Justice League Review

This weekend our latest superhero movie, Justice League, came out, and I’ve been hesitant to post a blog review. I did a video review right after I saw it, which I would love for you to check out.

Basically I have really mixed feelings about Justice League, which makes it a hard film to write a coherent review about. Let me just give you a few thoughts:

First of all, I have not enjoyed Man of Steel, Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad. I loved Wonder Woman but that had the benefit of director Patty Jenkins over the more problematic Zack Snyder. So needless to say I went into Justice League with pretty low expectations, which always makes me a little more forgiving of its many flaws.

The positives to Justice League is I enjoyed the heroes and I’m a hero girl when it comes to comic book movies. The Flash was fun. Wonder Woman was of course great. Batman was fine and Aquaman was better than you’d expect. I am also so happy to be able to say they finally got Superman right! This is a Superman who is joyous and positive not mopey and ashamed of who he is. This is a Superman that fights for truth, justice and the American way!!! I have been waiting for that ever since Man of Steel made me depressed for days. I had a huge smile on my face for particularly the last 30 minutes of the movie, which gave Superman the time to shine I’ve been hoping for.

I also thought the Joss Whedon influenced dialogue was fun and I laughed a fair amount. One scene in particular between Wonder Woman and Aquaman was especially funny. The Flash had a lot of funny lines and the entire team had a nice chemistry together.

Unfortunately that’s where my praise has to end. A lot of Justice League is a hot mess. The plot is tough to defend with a villain that is poorly developed and  a structure that is incoherent and sloppy at best. It wasn’t as badly put together as Suicide Squad but it was close.

Also the action was an orange and gray mess. It looked like a video game especially any fighting with the villain. If you like Zack Snyder’s aesthetic than you will enjoy it but I’ve never been a fan and this was really rough to look at. A lot of people complained about the action at the end of Wonder Woman. This is much uglier than that but throughout the movie. The only movie I can think of that looked worse this year as far as action was King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The CGI was also poorly executed and once again looked like a cheap video game. It was also a bummer to see his leering camera over Wonder Woman and the skimpy outfits the girls wore in Themiscyra.

Much was made about Danny Elfman using the original Superman and Batman scores for Justice League but nothing really stood out to me music-wise.

But all this aside I can’t deny that when I saw Superman fighting for truth and justice it made me really happy. I’m just so torn on this one.

I guess since it did make me smile I will give it a smile worthy but just barely.

Thor Ragnarok Review

Today I got to see the latest Marvel film, Thor Ragnarok. This year Marvel has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I was pretty disappointed in Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 and how it broke up the family/team dynamic of the original film. I liked Spider-man Homecoming for its teen vibe and good script, but I don’t know that I LOVED it as much as others. And so now we get to Thor Ragnarok and fortunately it was great! I’d say it is the best MCU film since Civil War.

The main asset to Thor Ragnarok is the witty script and incredibly likable actors. I LOVE Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki respectively. I could watch them riff against each other all day. (Plus they are both so gorgeous I could really watch them all day! I even dug Thor and his short hair. LOL). Every scene with the two of them I couldn’t get enough of. I have liked both of the Thor movies more than most and my favorite part has always been Thor and Loki and that is continued here. They are funny and feel like real rivals. Anyone who has had a sibling rivalry will get a kick out of them.

And then the rest of the characters are great. I LOVED Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. She was a tough girl that was a little boozy, and they only flirted with romance between her and Thor. There was no damsel in distress here!

Idris Elba is good as Heimdall. Cate Blanchett is a lot of fun as Hela, the God of Death (I don’t mind big bad old-school villains TBH).

Hulk was pretty amazing. We got a lot of time with the Hulk being Hulk and not Bruce Banner. Typically we have only seen Hulk come out before a battle in the MCU so to see him lounging about in hot tubs and the like was new and refreshing (and hilarious).

In the end, this movie will come down to if you think it is funny and I did. I laughed throughout from Taika Waititi’s great script and the comic timing of the actors. It worked for me. The MCU references were minimal and mostly at the start. The pacing works. I was never bored and unlike Guardians vol 2 I never grew irritated with the characters.

