie heart/magic that these films have come to enjoy.  Think back to your favorite moments of Remember The Titans, Hoosiers, or Miracle, those goose bump raising sequences where magic, planning, and over dramatization get you into the full energy of the movie and goes the extra mile.  That’s absent in this film, which was disappointing given how they could have designed some of the recovery moments with Affleck and the other characters.  Yet, the lack of magic is missed the most in the sports scenes.  I’m a victim of loving those overdone sequences of the good guys fighting the goliaths, with creative plays, dialogue to spur on the competitors, and the energy of being part of that fight.  Instead, this movie just shows brief clips of the players doing typical drills/shooting only to stop and show the score of the game in a rather boring and disappointing montage.  Even the big game sort of drops the ball, finally showing a little more of the game, but still not in the manner that other sports film icons have done.  It leads to again an offset pace and rather boring climax, bogged down again by the focus on one character.  That was the biggest disappointment is not integrating the sports part of his life with the personal and thus the disconnecting continued to shine through.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Way Back proves you can make a movie portraying pertinent issues with sports practice and not have the Hollywood effects drown it out.  You just have to make sure you are expecting it.  This film succeeds in the realism of portraying one man struggling to find his way back from a terrible time in life, but through work, patience, and support can get better.  It accomplishes the inspirational story in a calmer manner and using the central focus of Affleck, whose acting brings this role to life, you will be pleased with the story presented.  Yet, if you go in here looking for another sports film integrated with life lessons… you may disappointed.  So many disjointed side plots get the realistic treatment of being haphazardly integrated and not fully fleshed out.  It leads to uneven pacing for me, alongside underutilized secondary characters and the relationships that could have formed with the central character.  The realism also seems to take the entertainment magic away, especially when it comes to the sports moments that you might be coming to see.  Don’t expect drawn out games and those heroic moments that you’ve become accustomed to my friends, because they are not here.  As such, the final thing is that the inspirational tale is here for this film, but the problem is other movies have done this better like Remember the Titans, Miracle, and Hoosiers.  Given all this though, if you want realistic acting and a tale of succeeding, then this guy suggests a visit to the theater, but otherwise hold out for home viewing on this one.

 

My Scores are:

 

Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5

 

Onward To Fun, Family/Geek Adventure

Onward Poster

 

Pixar broke the mold a long time ago when it came to animation, pushing the boundaries of the 3-D animation world and the storytelling that comes with it.  World building, unique characters and fun filled stories etched themselves into our memories and continue to amuse us to this day.  So after sequels have stormed the frontier of Pixar, a new original tale is hoping to come Onward and entertain us, most likely with a good story and character drive.  As such, yours truly is back to help guide your journey to the movies.  Let’s get started as we review:

 

Movie:  Onward (2020)

 

Director:

Dan Scanlon

Writers:

Dan Scanlon (screenplay by), Jason Headley (screenplay by)

Stars:

Tom HollandChris PrattJulia Louis-Dreyfus

 

 

LIKES:

  • Great Animation
  • The World Building
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Witty References
  • Clever Writing
  • Great Character Development
  • Morals
  • Not In Your Face Lessons
  • Heart Felt

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • More Adventure Impasses Needed
  • More On the Mom And Manticore Front
  • A Bit More Of The Centaur character component

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar is fantastic at the animation and only keeps bringing their cards to play.  The movement itself is fluid, dynamic, and colorful to meet the expectations that such pieces hold in Disney’s arsenal.  Onward’s world truly does bring magic to the modern world, and the world building of modern overtaking the mysterious is brilliantly crafted to be fun and meaningful.  Much of this world is fun, a huge spoof on fantasy elements that have ditched the mysterious, scary, and demented, for colorful forms that are mere shadows of their inspirations.  This adventure may not be the most exciting, but Pixar still injects its energy into the film to make the movie entertaining in the kids way but also holding great potential for adults too.  Comedy wise, Onward has some slapstick, components, but the comedy is geared towards the adults and older members that was highly entertaining to a geek like me.  Witty references are loaded into the film, with many movie references present for older fans to enjoy at their new use into the world.  Not a movie buff?  Not a problem, because the writing continues to be clever as it brings dungeon and dragons board games into a new medium, all while poking fun at the modern flaws that are hot topics.  Its this fantastic variety of venues to use that make this movie fun, as dialogue and comedic devices use these avenues to make the whole thing entertaining.

