Ben-Hur

I don’t inherently hate remakes. There should be a reason for them though. Maybe technology has advanced to tell the story in a better way. Maybe the original copies are crap. Maybe the original films are crap. Maybe there is a good way to do a modern update. Just have a reason. A scene for scene remake usually feels like a waste of time.

When people heard about the Ben-Hur remake, they went ballistic. And it is hard to blame them. It should be noted that the “original” Ben-Hur was actually a remake itself. That’s right, we got Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1929! But the reason it was remade is because they wanted to go balls to the wall crazy with it. The director William Wyler wanted authenticity, real chariot scenes, and shit, they got Charlton Heston!

It is a technological epic film that is still watched and enjoyed today. So yes, there seems little reason to remake it outside of a potential cash grab, which is what the studio was hoping for with an over $100 million budget.

Horse
They really just wanted to nail the chariot scenes. That would have made it ideal.

Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) has a ridiculous name, but hey, he is made up so it is okay I guess. He is Jewish and a prince, and his family is awesome. They adopted a Roman boy too into their family, Messala (Toby Kebbell), about the same age and they are great friends. They chariot race and all that shit. The mother is played by Ayelet Zurer, and sister by Sofia Black-D’Elia. Messala feels weird though and leaves the family to join the Roman army, while Judah decides to marry a slave (Nazanin Boniadi).

Years later he returns, a great soldier now and Judah wants him to be an informant. A lot of people hate the Roman rule now in Jerusalem and want to rise up. He lets Judah know that a new governor, Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk) is on the way. And when he shows up, a guy Dismas (Moises Arias) tries to kill him and fails.

This causes their palace to get overrun and Judah takes the fall for Dismas. His mom and sister are crucified, and Judah is sent to be on a ship to be a rower in the wars. Fuck. Also he meets Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) when getting walked and whipped down the street. Needless to say, the brothers get mad at each other, a lot more shit happens, and some people get hurt in the process.

Also starring Morgan Freeman, Marwan Kenzari, and James Cosmo.

Freeman
Et tu, Morgan Freeman?

Eyuuch. Oh man. There is bad, and then there is this Ben-Hur remake. This film tried to recreate an epic, but in a modern way. And despite going for an epic, it made it only 2 hours long to tell the same story, in 90 minutes less time. The original was slower, but it moved at a pace very deliberate to make sure everything was clear, motives and other wise.

This is a modern movie, so it is rushing right out of the gate and forcing you to keep up. It has a lot of region specific actors in side roles, and gives us a couple of white British people leads. I felt a bit lost very early on, despite being a little bit familiar with the story and it never really got better.

In fact, for those watching it, they will quickly realize that this is not a movie they should invest their time in. They will either shut it off, or play on games on their phone throughout it. The filters used to give it the old time feel make it actually just a pain to watch.

In addition, it reminded me of other recent bad “Ancient” movies like Immortals or The Legend of Hercules. No, it didn’t have CGI magic or anything, but just that bastardization of the past feel.

Even the chariot scene doesn’t save it. We have laws now that prevent any animals from ever being harmed now, so it doesn’t look as real as it did a long time ago. It feels fake, it feels processed, and it fails to keep any interest.

Ben-Hur is the remake no one wants, done in a way no one cares about, and was apparently a movie no one saw either, for good reason. Big pass.

0 out of 4.

Now You See Me 2

Right off the bat, there is a big problem with Now You See Me 2. The big problem is that it is called Now You See Me 2.

How in the hell do you have a movie named Now You See Me, and then fail to call the sequel Now You Don’t? It is a really popular phrase, everyone knows it, and you give us this even more generic sequel name. It is like they aren’t trying to be cool.

I didn’t expect there to even be a sequel to the first film. Yes, I gave it a 2 out of 4, but it had one of the worst twist endings of all time. They picked a character that would produce the most confusion and failed to make a movie that made sense. They also blurred the line between real magic and explaining the tricks, because the writers had no idea what to do. They went for cool and splashy and couldn’t pick a side. The only reason I probably gave it an average rating is because it came out the same day as After Earth.

Now, sure, a lot of movies are coming out on this day as well. That is why I saw this one weeks in advance to make sure I had a clear mind before writing the sequel’s review.

