The Mixture Between Us

Moutain.jpg

 

The mighty majestic mountains that line the world.  These monolithic displays of nature are icons for so many forms of expression such as poetry, video game stages, and yes even movies.  Such symbolism is perfect to craft such an obstruction for heroes to face, all while teaching valuable lessons.  And thus leads me to my next review, on a movie that centers on the immobile giants that watch over the world.  The Mountain Between Us is the name of the film and its trailers have certainly stirred up a storm in the world of reviews.  Robbie K here hoping to guide you through the mess to help guide your viewing pleasures.

 

LIKES:

 

The acting:  Like the mountains they are stuck in, the lead actors in this movie are giants themselves, displaying their talents to high levels.  Idris Elba once more blows my mind out how well he executes his roles.  He sells the suffering surgeon well, playing the internalization well and the survivalist even more.  Kate Winslet as ever brings her character to life, taking the fiery spirit she has within, and unleashing it in a manner that is wild, yet honed as the movie progresses.  The two certainly have the portrayal of suffering down pat (they can really shiver) but on many levels they play well off each other, especially in the beginning.

 

The Dog:  While not the main human actor, the dog is by far the character I cared about the most.  This animal, while of course like many of his canine brethren, was cute to me and impressive in the work it had to do. Trekking through the show, climbing mountains, and a variety of other things the dog certainly caught my eye for much of the screen.  In addition, because I’m a big animal fan, the dog was the character that kept me engaged in the film. Every scene transition, or new challenge I couldn’t help, but think “What happened to the dog.” That component is perhaps the biggest hooking element in the movie to keep you into the film.  What is its fate?  Can’t tell you, you’ll have to watch.

 

The Scenery: While it is no substitute for the real thing, The Mountain Between Us is a great example of stunning camera work. My breath was taken away by all the panoramic shots of the wilderness from the ever expanding sky in the peaks, to the silent wonder of the forest littering the valleys below.  It brings out the deadly force that mother nature holds and stunned me by the majesty of the visual prowess cameras can pick up.  So while it is again not the same thing as hiking these majestic peaks, it is the next best thing.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Diluted Suspense:  If you are like me, the trailers might have you believe this was going to be the most suspenseful movie of the year.  Unfortunately, I was fooled again. This film has some moments that got my anxiety building, but a majority of it is an almost peaceful trek through the snow.  While they are certainly cold, our character’s journey through the frozen wastelands lacked many elements to build up the intensity.  Perhaps the lack of a cinematic score, or the fact that obstacles seemed cleared too easily thanks to convenience, this movies frozen fury was almost a little too fragile for me. Or maybe it was the other focus of the movie that downgraded the suspense for me…

 

The Love Theme: Yes, just like the symbolic title suggests, the main wedge is the character’s backstories preventing them from moving to the obvious sign of starting a romance.  Much of the film tries to get the two to address their rather quick development of passion for one another in some rather lackluster ways.  I wasn’t sold on the romance for the most part, and the actors themselves didn’t seem quite charmed by each other outside of one rather pointless scene. The friendship factor at the beginning was much stronger, and would have been the route I had taken in developing the story.  Again, I don’t necessarily hate love, but I would like it better portrayed for my investment.

 

Disproportion:  Timing the movie, as good geeks do, it took only 8 minutes to get up on the mountain.  While I appreciate the fast pace, it gave little time to get to know the characters or at least give them a decent introduction to the madness about to be had.  This opening was rather shallow and quite disappointing in the grand scheme of the movie.  Yet it’s not quite as bad as the dragged out ending of this film.  While not as long as Return of The King, and all its false exits, The Mountain Between Us sort fizzles out in the end.  This tangent was not necessary, a quick closure to try and tidy up some loose ends of a weaker component of the film. Worst off, the chemistry started to falter, making this an awkward mess with a rather cheesy, albeit poetic, ending.  Not sure why these last 25 minutes needed to exist, but it could have been better spent in the beginning and end of the movie.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mountain Between Us is a beautiful spectacle of what the world can provide in terms of a stage, certainly blowing my mind on the visuals.  Alongside this majestic scenery comes some quality acting and a hooking factor in the form of the dog.  Yet these tools alone couldn’t save this movie from being semi-dull. With the tension dropped to a PG level for symbolism and awkward love, alongside disproportioned parts, I can’t say this movie delivered all I wanted.  The visuals might be the main theater worthy component, but this reviewer suggests holding out for RedBox to catch it.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Drama:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