In regards to the storytelling, the movie shines in this department as well, you know what Disney can be really good at doing.  The characters are fantastic additions to the Disney family, not only in merchandising, but fantastic players to latch onto the adventure with.  The two brothers get some great moments to shine, each leveling up in their own way that again is clever, but very smart in how it fits with the themes of the film.  Voice acting alongside great chemistry of the characters, leads to another fantastic relationship that will be used to drive a lot of the plot elements as well as the morals that go with it. Onward’s morals are multilayered, built to address so many problems that plague humans today that the film is sure to hit a relevant note.  Even better, most of the lessons are not in your face preachy that seems to be the modern trend, allowing the story to gradually present it, keeping it in pace with the story and characters while also being deep at the same time.  All in all, the heart felt emotions in this film of this developing brotherhood managed to pull many heart strings for me and was a fantastic adventure for geeky sensitive guy like me.

 

In terms of dislikes, the story does not escape the predictable formula that Pixar and Disney thrive in.  A combination of trailer revelation alongside some scenes to be highly foreshadowing resulted in a pretty obvious twist that was to come.  It’s a minor flaw mind you, but anytime you are able to reasonably trick me… you get bonus points for a review.  No, the main thing I found the story needing improvement in… is ironically in the story components itself.  The adventure side is certainly fun and geared towards the character development story, but the film could have used more of the danger that I know Pixar can do.  Onward needed more integration of the fantasy obstacles to help with bringing more fun and opportunities to develop our adventurers, which may be reserved for a sequel if they decide to.  Even more, I wanted better integration of the mom and manticore, two characters that had their moments to shine, but held so much potential to be involve in the story.  Learning some more back story, getting the mom’s views on the whole mess, even the Manticore’s history outside of the small tale we got, would have been great to be integrated into the film.  This can also be said for another character, the Centaur who after being used as the butt of jokes and potential build up, did not have the integration I thought they would.  These underutilized characters and plot devices make the film a little weaker for me, but fortunately the fun and comedy amplify this spirit of adventure.  Outside of this, there are a few other things that could be improved, but let’s wrap this up.

 

The Verdict:

            Disney has another winner on their hands with this film, as Onward sets out to be the same magic of fun, laughs, and family energy this studio is famous for.  Adventures likes this, combined with the great animation, will open up a new avenue to getting to your heart, and this time geared for both cool people and geeks.  Onward has much to offer for many people, and I love the fact the lessons are baked naturally into the theme of the movie, without being too preachy or political.  Certainly the film needed to work on the predictability, but more so the film struggles to still not pull the full spirit of adventure that comes with Fantasy films.  In addition, several other characters could have stand for more integration to round out the tales, add more levels of story, and of course just have more opportunity for grabbing more people into the movie.  This reviewer though really found joyful to watch, and I’d recommend checking this out in the theaters if you have the time. 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

 

This Movie’s Quality Is Not Invisible

The Invisible Man Poster

 

When it comes to Thriller, and not the Michael Jackson song mind you, these films can hold a wide range of quality from boring and lame, to the most engaging film of the year.  As such, I could not help but hold skepticism when I saw the massive amounts of advertising for tonight’s film.  A film about the infamous monster movie, this Dark Universe turned stand-alone film looked to have potential, especially given the lead actress.  Yet, Blumhouse studio’s last film did not quite succeed like it wanted and once again returned to the theater to see if this film has the pizazz the hype is being granted.  Check in folks as I review:

 

Film: The Invisible Man (2020)

 

Director:

Leigh Whannell

Writers:

Leigh Whannell (screenplay by), Leigh Whannell (story by)

Stars:

Elisabeth MossOliver Jackson-CohenHarriet Dyer

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Realism
  • Suspenseful
  • Great Pace
  • Great Camerawork
  • Creative Tactics
  • Use Of Good Sound Effects/Editing
  • The Climax Is Great
  • The Emotional Connection To the Main Character
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • No Backstory/Rich Background
  • A Little Fake Looking At Times
  • Trailers Have Shown Lots Of Things, while Still holding More
  • Predictable for me
  • An Angle That Does Not Make Sense

