Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Ambiguity Comes At Night

It Comes At Night

 

Horror movies, they seem to be popping up at random times during the year.  Why June 9th called for one, I don’t know, but nevertheless… here I am writing another review on one.  Tonight, we hit It Comes At Dark, a movie starring Joel Edgerton.  Based on the trailer, I was expecting a thriller set out in the woods, as our main cast remained isolated in their proverbial fortress of solitude.  And with good reviews on other sites, my expectations further swelled.  What lies hidden in the house?  Robbie K will try to answer with another spoil free review.

 

LIKES:

 

Unique Twist: I use the word unique lightly as most stories have been told in the daunting flood of movies.  This film though treks away from the typical presentation of the horror genre, focusing a lot more on character development instead of just on the scares.  It comes at night takes a more artistic explanation, using the metaphorical devices to build up the suspense, story, and spook factor present in the film.  Such an “original” presentation is fun to watch, as the realistic atmosphere adds a little more edge to the movie.

 

Creepy:  If you’ve read my other horror reviews, you know I like a movie that balances jumps with creep factor. It comes at night doesn’t rely too much on the abrupt symphony blares that shatter the silence, but instead focuses on the creep factor to get under your skin.  The director brought three components that helped deliver the motive.  The first is the use of shadows, letting the unknown hijack your imagination and pain the picture of what lies n the dark.  Have a fear of the night, or at least night in the woods, then get ready for your worst nightmare, because that is what you are going to get. Second is the utilization of subtle sounds to further tease your imagination to create an image of what lurks in the dark. And finally, the realism factor.  It comes at night’s twist could certainly happen and realizing the fact spices up the terror.  That’s right, no over the top monsters, gratuitous maiming, or cheesy over dramatic stories about possession. It’s just straight up creep fest, using simple scare tactics.  Nice job guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace: It Comes At Night does indeed have a unique twist, but it also opened the movie for a much slower presentation. After a rather tense opening, the pace drops to a snails run as you watched the family work to make a living in this post-apocalyptic world. Like one of the weaker episodes of the Walking Dead, much of the movie involves sequences of chores, upon chores, upon…yep you guessed it…more chores. And given the short run time, I wanted more bang for the buck.  Certainly it develops character (a plus), but without that exciting finish and tension to bring it full circle, the movie dragged and left me bored at times.  Artistic? Yes!  Realistic Yes! Needed all the time?  No!

 

Frustrating flashbacks:  This movie has plenty of weird dreams and semi-flashbacks trying to tell the story and do indeed build up the tension of the situation.  What is frustrating though is how incomplete these flashbacks are in the grand scheme.  The director had a brilliant idea to tease you with the unknown threats looming in this movie.  Unfortunately, the flashbacks, again, never get to the final answer, and all the extra flashbacks (while a great portrayal of thought and fear) frustrated me to know end at the constant interruption of the momentum and not providing the answer. I get it…that’s the point of this movie, but come on…give us something.

 

Ending:  The ending is certainly not the typical, run of the mill finish you expect in most spooky flicks.  So, this reviewer gives them props for that originality and significantly hard punch in the face.  Yet again, the director’s obsession with being artistic resulted in an ambiguous ending that drops to black just like that.  After bringing things to a full boil, the big finish fizzles out with a hasty wrapped up conclusion and a silent final scene where nothing happens.  No answers to what has happened to the world. No answers to the unknown factor that led to chaos (no clear one anyway). And no satisfying ending to complete the run.  So unless you just like dark, vague, finales where you are responsible for piecing things together, get ready for a disappointing ending.

 

The VERDICT:

 

It Comes At Night certainly defies the typical horror genre, and finally injects some uniqueness back into the mix.  A fantastic use of shadows and using the imagination to fill in the gaps amps up the scares and truly colors the unique “monster” looming in the woods.  Yet, they went a little too far with this gimmick and the incomplete ending just didn’t do it for me.  Abstract thoughts and artistic quality aside, I can’t recommend this one for the theaters except for those who like psychological analysis of a plot. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Training Pants Off, Underpants On…For Kid Focused Comedy

underpants

 

