Don’t Leavey Your Tissues Behind

Leavey

 

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero.  If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I’m talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed.  What’s the verdict?  You’ll have to read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie.  Based on Leavey’s history (from the little research I’ve done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role.  The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally.  Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero.  You’ll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self.  Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story.

 

Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum.  Not the case for Megan Leavey.  This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time.  The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty.  It’s engaging! It’s exciting!  And it is real!

 

The Dog:  Let’s face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs.  Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog’s status as a warrior itself.  Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory.  If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie.  Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Movie magic drama:  We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth.  While I’m not certain how tough Megan’s life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me.  I’m not talking about the war aspect, we know that’s hell.  No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom.  Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie.

 

The Final Act: Megan Leavey’s film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting.  The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on.  I can’t say much without ruining things, but here it goes.  This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development.  However, the pace changes at this part, doesn’t focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it’s emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman.

 

Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like.  However, I can’t say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters.  With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn’t an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured.  Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.  So, don’t behead me people, I’m just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I’ve seen in a while.  A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie.  With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you’ll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists.  Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show.  Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military.

 

Biography/Drama/War:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Life, or Did They Mean Death?

Life

 

What is life?  That is a question that so many researchers have tried to answer over the centuries.  And what better way to try and answer that question than with a Hollywood movie production starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal.  My last review this weekend is on the movie called Life, a science fiction/horror film hoping to provide the scares of the March season. But will contact with this film give you the chills, or send you running to the ills…with disappointment. Robbie K here with another review. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • True Science Fiction
  • Evolution of the creature
  • Creepy and horrifying
  • Good characters

 

Summary:  We know most science fiction movies fall short of the genre, focusing more on the fantasy element and special effects (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.)  Life though hits the genre right on the mark, dropping us amidst an international space station where research about Mars is underway.  As the chaos unfolds, the crew has to use their training, knowledge, and science (and not gigantic guns) to try to outwit the beast before it gets them.

And speaking of the creature, “Calvin” as it is called has an interesting design at the start looking like a fungus.  Yet the spores quickly evolve into a deflated looking star fish, and from there began to evolved into a truly destructive creature.  Calvin’s metamorphosis is perhaps the creepiest aspect of this film, as his search for the crucial ingredients (food, water, and oxygen) drives it to savagery (it will make you look at star fish in a whole new way).

Outside of that though, some other factors that brought the thrills and chills start with the realistic setting.  There rendition of the international space station looks pretty close to our own world’s, minimizing the fantasy component to keep one ground in the horror the team tries to present, establishing a feeling that this could happen.  To go alongside this, the other factor is how alone one feels on the station. Much like the first Alien movie (to which this pays homage to), you feel the isolation of the station as if you are the prey Calvin seeks.  This added edge truly brings the horror aspect full circle

Finally, the characters also help amplify the horror component of this film.  It is nice to see the human cast not be a bunch of idiotic, shallow teens for once, but instead educated scientists fighting for survival (while also not being the single-minded buffoons that often take these roles). The cast was dynamic, each specialized but capable of covering their team members should something happen.  Such development led to characters you actually rooted for, instead of against them as we often see in horror films.  And the actors all played their roles fantastically, from Ryan Reynolds sarcasm, to Jake Gyllenhaal’s scary accuracy in someone with social anxiety.

DISLIKES:

  • Unneeded dramatic opening
  • More evolution of the creature
  • Predictable ending (though nice twist)
  • Savagery of kills

 

Summary:  A minor dislike I know, but Life’s dramatic capturing of the capsule in the first twelve minutes was really unnecessary.  All I gleamed from this opening was technical displays and a little excitement to get the mood going.  There are probably a few other scenes that could have been left out as well, but these were minor compared to the big stink they made with this opening sequence.

Unnecessary scenes aside, the other thing I would have liked was more development into the creatureDon’t get me wrong, the final form was creepy, but after all the changes happening in the beginning (which were a stretch mind you), the team suddenly brought it to a halt.  Yes, they tried to explain it via “science”, but this abrupt halt just broke pace/balance the movie was establishing, which felt a little off for me, right down to the end.

