Intruding On New Takes Of Old Tales

 

 

The Intruder Poster

 

Dramas/Thrillers, the lifeblood of the very world of entertainment.  It’s within this genre that one finds some of the darkest tales, plunging into the fathoms of imagination that most dread to step into.  Yet, this genre sometimes gets a little too broad in spectrum, and tends to go to extremes that leaves the plots a little grandiose and run of the mill.  Hi Robbie K back with another review on the latest movie to hit the silver screen, hoping to shed some light and help you pick your movie poison.  I take a look at:

 

Movie: The Intruder (2019)

 

Director:

Deon Taylor

Writer:

David Loughery

Stars:

Meagan GoodDennis QuaidMichael Ealy

 

LIKES:

 

Soundtrack

Good Acting

Creepy Character Development

Beautiful Setting in many ways

Decent Evolution of Suspense

Character Centric Story:

 

Summary:

 

The soundtrack might be a rough way to open the review, but The Intruder is all about bringing cultures to the tale and part of that is music.  A fantastic selection of modern-day styles that represent the culture, the movie integrates the tracks into key scenes that sort of add ambience to the typical genre shots (making love and driving cars).  This added layer though is only a glazing to the acting that brings the characters to life on hand.  Meagan Good is well good at her work taking a common role and in some ways refreshing it to make it interesting, engaging and compassionate that you feel for the character. Michael Ealy dives a little more into the extreme role of hotheaded decisions and emotional moments that makes fans love the genre. Yet it’s Dennis Quaid who I think gets the nod for his performance in this movie.  His character is creepy, and he executes all the mannerisms and delivery needed to craft a thriller villain.  The smile that shows innocence yet insanity, the subtle laughs that get under your skin as they denote the edge about to be reached, and even more the temper that comes when these people do not get their way. It’s fantastic development that greatly spans the movie, taking months to achieve instead of days and seeing that evolution.  That is the making of a good casting for this genre for me.

But the characters need a setting to play in and The Intruder’s playground is one that is both aesthetically beautiful and haunting at the same time.  Again representing the themes of old vs. new, the house known as Foxglove holds stunning engineering work that ropes the modern society in, primarily for stunning view, gorgeous décor, and the atmosphere it brings.  Yet, the open floors, beautiful antiquated halls, and the multilevel house offers many shadows, sounds and ambiguity to get the tension going and drop the comfort level way down. In utilizing the characters, spreading the development over the story and utilizing such a playground, the Intruder is able to make an engaging level of suspense that keeps you into the series, much like a mini-series does.  Throw in the focus on characters and not scares, and again you begin to see a tale that finds its pace and keeps you interested in characters who extend past the one-dimensional outlook these characters often have.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Trailers ruin much

So Much More Potential

Some Character balancing

Not the Most Intense ending

Still Idiotic Decisions

 

SUMMARY:  Despite the good this movie accomplished, it still falls victim to some of the trademarks that come with the Soap Opera like approach. It’s predictable, with many of the “surprising” components deduced a mile away based on the cliché plot points they love to tell.  In regards to this movie, the two trailers I have seen give away much of the film and in seeing that you can piece together much of what will happen way before you get to the scene.  This predictability is a shame because the potential they were building was set to be a potential memorable moment in the drama/thriller history, primarily in some more tactics Quaid’s character could do and in the climactic chase to be had. But again this movie failed to deliver on that promise by sort of short sighting the ending.  Instead of thrilling games of survival in the very house they chose, the last bout is a bit more boasting and brutish combat that ends rather quickly and unimpressively.  That simplicity is emotionally fulfilling in the sense of justice, but given how they were building on two of the characters, I had hoped for a little more fulfillment in this final scene.  The other component that would have been nice, as agreed by at least two of my audience members comments, the smart characters we were seeing were quite idiotic in their approach.  Despite all the things available at their hands, the “stress” of the moment appeared to have robbed them of their brains to achieve the goal they were looking for. It won’t bother many, but for this reviewer it takes away from the character work they had done in this story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Better than I had anticipated, the Intruder manages to turn back the drama/thriller to an age of character focus instead of scares. Quaid in particular manages to take a simple role and craft it into a villain that you get hooked on watching, while his “prey” are characters with more dimensions and personality proving they aren’t just meant for knife and ax fodder.  Utilizing the setting and characters well, it’s the drama that comes closer to balance than many of the films I review.  Yet, the full potential of the characters was not quite reached for this reviewer, falling victim to predictable plots, time restraints, and an ending that again is cliché and more attuned to those wanting to lead with their hearts than heads.  Still all in all, it’s a movie that at least shows potential for future movies of this category to have a chance at story telling.  Worth a trip to the theater?  My opinion is no, as this is still a Lifetime film pumped up on budget, but check it out at home viewing.

