Cayle’s Movie Review: “Cars 3”

When it comes to modern-day animation, Pixar (and Disney to a certain extent) is the gold standard. On the other hand, the Cars franchise is another story. The second installment of the franchise signaled the start of Pixar’s creative slump that lasted until the 2015 release of Inside Out. How does this movie compare to the first two movies?

Well, for starters, this movie is a return to form for the franchise. While the story is basic, it’s still an effective one. The movie has an interesting premise about being past your prime. While the first act dealt with this premise, the other two acts felt like a Rocky movie. I felt this aspect of the movie could have been explored more thoroughly.

The supporting cast of this movie is rather and miss. Cruz Ramirez is the love-it or hate-it character of this movie. Some people will find her likable while others will find her annoying. However, she does go through a character arc of her own. Jackson Lightning, the antagonist of the movie, felt like a one-dimensional character.

While Cars 3 is an improvement over its predecessor, it’s not on par with the other Pixar movies. However, it’s fine for a Cars sequel.

SCORE: 6/10

Turbo Kid, the fate of our future is in your hands!

Call it an obsession, but to me, nothing is cooler than that 80s and 90s, slight-out-of-focus, neon-colored, grid art with arcade style weaponry, fast sporty cars, photon-based effects, and a glimpse into retro-futurism. And, although we haven’t been delivered such a movie in full since “Tron” this movie does it in a whole new perspective with old tricks. So, strap in, grab your old power glove and enjoy my review of

Turbo Kid

I can describe this movie with one word… Nostalgia. The magic of this film takes place with its arsenal of retro items from the targeted demographics childhood/teen years. Stuff like the signature power glove, which is used as a weapon on the Turbo Rider suit, a view master, retro rollerblade pads, etc get you the instant gratification of nostalgia; making you attached to the screen thinking “I wonder what other cool stuff they have in this movie”. Also, let’s be honest, the power glove, although was awful as a controller, was still badass.

Turbo Kid, what I believe to be a modern wonder, is exactly the movie I have been looking for in some time. It is a fine mixture of 80s grindhouse films, childhood memories, and a modern day hipster-feel love story. It does lack the scenic emotion of that of an 80s film, like that of Terminator, Robocop, and Escape From New York where the movie is constantly shrouded in a faint darkness for most of the film giving it a more shadowy depth to its features. But, definitely a modern day tribute to that style of art, and a very respectable one at that.

Turbo Kid keeps a constant aura of over-the-top action and ridiculousness, giving it a nice comedic tone, to keep that authentic 80s cheese and comic book schmaltziness. By using bikes instead of motorcycles and questionable dialogue it makes you feel you’re listening to a story told by an overly excited and actionable 10-year-old; “So the bad guy chops that dudes head off and there are blood and guts everywhere. Suddenly Turbo Kid comes flying through on his awesome tricked out bike and blasts him away with his Photon Blaster” as one could assume a child like that would tell such a story. Every time something really devastating happens, it ridicules that evil by fighting it off with pure awesomeness, with the child-like wonder of “I’m gonna kick evils but with my Photon Blaster“. It’s like an old, sick, and twisted power rangers commercial. One where the kids shooting their toy guns and fighting with action figures, cause real-life casualties.

Each character follows a specific persona and formula, making the intended perception to make you feel you’re actually seeing a comic book in action. Turbo Kid is a modern day cult classic that captures something most movies have not. A relatable sensibility of oneself. Even though the Turbo Kid world seems like a horrible world to live in, the characters make you wish you were there because they do such an amazing job and making you relate to, or idolize, the character in some way.

Speaking of Idolizing, have you ever wanted to be your favorite superhero? Well, for The Kid, that dream came true… but not like you would hope.

Turbo Kid takes place In an alternate 1997 in an almost enigmatic world known only as, “The Wasteland”. One could compare the mystery of this world to that of David Fincher’s film “Seven” where the city is only recognized as “This Place”.

Our protagonist aka, The Kid (Munro Chambers), is a lone wanderer who collects various nostalgic things from the past that catch his interest; come to find out later that it is significant to a deep and disturbing past with his parents who are presumed missing or dead. The Kid is the hero persona that idolizes a comic book hero named Turbo Rider. When you pay attention, you’ll notice the comic strips you do see in the movie, subtlely explain the upcoming plot points. He lives off the land and sticks to himself; dwells on the past, and only goes into town for the occasional trade to a merchant for water and other goods. He has a very specific guideline of survival rules and regulations that he follows on daily bases, showing an utmost organization to our hero.