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

The movie is taking a monster movie concept and bending the tale to become a much more dramatic thriller.  Like a great mini-series, Invisible Man manages to take the movie magic of the original tale and add a little more realism to it to help group more people in.  And it is that realism that makes so much of the rest of my likes really pop out for this movie.  A major selling point of the film is the suspense, and boy does it deliver on this aspect through the use of so many thing.  Whannell and her crew create a very tense atmosphere from the start of the movie to the end, never letting up on trying to keep you at the edge of the seat.  My friend and I agreed the pace was great, a constant moving ride of one woman contesting her sanity with the supposed reality, and never stopping in its quest to keep you engaged.  Very good camerawork helps amplify the feelings of a stalker in the midst and fighting the feeling of being alone despite the safety of the light.  Using other creative tactics such as varying environments, the illusion of safety, and other coy maneuvers to bring the manipulation of the invisible man to full light.  Throw in the use of fantastic sound editing, or in this case absence of sound editing and you fully get caught up in the atmosphere of fighting the paranoia and chaos of the real world.  Once the Climax hits, the movie only further amplifies all these maneuvers, yet moves the tale to several new acts that keeps the story entertaining and interesting, yet rounding the tale to completion.  And through it all, the main character is surprisingly amazing to latch on to, the emotional investment granting you empathy and rooting for her to find a break in the case.  Much of this has to do with the acting of the cast, Moss once again unleashing her amazing potential in this character.  She has these roles down pat, from the borderline sanity and screaming, to the strong woman ready to take charge.  The character design, alongside her performance succeeds in making a strong, central pillar to which much of the movie weighs on.  The rest of the crew does their job right of course, but I need to move on to the dislikes.

 

My friend and I both agreed that the movie’s simplistic backstory is a little disappointing, especially in terms of the secondary characters.  While it was certainly for time purposes, I believe some extra time to background build up only would have further strengthened the character and helped get the rest of the cast involved more thoroughly in the film.  Past this point though, the movie’s component that is a minor flaw is the fake looking effects that sometimes arise.  Understanding, it is not the main theme, the movie does sometimes draw into the fake looking special effects, that still fit for the film, but not the smoothest at times.  Past that minor flaw, the movie’s next component that got me was the predictability of the film.  Now for me, I’ve had plenty of experience to see foreshadowing and allusion to what is coming next, so using that and much of what the trailers have revealed I got most of the twists of this movie.  My friend though stated not remembering most of the trailers and did not pick up on some of the predictable parts, and stated that if you have not been bombarded by the trailers you should have no problem dodging much of the predictability.  As for me though, I had most of the suspenseful moments toned down because I had a good guess of what was coming next.  Yet, the part that got me near the end though was a concept the movie takes to geniously start the next bout of thrills and get the excitement turned up.  Yet, that concept should have been consistent and if you review the scenes and realize Cecelia’s advantage should have remained said advantage, but then gets warped in a nonsensical way was a little irritating for me.  Lost in the moment and seeing the next approach to threatening, it helps soften the blow, but the logic does not have to drop for the sake of keeping the thrills. 

 

The VERDICT:

            In all honesty, the movie was awesome on so many levels.  An engaging character leads this thrilling, fast paced adventure, where a realistic approach helps to give this monster flick a much deserved repaint.  Using fantastic camera and sound editing, alongside creative approaches to keeping the thrills coming only further amplifies this film’s successful goal of entertaining, with plenty of rewatchability for this reviewer.  And throw in the amazing character and acting to bring her to life and you will find the movie succeed on many levels to bring life into this genre.  However, the lack of backstory is something I really longed for to help give more layers to a few of the characters, and the computer graphics to help show the threat could have sued some touching up.  Alongside the predictability and inconsistent advantage twist, these two components were the weakest aspect of the movie, and for once I would have loved some extra time to iron things out and make it perfect.  Overall though, this movie is a fantastic flick with rewatchability and definitely worth a trip to the theater with a group or by yourself. 

 

My scores for the film are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

This Boy is Growing Up? A New Direction For This Horror Film

Brahms: The Boy II Poster

 

The age of sequels continues to surprise me in the extent they will go to make a dollar.  Tonight, the movie that I saw came out of left field, especially in given how they ended and took the first film.  Yet, seeing an opportunity to make a buck, the movie has arisen to once more extend the series into a potential continued franchise in hopes of being the next Marvel like entity.  Well, despite the years between, I’m willing to give it a shot in hopes of some creative potential showing up to brighten the series and try to wow the crew.  Will it work?  I don’t know, but here are my thoughts on the latest horror film:

 

 

Movie: Brahms: The Boy II

 

Director:

William Brent Bell

Writer:

Stacey Menear

Stars:

Katie HolmesOwain YeomanChristopher Convery

 

 

LIKES:

  • Some nods to the Original Tale
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • The Creepy Atmosphere And Look Of Brahms
  • A Solid Opening To A Franchise
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Not Scary
  • The Lackluster Suspense
  • Stories That Have Little Details
  • Mediocre Character Development
  • Trying to Retcon Part Of The Story
  • The Set Up Of the Franchise Focus

