Movie Reviews 

The LEGO Batman Movie

by Alan Rapp on February 10, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The LEGO Batman Movie
  • IMDb: link

The LEGO Batman Movie movie reviewA sequel of sorts, The LEGO Batman Movie may not be quite as good as The LEGO Movie but it still proves to be a hell of a good time. Centered around Batman‘s (Will Arnett) inability to trust and rely on others, the film’s plot throws the Dark Knight Detective several curveballs including an adopted son in the energetic Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) combined with the retirement of Commissioner James Gordon (Hector Elizondo), who is replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson), and a new plot by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) which throws Batman’s life into turmoil.

Without spoiling the plot, the Joker’s plan is actually ingenious given the pair’s relationship (which Batman refuses to acknowledge). The Crown Prince of Crime’s coup de grâce is perfect in its simplicity and leaves Batman completely without direction as even the solitary comfort of Wayne Manor is disrupted both by Dick and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) who will no longer indulge Master Bruce’s solitude. While longtime Bat-fans are likely to get more out of the movie’s in-jokes (including references to every Batman movie ever made and the 60s television show), the high-action film with a good message for kids is fun for all.

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  • Title: The Space Between Us
  • IMDb: link

The Space Between Us movie reviewHere’s the thing, anybody brave enough to head to the theaters in the dog days of February knows to lower their standards. The perennial post-Oscar dumping ground is the home of clusterfucks and misfit toys which studios either couldn’t or wouldn’t put the money behind. Keeping this very important caveat in mind, The Space Between Us is marginally entertaining as it wraps up your standard romantic dramedy in sci-fi trappings while hoping the strength of its cast will obscure its obvious flaws.

Director Peter Chelsom delivers an undeniably schmaltzy movie of a teenager (Asa Butterfield) born and raised on Mars returning home in search of a father he never knew and to spend time with his Internet girlfriend (Britt Robertson) who had to look across the solar system to find a boy to date. The story begins with a mission to Mars where a female astronauts’ unexpected pregnancy leads to the first baby born on another world. Rather than heralded as a major achievement, the child’s existence is hidden. Embarrased by the event and believing the child could never survive on Earth, the company sidesteps the PR landmine by forgetting about him… for about 16 years.

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20th Century Women

by Alan Rapp on January 20, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: 20th Century Women
  • IMDb: link

20th Century Women movie reviewI was a big enough fan of writer/director Mike Mills‘ 2011 film Beginners to include it on my best of the year list. In his first film since Beginners, Mills reuses themes of nostalgia and the awkwardness of life along with some of the same structure (including inter-cut stills and narration to frame a time and place), but although 20th Century Women features a strong cast it lacks the intimacy and magic of his previous movie.

Set during the 1970s, the film focuses on single mother Dorothea (Annette Bening), her teenage son Jaime (Lucas Jade Zumann), and the other women in their lives, Jaime’s longtime best-friend Julie (Elle Fanning) and Dorothea’s friend and tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig), who Dorothea enlists to help raise her son to grow into a proper man.

The strength of the script is the film’s characters and their interactions (even if Mills struggles a bit a making some of these women, based on the real women who raised him, a bit too cute and quirky for their own good). A notable weakness is the size of the cast leading to a less focused film that while enjoyable isn’t necessarily all that memorable.

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Elle

by Alan Rapp on January 13, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Elle
  • IMDb: link

Elle movie reviewIsabelle Huppert is marvelous as the sixty-something head of a successful video game company who is raped in her apartment by a stranger in a ski mask. Refusing to tell the police, Michèle instead continues on as if nothing happened even as she begins to suspect that one of her resentful employees may be her attacker. Filled with mostly depressed and confused characters, somehow the film is never as bleak as its subject matter might lead you to believe.

Despite being raped in the movie’s opening scene, Michèle is anything but a victim; she’s smart, successful, and in complete control of both her company and libido. Elle isn’t a revenge fantasy or a drama focused on our protagonist coming to terms with the attack. Director Paul Verhoeven, no stranger to erotic or psychological thrillers, has something much different in mind in screenwriter David Birke‘s adaptation of Philippe Djian‘s novel. And Michèle is no angel, sleeping with the husband (Christian Berkel) of her best friend (Anne Consigny), and lusting after her neighbor (Laurent Lafitte) despite their age difference and his wife (Virginie Efira).

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A Monster Calls

by Alan Rapp on January 6, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: A Monster Calls
  • IMDb: link

A Monster Calls movie reviewReminiscent of other movies about a kid losing himself in his imagination rather than deal with the difficulties of his life, A Monster Calls is a visually impressive adaptation of the book of the same name. The story may not offer a darkness as palpable as “The Nothing” (points for all who get that reference), but there’s plenty of real emotion beyond Conor’s (Lewis MacDougall) struggle to hide from both the constant bullying at school and his mother’s (Felicity Jones) deteriorating health.

Conor’s fantasy comes in the form of a giant walking tree who returns night after night to share stories with the boy while demanding Conor reveal the truth concerning his own dark nightmares. Once played out the plot plays a bit too much like a bizarre therapy session, but the film’s message certainly rings true.

Other aspects of the script deal with Conor’s loose relationships to both his father (Toby Kebbell), who has moved on to a new family, and his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), who is just oblivious and strict enough not to understand Conor’s struggle but never mean enough to come off as evil.

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