Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

First review of 2019! I repeat, first review of 2019! It’s a review about a good follow-up to an animated hit from five years ago! Building off the success of The Lego Movie and the spinoffs, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, we’ve returned to the world where everything is a different flavor of awesome in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part!

That’s right! Emmett, WyldStyle (Lucy), Batman, Unikitty and the crew are back for more adventures, existential observations, singing and dancing and hijinks to build on from the first movie. When his friends are abducted by aliens from a hostile system, Emmett Brickowski partners up with a radical space adventurer named Rex Dangervest to save them from Queen Whatevra Wa’Nabi before she triggers a doomsday scenario called “Arm-mom-ogeddon”.

I honestly think that this was a rather cute way to start the new year at the movies. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is entertaining from start to finish, it’s whip-smart, funny, it’s self-aware; I think there was just enough magic from the original Lego Movie to build a new adventure for these characters and director Mike Mitchell and writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller did a fine job at expanding this animated franchise with a true sequel.

The drawback? I felt that this movie somewhat suffered in the fact that the original Lego Movie was released five years ago and it’s target audience may have outgrown it, despite the spinoffs that have been made in its wake, and The Second Part, while very effective, may be overlooked. Some sequels, such as Toy Story 3 or Incredibles 2, handle the time-difference rather effectively and make it a strength but I don’t think The Lego Movie 2, handled it as effectively as other movies have done before.

Also, while watching The Lego Movie 2, I felt that this movie somewhat played down to it’s target audience, children, rather than a widespread audience. I was amused by this but at the same time, I just felt that I outgrew this as a film goer. I remember The Lego Movie being hailed as a groundbreaking achievement in animation and when I caught up with it, I was impressed by what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had achieved but now? I liked going back to this franchise but I didn’t feel that same groundbreaking appeal, if you catch my drift.

Mark Miller made a very decent and fun sequel and I appreciate him for retaining Lord and Miller’s talents as storytellers as well as Matthew Fogel’s contributions.

The animation was savvy and the technical expertise that went into this was very good! Mark Mothersbaugh’s music was good, Claire Knight’s editing was sharp, Patrick Marc Hanenberger’s production design was rather pleasant, the art direction by Kristen Anderson, Nick Dudar and Yeva McCloskey was impeccable; this was a very detailed animated movie with a lot of eye-candy.

Let’s not forget the actors who lent their vocal talents to this feature! Great work all around from Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Hadish, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Stephanie Beatriz, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayode, Colbie Smulders, Ike Barinholtz, Will Farrell, Maya Rudolph, Jason Sand, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, Noel Fielding, Ben Schwartz, Jason Momoa, Ralph Fiennes, Will Forte and Bruce Willis, and so many surprising cameos to name!

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is not the exact brand of awesome as the first movie but it’s respectably decent and well-assembled to appreciate for what it happens to be. In summary: it’s fun enough to like!


Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

I’ve seen my share of Batman adventures over the years. Whether the Dark Knight is in live-action or animated, feature-length or 30 minute program, there is a fair chance that I’d be down with it.

Anyway, 2017 marks the year that a brick version of the Caped Crusader made its way into movie theaters after the success of The LEGO Movie in 2014, where the character made a big impact as a supporting character, and now he has his own cinematic animated LEGO adventure of his own, hence The LEGO Batman Movie.


Image by Warner Bros. and Warner Animation Group

Every Batman movie up until now has explored the various themes that have made the character so legendary since his creation; those themes being the need for solitude, fear of loss, “me player” rather than “team player,” basically, The LEGO Batman Movie takes themes such as these, mixes them with Michael Jackson lyrics while paying homage to/parodying the Batman films that have come before and I guess I would say over-infuses the film with too much fun! In fact, if a sliver of the fun and humor in this movie were injected into another recent superhero film that…well…sucked, it’s possible I would like these films more than I did.

I’m just telling it like it is! I thought The LEGO Batman Movie was cute. It made me crack a smile here and there and I found it’s humor passible. That being said, something about this movie just felt lost on me.

Perhaps it’s because I’m used to the brooding, serious takes on Batman that has been done in the past, perhaps the appeal of The LEGO Movie ran its course after its release a few years ago, perhaps this film was tailored for children rather than Batman fans all ages, I just couldn’t will myself to love this movie, but it isn’t bad by any means! I like the fact that it had a sense of self-awareness and made its fun by either laughing at itself or the Batman movies of the past and that demonstrates that a great degree of thought, passion and attention went into the construction of the film but I couldn’t will myself to love this movie.

The plot of trying to get Batman to open up about relationships and force him out of his funk of working alone and not acknowledging the significant figures in his life was nice but I think they tried to do too much with it. First, Joker’s feelings are hurt because Batman prefers to “fight around” rather than acknowledge him as his greatest enemy, then Commissioner Barbara Gordon tells Batman she wants him as an ally more than an independent vigilante to Batman’s chagrin, then he’s shanghaied into adopting this orphan named Dick Grayson on top of putting up with lectures from Alfred throughout the entire film; I found it all very bloating.