 

SUMMARY

 

I guess if trying to establish a franchise, it’s important to have nods back to the original, and in this film’s case it does so.  Enough to pay homage to the origins of Brahms last adventure, the Boy II fills in the pieces of how the two movies are connected to help ease you into the new direction it takes.  It does this well enough without detracting from the tale of this film, and fortunately the movie continues at a decent pace to keep you from being too bored given this is not the most exciting horror tale to come to mind.  Using the new and old stories together, this potential launch into a new franchise at least holds potential to have some further mystery to it, which is probably the biggest selling point of the story.  In regards to scares, Brahms’ tale is another example where creepy is the primary source of fear.  Using a realistic environment, creepy shadows, and the slight movements and off camera work, the imagination leaves an unsettling taste in your stomach.  Brahms’ soulless gaze and porcelain face always seems to stare into you and leave me with crawling skin.  You know something is up with the doll, especially in this new direction, but that mystery of what lies in the antique dolls eyes.  It’s that source that is the true horror element in this film and goes with the slower movies scares this film thrives in.  As for the acting, solid performance by all involved, with Katie Holmes reappearance a balanced and believable film of terror, love, and bravery all mixed into one.  Young actor Convery executes the role well, surprisingly making a part with few lines have some layers to it and tell the tale through his facial expressions than actual lines.  The rest of the cast accomplishes their roles, though the dad could have used some more involvement, but otherwise a great family dynamic.

 

Yet the movie falters in a few other things that take away the magic horror movies try to accomplish again.  For one thing, much of the film is predictable given all the foreshadowing done at the beginning, with lines designed to lead you into the plot.  There are a few changes in the later acts to help give you some “surprise” as it leads to the next direction of the film, but for the most part you know what is coming by about midpoint of the movie.  Scare wise, the movies unsettling nature is the main source, but in regards to other tactics it does not work and did not leave me feeling too uneasy when leaving the theater.  Lackluster scares faded into little suspense, which unfortunately led to boring action and drive, another staple of the horror film.  As such, you will need to enjoy the calmer scare tactics to enjoy this film.  If looking for more of the story element well you again find some lacking moments to this film as well.  The story tries to take some side tales to help add more complexity and mystery, but upon revelation are nothing more than quick detours that do little on their drive back up the main story.  The same goes for the character development, small tales that lead to some scars on our characters psyche, only to be grated down to passing comments and unmeaningful solutions that again lost the potential.  Given the focus on the doll, I guess other characters had to struggle in the character department.  An even bigger mess is trying to forget, or at least underplay, the ending events of the first film. Thus when the original writers come up with a rewrite that is not a reboot, I would say, but more of retconning to make the new direction work.  It’s sad to see the integrity dropped for the focus on the franchise and I believe that is the source of much of the trouble of this film.  By not focusing on continuing the tale, or more so focusing on the film by itself, the movie suffers from cutting corners and new gimmicks, thus overall decreasing the quality.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Brahms’ second installment proves that money talks, and this film is a set up for a new face in horror in the near future.  This story thrives on the creeps, acting, and franchise frenzy, hoping you’ll ignore the previous installment and welcome the new direction.  Some of these things work well, but overall the movie suffers from focusing on potential franchise and skimping on the stories and development other movies have succeed in.  Throw in that the scare factor and the suspense are very lacking and you are once again bored in this tale that held potential and dropped it again.  The Boy legacy continues to dance around maximizing scares and hybridizing other franchises to craft a haunting legacy that can leave more of a print.  Yet, the movie will continue to be mediocre movie productions without tightening up the story and injecting a little originality and development into it.  As such, this film would best be left to the Netflix viewing, rather than hitting the theater. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.5

 

This Call Is Wild Fun And Deep Adventure

 

The Call of the Wild Poster

 

The literary classics continue to face the test of time with their strong writing, hard morals, and often original characters.  Yet, in the days of flash in the pan excitement, reality television, and Youtube viral videos, these books get lost.  Fortunately, Hollywood continues to have the chance of using its bloated budget to potentially keep them relevant in the modern world.  Tonight, the movie to start my review week with one of these epic literary pieces in the form of Call Of The Wild.  Yet, will the talked about graphics and mediocre trailer ruin the literary masterpiece, or can it get you howling at its quality.  Let’s get going as I review:

 

Movie:  Call of The Wild (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Sanders

