Baby Driver- Movie Review

Baby Driver. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Baby Driver follows Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, a young getaway driver, who always listens to music to drown out the constant ringing in his ear from a childhood car accident. He is forced to do a job for crime mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), alongside criminals Buddy (Jon Hamm),  Buddy’s wife Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). Meanwhile, he has plans to run off with a waitress named Debora (Lily James) that he just met.

(Left to right): Baby (Ansel Elgort), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Darling (Eiza González) and Buddy (Jon Hamm). Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

How is it? 9.6/10                                                                                                                     Baby Driver is a phenomenal, often hilarious, action-packed movie that utilizes music in all the best ways to provide for one of the best films of the year. Just a DISCLAIMER: Baby Driver is Rated R for violence and language.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       First off, the use of music here is wonderful. Music is integral to Baby Driver, as Baby is always listening to music, so every single action or movement is carefully choreographed to the songs in the soundtrack. The entire movie is seen through this lens of Baby listening to music, which in my opinion, is really cool. By the way, the soundtrack for this movie is just great! It has lots of really good 70s and 80s songs, which are used to awesome effect in the film.

The titular character, Baby, listening to music. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

Baby Driver is directed by Edgar Wright. I’m a huge fan of all his previous work-  they are all extremely well-directed, kinetic, hilarious movies. His editing style and flair work super well in those movies and they show through here. The editing here is superb, especially during the many car chase scenes. The cinematography is very fluid and benefits the already fantastic chase sequences. This movie is so stylish. I can’t emphasize just how cool it all is: whether it’s the sharp editing or colorful characters, the film has tons of style.

Speaking of which, the characters in this and the performances behind them are great. Ansel Elgort is does really well as Baby, who is well-developed, but barely speaks. Ansel does a great job still conveying emotion, even though Baby rarely talks. Jamie Foxx has a ton of fun with his role and is delightfully crazy as Bats. Kevin Spacey has some really funny lines and gives an excellent performance, as well as Jon Hamm. The romance here works nicely. Lily James and Ansel Elgort have endless chemistry and a believable, sweet romance.

Ansel Elgort’s Baby and his crew. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The action in Baby Driver is just spectacular. All the car chases and action set pieces are done with very little CGI, which is really impressive. These scenes are nothing short of thrilling and are some truly great car chases.

Although this film isn’t as much of a comedy as Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy or Scott Pilgrim vs the World (would highly recommend both!), it’s still a very funny movie. There are some great one-liners all around and many hilarious moments. The script is impeccable as well, boasting both lots of funny parts and emotional moments. Additionally, the emotion in this movie hit harder than I thought it would. It was very real at times, and I ended up sympathizing with characters more than I thought I would.

Baby behind the wheel, headphones plugged in. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The Downs                                                                                                                                If there is a single nitpick I can make with this movie, it’s the length. The movie feels just a tad bit long at the end, but it’s barely a problem.

Overall, Baby Driver is a unique, fun, stylish, and well-acted film. It has great characters, really funny lines, stylish direction from Edgar Wright, stunningly choreographed car chase scenes, and an inventive use of music. Baby Driver is one of my, if not my favorite movie of the year so far. 

Transformers: The Last Knight- Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight. Credit: Paramount

What is it about?                                                                                                                     In the fifth movie in the Transformers series, Humans and Transformers are at war. Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots (“good” Transformers) is gone. Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who assisted the Autobots fight the Decepticons (“bad” Transformers) in the last movie is a fugitive. And that’s about all you need to know going into this movie.

Optimus Prime…who’s barely in the movie. Credit: Paramount

How is it? 2.5/10                                                                                                                          Transformers: The Last Knight is a cluttered, lazily written 2 1/2 hour mess of a movie with few redeeming qualities.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       Despite the awful script he had to work with, Anthony Hopkins, who plays a man named Edmund Burton tasked with delivering exposition, has fun with the role. As he spouts ridiculous dialogue, he proves entertaining when the movie itself can’t. His Transformer assistant Cogman (voiced by Jim Carter), who is like an aggressive C-3PO, delivers some fun dialogue and has a few mildly enjoyable scenes.

Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) explaining something to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) with Cogman (Jim Carter) in the back. Credit: Paramount

Say what you will about the quality of this film, but the visuals are stunning. All the CGI is executed quite well and there are some gorgeous shots Michael Bay includes here. Additionally, a few action sequences, although cluttered, are entertaining- Michael Bay knows his way around these sequences.

Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), one of the Decepticons. Credit: Paramount

The Downs                                                                                                                                First off, the script here is terrible. It’s chock-full of awkward, cheesy dialogue that detracts from the movie, not to mention the almost cringe-worthy jokes here that none of the audience laughs at. The plot of The Last Knight is comprised of subplot after subplot, and many of these go nowhere and overcomplicate everything. There is so much not paid off in this movie, as it just throws everything out there, expecting it will work. This movie is cluttered, to say the least. It is lacks any coherence whatsoever, given that everything is happening at once and you, as the viewer, aren’t interested in any one subplot.

Not only is the story cluttered, but the cast of characters is too. There are just too many characters, and very few serve a real purpose. A prime example of this is the 14-year-old girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) introduced at the beginning of the movie. She shows up at the beginning, does nothing useful the whole movie, and pops back up at the end.

Izabella (Isabela Moner), who ends up not having…any effect on the movie’s story. Credit: Paramount

Transformers: The Last Knight is an utterly brainless, confusing clump of story. It’s quite forgettable as well, as it’s basically made up of generic subplots stacked on top of each other, intertwined with giant explosions. This movie is exhausting to keep up with: I, myself, lost track of the plot around the end of the second act. The movie moves from dumb sequence to dumber sequence with an either exhausting side story in the middle or groan-worthy dialogue. Did I mention that this movie is 2 1/2 hours? Compared to other Transformers movies, that’s half an hour shorter, but it still feels 3 hours. Everything feels dragged out. Don’t expect Optimus Prime a ton either; he’s on all the trailers and posters, but is barely in the movie until the end.

The last act of Transformers: The Last Knight is just a mess. It’s just a bunch of Michael Bay explosions and action, but there’s so much going on at the same time that it becomes a nonsensical mush of action. Although not as much as previous Michael Bay movies, Transformers 5 somewhat shamelessly objectifies women, and racial stereotypes are sometimes played up. The product placement here is quite blatant and obvious.

Optimus Prime (left) and Bumblebee (bottom center) during the movie’s climax. Credit: Paramount

One thing that bugged me constantly throughout this movie was the changing of aspect ratios. Aspect ratios are whether or not the black bar on the top of the screen is present, and because Michael Bay shot this with different cameras, they constantly change. He shot partly in IMAX, which is extremely nice to look at when it fills up the screen, but he constantly changes to digital camera, which means that there’s a small black box popping up and down. And he doesn’t only change when an action sequence is over: he often does it within a scene, after a few shots, which isn’t only distracting and irritating, but also jarring. Besides this, some of the editing at times is very choppy and sometimes just strange. The Last Knight is lazily written, edited, and acted, but it will still probably rake in a ton of money at the box office.

Overall, Transformers: The Last Knight is a horrible movie. The dialogue is awkward, the plot is overstuffed with subplot after subplot, and the aspect ratio changing is annoying. It is a brainless, nonsensical blob, albeit boasting stunning visuals and cluttered, but entertaining action sequences.

Wonder Woman- Movie Review

Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Wonder Woman is the fourth movie in the DC Cinematic Universe and is set during World War I. It follows Diana (Gal Gadot), who is a princess on Themyscira, an island in the ocean occupied by only women. One day, a plane crashes in the ocean and Diana discovers a soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine): the first man she has ever seen.  From him, she learns about the ongoing war and feels the need to stop it, so she goes with him to fight in the war.

Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Credit: Warner Bros.

How is it? 8.8/10                                                                                                                  Tasked with delivering one of the first female-led, female-directed big-budget superhero movies…ever, as well as rescuing the DCEU from a critical slump, Wonder Woman is fantastic all around. However, it does face some problems.

The Ups                                                                                                                                     There is a lot to love about this movie, and the biggest thing, perhaps, is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She gives the audience an excellent, well-rounded performance that conveys all of Diana’s strengths and flaws and defines her as THE Wonder Woman. Her character tells a fish-out-of-water story, as she isn’t used to either men or modern society, which brings plenty of laughs.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

Chris Pine almost rivals Gal Gadot in terms of an amazing performance. He brings the charisma and charm in spades and is very believable as Steve Trevor. His comedic timing both reacting to Diana’s distinct culture and trying to help her blend in is really, really funny.  The two stars’ chemistry is off-the-walls. You cannot take your eyes off the screen when the two are together and they bring a heartfelt, at times, comedic, relationship to the movie.

