Sexy, Sleek, and A Spy Thriller Indeed

Red Sparrow


Jennifer Lawrence, a chameleon in many forms as to what role she will play and how well she will act in it.  What is never questionable though, is that it will often involve some type of edge, with some anger thrown into the mix.  And this weekend, yet another film for her to exercise her emotions is back in the form of Red Sparrow, the latest spy thriller to sneak into the theaters.  The movie promises to be the same intense dynamics, perhaps with a little sexiness thrown in.  Does the movie have the same fire that it’s lead actress has, or is it another flop?  Robbie K happy to help you out with another movie decision with yet another review.  Let’s get started:




Costumes:  In a spy movie of such caliber, you are hoping that the costumes are going to be chic, sexy, and feel like the super spy role.  Red Sparrow’s costumes are worthy of the mantle of high fashion, being pleasant on the eyes and fitting so well with the roles given to Ms. Lawrence. They add a nice flare to the movie, being utilized to sell her cover and infiltrate the secrets held within all parties, and in such a subtle way as that.  It’s a small like, but one that warrants appreciation.


The Strong Woman Character:  If it’s a Jennifer Lawrence role, it’s going to involve a strong female role and Red Sparrow is again no exception to the movement of strong female characters.  Dominika has many layers, all built around a solid core value of family, bringing duty and loyalty to the heart of her character.  They build upon these values, weaving a complex character who with each peel exposes layers that continue to evolve with each dive into the dark depths of espionage.  And as more characters join the deadly game, Dominika gets to adapt in an attempt to juggle all the information being handed to her.  And not only do her actions speak volumes, but Dominika has a few lines to throw out that are empowering to many in the theater.  I enjoyed the strong, ever adapting character that hopefully can teach a few lessons amidst the destruction taking place.


True Spy Thriller:  With James Bond films, we’ve been spoiled with the spy and action series blending together.  Yet, the world of espionage is a lot less flashy given the emphasis of blending in and breaching the trusts of so many people. Red Sparrow flies into the territory of representing the espionage game, utilizing heavy writing, ingenuity, throwing out plenty of leads, and utilizing plenty of tactics to complicate the tale.  The mysteries that are presented are the lure to keep you invested in the 2 hour 19 minute run time, all screaming of a true spy thriller that has been missing for some time, including an ending that is worthy of being called a respectable twist.




Slow:  Sadly, the movie is very slow at parts, focusing more on the jargon, psychology, and training that is involved in this harsh environment.  While this is interesting, it is also very hard to keep attention when the plot doesn’t move to keep the thrills going and make learning the information fun.  Spy thrillers need to be thrilling, and I didn’t really get into the plot until the last thirty minutes of the film when the stakes increased dramatically.  Drama fans won’t have quite as big of an issue with this, because the love, sex, and relationships fill these slow moments, but fans like me need to have some coffee before coming in.


Complicated Jargon:  This goes with the slow speed, but Red Sparrow is not a conversation light movie.  Where many movies have simplistic dialogue that leads you in a linear fashion. Red Sparrow however is like one of those word webs, with so much spreading out it can be confusing to piece things together without paying major attention.  So many relationships to keep track of and so much information to maintain, you have to keep everything in check to figure out what the point of all this is.  And given how the tone of the characters fluctuates, it can sometimes be difficult to hear what they are saying as the cavalcade talk in whispers and hushed tones.


Graphic TortureSerial killers rejoice, you’ll see the dark dealings of punishment unfold in very disturbing moments, but for others with weaker constitutions you’ll need to turn away. There is plenty of Red in this movie, and not in the slasher movie cheesiness Hollywood has made famous.  This movie has been majorly grounded in terms of thrills, but with it comes some realism that is more gruesome to see.  I appreciate this darkness to some extent, but the there are some nightmare inducing images, and in some cases a little unnecessary to the story.




