Atomic Action

Atomic Blonde


Spies, they come in every shape and size from goofy men in naked gun to the suave iterations of James Bond.  Yet one thing is certain, they often are involved in incredibly threatening situations that require luck, training, and sets of skills to get the job done.  This weekend, a new agent appears in the world of the silver screen and her name is Charlize Theron.  This gorgeous actress has been teasing the trailers with some exciting, seductive, and sexy scenes of her movie Atomic Blonde, promising an adventure to be had.  Robbie K back with another review, so let’s get this mission started.




Theron’s acting:  Lead actresses carry a lot of the movie when they are the featured character. Fortunately, Theron nails the role of the spy on all the avenues promised by the trailer.  Her physical looks, capable of making people go gaga, are only the superficial wrapping paper for the talent within, as she unleashes her cold ruthlessness with a little twist. She plays the wise and sly role well, bringing a dynamic character who has great chemistry with her fellow cast, crafting a deadly board to run their games on. Theron may be monotone in much of her roles, and often may play the same types of roles, but it works in this setting quite well.


Funny:  While certainly not the sole theme of this movie, Atomic Blonde is a figurative blast in the laughter department.  One of my friends compared some scenes to Monty Python in their comedic ploys of minions constantly getting up.  Seeing these stooges fall, dive, and become injured in a number of manners, but have ridiculous stamina is entertaining on many levels.  In addition, Atomic Blonde has some well-timed, and well-aimed, lines to relieve some of the tension. Mix all this with the over-the-top shock factor of this movie and you won’t help but laugh at the presentation at hand.


Action: The trailers painted an exciting thrill ride of death defying battles and spy warfare destruction.  And the trailers didn’t lie at all.  Atomic Blonde knocked hard on the action door as Theron faced the insurmountable odds of the secret army of spies out to hinder her mission and end her beautiful life.  The film has a number of styles for you including hand to hand combat, gunplay (and lots of it), and a few car chase scenes to keep things interesting.  Each of the drawn-out battles fits into the mission well, and the dynamic setting adds to the heat of the moment that is satisfying on so many levels.


The Soundtrack:  As Frozen proved years ago, a good soundtrack is something to take notice of.  Atomic Blonde’s featured tracks are all in the 80s, and the sweet beats are utilized to an excellent level that brings out the spirit of the scene.  And if you don’t care about a track matching to the movie, but like the synthesizer heavy music of the decade, then good news, you’ll be dancing in your seat to the sweet beats of the movie.  Whatever the reason, note that Atomic Bomb’s soundtrack is certainly a blast to the past of energizing music.




Convoluted story:  You may not have expected much of a story, after all most action heavy films seldom have one.  Yet, the thin story was certainly a complicated mess given everything packed into the movie and the directions they took to present it.  There is a mystery there, but it is overshadowed by the stunts and combat that ring throughout the movie. While the action is exciting, it distracts from the main plot and left little to follow given the shock factor of the series.  The dry dialogue doesn’t help much either, nor the fact that the movie jumps through so many perspectives in a short amount of time. The bottom line is…the presentation makes for a rather dry story, with only a few emotional oases to breathe life into the film.


Violence:  Action often does breed violence, but Atomic Blonde’s battles are true spectacles of mutilation and torture.  All the extras in particular are brutally battered in the fights, bashed in extraordinary detail to turn a few heads or make one of my friends cover her eyes. Theron’s character gets hit pretty hard too, painting her a few shades of gore as well. The gunplay makes for a ballad of painting the walls red, and the emphasis of close up, head explosions can be a little overdone at times. However, the most disturbing components are seeing the up and close drawn out deaths of a few character and their agonizing last breath.  Keep that in mind before jumping into the theater.


The unneeded romance scene:  I’m not one for the hot and sexy sequences in bed, but I can appreciate it when either done with class or pertinent to the story.  A scene in the trailers, and of course the movie, showed a rather hot moment that just didn’t feel necessary to me in the story.  Certainly, editing could have left this out, or at least the director’s cut, but without the added emphasis of relationships to the movie, I could have done without it.


The Verdict:


Atomic Blonde held much of what the trailers promised. It is an off the wall, very shocking film that leaves little to the imagination.  It is a thrilling, adrenaline pumping ride that felt fresh given the unique presentation and a soundtrack to further add fun.  Unfortunately, the stunts, violence, and convoluted presentation derailed the story for me and left me wondering what it is I just watched. There is plenty of theater worthy material to justify a visit, but if violence isn’t your cup of tea, pass this mission on to someone else. 


