A Different War Than Expected

Bennett's War Poster

 

On a weekend before a holiday, sometimes the movies run a little dry and this weekend seems to be following that trend. Tonight’s movies is about Bennett’s War. Have not heard of it?  Don’t worry, neither had I and if it had not been for a poster in my theater this film would have escaped my attention.  So what is this little advertised movie hold under the hood?  That’s where I come in with the hopes of giving some observations to help you decide if you want to make or break the bank seeing it.  Let’s get cracking as we look into:

 

Movie: Bennett’s War (2019)

 

Director:

Alex Ranarivelo

Writer:

Alex Ranarivelo

Stars:

Michael RoarkTrace AdkinsAli Afshar

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Short Run Time
  • Decent Acting
  • Inspirational
  • Funny At parts
  • Motocross scenes

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Felt sort of like an incomplete Story
  • Predictable
  • Took a While To Get to Motocross Scenes
  • Masked as An Army Flick
  • A Little More Character Involvement needed

 

Summary:

 

A movie like this holds the potential to be an undiscovered treasure or a complete disaster.  For the most part this War had some features to it that I certainly found worth their weight in proverbial gold.  For one the short run time is nice, allowing for a chance to be a concise tale that was not too diluted by drama and bloated by long, drawn out moments that these unknowns sometimes take.  Next up the acting to which the stuntmen themselves probably take first place, but in regards to the actors the podium is taken by Ali Afshar and Allison Paigewhose characters turned out to be fun, dynamic groups that took the simplified parts and rode with it. Sure the other characters played their parts, but did not have quite the engaging personality these too did. Now these tidbits aside, the movie is another one of those inspirational flicks that are all about motivating people to face the odds and conquer their obstacles to achieve their dreams.  It uses the parlor tricks of a deep soundtrack, close camera angles, and the just the right amount of writing and acting to sell the scene and try to get some goosebumps stirring up.  Yet, the movie does not become a sob fest much to the chagrin of those looking for the latest religious drama. Bennett’s War manages to integrate some humor into the mix, primarily through Afshar’s character who like Jughead out of Archie Comics knows how to say the right thing at just the right time.  The biggest selling point though is the motocross scenes that are just waiting to fill the theater with the high definition sounds of the motor bikes.  The movie really harps on the dirt busting goodness of the sport and while it seems out of place, brings the excitement and bang that sports movies accomplish, especially when accompanied by some heavy rock.  The montage approach may be a little limited and cutting corners, but the two biggest races manage to find the balance and stride we love to see.

 

However, the movie sort of shows its limitations fairly well, more so in the form of the story telling itself.  For one thing it’s predictable, with too many of the haphazard tricks given away to show what is coming.  The writing, the foreshadowing, and the obvious overdramatized components that attempt to mislead do little to waiver one from the path.  Second, the film is masked as an army story either in the form of war itself or the recovery from the battles they face.  The opening uses the army as a means to explain the situation, but after that much of the army story is placed in storage for the sports path of the movie.  If the false advertisement does not get you, then perhaps the character involvement will get you instead.  Bennett’s war both accomplishes and fails to integrate all its characters in the fact that nearly every character serves its place, yet does not have the full-on inclusion I think they were looking for.  Adkins character in particular seemed to offer a lot more potential, but sort of crashed out like a second-string country song. The wife hits her moments but yet sort of beats around the bush and becomes a ploy for girl power instead of the aspect I enjoyed the most from her.  And as for another character, integrated at a decent moment, but then again lost to the wind.  Perhaps this is due to the motocross scenes which get a large amount of screen time than you might expect.  While I do rather enjoy these moments, the film sometimes sacrifices too much to get them in there.  Sometimes it was character development/story, and other times not enough heat in the races, but Bennett’s War is one of those I would have liked to see expand on more and find the balance I’ve seen these movies accomplishWhich brings me to the final point that the movie feels almost incomplete.  This war is more about the writers struggling to figure out the movie it wants to tell, patriotic pride and faith for healing or potentially a sports action movie to hopefully get bikes out into the business.  It’s this spin that although enjoyable could have struck a fine glance to deliver the full tale it wanted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Bennett’s War has some solidly entertaining components that should potentially rope in a few groups this labor day weekend.  It’s inspirational, funny without trying too hard, and filled with dirt bike goodness that caters to a broader audience and sort of capture the heart of the movie Motocrossed from the Golden Age of Disney.  Yet, the film suffers from an indecisiveness of trying to cater too many, masking as  a potential army ranger recovering and struggling (aka American Sniper) on poster, but delivering a sports movie instead.  Again, I had fun with this movie, but this amplified version of the DCOM classic needs some more fine tuning or placement on the small screen track to maximize its potential. 