Speaking of ending, Life’s trailers hint at what the conclusion is, and based on my observations I had a good idea where it would go.  I wanted things to be different, but sadly the ending can be predicted within 30 minutes of the show time (assuming again you haven’t watched the trailers).  Albeit there was a nice twist to try and throw you off, Life’s directors didn’t go the full distance to prove my observations wrong.

Yet the biggest beef I have with this movie is the dark, disturbing, savageness the directors instilled. If you’re a fan of watching gore filled deaths, suffering, and depressing looks this movie will send “out of orbit”.  For me though, these moments only take away from a movie if done too much or in the wrong manner.  My biggest strike comes from the graphic death of a lab mouse (which broke my heart as most animal cruelty does).  That’s only the start of Life’s grotesque hunt as Calvin finds disturbing ways to attack the band of researchers in immense detail. Why the directors felt the need to focus on such disturbances…I don’t know, but in this case less would have been more, as the first Alien flick did long ago.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Life is one of the better science fiction, horror films I’ve seen in years.  It drops the grandiose serial killers and idiotic victims, and upgrades to an adapting monster hunting intelligent people. This realism crafts a more suspenseful tale that kept me engaged, while crafting that horrifying atmosphere I love.  While most of my dislikes are small, the mutilation involved, alongside some scientific imbalances, really didn’t impress me in this movie and the predictable ending didn’t necessary wow me as well.  Is this worth a trip to theater?  If you are looking for a good horror film, then by all means hit the theater for it.  As for weak constitutions, skip this one and save some time.

 

My scores:

Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

A Chip off the Mundane Block

Chips

 

Robbie K here, starting the evening reviews with yet another comedy to grace the silver screen.  Tonight’s film is a rehash of the golden era of television (the 70s) cop comedy Chips.  What does forty years of sitting in the dust mixed with the modern era of comedy bring to the table?  Well my friends that is where I come from, and as always, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the latest “masterpiece” to grace the silver screen.  So, let’s roll out shall we?

 

LIKES

  • Decent Story
  • Good Acting Chemistry
  • Some bike stunts

 

Summary:  Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this comedy.  Yet to my surprise, Chips actually stepped up to the plate in terms of plot.  It feels like an extended episode from the show, that was part action, part crime mystery, and a majority comedy.  It was simplistic yes, but it works to bring the entertainment value and energy that the sitcom brought long ago.  While the story was decent, the real shining value is the chemistry between the “dynamic duo” that really makes this movie.  Dax Shepard for once didn’t annoy me, as his character was balanced, surprisingly deep, and quite useful in the story, compared to some of his other roles.  Although still awkward and idiotic, his antics were toned down and complemented by his partner in crime played by Michael Pena.  Pena still shows his dynamic acting style, portraying both rough edged street smarts with sexual promiscuity.  The stubborn mule Pena plays is blind-sided by his weaknesses, and only Dax’s character can deter him from the trap that is his mind.  It was very entertaining (and impressive) to see the energy both brought to the mix, alongside decent character development, kept the movie going.  In addition, there were some decent stunts (primarily bike riding) that added zest to the comedy and maybe a little suspense.

 

DISLIKES

  • Lazy writing
  • Rushed Development
  • Not as Funny as hoped
  • Perverted at times

 

Summary:  Like many comedies, Chips suffers from some lazy writing at times.  I give Shephard props for capturing some antics of the classic show, but his modern style does not give props in terms of unique writing.  Let’s face it, most modern comedies are all about the cursing, and while it was slightly diluted, there was unnecessary use of the cursing that wasn’t funny to me.  In addition, there were plenty of moments that could have been comedic gold, but the direction took a different path that was rushed and lazy, leaving little wit, surprise, or delivery to maximize laughs.  And the perverted aspect, much like the cursing, got pretty old/disgusting quickly.  No offense to anyone’s bodies, but there were a couple of scenes where I couldn’t burn the image/concept out of my head, leaving me sicker to the stomach than laughing.  As for the Kristen Bell moments, they played a key character development, but her limited screen time was shallow stupidity than entertaining, but hey she did look good doing it. Outside of the comedy, the character development also could have been a little deeper and the suspense a little more if they wanted to expand upon the genre.  Yet, when the single objective is comedy, the story often will take a hit.

