The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part Review: A Creative Flick for an Unenthusiastic Audience

Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team! At least, it was in the first LEGO Movie

Now, things have changed drastically five years in the future, especially since the outer space invaders of LEGO DUPLO have taken over their home of Bricksburg. It seems the entire LEGO world has succumbed to bitterness, negativity, and chronic brooding. All except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) that is, who still maintains the same cheerfulness and optimism as he did in the first movie. But when Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), and his other friends are kidnapped by those same LEGO invaders, Emmet embarks on an epic journey to unknown worlds that will test his maturity in this adult world.

The LEGO Movie 2 sports the same colorful animation as its predecessor, computer imagery that looks convincingly like stop motion minifigures. The details are magnificent, down to the light reflections and scratches of paint on our LEGO figure protagonists. CGI has come a long way for the animation to look so realistic that people actually think it’s the real deal, and I have enormous respect for those behind the scenes who’ve made that happen.

The same respect goes for The LEGO Movie 2 in general. Even the casual viewer can observe the effort put forth to make this a family fun experience. Take the extensive voice cast for example, which includes many A-list actors and actresses who lent their voice talent for the film. Mix this with self-aware humor and you’ve got some hilarious in-jokes about celebrities like Bruce Willis, who according to The LEGO Movie lives in an air duct. And after Die Hard 5, that’s probably not too far off! Yes, lots of talent went into trying to make this movie as enjoyable, humorous, and creative as possible.

And the honest truth is, I can’t say I’m surprised at The LEGO Movie 2‘s lack of box office success. With countless remakes, sequels, and reboots out, was anybody that pumped up about a follow up to The LEGO Movie?

The LEGO Movie 2 is big on creativity and imagination, and it has a positive message about being yourself and remaining optimistic worked in there too. But, a lot of this is just a retread of the first film, “been there done that” kind of material. I know kids and adults alike will undoubtedly adore the charm and positivity that this movie has to offer, but that’s if they’re even up to watching another LEGO flick to begin with. And so far, the consensus seems to be no.

The Verdict: B

-Zachary Flint

The Lego Movie Review

I’ve recently decided to review one of my personal favorite animated films of all time, The Lego Movie.

The Lego Movie takes place in a universe, you guessed it, made completely out of Legos. It stars Chris Pratt as Emmet, an ordinary Lego construction worker who never seems to make an impact on anyone. Emmet accidentally gets wrapped up in a plot by the master builders (Lego people who think outside the box) to overthrow the villain, President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) who likes to maintain order and do things by the instructions.

The Lego city Emmet lives in is, quite hilariously, straight out of 1984. I would even go as far to label The Lego Movie as a great political satire. President Business runs the ultimate totalitarian government and has all the characteristics of an abusive leader. In this Lego universe, everyone conforms to listen to the same music, eat the same foods, and overall be the same in every single way. Citizens are urged to follow the directions and to not step out of line. All forms of creativity are punishable by the law. The Lego Movie a cute little critique on capitalism that I found very humorous in the film.

The voice acting in The Lego Movie was fantastic. We get a wide variety of talented actors and actresses voicing a diverse group of characters. All the actors fit the roles perfectly too, I didn’t really notice anyone who felt out of place here.

The Lego Movie is mostly CGI, but is able to reflect the movements of stop motion extremely well.The first time I saw The Lego Movie I actually thought the whole film was stop motion, that’s how good it is. The animation is very fast paced and is pleasing to the eye to watch. A lot can be happening on screen at once, so every time I watch it I notice something completely new.

The fast paced animation makes The Lego Movie pretty nonstop entertaining. I can’t think of one slow moment in the entire film. The Lego Movie moves along pretty fast, and if you blink you might miss something important.

I have seen this film many times and it keeps getting funnier every time I see it. Perhaps I am just easily amused, but I think The Lego Movie is comedic genius. The personality that the voice actors give the characters adds a lot to the humor. Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, and Chris Pratt all specifically come to mind as the funniest in the film. The way they can deliver their lines makes what they say all the more comedic.

The climax to the film is something I totally did not see coming. I won’t give anything away for those who have not seen it but it is a very moving scene. It has some laughs, as well as some more touching moments. I loved every bit of the ending and think it was a great way to send our characters off.

The Lego Movie is an enjoyable experience for everyone in the family. I have yet to meet a single person who openly dislikes The Lego Movie. I can’t emphasize enough just how delightful and enjoyable this film is. The animation is great, satire is perfect, and voice acting phenomenal. If you are someone who missed The Lego Movie the first time around, or have ever thought about building a double-decker couch, go watch it.

The Verdict: A

-Zachary Flint

Passengers Review

All I’ve been hearing from everyone about Passengers is just how bad it is. People said it was boring, overly long, and very flawed.

So in hearing all this negative criticism, I watched Passengers with somewhat low expectations. However I came out actually enjoying it quite a bit. Call me a sucker for science fiction films, but I really enjoyed my experience watching this!

Lets look at the plot. The film centers around Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) aboard the starship Avalon on its way to a colonized planet called Homestead II. The trip takes 120 years, and it seems as though Jim has been woken up 90 years early. Also to his dismay, he is the only one of 5,000 people to wake up early. Jim must now adjust to life on this huge ship by himself as well as figure out why he woke up. Eventually a girl named Aurora Lane (played by Jennifer Lawrence ) is woken up to and has to adjust to life isolated with Jim. They begin bonding and soon start forming a close relationship.