My only criticisms of the Thor Ragnarok is the CGI looked pretty bad throughout. There was particularly a giant wolf that reminded me of Twilight, which is not a good thing. It looked awful. Even with all their flaws, the Thor movies have always looked amazing.

Other than that, I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Marvel certainly knows how to make movies that make me smile!

Batman vs Two-Face Review

Last year Batman appeared in 4 films, only 1 of which I liked. It was a throwback to the old 1966 Batman TV show called Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. I liked it because it had a sense of joy about it. I felt happy watching it and wasn’t put off like I was the other 3 films. This year so far I’ve seen 2 versions of Batman I really liked- Lego Batman and Justice League Dark. Both were well made and engrossing stories although different in tone. So now, before Justice League comes out, we have a sequel to last year’s best Batman film entitled Batman vs Two Face, and just like the last I enjoyed it very much. In fact, in many ways I think it is an improvement upon its predecessor, which is about all you can ask for in a sequel.

This version of Batman is of course campy and full of big pows and bams when they hit each other. Maybe it is nostalgia talking but I like that style. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

Adam West returns as Batman in his last role, which is neat to hear. It was worth doing this movie just so he could do that one more time! We also get to hear Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Some people say that these characters sound old like their voice actors, but I don’t see it that way. They honestly sound like they have always sound to me. I think people have the image of them as old, so that makes the voice sound old but it doesn’t impact me.

But all that said, the real standout is William Shatner voicing Two-Face/Harvey Dent. He is fantastic doing both parts. It’s a shame this wasn’t discovered now because he could have been doing this part for years like Mark Hamill has done with the Joker. He was that good.

The script in Batman vs Two-Face is an improvement upon the original film. It is less episodic and a more of a compelling narrative. They sacrifice some of the jokes, but I was ok with that. They also limit the cameos, which were overflowing in the last film. Here it was really fun to see King Tutt and The Bookworm back with story arcs!

This is not a parody film like Lego Batman or the previous film. This is a Batman movie with a few jokes thrown in. They do a great job showing the two sides of Harvey Dent/Two-Face and the struggle that Batman has over his loyalty to Dent. Is he going to stay true to his friend or will he protect the city from Two-Face? It plays out in a compelling way.

If you like Batman and are open to different interpretations than I think you will really enjoy this film. The animation is good, it clips along nicely, it’s funny and is a great way to say goodbye to Adam West. I recommend it highly.

Content-wise it is fine for kids. There is a little bit of innuendo from Catwoman but nothing too bad.

Spider-Man Homecoming Review

Yesterday I had the chance to see the latest big budget superhero movie- Spider-Man Homecoming. This film is important as it is the 3rd reboot for the character in recent years and the first time Sony and Marvel are working together for a film. Spider-Man is now part of the MCU as many fans dreamed and over-all he makes a promising addition to that world. While Spider-Man Homecoming doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it is a solid, entertaining superhero movie aimed at teenagers. Let’s talk about the positives. First of all, the casting is uniformly strong. We all got a taste of Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War but here we get introduced to him as Peter Parker and he’s great. Unlike previous versions, Peter feels like a kid here. He’s learning in every aspect of life- from asking the pretty girl out to figuring out where his role in the world is. He feels real and human, which is no easy task for a character climbing walls and fighting bad guys.

The script is really well done and if I was a teenager I would love this movie to pieces. I particularly liked the dynamic between Peter and his friend Ned played by Jacob Batalon. They felt like actual friends and had terrific chemistry together. I liked how they were constantly amazed at the tech gadgets designed by Tony Stark and Vulture. It felt genuine to see them get a gun or the Spidey-suit and say ‘cool’ with excitement like a real teen boy would probably do. Both of the female characters were misses to me, but I guess they did the job they were asked to do well enough. It’s not the fault of the actresses their parts were under-written. Oh well.

I also loved Tony Stark in Spider-Man Homecoming. I know some were worried this would be the next Iron Man movie but that is not the case. He is used just enough, and I was happy to see a return to the old Tony I know and love from Iron Man 1, 2, and the Avengers. The last 3 films (Iron Man 3, Avengers Age of Ultron and Civil War) he’s been so brooding and angry. While I don’t know if his behavior makes sense given what happened in Civil War, I don’t care. I was happy to have Tony Stark back in my life!

