A Bloody Good Shot At Trying To Make An Action Spectacle

Bloodshot Poster

            The big hero action flicks have evolved over time with the changing technology, dropping the story driven plot components for the spectacle of booms, punches, and CGI work.  Still, you have to give them props at the creativity they can muster given this day and age.  As such, today, another action flick hopes to rear its adrenaline-fueled head and unleash the bullet storm of box office bucks for the audience.  Will the built, rogue soldier of Vin Diesel be able to bring his legacy to new heights, or is it another cop out of a comic book turned movie.  Robbie K  here to give you the insight in the latest films, before the virus suspends all the films for a time being.  Today we review:

 

Director:

Dave Wilson

Writers:

Jeff Wadlow (screenplay by), Eric Heisserer (screenplay by)

Stars:

Vin DieselEiza GonzálezSam Heughan

 

LIKES:

 

  • Fast Pace
  • Explosive opening
  • Cool Concepts with Semi Realism
  • Decent Fight Scenes
  • Comedic At Times
  • The Editing For the Scenes
  • The Hacker

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Bloated Dialogue At Times
  • Some Of the Overkill use of Slow Motion
  • Shaky Camera Syndrome
  • Limited Use Of Other Characters for Much Of the Movie
  • The CGI At Times

 

Summary:

 

Let’s get to the point at hand, you go to an action film you want the pace and effects to make your adrenaline pump right?  Bloodshot does not pull any stops, dropping right into a battle scene with an explosive opening that brings plenty of what is to come.  Once the story sets up after this, the movie dives into showing off some cool technological components, areas that could very well be seen in the near future given the focus.  It’s these technological prowess that the movie is anchored on, with much of the designs for story, development, and the action scenes all dependent on the augmentations seen.  Fortunately, the movie exploits this to full effect and brings some decent action sequences to the mix, primarily during the explosive climax when all styles of fighting are brought together in a decent finale.  However, the factor that really elevates this movies is all the sound and film editing that supports the CGI scenes in front of me. Explosive sound effects riddle the theater with wall shaking goodness, sound tracks of orchestra elevate the moods and adds that adrenaline rush, all while visuals are blended together beautifully.  It’s definitely these components that were my favorite part of the movie and I think the biggest selling point of this film.  However, there are some comedic moments to help spruce things up, usually well-timed jokes or a cliched line from Vin Diesel’s repertoire as the primary ammunition.  This reviewer though really liked the hacker character though, whose British mannerism and comedy attitude were the biggest relief and fit very well despite being the one pinpoint of light. 

 

However, the spectacle of the film can only distract so long from the rest of the things I did not like as much in this movie.  Predictability is the name of the game, thanks again due to trailers and just the linear telling this film takes.  Obvious foreshadowing from dialogue and a big early scene should give more than enough away for you to realize where the movie is heading, which should allow you to enjoy the spectacle. Bloated dialogue tries to paint a more engaging story, but it does little other than provide weaker backstory and attempts at character development.  Sadly, Bloodshot does not do the best job with backstories and character utilization outside of select scenes where they make a start at using them.  Perhaps a little more mission use of them, meeting some better development would have helped, but where comic books have time the movies did not so they cut their losses.  In terms of the action spectacle itself, the movie hit a few things that I’m not the biggest fan of.  Action scenes can really use their work to emphasize violence, bashing, and that epic finishing move.  However, in this movie, it gets a little overused, showing off cool portrayals of skin damage and anatomical healing, but at the same time making for boring bouts of Vin Diesel walking.  Tough atmosphere it may establish, the overuse was boring at times and I would have loved a little more dynamic work.  Dynamic work though does not mean having to have a camera that looks like it’s in an earthquake movie, and Bloodshot has its moments where sporadic camera shifts don’t bring me into the action, but rather take away from it.  Finally, you will hear the CGI looks bad, and I’ll agree at times it really does look fake and forced, similar to the Smith vs. Neo fight in the Matrix Reloaded.  I’m guessing budget to make the action fights the most realistic got cut, but at least it moves well and has the special effects to lessen the blow.  Still, given all the other impacts it was trying to make, I think Bloodborn could have used a little more polishing on this front.