            Despite all the mixed reviews, I think that Red Sparrow is a fine film that shows off Lawrence’s talents to be edgy and a strong women character.  The film has plenty of mystery to solve as you try to uncover the true meaning behind this thriller, searching for any information possible.  And given all this convoluted information, this movie certainly is the closest thing to an espionage film we’ve gotten in a long while.  Yet, the movie is slow, and geared more toward romantic drama lovers who could care less about the story and more about the sabotage the characters throw at each other.  Nevertheless, this dark story is not for the faint of focus and should be geared towards those who like a darker story with lots of kinks to unravel.  My scores are:


Mystery/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0


Freed At Last, Freed At Last



The international best seller that changed the world is a topic of much debate.  Tasteless porn vs. incredible love story, this series has two extreme groups fighting for superiority on what is the truth to the Grey series.  However, since many people don’t read these days, Hollywood has brought a visual representation to us to help stem the tide and get more people discussing the content of E.L James work.  And so, yours truly, alongside some very kind friends, heads into the trenches to give you another review on what is what in the movies.  Let’s get going!




The Romance:  The romance, as the fans will call it, has finally improved to the levels many wanted it to be from the start.  Fifty Shades Freed finally has our actor’s chemistry mixing well to portray a more realistic love story than what I’ve seen.  Rather than bland, uninterested looks, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan finally have some heat into their acting actually seeming to love each other than just tolerate.  The drama that fans want is packed into their on-screen time, a nice balance of overdramatic anger, passion, and desire in their little game of domination cat and mouse.  While still unbelievable at times, the magic finally raised to a new level for the final installment.


The JokesSuch a dark delicacy as this requires some more adult humor, and Fifty Shades Freed’s writing is able to bring this humor to full blast.  Clever alliterations, metaphors, and puns are well integrated into the goopy, lovey dovy, romantic bologna this movie is famous for.  These comedic devices are well-timed and well-delivered to maximize the punch that comes with it and had my friends and I chuckling.  Had there been a few more of these moments, the movie’s writing might have gotten even more points for creativeness and magic.


Semi-Tasteful: Despite the sultry atmosphere contained in these films, the censorship is still decent enough to add some class to the movie.  Rather than diving into the pornographic details that some of the fan-base loves, the movie keeps the camera work on the upper areas, straying away from the lower anatomy.  Even the love making scenes have been tempered a bit to not dive into XXX levels, but it barely skims by this.  Still, the small bit of class gets my nod of respect.


The Ending:  My friends and I agreed that the nice little nod to the series as the end was a good way to cap of the series.  Simplistic and predictable yes, but for those super fans, it is the emotional finesse you may have come to expect in the series.  And for the beginning credit, and only clip, it’s the ending that had many in my showing ahhing in delight.


The Music:  My final nod is at the director of music, who once again picks a slamming song track to represent the emotion of the scene.  A combination of genres, the selections are worthy of another soundtrack worth purchasing, assuming you are into those kinds of things.





The Sex:  Let’s get this out of the way.  No surprise, I’m not the biggest fan of watching two actors make strong, awkward, and often strange sex fantasies come to life.  And Fifty Shades Freed was more than happy to throw a lot of these vivid images at me.  While a bit classy, these scenes didn’t fit into the story as much for me, nor did I really appreciate how fast and rapid they were crammed in.  The positive side is that these montages are at most 3.5 minutes long, but I’ll never look at ice cream the same way again…. Ewwwww.


Secondary Characters:  I don’t remember the books quite well, but I’m fairly certain the secondary cast goes farther than their cinematic doppelgangers.  Yes, I know the story is mainly about the star-cross lusters, I mean lovers, but this supporting group of families and friends should be you know… more supportive.  So why were much of the supporting band reduced to mere minutes of screen time with little to add to this tale?  A few clips of beautiful people, a tempting dramatic flair that goes nowhere, a shallow proposal that is cute but lacking, and some shotty presentation of key story elements are all they contribute.  After such integration in the first film, I had hoped for these components to strengthen as well, but they failed on this aspect for me outside of the fact that so many of them were pretty to look at.