Unfortunately there were some negatives for me in Spider-Man Homecoming. First, I had some issue with the action sequences. There are 2 big set pieces that are fun but they didn’t feel like Spider-Man action. They felt very static to me and more like an Iron Man set piece than Spider-Man. There is very little of him swinging through the city like I want to see. I get what they were going for but if I was a teen and could swing through the city I would probably take full advantage of that! There are a lot of scenes of Peter crashing into pools and backyards and that was fine but I missed the awe of real Spider-Man scenes. Also, some action uses too much shaky cam and was a little hard to tell what was happening.

There are also characters that could use more development. Donald Glover’s role turns out to basically be a cameo. The Shocker support team for Vulture were pretty bland and Zendaya was underused as Peter’s sullen friend (and a reveal from her was meh). Also, Tony Revolori as Flash was very annoying and didn’t work for me at all.

Michael Keaton has gotten a ton of positive reviews for his role as the Vulture, and he is solid as always but I can’t help but feel it is a bit over-praised. To me he seemed like the classic standard Marvel villain. They love having the ‘man in a suit’ who gives into greed and becomes the antithesis of our hero. This is the case here except a blue-collar variety. Vulture is another business man who is wronged by Tony and the Avengers and seeks revenge. This is nothing new or that compelling. Also, there is a ‘reveal’ (this is Marvel we are talking about) that I called after the last trailer. I literally wrote down ‘Vulture will be …..’ and sure enough he was. Evidently others find this a shocking moment but I did not.

Don’t get me wrong. Vulture is by no means a bad villain and Keaton gives a good performance. The MCU has had far worse but people putting him up with Loki are nuts. He is more like Yellow Jacket in Ant-Man if you ask me.

There are also some Sony trademarks that were noticeable like the rampant product placement. For example, even though Peter is only 15 they just had to find a way to have an Audi car chase scene. Oh well…

One of my friends on twitter described Spider-Man Homecoming as a ‘great slumber party movie’ and I think that is true. I can picture high school students enjoying this and relating to it quite strongly, and that’s great! All demographics should have their superhero movies and now teens have one for them. It didn’t have near the emotional resonance of Wonder Woman but I certainly liked it much better than Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. It could have been a little bit better but I was entertained and that’s what I want out of a superhero movie. Nice job working together Sony and Marvel and I look forward to more team-ups in future Spidey films!

Everyone will want to know where I fit this in my Spider-Man movie rankings. I’d say it’s 2nd or 3rd place but I need more time for it to sink in. Where would it rank for you?

As far as content it’s pretty safe. There are penis jokes and violence but nothing out of line of a standard MCU movie. Little kids might get a little bored with the high school plot but it won’t be offensive or scary for them.

Overall Grade- B

Wonder Woman Review

It’s always hard to write about movies I love. There’s a feeling that my opinion won’t be taken seriously or will be regarded as hyperbole. And for a movie I really love it can feel like throwing pearls before swine. Obviously that isn’t the case as you, my readers, are amazing and know me well enough that I do not rubber stamp movies or give any franchise a pass. When I say I love a movie it is because it is deserved.

All that said- I LOVE Wonder Woman. And it’s not just because it’s the best DCEU film. And it’s not because it is the first decent female led superhero movie (although I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a little meaningful to me). It’s because it spoke to me on an emotional level and entertained me in every way I can think of.

You could make the case that Wonder Woman follows a traditional origin story formula and I would agree with you but much like Moana it executes that formula so well. In both films, I deeply care about the characters and their journey.However, as much as I love Moana, Wonder Woman is even better. I just loved it so much.

The story is pretty simple and comes right from the comic books. Wonder Woman is Diana who is raised on the island of Themyscira among the all-female Amazons. She is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and was created out of clay by her mother and Zeus. One day a soldier named Steve Trevor lands on their beach and Diana decides to become involved in World War 1 and try to save the people. Updating the conflict from World War 2 to World War 1 was very smart as the senselessness of World War 1 is far more obvious. Plus, you have the horrors of nerve gas and trench warfare in World War 1 to put as a backdrop.