Throughout his adventure, he is accompanied by an arm-wrestling cowboy, Fredrick (the mysterious stranger persona. Aaron Jeffery). Who, although at first seems like an antagonist, he becomes a helpful guardian over The Kid, almost a father figure… almost. He resembles a cowboy Indiana Jones, who lives life only in his prospects. The role was done fantastically. Fredrick is the best character in the movie as far as mysteriousness and keeping you aware of the comic-like-style of this universe.

Enter, the love interest. We find The Kid sitting on a lone swing set in the middle of nowhere, reading a Turbo Rider comic that he received through trade/barter in town, and stumbles upon “Apple” (the love interest and damsel persona. Laurence Leboeuf) a young blonde girl who seems to be conversating with a dead body calling it “friend”. Very weird and seemingly crazy. She slaps a wristband on The Kid, a tracking device, and claims him to be her new friend. Obviously weirded out by this, and acting like he’s never seen a girl before, The Kid runs to his hideout, where he keeps all of his cool items and Turbo Rider memorabilia. Apple is a very curious character. She acts as an enabler for The Kid to discover who he really is and what he is destined to be. This is a typical approach in the film industry, but, does not make it more or less desirable.

This is not a happy world and none of our characters have lived any form of a happy life. In fact, any curiosity of what lies beyond the wasteland, so they can “get out of this place”, is immediately a bitter pill with promises of nothing else of significance throughout the entire wasteland. The wasteland itself can be seen as the universe for this movie as a whole. Picture it almost like what you are watching, is actually a comic book. When you listen to the dialogue and the general demeanor of the characters, it ends up making sense. It’s important to keep that mystery of the wasteland alive too because if you knew everything you wouldn’t have anything to look forward to. It makes you come to believe that what you see is what you get. It also leaves room for a sequel, which is normally heinous by nature, but I digress. I would actually enjoy a sequel in this case.

The hierarchy of morals follows a true dichotomy of good and evil; anyone in between is just canon fodder. Now, there can’t be evil villains without some sort of drive right? Well, water appears to be very scarce and is the main premise behind the devilish plot. The villains in this movie, lead by Zeus (the villain persona. Michael Ironside) and his psychopathic killer, Skeletron (the right-hand man persona), played by (Edwin Wright), have developed a machine that extracts water from human blood, as a means to re-hydrate the wasteland. This is where all the happiness and whimsy gets shot into the drain as you sit back and watch it, laughing while it happens. Zeus has absolutely no remorse for anyone. Just when you thought this movie was going to be about 1 thing, you watch Michael Ironside have a guy get his face smashed in with a cinder block and realize you’re going for a ride.

After a run-in with Zeus and his goons, Apple becomes “injured” and The Kid finds himself lost and confused. Through his confusion, he accidentally stumbles upon a buried space ship, that he clumsily falls into, and notices a familiarity. In the pilot seat is a dead Turbo Rider and a video feed playing the footage of a man deeming Turbo Rider as humanities “last hope”. The Kid takes this opportunity to become what hes always wanted to be. A Turbo Rider. Hence becoming, Turbo Kid.

So he becomes Turbo Kid and goes out on his plight in search of revenge and justice. Which takes your once destroyed innocence, gives it some steroids, and beats the living hell out of your guilt.

Now, I’m not going to go into much further detail, but I rate this as one of my favorite movies to date. There are definitely flaws in the movie. I cannot fully explain its flaws without visuals and major spoilers but with its shotty transitioning, certain poorly shot scenes, repetitiveness, questionable support acting, noticeable lacks of effort, and progression, you can definitely see a dispute to this being anything other than just “a good movie”. This definitely will, if it hasn’t already, create a cult following that I hope inspires many more ideas like this and spawn some masterpieces for our future. It is a very satisfying film to watch and I walk away from it only wanting to see more.

Chris’ Movie Review: Cars 3

Chris’ Movie Review

Cars 3

Rating: 6/10 (Fine)

Recommendation: Redbox It

The movie is better than Cars 2.

Cars 3 stars Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Cristela Alonzo (Cruz Ramirez), Kerry Washington (Natalie Certain), Nathan Fillion (Sterling), and Armie Hammer (Jackson Storm).

Plot Summary

Lightning McQueen is aging in the racing world. He is falling behind the newer cars and after an awful accident, he’s not sure if he can ever comeback.