This movie has lots of comedy and definitely is funnier than previous DC films, with the entire cast having their share of laughs. Speaking of which, the supporting cast is great. A standout for me was Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, Steve Trevor’s assistant.

Patty Jenkins provides fantastic direction in the film and carries it well. She brings many tender, quiet moments that are, honestly, as great as the action. There is genuine emotion in this movie: there are many compelling character-driven moments that are very affecting and involving.

Wonder Woman during the thrilling sequence where she steps into No Man’s Land and faces an army of soldiers. Credit: Warner Bros.

The action in this movie is just…wow. It has many brilliantly choreographed and epic action set-pieces including a grand battle at Themyscira, another one where Wonder Woman takes on an army of German soldiers (my favorite scene), and the final CGI fight. Slow-mo is utilized to awesome effect here in every battle.

This movie deserves praise for its lighthearted tone and hopefulness. The Wonder Woman we see in this movie has no sense of cynicism and is innocent and hopeful, which is refreshing , as most superheroes today spend their time brooding. Additionally, this movie utilizes COLOR, unlike a lot of recent superhero movies: this is a superhero movie, after all.

The lush island of Themiscyra, a key location where color really shines in this film. Credit: Warner Bros.

A great thing about Wonder Woman is that it is very standalone in the DCEU: sure, there are some connections to the greater universe, but in functions great on its own.

Finally, the visual effects in this are fantastic, as would be expected from a superhero movie today.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, the problems with the movie. My main issue with Wonder Woman is its villains. There are three main villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), a German general; Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), a chemist cooking up deadly gases from Luderndorff to unleash; and Ares, the CGI big-bad of the film, who I won’t give too much away about. None of these three villains have much development, motivation, or payoff at all, so you really don’t care a ton about them.

General Ludendorff (left) and Doctor Poison (right). Credit: Warner Bros.

The third act in Wonder Woman, sadly, resorts to your typical superhero blockbuster fare in that its doused in CGI with giant explosions, This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels very familiar and is dragged out a bit. The effects in this movie, at times, is slightly questionable and I don’t love the visuals on her Lasso of Truth. Some of Wonder Woman’s giant jumps in action sequences look a little cartoonish also. In addition, the slow-mo does feel a little overused sometimes, but is mostly great.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a wonderful (no pun intended) movie that has two extremely likeable stars, great comedic chemistry between them, a perfect Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot, thrilling action, a hopeful lens for the DCEU, and a genuinely emotional touch. However, it does face some problems with its underdeveloped villains and standard third act.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place a few months after the (amazing) first movie. The newfound family of Guardians are working as heroes-for-hire. Meanwhile, they are struggling with their family dynamic, as Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) learns about his paternal heritage when the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell) emerges. All the while, the seemingly idyllic society known as the Sovereign are on the Guardians’ tail as a threat.

How is it? 8.4/10                                                                                                                     Guardians Vol. 2 is spectacular. It tries something different from the first one and still manages to be pretty awesome. Guardians brings much more of what we loved, packs emotion, and most of all, looks into its characters, giving them each their own arcs. However, it isn’t flawless, as it lacks the urgency in story of the first.

The team, including (left to right), Yondu, Nebula, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Mantis (center). Credit: Marvel Studios

The Ups                                                                                                                                       One of the best things about Vol. 2 is that it tries something new, adn takes on a new tone: it still packs a ton of fun, but deeply explores its characters by splitting them up.

Speaking of which, the characters are just fantastic, being the highlight of the first movie. It truly looks into them and their issues. By the end of the movie, Yondu (Michael Rooker) became one of my favorites and was terrifically developed. Star-Lord and the realization of having a father is really dug into. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the dynamic with her resentful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is explored as Nebula shares just why she hates her sister. Even Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) gets his own satisfying arc.

Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista) Credit: Marvel Studios

This movie packs a heck of an emotional punch-it’s incredibly touching at the end, probably being the most emotionally impactful in the MCU.

BABY GROOT. Credit: Marvel Studios

The characters in this, as I said before, are great. Star-Lord is charming and well-acted. Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as Ego, and super charismatic. Baby Groot is just about the cutest creature ever seen on screen. Every scene he was in made you either have a giant grin, burst out laughing, or say “Aww” repeatedly: he’s used brilliantly. Drax (Dave Bautista)  doesn’t have a ton of development, but he’s really funny.  Emotion-detecting Mantis (Pom Klemetieff) is just delightful and hilarious. Rocket gets great moments as well.

Drax during one of his hilarious deadpan sequences. Credit: Marvel Studios

I’ll say it: this is the funniest Marvel movie yet. So many of the jokes work, and it’s because of the same reason as the first movie: the characters and their interactions. Drax is given a ton of great lines, as he interprets everything literally, and Baby Groot and Mantis are for sure highlights. Some of Drax’s humor is a little too hit-or-miss, however.

The action in Guardians 2 is dazzling. It has many breathtaking set-pieces, and the entire third act is just an action spectacle.

Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) during one of the movie’s fantastic action sequences.Credit: Marvel Studios

The visuals are some of the best in Marvel and are up there with Dr. Strange: they are wonderful and weird and eye-popping, and the use of color is very vibrant and distinct. It is incorporated into the action exceptionally and the 3D is surprisingly great.

Finally, the soundtrack is just like the previous: full of super catchy hits from the 70s and 80s. The use of it in the movie is super creative, just like the last movie.

The Downs                                                                                                                                The main down with Guardians is its plot. It lacks the same simplicity and sense of urgency as the first; there’s no real story until the end of the 2nd act, and you don’t really know what it’s about. It’s slightly messy as well: it moves from scene to scene without a clear plot, feeling a little choppy. This provides for a sense of madcap, frantic fun, but the movie almost has to compromise the plot to be as fun.

Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the Sovereign. Credit: Marvel Studios

The Sovereign is also messy and underdeveloped- they show up at random parts of the movie without a clear purpose, acting as a pest. Sometimes, the humor gets a little too much as well; some of Drax’s jokes don’t work and try too hard.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is fantastic. It tries something new by looking into its characters and passes with flying colors. It also doubles on what we loved about the first, with dazzling visuals, breathtaking action set-pieces, some of the funniest jokes in the MCU yet, a great soundtrack, and a really touching emotional payoff. However, the plot is unfocused and aimless at times, putting it slightly lower than the first.

Kong: Skull Island- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Set in the 70s during the Vietnam War, Kong: Skull Island follows a group of explorers including: ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), angry and vengeful colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and government official Bill Randa (John Goodman). They venture into an uncharted island only to find a giant (and I mean GIANT) ape named Kong, who’s king on the island, and numerous hostile and terrifying creatures.

How is it? 6.5/10                                                                                                                     Kong: Skull Island is fun, stylish, and looks great, but is severely lacking in the people department. It’s a decent popcorn B-movie where you get to see a giant ape beat up a giant lizard, but not much else. Oh, and don’t forget, they are always setting up for a sequel because this monster movie takes place in the same universe as Godzilla (2014)!

The Ups                                                                                                                                      I have to give this movie credit for its cinematography. The camera work is very stylish and lots of fun to look at, as well as the colors in this movie. It has a warm, tropical, 70s tropical hue, which is displayed excellently alongside the giant monkey.

Kong, as he appears in the movie. Credit: Warner Bros.

Its soundtrack is also cool, chock-full of 70s music that assist the tone of Kong.

Also, it doesn’t take itself too seriously: you came to see an ape smash things, and you get to see an ape smash things.

John C. Reilly is a standout character in Kong. He plays Hank Marlow, a WWII pilot stranded on the island since the 40s. His character steals the show, has clear motivations, gets a bunch of development, and has a surprisingly emotional payoff.

John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow. Credit: Warner Bros.

Kong himself, when on screen, is awesome. Watching him beat up other creatures on the island never gets old, and this movie in particular shows just how huge he is.

The other creatures on the island are cool as well. They provide for some great set-pieces, and are interesting and unique enough to keep you from getting bored. Also, seeing the creatures pick off the team members one by one is entertaining.

One of the “Skullcrawlers”, alongside Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson. Credit: Warner Bros.

Finally, the CGI is fantastic. The work on Kong, the creatures, and the island’s unique, tropical features is great: it’s super realistic, nice to look at, and gives you a sense of scale between the humans and the creatures.

Tom Hiddleston chopping monsters with a sword, which you didn’t realize you needed until you did. Credit: Warner Bros.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, here’s the main flaw with Kong: you’re shown a giant monkey, but then said giant monkey leaves, leaving you with a bunch of explorers you are given no reason to care about. These characters are paper-thin: Tom Hiddleston is tracker/mercenary/butt-kicker who works for money but…yeah that’s about it– you have no idea why he’s there; Brie Larson is an ANTI-WAR photographer, who really shouldn’t be coming on the mission; John Goodman is your typical off-his-rocker, been-waiting-years-for-this guy; Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson…this time, it got old; and finally, Toby Kebbell plays a soldier, who makes some significantly stupid decisions. This is a giant waste of a great cast. They even try humor with these people, but it really doesn’t work, and the vast majority of the jokes fall short.