 

The Verdict

 

Chips has the nostalgic feel to it in terms of its plot overall, and a few cameos, but that is where it drops off.  I again applaud Shepard and Pena’s chemistry and how they expanded upon characters who were better known for their tight uniforms.  Unfortunately, the modern telling is much like the theme of the genre, simplistic stupid moments with a curse laden dialogue and perverted moments.  If this is your style, then this movie is the one for you this weekend.  For the rest of my readers though, this movie is worth waiting for Netflix before feasting your eyes on this piece.  While better than I thought, it would be, it still is no masterpiece.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

The King Has Returned

Kong

 

Giant monster movies are always toss up when it comes to quality.  They either really impress us, or turn us into monsters as we tear the movie apart.  Tonight, the “King” of monster returns to the silver screen, in what looks to be a high-definition adventure made for the theater technology. With an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman this could be the giant monster flick we have been hoping.  Robbie K is back with another review, hoping to shed some light on Kong: Skull Island.

 

LIKES:

  • Human perspective
  • Awesome Visuals
  • Awesome Soundtrack
  • Action
  • John C. Reilly

 

SUMMARY: Most monster movies are often focused on the monster (or man in a rubber costume) wreaking havoc on the environment, only occasionally panning on a human actor. This rendition of Kong shifted that balance back to the humans, putting the tale more from there trek across the killer island.  Don’t get heated though, because Skull Island has plenty of moments centered on the big ape and all his…naked glory.

Kong isn’t the only visual the movie has to offer though, as the team is able to create the nightmare that is skull island in fantastic displays of CGI and real life setting. The environment has a culmination of setting that capture both the beauty and horror that an isolated, prehistoric ecosystem has to offer. The flora, and inanimate stone structures, aren’t the only impressive visual though.  Skull Island’s fauna are also stunning to watch, imaginative creatures that fit well into habitats they call home.  Both my friend and I agreed the team did an awesome job crafting monsters that dwell in your darkest dreams, giving them bark, bit, and in some cases slime to truly be deadly.  Visuals aside, the soundtrack also has some diversity to it.  Our humans theme song seems to be songs from the 70s that will have you classic rock groupies smiling with glee. While those who like powerful symphony work, will enjoy the edge the orchestra brings to the more exciting parts.

Speaking of excitement, Kong: Skull Island brings the action to the full front.  Unlike Godzilla (2014), Kong doesn’t skimp on the monsters actually doing something other than walk around. Much of the movie involves the humans lighting the creatures up with their guns as they dodge lethal appendages.  Yet Kong himself has his moments to shine, in heart pounding, special effects laden sequences that will have you screaming in delight.  I myself was impressed with Kong’s sweet wrestling moves, including the epic finishes our WWE guys only dream of copying. Sound like too much action? Not to worry, John C Reilly has got you covered with well-timed, well-delivered comedy to lighten the mood.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Story is okay
  • Uneven characters
  • Rushed Scenes
  • Cheesy Moments

 

SUMMARY: The story of King Kong has been told in so many iterations, but most of these renditions give the beast a lot of character outside of wrestling champion. In this telling, the story takes a major dip in favor of the action.  As laid out in the trailers, Skull Island’s main premise is survival, with a majority of the plot focusing on our human casts journey to get off the land. Oh sure, they try to inject a few other morals into the mix (including vengeance and love) and they do try to give Kong some other qualities in an attempt to develop him.  However, many of these extra points shallowly developed, lost to the special effects and battles waiting in the jungle. I missed the deeper nature to Kong’s character, but I give props for venturing off the traditional path.