I won’t tell you any more so you can experience it yourself but the key to this film working is Diana and Steve. Gal Gadot is effervescent, innocent and wonderful as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine is perfect as Steve. The two have incredible chemistry, and I really cared about them and their stories. This is not a film that empowers women at the expense of men. They are both needed and valued and their love is what is powerful. All love is powerful.

The journey Wonder Woman goes on puts it above most other superhero movies I’ve seen. She learns about not only the cost of war but the ease at which humans excuse that cost as nothing. I cried a lot both times when watching the film because I found her realization of human evil to be incredibly moving.

A lot of people criticize some superhero movies for having a lack of stakes. Not the case here. No spoilers but there is a price to pay for fighting evil and here it couldn’t be more devastating. And the resolution is far from tidy but more of a momentary breath and pause before we know mankind will succumb again to the worst in their nature.

You see the true villain in Wonder Woman is war itself and the corruptible nature of mankind that so often embraces it. Some have said Wonder Woman feels like a Marvel movie instead of a DC movie. Never mind the many DC movies that were far sillier than this (cough Green Lantern cough) but I think they are missing the point. Previous DCEU films like Batman v Superman are built on a traditional masculine energy and style of filmmaking. With Wonder Woman we get something entirely different. There is more of a traditional feminine energy to it. It is about emotions and relationships and that is why it is so moving. Even when it gets bombastic it does so because of despair and love.

That’s not to say Wonder Woman isn’t fun. It does have comedic moments to lighten the mood and those work as well. There’s also great action that will satisfy the action gurus of your group but again what was special to me is the emotional journey of a woman facing the horrors of war.

I really only have 2 tiny nitpicks with Wonder Woman. The accents on Themyscira are a little cheesy. I understand why they did it to match Gadot’s Israeli accent but it doesn’t quite work. They also use a slow motion effect in the action scenes a little bit too much. There is a villain reveal that could have been handled better but since the true villain was war itself I did not care. Aside from that, I thought Wonder Woman was spectacular.

I won’t give a ranking just yet but it is definitely one of my favorite superhero movies I’ve ever seen. Congrats to Patty Jenkins and everyone involved for finally giving me a blockbuster I actually cared about!  Thank you!

And thank you for giving little girls the superhero they should have had a long time ago

Overall Grade- A

For parents there is some war violence that might be concerning and some nudity/sensuality.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 Review (Spoiler Free)

Before diving into my review of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 let me give you some context into my feelings on the first film. I LOVED it! For me it was a new Star Wars film before we got Star Wars back. It wasn’t a typical Marvel movie but it was a space opera and I loved seeing our team of misfits form and search for their orb/infinity stone. I loved the humor, action, charismatic actors and bright color palate. Just a great movie. 9/10 or A grade from me.

So let’s talk about this sequel. Naturally loving the first film I was very excited for the follow up but I still tried to enjoy it as its own film and not compare it too much. In the end, I feel Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 is at best a mixed bag. It’s not awful but I had major problems with it.

At the outset of the movie  our team is commissioned by a leader Ayesha to guard a series of batteries. This leads to a great opening that heavily features the world’s favorite adorable creation- Baby Groot! Of course, we have seen Baby Groot all over the marketing for the movie and he did not disappoint. Soooo adorable!

This scene also features everything you like about the first film. It has witty banter from the entire team, fun action as they fight a monster and a catchy song. I thought ‘Oh boy! This is going to be awesome!”

Unfortunately just a few scenes later they make a massive mistake that had a large impact on my enjoyment of the film: They divide up the team!!! Peter meets his father and half the crew go with him while half stay behind and end up with Yondu and his crew.

This was such a terrible choice for a number of reasons:

  1. Hurts the humor- When you have a large group of characters the humor can be a mixture of all their types of comedy. So you will get one Groot joke mixed in with Drax, Peter, Rocket etc. When you have just Rocket and Groot then their type of jokes become repetitive and tired very quickly.
  2. Hurts the emotion- It’s the same with emotion. We are with a character and they have an emotional moment. Then they leave that character for a long stretch hurting their story and emotional arc.
  3. Hurts the team- Characters aren’t able to feed off each other and create that winning chemistry I loved so much in the first film. Sometime this can help you get to know characters better like in Star Trek Beyond but that was not the case here.
  4. Hurts the action- Because they are all split up the action is pretty sparse. For instance, Drax is sitting talking almost the entire movie. He’s Drax the Destroyer for goodness sake, and he doesn’t destroy anything.

