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BEYOND LATE REVIEW: John Wick

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!

So I finally got Netflix again after a three-year hiatus. Why have I not used it for three years, asks all the pissed off and shocked Netflix faithful? Honestly…I chose Crunchyroll over Netflix. I prefer anime. So when I’ve only had time for one over the other, what was the point of paying a monthly fee for a service I might used once or twice a month? But now I’ve had the chance to put some extra time in, so I got a free monthly trial in and I started watching shows and one film so far that I missed the boat on, that of course being John Wick.

When the movie first came out in theaters, I will fully admit that I couldn’t have cared less about it. I was beyond done with Keanu Reeves, so another action movie with him in it really didn’t grab my attention at all. But between then and now, I’ve heard only good things about the first film from all my friends, so I’ve been really wanting to check it out.

And boy was I surprised just how much mindless fun it was.

John Wick unlike most films these days, it doesn’t try to rely on a twist and turn filled story to get you involved in it. The movie makes no buts about it where it’s going. He’s an ex-hitman who used to be connected to the mob and when that mob boss’ son steals his car AND KILLS HIS DOG, he decides that the correct response is to kill the entire mob. I think the entire world would agree with that assessment. You killed a man’s dog, everyone who’s ever known you should probably die for that.

From then on out, the movie goes into an endless parade of action sequences that doesn’t go too over-the-top in the way that movies featuring legends such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li will go into, rather Reeves spends most of these sequences methodically putting bullets to heads, there’s only a handful of times where it gets into real hand-to-hand combat. Granted, are there a few moments that shouldn’t be possible? Of course, but then it wouldn’t be a mindless fun action movie, would it? The film just doesn’t go so over the top that the other action scenes have to follow it, every scene is just as good, just as fun and just as well shot, there isn’t a moment in the film where it feels like a bit of a lull.

The addition of the only other actor I know in Willem Dafoe (John Leguizamo doesn’t really count, he’s in it for about a minute in a minor role) is a fantastic addition, though I will admit I was a bit disappointed by the lack of insane Willem Dafoe. He plays the old assassin friend role relatively well and does a great job of playing both sides during the course of the movie. The villains are all okay at best, none of them really shine, the son is a idiot piece of shit, the femme fatale is well…the femme fatale. The end boss in the Russian mob boss, he tries to play a dangerous man, but at times he comes off more like a bit of a loof and not really as threatening as you’d like him to be.

And that’s what really takes away from the film in the end, all the villains go down in a not as epic way as I would’ve liked, especially the one who kills the dog, he should’ve had a much longer death than one in the leg and one in the head. Even the end boss, after that entire journey of bullets in brains, his death is so non-eventful, it’s extremely disappointing. For a film all about revenge and epic kill sequences, why were the most important deaths seemingly given the least amount of time and importance?

In the end though, I still absolutely adored this film. It’s a ridiculous action film, but without the overly ridiculous set pieces. The plot is so stupid, it’s funny and it sets you up perfectly for what ends up being a constant enjoyment filled with blood spatters and holes in heads. If you’re looking for a mindless action movie that won’t leave you with questions (because it doesn’t give you any reasons to ask any), this is a film right up your alley.

Just…if it’s going to be hard for you, might wanna fast forward to after the break-in. It’s a tough one to get through…

REVIEW: The Lego Batman Movie

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Right off the bat, I think the mistake lied in people telling me that this was the best Batman movie ever made. That’s already something that gets into your head. How can something be so good that it beats The Dark Knight, which remains one of the best movies I’ve ever watched. So going into the movie, I was already a little cynical going into the film.

In the end, it wasn’t anywhere close to being the best Batman movie, but it certainly wasn’t terrible either.

What the movie does well is creating the Batman universe in its entirety in a single film and manages to make sense of it. Batman is a walking, talking badass who no matter what you throw at him, he wins, so the Joker goes for the biggest gamble and brings all the villains together, himself, Two-Face, Catwoman, the Riddler, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, Calendar Man, Polka-Dot Man, oh yeah, they put all the villains in this film. ALL OF THEM. Yes, even the shitty ones. Not only that but the voice cast for a lot of these characters is impressive. Aside from Will Arnett’s Batman, you’ve got Zach Galifianakis as Joker, Michael Cera as Robin, Ralph Fiennes at Alfred, Billy Dee Williams as Tw0-Face, Conan O’Brien as Riddler and that’s just counting the Batman characters, we’re not even talking about other Justice League characters and the random villains they throw in towards the end! Seriously check out the voice cast for this film, it’s insane how many notable names are in this movie!

In terms of the film’s story, it’s your typical cheesy kids’ movie kind of story, mixed with a little bit of the Batman charm we all know and love. DC wishes it could write this kind of comedy in their films, it might make them more enjoyable. The entire plot is really the story of Batman learning to work with others, as really the entire first half of the film is Batman refusing to work with anyone and denying the Joker the admission that he needs him to keep himself going. Bruce Wayne is pretty much a 16 year-old high school kid who listens to heavy music and thinks he’s the lord of darkness, or in this case, he is the night. He’s Batman. In the early going this part of the film is really funny and silly, but as they continue on with the same couple jokes related to this part of the story, it starts to get really stale and it really started to take away from the film for me. I wanted things to move forward and it felt by the end of the movie that the entire film was hinging on a single joke.

I suppose I should be a little miffed by what I watched, after all this movie wasn’t exactly tailor-made for my demographic, this was a picture more or less designed for kids and families, not for older fans of a certain popular franchise that is used to a much more darker tone of storytelling. However, I absolutely loved the charm and silliness of the original Lego Movie, so you’d figure a film solely based on the Batman character, which I loved in that original film, it’d be even better. Instead, I got a movie that I felt had less charm and certainly less jokes in them. It’s not to say I didn’t smile and laugh in the film, but I certainly didn’t walk away from this movie with as many jokes to re-tell as I did leaving the first Lego film.

When it’s all said and done however, I did leave the film content, I wasn’t upset or anything. I just felt disappointed with all the hype people put on me with the film and I certainly left the theater wanting more and feeling like I got played a little bit. What the Lego Batman Movie does in a positive manner is that they opened the entire universe up for everyone to see, made fun of a few of the ridiculous parts of Batman history (dumb villains, bat nipples, etc.) and gives fans who remember them a chance to laugh and feel like they’ve been catered to as well. The voice cast is so damn solid and the addition of the extra villains to the film just throws in that ridiculousness that the Lego films are now showing us will be a constant, no universe is safe.

But in the end, the film doesn’t do enough to be all that memorable, the reliance on the “Batman is alone and is moody” jokes just brought the film down as they kept going back to the well one too many times. I’m sure with the younger crowd they enjoyed it, but in my case it droned on and I really got bored of the film at times. There just isn’t a significant moment in the film that really stands out, it’s just either good or it’s not.

Overall, the film is decent at best, offers enough for fans of the Batman franchise to leave happy, probably offers more for the younger crowd and the more PG crowd, but for those who were looking for a really strong Batman film and wanting to re-capture the wonder that was the first Lego film, you’ll likely leave a little disappointed on that front.

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