Boring Tension:  Let’s face it, the story is not the best part of these series, but I had hoped that the antagonist would have had more bite to his coiffed hair.  Fifty Shares Freed did little to amplify the deadliness of Hyde, outside of making him look and sound even more insane.  The promise of a man with more brains and strategy was lost to low grade soap opera antics that just served as an example of poor planning.  I’ve seen better villains in a cheesy soap opera, and this anticlimactic climax was so disappointing to see fail.  While many may not be looking for super excitement, this reviewer would have liked to see more bite than bark.  Oh well, at least more room for love, right?




            Overall, Fifty Shade Freed has improved in regards to the romance that this series has tried to sell.  The heated passion between the main characters took some major steps towards progress in this series, alongside the jokes, the soundtrack, and the nicely packaged ending.  However, the story itself is laughable, with all these plot points and known character diluted into less concentrated beings that are only there for a quick head nod out of the series.  Fifty Shades Freed is a glorified soap opera on the big screen, and therefore not worth the price of admission in my opinion, no matter how passionate, emotional, and hot it may seem.  Save this one for the privacy of your own home and your imagination. 


My scores are:

Drama/Romance/Thriller:  5.0

Movie Overall:  4.0

A Cure To Extra Movies Telling The Story!

Death Cure


Books, once the primary medium for telling stories, has now become the newest screenplay source for Hollywood.  The big wigs are back this weekend with another dystopian novel coming up to the big screen in hopes of concluding the tale with that justice fans demand.  As these series are a mixed bag (Hunger games vs. Divergent), one may wonder how this book will fair, especially with the mixed response the first two have had.  Robbie K here, hoping to help you out with another movie weekend and hopefully save you some time and money.  Let’s go!




Strong Opening:  You always like your movie to grab your attention from the start, and the Death Cure is happy to accommodate.  The movie takes little time to get the excitement going, pumping into an action scene and kicking the pace off to 4th gear.  Even after the scene finishes, the movie sets things up quickly, to keep the pace and tension going, a plus given the long run time. I myself enjoyed the opening act of the film and how it was able to establish all three-story fronts and run them in tandem, accomplishing the balance of concise and complete.


Acting: To make these classics come to life, one must get the cast just right to bring these characters off the page.  Well the squad who was cast long ago, continues their strong work of capturing Thomas and his band of merry men.  Dylan O’Brien is the leading man again, getting the rebellious, battle hardened leader role down.  Stoic and heroic are his leading qualities, but handling that emotional vulnerability that comes with the role was a challenge well accomplished by this actor.  Ki Hong Lee, while not quite the champion he was in the first two installments, still keeps his calm in his role, securing the suffering portrayal and for once not sounding sexual when a character screams.  Kaya Scodelario as Theresa was a little dry and mundane at times, but starts to redeem herself and get her complexities down at the climax of the movie. And my favorite of the characters, Newt played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster who got all the emotions right, played the transition roles to point, and delivered some of the best speeches I’ve heard in a character. 


The Suspense: What I liked about this movie the most though, is how well they captured the suspense and tension of the film.  Unlike the earlier installments that hit those dead moments, the third installment manages to keep things always moving and on the edge.  With suspense and thrills packed in, it’s hard not to get lost in all the action on board and its nail biting, cleverness.  Loaded into this excitement though, is a bounty of emotions that rope you into the character’s struggles and tether the chaos to the story.  Riding this roller coaster was very satisfying, and personally, I loved how engged these characters were into the film as the epic conclusion started to arise.


The Final Scene: And after all this excitement, comes a finish that was perfect to wrap up the chaos at hand.  While not the most complete in terms of answers, the finale’s combination of epic soundtrack, emotional monologue, and cinematography brought goosebumps to my skin, and no it wasn’t due to a virus.  It’s this final punch that finally shows you can take a book series and end it epically, so stick around ladies and gents to see how trials finish up.




