Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

Like John Wick, The LEGO Movie was also an incredibly pleasant surprise.  It looked like it was going to be some shameless attempt to sell toys (it was), but it turned out to be an incredibly funny and well-written film that did incredible justice to the little plastic blocks.  Anybody who grew up playing with LEGOs got to delight in seeing all the interesting ways they used familiar pieces to build things in this world.  And it gave us a brand new Batman.

LEGO Batman was so well received that they decided to give him his own full feature, which as with John Wick: Chapter 2, made me pretty nervous.  In small doses this semi-parody of Batman is really funny, but I worried that trying to drag that out into a full couple hour movie would just get old and repetitive. Still the trailers looked promising, so did The LEGO Batman Movie deliver?  Let me tell you all the ways everything was in fact, awesome.

Monday, February 20, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

John Wick was an incredibly pleasant surprise.  It's an action movie where you can actually see the action, and it built an incredibly interesting underground world of assassins that gave the whole thing a cool new feel.  Plus it has one of the single-best character introductions of all time, making their hero look like the ultimate badass before he even does anything. Then when he actually does things, he looked even more badass thanks to Keanu Reeves putting in enough work to do his own stunts.

That's why news of a sequel made me super nervous.  John Wick was a perfectly reasonable standalone movie, and those tend to be the ones that make for the worst sequels since they have to invent convoluted reasons to not only do another one but also to try and raise the stakes in some way.  Usually what you end up with is just an unsatisfying, messy retread of the previous movie.

So the question is, did John Wick: Chapter 2 fall into that trap?  Well, let me tell you:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review

It's not often you get a sequel 11 years after the last movie, especially if that last movie was itself a sequel nobody particularly wanted and that turned out to be absolutely awful. Yet, we have xXx: Return of Xander Cage anyway.

Though I'm sure it was intentional way back when that people might confuse xXx for some kind of porn thing, it was actually just a sort of mishmash between James Bond and the X-games.  When the first xXx movie came out, Extreme Sports had become a pretty big fad, and Hollywood is always looking for something good to cash in on, so they created a movie wherein your typical 00 was just too stuffy and uptight to tango with the hardcore adrenaline junky criminals of the 21st century. So, to combat the new threat, Sam Jackson had to go find somebody a little more edgy.  Enter Vin Diesel, a world-famous anarchistic rebel with a penchant for crazy stunts and fur coats.

That original movie was pretty fun overall, but it really didn't have the legs for a franchise, and despite Diesel refusing to sign on for the sequel, they made one anyway, which in any other universe would have been the end of that, but I guess somebody wrote Vin Diesel a big check because he and his fur coat are back with a bunch of new hip faces for another bite at the apple.  So was xXx worth resurrecting? Well, listen to my review and together we can count all the ways that no, no it was not:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Assassin's Creed Review

Hollywood doesn't exactly have a stellar history when it comes to turning video games into movies, especially thanks to Uwe Boll somehow finding his way in charge a huge chunk of them.  Most of the movies are almost unwatchable, and even the ones that are rarely have much to do with the games on which they are purportedly based.

Despite that, they keep on trying to get a piece of the video game industry juggernaut.  We started 2016 off with a couple of attempts to finally crack that video game movie glass ceiling in the form of Warcraft and The Angry Birds Movie, but Warcraft was "meh" and The Angry Birds Movie was absolute garbage.

Now along comes Assassin's Creed, and surely if a named actor like Michael Fassbender signed on to play the lead, this one has to be good right?  After all you've got a perfect action movie setup: a guy from the future is forced to relive the memories of his ancestor back in the 1400s who was a member of a secret organization of assassins famous for their awesome parkour skills and spring-loaded wrist daggers.

So, did they finally figure out the magic formula for creating a good video game movie? In a word...no.  Or in many words, here's my review:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passengers Review

Passengers had one of the most promising trailers of any movie this year.  They made it seem like we might be getting an interesting sci-fi mystery movie for Christmas about two people, namely Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, who inexplicably find themselves alone on some kind of spaceship cruise liner.  Worse, they've apparently "woken up 90 years too early" and the ship appears to be going a little haywire.

That's a pretty cool premise...but unfortunately Passengers flushes it right out the window by spoiling all the mystery right at the beginning, which might make it the biggest bait-and-switch movie of the year.  You can imagine this made me pretty cranky, enough to do this review while I was still being dogged by the Christmas flu:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rogue One Review

Well, we knew once Disney had control over Star Wars they were going to put that brand back to work, and so they have.  This year, they've given us Rogue One, a prequel about stealing the Death Star plans, to hold everyone over until Episode VIII comes out next year.  Since Episode VII was a total retread of the original Star Wars, it's a pretty safe bet Episode VIII will be a retread of The Empire Strikes BackRogue One though has a shot to be something we haven't seen before.

Unfortunately, it's a little hampered by the premise.  After all, if you've seen Star Wars you have a pretty good idea as to whether or not they actually get the Death Star plans and put them to good use.  But, sometimes you can overcome that with good character work and a fun, engaging story.  Did Rogue One succeed in doing that? Well, I'm sure most of you have seen it a few times already and have your own opinion on the matter, but here's what I thought:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Moana Review

Hey look Disney decided to make another animated feature, and this time they brought Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson along.  I haven't seen Zootopia yet, but I didn't much care for the previous two non-Pixar Disney flicks, Big Hero 6, which was just kind of lame, and Frozen, which I have ranted at length about in various places.  Suffice it to say, that movie is completely broken because they simply couldn't bear to give their stupidly catchy song to the villain character since that would've undercut the whole GIRL POWAH message they were using their movie to send.

That's why I didn't rush out to see Zootopia, and almost didn't go to see this were it not for The Rock always being entertaining and the wait time at the bowling alley being long enough to make seeing a movie a better option.  So, did Moana turn out to be a bunch of eye-roll worthy feminist agitprop you should skip?  Check out the full review to find out: