Richard joins CP24 anchor Jee-Yun Lee to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the creepy kid movie “The Prodigy” and the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the pure pop art blast of “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the creepy kid movie “The Prodigy” and the icy story of survival “Arctic.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia McMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the sensory overload of “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the silly fun of “What Men Want” and the revenge flick “Cold Pursuit.”
Richard has a look at “Cold Pursuit” and the Liam Neeson controversy, the outer space Lego adventure “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the creepy kid movie “The Prodigy and the supernatural comedy “What Men Want” with Taraji P. Henson with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
My desire to see 2014’s “The Lego Movie” was on par with my wish to step on a Lego brick in my bare feet. How could a movie starring plastic, singing mini figs possibly appeal to anyone who graduated Saturday morning cartoons decades ago? But I’m a professional so I put my bias of toy story movies aside and went to the screening.
Later, as I left the theatre humming “Everything is Awesome” I was own over. Directors and co-writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had pulled off something great, they made a movie with wide appeal using the Legos as a muse to do what the bricks have always done, light imaginations on fire.
Question is, five years later will everything be awesome in the sequel “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part”?
The last movie ended with the revelation that the movie’s Lego Land frenetic action had actually taken place in 8-year-old Finn’s (Jadon Sand) imagination. The new one focuses on Finn’s sister Bianca (“The Florida Project’s” Brooklyn Prince) disrupting her brother’s carefully built world of fancy with her Duplo-Block creations.
In the make-believe world Duplo aliens, led by shape-shifting villain Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) declare war on Bricksburg. Fast-forward five years. Optimistic construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Master Builder Lucy’s (Elizabeth Banks) home is now a smoking ruin called Apocalypseburg where if you show any weakness you will be destroyed. Dave is now called Chainsaw Dave and Sewer Babies live under the streets.
When Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Benny (Charlie Day) and MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) are kidnapped and transported to the Systar System by General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) Emmet and intergalactic archaeologist / Snake Plissken look-a-like Rex Dangervest (Pratt again) set off to rescue them. “Don’t worry Lucy,” says Emmett, “everything will still be awesome.”
“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is a pure pop art blast as though designed by kids. A mix of non-sequiturs, silly jokes, attention deficit editing, CPDs (Convenient Plot Devices) and music it zips along but isn’t as awesome as the original. The first film was a powerhouse of imagination and adventure. “The Second Part” has its moments—like the “Catchy Song” sequence—but feels like a dim bulb that doesn’t burn as brightly as it once did.
Like the first film the mayhem of Lego Land is tempered with real life lessons. In this case it takes an existential turn in the last third, expanding the mini fig story to shine a light on the fraught relationship between Finn and Bianca and their struggle to find a way to play together. When they learn to be kind and tolerant of one another their lives improve, as do those of their plastic figures.
“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’s” convoluted third reel paints the screen with too much frenetic CGI action but maintains the lesson of the first film, that NOT putting away childish things, like Lego blocks, is the key to making everything awesome, no matter what age. That the message doesn’t feel like a commercial for the brightly coloured blocks is a pleasant plus even if the movie feels like diminished returns.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the pure pop art blast of “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” the creepy kid movie “The Prodigy” and the Liam Neeson controversy.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia McMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, including the slap-and-tickle-a-palooza “Fifty Shades Darker,” the Lego-tastic “The Lego Batman Movie,” the gun-jitsu of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” and the wondrous “Paterson.”
You can take the boy out of Canada but you can’t take Canada out of the boy.
When I meet with Brampton, Ont.-born Michael Cera to chat about his new project, The Lego Batman Movie, he’s having lunch, eating a Waldorf salad.
The 28-year-old began his career in Canada with a Tim Hortons summer camp commercial before decamping to the United States, finding fame with Arrested Development and a string of successful movies like Superbad and Juno, but has retained his disarming Canadian politeness.
I walk in, he jumps up, “Do you want anything? Cheese? A coffee? How are you doing?”
Declining the snacks and coffee I ask him about the two-year process of recording vocal tracks to play half of the Dynamic Duo, Batman’s ward Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin.
“You are only focussed on your voice,” he says on the difference between live action and animation. “That gives you a certain amount of freedom to experiment in ways that you wouldn’t normally. And there’s nobody around. All self-consciousness that exists on a set where there is all this infrastructure put in place to set the camera up and point it at you and then you have to deliver. All that pressure is not there when you’re in the studio. They just press record. They’re not even recording on tape, it’s digital. You just go and experiment and fail as many times as you want.