After some soul searching, he goes into training, determined to become number one for one last time. But there’s a twist to the story.

Review

Cars 3 is a movie that surpasses Cars 2 in every way…. But it doesn’t compete with the first film all that much. While the original Cars had a basic setup, it had heart and a sense of openness and adventure. Cars 3, sort of has these qualities, but it’s missing some key elements.

For starters, the animation isn’t as crisp at the first trailer presented. When the teaser first dropped, the animation looked amazing. It was so life like and beautiful to look at. But the film doesn’t hold up to it’s initial introduction. Yes, it’s good animation but it’s not the prestine quality of the first ever look we got into this sequel.

The next issue is the story. While the elements are fine, the plot tends feel like it has no direction. It feels like the film wants to be 4 different movies at once, instead of just focusing on the one story they have in front of them. It’s not to say the movie is hard to follow but more along the lines of it didn’t know what it’s identity was.

The voice acting of this film is, alright. Owen Wilson does a great Lightning McQueen but he feels tired and worn out, which is proper for his role, but this allows for Cristela to be the shining light of the movie. And well….

If there’s one aspect of this film that may turn people away slightly, it’s Cruz Ramirez. She’s an enthusiastic car that’s always dreamed of racing. Her personality is bright, bubbly, and determined. But she can wain on you as a viewer. Much like Lightning in the first movie, Cruz can be similar in her presence. It’s not that she’s snobby but she is in your face every second she can get. You will not be able to avoid her. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you take her in as a character.

Another negative is the first half. It is painfully slow. The movie gives you your cameos of all the characters you remember and then it meamders around until the film finally realizes it’s time to start getting a move on and even after it starts to pick up, it feels like the film is dragging it’s feet to the finish line. Again, it’s nothing that’s bad but you will become bored because you’re waiting for that epic moment to arrive…. Which it kind of never does.

Without spoilers, the trailer promises a lot of changes. It comes off as a deep meaningful sequel that will change your outlook on the Cars franchise forever (at least that’s what I got from it). Well, it doesn’t fully deliver on it’s promise.

To put it lightly, the film doesn’t allow for certain elements to grow throughout the duration. And if it did, this movie could come off more like the first Cars. Now the the third act gives you some of that perspective but it doesn’t fully feel like it earned it, leaving the ending to feel hollow and unfulfilled. It’s just a let down after what all the trailers seemed to have promised us.

Overall

Cars 3 is a movie that didn’t live up to the trailers. There’s really nothing that’s bad about the movie but everything is more or less just mediocre, with a few good elements sprinkled in.

The animation isn’t as great as it could be, the story wanders off from time to time, and the first half is really tedious. But the voice acting is fine. The plot does pick up in the second half. And third act does conclude the film series, hopefully, nicely.
The movie just feels like a disappointment when it shouldn’t. If it focused more on certain aspects or changed the plot entirely, the film could’ve ended as the premiere highlight of the Cars franchise.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Cayle’s Movie Reviews: “Wonder Woman”

NOTE: It says on the video that it’s a 7/10. It’s actually an 8/10. My mistake!

It’s official: the DC Extended Universe finally has a good movie!

Wonder Woman is a unique take on the “fish-out-of-water” narrative in which the titular character is taken out of her environment and into war-torn Europe. You get to see the character arc of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince unfold during the movie’s runtime.

Another great aspect about the movie is its direction. The action scenes are well choreographed and the World War I scenes are filled with grim and despair. However, some of the movie’s CGI is rather unconvincing.

When it was first announced that Gal Gadot was announced to play Wonder Woman, there was a huge backlash. However, she managed to prove the naysayers wrong with her performance in this movie. She managed to portray Wonder Woman as an optimistic character in a grim world.

Chris Pine does a fine job as Steve Trevor. While he does have a great camaraderie with Gadot, his character is no slouch either. He does have his share of action scenes along with Wonder Woman.

My main complaint with this movie, however, is its villain set-up. I won’t go into detail, but it is one of those “surprise” villains. Another complaint about this movie is its use of slow-mo. It may work in a Zack Snyder movie, but it feels out of place here.

In conclusion, Wonder Woman is the very movie that the 2016 Ghostbusters failed to be. After a shaky start with Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad, this film is a step in the right direction for the DCEU.

SCORE: 8/10

Cayle’s Movie Reviews: “Captain Underpants”

Believe it or not, Captain Underpants is a pretty good movie.