ASS
Ass shots for everyone, not just the lady, hooray!

Set a year after the events in the first film, The Horsemen have gone missing. Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) is still looking for them, just badly to cover it all up. This angers his boss (Sanaa Lathan) and coworker (David Warshofsky) who think he is a bumbling fool almost. This is all a ploy though, in order to finally bring them back out at a big phone tech reveal.

This Octo company, led by Owen (Ben Lamb) is unleashing some super sexy phone tech, however it will also steal all information from the users and sell the data on the black market. So The Eye has told Dylan to get The Horsemen together to crash the event. You know, Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Wilder (Dave Franco), and Lula (Lizzy Caplan). Wait a minute! She wasn’t a horseman! She is a replacement for Henley, who in the movie wanted out in the year in isolation, so they replaced her. I think the studio was hoping you wouldn’t realize it.

However, bad things happen during their surprise show and the group find themselves now in Macau, China (basically their Las Vegas with a big Magic scene), in the clutches of some rich dude named Walter (Daniel Radcliffe). There is more behind the Octo tech, Walter wants his hands on it and wants The Horsemen to steal it! Oh the layers!

And then, you know, shenanigans.

Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine return, along with Jay Chou and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

HP
GET IT? He is Harry Potter! In a different magic movie! DO YOU GET IT!?

Now You See Me 2 tried to answer some questions its predecessor failed to do so. The key word being tried. Good. The first one explained how The Horsemen did the first trick and didn’t really explain anything else after that. This time they put a lot more effort into explaining how things work, at the bare minimum some tech terms and concepts, to show hey, this isn’t real magic, it is just tricks.

Except, you know, some of the bigger tricks like Atlas falling backwards into a puddle and disappearing completely except for his clothes. They don’t try to explain that, because the writers put it in because it is cool and have no idea how to actually make it work. This is an example of a movie pretending to be a super smart heist movie, but when they get to complicated matters, they shrug their shoulders, say magic and move on.

So everything is just special effects in real life, unless it is actually magic. You know, like speed hypnotism or whatever, which is used constantly in the film. They refuse to make up their mind.

This film has a big twist near the end too, all about who belongs to the mysterious Eye organization and what their purpose is. Well, the reveal isn’t actually a big surprise, it is a let down, but at least it makes more sense. In fact, it is the type of reveal that would have been better at the end of the first film, not the end of a sequel no one wanted.

Here is a positive. Yes, it was awkward that Caplan was suddenly in this film, but her character was the best and funniest with the most personality to boot. If they decide to punish our life more with a third film, it should be called Now You Three Me and star her with completely new cast besides her.

1 out of 4.

London Has Fallen

In 2013, our main Doppelganger films were Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. The former was mostly serious with some jokes, the latter, full on action comedy in the middle of summer.

And you know what? I liked both of them. They had their charms and were unique enough from each other that I didn’t mind their similarities. They both worked and did what they needed to do to make an entertaining product.

But the Movie Gods have spoken, and Olympus Has Fallen has a sequel now, London Has Fallen, meaning it must have been the superior film. After all, the best films always get sequels, right?

And that was with Olympus Has Fallen having a shitty president. I could write a whole review on just why his character is stupid, but no one wants me to rant about fiction. The real presidential situation is crazy enough for us to not need that in our movie lives.

Water
In order to take over London, you first must kill its rivers.

Two years before the events of this film (probably before Olympus Has Fallen? Or right after? Who knows), America did something stupid, as they tend to do. Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) was a weapons dealer in the middle east, and he sold big boomers to lots of bad guys. He was a high target and so we drone striked his ass. Of course we also did it at his daughter’s wedding, during a huge celebration with a bunch of bad guys, but who cares, we got him!

And now, a prime minister in London is dead. He died young in his mid-40’s, with a heart attack over night. So now world leaders from all over are heading to London for his funeral with not a lot of time to plan it out. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is thinking about quitting the secret service, because his wife (Radha Mitchell) is about to give birth and he wants to be there for his kid. The president is still Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart).