No refresher:  In most of these movies, the writers are able to remind you of the previous events in either dialogue or an opening montage.  Death Cure doesn’t remotely try to attempt to give you a refresher course, and for those who haven’t seen the films or reread the novels, you are on your own for connecting the dots.


The Length: You know there has to be massive entertainment or an engaging twist to keep you hooked into the movie.  And while Death Cure was exciting, I couldn’t justify the movie being past 120 minutes.  Much of the extra length came from drawn out chases and dialogue that were bloated examples of arrogance.  These moments might have held tension, but eventually got too drawn out for me, and had be begging for a conclusion.  Nevertheless, the suspenseful moments of the film sometimes turned into ridiculousness for me, because they seemed to move at half speed to get to the predictable ending.  More editing would have been a plus here.


The Coincidences:  Can’t tell if this was the theme in the book, but did the events really rely on this much serendipity and suspense of belief.  I’m not talking about the dystopia feel, or the zombie like cranks that seemed to be the latest overplayed creature.  No, my beef  comes with how inconsistent or stretching one sees them take with things like bullet proof glass suddenly breaking, convenient structural integrity collapse, and how the creatures somehow don’t attack the outskirts of the last city.  With all of these conveniences, it was hard for me not to laugh at these choices as they became a rather weak wrap up.


Reduction of Characters:  I give these guys props for integrating so many characters, but this film kind of dropped both plot and characters into the background, more than I would have expected.  Some of our heroes from the last movie have barely ten minutes in the film, and other major villains don’t have quite the bite that one would have expected from the trailers.  Even new characters making their appearance were a little drab, not in terms of looks, but again in a leaner story that I thought was more prominent in the book than on the screen.  Why we didn’t see more of these rag tag mercenaries and supporting characters , I don’t know, but again balance is key.




            Maze Runner: Death Cure was a good conclusion to the trilogy for this reviewer.  The cast continues to remain strong, with a strong set of scenes to grip you into the action and lock in the suspense to come over the 120 minute run time.  And the fact they crafted a finale without going into an extra film wins bonus points for me. However, the movie is a bit unnecessarily long for me, failing to impress with exaggerated chase scenes that come to a convenient ending. In addition, the characters they highlight in the trailers, primarily the new antagonists, needed some better balance for me to help bring this final installment to the top.  Still, given all the excitement and special effects, as well as an emotionally packed story, this trilogy’s finale is worth a trip to the theaters.


My scores are:


Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

GeoPower! This Storm Is Stronger Than Expected



There are very few things scarier than a natural disaster.  The sheer power contained within these storms, droughts, and floods is something we as humans have difficulty containing.  Now what would happen if that power could be harnessed by humans, manipulated to our whim in order to keep our world acclimated and functioning perfectly?  Could such a thing be used for good, or would it merely be repurposed as a weapon?  This question is the key concept in my next movie review, titled Geostorm, the latest disaster flick to “storm” into the theaters.  Pun aside, Robbie K is back for another overview, so let’s get started, shall we?




The Sound:  My first like is the incredible sound editing Geostorm contains within it.  These editors “blew” me away with the fantastic renditions of Mother Nature’s torment, capturing all those destructive sounds and unleashing them into the theater.  Lightning filled maelstroms, horrendous fires, and bone chilling ice storms all drop with mighty blow, causing the theater to rumble in delight.  This effect may not seem like much, but it really rounds the experience out and immerses you into the havoc.


The Visuals:  No surprise here, Geostorm’s visuals are also beautiful displays of technology.  We know this genre is all about making disasters look real, and this film brings that power out with little hesitancy.  Watching destruction unfold is breathtaking, as the terrifying mayhem of the manmade storms unfold, helping you experience the horror without actually being there.  Geostorm’s displays, although limited in number, are the selling point of this film, especially during the exciting moments when our characters are trying to navigate their way through the destruction.