 

My scores:

Drama/Horror/Mystery: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

A Samaritan To The Crime Drama Formula

Bad Samaritan

 

With the success of the Avengers last weekend, it is hard for other movies to try and take follow such an impressive record. Still, another week comes with movies that are going to try and fight for their place in the silver screen.  My first movie of the week is the latest Horror/Thriller to try and keep you on edge.  Robbie K here with another round of writing to help you guys with your movie choices.  Sit back and read on as I review:

 

Movie:  Bad Samaritan

 

Director:

Dean Devlin

Writer:

Brandon Boyce (screenplay)

Stars:

Kerry Condon,  David Tennant,  Robert Sheehan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Decent Pacing:  If you’ve read my work, you know I like movies that movie, which Bad Samaritan does.  I’ll admit it takes a while to lift off in an attempt to set the stage, but as the robbery goes bad and the thrills start, things start to pick up.  From then on, it seems to move, only hitting rough patches of diverging slowness for small amounts before looping back to the story. 

 

Acting:  Another plus here, the cast has quite an art to helping keeps the audience invested in the story with performances that are quite believable and well developed.  The secondary characters are fine for their limited appearances, but the two leads are by far the pillars of strength keeping this movie up.  Sheehan as the protagonist plays the man at wits end quite well, a nice force of morale integrity with a drive to make changes his world needs.  It’s a nice puzzle of emotion and he was able to bring all the pieces together to make a protagonist you want to get behind.  Yet it’s David Tennant who will most likely grab your attention.  The former Barty Crouch Junior has taken his insanity up a level, still having that strategic genius of a serial killer, but this time being much louder and less subtle Seeing how deep his madness goes is probably the only mystery at hand, as one tries to figure out what caused such devoted madness.  The rivalry between these two is the relationship that drives the whole film, and certainly the thrilling component of the movie.

 

Thrilling at Times: The movie has a dark edge to it, and dark often brings thrills and suspense to the screen.  Bad Samaritan has those moments that are real on the seat sequences that you crime show lovers enjoy.  All of them attempt to make you jump and potentially look suspiciously over at your fellow audience member, but most of these moments are short lived. What does bring suspense though, is that feeling of unknown as to what Tennant’s character will do next.  That uneasiness is truly the source of the thrills in the movie and perhaps one of the more realistic scares of the year in movies.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable: What drowns the movie’s suspense is how linear and predictable this film is.  Bad Samaritan holds few surprises in this regard, much of the plot can be seen from a mile away and seldom surprising me outside of how short some of the suspense moments are.  It’s much of the same story that crime shows love to take full advantage of in their relentless need for repeats.

 

Lacking Villain Development: The extent of his madness is visible in this film, his back story, not so much.  Bad Samaritan’s villain is just shown as crazy, with only fleeting memories of animal torture (another thing I hate) to give you any sort of understanding. Eventually, the bomb is dropped into the incident that developed his psychopathic tendencies arose, but it’s only in the form of a three-sentence part to wrap it all up.  This lack of details and impasses to uncover his history means one thing… boring.  Part of the fun of a thriller is getting more insight to the monster at hand and it just didn’t deliver in this movie.

 

Underutilization of secondary characters:  Sigh, the protagonist had so many connections set up at the beginning, each an important cog to Sheehan’s character’s life, but also a valuable pawn in the killer’s game of chess.  Unfortunately, these pieces are super underdeveloped, dropped in for only small time talk before quickly being used for more life altering madness.  Most of these stints are just flown over, but a couple do try to bring that nasty bite to get you feeling the pain they want you to.  Had more of these guys been brought into the game, Bad Samaritan may have again developed the edge it needed.

 

The Stupidity/Mistakes: Bad Samaritan falls into the usual trepidations of characters making stupid decisions and paying heavily for it. These bad decisions are essentially the core of the movie, and while a few could be appreciated, some of these moments were sheer displays of how dumb the writing was at times.  How did this master of seduction/schmoozing screw up so much for this kid to best him?  Why would they be so stupid to leave obvious clues?  Why were the cops so ruthlessly dumb/ignorant?  It’s just those background noises they want you to annoy, but in this movie that is hard to do given the set up they make.  The inconsistencies are a tad annoying to me at times.