 

The VERDICT:

            Overall, Bloodshot is an action movie that works to pull the thrill of the 90s action back into the modern day.  It’s got great editing to sell the action scenes and give you those thrills, alongside a pacing that works for this genre.  Amidst this technological stunt show, there are a few decent performances, and the comedic work of the Hacker character helps stir some things up amidst the constant fighting on hands.  Still, the movie has an okay science fiction plot that won’t leave as much on an impression, especially given bloated dialogue, limited secondary character use predictably.  Sadly, the stunning editing still needed some polishing with the CGI work itself, primarily during said action moments.  Still given the effects, you could probably find enough reason to check it out in theaters, but otherwise hang out for this one for a home viewing. 

 

My scores are;

 

Action/Drama/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

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

Is This a Dark Fate For The Series?

Terminator: Dark Fate Poster

 

The Terminator timeline is like a game of connect the dots that suddenly gets more dots and has to be redrawn.  No matter how many times we think the story is over, the team’s quest for more bucks finds ways to try and give “unique” stories, but still keep it in the universe.  After the reception of the last film, I can’t lie that I’m surprised a sixth installment is coming.  Yet here we are, ready to review the latest entry into the Sci-Fi franchise.  What’s ins tore?  Well Robbie K is here to shed some light and potentially alter your future.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

 

Director:

Tim Miller

Writers:

James Cameron (story by), Charles H. Eglee (story by)

Stars:

Linda HamiltonArnold SchwarzeneggerMackenzie Davis

 

 

Likes:

  • Good Acting
  • Funny At Times
  • Better Character Development
  • Surprisingly Deeper
  • The Graphics At Time
  • The Pace
  • The Action

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictability
  • The Unnecessary Politics
  • The Computer Graphics
  • Bloated At Points
  • More Action Needed
  • Convoluting The Timeline Even Further

 

SUMMARY

 

A Terminator movie has never been known for Academy Award winning performances, but this reviewer will not lie that he enjoyed the acting.  The classic champions of the franchise succeed in reliving their characters, bringing a new light to the simplistic roles, but yet being familiar.  Meanwhile newcomers like Davis and Reyes succeed in fitting into the new roles that the franchise wants them to take.  It’s not the most complicated of the roles, but the it works for the premise of the film.  The writing stems from those characters being the simple cat and mouse game with a little gun play involved, but in this installment the comedy seems to be there once more to offset the darker tones, with simple jokes integrated into natural conversation that make fans like me laugh.  All of this boils down to more dynamic characters, where people are much more than simple fodder for the terminators, but instead starting to show more heart and wisdom then what I think I have seen in any film.  This opens up into a surprisingly deeper film, finally achieving characters that we want to see, instead of the generic one-dimensional shells that are no better than the robots they are fighting, which is something I enjoyed.  Yet, this does not mean the Terminators have deviated too much from their normal delivery of the Terminator films.  The computer graphics have continued to improve, helping beef up action sequences, and help design one of the deadliest series to date.  These qualities are the thumbs up of computer technology in this film and things I absolutely love to see.  When it comes to the pace of the film, Dark Fates keeps things moving, refusing to linger too long as they chase/hunt continues and the defense plans need to evolve.  For guys like me, this pace is welcomed, because it keeps things exciting, but yet does not move so fast that the character development is rushed.  The heavy dialogue moments are then interrupted by some decent action sequences, with the first and last moments holding the planning and execution of scenes I like.  Fights are vicious, fun, exciting, and have the darkness to allow for some seriously awesome moves and struggles that are fitting of this series.

 

Sadly with all the stuff I enjoyed of the film, there are still some things the series is working to find balance in for me.  First, the predictability of the story is probably one of the most obvious things I’ve seen in a long time.  Attempts to hide the truth are poorly diverted, with too many nonverbal cues and obvious bait liners present to point the trend along the entire time until the “big’ reveal at the end.  Like, many films, Terminator 6 has fallen victim to the political messages of the time, with some lines, and the twist, a little too focused on these issues that did not seem quite a needed in this tale.  All these political entanglements with attempts to throw us off the scent led to the film being a little bloated, the over 2 hours run time that not needed when there were some things that could have been cut.  At this point you might be saying, who cares about the story, I’m in this film for the thrills and chaos.  Well even at this point Terminator’s team still has a few things to tune up.  For one thing, the computer work may have thumbs up in design and sound editing, but they still have not mastered the ability for the smoothest/most realistic looking action.  There are some movements and transitions that still look a little corny to me, and I laughed at the obvious actor placement that they threw into the mix.  In addition, there could have been either a few more action moments or maybe a little more evolved action to again make the entire time investment worth it.  Terminator’s opening moment sets the bar high, and it would have been nice to see the momentum carried on, or at least the finale having even more bite to go hand in hand with the storytelling.  Overall though, this film is all about further convoluting the timeline and potentially opening up for the next chapter that is “different” but yet the same.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Going into with lower expectations, I’ll admit I enjoyed Dark Fates on a variety of levels.  Old and new cast team up to start the legacy of the film off right, brining character development that is deeper than anticipated and style that is aggressively awesome.  With fast pace and action to keep things moving, alongside some impressive video and sound editing, this film delivers on the special effects boom.  Yet, the film still cannot find the full balance it needs, bringing predictability and politics to what should be a film that is willing to take a step into new realms.  Throw in some work with the special effects and better finesse of the action scenes, this bloated part of the film could have been filed away to make a better film.  Still, worth a trip to the theater for this one, especially for fans of the series. 