Acting:  Sometimes these disaster movies tank on the cast, resulting in whiny, nimrod characters who are asking to be sucked up into a twister.  Not the case for this film. Geostorm’s cast is actually fantastic in bringing their characters to life, and also brings an awesome team to the mix to diversify the genre.  Gerard Butler was a solid choice for the lead, combining action gruff with scientific strategy to craft a tough as nails character to lead the project.  This dynamic nature made a fun hero to root for while seeing him evolve past his flaws.  Jim Sturgess does a bang-up job in his role as well, playing the role of the neurotic congressmen forced to choose between family and job.  His character required a much broader class of emotions, and he manages to hit all of these with little trouble. As for the female leads of Abbie Cornish and Alexandra Maria Lara, these women were incredible displays of girl power in the modern world.  No super powers needed here, for these women have intelligence, ferocity, and heart as they tackle all the demands this movie placed on them, and all with a realistic touch.  I wished they had utilized them a little more, but they maximized their screen time.


The Story:  Despite how cheesy it looked, Geostorm’s story was better than I expected.  The characters have some backstory not lost to the storm, requiring them to grow much like the threat of total cataclysm. During the actual presentation itself, Geostorm is nicely divided into four sections each occurring simultaneously and playing important roles to the dilemma at hand.  Throw in a little mystery to figure out the culprits, and you have a more engaging story line than we typically see in these films.  All in all, they managed to execute this ridiculous concept quite well for me.




Storm moments:  Despite the promise of major cataclysm, Geostorm is surprisingly bare of storm sequences for much of the movie.  Many of these scenes are in the background, with only a few having that thrilling, on the seat edge. In addition, despite being thrilling, these moments get a little too ridiculous, the sheer unrealistic maneuvers violating the science without the technology to do so.  While I appreciate, the disasters fitting into the movie, they still needed a little refining.


The Predictability: Geostorm tries its best to throw you off the trail to the culprits, but the trailers and obvious foreshadowing will give you the answer within the first 30 minutes. In addition, the fate of other characters is not surprising at all, mostly because they figure things out minutes within the film.  Had it not been for the visuals and exciting pace, the story would have been drab and put me to sleep.  I’ll admit there was a nice little uncertain moment, reminiscent of a few other flicks you are certain to remember.  Past that though, it’s a predictable mess indeed.


Underutilized team:  Like many films, our protagonist becomes part of a special team in charge of fixing the problem.  Unfortunately, after the introductions, most of the team is essentially useless save two members who actually get more screen time.  While not as bad as the gang from Wonder Woman, this group just didn’t feel needed in the grand scheme of the picture and could have been utilized in a more conducive environment to add a little more suspense in the mix. Either that or cut the characters to help the budget.




            Despite the cheesy idea, Geostorm was a welcome change to the natural disaster movie collection.  Stunning special effects, a Sci-Fi Esque story, and dynamic characters are certain to entertain fans of this genre and bring with it a nice twist.  However, if you are looking for a storm movie, you need to pick another tale as the disasters are a minimum or overly cheesy to be believable.  Throw in some weaker story elements and predictable plot, and you further weaken the storm they were trying to bring.  Overall not a bad film at all, and the special effects are more than worthy of a theater visit. Otherwise check this one out when it hits home release.


My Scores:


Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Not Foreign To Edge or Plot



Jackie Chan a legend in the cinematic world for many famous roles many will remember for years to come.  With epic Marshal Arts sequences, a sense of comedic delivery and great chemistry with a variety of actors, it is no wonder the man has been involved in so many projects.  And after a hiatus, the legend seems to be making a comeback lending his voice to Lego Ninjago and now returning in a live action film the Foreigner.  Does the man still have the magic, or was he better left sitting on the sidelines?  Robbie K here to review another movie and as always let’s get started.