I guess all of this would be fine if the story was compelling but it is not. They try to set up several different family dynamics. There is Peter and his father, Peter and Gamora, Gamora and Nebula, Groot and Rocket and Yandu and Peter. While I appreciated the message of family, the film became too cluttered with relationships that they weren’t as developed as they could have been.

The villain is another surprise villain. About the 10,000th one I’ve seen in recent years and I’m tired of it. It was so obvious and the plan for world domination makes no sense unless he or she wants to be completely alone in the whole galaxy. Even if he or she did, it still strains credulity to believe this insane plan (and the way it is explained is hard to follow or feel invested in).

I was also disappointed in the Nebula/Gamora storyline. I liked Nebula in the first film when most people didn’t. I thought she had a wounded quality to her that I wish had been more developed. Well, unfortunately she is seen more here but Karen Gillan overcooks it in the villainy department. Also she flips around from good girl to bad in ways that didn’t work for me or feel authentic.

So, from all that it seems like I had a miserable experience at this movie. No. I didn’t but I’d be lying if I didn’t share those major problems I had. However, there are some things I liked.

First, like I said, I liked Baby Groot and a lot of the comedy did work. It would have worked better if they hadn’t divided the group but a lot still made me laugh. Drax gets some funny lines with a new girl named Mantis. Rocket has a lot of humor including a hilarious sequence with Baby Groot getting him things for a jailbreak.

Second, Michael Rooker is great as Yondu. I didn’t think Yondu would be the most fleshed out and interesting character in the film but he was. We learn about his association with a band of ruffians called The Ravagers. He has upset them and we get to find out why through the course of the movie. We also learn about why he took Peter and his connection to Peter’s father. Yondu also has the best action scene in the movie with an arrow thing he uses to take out a fleet of men (Sorry I don’t know what the arrow thing is called).

Third, even if it could have been more focused, I still loved the overall message about family. I think Vin Diesel might have carried this over from the Fast and the Furious movies because they are all about family. I particularly appreciated the focus on alternative families- that families are not always about blood but so much more.

Fourth, it is a beautiful looking movie. James Gunn has done it again with amazing cinematography and special effects. The planet Peter’s father lives on was beautiful and lush. I loved all the bright colors and dazzling world building. The special effects on Rocket and Baby Groot are flawless. You forget they aren’t actual talking raccoons and walking baby trees.

There also is a joyous feeling to the picture which makes it pleasing to watch. While some of the jokes grow tired it never made me angry or annoyed like other fantasy films.  I mostly wasn’t bored although there were a few moments that dragged.

The soundtrack was a bit of a mixed bag. There are some great songs but a few of them felt very on-the-nose Also, I didn’t like that characters mentioned the songs so much. In the original they are this awesome background gift to enjoy (aside from Peter listening to them they don’t work into the story and he doesn’t repeat lyrics or talk about the individual songs). Here there is even one song where the lyrics are repeated verbatim and the life experience fits perfectly into the situation at hand. It makes the song choice feel uncreative and obvious when they were so great in the original. Still, there are some good songs. Cat Stevens and Electric Light Orchestra are used particularly well.

In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 is a mixed bag leaning towards the negative. I have really struggled with what grade to give it and whether to make it smile or frown worthy. Other films I have given smiles to like Ghost in the Shell feel less worthy than this film but this is way more of a disappointment and downgrade from the original film. It’s really tough…

I’m torn but I think my disappointment is going to rule the day:

Overall Grade- C (It is without a doubt in my bottom 5 Marvel movies. No question)

Also  this is pretty raunchy for a Marvel movie. It definitely earns its PG-13.

You can all hate me now…

Check out my podcast with my friend Trevor from How to Love Comics where we break it all down

 

Where Have the Kids Movies Gone?

I have a bit of a bone to pick with movies today! That’s right I’m just going to say it-

WHERE HAVE THE MOVIES FOR KIDS GONE?

I’m not talking about movies you can take kids too. I’m talking about movies that are designed with kids in mind, specific for their intellect and to inspire their creativity. These are such a rarity that most families have consented to taking their kids to more mature films or not seeing movies at all.