 

The Ending: Sigh, another movie that is left to tease and feel unfinished.  Bad Samaritan’s final moments are rushed display of mistakes, coincidental serendipity, and a sudden cut to black worthy of the Sopranos.  It opens the possibilities for another installment yet could provide lackluster closure to those who want it. Nevertheless, this film didn’t quite end as strongly as one would hope, leaving many questions unanswered, and many ties still unknotted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Bad Samaritan is an okay movie, capable of finding ways to make you jump and trying to keep you engaged in this manhunt. With good acting and a good pace, the movie certainly feels like a crime show that has a film worthy budget.  Yet, the movie still holds some rather big deficits that rob it of the thriller aspect it wanted to bring.  More character development and suspense are going to be needed for further installments, but it at least sets the stage. Worth a trip to the movies?  Can’t say it is for me but give it a shot at home to not worry about being robbed of your money for an anticlimactic ending.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

Can’t Keep Quiet About This Great Horror Film

A queit place

 

Horror Movies continue to flood the theaters, each one hoping to stake its claim in the Hollywood world and actually get a decent rating.  One such candidate comes out this weekend, with a well-received preshowing, and a festival to support it, this movie holds high potential to accomplish the goal of a good horror movie.  Tonight, my second review hopes to bring good news on this movie and promote it for being a horror film that will leave you reeling.  Robbie K back again, as he reviews:

 

Title: A Quiet Place

Director:

John Krasinski

 

Writers:

Bryan Woods (screenplay by),  Scott Beck

 

Stars:

Emily Blunt,  John Krasinski,  Millicent Simmonds

 

 

LIKES:

Editing:  Horror movies miss the mark quite often in this category, usually adding unneeded details to increase the length of the movie.  A Quiet Place manages to really tighten this element up, with almost 100% of the movie holding pertinence to the movie’s storytelling.  The result, is an immersive horror tale that doesn’t dive too far down the hokey realm and instead towards the quality thriller tale we’ve been seeking.

 

Acting:  For a movie with few words, the small cast was able to maximize their screen time with their nonverbal acting.  Blunt and Krasinski (the actual married couple) play their roles to the T, unleashing all that primitive rage of protecting their offspring from the elements.  There is love, passion, and fear all rolled up into the mannerisms and facial acting.  As for the kids, again impressive openings as they portray kids stuck in a dangerous wilderness where life hangs in the very balance.  The family dynamic reigns strong in this small cast, including all the interpersonal dynamics and drama that comes with a close knit group.

 

Creepy:  The movie wins points in the scare department for being a realistic fear factory that delivered on two levels.  One is of course the good use of jump scares that had a number of people jumping in their seats, not over utilizing it as many films in this genre doHowever, the real chills come from the creepy atmosphere contained within the deadly frontier our world becomes in this reality.  The creatures themselves are horrific, mutated abominations that are the stuff of nightmares as these alpha predators hunt our heroes.  Even creepier though, is the feeling of isolation and being watch (or heard in this case) by the threat looming out there.  That delicate balance brings with it an inherent suspense that will keep you locked up until its all released in one giant flinch/scream depending on the audience member.  This energy carries on throughout the whole movie and is more than a welcome factor this genre needed.

 

DISLIKES:

A Few Unnecessary Scenes:  A small dislike, but there are a few scenes/ideas that didn’t pan out for me in the film.  Some of these scenes seem to be nothing but an opening for a death or to provide a passing glance of the creatures (which they tease for a lot in the first half of the film).  Others, I think try to add a little more tension to the scenario (such as an injured foot), only to not prove pertinent in the long run.

 

The Pregnancy/Baby Dynamic: On the one hand I liked this component because it helped add more to the family dynamic/character building this genre often fails at.  Past this symbolism of hope though, the whole dynamic adds a slight cheesy flavor to the tension more so at the speed, ridiculousness, and semi-cringe worthy handling of this factor.  I can’t say much without ruining the story, but the direction took a steep drop in believability for me when this gravid plot line came into play.

 

Trailers:  Given the only 90 minute run time, the other factor that provides enough glimpses to ruin the surprise are the trailers. Depending on how many times you have seen the trailers, you can see the twists have been ruined and the movie become predictable.  So be prepared my friends, because the more you watch advertising, the more you have revealed before the movie starts.