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly. Credit: Warner Bros.

In addition, the first 25-30 minutes of exposition are pretty boring indeed, and there’s a bunch of cheesy dialogue throughout.

Lastly, the editing in the first half of the movie can be pretty choppy, and sometimes gets hard to look at.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island gives you a fun, stylish, and action-packed B-movie that has characters no one cares about nor wants to.

Logan- Movie Review

Hugh Jackman gives a performance of a lifetime in this action-packed, brutal, somber, and beautiful movie that’s a character study before superhero movie. Credit: 20th Century Fox

What is it about?                                                                                                                           Logan is the newest addition to the X-Men franchise, and is the story of an old, aging, Wolverine in a new, standalone, X-Men timeline. In 2029, a weary and hopeless Logan cares for dying telepathic Charles Xavier in a hideout on the Mexican border. All mutants have perished, and Logan is trying to escape somewhere safe with Charles. He soon finds a little girl named Laura Kinney, or X-23, with the same powers and deadliness as him, and is forced to (reluctantly) protect her from dark forces following them.

How is it? 8.9/10                                                                                                                               Logan is an amazing movie. However, I have to put A DISCLAIMER: Logan is Rated R, and contains SEVERE violence, gore, and language, as well as dark and mature themes. 

Logan marks Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s final performances as Wolverine and Charles Xavier, respectively, and is a very satisfying and fitting conclusion.

Logan and Charles Xavier side-by-side. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Ups:                                                                                                                                            The overall tone of Logan is great. It knows what it wants to be and is unrestricted: it can be dark, grim, and hopeless, but can also be warm, funny, and uplifting.

The acting is top-notch throughout the cast. Hugh Jackman is fantastic and perfectly portrays just how hopeless, tired, and dying Logan is. Patrick Stewart is great, as he shows Xavier off-his-rocker, guilty, and sad. Finally, newcomer Dafne Keen, who plays X-23 is my favorite performance, as she manages to kick butt, and give a heartfelt performance just through facial expressions. She awakens the hero in Logan, which brings out his better, younger self.

Dafne Keen as X-23 in Logan. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The action is brutal (I really can’t emphasize this enough), but executed spectacularly, and the cinematography and editing assists it. The score by Marco Beltrami was a small detail that I enjoyed, and it helped with the tone of the film.

Although I mentioned earlier that the movie could be grim, it still had humor from the dynamic between Laura and Logan, and even Xavier.

Logan in one of the quieter scenes, next to X-23 and Charles. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan never ceases to be enthralling and constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat, even when there isn’t a huge action sequence: many of the movie’s better moments are quiet, small interactions between the characters. Through these moments it manages to even bring emotion.

Logan during one of the more…vivid action sequences. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan explores many grim, sensitive themes that you want to talk about long after the credits have rolled. Through carefully exploring its characters, it delves into the ideas of death, aging, sadness, family, love, and even guilt. These really establish it as a drama first, and a comic-book movie second: it’s very grounded.

The Downs:                                                                                                                                   There are few problems I have with Logan. There is a minor pacing issue with this movie around the middle: sitting at a lengthy 2 hours and 21 minutes, there are certain scenes around the middle that could’ve been trimmed. However, the vast majority of Logan serves a point and all builds up to the finale.

It also slightly overuses it’s R-rating. Even though most of the violence is well-deserved and built up to, there are certain aspects where the gore was overused. Also, there was a subplot that serves a purpose, but goes over-the-top. I understand why it was kept, but it causes the movie to lose some of its grounding.

Logan is not only one of the best comic-book movies of recent years, but also one of, if not the most meaningful. However, discretion is advised, as the movie can get quite violent and gory.

The LEGO Batman Movie- Movie Review

What is it about?                                                                                                                     The LEGO Batman Movie is about Batman, or at least the LEGO version of him, the breakout star of the original LEGO Movie. Set in Gotham City, the Joker uses an entire rogues gallery of villains to take over Gotham City. Meanwhile, Batman struggles with the idea of being part of a family, as he tries to raise Dick Grayson, a young orphan he adopted and deal with Barbara Gordon, the new police commissioner who wants him to team up with the police.