Guess what? Terrorists! They had killed the prime minister and set a huge trap throughout London to kill most of the world leaders. This is of course orchestrated over two years by Barkawi, who didn’t die, just all of his family. Joy. Leaders from France, Italy, Japan, Canada, and more all die, but they can’t knock America down. Now Banning has to lead Asher underground and around London, until the bad guys can all be shot and he can be extracted. Barkawi wants Asher, and he wants to execute him live on the internet for the whole world to see.

Returning characters are still played by Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett. Jackie Earle Haley is a dude in the war room, and we have MI-6 agents now to help and hurt, featuring Patrick Kennedy, Colin Salmon, and Charlotte Riley, who happens to be married to Tom Hardy!

Walk
I bet if Tom Hardy was here, they would have escaped right away without all the death.

It is clear that London Has Fallen isn’t as good as Olympus. The terrorist attack in the first film was plausible, given enough time, sure. But the terrorist attack in this film was make every police, EMS, service worker a bad guy in disguise (all of which totally end up being Middle Eastern, cheers), and blow the fuck out of every major landmark. Not all of the landmark, just parts, to show they mean business. In fact, all of the world leaders who die seem to die mostly by accident, not by planning.

All of the destruction and wanton death happens early on with the President narrowly escaping each time. And then it just turns into a simple man hunt for him. This is after they contacted the White House and said they would stop killing everyone if they had the president. They obviously didn’t turn him over, and guess what? The random killing stopped anyways. There weren’t later attacks, or more death, so the good news is America didn’t have really any more death on their hands. The bad news is the movie is full of scenes like that. They sound intimidating, seem like they will lead to somewhere and don’t do shit.

I mean, apparently they always wanted to capture the president for a live execution, despite blowing him up, shooting at him and such. The president also seemed to know he was wanted for a public execution, despite not knowing who is behind the attack and not receiving any intel.

The worst part about all of this is the drone strike that started the whole thing. One would imagine that this would bring some sort of discussion about drone strikes, killing civilians and responsibility of America overseas. That would make sense. It did cause this horrible event to happen in London as a response, and America gets away with it scott-free (spoilers?). But no. It ignores it. It doesn’t discuss the morality of any of this. Not only that. NOT. ONLY. THAT. But it ends the damn movie (again, spoilers), with another fucking drone strike to get the bad guy again. Literally. No lessons learned. No sign of change. Just a nice fuck you, it’s America time.

The only scene I really enjoyed was when Banning and MI-6 agents were storming the bad guys base. It was full of long shots and shooting and was well choreographed. Everything else was lack luster.

1 out of 4.

Ted 2

Seth MacFarlane is not my favorite person. And I didn’t even think his Oscars were that bad. I just think his movies have been pretty sub par as of late. In A Million Ways To Die In The West basically every joke fell flat for me.

And then of course there was Ted. Sure, there was some amusing original material in there. But as I watched it (in theaters), I couldn’t believe how date it had already felt. The humor was almost 100% focused on current pop culture trends. They had a few 80’s pop culture jokes thrown in to balance it out, but it was way too current. I knew most of the things I found amusing I wouldn’t bat an eye at in five or six years anymore.

Needless to say, I was pretty dang worried about Ted 2. Would it just be more of the same of Ted? Yeah probably. I don’t need 90 minutes of shitty pop culture in my life.

Brady Cock
But if it was entirely about stealing Tom Brady‘s semen, then we might have something here.

Ted 2 takes place some time after the original. The main difference is that John (Mark Wahlberg) is divorced, probably because Mila Kunis didn’t want to be in another of these movies. Now he is basically afraid of commitment to anyone. Ted (MacFarlane) is still married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), but their relationship is strained. They might even get a divorce. So they decide to do the time honored tradition of having a kid to save their marriage.

Ted has no penis, so sex wouldn’t work. They work on sperm donations, but that fails too. So they decide to adopt. But the problem is, Ted cannot do it because apparently he isn’t classified as a person and doesn’t have person rights. This changes everything for Ted. Now he loses his job, his marriage is now nulled and can’t legally do most things! He is just an object! Oh no!

So, in a nut shell, that is the point of this film. He wants to fight the ruling in court, so he can get his life back. That is why they have a lawyer (Amanda Seyfried) who is chill and likes to smoke pot, hooray! At the same time, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is helping Hasbro fight Ted in court. If it is ruled he is an object, they can take him back, find out what makes him magical, and make Ted’s for everyone around the world. Weeeee.