Writers:

Michael Green (screenplay by), Jack London (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Karen GillanHarrison FordCara Gee

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Harrison Ford’s Narration
  • The Development of Buck
  • The Morals Of The Book Brought To Life
  • Deeper than expected
  • Beautiful Setting

DISLIKES:

 

  • Story Elements Are Blunted
  • Pacing A bit Off At Times
  • A Few Really Sad Moments
  • The Graphics Are not the Most Realistic
  • Trailers Have Given Some Decent Scenes Away

 

SUMMARY:

 

The book is a tale of adventure and self-discovery through the eyes of a dog, and the movie manages to get this spirit and do it right.  Call of The Wild’s film is a multi-layered adventure, that like a good play has various acts that do great with development of the character.  Much like most dogs’ spirits, Buck’s journey has a lot of fun and energy to it, which is infectious and important for hooking you into the tale at the hand.  Harrison’s Ford narration manages to sort of personify the serious nature of the journey though, the rough and rugged voice setting a tone that somehow prepared you for things to come while also highlighting the energy of the dog on screen.  The combination of these elements accomplishes the rare task of artfully developing a nonexistent animal, the human qualities striking relevance, while the cute animal side ignites the childlike vision that a dog brings out.  And through this character, the morals that London brought out years ago, come rushing out in full emotional force, hopefully inspiring and teaching the audience some important lessons always worth revisiting.  This surprisingly balanced narrative and relevant characteristics made this movie deeper than I expected, helping to round out the emotions of the tale and defying my expectations of silly banter that sometimes plague these movies.  I’ll admit it nearly made me tear up at times, but that’s the sign of a great developments of relationships and intriguing characters that I enjoy watching.  Finally, the setting itself is beautiful, whether it be the wide angled shots, or the digitally recreated tundra, the Yukon land manages to take your breath away while bringing out the wild.

 

Story elements abound though, I’ll admit the book is often much better, at least in terms of details.  This film’s acts sometimes are a little bit truncated, story components that seemed to be pretty deep and intense suddenly dropped, despite some foreshadowing.  I won’t spoil it for both those in the dark and the know, but these quick finishes were reduced to some mere dialogue and would have liked some creative liberties to maybe help finish these tales with more drive.  In addition, the pacing feels a bit off as well, the moments that are meant to be big impasses or stressful moments quickly overcome.  I guess reading the book I envisioned these moments longer and grander, but to keep up with modern attention spans, they sort of quickened these moments to cram more of the adventure into the run time.  Well that and the sad moments too.  While I give praise for emotional investment, there are times during this movie where the visualization of the sadder elements can really be a bit much for those who have a strong aversion to the cruelty that these digital animals face.  I’m just not the biggest fan of these moments, and though not as bad as some others, there are times where it really got me depressed so… yeah.

Now it’s time to hit the two big components that people have been commenting on in the reviews that take some things away.  The first thing is the predictability/ruining the trailers have brought. I’ll agree some the trailers have given much of the first two acts away, not only showing off the more impressive CGI moments, some key story elements, and perhaps a little bit about the direction the movie is going.  There are still some surprises, but still get ready for some predictable moments to come your way, including those who have not read the book.  As for Buck’s CGI, alongside other members, the animation and physiology are captured beautifully and quite accurately on many levels.  The design though, the human qualities from eye brows, shifty looks, and human gestures (cute as they may be) do not come off the most realistic in quality.  If you can’t get by this, then you’ll not enjoy this film and miss the bigger parts, but if you can take this as just a small weakness and go with the energy it creates you’ll be okay.

 

The VERDICT:

            While it may not give the time needed to bring the full details out, this iteration of Call Of The Wild is certainly better than I anticipated.  Buck’s journey holds many levels of enjoyment from comedic fun and cuteness to the deeper, heart heavy moments that will help you invest into the movie.  The acting with CGI dogs is surprisingly fun and all the sense of adventure and character development makes for a much more balanced tale.  Certainly some elements are blunted, with truncated finishes to most of the acts, quick bouts of overcoming the impasses, and even some sadder moments that you see coming, but can’t turn away from.  As I said in the full review, the CGI is great in terms of physiology and injecting energy, but the realism and cartoonish effects are a little less impressive given other feats of technology.  If you can appreciate the positives of this style though, you are in good shape, but if not, then skip this film.  In terms of visiting the theaters for this one, the answer is yes due to enough adventure and special effects to get you in.  Just exercise caution with taking little ones due to the sadder moments that are to come. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0