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

New Age, New Strengths, New Weaknesses: Welcome To International Men In Black

Men in Black: International Poster

 

They don’t exist outside of Déjà vu!  They are protecting us I supposedly only one suit that they never take off.  And they have faced more interesting specimens of the galaxy than we can ever imagine. I’m talking about the Men IN Black and they won’t let you remember about all the stuff you may or may not have seen. Welcome to Robbie’s movie reviews and today we are going to be looking at yet another movie hitting the silver screen. Today is the latest iteration of a beloved 90s franchise that has seen it’s ups and downs.  Can the latest installment/reboot find the stride, or are we once again stuck with another rushed production that should have had more time or never existed?  Let’s take a look at:

 

Movie: Men In Black International (2019)

 

Director:

Gary Gray

Writers:

Matt HollowayArt Marcum  | 1 more credit »

Stars:

Chris HemsworthTessa ThompsonKumail Nanjiani

 

LIKES:

  • Decently Paced
  • New Aliens and Designs
  • Nostalgia
  • Simplistic Story
  • Funny
  • Kumail Nanjiani’s character

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • More Aliens
  • Predictable
  • Plot Missing Some Wrap ups
  • Other Acting Is A Little Forced
  • Missing That Natural Humor
  • Underutilized characters
  • Not Campy Enough
  • The Political Messages… again

 

SUMMARY:

A Men In Black Movie is all about being an entertaining spectacle of comedy, story, and latching on to our heroes and finding some moving pieces.  This new installment may not have our favorite agents we started with (in physical form at least), but it holds a few treasured components that kept it entertaining for me.  For one it’s a movie with few slow parts, moving from one component to the next with little time for impasses to really drive character development, but maximize laughs and entertainment. The New aliens and designs are refreshing in the component that they are bringing back the creativeness that brings renewed energy into the series, especially in regards to some of the new criminal aliens who have edge and artistic designs mixed in.  With all the newness you might be fretting that the old feeling has been lost, and to be honest I found some qualities that still remain to be fun and remind you of the older days.  For one there is plenty of nostalgia lining this movie, maybe not in the full integration of other movies have done, but certainly a few nods to the adventures our first band had.  Simplistic story still stays strong as well, with little twists and turns to spin your head or make you think, but not so simplistic to be absolutely stupid or boring, for the most part any way.  The key thing that stays here though is the humor, finding the same formula of modern times by cramming jokes in as many styles as possible.  That variety is good, bringing some dynamic choices to the mix to try and cater to a number of audience members and hopefully leaving you in tears.  Yet the winner for me is Kumail’s character Pawny.  The Middle Eastern actor’s character left me in stitches bringing his usual brand of comedic delivery with well time interruptions that were perfect for me.  In addition the character remains pertinent to the story as well, only having a few times where his manners were forced on me.  An excellent character for this reviewer.

 

Yet for all the good they did for me, the modern reboot of the series has not achieved the goals that the first series did for me. For one thing, more aliens could have been introduced, or even better integrated into the mix.  All the introductions and new designs should have had a little more time to brew to perfection and perhaps be relevant to the inclusion outside of a joke or two. Villains, supporting characters, even the main heroes felt underutilized to me, simplistic shells of main characters that hold secrets, but like the organization remain hidden.  As such, I did not get quite attached to these two new agents like I did K and J, and that leads to a less engaging story for me overall. In regards to the story itself, well that too is sort of lacking.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s got the components famous in this series, but they were not as well put together because of the new approach.  It’s predictable for one thing and leaves little surprise in how things are going to pan out from obvious foreshadowing.  Story elements started being hinted at, but then the plot lines fell flat or remained sort of untied, perhaps in suggesting a future installment. The fact that the characters are not quite as engaging leaves flat pieces to play out, who become more focused on comedy than being a hero.  Most of all, the story is just missing that campiness overall that the 90s made famous and that took away some of the things that made the first trilogy special.  Without that factor, that natural humor was sort of lacking, forced upon me much like the ghostbusters from a couple of years ago.  They almost try too hard for me and at times that obvious digression from the story to make a joke id not impress me as much.  This is especially true with the political humor, once again trying to force emotional surges into the movie to deliver the real-life issues. Sometimes the writing was perfect and well-integrated, but often it fell to deaf ears because it was not needed, potentially left to the interviews and subconscious meetings than anything else.

 

   Overall, the film turned out to be fun and entertaining. The modern twist is far from perfect, but it shows the series can age well with the right guidance and motivation. It still needs balance and shying away from the forced jokes, alongside crafting characters that I actually care about instead of the comedic, political husks I was getting.  Men In Black International though has plenty of old and new blended in and the new little guy Pawny should certainly make up for a number of flaws given his character ironically has more layers than the leading cast.  Due to the special effects, this one lands in the see in theaters territory, so check it out, but in terms of the quality movie overall, you can probably check this one out at home to be honest.  So my scores for the movie are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

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

Joining The Aimless, Action Packed Hunt

The Predator Poster

 

In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America’s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to… well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight’s review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest.  Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

 

Movie: The Predator (2018)

Director:

Shane Black

Writers:

Fred DekkerShane Black

Stars:

Boyd HolbrookTrevante RhodesJacob Tremblay

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay):  It’s a star-studded cast loaded with talent. And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down.  While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munnand Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks. 