 

My scores are: 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Gemini MAN-aged to DeAge and Excite, But Was Not A Successful Action Clone

Gemini Man Poster

 

 

Will Smith, a legendary actor who has found various avenues to bring his work to someone you know, maybe even you.  Whether you think everything he is touching is gold, or varies in spectrum, I have to give the man props for his bravery of taking on these roles.  Today, after many years of being in the works, a supposed personal interest rears its head after months of advertising in hopes that it will rock the socks off the audience.  Thanks to technology catching up, we get this weekend to check out the film:

 

Movie: Gemini Man (2019)

 

Director:

Ang Lee

Writers:

David Benioff (screenplay), Billy Ray (screenplay)  |3 more credits »

Stars:

Mary Elizabeth WinsteadWill SmithClive Owen

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Comedy
  • The Acting
  • The Pace (somewhat)
  • The Action Scenes
  • The Technology

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • The Plot
  • The Predictability
  • The Commercial spoilers
  • More Action
  • The Ending

 

Summary:

 

Like any movie with darker/grittier themes, you sometimes need a good timed joke to relieve you from the cloud of dismay that hovers over the world.  Gemini does this without breaking its stride, finding ways to throw jabs and some banter into a rather linear, monotone dialogue and captivate on the laughs. Much of this is due to Benedict Wong for me, but Smith manages to get a little Fresh Prince vibes going into help get a chuckle.  Despite a number of reviews calling the acting mundane, this reviewer found that it was not quite the spectrum that people claim it to be, more so in the characters themselves.  Again, Wong manages to be the best one for me, with Ms. Winstead bringing a close second alongside the younger version of Will.  The chemistry is sort of there, but it works to bring the simplistic chess pieces into this story and get the thrills going.  Instead of award-winning performance, the focus of this film is definitely going for the action setting, and this is where I think the studio’s efforts shine.  First off, the pace is much like an action film, trying to get started on a high note, and diving into valleys of jargon and one-note conversations that try to complicate a rather simple plot before going into the action sequences.  At these exciting moments is where I give my favorite aspect to, for they were able to bring most of the scenes to the level of excitement I wanted without breaking their reality.  Chase sequences and close combat really shined for me in this movie, with the technology and camera work, alongside the sound effects of course, being designed to add that adrenaline-fueled excitement that I love.  For the technology itself, I give Lee and his team props because they successfully accomplished the impossible of de-aging and it looks smooth as silk (for most parts) and beautifully done.  A young Will Smith vs. his older self was the selling theme and they capitalized on this technology that is sure to come into play with the next decade of films.

 

As I have to agree though, there are limitations that come with this special effects loaded cinema piece.  First of all, the plot took a major hit, designing itself more around action scenes instead of vice-versa.  It’s a predictable piece of work with targets drawn in red well before any action occurs, with a rather shallow version of this whole ordeal, and back stories that are mediocre at best for me.  Not diving into the emotional pieces, or at least exploiting them a little, left for simplistic characters and monotone pieces that offered little to grasp on to outside of when the next display of fighting would occur.  What took away from the splendor of this is the amount of advertising that sort of flooded every avenue of media.  You’ll get much of the tale in the commercials, with only one twist avoiding its eye, though you can probably piece it together.  Thus, only the full extent of the action scenes escapes the spoiling component and is worth the investment.  Yet, again for an action movie I was hoping for a little more of the high energy scenes than what I got.  Gemini man proved its strength and it needed to flex more of those moments instead of this cat and mouse game of dialogue and shallow character development. This is especially true at the ending, where everything is super rushed, hastily finished, and very lack luster that just reveals all the predictable plot elements and tries to handle loose ends.  Sure, it’s got a bit of a 90s closer at the finish that I liked, but the climax was a peak that was shorter than the mid movie point.