In addition to the simplistic story, Kong’s Skull Island also has some editing/developmental issues for me.  First off, the uneven characters. Our band of humans is a little skewed, with some getting decent development to others being just another pretty face (that may or may not get devoured).  It’s the problem when hiring big casts, but this reviewer would have liked a little more backstory to add some emotional turmoil to the mix.  The shallow character development paints predictable targets on most of their backs, leading to rushed moments where a character is abruptly, and in some cases pointlessly, eliminated.  Sure, it keeps in theme with the island is always hungry, but Skull Island’s team needed to go in a clean-up these hasty moments.  Ironically, the one thing (outside of the action) they focused on was the anger/hate between Kong and Jackson.  Yours truly found the intense stare off and peeing contest between the two to be a touch overdramatic and drawn out. Suspense building? Maybe. Ridiculous? You bet it is.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Both my friend and I agree that Skull Island is one of the better portrayals of the King of the Jungle. With impressive visuals, dangerous environment, and fantastic battles, this is the monster movie we have been waiting for. While there are some story elements that need tweaking and some balance restored, the film gives me faith for future giants vs. human films and the inevitable sequels to come. With all the special effects and action, yours truly recommends this one for the theater, and could see it having some extra oomph in 3-D. And despite what you may expect, one should stick around when the lights go down. You might just find yourself stoked for what is to come.

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Is There A Cure for Disturbing, Complex, Boredom?

wellness

            Horror movies continue to storm the theaters this month, and each is certainly its own unique twist on the genre.  This weekend, a fairly odd titled movie called A Cure for Wellness has snuck into the theaters. The trailers have painted this one an interesting tale to say the least, promising a mystery to be contained within the walls of former Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) the sanatorium? Robbie K back to present more thoughts on yet another movie to hit the theaters.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy Atmosphere
  • Unique Twist
  • Detailed

 

Summary:  If you wished for a creepy movie, then consider it granted because A Cure for Wellness is the personification of creepy.  The setting itself is more than enough to give you chills, as you delve into an isolated manor on top of the hill where dark, empty hallways and broad smiling staff await to “treat” our characters.  As Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) delves further into the mystery, he finds more pieces to the ever-shifting puzzle that only further gives you goosebumps.  And within these halls is indeed a unique twist to the normal horror story.  A Cure for Wellness will certainly have some “twists” that you haven’t seen before (or haven’t seen in a while) that of course has to do with the water they magnify in the trailers.  While I can’t tell you all the connections that lie within the walls of this film, you should certainly expect it to be detailed.  Where many horror movies trade detailed plots for cheap scares, Cure for Wellness does the opposite by making a very complex story with fewer jump moments.  You’ll have to pay attention to connect the clues, but rest assured the writers did a decent job developing the story to avoid any gaps or loose ends.  Nice to see that art hasn’t been lost.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Boring
  • Long Run Time
  • A little too convoluted
  • Stretch of the imagination
  • Disturbing

 

Summary:  While I am impressed with their attention to detail, A Cure for Wellness has many limitations that took the magic away for me.  First thing for me was how boring it was. The mystery is intriguing, but all the setup, detective work, and excessive focus on dried out dialogue took away from my curiosity.  In addition, Lockhart’s treks through the facility have little suspense to them, partially due to the security being surprisingly lax, and the sense of urgency being rather diluted.  The overall pace of the film is slow and without anything to spice up the climax, the 150-minute runtime feels much longer.

Maybe if the ending had been more satisfying the wait would have been well worth it, but sadly Cure for Wellness failed in this regard for me.  While certainly unique, Cure for Wellness got a little too creative at times and stretched into the realm of extremely bizarre.  It was an attempt to blend science with magic, as two very different paths blended together into an awkward twist I didn’t quite comprehend at first.  And even the execution at the end wasn’t that impressive, as the cheesy theatrics came to a rushed ending.

But the biggest limitation is the number of disturbing scenes contained in this film.  Imagine, if you will, the traps of the Saw films.  Remember the gore and suffering portrayed in those moments, where our poor cast was forced to scream until they met their fates?  Well, this movie mimics those details again, only without Jigsaw’s cleverness or convoluted designs.  You’ll get to see some truly psychotic moments in this film, as Lockhart falls victim to the treatments and “pampering” that must have been born in Hell.  You can guess that this kind of stuff isn’t my particular cup of tea, and while certainly suspenseful at times, our team got excessive in drawing these moments out. Perhaps this is the reason they say you won’t sleep at night.

 

The VERDICT:

 

A Cure for Wellness looked to be the unique twist the genre has been lacking for some time.  While the mystery is very detailed and developed in this creepy asylum world, it still has some pitfalls that take away from the movie. I’ll agree this movie will join the ranks of the cult status films primarily due to the graphic bouts of psychosis and disturbing twists. Past this though, it’s not a movie I can recommend for the theater, unless you get certain thrills from this kind of torture. 