 

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways.  Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen.  These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

 

The Story (kind of): Okay, it’s not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years.  It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series.  As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

 

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs.  The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator’s cannon.  References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

 

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch.  It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

 

The Action:  I’ve hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film.  The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast.  Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don’t quite live up to the snuff.  Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development:  It’s a Predator movie, I know it’s not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group.  Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end.  However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood.  It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

 

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don’t like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator’s lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight.  It’s a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

 

The Story:  While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants.  It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones.  As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film’s inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go.  The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy:  Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh.  Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn’t see fitting to be in this franchise.  As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading.  Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown’s Character:  I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil.  Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown’s talents were not the best utilized in this film.   I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in.  Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise:  As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects.  Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment.  Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you’ve got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

 

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points.  Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn’t do as much as you hope it will.  The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all.  Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings.  On the one hand it’s got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people.  The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

A Mega Sized Shark Film? The Meg Review Trying to Bite Into The Box Office

The Meg Poster

 

 

The shark movie has a huge cult following, and the fan base continues to grow with each delectable, gore filled bite.  So much so, that SyFy channel can’t stop filling their air times with ridiculous films that throw any excuse for mega beasts munching on airheaded characters who look good.  Despite some famous movie sticking out in the television about the prehistoric predator of the deep, the big screen is calling for a film of its own in hopes of drawing crowds back to the welcoming halls of the theater.  Based on the book series I recently saw in Barnes and Noble, the Meg is here to try and entertain.  Yours truly is back to share some thoughts as he reviews:

 

 

Movie: The Meg (2018)

 

Director:

Jon Turteltaub

Writers:

Dean Georgaris (screenplay by),  Jon Hoeber (screenplay by)

Stars:

Jason Statham,  Bingbing Li,  Rainn Wilson

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation:  CGI companies can make just about anything these days, including a 75 foot shark with a ferocious appetite.  The Meg has some awesome design in bringing the beast to life, capturing the grainy, rough texture of the hide and making its swims delightfully fluid.  This shark moves beautifully in its hunt for humans.

 

The Characters:  Most of these movies fail to bring the full talent of actors out, often resorting to making the characters glamorized fish food that we root to actually be eaten (some exceptions of course).  The Meg though, their cast has more to their mettle, recruiting a bunch of dynamic actors to portray scientists that have a little more to their skill set than looking good.  With this team, I was able to actually invest into the human characters and once more root for the team to find a way to solve the problem.  And while the acting is not Oscar worthy, the dialogue, writing and delivery have been grounded to be enjoyed and not scoffed at.

 

The Story:  Again, most of these films hold very little in terms of quality story, only designed to maximize the blood and kills.  The Meg though, takes a step back to the storytelling roots and actually does a nice job of balancing the kills with a purpose for the carnage.  From how the shark came into the modern world to side stories portraying character flaws, this film had surprising amounts of detail to actually give a reason to the movie. Don’t freak out though, there are still plenty of superficial carnage scenes to tickle your fancy, but for those like me who like balance, this movie gets better props.  In addition, there are some twists to help add some bite to adventure.

 

The Pace; A movie like this can sometimes drag, especially if you hate these types of films and you were dragged in to going by friends.  Again, the Meg succeeds in this journey of keeping the film moving, the adrenaline pumping, and the laughs/carnage keeping pace.  The film has enough action and close shaves to keep you on your toes, which plays to the nature of this genre.

 

The Nostalgia:  The Meg does have a lot of individuality, yet it is also packed with countless references to the shark movies that came before.  The movie has plenty to offer, and the shark movie fans should have no problem picking up the Easter eggs submerged in the Megalodon infested waters.  Nice job adding this layer of fun guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Over the top moments: The whole movie is ridiculous, I understand that and will accept it, but even suspending reality goes only so far. A giant shark movie sometimes goes too far and hits those eye rolling moments that sort of diverge from the path of balance it was achieving.  Some of the structural integrity inconsistencies and speed of our humans are a few examples, but hey that’s a shark movie.

 

Plot Holes:  The movie did a nice job of putting a story on board, but the movie does have some gaps that even for the ridiculous tale shouldn’t have been skipped.  It goes with the opening scene more than anything and with it, sort of diverges from the explanation they gave, sort of undermining the semi-logical conclusion they had.  Again, a small dislike, but a noticeable one that is a bit annoying to me.

 

Predictable:  Even worse than the holes and the ridiculous level, comes the predictable plot that this genre suffers from.  The Meg has more obvious foreshadowing than the theme music of Jaws, and with it comes some suspense being tempered away.  While secondary characters are kind of the group to bet on for surviving vs dying, the rest of the cast has their paths blazed from the start.  You’ll be able to predict most of everything, though a few twists managed to spice a few things up.  I’m still looking for that Jaws like quality, but The Meg does get points for trying.

 

The uneven character spacing:  I love Deep Blue Sea, because the characters had narrow misses, epic survival strategies, and the gradual picking off of the groups.  It allows for more suspense, pulling you into the game of cat and mouse, or in this case shark and human.  The Meg started out this way, but then succumbed to munch fest and lost the structured plot to the demands of carnage.  It’s not the worst case I have seen, but it was disappointing to see that build up sort of fizzle out, though I must admit it did happen in the later part of the film so kudos.

 

 

The VERDICT:

            Let’s be honest, The Meg is a ridiculous movie that many will agree is a pure popcorn eating flick.  Surprisingly though, the movie has improved on its storytelling abilities, and finds a balance between the superficial and deeper aspects of the film. Still, the shark movie is very entertaining, with a good pace, suspenseful action, some well-timed laughs, and nostalgia to get you into all the adventures to come.  Yet, the film still suffers from some of the stereotypical faults of this genre, which takes away from the strengths of the movie.  If you are the fan of this genre, then please hit a local theater to check it out, but otherwise hold off until it swims into television/streaming waters.

 

My scores: 

 

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0