 

The VERDICT:

            In truth Gemini Man is not awful, but it certainly is not the spectacle that the trailers tried to build up, but in truth it does have some qualities I think that they wanted to achieve.  Above all, the technology accomplished the goals set out by the project in terms of de-aging someone and making it look super believable.  Throw in that most of the technology comes together to make for action scene spectaculars that will have fans dancing in their seats in excitement at this fast-paced feature.  Sadly, the reviewers are right that the plot and characters are very simplistic, with a predictable and low developed plot shoved into the run time, where focus on action leads to hasty wrap ups and a sloppy finish for this reviewer.  Perhaps if more time had been looked into the plot as the technology it would have pleased more, but for the wait, well it is not quite worth it for this guy.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Sci-fi:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.5-5.0

Going To The Stars In a Drier, In Depth, And Artistic Approach

Ad Astra Poster

 

Space, the final frontier, a void of endless possibilities for us humans to explore, colonize, and potentially ruin with our wasteful culture.  For now though, it serves as a great medium to make a movie about science-fiction for.  Throughout the history of movies, space films have allowed the imaginations of many to take off and bring some of the most memorable movies that we still latch onto today.  Tonight, the review focuses on yet another film that hopes to soar to new heights and win a new award.  Robbie K again with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Ad Astra (2019)

 

Director:

James Gray

Writers:

James GrayEthan Gross

Stars:

Brad PittTommy Lee JonesRuth Negga

 

LIKES:

 

Beautifully Shot

Interesting Concept

Realistic Science-Fiction

Good Acting

 

 

DISLIKES

Some Subplots

The Ending

The Obscure Answers

The Tangents

The Pacing

 

SUMMARY:

 

Space movies vary in a number of things, but the presentation can make or break the film as a whole depending on what their focus is.  For Ad Astra, the movie managed to tailor it’s fiction component to provide a more realistic tale that will appeal to a wider variety of audiences who sometimes get lost in the fantasy element.  Ad Astra’s plot is interesting in the point of an incident known as the Surge, whose origin lies in the last know place that Brad Pitt’s father (Lee-Jones) was seen going.  To help minimize the Surge from further destroying the world as we know it, Pitt is sent into space and through it goes on a journey of self-discovery that adds the psyche element analysis on board.  This interesting concept is going to be great for Sci-Fi book lovers, as it feels much like those stories where the first-person perspective is portrayed from the third-person look.  It’s a bit dense, but the fact they were able to keep to their own rules they established at the start was a big win for me.  Certainly the story is brought out by great acting, mostly on Pitt’s part who hits the depressed space hero going on dangerous mission well.  You can feel the suffering of the character, see the thoughts reflected in the tiniest gestures, and feel the emotions of the character in the dialogue/monologues he unleashes.  It’s a great leading role,, though it could have benefitted from more inclusion of other characters to even out the sullen nature of Pitt’s character.  My friend and I both did agree though, that the special effects and movie magic were the best element of the movie.  Ad Astra’s cinematography was gorgeous, with fantastic integration of CGI structures into realistic shots, and more so designing the sets to which this drama plays out on.  It’s these stunning effects that bring everything to life and will most likely catch they eyes of moviegoers everywhere as you are pulled into the venture at hand.

 

Yet all these unique approaches and special visual story telling do not quite get you set for the more artistic/symbolic approaches that movies sometimes take.  Ad Astra’s  subplots and tangents open up the new adventures and accomplishes the task of getting character development rolling.  With each “stop” so to speak, there is a reflection by the character and what he is thinking that is awesome for the character component, but semi-worthless in terms of story over all.  Again like a book, this film’s treks across the void are awesome to see, but not necessarily carrying much point past the artistic visualization.  As the movie continues on, it does not quite tell the story in the most black and white aspects.  Much of the film’s lines are very in depth or vague, capable of providing you insight to piece things together, but the delivery is a little stuffy and theatrical that it dilutes the significance this scene plays.  Thus, these side avenues, while certainly extra tales to further dive into Pitt’s psyche, were not the best use of time in my opinion.  When the ending finally came and the overall goal we set out was reached, I again was disappointed in the results it took.  I think i always knew where it was going, but Ad Astra’s finale needed some excitement or further tension to justify all the time invested, and I felt I did not get that outside of the symbolic gestures it took.  This may not have bothered me as much had the pacing of this film been better.   Pitt’s journey is very slow and given the amount of details it brings, did not have too much excitement or speed to get to the goal fast enough.  This led to me fighting sleep occasionally and I would have loved again some editing to add a little pep or do some more editing to get out the film faster.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ad Astra achieves the prize of beautiful style, deeper tales, and great acting to come to life.  It throws away the idea of space battles or aliens and instead subjects the goer with impressive looks into a character and the symbolism that space travel can bring.  It feels much like a book put to movie and I give mad credit to the vision that James Gray had when putting this film together.  However, this unique and detailed approach may also be the downfall of the tale as the cascading subplots and tangents become a little overbearing at times.  kA sort of linear, connect the dots like approach does not quite give the most exciting narrative and the ending, no matter how beautiful it is, seems a bit of a sucker punch that made the movie’s dragging pace not so great for me.  Yet again, if this kind of vague and symbolic approach is your cup of tea, definitely check this film out because there are enough visuals and effects to utilize theater technology well. However, if you want a more traditional space movie and need the lasers, aliens, and tension, this film should be on the home viewing instead.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Drama/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Burning Through Plots To Finish Things Up