The most obvious case of this problem is in superhero movies. Gone are the days when a child could play superman, batman or spider-man and then live those stories at the movies. These days Superman is murdered, Batman is a killer who sleeps with Batgirl and we will see what Spider-man is but it won’t be PG. I can tell you that much. I get that the new thing is R rated superhero movies and that’s fine. But I wish the other end of the spectrum was also having time and thought put into superhero movies for them. The latest Ghostbusters movie tried to do that a little bit but it was ran out of town on a rail.

What really made me think about this is the recent Power Rangers Movie. I enjoyed it and gave it a positive review but if ever there is a franchise which should be for kids you’d think it would be Power Rangers. However, the new movie earns its PG-13 rating with crude humor, violence, adult themes and a skimpy bikini. Why was this necessary? I get we need to update film to a modern audience but why does always mean excluding children?

The Transformers movies are another example of a franchise which should appeal to kids but fails spectacularly in doing so. It’s about freakin toys and yet it is loaded with gratuitous shots of women and mind numbing visual destruction.

In animation we see this trend all the time. In a desperate attempt to entertain parents studios often throw in adults only jokes or content and I hate that so much. For example, in The Minions movie we get an extended sequence with a Minion wearing a thong and having a threesome of sorts with fire hydrants in a spa. Why is that necessary?

And I’m not saying movies for children can’t be dark. My cousin was just telling me that her 3 year old daughter loves Song of the Sea– a movie about a boy mourning his dead Mother. She loves it! I’ve known many kids that love deep movies like Bambi, Wall-e or Dumbo much more than their adult parents. It’s all about balance and creating compelling characters/worlds. I feel the recent Beauty and the Beast sucked a lot of the joy out of the film by having the household objects be responsible for the curse and them dying and all. It’s hard to enjoy Be Our Guest and songs like that as much when this gloom is hanging over the proceedings. I need the humor and happy scenes to balance out the darkness

The only family film from a major studio to my knowledge getting a G rating this year is Disneynature’s Born in China. Everything else is PG or PG-13. Granted the MPAA has made it extremely difficult to get a G rating because of what they call “mild thematic elements” but still so few even come close. It’s very frustrating.  The Peanuts Movie is a lone example I can think of recently that got the G rating.

It’s not even about ratings but the quest for the family film hurts movies because no movie can be everything to every audience. Some movies should be made for children. Why is that such a foreign concept?

Dreamwork’s Home is another example of a movie that awkwardly smashes together themes for adults and children creating a very unpleasant experience. If they had just focused on making a cute alien movie for kids it would have been SO much better. The Angry Birds Movie would also have been much better if they had abandoned the crass adult humor and just stuck with a cute movie for kids.

I’m not even a parent but I would way rather watch something like Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh that is carefully made for children than most movies which try to please the entire family.

Will nobody think of the children? Sigh…

Power Rangers Movie Review

Last year seemed to be the year of going to super hero movies with high expectations and leaving feeling frustrated. Well, today I had the opposite experience. I went into the new Power Rangers movie with low expectations (secret to happiness in life!) and walked out having had a pretty good time. It’s not a perfect movie by any means but on the whole I was entertained by it.

I should state going into this review I have never watched an episode of the Power Rangers shows. My younger siblings got into it but it was well past my time of enjoying them. So I have no nostalgia for or bias against the film and can only judge what I see on screen (something I try to do anyway). I did try and watch the 1995 Power Rangers Movie last week and fell asleep because it was so boring. I don’t know what hard-core fans will think of this film.  They will either be super hard on it or really love it, but I can only speak for myself.

First off, the casting takes Power Rangers a long way. The 5 fairly unknown leads all do a good job and have a nice chemistry together. I particularly liked RJ Cyler who you might know from Me Earl and the Dying Girl. He plays Billy who becomes the blue ranger and is “on the spectrum” of autism and he makes this work. I think a lot of kids on the spectrum will get a kick out of seeing someone like him as a superhero. Also, Becky G as Trini, the yellow ranger, is good and is a lesbian without making a bit hullabaloo about it.

Also is it just me or does Dacre Montgomery, the red ranger, look exactly like Zac Efron? He was fine, and I liked Naomi Scott and Ludi Lin as the remaining pink and black rangers. They were all good.