 

My scores are:

 

Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Running To Inspirational Messages In This Okay Sports Movies

Run the Race Poster

 

Sports movies, they have many presentations and styles that make them so darn popular, but it’s often the ones that have the deep motivational themes and heart that really get the attention.  We Are Marshall, Pride of the Yankees, and of course Remember the Titans are just some of the films in the hall of film fame that are “timeless” pieces.  Yet, unsung heroes often wait on the bench, hoping to have their shot at shining amidst the stars.  Tim Tebow’s production is hoping to be one of those rookies to make a statement this weekend and this reviewer is ready to share his opinion.  Happy Friday folks and welcome to another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Run The Race (2019)

 

Director:

Chris Dowling

Writers:

Jake McEntire (screenplay), Jason Baumgardner (screenplay)

Stars:

Mykelti WilliamsonFrances FisherKristoffer Polaha

 

 

LIKES:

 

Well Acted

Pretty Cast

Sports Fueled Moments

Inspirational

Deep

Decently Paced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Run the Race’s likes center on some surprising balance in this fairly realistic portrayal of faith and football.  The cast of pretty thespians and cute physiques will be eye candy as they bring some decent acting to the mix of the family facing interesting circumstances. Their journey finds ways to bring the sports montage into the mix, crafting the story around the sports without becoming too invested into the mix.  It’s inspirational, finding some sequences that utilize the movie tricks and crafted speeches to get people going into action in helping face their problems.  The film goes deep into trying to teach the religious based life lessons it holds, and can really get some emotion going, as was seen in my audience and showing. And surprisingly, it’s got some decent pacing to it as well, finding a means to keep all these elements juggling smoothly, in hopes of getting to the end zone or finish line depending on the sport you like.  Nonetheless, the movie’s a nice sized package of inspirational messages delivered by poster worthy stars.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Plot Inconsistency

Sports Avenues Are Not Made Up

Rushed solutions

Unrealistic Manipulations

Preachy

Predictable

 

SUMMARY:

 

Despite the inspirational components to the movie there are some things that take it away from the majesty of the theater.  For me, the plot inconsistency is sort of the start as the race is ran a little too fast for some fo the plot lines to keep up with.  Some avenues keep the pace going well, but others like the romance arc, the tension with the dad, and even the rivalry of some of the characters are not quite as present as the main story line, leading to them hastily cleaned up by the end of the movie.  In addition, the sports montages are very simplistic, keeping the realistic component with them, but lacking those epic moments that make you want to scream out in delight.  Again, while I appreciate the down to Earth approach, this film really could have used some magic to help pep up the exciting sports it bombarded us with, even resorting to unrealistic manipulations of the system that were eye rolling. Instead, the religious aspect is where this film leads, using very preachy dialogue that while strong, motivational, and certainly a spiritual component sets up much of the movie’s “surprises”.  The predictable finish took away much of the emotion component for me and left me a little bored as I waited for the ending.  Still, the avenue of preaching the good word is something to be forewarned, and if you don’t want a case of faith, then you need to maybe hold off on this one.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Run The Race is actually a decent movie when it comes to religion influenced sports movies. A pretty cast will take on the task of instilling good messages that are deep and inspirational, while trying to develop the characters in the 105 minute run time.  Yet, the movie still runs into trouble when it comes to the memorable sports intense films.  It lacks the movie magic for one thing, and the preachiness may not be for everyone, especially if case of faith is not your cup of tea.  As predictable as it was though, this Friday Night Lights themed movie could have been better with a little more balance in terms of handling the other story themes and may injecting some movie magic as well. Worth a trip to theater?  I believe this one is best served for streaming to be honest, but that’s just my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