Superheroes seem to be the theme of this weekend at the movie theater.  For those not interested in the Amazon princess’ tale another caped crusader awaits in the hallowed halls of the silver screen.  No, it isn’t Batman, but instead a more childish hero to fight ridiculous antagonists.  And tonight, my review is on the waistband warrior himself… Captain Underpants and his first feature film.  Based on the hit children’s comic book/novel series, the latest kid’s movie is here to try and bring the laughs contained in its pages.  Did it succeed?  Robbie K here to help answer that question, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

  1. Cute Factor: We all know kid movies can vary like the flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. Captain Underpants is along the cute variety, filled with that fun, G rated goodness reminiscent of the Peanuts Movie. The trailers are accurate in stating there is a great moral lesson about friendship, one that just may touch your heart and call up your best friend.  If the sappy parts don’t make you say awwwwww, the sound of your child laughing certainly will.

 

  1. Nostalgia: If you read the books, or co read with your young one, then good news, the movie captures the spirit of the series. Watching Harold and George trying to control their gallivanting hero is sure to bring a flood of memories back at the adventures in the book.  In addition, you’ll find ridiculous villains, potty based humor, and even Flip-o-rama all integrated in the short run time of the movie. Ahh, the power of reliving your childhood is a strong thing indeed.

 

  1. Voice Acting: No academy award worthy performances in this movie, but the voice acting fits well with the ludicrous tone of this movie. Kevin Hart’s high pitched voice fits so well with the character of George, primarily the obnoxious laughter I pictured the character having. Thomas Middleditch helped compliment his co-actor in his wispy voice. Ed Helms was a toss-up for me.  I didn’t find his portrayal of Mr. Krupp the same tone as my imagination, but he certainly nailed the boisterous, whimsical tone of the superhero nimrod. And finally Nick Kroll certainly has the over exaggerated accent down pat, and made for an entertaining antagonist at times.

 

  1. The Art Style: DreamWorks animation nailed the media for this movie for me. Bright colors, dazzling lights, and a trippy spin were exactly what I expected for the Captain Underpants universe.  This film “flips” between animated panels of a child’s drawing to the 3-D cartoon CGI image and it works to capture that kid friendly energy and nostalgic blast to the past. And as there aren’t too many kid’s movies using this style yet, so the uniqueness is always appreciated.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Very Kiddy: The trailers warned us about this, and even the comic books did as well, but Captain Underpants lacks the adult factor many cartoons hold. Much of this movie is simplistic potty humor, incessant laughing, and mindless bantering that may hold little humor to those above the age of 12. And to be honest, much of the movie loses its comedic spin within the first third of the movie. A little more wit could have gone a long way to save this movie from getting stale.

 

  1. No solid story: Masterpieces from Pixar and Walt Disney studios have a blend of humor, character development, and story. In Captain Underpants… that is sadly not the case.  The spirit of adventure is missing in this film, diluting the suspense aspect of the film to stuff more bathroom humor in the mix. And without a solid story to base the humor upon, it feels kind of like a failed stand-up comedy routine than a theater worthy film.

 

  1. Lacking Emotional Kick: While the movie does portray the power of friendship well, it still lacks that the emotional slam dunk that others have perfected. Captain Underpants doesn’t have much tug to the heartstrings and while you can laugh with the two of them, you can’t really connect to the characters at hand. Without that investment, it makes it that more difficult to invest in the movie. Therefore, I was bored for much of the movie, jealous that the younger audience could relate to the fart humor more than I could.

 

  1. Over exaggerated Voice Acting: Yes, we know the characters are all supposed to be overdramatic spoofs meant to tickle the funny bone.  Doesn’t mean they had to go over the top on the voices ALL THE TIME. Much of the voice work eventually drops into the annoying zone and for some characters very quickly (how many Tra-La-Las did we really need to hear?). Without the clever writing to back it up, not even this star-studded cast can save the eye rolling, or teeth grinding moments contained in this film.

 

The VERDICT

 

Captain Underpants is a different spin on the superhero genre, and one that is very welcoming to the younger generations.  With a very focused comedy towards its demographic, parents aren’t going to find much gold to this movie outside the art style and the melody of children laughing. Despite the nostalgic run it brought, there is not much to this film to make it theater worthy (unless you need a 90-minute tranquilizer for your kids). Therefore, I recommend this one be saved for Netflix or Redbox instead of the theater.