The first half of the movie plays like Chronicle, and I think that’s when the movie is at its strongest. The second half starts to have more problems as we start to meet our villain and have more of the conflict but it never turned me off too much.

Elizabeth Banks plays Rita Repulsa and she’s pretty over-the-top and surprisingly violent for a children’s film (it earns its PG-13). She wasn’t the worst villain I’ve ever seen but she kind of reminded me a little bit of Enchantress from Suicide Squad which is never a good thing.

Like Enchantress, she creates a Gods of Egypt-like sphincter who stomps around and destroys stuff. It was pretty bland, but I think kids will have fun with this type of action. I didn’t like that there is very little hand to hand combat. It’s mostly in transformer-like machines and bots. It’s hard to feel tension when CGI creatures are fighting each other.

You also don’t see them morph into the rangers until well into the movie, so that may be a disappointment to some fans. I liked them much better as humans so it didn’t bother me.

Bryan Cranston appears as their mentor Zordon and has a lot of fun with the role and I enjoyed Bill Hader as a robot named Alpha 5.

There is also the most blatant product placement I’ve ever seen. It’s not just in background shots or billboards. No, Krispy Kreme Donuts feature heavily into the actual plot of the movie!

So, there are some negatives. It’s not a masterpiece but I walked away having a pretty good time. It has an engaging and diverse cast. It doesn’t overstay its welcome like the Transformers movies and it keeps the fan service from being distracting. If kids can handle the violence I think they will like it and it should start up a nice little franchise for Lionsgate.

Overall Grade- B-

Lego Batman Movie Review

lego-batman-logoBack in 2014 there was a surprise little movie that took the world by storm called The Lego Movie. Going into it I thought it would be a pun-filled toy movie but it actually was a visually gorgeous, funny, heartfelt treatise on the way children play and think. The Lego Movie showed the randomness of a child’s brain and it had an emotional story between a father and a son that nobody was expecting. It was also so beautiful the way everything flowed like a world of legos really would. In my opinion, The Lego Movie is one of the best animated films of the last 5 years.

So, it was with great anticipation that I went to see the spin-off film The Lego Batman Movie today. The trailers have been hilarious and as I am not the biggest Batman fan I was looking forward to seeing everyone else’s sacred franchise taken down a few pegs. And the result?  While I do not think it is as good as The Lego Movie, it is still an entertaining spoof comedy movie that I think any animation or comic book movie fan will enjoy.

lego-batman5The best thing about Lego Batman Movie is the pacing. The jokes start literally before the WB logo and they never stop. This version of Batman is dry, sarcastic and lonely. Most of the movie is various characters like Robin, Barbara Gordon and Alfred trying to get through to him and make him lower his pride to admit he needs help. Robin voiced by Michael Cera is Bruce Wayne’s ward Dick Grayson and is energetic and clingy. Of course, this rubs Batman the wrong way!

lego-batman4But the main thrust of the film is from Zach Galifianakis’ Joker who is upset with Batman because he won’t admit they are arch-rivals and need each other. You get some especially good jokes about Batman v Superman and other Batman versions within the interactions with Joker.

legobatman2The jokes come quick in Lego Batman Movie and Will Arnett is amazing in the role but they also pack in quite a bit of story into the 104 minute run time. There’s a lot of action and literally every Warner Bros character I could think of.

The animation was also bright and colorful and a lot of fun to watch. The only problem is it lacked the flow of legos that we had in the Lego Movie. When Emmet in Lego Movie would dive into water the waves looked like legos. You don’t really get that here. I guess that’s fine because it is a comic book world where Lego Movie was more of a fantasy world, but I was more dazzled by Lego Movie’s animation.

lego-batman3Also, there’s something about The Lego Movie that felt more memorable. Maybe it’s partly me not being that big of a Batman fan. It felt enjoyable but not something that will stick with me for years to come like Lego Movie did. It’s more of a solid entertaining animated comedy rather than a game changer.

But those are a small criticisms to a very good film. Your entire family will like it and it was certainly nice to see something self-aware and humorous from the world of comic book films and DC.

If you see it let me know what you think. How does it compare with Lego Movie to you?

Overall Grade- B+