My scores are:


Action/Mystery/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0


Two Thumbs Up For Two Strings



Another day, another animated adventure ready to happen, and for once it is not from Disney. Hi Robbie K here, writing another review on the latest and greatest of the silver screen. The name of the movie is Kubo and the Two strings, a stop motion project that curtails to Japanese culture. It certainly promises to be a magical experience, but as always I’m here to share some thoughts on the subject. Let’s get started.



  • Original and creative
  • Animation and design of the movie
  • Emotional Balance


With all the cartoon sequels that come out, it is sometimes hard to find a new original tale to follow. Kubo breaks the mundane of sequels with a fresh new approach that will certainly stand out amongst the ranks of CGI films. The Japanese folklore theme provided a pallet of magic, combat, and monsters that are the essential components of an adventure tale. Kubo’s land is filled with a bounty of story elements that will keep the intended young audience entertained. Both good and bad guys each have a certain edge, flare, or other characteristic that helps them stand out and all are integrated into the tale well.

And it is all animated so beautifully! Kubo’s animation and design are certainly a strong component that makes the adventure so unique. Stop motion continues to be one of my favorites, because the animators often think outside the box to bring the magic to the screen. I myself was impressed with how the world popped to life in a fantastic display of color that added to the character’s personality. In addition, the world is also designed to represent the Japanese culture, but is presented in a manner that is somewhat warped to have that spooky/gothic edge that we’ve loved (like in Coralline!) And when the spirit world denizens make an appearance, they get their own extra glaze to mirror their ambience of the Moon Kingdom. If you haven’t guessed, I really liked the animation and feel that it is certainly one of the more unique styles I’ve seen in a while.

Where the animation and antics will get younger audience members invested in the film, it is the emotional punch that will catch the adult’s eye. Kubo’s story contains the heartstring pulling, gut wrenching moments that might just bring a tear to your eye. All the character dynamics are strongly built in this movie, much of which is designed around the importance of family and friends. Sure that is typical of any movie, but in Kubo this concept is also laced with the threat of death and how quickly those things can be snatched away. When combined with the music, the character design, and the voice acting…it all comes together to really hit home.



  • The Action Component
  • Lackluster Solutions


It was hard to find fault in this movie for me, but alas there are some things I felt could have been improved on. First is the action component. Yes, I am an action junky and yes I know it holds a PG rating (I’m not that dumb). Hence I will say that the action is appropriate for the intended audience with enough excitement to latch your attention, but not too much edge to cause psychological trauma. But what I wanted was for them to use their concepts more. For instance, Kubo has some pretty cool magic, but I was expecting more spectacular spells and moves from all the hype of the trailers. I was hoping for the magic to be better integrated into the combat, perhaps integrated with some sword combat to really live the battles. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as much of Kubo’s exciting qualities were used for comedic relief. Oh well at least it was done tastefully and retained the artistic style I so loved.

As for the lackluster solutions category, this pertains to how much of the conflict was resolved in this movie. Kubo’s fights start out with edge, pick up some excitement, and then end very…abruptly. With how creative the team had been with much of this movie, I was hoping to see that design carry over. But again the underutilization of magic resulted in these kind of boring, although very emotional, fixes that were dialogue heavy. This was especially true in the final fight, where Kubo was able to make a few speeches that preached the important morals like an after school special. While very important to the story, it just wasn’t what I expected and was somewhat of a disappointing end game after all the set-up. Is this a big weakness? No, because like I said it was important and well integrated into the story and that is important to me. Still…I was hoping for more.



Kubo of the Two Strings gets two thumbs up from this reviewer and is certainly an adventure many will enjoy. The unique design, fantastically developed characters, and bright colors are mixed together for an entertaining show with a great story to boot. Yes it lacks some of the excitement I was hoping for, but they didn’t sacrifice the story quality in their editing. Based on all these qualities, this reviewer certainly recommends dropping to the theater for this one, and may even suggest catching it in 3-D should the opportunity present itself. Recommended audiences for this film are those who have kids, appreciate fantastic animation or are young at heart.


My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Family: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5