Lego Batman

When I first saw the trailer for Lego Batman a few months back I was pretty pumped up. Hilarious, fun, and starred Will Arnett and Michael Cera as Batman and Robin! (GOB and George Michael Bluth!!)

Much to my dismay after seeing it today, many of the funniest moments were in the previews.

But that does not mean the film doesn’t have its moments. If you are a fan of any of the previous Batman films, this movie does a great job at referencing and poking fun at the entire series. The whole idea of Bruce Wayne being a cocky, loner, know-it-all plays a big part in the plot, and is well executed.

While Will Arnett has the ideal voice for Batman, Michael Cera steals the show in many moments as the naive, goofy orphan Robin. “Rip!”

This picture won’t leave a lasting impact, but it’s worth the watch for fans of the Dark Knight who don’t take themselves too seriously.

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Haven’t I Seen This Before?

Groundhog Day? Source Code? Edge of Tomorrow?

Before I Fall takes the very familiar concept of a character stuck reliving the same day over and over again, while everyone in their world has their memory wiped. Except this time, it’s in high school!

Going through this movie, I completely missed the point and had to go to Wikipedia’s always immaculate plot description to find what I wasn’t getting. The entire duration of this story I thought protagonist Samantha Kingston (Zooey Deutch, daughter of Lorraine McFly!) was simply trying to find her way to her tomorrow.

But the number one source for college papers told me that Samantha had died in the car crash she and her nasty group of friends were in after an end-of-year kegger. “I can’t believe high school is almost over!”

When our journey begins, Samantha is a horrible person who disrespects her family and terrorizes one of her schoolmates, with the aid of her fellow plastics. Her boyfriend is a stripey, button up shirt, backwards baseball cap looking dude who seems like the type of guy that would punch you for bumping into him in a pub, but he’s hardly important.

Essentially, the entire point of this story is that Samantha must make her final day on earth count, and have the most positive possible impact on every person in her world. Of course, it takes plenty of trial and error to figure out what exactly she must do to get there.

Overall, this isn’t a tale that speaks to me much on a personal level, but it is a film that could greatly benefit modern teenage girls (Snapchat alert!) We see a lesson and empathy just as strong for the popular bullies as we do for their victims. If this movie makes just one adolescent oppressor look at her world differently, or convinces a tortured youth that everything will eventually be okay, then it has done it’s job.

Get Out Gets in Your Head

Wow. This film definitely is not anything like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I remember first seeing this trailer a couple of months ago and expecting it to be some poorly executed, cliche horror flick that has a three-week run, and then disappears forever.

But then I saw the ever-so-rare perfect score of 100-percent on Rotten Tomatoes and I was intrigued.

This movie (written and directed by the awesome Jordan Peele) was scary, absolutely hilarious, and insightful all at the same time.

Besides the main horror story in which we see a black man (Daniel Kaluuya) trapped among some sketchy folks who seem to be modern slave owners while visiting his girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents, this is tale that opened my middle-class white boy eyes.

It’s pretty easy for me to think being the only black man in a room full of white people isn’t such a big deal, but of course it almost never is a stress-free experience. People will look at you differently, ask you things they wouldn’t anybody else, and adjust their choice of words based on your race, even if they don’t realize it.

I like to think in my naive head that walking through white suburbia is a stress-free experience for people of all races, but that of course is not the case. People will keep an extra eye on you, and you will feel the unfair scrutiny. That is what this story said to me in terms of race in our modern society.

But beyond the thought provoking aspects, what an awesome little film. In a span of 30 seconds, you could be cracking up, freaking out, and then laughing again. And in the end we find a story that almost feels like a cross between something by Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan in all the best ways.

I gotta say, somebody at Universal really dropped the ball by dropping this thing in February. GO SEE IT!

Top 10 Films of 2016

It’s almost Oscar time, the night where we award the film that covers the most popular social issue on the internet from the previous year. (Truly, when was the last time the best movie of the year won best movie?)

So, since the nominations for best film are never quite right, I’ve made it my annual tradition to compile my own list of the year’s best. Here are my 10 favorite movies of 2016.

10. Paterson: I actually just saw this film very recently when I had an afternoon to kill. I figured ‘At the very least, Adam Driver is always entertaining’ and went in with pretty modest expectations. Halfway through, I never would have expected it to come close to my top 10. Overall, the story doesn’t have much plot and mainly just follows the life of a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry over the course of one week. But for some reason, this film just got to me on a personal level. I spent the entire day after questioning whether I had more to offer, but am just wasting my life in a mediocre career because I’m too afraid of failing. Because this simple moving picture was able to get to me so much, I couldn’t possibly leave it off of this list.

9. Hacksaw Ridge: Oh nooo, how dare I put something with Mel Gibson’s name on it on here! So many biographical dramas are hard to sit through, but this here is a story worth telling. As always, Gibson doesn’t hold back on any of the gore in this story of how a pacifist won the Medal of Honor in WWII.  Truly just brilliantly told and a must-see.

8. Silence: I read this book a couple of years back when I heard Martin Scorsese was finally in production with this faithful adaptation of a powerful novel by Shūsaku Endō. As somebody raised in a strict, Catholic environment this one really hit home, but I truly think this a story that can leave people of all creeds and backgrounds walking away with something.

7. Hell or Highwater: Often when I see a film like this come out my initial thoughts are “Great, here’s another Texas crime drama where a really good looking dude does a deep, generic southern accent and then gets shot by an old sheriff in the end.” And while parts of that statement might be true, this one was well worth the price of admission. Truly there were times I was on the edge of my seat, and confused whether to root for the cops or criminals. Plus Jeff Bridges is just awesome.

6. The Edge of Seventeen: I hate to copy every critic on Rotten Tomatoes and say “reminiscent of a John Hughes’ film” but it’s just so true. The always reliable Hailee Steinfeld really knocks it out of the park in this awkward, coming of age dark comedy that presses on all the weird emotions that come with being a pain in the ass teen trying to find your place in the world.

5. Lion: This one really reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire, and weirdly made me want to adopt and Indian kid. Just an overall awesome true story that, for once, makes modern technology feel like a blessing. Plus, I gotta say, Dev Patel does a killer Aussie accent.

4. La La Land: I have to admit, I am a little disappointed that this movie is getting so much more love than Damien Chazelle’s last film Whiplash, but still found this to be such an enjoyable watch. Truly a celebration of a by-gone era of music, dance, and cinema. Most likely it’ll clean up at the Academy Awards, but I have no qualms with that. It’s hard to root against a team of Chazelle, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and John Legend.

3. Land of Mine: This is a story I had never heard before I saw this picture. German soldiers sent to Denmark after WWII to remove land mines buried on practically every beach in the country. Going in, I was half expecting a Tarantino style revenge film, but it was anything but that. It doesn’t take long until you find yourself emotionally attached to these kids and rooting for them to somehow make it back home alive.

2. Nocturnal Animals: I can’t remember the last time I watched something that made my heart beat so fast for such an extended period of time. A three-arc story that comes together for an experience that is both visually and emotionally fantastic. Tom Ford proves he can direct, and Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon dominate on screen as usual.

1. Sing Street: “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? You wear a dress and tell me not to wear brown shoes.” For months after I first saw this film I couldn’t go a day without recommending it to somebody. John Carney really captures the mindset of a teen who has yet to be been ruined by life, and still believes through music, and love he can concur anything. The tunes are awesome, the dialogue is hilarious, and the conclusion will touch your heart. Truly a shame that this brilliant piece of Irish film has been shutout by the Oscars.