 

Animation/Action/Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Wander Over To Wonder

Wonder Woman

 

It’s a brand-new month and you know what that means right?  Yes, another super hero movie to kick off the summer blockbuster season.  This time it isn’t Marvel cranking out the comic book, cinematic feature, but their rivals DC studios. With its recent shaky track record, the DC cinematic universe hasn’t gotten the best publicity in terms of quality. So, the studio has decided to get the leading lady herself to pave the way.  Yes, today’s review is on Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Can this movie break the bad luck streak of DC/WB studios?  Robbie K here to share some opinions on the matter, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES

 

  1. Gal Gadot is incredible and steals the show with her poise, pizazz, and acting talents. A fantastic casting direction that really brings the woman to wonder to life in beauty, ferocity, and bouts of heroism (a.k.a. kicking bad guy butt). Acting, stunts, and an on-point delivery of her lines makes this actress one of the tops in my book!

 

  1. The action is on point (for most of the movie) filled with impressive displays of weaponry, martial arts, and historical warfare. Wonder Woman’s battles held such emotion, managing to bring the suspense all while delivering that feel good, post battle high, you might have gotten from reading a comic book.  The team brings some fast-paced thrills we have wanted for almost a year and a half.

 

  1. A good representation for girls. I may have already said this, but this movie targets a wide variety of audience members in some form or manner.  Yet this reviewer has to give props for the design of a character that is certainly worthy of representing the female super heroes and inspiring the female population that they certainly can do anything.

 

  1. Comedic timing: It’s not going to be a super hero movie (at least in this day and age) without some laughs to break up the tension. Wonder Woman continues this trend, filling the void with well-timed one-liners, a few awkward encounters that often deal with sex, and some slap-stick gimmicks that do the job well.

 

  1. Character Development: I know most super hero movies have this element, but there is something about Wonder Woman that stood out to me. This film managed to spin Diana’s character development into a roller coaster ride of feelings that almost made me tear up. Her journey to discovering herself and her role into this new world was poetically portrayed, using multiple angles to get the job done.  It could have also been due to the powerful soundtrack, the visual effects, or maybe Gadot’s acting, but it really worked for me.

 

  1. Fast Pace: We all know those movies that drag (and yes, I’m talking much of DC’s library). Not the case for this film. The nearly 150-minute run time flew by for much of the movie having me at one point saying, “Dang, it’s already been 90 minutes.” Not something I often say.

 

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Unoriginality: You’ll find that Wonder Woman shares a lot with Captain America: First Avenger. The set-up, setting, and build up almost matching outside of the weapon of choice and martial arts moves.  Certainly, not the biggest limitation, but something that others have been bothered by.

 

  1. Almost pointless crew: The crew that joins Diana held such promise in the picture, but it was dropped so hard in this movie. Outside of Chris Pine, the other members do little for the overall mission outside of a few throws, some “tracking” and mainly comedic relief. There were hints at character development and deeper dynamics, but they fizzled out faster than sparkler at 4th of July.  I know, this movie is about Wonder Woman, but why even include these guys if that was the goal.

 

  1. Preachy: Some reviews state the whole feminism/males are pigs is overdone, and to an extent I agree. Yet the bigger dislike was the preachy monologues that sometimes plagued this film. A few times the heat of the moment was lost in a display of self-reflection, which is great, but not in the midst of a battlefield. Some of these moments also had that eye-rolling factor for me.

 

  1. Overuse of CGI: I like special effects, I like stunts, but I don’t like overuse of a gimmick. The slow-motion interludes during the action scenes added some cool emphasis to Wonder Woman’s skills (alongside some cool finishing moves). Somewhere along the production, someone got a little trigger happy with the effect and used a little too much for me, and soon started disrupting the cool stunts they had Gal do. In addition, there were some special effects that were a bit cheesy and took the edge off of Wonder Woman. Learn from Michael Bay people, too much of special effects makes for many jokes.