How is it? 8.8/10                                                                                                                     Batman was a huge hit in The LEGO Movie, so he got his own, and it delivers on a ton of levels. The LEGO Batman Movie is an absolute burst of joy from start to finish: literally the first frame is hilarious. Its only shortcoming is that it doesn’t quite reach the heart of The LEGO Movie.

The Ups

LEGO Batman is chaotic, frenetic, and fun-filled adventure that will leave a smile on your face for, well, the whole thing.

This movie has such a strong sense of humor. The LEGO Batman movie is made up of gag after gag, and is unceasingly funny, yet it never feels forced. It is one of the most meta, self-deprecating movies I have ever seen, and references pop-culture every other minute. This movie is packed throughout its 104 minutes with winks, nods, and jabs at other movies and itself.  It references about every Batman movie or TV show you can think of, and I mean every. It also takes some fun jabs at the currently failing DC Cinematic Universe that will have you laugh out loud. This is all best demonstrated in the first ten minutes, which is a spectacular mix of visual and spoken pop culture references, fantastic voice acting and cameos, and chaotic action. I almost burst laughing at this, and let’s just say there is a very…unique sequence involving Batman rapping. Being a huge Bat-fan, I got a huge kick out of the references, but Batman fans, movie fans, and casual viewers alike will all enjoy it.

Speaking of the voice acting, all of the voice stars are great. Will Arnett, who was hilarious in The LEGO Movie is back and funny as ever, along with newcomer Michael Cera (playing Dick Grayson/Robin), who is innocently funny. Ralph Fiennes shined as butler Alfred, and Zach Galifinakis was a humorous, fresh take on Joker.

One of the things I loved about LEGO Batman was the play on Batman and Joker’s relationship. In comics before, they have been seen as needing and completing each other, which is put on play here. Joker desperately wants to be Batman’s greatest villain, but the fact that he just can’t say it causes Joker to crumble, resulting in some hilarious sequences.

The animation here is superb. All the computer animated facial features are very clear, and I was in wonder at the visual effects used. This pays off in the action, which, especially, in the third act, is chaotic and crazy, but still very smooth, providing an excellent experience.

This movie also has heart. It has a very good message of being part of a family, and it is touching near the end.

The Downs

I am a huge fan of The LEGO Movie: it is incredibly witty, very clever, hilarious, but most of all, heartfelt. I would say LEGO Batman is funnier, but it doesn’t match the freshness, cleverness, or emotion of the original: the original’s message about being yourself was truly brilliant, and this one’s about family is sweet, but not as good. Finally, the humor, sadly, does slow down a bit around the middle, as the concept of family is explored more.

Overall, The LEGO Batman Movie is a GREAT movie, with fantastic animation, great vocal performances, an amazing sense of humor, and unceasing meta and pop-culture references.

Moana- Movie Review

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Moana is Disney’s latest flick after Zootopia, and it’s about Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of a chief that sets out on an adventure. She has to find Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a powerful, but arrogant demigod, and bring an ancient relic to a goddess with him to end the darkness devouring their islands. Hei Hei the Rooster (Alan Tudyk) joins them as they face many obstacles on their journey.

How is it? 8.7/10

Moana is a terrific movie. There were a ton of things to love about it, and it’s one of my favorite animated movies of 2016.

The Ups

First off, the music is great. Composed by Lin Manuel Miranda, it’s super catchy and will have you humming it long after the movie.

The characters are also really cool. Moana herself is a fun twist on the typical “Disney princess,” and she actually is about to take on the role of chief, whereas in most Disney movies, she would be destined to awaken the chief from eternal sleep, or something like that. Also, her character is faced with a choice: to stay and be chief, or to go off on a voyage to find Maui. This dilemma for her character adds development and makes the movie even better. Demigod Maui is also really awesome. His character is shown as a likable and charismatic, but arrogant and selfish demigod that brings a bunch of laughs and fun scenes. Also, not-so-bright chicken Hei Hei produces a ton of laughs being one of the more…dim-witted characters in the movie. Great voice acting is displayed all around.

This movie is really funny, and has a fun, adventurous plot. It boasts some awesome set-pieces where Moana, Maui, and even Hei-Hei show off their unique powers.

This movie looks excellent. This movie meets the high standard of animation set by previous movies and passes it. Everything from the amazing CG shots of Moana and Maui battling coconut pirates to Maui’s hand-drawn tattoos is fantastic.

