Lego Movie 2 Is A Solidly Built Sequel

The Lego Movie was a surprise hit in 2014. Lord and Miller somehow managed to make a likable and moving film, while celebrating what makes Lego Bricks so much fun. The Lego Batman Movie continued the first movie’s success. Diving deep in to Batman lore while never taking itself too seriously. Then The Lego Ninjago Movie came out. The humor and creativity that the franchise was known for seemingly fell off a cliff. Thankfully, the magic is mostly back for The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part takes place five years after first movie. The residents of Bricksburg have become hardened after years of repelling the invaders from planet Duplo. Except for Emmet, he is his happy self. His happy attitude grates on the people around him. One day a ship comes from the Systar System. It is not Duplo, but a more advanced ship, and it captures all Emmet’s friends. Can he become serious enough to save his friends, or will his happy go lucky attitude let them down?

If the first movie was about a son teaching his father to be creative again, you can probably guess what The Lego Movie 2 is about. It doesn’t really try and hide it, but there are also some other good lessons in this movie about trying to change people, or what growing up really means. It is very clever. It isn’t the breath of fresh air that The Lego Movie was five years ago, but it still compares favorably to first one and Lego Batman. I would say it is the third best of the franchise, and it is miles better than Lego Ninjago. A movie, based off the box-office data, that may have done irreparable harm to this franchise.

Most of the voice actors have reprised their roles and are still funny. Tiffany Haddish was a good addition as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, and Margo Robbie who voices several roles does a good job as well. I don’t think there was one bad voiceover. With the success of Aquaman, I am guessing they are happy they got Jason Momoa to reprise his role for a couple of great gags.

The Lego Movie 2 is not as awesome as the first film, but it is a solid follow up. Not counting The Lego Ninjago Movie, it is impressive how good this franchise has been. If you liked the first movie, I am guessing you will like The Second Part as well. I enjoyed myself, and Little Miss Shmee thought it was great too.

The Kids Are Not All Right In Titans (But That Is Alright With Me)!

Titans probably had one of the worst advertising campaigns around, and I had no real interest in it, but then something strange started happening. People on the internet started saying that it was not that bad, and its RottenTomatoes.com score pulled out of a nose dive and pulled itself up to an 84%. Which for TV these days isn’t too far out of the norm because there is soooo much good TV, but considering the reviews started off negative, it is quite the feet, so when DC Universe had a sale on subscriptions I decided to give it a try. Titans was well worth the price of admission.

In Titans, Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) has given up being Robin. The violence is taking its toll on him, so instead he decides to put his detective training to use and join the Detroit Police Department. Just when he thinks he has given up the cape and the leggings for good, he gets mixed up with a young girl who has strange and dangerous powers named Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft/Raven). She is on the run from her father who wants to use her for her powers. As they run and try to figure out what is going on they will also meet up with Kory (Anna Diop/Starfire) and Gar Logan (Ryan Potter/Beast Boy). Not to mention a few other superheroes.

What is great about Titans is that it takes its time. There aren’t like two intro episodes then they move to Jump City and are now chillin’ in Titan Tower. After eleven episodes they are still nowhere near the superhero team comics lovers know they will be. Dick is trying understand what his life is supposed to be ‘post Robin’, Kory is trying to recover her past, Gar is just now exploring the outside world, and poor Rachel just wants to get a handle on the actual darkness inside her, so the whole first season is just these people trying to deal with their issues while also trying to deal with each other. Which are problems that you just can’t superpunch away.

What I also love about this first season of Titans is that it has taken on a horror vibe, and given Rachel’s powerset, it is a smart choice. There are so many weird and creepy moments in this show. It is not something a lot of other superhero shows, or movies for that matter, have tried, but Titans really goes for it. I will say that it starts off poorly. It doesn’t really get good until about episode three or so, but it is great once it gets going. I also don’t like that they ended the show on a cliffhanger. I like it better when shows have a complete arc for a season, and I guess that season one did, but once they got picked up for a second season they moved episode twelve to be episode one of season two.

Slow starts and cliffhangers are forgivable sins. Titans is not that first show to suffer from them and probably will not be the last. Thankfully everything else about the show works. From the creepy atmosphere to the talented young cast. If you are in the US and can spare eight bucks for a month of DC Universe to watch this show, you should. Outside the US it is even easier because it is on Netflix, so just queue it up. Then wonder with me what will happen when Titans returns this October.

Shmee Takes A Ride With Bumblebee!

The Transformers movies have a record that could be kindly described as ‘spotty’. Most would probably just say terrible. Finally sensing audience dissatisfaction, Paramount and the multitude of production companies providing financial input in to the franchise decided to do a soft reboot of the property focusing on one Transformer’s origin, Bumblebee. It turns out this was a good decision. Bumblebee is easily the best live action Transformers movie.