 

The VERDICT:

 

A Quiet Place has accomplished the goal of good storytelling meeting the thrills of a pending game of cat and mouse.  The movie has heart, character development and a number of the positives, but nothing is more important is how well the movie manages to ring in terms of tis advertising and how focused they were for a 90 minute scare fest.  While those who have seen the trailers a lot may be at risk of a so-so movie, A Quiet Place reigns high in my horror genre and is worth a viewing in the theater if you are looking for a movie to really drop you back in the creepy level.  If not, definitely check this one out in rentals

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall:  8.5

All Aboard! Dramatic Complicated Movie Ahead

girl-on-train

 

Drama, it’s a category that sells like hotcakes in the entertainment field.  Soap operas have been abusing this genre for years, and this weekend another big budget blockbuster will attempt to capitalize on affairs and deceit.  I’m talking about Girl on a Train, another book turned movie that looks to be a mirror of Gone Girl from a few years past. Does this movie hold true potential for suspense, or is it just old hat tricks?  Robbie K here, hoping to provide some insight into those questions.

 

LIKES:

  • Wonderful Cast
  • Delivers promised drama
  • A decent mystery

 

This film’s ensemble certainly deserves credit for bringing the tale to life. Emily Blunt leads the team off playing a part that was both emotional and complex. Blunt can portray pain well, bringing suffering out of the screen in a believable performance that seldom crosses into overacting territory.  Her emotions are in good balance, fluidly transitioning between each mood to capture the crazy edge required by her character. Haley Bennett has less emotion to cover, but portrays depression quite realistically in terms of emotional bluntness seen in the disorder.  As for Rebecca Ferguson, the third leading lady must have a jealous house wife inside of her, for she nails the distrustful nature down to the letter.  While these ladies take center stage, the rest of the cast do justice to their roles and create a world fitting of the mystery thriller story. Speaking of story…

Girl on a train is a tale that is filled with promised drama and mystery, perfect components for a suspense/thrillerOur three…”heroines” for lack of a better world, weave complicated relationships within the city. Some are good and some are bad, but all are dramatic and over the top to hook you into the characters’ lives. While I normally am annoyed by characters inability to let things go, this approach works for this film as it led to important character development while shedding light on the mystery at hand. As for the suspenseful mystery, it’s not the most unique puzzle to grace the silver screen. However, it is one with many layers and depth that require you to pay attention in order to uncover the truth behind the alibis. it. Such depth added to the suspense and kept into the movie as I waited to find the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

 

DISLIKES

  • Predictable ending
  • Convoluted presentation
  • Pointless scenes
  • Characters dropped at points

 

Having a mystery with many levels makes for a grasping tale, but sometimes getting too creative can be an issue. Girl on a train’s presentation is a bit convoluted, as the tale integrates past with present via a series of intertwining. I’ll admit it was an original presentation, but the flashbacks offset the momentum of the ship and sometimes transitioned back into the film so well you might have not realized you were back in the present. The result can be quite confusing and should you turn your attention away for a second, or go to the bathroom, you might become a bit lost. Fortunately, the ending is nicely wrapped up for you, but the rather predictable conclusion doesn’t make this complicated presentation worth the trouble.

Another dislike comes in the form of unnecessary scenes, primarily the ones involving sex. Call me whatever you want, but seeing forceful sex imposed on women, or seeing women seemingly bored with the art of making lust, does not make a good movie friends. I get it, sex sells as made evident by many films, and I will admit some major clues are dropped in these heated moments. Doesn’t mean I need to be drowned in all the naked, groaning details in such a short time span. Needless to say, the film earns its R rating for something other than cussing and violence.

Finally, some of the characters I feel got stiffed in this film. The trailers built up so many characters, but unfortunately they failed to deliver on some of them outside of dropping some key information before fading into the shadows. This hurt the movie in two ways.  The first is these supposedly spooky characters fizzled out, weakening the suspense of the film and making for boring characters. Second by doing this, the mystery becomes much easier to solve and further sacrifices the thrilling “surprise” at the end. Don’t worry though, you’ll still get that drama you so crave, even if you can get the answer in thirty minutes.

 

The VERDICT:

      Girl on a train certainly feels like a Gone Girl wannabe in terms of its dramatic atmosphere and complicated storytelling.  Yet it still lacks some of the things that made its predecessor so good, including better editing, more suspenseful characters, and not having flashbacks run interference.  Still it provides a good mystery to open the month up with the relationships many will sink their teeth into. Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I can’t say it is, but check this one out at home when you get the chance. 

 

My scores are:

Mystery/Thriller: 7

Movie Overall: 6