Edgy:  The trailers promised Chan would be returning with some sharper, and darker, edges and sure enough they delivered.  Mr. Quan is certainly one of the darker roles I’ve seen him play, as he seeks out his own brand of justice in a manner only a vigilante could.  No punches are thrown in this role, and this more intense role is a nice touch to Chan’s normal lighter roles.  Saying few words, Chan has the look down with sullen wise eyes filled with a hateful, hopeless stare, and scowl that seems permanently fixated in a faithless fury.  This darker role was fascinating to watch, primarily to see how far he would go to crush the opposition.


Fairly fast pacing: No surprise here, but the Foreigner moves at a fairly brisk pace, starting out with a literal bang and diving into the search to come.  Information is provided in a fairly linear manner so that you get all the answers you need, all the while maximizing the “action” at the same time.


Complete story:  Despite the quickened pace, this movie does manage to close all the convoluted loops established in this film.  The Foreigner has a lot of dramatic elements integrated into the action that include affairs, conspiracies, and betrayals that feels much like soap opera plot lines.  Rather than taking episodes to finish these tales, the writers provided all the answers one needs to be satisfied with the closure.  Not saying it’s the best closure mind you, but at least it finishes the tale quite well.


Chan’s moves:  While certainly not the freshest or more convoluted stunts he’s ever done, it is satisfying to see Chan still have some of his magic.  The Foreigner does a nice job of giving our star chances to show off his acrobatic skills.  After leaping around like an old squirrel, Chan next dazzles with his close combat choreographer, still executing his close style fist fights in a smooth dance.  And with the new edge, Chan’s darker combat is unleashed, losing the feeling of being planned to the adrenaline rush we love to see.




Pierce Brosnan’s accent:  A minor dislike at best, I couldn’t get on board with Brosnan’s attempt at sounding Irish.  While certainly better than me, the former Bond star has a little more refining to do in order to sell the angry Irish man to me.  It was comical at times and took away from the threat he was trying to bring to the table, well that and the fact that he didn’t seem to have many skills himself. Sorry Pierce, you’ve got debonair down, but not the fury of the fiery reds.


Editing:  While dramas are sometimes a bit overbearing to me, I could handle most of the character antics in this film.  However, the storyboard team dropped the ball a few times for me in how much they crammed into this film.  Some of the relationships were not needed, merely extra branches to take up space in attempt to fill up time.  While the tangents expand a little on our two lead characters, they could have been left out, or kept in small bits of dialogues instead of full out sequences, especially when it came to the wife scenes.  Drama lovers will certainly enjoy this element, but the rest get ready to yawn.  Speaking of which…


Not as action packed:  I thought the Foreigner was going to have more bite with Chan finally emerging from his retirement.  Instead of the energy that Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon brought, the Foreigner slowed the pace down a bit.  Those extensive bouts of fist punching are brought to a minimum in terms of time, reduced to some covert moves that would make Rambo proud in their pyrotechnic awe.  The few bouts we do have maximize the new tone and provide some satisfying stunt work, but for me… it paled to the classics I grew up with.  Still not a bad display for the aged master, I just would have liked more of that and less drama.




The Foreigner is a great restart to Chan’s career giving him a new edge I haven’t seen before.  It’s a film that does its part as an action drama, trying to craft more of a story with the action to support it in the long run.  And while the tale is decent, and complete, it’s still a bit too slow and drawn out when there could have been more fighting.  The result is still entertaining, but with enough drab parts to outweigh the extent of action we got.  Chan may still have some moves up his sleeve, but I’ll take revisiting the classics any day.  Nevertheless, there is enough kick to warrant a theater visit for this one, primarily in regards to those satisfying, climactic fights that occur.


My scores are:


Action/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

A Doll of A prequel: Creation of a Better Movie



So many years ago, the Conjuring dropped into theaters and opened up a movie universe that would bestow nightmares to the audience members who saw it.  This weekend, the latest installment in this haunted world with Annabelle Creation.  A prequel to the last film, this possessed doll continues to be a popular figure head in the occult series to warrant another film.  Is this film a fitting addition to the franchise, or is it another money grabber fit to be lost in the horror archives?  Robbie K here to help answer those questions and share some thoughts.  Let’s get to work.