Dark Phoenix Poster

 

X-men, a series with so much storytelling and incredible characters that the comic book itself stands alone as one of the greatest franchises to exist in the comic book world.  Yet, the movies have had a rough patch in terms of execution, hitting some highs and some lows in their design and sequences.  So tonight, the last of the franchises before Disney takes over, tries to send it off in the a blaze of glory, focusing on the last saga that is a beacon in the mutant world: The Phoenix.  Can Fox put the shining beacon of power in the right light, or will it be yet another grandiose display of loud sounds?  Robbie K here to bring his observations and help you out with your movie pleasure.  Let’s go!

 

Movie: Dark Phoenix (2019)

 

Director:

Simon Kinberg

Writers:

John Byrne (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”), Chris Claremont (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”)  |4 more credits »

Stars:

James McAvoyMichael FassbenderJennifer Lawrence

 

 

LIKES:

Acting

Sophie Turner

Special Effects

The Action/Pace At The End

The Messages

 

DISLIKES:

Quicksilver Not Used

Pace For Much Of The Movie

Rushed Story

Cheesy Story

Lackluster Dramatic Moments

Action Scenes Fairly Short

Under developed Villains

Not Quite The Epic Finish

 

SUMMARY:

Say what you want about the X-Men, but they have picked a heck of a cast to bring into he mutant world.  McAvoy continues to do his part justice, making sure to bring the full fiery emotion that the part requires.  Fassbender and Lawrence do their parts well, but seem to have become the back-burner group for this movie, lost to some simpler writing and a quick dynamic shift to the main character.  Jessica Chastain does her job well, but I can’t say they utilized her to the full potential (more on that later).  No, the real star is Sophie Turner, the mutant with so much power that she’s not quite sure how to handle it.  Turner does the job well in regards to getting the suffering, the uncertainty, and even the hard-edged femme fatale that they wanted.  Her character is decently developed in these aspects and I think Ms. Turner accomplished her tasks well.  To sort of go with the grand power of the mystical icon, X-men had to pull out the special effects and again they accomplished this goal quite well.  Theater shaking sound effects, plenty of colorful and vibrant special forces that scream dark edge comic books.  That utilization accomplishes bringing the fiery force of Phoenix into a spectacle that works well to bring these exotic characters to life.  My highlight comes at the end of the movie when the big action scene happens, fully unleashing the powers of the other X-men and starting to get into the excitement I’ve been waiting for this series to discover again.  Much like the books though, Dark phoenix is ready to deliver the typical messages found in this saga and the ones contained in this movie sort of accomplish this goal.

Yet, much like many movies, this installment still suffers from balance issues and finding its identity in the transcription from comic to screenplay.  For one thing, a fan favorite of Quicksilver is grossly underutilized, the famous scenes that had fans raving, almost being missed completely.  And much like the quickness of the speedster, the movie’s pace suffers as well.  Dark Phoenix is very jargon and argument heavy, with more talk than walk seen so to speak.  So much of the excitement is done in a few snaps of the finer, mostly tuned to dramatic arguments and repetitive plot points than anything else.  The story not only seems rushed, but often very cheesy in its presentation as the classic saga is boiled down to the primal elements that try to speed the “evolution” so quickly it left me filling slightly unfulfilled and unimpressed.  Attempts to interject emotion were lost to predictable foreshadowing and sequences where only a few showed any interest.  Perhaps the action scenes make up for it?  Not really, unlike some of the earlier counterparts, Dark Phoenix’s fights are short lived, more grandiose displays of talking and delivered forced dialogue with only a few impressive moves to tickle the proud political statements, while leaving action junkies like me wanting more.  Perhaps if we had better fleshed out character and villains there would be some antagonist ready to drive the plot and really gives us the gauntlet that the Dark Phoenix saga was aiming for instead of the lacking end game to this genre.