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B-E-A-UTIFUL Acting!

collateral-beauty

 

We all know Charles Dickens’ classic tale the Christmas Carol and all the lessons it teaches this time of season.  It’s a story that has been told through many mediums that continue to entertain the masses.  This weekend, we get a similar tale to grace the theater entitled Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith and a slew of other characters. The question is though, does this twist work?  Hi Robbie K here, privileged to share some thoughts on another movie.  Shall we get started?

 

LIKES:

  • Fantastic Acting
  • Equal Screen Time
  • Good use of Music
  • Fantastic morals

 

With a star, studded cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Hellen Mirren, and Edward Norton you expected good acting.  Well good news, the acting met the expectations placed on the cast.  Smith of course takes the lead, delivering another grand performance of someone suffering in life (7 pounds and pursuit of happiness). He sells the anger and hurt, while maintaining his emotional balance to prevent falling into overacting territory. Edward Norton, again delivers a sound performance and probably has the most diverse energy of the cast.  Newcomer Jacob Lattimore surprised me with his performance, which although a little skewed, had the teenage angst and aggression representative of time.  But the champion actor is Helen Mirren, who continues to prove that age brings experience.  Mirren was the funniest of the group, but managed to sell the morals of the movie the most without going too far.  She engages so well with the entire cast, and does a good job as the keystone of the movie…you know past Will Smith.  The entire group again does a fantastic job altogether, and even better are all balanced through the movie, each member getting close to equal time (which is sometimes unheard of).

While the acting certainly helps make the story come to life, the editing of the movie helped amplify the emotions of the film. The cinematography is beautifully executed, combining the enchanting scenery with the raw pain of our suffering characters.  You’ll get plenty of close ups on tear stricken faces and troubled stares as our characters face the ordeals at hand.  But it’s the background symphony music, that helps add that edge to get the tears flowing. Beautiful piano work helps sell the scene, subtle at times before unleashing its full power as the lessons are learned.  The culmination of audio and visual are fantastic tools to seal the deal for the morals this film has to offer.  And speaking of morals, the writers did a nice job twisting the tale to focus on dealing with life’s problems.  Aside from Will Smith’s trial of accepting his daughter’s death, the other characters each have their own trials to face that involve self-assessment, acceptance, and a willingness to try and make things better.  Preachy as it can be, these important lessons are taught with the fantastic lines and strong acting premise.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as deep as I thought
  • Felt Incomplete
  • Lackluster
  • More spirit interventions would have been nice

 

Despite all the good I reported, Collateral Beauty still has some rough edges that need some smoothing out.  For one thing, I felt there could have been more emotional punch to this film.  I felt the lessons in my heart, but I wasn’t borderline crying in this film.  It felt like they held back on the emotional punch. Whether this is due to some production quirks, some shallower plots, or the fact that the trailer delivered much of the film could have diluted it.  The movie also felt incomplete at parts, as if other scenes were needed or perhaps scenes deleted to take out the incomplete feeling.

In addition, the movie is a bit lackluster from the various tellings of the Christmas Carol.  This film doesn’t have the terror or suspense that Dickens’ three spirits contain, although they are much more entertaining.  This movie, despite teaching values, was just not as unique as I think it wanted to be. There were no grandiose twists, no outstanding spirit designs, and no key features to help make this movie stand out from similar morale tales.  I think I also wanted more spiritual interventions as well, another round to drive the point home to Howard.

 

The VERDICT

 

Collateral Beauty is certainly an example of great acting, as our stars have incredible chemistry, integrate through most of the movie, and have the emotional balance we would want in such a cast.  In addition, the morals are taught well thanks to the strong dialogue and wonderful audio/visual techniques to amplify the emotions.  However, there was something missing that just didn’t make this movie as emotionally deep as I expected.  Still, this is a movie that will move many and a good, fun movie for the holiday season.  Is it needed to be seen in the big screen?  When looking at the technical qualities and the unique aspect of the film…no this movie is worth a Redbox rent. However, in regards to the moral lessons and heartfelt story, this one is worth a visit. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5