I DeCreed This One Powerful Sequel

Creed II Poster

            The legacy of Rocky is an epic one that has etched its way into the hearts of sports movie fanatics until the end of time.  Despite their outdated cinema work, the movies hold such epic bouts of fist flying destruction, brazen masculinity, and surprisingly deep portrayal of sport vs. life.  It has worked super well for years, and with Creed reviving the series with a new, modern edge that showed a boxing movie can still pack the punches.  So a sequel to continue the new boxer’s legacy has emerged to challenge the rest of the Thanksgiving line up in hopes to win the championship of best box office.  Will it succeed?  Robbie K here to fill you in as I review:

 

Movie: Creed II (2018)

 

Director:

Steven Caple Jr.

Writers:

Cheo Hodari Coker (story by), Ryan Coogler (characters)

Stars:

Michael B. JordanSylvester StalloneTessa Thompson

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Character Development: Adonis Creed’s journey was soul searching and inspiring in the first film, and the sequel follows that back in spades. This film is dedicated to the torture of balancing pride of your career while trying to balance the other aspects of life.  Adonis goes through a lot of tough mental burdens, which helps stretch the limits of the character.  Of course Rocky himself still is finding ways to expand his own dynamic, still finding lessons to teach and learn as he himself goes through the throngs with his indirect nephew.  A Rocky films has always been about expanding the character and the traditions continues in the 8thinstallment.

 

The Music:  You like rap, hip hop, and R&B, you’ve got yourself a soundtrack that captivates the essence of the film.  It’s edgy, aggressive beat mixes beautifully with the actions scenes, mirroring the fighting lion that is Adonis in his quest for reaching his goals. Be ready for some hard-hitting beats, with potential aggressive lyrics that can be offensive.

 

Expanded Villain:  Most Rocky movies do a poor job of elaborating on the villainous boxer who wishes to stop our hero.  In this film though, the villains get a small subplot that helps to give them more details and appreciation.  Balancing this tale with the main story, crafts a much better investment in time when it comes to designing the rival boxer that I really liked, especially when even Ivan Drago contributes significantly to the tale.

 

The Rocky Feeling:  Creed II continues the tradition of the boxing movies, by crafting a tale that is all about getting guys in the macho, masculine mode.  Adonis’ next tale brings the motivational force to full light, instilling the testosterone fueled training, hype, enticement, and whatever else you are looking for.  Guys in my showing were hooting in delight, sometimes batting their hands together during the high adrenaline moments.  As for the females, well plenty of shirtless scenes and chiseled bodies to get you swooning if you like that. Past these moments though, classic fans will enjoy the bonds of coach and trainee once again working together to face life gloves up and eyes sharp.

The Final Fight:  We know the series is all about that final match, where contender and titan throw themselves into the ring in all their epic, sweaty glory.  Creed II has the finale you wait for, filled with the high adrenaline special effects, sound editing, high energy shots magic that studios craft.  As the bout progresses the raw emotion of both contenders is unleashed, in a manner worthy of the David Vs. Goliath status they were going for. It is an epic finish to all the buildup and lasts well enough to be worthy of inclusion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

A Little Too Aggressive at Times:  For me the in your face, high adrenaline moments were sometimes perfectly executed. Other times it was a little eye rolling and overdone.  The in your face moments, and fast to action attitude was fine in the first one, but at points in the movie it was a little sadder to watch. This plot point was supposedly conquered in the first one, yet they decided to harp on it as a recycled device. Small dislike, but we go with it.