Overall, Dark Phoenix shines as the modern-day movie of girl power and hastily wrapping a floundering series up in a nice bow. It’s not awful thanks to the acting, end scenes and messages, however the story just does not feel like the final installment, but instead like the opening issues of a series that try to whet your appetite.  Had Fox not been bought perhaps the movie would have held a trilogy on its own or at least more time to the story and action.  Yet this epic finish is really one that is best left for him, minus the theater experience of the flashy effects.  My scores for this adaptation of cheesy, grandiose goodness is:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-fi: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0

New Loop, New Twist: Happy Character Development 2u

Happy Death Day 2U Poster

            Sequels often get a bad rep because of never living up to the expectations of the original, and sometimes insulting the name of the franchise. Often a sequel is not needed, an obvious cash grab to try and extend the franchise just a little longer in hopes of keeping interest.  So tonight’s review is one of those cases where a sequel was not really needed, but nevertheless exists.  I’m talking about the sequel to last year’s campy slasher/comedy Happy Death Day, a film that surprised me in how much fun I had.  Will the second fill follow suit, or are we stuck in sequel limbo?  Robbie K back with another review on:

 

Movie: Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Director:

Christopher Landon

Writers:

Christopher LandonScott Lobdell (characters)

Stars:

Jessica RotheIsrael BroussardPhi Vu

 

 

LIKES:

  • Jessica Rothe
  • Character Development
  • New Twist
  • Funny
  • Emotional

 

Summary:  Happy Death Day was all about Tree’s journey to being a better person and the sequel is no exception as it dives more into the former sorority girl’s life.  Rothe’s performance continues to amaze me as she brings Tree to life, expanding upon the character, as a good sequel does, and really bringing emotional twist to the mix. The second dive surprisingly brought some emotional punches into the fray and was very heartwarming (potentially tear jerking) in unexpected ways.  Secondary characters get a little more time to develop as well, moving past the superficial stereotypes and somehow remaining relative and pertinent to the story.

Yet the movie isn’t just about the lovely Tree going on a soul-searching journey of … death, but rather trying to find ways to bring a new twist to and outdated genre and still keep to its rules.  In regards to the story, Happy Death Day 2U manages to add a science fiction twist to the mix, that helps establish a new goal, story element, and connection to first film.  While not quite the slasher tale, the added dimension helps the movie stand out and avoid feeling like a carbon copy of the original that was only a year or so ago.  In addition, the comedy remains true to its gimmick of making you laugh as actors and writing blend together to become well-timed comedic antics.  It works beautifully and adds a fun pace to the film that energizes it all over again to reinvigorate the series.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as suspenseful
  • The beginning gimmick
  • Comedy a little overdone

 

Summary: The sequel’s two areas of improvement for me are going a little too far into the gimmick at the beginning and the overdone comedy.  The new twist works, but at first it didn’t impress me in the odd presentation/rule bending it did.  Fortunately, they were able to get a handle on it, but at the beginning the odd transition didn’t work outside of a messy transition.  The other component that did not quite work for me, was a few moments where the comedy was forced on the audience, a little too drawn out or grandiose for my liking.  They were minor ones, but limitations that took away from me.

I think the biggest limitation was how the suspense was taken away for me like the first one had.  The slasher component is mostly gone alongside the mystery, leaving it a fun adventure but missing that darker edge that the film was famous for.  Sure the humor got a little darker than anticipated, leading to some rather disturbing scenes, though these carried the attitude of the film.  Yet, the prolonged bouts, the squeezed in extra obstacles, and the hasty wrap up led to some shortcuts being taken and decisions to put the movie more in a comedy sort of mood.

 

 

The verdict: Regardless of the twists, the movie still has the fun adventure that makes it one of my favorite comedies of the last few years.  Rothe leads much of the fun, but the new twists, energy, and true to its roots presentation also help to make it a decent sequel that expands on the first film. Yes, it got a little carried away with the science fiction and comedy elements, leading to a diluted suspense factor. Still, it’s worth a check out into the theater for the fun movie of the weekend.  Definitely check this one out in the near future.

 

My scores are:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5

Comedy/Sci-Fi/Mystery:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0