The film’s strongest asset is its humor. Yes, there is some toilet humor for the kiddies, but there is enough meta-humor for the adults. In addition to that, most of the film’s humor comes from its slapstick and its visual gags.

The movie has a solid voice cast. My main complaint with modern animated movies is that you hear whatever big-name celebrity the studio hired for the movie and not the character. Kevin Hart was surprisingly restrained in his performance as George. I was surprised to find out that the nerdy killjoy character was played by Jordan Peele of all people.

This film is essentially Deadpool for kids with its meta-humor. Although I would not place it among the better animated DreamWorks films such as How to Train Your Dragon and the second Kung Fu Panda, it’s good for what it is.

SCORE: 7/10

Chris’ Movie Review: It Comes At Night

Chris’ Movie Review

It Comes At Night

Rating: 8/10 (Good)
Recommendation: Pay The 8

I’m doing my summer trips. As a truck driver, I’m never for sure if I’m going to be able to see a movie on time. With that being said, I’ll try my best to at least get to one of the main films out that weekend. Yesterday was an exception because I had a full day to hit up the theater but that isn’t always the case. Also, the reviews may come very sporadically but if I see the movie, it will be reviewed.

It Comes At Night stars Joel Edgerton (Paul), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Travis), Chris Abbott (Will), Carmen Ejogo (Sarah), and Riley Keough (Kim).

Plot Summary

Paul, Travis, and Sarah all live in the woods together. No one is around them for miles. They are hunkered down in a house with food, water, and other supplies. The reason? Let’s leave it at that.

Review

It Comes At Night has a plot that I don’t want to discuss. The trailer for this movie is perfect in the sense that it doesn’t give anything away…except the wrong perception. The preview toys with you and the film does the exact same thing throughout.

For starters, all the actors did great here. Especially Joel and Kelvin. This cast brings out the tension and human nature in the moment, perfectly. There are so many tough decisions for these characters to make and each actor portrays each action extremely well. They really suck the audience​ into the film and make you feel like you’re there with them through these moments as well.

Minor Spoilers! (Not the ending though. Just plot elements.)

Another great part is the unknown. The trailer gives you almost no information to go on and the film takes that idea and runs with it. The characters in this movie have no clue what’s going on in the outside world. All they know is that there’s a virus and it contaminates humans and maybe even animals. But the perfect part is, the audience doesn’t know what’s going on either.

This movie doesn’t give answers. It only makes more questions. And, this time around, it works. The whole set up is that a family lives in the woods alone. Their Grandpa grows ill and has to be put down (That’s the opening 5 minutes by the way). But this family is disconnected with the rest of the world. They don’t how the disease works or how many people have it and so on. So the questions raised throughout the film are totally justified because they can’t answer any of them for us either.

Along with that, the atmosphere is perfect. The true horror is not knowing what’s going on around the world or even in your own back yard. The woods is always a good setup for scary movies and it works here as a psychological thriller as well. They can’t overlook a valley or an open field. They can just see trees and they never know what’s hiding behind them.

End Spoilers!

Now this film does come with some faults. The first is the dream sequences. Travis has a bunch of these throughout the movie and they leave you slightly confused at times. Some seem to be foreshadowing and some seem to be trying to send a message of sorts. The dreams can mess with the film in the sense that you’re not always sure what’s real and what isn’t…. Which can work slightly in this movie’s favor too.

There are parts where the dreams intertwine with the film and they make you question what’s real? Usually these are done as a “fake out” but here, they’re more there to set the mood and make the viewer wonder what’s really going on. Now, this does get a little irritating, especially with the ending, but some of these dreams work well and some don’t. A lot of this will really depend on how you look at the movie in general. But speaking of the ending….

Okay, so maybe it was just the audience I was with but a lot of us seemed a little jolted/confused with the finale. The conclusion of this film just ends. Which is odd because a lot of the movie is build up and tension based but here, it just sort of gives you what you need and leaves.

I’m not going to exactly say what happens but I think the reason we were a bit lost was because there wasn’t an answer for any of what we just saw and we really wanted some explanations for what we witnessed. Because there is one moment in the film that still baffles me.

Again, I’m not giving away specifics but there is a scene that just doesn’t make any sense. Unless I missed it or this could happen, this scene potentially answers the movie’s ending or makes it even more confusing. But I’ll let you make your own opinion on that and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you get there.

Overall

It Comes At Night is a movie that questions humanity and how far you’d go to protect your family. It also provides fear and tension of the unknown perfectly.