Director Chris McKay, writers Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington have certainly built a colorful and unique take on the Dark Knight that no one else ever has but I reiterate, it was lost on me for the most part.

The voices of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Siri with the voices of Conan O’Brien, Billy Dee Williams, Eddie Izzard, Zoë Kravitz, Jason Mantzoukas, Doug Benson, Seth Green, Jermaine Clement, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Hector Elizondo and Mariah Carey do fine work themselves.

I could definitely tell that a lot of work went into the construction of The LEGO Batman Movie but somewhere along the way, it went way over the top. I can respect the attention to detail in the building of this movie, but the final result was meh.

Movie of the Week: The LEGO Batman Movie

Let’s see how February 2017 at the movies kicks off with what I like to consider a quasi-superhero animated adventure flick. I consider Batman a cinematic draw considering the success and reward the character has given studios over the years and The LEGO Batman Movie must be poised to capitalize off the success of The LEGO Movie, and reach audiences of all ages in this animated spin on the legendary comic character. Basically, this movie follows a brick version Bruce Wayne as he tries to juggle his responsibilities as Gotham City’s celebrated Caped Crusader and new foster parent to orphan Dick Grayson.

Voice Cast: Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Seth Green, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Zoë Kravitz.

Director: Chris McKay

Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington

What am I expecting to see?: Ideally, a crowd-pleasing combination of wit and humor mixed with some degree of action and adventure. I think this movie has great potential to be a hot item for a while and I believe that The LEGO Batman Movie can deliver on every promise it will make to its audience.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Leo (left), Donnie (center-left), Raph (center-right) and Mikey (right) are New York’s guardians against evil in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

New York City is overrun by a shadowy criminal organization called the Foot Clan and city politicians and law-enforcement officials are powerless to stop them.

Intrepid reporter April O’Neill, played by Megan Fox (“Transformers,” “Jennifer’s Body”), has been working the streets of Manhattan, trying to find any legitimate lead to uncover the true intentions of the Foot Clan and one night she discovers that even though the city is helpless to stop the Foot, someone out there is doing something about the situation.

After witnessing a Foot Clan attack in the subway, April discovers a small unit skilled enough to bring the clan of warriors down and after following them back to a rooftop, she makes a startling discovery: four six feet, walking, talking turtles skilled in martial arts.

Leonardo, played by Pete Ploszek and voiced by Johnny Knoxville (“Jackass”), Donatello, played by Jeremy Howard (“Sydney White”), Michaelangelo, played by Noel Fisher (“Max Keeble’s Big Move”) and Raphael, played by Alan Ritchson (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) are the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” brothers who were raised in the sewers of New York City who studied the secrets of ninjitsu under their rat sensei Splinter, played by Danny Woodburn (“Bad-Ass”) and voiced by Tony Shalhoub (“Made-Up”) after surviving an experiment gone wrong 15 years ago.

We were created as weapons, and we knew the world would never accept us… but one day, it would need us.-Johnny Knoxville as the voice of Leonardo

April shares a unique connection with the family of sewer dwellers, because April’s father and Eric Sachs, played by William Fichtner (“The Lone Ranger”) conducted experiments on the turtles and Splinter using a mutagen that was believed to be capable or eradicating disease, but unfortunately their research was lost because the Shredder, the leader of the Foot Clan tried to hoard their findings but ended up destroying everything in a fire. April saved the turtles and Splinter when she was a little girl.

The Shredder aims to conquer New York in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

When April tells Sachs about her discovery of the turtles, Sachs informs the Shredder and receives the order to find them and retrieve the mutagen that flows through their veins. That mutagen is the key to the Shredder’s plans of destroying New York City once and for all.

Leo, Mikey, Donnie, Raph, April and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, played by Will Arnett (“The Lego Movie”), are New York City’s last line of defense.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (“Wrath of the Titans”) tries his hardest to make this live-action adaptation as fun as it can be, but ultimately it is a movie that proves itself to be a fun way to waste valuable time.

This project was doomed for failure since the beginning and while it has some redeeming qualities, it suffers from its own reckless and pointless need to be so over-the-top, ridiculous, blurry and shoddy that it can’t take itself seriously and fans of the now 30 year old franchise can easily point that out.

The redeeming qualities that this film features lies in the screenplay written by André Nemec, Josh Applebaum (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) and Kevin Eastman, who was one of the co-creators of the Turtles. They created a story that connects April and the main characters and the Shredder quite tangibly and it is a nice backbone for the plot, but that is where it ends.

This movie is as advertised, featuring cheesy visual-effects, sloppy camerawork, weak characters, weak acting and it is essentially a let-down across the board.

The film also uses actors such as Whoopi Goldberg (“Sister Act”) and Minae Koji as disposable props; they are in there for a few minutes and never from again.

The action sequences are blurry and completely outrageous to the point its incredibly senseless.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” has a surprise or two under the shell, but the film falls flat for the elements that constitute it end up working against it.