Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Roundup: I Go To Extremes

Confession: I've always been a big Billy Joel fan. In fact, that's sort of how Joel Suzuki got his name. One of Joel's (Billy Joel's, that is, not Joel Suzuki's) songs, "I Go to Extremes," off of his Storm Front album, isn't one of my favorites - as the cliche goes, I like his older stuff more - but it does capture the theme of today's Movie Roundup quite nicely. Because for whatever reason, the last batch of films I've watched have veered from colorful kid-friendly fare to dark, grim adult stuff and then back again. It's enough to give a viewer some kind of metaphorical whiplash. Hence, the "I Go to Extremes" idea.

Anyway, in case this is your first Movie Roundup, here are ye olde standard disclaimers: (1) these are not really reviews, these are just my random thoughts about various movies I've seen, and (2) there may be massive spoilers, even to the point where I give away twists and endings and stuff. So with that out of the way, here we go!

Lego Batman
I enjoyed this one, although not quite as much as the Lego movie from which Lego Batman was spawned. It did make me really hungry for lobster thermidor, though, whatever that is. And the whole meta-ness of including Voldemort as a character while casting Ralph Fiennes as Alfred was pretty amusing. Favorite joke: "British robots - ask your nerd friends." Kid-friendliness rating: 92%.

The second-best movie in the X-Men franchise (there's just no beating Days of Future Past in my book), this one was almost as if Wolverine and Professor X stumbled into a horror/western flick and had to claw their way out of it (see what I did there? Okay, I can hear you groaning from here). Dark and violent from start to finish, this is definitely not one to take your young kids to. It paints a future so bleak it makes you wonder if Logan and Charles would've actually preferred the other future with all the sentinels and stuff, because at least in that one they got to wear cool futuristic suits and go out in (almost literal) blazes of glory. If all of what I just said makes it seem like I'm down on this movie, I'm not - it was awesome, I saw it twice, and I'll certainly watch it again when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray. Daphne Keen was amazing - kind of reminded me of Millie Bobbie Brown. Where do they keep finding these intense young actresses? Kid-friendliness rating: 5% (only because of the fact that the movie cast a bunch of cool young people to play X-23, Rictor, and other kid mutants)

Pete's Dragon
Yes, I'm late on this one. I actually watched it on a bus while I was serving as a chaperone for one of my daughter's school band trips. It was light and airy and low-key and served as a fun little distraction while we rode up to Bellevue. I did wonder at one point how no one could have seen the dragon before, given that there's not much going on in the nearby town and the dragon certainly wasn't ashamed of flying around whenever it felt like it. By the way, after watching three Star Trek reboot films, I cannot see Karl Urban as anything else but Dr. McCoy. Kid-friendliness rating: 95%

John Wick 2
My son actually turned me on to this franchise, having seen the first John Wick movie before I did (he's 18, so its cool). Both installments are like ultra-violent video games - they're so over-the-top that you can't really take them too seriously. At least no dogs died in the second one. And the Neo/Morpheus reunion was fun. Kid-friendliness rating: 0%

This one exceeded my expectations, kind of like Zootopia did. Disney, you're on a roll! Heartfelt and beautifully animated, it hit all the right notes at mostly the right times (I did feel that it took longer than necessary to finally get Moana past the reef, but whatever). Moana and Maui's friendship felt natural and completely earned, which is a harder thing to pull off than you might expect. I should have guessed who Te Ka really was, but then again, like Zootopia, these Disney movies have a way of distracting me with their bright colors and bits of snappy dialogue (the "you're welcome" reprise near the end was especially awesome). Kid-friendliness rating: 99%

And thus endeth another installment of Movie Roundup! Join us again next time when, I suspect, the kid-friendliness ratings will be a bit more consistent, based on what I expect to be seeing (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Wonder Woman, the Power Rangers reboot, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets).

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