 

My scores are:

 

Mystery/Thriller: 6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0

You Can’t Fight What The Trailers Promised: Simplistic, Vulgar, Banter Filled Comedy

fist-fight

 

The comedic genre has certainly changed colors over the years. What once was about dry wit, goofy antics, and cheesy puns has transitioned into a far more aggressive routine that throws away the clever for the meme worthy.  And this weekend, another movie attempts to join the ranks of this category in the form of Fist Fight starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube. Does this movie stand out among the hundreds that come before it, or will it blackout to the higher quality works?  Robbie K here sharing his opinions once more on the newest “hits” of the theater.

 

LIKES:

  • Well timed moments
  • Delivers on its promise
  • Good moral/cultural references

 

Summary: My likes start with some well-timed comedic moments involving well written dialogue and some slightly unique zingers.  Charlie Day’s neurotic delivery makes up a good chunk of these moments, but Ice Cube’s reactions often add a needed zing to maximize the laughs.  Even Tracy Morgan gets a few moments to shine that had me laughing the most of all. Yet these moments are rare, and surrounded by a sea of much simpler comedy which is exactly what the trailers promised.  There are few surprises in this film, meaning it is just wholesome, simplistic fun at an overpriced ticket.  No complex plot twists. No clever spin on a bad situation. And not even a complex plan to circumvent the fighting is present in this movie, just straightforward slander and fist punching “goodness.” Yet, there is a ray of hope.  Surprisingly, Fist Fight has a strong moral about standing up for yourself and trying to find confidence.  It also tries to point out that action has consequences, trying to inspire the younger audience members to curb their own traditions to a calmer, more respectful level. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Banter gets old
  • Crude Humor that isn’t clever
  • Annoying Student Characters
  • Lazy Writing…again

 

Summary: As I stated earlier, the movie delivers what the trailers promised.  One thing portrayed was comedy centering on mindless banter.  Fist Fight has a few moments where our character try to battle their limited wits in a contest of words and “logic” to prove their points. Yet most of these moments crossed the line into annoying territory, dragging everything out to eye rolling proportions.  If this is your style, then this movie is for you, but this reviewer got a bit tired of this theme, primarily when Charlie Day and Jillian Bell fell into the same conversations of drugs and inappropriate sex, which fell into the line of pure stupidity.  But Jillian Bell’s dialogue isn’t the crudest component to this movie.  Fist Fight’s rough high school setting is filled with tasteless trends involving pornographic themes, detailed masturbation moments, and enough male genitalia references to last you a life time.  The crude humor has its moments where it is well played, but much of it crosses into the excessive territory that quickly loses its comedic strength.

Even worse, is how annoying, disgusting, and self-centered the youth who center on the crudeness are.  Fist Fight’s population of extras are a massive swarm of selfish, arrogant, disrespectful brats whose cleverness is wasted on dangerous, over the top pranks.  At times, you only wish Charlie Day or Ice Cube to smack them upside the head to offset the extreme stereotypes of the movie. Yet the biggest dislike for me, is the lazy writing that plagues this film.  Despite some clever references and well-timed zingers, Fist Fight is just one giant calamity of cursing and relentless pleading.  Long time followers know I’m not the biggest fan of the F word, so you can guess that being bombarded with the word over and over again did nothing for me.  I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times the word hit home, but hearing teenagers and faculty alike using it haphazardly did nothing to impress me, or even make me laugh.  But again, if this doesn’t bother you, then this dislike will not phase you.

 

The Verdict:

 

No surprises here, Fist Fight is a movie that is mediocre at best.  A few cheap laughs, a simplistic story, and some surprisingly strong morals will be the guiding light of entertainment in this film. Those who like the styles of shows like Workaholics, Sunny in Philadelphia, or movies like Get Hard are probably the ideal audience for this movie and the most likely group to see it in theaters.  But the lazy writing, extreme level of inappropriateness, and portrayal of warped ethics are not enough to make this movie stand out in terms of quality or uniqueness. And depending on the person, you may be either entertained, offended, or straight up disgusted by this film.  So, is this movie worth a trip to the theater?  The answer for me is no, and you are better waiting for this on Redbox or Netflix. 