 

Some Unnecessary Subplots: Creed II has a lot of heart and emotion with it, working to integrate a lot of angles to take Adonis’ life in to help shape the character.  Some of these angles worked quite well for me, and a couple of them didn’t.  I won’t say anything to minimize the spoilers, but there are a couple of tangents they took that didn’t quite add to the movie as much as they wanted.  I would have liked a few other subplots to get some more detail instead, but given the grand scheme of the movie it’s not quite as noticeable.

 

Carbon Copy:  A point that might make or break the movie depending on the audience Creed 2 loses points for originality.  While I understand that the first one wasn’t unique in terms of stories, Creed 2 really modeled its structure quite closely to one of the original Rocky movies, guess which one.  As such, the new coat of paint is quite refreshing, but given how much it follows the original in terms of main plot, it’s a little disappointing given the predictability of the movie that comes with it.  Will you be disappointed?  It really depends on how much you hate carbon copy plots.

 

 

The Verdict:

         Creed II delivers on the attitude the trailer promised long ago. By expanding upon the rivals, portraying more life components with career, and maintaining the feel of a Rocky Movie it’s going to please many fans of the franchise. Yet, the film still suffers from a tad too much modern aggression, some plot devices that didn’t quite need to be there, and a rehashed plot that will make or break the film. Overall though, I liked it and felt it fit very well in the universe and holding quality above a number of other installments.  So if you are looking for the testosterone driven plot line for the weekend, check this film out in spades this weekend, maximizing your experience in the theater. Otherwise definitely get ready for this one when it comes out to the wide public. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sport: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5 

 

Slam Dunk With Drew

Uncle Drew Poster

 

Whatever top of blacktop you got to step on, you knew there was a game of basketball going on at some point. While I stunk at the game, watching my fellow classmates agilely school each other in the art of hoops was something that held a lot pizazz, energy, and fun. Tonight, a movie promising to revive that fun, alongside teaching some legends in the art of basketball Zen and entertain the masses.  Is this moving going to take home the prize or will it be nothing but an air ball? Robbie K here to review another movie and share his thoughts on the silver screen cinematic known as:

 

Movie:  Uncle Drew (2018)

 

Director:

Charles Stone III

Writer:

Jay Longino

Stars:

Kyrie Irving,  Lil Rel Howery,  Shaquille O’Neal

 

 

LIKES:

 

Comedy:  Uncle Drew is certainly in the art of playful insults, trash talking, and of course the elderly living life to the fullest.  The comedy is spread between a variety of styles, balancing them into an act that feels natural and realistic.  I had my fair share of laughs seeing the various slapsticks and certainly enjoyed the delivery by the various basketball stars. In addition, the movie is able to balance Tiffany Haddish’s style of comedy into the mix, giving you plenty of attitude, but not to the point of annoyance. 

 

The Character Development: Certainly not the biggest selling point, but the movie expands n what looked like a one-dimensional cast, and brought some more relevant players to the bench.  While not the deepest dives in a movie, it’s an attempt to give us more backstory and care about the characters.  In addition, a few twists come from these back stories so well done in those regards of adding to the tale.

 

The Soundtrack:  A mixture of old and new school track lists, Uncle Drew’s crew is ready to rock out to a sensational list of rap, hip-hop, R&B, blues, and a little techno.  They pair to the scenes well, add energy to the scene, and if all else fails works to get you dancing in your seat.  My favorite track is certainly during the dance off, got love those beats and moves coming together.

 

The Morals:  You want life lessons?  Drew’s got them.  You want bonding of family and trust?  Drew’s got them.  You want other lessons about confidence, respect, and the love of the game?  Again, Drew has them.  This movie is certainly about teaching much across the generations, unafraid to call out mistakes and inspire to see the world from different angles. These lessons are certainly a keystone for this movie, but it works given that attitude and energy of the film.