 

  1. The ending: Don’t turn away, hear me out.  The ending is great on many levels (emotional, prowess, role model, and morals). However, it lost the momentum the first few fights had with them, trading suspense for flashy special effects, drawn out banter, and unimpressive choreography. Sort of felt like the ending to X-men apocalypse where the bad guys bark was worse than his bite.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wonder Woman delivers on many levels and breaks the mediocre displays that DC has cranked out over the last year.  It’s emotional, it’s dynamic, it’s fun, and it provides a solid role model for admirable heroes. I feel the movie met most of my expectations and I was happy with the overall product.  It’s far from perfect though, and still has a few things to tighten up (like developing other characters, balancing the CGI use, and keeping the momentum going). Still, I have to recommend this one for a theater visit, especially you comic lovers out there.

 

My Scores:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Fate Smiles On Eight!

Fate of the furious

 

A couple of years ago, we had what we thought was the final chapter of the Fast and Furious legacy, ending with the montage of the fallen hero Paul Walker.  Sadly, it seems that the cinema world can’t let it go, and thus comes the subject of my latest review Fate of The Furious (or Fast 8 for short). After the fake, ridiculous of number 7 (minus the ending), I can’t say I was happy from the trailers for this film and how it looked even cheesier.  What is my verdict?  Read on to find out my friends.

 

LIKES:

  • Action more controlled
  • Comedy stays strong
  • Soundtrack
  • Story Is Much Better

 

Summary:  If you remember Furious 7, you remember how over the top the stunts were and the sheer ridiculous factor they had (e.g. superhuman feats, near invincibility, invulnerable cars). Fortunately, Fast 8 toned the action back to the baseline ridiculous of this action franchise, keeping things reeled in to a point of somewhat believability.  While this may tone down the action somewhat, this installment still packs plenty of punch with diverse sequences including: drag racing, gun play, martial arts, and of course car combat.  It’s suspenseful, it’s fun, and at times it is really funny, providing that popcorn flick entertainment value you like.  In addition, the stellar soundtrack contains both musical scores and music that fit well with the movie, (I myself enjoyed a few original R&B/rap songs near the end of the film).

Speaking of funny, Fast 8 doesn’t hold back on the comedic antics that the second film brought. Dwayne Johnson interjects his brand of corny insults and tough talk, establishing a banter rivalry with Jason Statham, who not only has a few clever quips, but finally redeems his pitiful character in this film.  Yet the main source of laughs comes from Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. This comedic duo performs plenty of stunts, deliver plenty of well-written insults, and put their foots in their mouths so many times to keep you chuckling through the entire film. All of the laughs keep things light and relieve the tension to help ground the film into a PG-13 environment.

            Hands down though, is the improvement over the story.  Fast 8 reaches back into its roots for our plot, bringing back the character development and crime element of the film that started it all.  Dom’s tale of deceit throws plenty of nostalgic shade at our leading hero, including some unexpected twists that help tie together SOME of the loose ends. Fans will find plenty of emotion in this film, and hopefully will enjoy the action built around the plot (instead of the other way around). In addition, the fact that Statham’s character is released in this film (making the plot of seven almost useless) was a good thing for all the redemption they brought with his character.  I give the group applause for the improved story element, despite how bad it looked in the trailers (guess you can’t judge a movie by its trailer…sometimes).

 

DISLIKES:

  • Still ridiculous at times
  • Some Cameos not worth it
  • Editing Still needs some work
  • There is going to be a number 9

Summary: Let’s face it, this installment is famous for how ridiculous Hollywood special effects teams want to push the limits of cars.  Fast 8 does not escape this curse, for it is still filled with absolutely hilarious (though somewhat impressive) stunts.  I don’t wish to reveal too much, but let’s just say the submarine racing them isn’t the most ludicrous thing you’ll see, nor the biggest stretch (bad guys can’t seem to aim) of the imagination. Still it is an improvement over 7.

As I said earlier, Fast 8 has some twists you might not see coming, which leads to some unexpected cameos (unless you look at the cast list cheaters!). Some these moments are impressively, or spot on timed to maximize their appearance.  Yet there are others that were wasted and could have greatly been expanded upon to further amplify their involvement. I can’t say much, but I will admit that almost all the guest appearances held pertinence to the story, they just needed more time.