Also! Morgan Freeman, Sam J. Jones, Patrick Warburton, John Slattery, and John Carroll Lynch.

Hang out

The good news is that Ted 2 relied on less pop culture references to get by this time. Outside of quite a few recent Patriots references.

The bad is that the plot is kind of shit and not worth watching. Let me clarify, the plot idea isn’t a bad one. It could make a good court room comedy film. But they only vaguely focus on that. There are barely any scenes in the court room, really only two major ones at the beginning and end. The first court room scene only takes a handful of minutes, but the film would rather Ted and John just sit on a couch and tell jokes.

Ted 2 as a result just doesn’t have a lot to offer as a film. In recollection, I am having a hard time trying to remember any moment I found really funny. I was completely chuckleless. The writer only had a rough idea for the plot and maybe a couple jokes, but I assume the majority of these scenes were thought of independently of having a real place to put them. So in a way, Ted 2 was a lot like a Family Guy episode.

There isn’t a lot to say. Ted 2 just isn’t good. Not as bad as AMWTDITW, but not as good as its mediocre first film.

1 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Dolphin Tale 2

Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins.

I remember Dolphin Tale just like it was years ago. An inspirational movie, for anyone who is a dolphin and who has lost their tail and thinks they can’t go on swimming anymore. It is based on a true story and I think used the actual dolphin in question. They just cheesed it the hell up and the actual true story was far more interesting than the melo drama the movie created. Just how it goes some time.

But now we have a sequel to Dolphin Tale. It is called Dolphin Tale 2! Presumably the Dolphin now loses a fin and they replace that too, right? Wait, this one is also a true story? Is there some guy just scouring the internet, looking for dolphin rescue stories just so they can make a dolphin tale movie?

\Cast
I’m hoping for the eventual reboot as RoboDolphin.

The Clearwater Marine Hospital, in the last movie struggling to survive, is now struggling to fit in so many people. They have classes, volunteers, real staff, they have so much goin on. They still want to fix animals and return them to sea, but they have some permanent residents that people want to see, like Winter. Yay fake tails. Winter lives with Panama, because of some vague rule that a female dolphin needs another female dolphin to swim or play with.

Well, Panama dies. Super old. They only have one other dolphin, Mandy, but Mandy is perfectly fine and it is their duty to return her to real life. For some reason, they have thirty days to find a new female dolphin to play with Winter, or else Winter will leave. If Winter will leave, so will their fat profits, because a lot of crippled people come to see her for whatever reason. Thankfully they get another shitty dolphin, terribly named Hope, who is a baby and didn’t get to learn how to live her life in the wild. BUT CAN THEY BE FRIENDS.

Also the main kid, Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), now in high school, is debating as to whether or not he takes a super free Semester At Sea trip, as a high school student again, because he is sad about dolphins.

This movie also features, again, Ashley Judd, Cozi Zuehlsdorf, Harry Connick Jr., Juliana Harkavy, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman, and Bethany Hamilton. Yes that 1 armed surfer chick is playing herself.

Arms
I don’t care about her story, I just know her story gave us the shitty movie Soul Surfer.

The trailer for Dolphin Tale 2 featured an emergency vehicle showing up to the hospital with a dolphin, late at night, getting called Hope for some reason, and then a bunch of shots of people playing with dolphins, basically.

This scene takes place over an entire HOUR into the movie. Up to this point, we don’t get to the dolphin Hope or hear about her coming. It is all out of nowhere. IT TAKES AN HOUR OF SET UP TO GET TO THE MAIN PLOT OF THE MOVIE. Come on! So much damn bad filler up to that point. The worst of it being of course the angst of the kid throughout the film. Look. We all know he is going to take it. He would be stupid to not take it. It is completely bad drama filler for some reason, because obviously that part is based on no true story.

I think the only part of this movie that is the true story is that the CMH real life place got a new tiny dolphin named Hope. I don’t think they were going to lose Winter in any way, but they got a new dolphin in real life, so here is a new movie. That is what this movie has become and any future movies. They also had a Mandy dolphin that they released back and actually had a sick turtle.

Aka, normal life for a marine hospital. And now it is a pointless bullshitty movie.