 

The Games:  Drew is supposed to be about the moves and being capable of schooling the young players.  Well thank goodness they showed off those skills in enough cinematic glory. There are at least two games that give the players their respectful bouts of basketball, blowing the screen up in impressive displays of agility, coordination, and attitude.  It explodes with the youthful energy, and brings some tension to keep the game interesting.  In addition, these scenes, like the movie, are fun and keep all this balanced to not break from the theme of the movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Depth:  The movie made attempts to develop characters, it just needed to dive further in and develop some more tension.  Much of the plot points are sub-par at best, deep scars that seem to resolve quickly and lack the full intensity of resolution Drew tried to make them.  For two hours… the movie could have utilized some time to give the deeper moments more… well depth.

 

Ridiculous moments:  I get it, the concept itself is nuts, but that aside, Uncle Drew sometimes takes the levels a little too high to fit into the movie.  Sure, it’s entertaining and fun, but some of these scenes divert away from the attempts to be serious, or just become bloated bouts of banter that unnecessarily extends the movie.  If this is your style, get ready for plenty of crazy moments, otherwise just steel yourself for about ten minutes max.

 

Ending Credits: Small dislike, but the credits would have worked for me had they just been the bloopers, which contained lines I wish had made it to the film’s actual dialogue. However, the Haddish ending scene was just a grandiose attempt to bring her attitude more into the mix and didn’t need to be there.

 

Predictable: Much of this is due to the trailers showing too much off, but the movie has only a few twists to try to throw you for a whirl.  Much of the attempts are soap opera like stunts that did little to move me because they can see them from a mile away.  The movie needed a little more gup behind it to help get a little more slamming behind it.

 

Cliché:  Perhaps also in the predictable category, the messages are powerful, but they are preachy, presented sometimes in an overdramatic manner seen in Tyler Perry or Nicholas Sparks books.  It will hit deep in the heart for many, but keep your eyes open and you’ll see the overdramatic presentation I’m talking about.

 

The Length:  Two hours doesn’t seem long enough once the fun starts, the problem is the first part.  Props to them for not skimping on the recruiting scenes as it gave each guy there moment in the sun.  However, there were comedic ploys that got overused, or they went out of the way to execute to be honest, and for me that just added unnecessary length to the movie. There is at least 15 minutes to be edited out, but still it works.

 

Mookie:  I get it he was supposed to be annoying, and Nick Kroll did his job well to amplify the obnoxious presentation that was Dax’s rival Mookie.  Does not mean I wanted a character like this in the movie.  Mookie is an annoying piece of work, that serves its purpose of drawing ire out of every character and setting up for an intense rivalry. Yet, his scenes were very draining on my patience and I cherished the silence that followed his babbling of disgustingness.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Uncle Drew is certainly a great representation of black top antics and the spirit of street basketball, brotherhood, and pride. It works to cover multiple generations, and will certainly appeal to many in terms of its comedy, sports nature, and all out fun.  Yet, the movie still has some editing components to cut into, dropping the out of the way laugh attempts for some character depth that can spice up the predictable plot.  Nevertheless, the movie is fun and energetic and certainly appropriate for many to go and lace up for.  I’d say this movie warrants a visit if you are looking to have fun and strongly encourage group outings to thoroughly enjoy it. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Bump, Set, and Spiked Out Of Bounds

Miracle Season.jpg

 

It would not be American Hollywood without a little sports motivated movie to ring in the Spring season.  Tonight, yours truly starts his double decker review with a film that looks to be an inspiration to… high school volleyball players and their younger counterparts.  Based on true events, tonight’s review starts with a move that will hopefully bump, set, and spike your way to scoring high-points fun.  Tired of all the sports puns?  Yeah me too, so let’s get started with yet another Robbie Movie Review on:

 

Title:  The Miracle Season

Director:

Sean McNamara

Writers:

David Aaron Cohen,  Elissa Matsueda (screenplay)

Stars:

Helen Hunt,  Tiera Skovbye,  Erin Moriarty

 

 

LIKES:

The Pace:  Movies like this strike a chord for their key demographics, but to the rest of the world it can fall on deaf ears.  Fortunately for those who accompany tweens and teens, the movie isn’t that long and the pace is decent to keep things on point.  The editing was able to tighten what could have been a drawn-out film and as such gets you into the games/drama quick and then gets you right back out. 