 

My scores:

 

Comedy: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0

 

 

Get Ready To Rock And Troll!

Trolls.jpg

            Trolls!  When you think of these mystical creatures most minds will picture tall, ugly creatures with pronounced booger filled noses and living under a bridge. But if you are a fan of the toys, many might remember the half-naked, multicolored hair figurines with the happy, semi creepy, smiles. I’m sure you’ve guessed the movie from the theme now right?  Yes, today I review DreamWorks’ Trolls starring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES

  1. Colorful, Animation: No surprise here, DreamWorks knows how to animate and Trolls is yet another example of their talent. Our characters run, jump, sing, and more importantly dance in impressive style that brings the unique world to life. The colorful characters (in both skin tone and personality) are charming, and the energy they infuse into the scenes adds another element to the animation.  And the design of all the creatures is very unique almost as it is being designed for…merchandise.

 

  1. Very Fun, Positive Movie: If you didn’t get this from the trailers, Trolls is a movie all about being upbeat, fun, and very positive in nature.  The pint sized cast will keep you laughing through the entire movie, spreading joy as they dance across the land. I found my spirits lifted through much of the movie as the trolls explained the tried and true lesson of happiness coming from within.  Yes, it is a bit preachy, but it was nice to see positivity as the main theme for a change instead of some political issue masked in another form.

 

  1. Kicking Soundtrack: The best thing for me in this film though was the awesome tunes our music directors picked for the list. Many of the songs are as upbeat and energetic as the trolls who are singing them.  Much of the songs are covers of famous songs, but these remixes work very well and represent the theme of their accompanying scenes as Kendrick, and sometimes JT, led the way. The dance numbers were even more impressive, filled with fireworks, light shows, and choreography that you always dreamed the little toys could do.  This reviewer sees ITunes blowing up with Trolls soundtrack sales and it’s for a good reason.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. A little stupid/kiddy: Before you shout blasphemy hear me out. Yes, animated features are geared towards kids and meant to be silly at times. But adults know there are times where it goes too deep into that territory.  Trolls has a few of these moments that sort of derailed the momentum of the movie.  Fortunately, these moments are few and far between, but this reviewer felt the storyboard team could have used the time to better develop characters and make the story more complex. Speaking of which…

 

  1. Simplistic Story: If you haven’t guessed from the trailers (and this review) Trolls isn’t the most complex story to grace the market. Again hear me out. Think about films like Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, or most Disney films. They usually have deep plot lines with dynamic relationships and character development. Trolls has a little of this especially in the stories of Branch and Bridget who need the biggest personality adjustments of the bunch.  Outside of that…the film lacks depth, because most of the characters are on happy pills who only want to dance and sing.  While this is certainly entertaining, the simplicity is a bit predictable and boring at times. I guess they focused more on music and dancing instead of storyboard.

 

  1. Pointless Characters: My biggest peeve has to be the missed potential with the characters. Trolls has a very diverse cast from the glitter infused Guy Diamond to the four legged, hat wearing, giraffe troll Cooper…yeah. Anyway, such interesting characters would hopefully have a little more involvement in the film. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much with these characters outside of a few good zingers and some simplistic, comical moves during a chase.  Certainly a cast like this could have had some interesting powers to donate on their quest (music blasting, super hair strength, heck even manipulating their hair into crafty shapes). But nope, these characters are reduced to nothing more than merchandising whose colors are meant to hypnotize your children to wanting more toys.  I guess this is how the studio will make the cash back from all the stars they drafted in this movie. Nevertheless, Trolls secondary characters need some development in future (inevitable) sequels.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

            Trolls is a fun, energetic dance party packaged into a ninety-minute run time. The music is the strongest aspect of the movie and the colorful animation is designed to support it. And when your toes aren’t tapping, the dialogue and voice acting are sure to give you some laughs along the way. However, there was some wasted potential in terms of stories and characters, which could have made this movie so much better had they captured it. Regardless, DreamWorks has released a decent product this weekend and it was nice to see some positivity for once.  Do I recommend this one for the theater?  Hmmm, I think you could skip this one and wait for DVD, but definitely check out the soundtrack soon to get a fun treat for the ears.

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0