The young people watched it too. They found it boring as shit. They got excited every once in awhile when dolphins were playing and that is about it. And because the ending featured a long drawn out cheering sequence, they were happy and cheering too because hey, something fun is finally happening. And then balloons. Either way, kids know this movie sucks for the most part too.

1 out of 4.

Lucy

Sigh.

Look. Accepting alternative realities for movies is easy. Accepting a fantasy movie is great, as long as it follows the rules it set out for itself in the movie. Accepting a movie on Earth is easy too, even if there are non-Earth things like superheroes on it.

But with Lucy? The trailer seemed to highlight, and thus I assume it is a big part of a movie, that it is based on a complete misconception. Humans do not only use 10% of their brain.

Having an incorrect fact in a movie isn’t an issue. It is just that it is based on such a well known misconception. It feels like they are ignoring that fact, telling us to go fuck ourselves, and make the movie anyways. The issue is that most likely, a movie like this could be made with out the misconception at all.

But they’d rather further dumb down America.

That is all the ranting I will do about that dumb ass plot hook, I swear, and all of this intro comes before seeing the movie.

Matrix
References to the Matrix are still fair game, however.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a mid-twenties student, studying over in Taiwan. She loves to party, but also loves to study. I think. Well, her boyfriend of one week Richard (Pilou Asbæk) is into some shady things. He delivers packages for large fees, no questions, just dangerous men. For whatever reason he is afraid to deliver this next package for $1,000, so he forces Lucy to do it instead. Well, shenanigans!

Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) is very interested in that package, which contains four bags of a blue, totally not Breaking Bad meth, drugs. And she is forced to become a drug mule for them along with three others, each carrying a bag in their stomach to take to their home cities where it will be removed and spread around to get people addicted. It’s new and it is ready to party.

Well, en route to the plane, the bag gets damaged and leaks into Lucy’s body. This has very strange effects, the extreme large amounts of the drug and it starts to unlock her brains capacity. With this unlocking comes even more powers and ability, including telepathy and time travel. But. But what if she gets 100%?

Morgan Freeman is a brain professor in Paris, Amr Waked a police captain, and Analeigh Tipton has a small role as Lucy’s roommate.

Gambit
X-Ray vision? Fuck that. She has X-Ray touch.

Fuck Luc Besson. Yeah. I said it. I am going to say that there is not enough hate for him as a director/writer, as he is putting out more useless crap than Michael Bay. He hasn’t directed all of these recent movies, but he was involved with The Family, 3 Days To Kill, Brick Mansions, Taken 2, and Lockout. What do they all have in common? Being terrible. That is literally only 2.5 years of movies. He is not The Fifth Element director anymore.

Unfortunately, the 10% myth wasn’t just a minor part of the movie. It was the entire driving force of Lucy trying to hit 100% brain capacity and the effects of it along the away. They even flashed percentages across the screen as it went along just in case you forgot, so you knew where she was at to. It was very very focused around that, and Freeman’s characters only purpose was to add fake credibility to it all.

Spliced throughout the movie are other scenes, of animals, places, and events, and they are just all completely awkward and detracting. They feel like filler for a movie that isn’t even 90 minutes long.

I will split the film into three parts. Pre Drugs, Yay Drugs, Very Many Drugs.

Pre Drugs is probably the best part of the film, with Scarlett playing a scared woman and freaking out. It is super high energy still and kind of awkward, but it feels like there is some acting.

Yay Drugs starts off cool, but I quickly become annoyed by it. She quickly ascends into some god like entity, and thus, all sorts of drama or fear are taken out of it. She also becomes an asshole. A lot of innocent people get killed or hurt or damaged in this movie as she ignores them going from one task to the next.

The Very Many Drugs section is just a mess. Zero tension, yet a long gun fight, where again, good people die all because Lucy doesn’t do anything. There is no threat though, because of what we saw she could do earlier and it feels completely pointless. During the Very Many Drugs phase, Lucy doesn’t do a whole lot and then the movie ends.

So there you go. A bad science Sci-Fi movie, probably because Luc Besson sucks. The film could have been a lot better if they embraced some of the elements and actually tried to be intellectual about it, instead of fake intellectual. Saying a few philosophy phrases don’t make a film smart. Smartness does.