The dream sequences can get a little muddled at times. The ending might be confusing. And there’s one moment that needs explaining (Unless I missed it). But the actors are wonderful, the atmosphere of unknown keeps you on edge, and the plot is compelling from start to finish as you try to figure out what’s going on.

This movie may not fit everyone’s needs but give it a chance. You might surprise yourself with how differently the film makes you think and feel.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Chris’ Movie Review: “Megan Leavey”

Chris’ Movie Review

Megan Leavey

Rating: 7/10 (Satisfying)

Recommendation: Redbox It

Megan Leavey stars Kate Mara (Megan Leavey), Ramon Rodriguez (Matt Morales), Tom Felton (Srgt. Andrew Dean), Common (Gunny Martin), and Rex (Megan’s dog).

Plot Summary

Megan Leavey is a person with no true direction in life. Her best friend died, her mom seems more concerned about herself, and Megan is an introvert. After being fired from her for being hung over, Megan decides it’s time to get away and she signs up for the Marines.

Once boot camp is completed, Megan goes out with a few friends and gets into trouble for going to the bathroom in the bushes. She is then ordered to clean up the kennels where future war dogs are trained.

Seeing how the dogs connect with their fellow humans, Megan goes about trying to become a dog handler. After completing the necessary requirements, she gets Rex, and from there, they begin to bond and deal with the true harshness of war.

Review

Megan Leavey is a film that gives us respect to the unsung heroes of war, the dogs and their handlers. The movie also showcases how close these people can become to their companions and how their dog can mean so much to them even after their tour is over. So thank you for those who have served or are serving. You are appreciated in every sense of the word. But there is still a review to be had, so let’s go.

For starters, Kate Mara is solid. She is the main focus, other than Rex, and she gives off a good performance with everything that’s given to her. Her portrayal of the real life Megan Leavey feels genuine and well researched. But, with all that being said, the movie does fail her in some aspects.

The first negative is the main character’s development. The back story of Megan’s life is hit and miss. While we do get a grasp on the basics, there are a lot of things that just aren’t explained that well. For instance, it’s never really said why she resents her mother so much. There is speculation but we’re sort of left in the dark as an audience.

Now, this is based on a true story, so Megan may not have wanted to express each of these elements fully in the film, and we should respect that, but it does leave a hole development wise. There are other elements like this throughout the movie, such as her relationship with her dad and sort of boyfriend that comes out of no where. But depending on how you look at it, it may not bother you any. It just needs to be mentioned.

Another hit is scene transitions. The movie really flies by, which is a good thing in this case, but there are a lot of scenes that don’t seem to fully take. For instance, Megan’s time spent with Rex is a little more implied than shown throughout the film and that takes away from the audience to really get a good feel on how close these two are.

It’s not that we don’t get the gist but that’s it. We mainly get briefings as opposed to getting a well detailed amount of development between her and her dog. Again, it’s not a huge issue but if they spent more time with this connection, we could really get some tears in the audience.

Now a positive is the war scenes. These are directed in a way where you’re never sure what’s going to happen next or if anyone is going to die in the process. The camera work is a bit shaky but it’s not so disorienting that you can’t tell what going on. They are well directed scenes and, for a movie that seems a little bit on the low budget side, this is a great achievement.

The side actors are pretty good in this movie as well. Even though this is Kate’s film, the backing cast comes through with the roles and doesn’t just let Kate handle the whole movie by herself. She definitely gets support throughout.

Another good thing is the relationship with Megan and Rex. Even though the film doesn’t go all out with their connection, we do get a good sense of what Rex means to Megan. Rex is a huge part of Megan’s life and he’s saved her and thousands of others. So when we get to the part where Megan decides to leave the military, and she can’t take her dog with, we do become saddened and want her to fight with all Megan’s life to get Rex back.

Overall

Megan Leavey is a movie that’s an overall satisfying biography. It showcases the main highlights of Megan’s life and presents us a side of the war that we may, or may not, have known about.

The movie doesn’t give enough character depth. The scenes can tend to go by too quickly at times. And the relationship between Rex and Megan is a bit more off screen than on screen at times. But Kate Mara and the side actors have a solid performance, the war scenes are well directed, and from what we do get between Rex and Megan, is pretty good.

It’s not a perfect biography but it shouldn’t be fully overlooked either. It’s compelling enough that you will most likely be more invested with it than The Mummy.

As usual, thanks for reading!