Bumblebee starts out on Cybertron. Showing the vicious war that causes the Autobots to flee their home world. Things do not go well for Bumblebee (Dylan O’Brien) when he lands on Earth. He is almost instantly hunted by Colonel Jack Burns (John Cena), so he goes in to hiding as a VW Bug, and ends up the car of a teenage girl, Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld). You can guess where things go from there.

While this movie shares a lot in common with the first Transformers film, it never feels like a retread. The core relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee is sweet, and you get the feeling that they both really need each other. It also manages to make a lot of 80’s adventure movie callouts without feeling stale or cheap. It is Spielbergian without feeling like a knockoff.

I would like to applaud two people behind the cameras for Bumblebee: First, Travis Knight. Bumblebee is his first live action directing gig, and only his second turn as a director. With the first being Kubo and the Two Strings (he is usually a producer for stop motion). His attention to detail that he must have developed for stop motion really paid off with Bumblebee. The story and the special effects really came together well, and that only works if you know how they will all fit together in post-production. Second, Christina Hodson. This is her first major screenplay, and she got a solo writing credit, which is almost unheard of in these days of large writing rooms. Given all that, it was a great script, and I expect big things from her. I hope her next screenplay, DC’s Birds of Prey, is equally entertaining.

Of course, all that good work behind the scenes would have been for not if Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena didn’t pull off their roles, but thankfully they were great. Steinfeld is a believable as a mourning teenager, and she and Bumblebee are cute (not a word I ever thought I would use in a modern Transformers movie review) in their scenes together. John Cena was given the job to be an over the top 80’s villain, and he rolled around in it like catnip. He was clearly having fun. Obviously, the special effects team that brought Bumblebee to life deserves a ton of credit as well because he was the most lifelike Robot in Disguise yet and displayed a lot of emotion considering he can’t talk for most of the movie.

Bumblebee is not a life changing movie. It is simply a fun popcorn movie made in the style of an 80’s Spielberg film, and that is more than enough to recommend this movie. It is almost worth a watch to prove that Transformers movies don’t need to be three hours of teenager ogling and explosions. They can be just as good as any other movie out there. By now you must know that I liked this movie, and that I think you will like it too. I am eagerly awaiting its follow-up, Prime.

Glass Is Out! So Here Is A Review Of Split!

Glass dominated the box-office this last weekend, but because I had not seen Split, I figured I needed to rectify that before going to see the last movie in the Unbreakable trilogy. Split is unquestionably an M. Night Shyamalan movie. With its deliberate pacing and sullen mood. Split takes itself very seriously. I would not say it is one of Shyamalan’s best movies, but it is far from his worst.

Split starts with three girls being abducted after a birthday party. The girls, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula, are informed that they are to be sacrificed to ‘The Beast’ who is one of Kevin Crumb’s (James McAvoy) personalities. The girls of course will try and escape while McAvoy wears different sweaters and uses different voices to torment them.

All kidding aside, McAvoy gives a great performance. It must have been fun as an actor to play so many very different characters while trying to link them all together. Without his performance, Split would have been a bore. Which is true of most M. Night Shyamalan films. Because of their slow pacing, if the people on screen are not engaging you get the Lady in the Water instead of the Sixth Sense.

The biggest problem with Split is that it is very linear. I am not saying all M. Night movies need a twist, but it is always nice if there are a few turns on a filmic journey. Split is a straight shot. This movie is about three girls in peril because of the actions of a mentally ill creep. Full stop. It is almost as if Shyamalan wanted to prove he could apply the hallmarks of his style without a surprise ending. It mostly works.

Between the mood and the great performances, Split is an interesting film. It is shot well and doesn’t outlast its welcome, so while it isn’t worth running out and adding to your Blu-Ray collection, it is worth a cheap rental or a watch on Netflix or whatever streaming service it eventually lands on. Split has me excited for Glass just to see how this movie fits in to Unbreakable’s universe. Which I guess means I enjoyed myself.

I Guess Spider-Man Is Fine, So Fine He Got Two New Trailers Today!

You know Tony Stark mourning the world? Forget that. Everything is fine. As a matter of fact here are not one but two trailers featuring the lost in space and snapped Spider-Man:

That is for the US, here is the one for International Audiences:

There are some slight differences, but the biggest change for me is that they censored the joke at the end for the international teaser. Not sure why. But hey, Mysterio looks cool. Anyway, I guess we don’t need to watch Endgame now because it all turns out alright for the characters we love. Though I am guessing we still do loose a couple.