1 out of 4.

Transcendence

Yay Sci-Fi movies. I hadn’t heard a lot about Transcendence, outside of seeing the trailer only once or twice. But it looked cool! Even better, it isn’t based on a book and doesn’t star Tom Cruise. I don’t hate him, he just is in a lot of Sci-Fi films lately, and I demand diversity.

Sick Depp
And all of these white people fill my diversity quota.

Transcendence takes place in the not so distant future. Let’s say, tomorrow or so. A.I. has gone a long way in the last day, and there are many companies trying to make a self-aware computer system. The most famous of these individuals is Will Caster (Johnny Depp), who is almost a celebrity, but not one who really wants it. He just wants a happy life with his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall).

But a terrorist group strikes. They don’t like this A.I. progression. They think humans need to watch out for that shit. That shit is weak, they say. So an attempt is made on Will’s life and it is basically successful. He has about four weeks left, decides to give up the A.I. research and live his life with his wife. But she says fuck that. No. She is going to put his consciousness into their A.I. system to save him. After all, brains are basically just a series of electric impulses right?!

So she gets their other smart friend, Max (Paul Bettany) to help make code and lots of data, and yay it works! Max is freaked out instantly, but not Evelyn. She has saved her husband. They quickly hook him up to the internet in order to provide more power, and then eventually he becomes a threat to the world. Yay!

A few other people in this movie, I guess. Cillian Murphy is a FBI detective, Morgan Freeman is another A.I. genius. Kate Mara and Falk Hentschel play A.I. terrorists, and Clifton Collins Jr. plays a handy man, more or less.

Bewilidered
Why does he look so bewildered? Because Morgan Freeman doesn’t understand technology, or his role in this film.

The only reason I am having a hard time writing this review, is because I am having a hard time figuring out where to begin with the list of things bad with this movie.

The idea behind it is not a bad one. It can be a great plot. The problems with the story come from how vague everything is. The trailer sets it up to be a very smart movie, but it ends up being a dumb movie about alleged smart things. Maybe afraid of people picking it apart, they went the extremely vague route for all parts of the science. Now, everyone can be pissed off at them for the same reason!

The flow of time is really weird in this movie. Apparently two years pass without any of the pissed off people doing anything about it. Really?

Acting wise, no one seems to care too much about this film, everyone collectively sailing it in. I guess Rebecca Hall is the only one with emotions in the movie, given her situation, but the robotic feeling from everyone’s a pain. I can’t remember, but Kate Mara might only have five lines in the entire movie.

The issues with the bad science means that the ending doesn’t make a lot of sense. They know how to fix it, but again, it’s hard to know why since everything is so vague. Speaking of vague. There is a point right at the end, where the computer says he only has enough energy for one of the two things. If I told you, it would be a spoiler. But if you heard it, you too would know that it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Fuck. TL;DR This movie is senseless.

1 out of 4.

The Lego Movie

When I first heard of The Lego Movie, sometime mid 2013, I will admit I thought it was stupid. I know Lego has been revamping itself pretty intensely for the last decade, being more than just a child’s toy. With so many themes, and now video games based on movies, it is no surprise they are making a movie based on a game.

When I first saw the trailer? I was immediately hooked. This became one of my most looking forward to movies in the first half of 2014. Shit, it was even done by the guys who did Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Clone High. Those guys know comedy and they also know their pop culture references. Combined with an idea that has stuck its fingers in most pop culture references over the last few decades, and you have the potential for a storm of success.

Go Team
See! One of these guys is excited about the storm of success!

In this story, our hero is one Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), who lives in the city and does the same thing each and every day. He follows the instructions on the box, lives his happy life, and builds things. There is absolutely nothing unique or special about him. That is, until he meets Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who is about to turn his reality upside down and change his life forever!

She introduces him to the Master Builders, other Lego people who can see from the world around them and build creations quickly and without instructions. Like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). He also learns that President/Lord Business (Will Ferrell) is going to unleash some power called “The KRAGLE” on the population in a few days, destroying everyone’s way of life forever!