 

The Inspiration:  Miracle, Remember the Titans, even Million Dollar Arm have proven effective in motivating the audience members (primarily aspiring athletes) to go an accomplish their dreams and goals…well some of us anyway.  The Miracle Season is yet another win on the board of motivation, utilizing a polished script, great visualization, and tailored acting to deliver the messages within.  Hope, remembering, inner strength, and will power are just some of the qualities that audience members can soak up. No matter how many times I see portrayals like this I get the feelings all over.

 

The Musical Score:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but a good musical score can really drive the point home for movies.  The Miracle Season rings strong in this category, bringing a powerful orchestra score to the game sequences to amplify the effects of an already high stress scene.  While the Katy Perry songs are cute, cuddly, and well-fitting for empowerment, it’s really the drum infused, high school spirited instrumental work that brings the full power of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  These movies seldom have big surprises, and this movie is no exception.  The trailers have already given away the major events, and given it is an inspirational sports’ movie, you can pretty much guess what will happen. No surprises, no major twists, not even suspenseful teasing…it’s just one predictable montage. 

 

Preachy:  Movies are famous for crossing the lines into this territory, it just depends on how powerful the monologue and speech are to provide the message.  Where Disney fueled movies have accomplished the dramatic delivery, this movie only managed to hit 50% in regards to the power of delivering the message.  Instead, the simplistic lines, overdramatic camera angles, and obvious direction take the movie down a semi-cheesy preach fest that eventually feels like it belongs on a day-time soap opera.  It delivers the message well enough but fails to deliver the magic that Disney has made famous.

 

Shotty Character Development:  Again, a good effort, but does not quite reach maximum work the movie could have really used.  The main characters of Kelly, Brez and Ernie (Moriarty, Hunt, and William Hurt respectively) get the most in terms of evolution, but past these characters the rest are very simplistic in regards to growing.  Most of the team are simply extras to fill in the team and allow for some volleyball shots, while others have a few lines that show promise of deeper involvement, but then taper off.  In a movie all about the players and the miracle they experienced, I was hoping for more depth in the team as a whole.

 

Editing Disproportionate: While the movie is fairly tight, I felt that the editing took out the wrong material of what I wanted to see.  The Miracle Season focuses on the slower parts of the journey, taking more time to show practice, talking, and preparation than the actual games.  When the big moments come up you might expect a few decent sequences of awesome volleyball action.  However, the movie instead traded these potentially exciting bouts for more tear-jerking moments of sulking, girl talk, and some unneeded detours that added little for me in the movie.  Sentimental?  Yes.  Hard hitting, sports prowess?  Not even close.

 

Anti-Climactic: All of these dislikes sum up to one things, anti-climactic.  The Miracle Season may be motivating, but it really lacks the exciting climax I was hoping to get in the movie.  Even in the final games, the montages experience a drought of any dramatic tension, presented as just a bland spectacle of spandex wearing warriors doing some cool choreography.  I do admit, there are some awe inspiring plays, but as a whole needed more to get the full effects.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Miracle Season is certainly a public service announcement about the power of hard work, hope, and teamwork.  It will serve as the fuel for future young females (especially athletes) to have a fantastic season, and push their limits.  As a collective work though, it needed to add more pizazz overall and really add the magic to their moments to create the tension they wanted.  In addition, more development of characters and team relationships could have taken this movie farther, but still it’s got the gusto to appeal to its demographic.  While an enjoyable movie, this film is best left to renting than the theater in my opinion, unless you need it for the big game to inspire the troops. 

 

My scores:

Drama/Sport:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0