First I will address the two major criticisms of the film, which are pretty major flaws. The first would be just how boring it is. People say that there just isn’t enough that goes on in the film to be entertaining. That the stakes are very low and not a lot happens to invest the audience.

I would slightly agree with this notion, accept for just how much I love the imagery. A lot of the science fiction scenery in the film has already been done to death, but not all. There are some scenes in Passengers where I got that imaginative sci-fi experience that you get in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Where you just feel the vastness of creativity and the endless possibilities in the universe. Anything from the technology on board the ship with Chris Pratt or even the A.I. bartender he bonds with felt very creative. Maybe I’m giving the film too much credit, but I thought the technology in Passengers was good.

There are also some great scenes where Chris Pratt is adjusting to living on the ship by himself. Some are funny scenes of him being a goofball. Others are very emotional because of how lonely he is living with no other human interaction.

This takes us to the second big problem with the film, Jennifer Lawrence. Not particularly her acting, I thought she did just fine in this role. The problem is more her relevance to the plot and Chris Pratt’s character. I don’t want to give too much away, but lets just say it’s a little ‘Stockholm Syndrome’-ish. Jim comes off as a little creepy and the film tries to reconcile that, except it doesn’t work well. The audience is still left feeling a little unease and weirded out by his actions and behaviors.

The climax to Passengers  is actually somewhat anticlimatic. Again without giving too much away, I’ll say that I initially liked how the climax was playing out. However the film resorted to making some very cliched choices and just slowly fizzes out to the end. Leaving the audience kind of underwhelmed.

Despite these flaws I thought there was some pretty neat stuff in Passengers. The acting from our leads was not bad, and a lot of weight was resting on their shoulders (since their are only four actors in the entire film). The design of the ship and the science fiction elements are interesting. I liked some of the morally ambiguous scenes that we get multiple times throughout the film. I also really liked the idea of ‘two people stranded on an island’ kind of thing. An interesting idea that was somewhat developed in the film.

Overall I thought that Passengers was all around an okay film. It wasn’t great by any means, but it wasn’t deserving of all the hate it got by critics. I think that the film had enough going for it through its imagery and actors to give it a pass, however all criticisms of the film are very warranted. As for recommendations, I think that science fiction fans should give it a watch and form their own opinions on it.

The Magnificent Seven Review

Going in to the Magnificent Seven I wasn’t sure what to think. Remakes from well respected source materials haven’t seemed to be going well in the past few years. But after watching the film I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw, at least, somewhat.

The Magnificent Seven stars Denzel Washington as a bounty hunter named Sam Chisholm, who must build a rag tag team of fighters to save a small town from a greedy businessman.

The Magnificent Seven thrives on its ability to make its main cast enjoyable. In many respects, its like the Western version of The Expendables. Its by far not a perfect movie, with many flaws and questionable moments. But we the audience are willing to forgive all that because we love the cast, and enjoy watching them do their thing. We don’t care how well developed the characters in The Expendables are, nor do we care about the plot. We just want to see some action stars doing what we love watching them do, fight bad guys. The same goes for the Magnificent Seven.

Of our lead protagonists, its hit or miss on how well the characters are developed and given good stories. Denzel Washington was developed pretty well and some of the minor leads are good too. However it is less about how developed the characters are and more about how bad-ass they seem to be. And the Magnificent Seven definitely delivers some bad-ass heroes. I think this was the films strong point, because even when the protagonists weren’t saying anything clever or interesting, you were still glued to the screen. Each character has their own uniqueness and watching them humorously work off of each other is very enjoyable.

Countless times I caught myself questioning the logic of certain scenes. I also rolled my eyes at scenarios when I knew exactly how it would play out. Like the overused trope where one of the good guys abandons the others, only to come back at the climax. I believe most audiences know exactly whats going to happen, so why even put that in your movie?

The antagonist was pretty bland and did the usual stereotypical villain kind of stuff. He gets introduced at the very beginning of the film as this scary business man who says intimidating things. He also kills some innocent people and burns a church down. After that, he mostly drops out of the film till the climax. I guess its understandable for this kind of popcorn action movie to just quickly introduce this bad man doing evil things so that the good guys can have a showdown at the end.

The climax was actually done pretty well. Some of the battle’s aspects reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, only not as serious (or good). There are plenty of bad guys for the protagonists to fight and the way the battle was shot kept things visually interesting. It all takes place in a small Western town so the location is easy to learn and easy to watch.

However the build up to this battle was long overdrawn. It felt like I was waiting forever to see our heroes fight the bad guys. As if the filmmakers wanted to needlessly draw it out for as long as possible.

What surprised me about the Magnificent Seven was not all the protagonists lived  through to the end. Which is unusual for films of this genre, because the good guys mostly come out unscathed and everybody lives happily ever after. I praise the filmmakers on this choice, it definitely caught me off guard in a good way.

The ending was very abrupt and didn’t make much sense. But I think that’s okay for what Magnificent Seven was trying to accomplish. The good guys got together, said some witty one liners, shot some bad guys, and went home. The end. It didn’t really need anything complex to wrap the story up. Its the kind of popcorn ending many, but not all, audiences will like.

If your a film goer looking for a more meaningful movie experience, I would recommend watching one of the original movies this was based on. If you like popcorn action movies with awesome actors killing bad guys, this is definitely a film you should check out.

Zachary Flint