The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017) Review

A FORMULAIC LEGO BRICK TOO FAR


 

Back in 2014, Warner. Bros. Pictures (under the name of Warner Bros. Animation Group) produced a surprising smash with The LEGO Movie. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind 21 Jump Street (and its 22 Jump Street sequel), The LEGO Movie dropped viewers into an imaginary cinematic constructed world of LEGOs, telling a creative tale that was full of humor, talented voice-actors, dazzling animation, and some heartwarming drama. Surprisingly, The LEGO Movie was met with overwhelming positive reviews from fans and critics, garnishing nearly $470 million at the box office against its $60 million production budget. The success of The LEGO Movie fueled Warner Bros. with the idea that a cinematic universe could be formed around the property idea of the popular toy brand. Earlier this year, that very same idea was debuted in the form in the first spin-off LEGO Movie titled The LEGO Batman Movie. Directed by Chris McKay, this spin-off adventure continued The LEGO Movie formula, but also introduced new elements such as rifting / playing on the lore of the “cape crusader” and his many foes that he’s come across over the years. Like its predecessor, The LEGO Batman Movie was met with huge success and, while it didn’t surpass The LEGO Movie at the box office (the film grossed $312 million) still received critical praise from critics and its viewers; proving this franchise can go beyond its original toy brand form and have some lasting effect in today’s current movie world. Now, only a few months after the release on The LEGO Batman Movie, Warner Bros. Animation Group and directors Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan present the second spin-off film to The LEGO Movie with the animated film The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Is it “third time’s a charm” for this movie franchise or has that certain “magic” of the previous two films gone out with Ninjago? Read more

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN


 

In 1982, moviegoers everywhere were introduced the sci-fi / neo-noir film Blade Runner. Loosely based on the 1968 novel “Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep” by Phillip K. Dick, the film, which was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, and Daryl Hannah, follows the story of Rick Deckard, a LA cop who happens to be a “Blade Runner” (a special enforcer who is assigned to hunt down synthetic / bioengineered humans known as replicants) who undergoes one last assignment of hunting replicants, which causes the burn-out cop to question his mission and moral judgement. During its initial release, Blade Runner was met with mixed feelings as some praised the film for its futuristic neo-noir storytelling, visual design and thematic complexity, while others were criticized the unconventional pacing and plot. Thus, the film underperformed during its release and was considered a box office disappointment. Over the years, however, the film has gained an immense cult following, with many regarding the 1982 film as one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time (by both fans and critics). Looking beyond the movie, Blade Runner even went on to become highly influential in other science fiction mediums, including various films, amines, video games, and television series. It’s been roughly 35 years since the original theatrical version of Blade Runner was released and now Warner Bros. Pictures and director Denis Villeneuve gear up for a whole new adventure within this cinematic world with the film Blade Runner 2049. Does this long-awaited sequel find sci-fi greatness within its new tale or was it a bad idea to “replicate” such a tremendous science fiction masterpiece? Read more

Our Souls at Night (MovieMan Dan’s Guest Review)

A LIGHT-HEARTED

AND REALLY SWEET DRAMA


 

Our Souls at Night” had its World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival back on September 1 – Now, mere weeks later, the folks at Netflix have released the film on select NY/LA screens for an Oscar Qualifying Run and on its streaming service for at home viewing for all of their subscribers.  I got my chance to check the film out recently and so here I am to share my thoughts. Read more

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Review

REYNOLDS AND JACKSON SHINE

IN THIS OTHERWISE DULL MOVIE


 

The “buddy cop” genre of films has been awhile for quite some time. While it doesn’t redefine the main staple genres of motion pictures (i.e. action, comedy, drama, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc.), this subgenre category of films was popular during the mid to late 80s and early 90s, with such films like Die Hard, Point Break, Lethal Weapon, and Beverly Hills Cops amongst many others. Eventually, the genre, which was heavily focused on more grittier action and drama, switched to a comedic side, producing raunchier R-rated comedies pieces like The Heat, 21 Jump Street, Ride Along, and Hot Pursuit, and CHiPs. Now, Millennial Films, Lionsgate Films, and director Patrick Hughes present the newest iteration of the buddy cop genre with the movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Does this film rise to the challenge and change up the status quo of these particular motion pictures or does it fall into formulaic pit of predictability? Read more

American Made (2017) Review

THE PRICE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM


 

Back in 2014, actor Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman teamed up together for the successful sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow. Set sometime in the near distant future, the film (sometimes called Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow by some), which starred Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson, tells the story of William “Bill” Cage, a major in the United Defense Force (UDF), who is forced against his will to participate in a combat battle against an advanced alien race called Mimics. Unfortunately, Cage is exposed something peculiar, with him dying on the field of battle and waking up several hours prior to the invasion; forcing himself to relive the day’s events in an endless “looped” cycle. This sci-fi take on the “Groundhog Day” effect was somewhat unconventional for the genre (and for movies currently running in 2014), which made Edge of Tomorrow a very unique and entertaining film to watch. The film, which grossed roughly $370 million worldwide, was critically praised by critics and moviegoers for its concept, humor, visual alien (Mimic) design, and of Cruise’s performance as well as Blunt’s performance. Now, three years later, Universal Pictures reunites the pair (Cruise and Liman) for an examination at the illegal dark side of the “American Dream” in the film American Made. Does this movie find truth in this “based on a true story” feature or does it fail to produce a substance within its crime drama? Read more

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