From a series of accidental circumstances, Emmet is being labeled the “Special” and all of their hopes to saving the day are coming down to him. He will also have the help of other Master Builders like…Batman! (Will Arnett), Benny the 1980s space guy (Charlie Day), Metal Beard a strange huge pirate (Nick Offerman), and Unikitty (Alison Brie). Also, a Good Cop / Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) is working for Lord Business to capture the builders on the war front.

Shit, there is a ton of cameos too, which I won’t tag on the bottom, but might as well mention here. They also have Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as Green Lantern (because, 21 Jump Street), Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman, Shaq as Shaq, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels reprising their roles as Lando Calrissian and C3P0, and Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln again. His first time as Abe was of course, Clone High.

Batman!?
But you don’t care about them. You all just care about Batman. Don’t you?

Wow. Just wow.

Easily, the first thing that should be talked about is the animation style. They went full out wild with this, wanting to insure that everything always A) looked like Legos, and B) looked like how Legos moved. [Editor’s note: Some contention as to whether or not LEGO is supposed to be pluralized by an S, given it’s company name. They might prefer ‘LEGO Bricks’ if you do multiple ones. Well, I say fuck that, we call them Legos in America]. So yes, the movie could be considered a bit choppy to get all the movements right, but that gave it charm and personality and made me giddy the entire time. Watching waves or an explosion, but noticing they are all still lego pieces is incredibly exciting.

It was also pretty hilarious. I love pop culture as much as the next guy, but I do think their humor relied far too heavily on the fact that they were using major properties, such as Batman. Batman was in this movie way longer than I would have imagined (longer than any other already existing property). Although he was funny too, they were all specifically Batman jokes, and rarely just joke jokes. Most of the main team had their quirks, but none were as trademarked as Batman.

I also feel like parts of the ending were a bit…forced. Shit went real different at the end, kind of ruining the pace for me. All of the sudden, bam, we got a lesson to learn from this movie. I think it went far too long and took away from the film a bit.

I still really like this movie though, just the slowed down ending and over reliance on specific characters is what disappointed me. It was hilarious, creative, and shit, the animation itself is almost worthy of 4 out of 4. Honestly, I have a hard time believing there might be an overall better animated film the rest of the year. But it still had some faults for me. Even if Everything Was Awesome.

3 out of 4.

Last Vegas

If I learned anything about the advertising campaign of Last Vegas, it is that sometimes people don’t like seeing the same ad every fifteen minutes. Last Vegas was produced by CBS Films, so it has the benefit of being advertised on a channel that is watched by the millions during football games every Sunday.

Unfortunately for the movie, I know plenty of people who wrote it off solely on overexposure, a likelihood probably expressed around America.

Old Dudes
At least the suits are colorful.

Last Vegas takes us into the lives of four kids who grew up best friends, but into their adulthood, their lives began to veer in different paths.

But Billy (Michael Douglas) is getting married, finally! To a girl half his age! So he wants to invite his old pals to the wedding: Sam (Kevin Kline), who is currently living a sad life in Florida in a sexless relationship. Archie (Morgan Freeman), who is living with his son (Michael Ealy), while constantly on pills. And even Paddy (Robert De Niro), who hasn’t left his apartment since his wife died a year ago and also really really hates Billy now.

Why does he hate Billy? Well, that is a spoiler. But he gets tricked into showing up for the bachelor party / wedding.

Thanks to pension funds and a little luck, the four gentlemen end up having one of the wildest weekends imaginable, while also allowing time to air out their grievances and fix their standing in life. How awesome is that?

Mary Steenburgen plays Diana, a lounge singer who helps create conflict, Romany Malco, their butler-esque character, and Jerry Ferrara, a recurring jerk.

Drop that Liquor
Old dudes, doing young things. Hilarious!

I think I figured out a pattern in new comedies. First we had a group of guys in Vegas with The Hangover in 2009, then a group of girls in Vegas with Bridesmaids in 2011. Another two years later we were given old guys in Vegas, so I expect in 2015, we will get either old women in Vegas, or elementary school girls in Vegas. It depends on if this relationship is linear or a ramping sine wave, respectfully.

Overall, I guess this movie delivered exactly as the previews showed. A lot of old people jokes. Old people jokes are a subset of jokes, where everything is funnier, just because the characters involved happen to be old. So old people talking about drugs, going to clubs, flirting, being hungover. This movie has the bonus aspect of seeing Morgan Freeman do all of these things, one of the more revered older actors currently out there.