Answers Questions:  The first Annabelle gave the doll some basis and established her deadly legacy, but it lacked any true backstory of her creation.  The prequel, as so titled, helped fill in the creation story and establish the origin to its possession.  As the film progresses, more of the Annabelle’s journey is revealed, alongside a closer look at the creature that uses it as a puppet.  While not fully complete, we now have the connections needed to make sense of the first movie, and further engross us in the universe. Unfortunately, the name, the involvement, and other details of the demons still remain unanswered, but can be extrapolated with a dialogue hints.


The Pace:  Horror movies can have pacing issues at time depending on the story.  Fortunately, Annabelle Creation’s moves at a decent pace to maximize the movie.  Slow enough to provide build up for the scares, but fast enough to keep everything moving and on edge, the production team did a nice job keeping you invested in the movie.  There is little time between all the craziness, with just enough comedic relief to relieve the tension and keep things interesting.


Scares:  I guess we need to talk about the main element you go for these movies huh?  The scare factor is at an all-time high in this movie, continuing the Conjuring’s legacy of keeping things dynamic, fun, and suspenseful.  Annabelle’s creepy on so many levels, starting with the realistic setting to place the movie in.  That realism and the use of shadows has your imagination on fire trying to fill in the gaps of what lurks in the dark.  Once the subtle components are set, you can bet there a number of creepy tricks played in this film, alongside the fleeting glimpses of the demon that terrorizes the family in his cruel game. And of course, there is that doll. It’s soulless stare and deceiving smile continue to give me the willies, and had a number of audience members using colorful language before involuntary rising from their seats.




Character stories:  The movie had a lot of characters to play in our haunted setting.  The protagonists of the film held a lot of potential to develop as characters, and unfortunately, they failed on that level.  Sure, you can piece together the simple origins placed before you, but I would have liked more insight into the girls’ origins or perhaps a little more integration of Bee into the writing to help maximize scares.  With the conjuring able to unearth their demons and dreams in a quality manner, Annabelle should be able to mimic that magic.  Scares do not equal perfect horror movie.


Pointless characters:  Remember the big family in the Conjuring and how each sibling, parent, and exorcist were part of the tale in some way.  That’s gone too.  Annabelle Conjuring brought a large group into the home, but only about four-five of them have any real involvement in the plot.  The underutilization of these characters tripped up the plot, made for ridiculous scenes that didn’t have as much importance, and really left me asking, what was their point.  One girl has just one line and a few stares at the camera.  Why include them if you aren’t going to use them to develop the characters, or at least try to work together to escape the demon’s wrath. 


Predictability:  Scares are getting easier to predict in this day and age.  This is mostly due to the development team throwing their usual tactics into the mix to warn you of the impending jump scare. Annabelle Conjuring doesn’t escape this trend and much of the scares can be seen a mile away in some form or manner. While there are a few moments that were good tries, the tactics got repetitive and/or cheesy to be laughable rather than fearful.  Fortunately, some creepy special effects and the darkness offset this enough to still get under your skin… thanks religion nightmare inducing series.


The Verdict:


Overall, Annabelle Creation is one of the better horror movies of the summer and perhaps this year.  It is dark, creepy, and moves at that pace needed to keep you invested in the movie for the two-hour run time.  In addition, the filling in gaps and hints start to connect the world (a very popular trend), which will have you die hard horror fans screaming in delight at both scares and plot.  Yet, there are still elements of the story telling to clean up and utilizing your characters you bring in is a big step to improve on.  In addition, I hope the next installment forgoes the predictable moves and gives us that kick I haven’t seen yet.  Considering everything, this reviewer recommends a visit to the theater for this one, assuming you are disturbed by spiritual haunting movies. 


My scores:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller:   8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0


P.S. Stay for the end of the credits for some teasing.

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