Yet the biggest flaw is still the editing of the films. Fast 8 may have lots of excitement to keep the movie going, but there are plenty of moments that could have been left for the directors’ cut.  A random cousin at the beginning for an almost pointless race, an overdramatic taunt that gets lost in the scheme of the movie, and even a few punch fests just weren’t needed.  In addition, some of the characters felt a little robbed, until that one factor comes in where they are needed.  These sloppy moments feel disjointed, unnecessary, and dilute the story into those eye-rolling moments that could have been so much better.  Perhaps these moments will be strengthened in the next movie, which is a strong hint to come (a shame compared to how well this movie could have tied things up).

 

The Verdict:

 

      Overall, this reviewer liked Fast 8 much better than Furious 7.  With a much better story (strengthening the limitations of its predecessor), toned down stunts, and an atmosphere that feels much like the earlier installments, this movie is a step in the right direction for the impending sequels to come.  Yet, it still doesn’t reach the balance some of the previous films have.  The editing and character balance still needs some work so that all the characters feel absolutely necessary instead of convenient.  Still, it is a worthy theater film, and will provide the aisle stomping entertainment you are looking for. Let’s hope “Fate” smiles on the next sequels to come from this series…and hope they can keep the momentum going.

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

Going Back To Traditional Style

Going in style

 

The age of comedy has certainly changed over the years, transitioning from the classic slapstick to a simpler, straightforward approach that today’s youth loves. Yet, every once in a while, the legends from the past return in an attempt to bring some whit back to the silver screen.  Tonight, my friend and I head back into the trenches of the local theater to give some insight into Going in Style starring the legendary trio of Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • Classic comedy
  • Good chemistry between actors
  • Cute
  • Nicely tied together story

Summary: If the intro didn’t spoil it for you, Going in Style is true to its name, as the trio brings the classic comedy back into style.  Fans of the slapstick of yore are going to bust a gut at this film as the timeless styles of the leads continue to shine bright. Caine and Freeman have comedic timing and delivery down, with clever lines craftily intertwined in the serious dialogue that put today’s writing to shame.  Arkin on the other hand is all about the banter and complaining, which for the most part is balanced and well-placed. The trio have great chemistry together, and sell that they are best friends who have faced the challenge called life.  They sell the struggles and praise the joys, and do it with such class and minimizing the stupid, mindless banter famous today. And in addition to being funny, the lack of crude comedy also makes this movie cute. Watching older men trying to rob a bank, while also getting their lives in order makes for an adorable adventure as my friend commented.  Of course, this reviewer likes a story to his comedy, and Going in Style gets this right too.  It’s a hardy story for most ages, and one that won’t have the older audience members shaking their heads in shame.  This may also surprise you, but there were a couple of twists that fooled me, which isn’t easy in the comedy genre. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Depressing at times
  • Old jokes get a bit stale

Summary:  With a simple story as this, it’s not surprising that much of the story is predictable. Given the theme of the movie, you should be able to predict most of the ending, and certainly can guess where things are going to go wrong.  Therefore, the uniqueness of this movie takes a hit in the story department. And no surprise, the comedy is also predictable and therefore loses the comedy edge they wanted to deliver…at least to me. While the trailers do promote the more fun atmosphere of the movie, don’t let it fool you that it is all happiness and rainbows (that’s the Smurfs!).  Going in style emphasizes the end of life generation, highlighting the less than glorious problems of getting older. Thank goodness for the consistent comedy, because otherwise this could have been a much harder movie to watch.

Of all the comedy this movie has in its folds, they certainly stuck with the old theme of this movie.  Positives, there are plenty of quips and class to the punches they throw. Bad news, the quips get older than the actors delivering them.  How many insults about difficulties getting up can you make, or metaphors for being poor and not having a check.  It’s good political awareness (nice work there writers), but it would have been nice for a little more variety to work its way into the vaudeville.

 

The VERDICT:

Going in Style is one of the classier, wittier comedies to end up in the theater this year.  Both this reviewer and his friend, enjoyed the trade of simplistic one-liners and innuendos for a less aggressive comedy style that shows the traditional style has not been lost quite yet.  Despite the trade up though, the movie is still very predictable and simplistic enough to still be stuck in the mediocre territory.  As much fun as I had in the movie, there isn’t much to warrant it for a movie theater visit, unless you are a fan of the traditional comedy and looking for a fun group/date movie.  My friend though gives this movie three thumbs up and states it is an entertaining, fun flick that will keep you laughing. 

My scores are:

Comedy/Crime: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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