Most of all, Moana has heart, which is what we’ve come to expect, and it shows this moral well. It delivers a good message for both adult viewers and kids.

The Downs

I have very few problems with this movie, and overall, is a ton of fun. However, its only down is predictability. It falls into some Disney movie tropes, and while its hero is different, it has a predictable plot. A lot of Moana’s journey has been seen before in other movies, which, while it’s not a super bad thing, just makes it feel like it’s been seen before.

Overall, Moana is an excellent, well-animated, and funny movie that has heart, rich characters, and great music, although it’s a bit predictable. 

Most Anticipated Movies for Kids of 2017

So, 2016 has ended, and now it’s 2017, which means…a whole new year of movies!

Here are my honorable mentions for my most anticipated movies of 2017:

The Fate of the Furious: This looks great, and was really hard to keep off my list. The Fate of the Furious is the sequel to Furious 7 and is about what happens when Dominic Toretto turns evil and abandons his loyal team of racers. This movie looks like a ton of fun, and they continue to up the ante with each movie getting more and more ridiculous, which by no means is a bad thing. The Fate of the Furious comes out on April 14, 2017. Check out the official trailer right here!

Despicable Me 3: The fourth entry in the smash-hit Despicable Me series, this movie looks fun. Gru is back, and now with his wife Lucy, and together, they must face a villain that’s stuck in the 80s. The movie definitely looks funny, and delivers a few laughs in the trailer. Watch the trailer right here!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: The fifth movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise follows pirate Jack Sparrow on the run from an old rival, Capitán Salazar, who sets out to kill every living pirate. The trailer is tense, and gives us a great look at the villain, who looks just the right amount of scary. Check out the teaser trailer here!

Now, on to my Top 10:

10. The LEGO Batman Movie: This spinoff to The LEGO Movie is about exactly what the title suggests: LEGO Batman. He’s back, and to protect Gotham from the Joker, he has to learn to take a sidekick and recruits Robin. All trailers for this movie have been pretty funny so far, and The LEGO Movie was incredibly witty. This movie looks equally clever, and promises both great voice acting, and lots of laughs. It comes out on February 10, 2017. Check out the latest trailer here

9. Kong: Skull Island: Kong: Skull Island is a reboot of the King Kong movies and actually looks really, really great! Both the Comic-Con trailer and the second one look awesome, and the trailers show both some really cool moments with the giant ape and some moments of humor. It’s about a group of explorers in the 70s venturing into an island where Kong is king, but their hostility angers the giant. The movie has an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly.  This one comes out on March 10, 2017. Enjoy the newest trailer here!

8. Split: M. Night Shamalayan’s thriller about a man named Kevin with 23 distinct personalities inside his head abducting three girls looks fantastic. All the trailers for this movie have been tense in all the right ways, and the movie looks like a spectacular thriller. Split is released on January 20, 2017. Check out the second official trailer right here!

7. War for the Planet of the Apes: The third movie in the amazing Apes trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes is about, well, the war between the apes and humans that the previous movies have been building up to. The first one was great, and the second one was even better, so I’m pretty sure this one’s going to be great. The trailer boasts great CGI, and looks like a gritty, well-acted war movie. War for the Planet of the Apes is released on July 14, 2017. Enjoy the trailer right here!

6. Thor: Ragnarok: The third Thor movie promises something entirely new. With Jeff Goldblum playing the villain Grandmaster and Hulk there for the whole movie (yup, you read that right), and even a possible Doctor Strange cameo, this movie has all the ingredients for a hit. Comedy director Taika Waititi is behind the camera for this one and the footage from Comic-Con is hilarious. It showed what Thor was doing during Civil War and was really, really funny. Ragnarok comes out on November 3, 2017. Watch it here!

5. Wonder Woman: There’s a lot riding on this movie. It has to “fix” the DC Extended Universe, warm up it to critics, and pull of the first female-led superhero movie. But it looks like it can do that and then some. It’s about Wonder Woman during WWI, and looks excellent. The trailers give awesome action and humor as well. Wonder Woman is released on June 2, 2017. Watch the newest trailer here!

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The only reason this is number 4 is just because I’m more excited for 3 other movies, but, wow, this looks GOOD. Guardians 1 was exceptional, and delivered something… different, which makes it one of my favorite Marvel movies.  This movie has so many things going for it, from it’s awesome cast which now includes Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, or its funny, action-packed trailers. This is a sci-fi superhero flick that I am absolutely sure will deliver. Guardians 2 comes out on May 5, 2017. Enjoy the teaser right here!