But after awhile, it becomes obvious that all of the jokes are basically the same, so it is hard to still find them funny across the entire run time. The movie also took its sweet time ending, with what felt like at least three endings thrown on.

Of our actors, Douglas was not at his best, which is a shame given his last role in Behind The Candelabra. De Niro was also hit and miss in this film. The best two were Kline and Freeman, arguably supporting actors in this movie.

Most of the plot lines for the characters went the obvious routes, so nothing felt surprising. Everything gets wrapped up by the end, the conflict presented isn’t too huge, and it is just a simple movie. It was odd to see E from Entourage, so thin. There were two cameos: LMFAO, an already outdated reference, and 50 Cent, who was a welcome surprise.

If you go into Last Vegas expecting a lot of cheap laughs and some touching moments, then you will overall enjoy it. Not a game changer by any means in the comedy genre, but an okay one all the same.

 

2 out of 4.

Now You See Me

The first time I saw the trailer for Now You See Me, I got all sorts of excited. A movie with magic and illusions? Heck yeah! It has been seven years since we really had movies on the subject, when we were blessed with The Prestige and The Illusionist, both of which were quite enjoyable.

Oh. I meant good movies about magicians. Sorry. I tend to forget about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone already (and that was in March!).

Think
Look at this gaggle of fucks right here. Basically every star in this movie! Wait…

To start the film, we are introduced to four different street magicians. Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), the fast talking kind of a dick magician, McKinney (Woody Harrelson), the formerly big mentalist, Henley (Isla Fisher), the former assistant turned pro, and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), the thieving tricky magician. They are all invited to a secret gathering, where they find blue prints to pull off great magical feats. A year later, they are calling themselves The Four Horsemen and headlining in Las Vegas and around the world!

Their new benefactor is Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), a big big millionaire, and they just used a magic trick to rob a bank in Paris. Huh? What?

Yep. But the FBI and lead detective Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) are in a pickle. Can they arrest them for a magic trick, with no real evidence? Well, no evidence unless they assume magic is real. The answer is no. Even with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), an ex-magician who has a web-series explaining and spoiling other magician’s secrets, they don’t have enough to actually put them away.

Rhodes and his new partner from Interpol (Melanie Laurent) have to follow the four horsemen across America, as their tricks get more and more daring, and steal from more and more powerful sources. But are they doing these tricks alone, or is there a Fifth Horsemen secretly pulling the strings? Also featuring Michael Kelly as an FBI agent. I feel bad for not including him.

In a previous version of this review, I used famous character names instead of actor names for the plot description (like Mark Zuckerberg, or The Hulk) but Dave Franco kind of ruined that. No one really knows who he is.

Befuddled
Why are you so befuddled Ruffalo? Surprised I decided to leave Eisenberg out of the pictures?
The more I think about the ending to Now You See Me, the more I get angry at inconsistencies. That is what I get for thinking about a movie afterwards I guess. But alas, my burden to carry as a reviewer.

In a movie like this, there will be red herrings, because they know you are trying to guess the ending the entire time. After all, clearly the fifth horseman will be someone in the movie, not some random stranger popping up at the end! But when the reveal happens it just doesn’t seem to make much since the harder you look at the film.

The movie spends a decent amount of time focusing on explaining the tricks, thanks to Freeman’s character, but at the same time, there are things done only toby the power of CGI that kind of take the mysticism out of it. We are left wondering if magic is actually real in this movie, or if it is all explainable like the normal real world. Honestly, by the end, I am still not sure.

At the same time, it still was a bit entertaining. I think Woody Harrelson was my favorite player in the movie, by far. Which is great, because I finally saw Rampart recently and didn’t have a good time doing it. As the mentalist, he was pretty funny. Ruffalo was okay as the main cop character, but definitely not the type of role he is used to. After all, aside from The Avengers and this film, every role he has had has basically been in an indie movie.

Now You See Me did a good job of playing with our mind, giving every possible misdirection in the book. But it in no way will stand up to the previous mentioned magic films in a year or two. However, it is still at least a little bit cool.

2 out of 4

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