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming: They’re finally doing it right. Spidey was my favorite character from Civil War and is one of my favorite comic book characters. This movie finally skips the origin story and gives us something special: a John Hughes-style high school movie about both Peter and Spider-Man. Not to mention the PERFECT casting of Tom Holland, who feels like an outsider high schooler. And Iron Man’s going to be in this! They are finally going to share the screen, and I know it’s going to deliver. Homecoming is released on July 7, 2017. Watch the first trailer here!

2. Justice League: So, the first official trailer for this dropped at Comic-Con, and I may or may not have seen that trailer 89 times. This movie brings us the iconic DC team to the big screen for the first time, and it’s going to be awesome. In the wake of Superman’s death, Bruce Wayne recruits a team of metahumans, including The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg, to stop a mysterious supervillain. The movie looks amazing and the trailer is riddled with fresh humor, and some cool group shots. This comes out on November 17, 2017. Enjoy it right here!

1. Star Wars: Episode VIII: It’s Star Wars! Episode VIII is the sequel to Force Awakens, and has a few questions to answer from the last movie. Plus, it has the return of Luke Skywalker and a hopefully well-handled farewell to Han Solo. Let’s hope it’s as good, if not better than Force Awakens. There haven’t been any official trailers, except this short clip of the end of Force Awakens, but I would check out Force Awakens again if you haven’t already!

Well, that’s my list, but what’s yours? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

La La Land- Movie Review

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Directed by Damien Chazelle, who did a great job with Whiplash, La La Land is a modern-day musical that goes back to the originals of the 40s and 50s. Set in Los Angeles, it is about Mia (Emma Stone), a struggling actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz enthusiast that wants to start his own club, that fall in love. The movie’s about how they set out to achieve their dreams and how their romance gets involved in that.

How is it? 9.8/10                                                                                                                     La La Land is an excellent film, whether or not you like musicals, the director, or the stars. I’m not a fan of musicals…at all, and this movie had me tapping my toe at every song, laughing at the jokes, and appreciating the cinematography, acting, and soundtrack. La La Land delivers a joyous, whirling, whimsical, but realistic experience. And being set in L.A., and explores the struggles of being a dreamer, achieving your dreams, and the compromise that comes with it. It switches between fantastical musical sequences and real emotion perfectly to show this. Overall, it’s a really emotional, sweet movie, that’s even funny at times, and it has a satisfying, but bittersweet conclusion.                                                                                                                                         The Direction                                                                                                                  Damien Chazelle does a great job of incorporating music into this movie. He did it with Whiplash, which was about an aspiring drummer and his teacher, and he does it here, as he makes the music an integral part of this movie, both in a technical and story sense. Also, the cinematography here is spectacular, and looks beautiful. In huge musical sequences, it has wide, sweeping, seemingly one-take shots that capture the spinning, whimsical aspect of it. In addition, there’s great lighting in the movie.                                                                                       The “Musical” Aspect                                                                                               I’ve said this before, and I’m going to say it now: I don’t like musicals. But I loved every minute of this movie, including the musical aspect. Musicals don’t always transition to the singing sequence smoothly, but this movie does it seamlessly. This has realistic transitions that start and end organically, in moments where that sort of thing would actually happen. The first such sequence happens in the very first minute of the film, and is of people in L.A. sitting in painful traffic and all of a sudden burst into song: it’s a great sequence. The whirring, whizzing musical sequences capture the theme in the movie of having dreams, as characters joyfully burst out into song and dance, but we are soon faced with raw emotion: the downside of these dreams                                                                                                                                                     The Characters and Acting                                                                                 Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have really great chemistry in this movie. Onscreen, they are a great and very believable couple. They both display fantastic acting as a couple of struggling dreamers hitting a ton of obstacles along the way. Emma Stone, in particular, is amazing, and portrays her character and her emotions exceptionally. Ryan Gosling is actually pretty funny at times, which definitely adds to the film.                                                                                                                                                The Music                                                                                                                  La La Land has a really, really good soundtrack composed by Justin Herwitz. All of the songs have great lyrics that connect with the content of the movie really well. Their incorporation and placement in the film is also done really well.

Overall, La La Land is one of my Top 3 favorite movies of the year, with some great music, acting, and heart, and it brings back the dead genre of musicals in all the best ways.