“As far as improvisation goes, it was very loose on this. The script is good and he jokes at work and everything … you feel encouraged and take chances.”
The Lego Batman Movie is part parody, part homage to the Batman origin story. When we meet Batman, played by Cera’s former Arrested Development co-star Will Arnett, he may have outlived his usefulness as Gotham’s main do-gooder. What does a Caped Crusader do when the city no longer needs a vigilante crime fighter? Alfred Pennyworth, the superhero’s loyal butler and legal guardian suggests, “It’s time to face your greatest fear, being part of a family again.” Enter Dick Grayson.
“There’s a great foundation there,” Cera says about Batman’s backstory. “I think the reason Batman keeps getting rehashed is because it is a great core story with this great character and the world around him. There is a lot to play off of in that.”
It sounds heavy, but this isn’t Christopher Nolan’s long dark night of the superhero soul. “The best thing I can say about the tone is that it is a little like Chuck Jones,” Cera says. “Joke. Joke. Joke. It has that kind of rhythm.”
Cera’s willingness to be irreverent with the Batman mythology isn’t a lapse of manners — he is Canadian after all — it’s because, “I’m not an overly enthusiastic Batman fan. I didn’t grow up with the comics. Comics just didn’t land with me. I was really into cartoons and Nintendo. That was where my head was at. I loved watching the Batman movies but I don’t live and breathe it for some reason.”
“The Lego Batman Movie” movie begins with a pretty good joke. Over a darkened screen Batman’s raspy voice (Will Arnett) intones, “All important movies begin with black.” Unfortunately as the film goes on it becomes clear that it wasn’t just a gag, that director Chris McKay is trying to make an important, capital I, movie.
The movie kicks off with a wild opening sequence as The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) tries to destroy Gotham City. He brings along some super villains you have heard of, like Two Face and Harley Quinn, and some you haven’t like Gentleman Ghost and Condiment King. Mayhem ensues until Batman shows up. The resulting showdown sets up a familiar theme: without the bad, the good doesn’t exist.
“I’m fine with you fighting other people,” says The Joker, “but when people ask who your favourite villain is… You say Joker.”
The Caped Crusader refuses to acknowledge any bond with his nemesis. “Batman doesn’t do ships… as in the relationships.”
Later, police commissioner James Gordon retires, putting his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) in charge. As the new commissioner she brings in a new crime clan called It Takes a Village… Not Batman. “Despite all the work he’s done for us Gotham is still the most crime ridden city on earth,” she says.
As Batman’s importance to Gotham lessens The Joker changes the dynamics of their relationship by surrendering, thereby rendering Batman completely useless. “I’m off the menu, you won’t get to fight any of this anymore!”
But what does Batman do with the city no longer needs a vigilante crime fighter? Alfred Pennyworth, the superheroes loyal butler and legal guardian suggests, “It’s time to face your greatest fear… Being part of a family again,” but will the man who says, “I don’t feel anything emotionally except rage,” be able to embrace a home life?
Infected by some disease as the live action DC films “The Lego Batman Movie” is not content to simply be what it is, a silly movie about superheroes made of toy bricks. Instead it stretches to be a feel-good movie about the importance of relationships and friendships, even between friend and foe. What should have been a straight up parody becomes something else. It does poke gentle fun at Marvel and DC’s habit of squishing far too many characters in their movies and The Joker’s “unnecessarily complicated bombs,” but the main “you mean nothing to me, no one does” storyline could have been lifted from any of Christopher Nolan’s dissections of Batman psyche. It’s more tortured Batman this time but with 100% more jokes then anything Zack Snyder could ever imagine.
There are jokes and even a song or two—although nothing as catchy as “Everything Is AWESOME!!!” by Tegan and Sara—but this is more about relationship feels than it is about belly laughs. Sure, it’s funny when Batman sings, “I’ll turn Two Face into black and blue face,” but the rest doesn’t feel irreverent enough. This is a new world, a Lego universe where anything is possible so why is Batman still clinging to the anger generated by his parent’s death? Arnett has fun with the voice, giving the character an almost Trumpian level of self-regard, which raises a giggle or two but overall this doesn’t feel like a parody of Batman as much as it does a fuzzy carbon copy.
“The Lego Batman Movie” zips along at a tremendous pace with in-your-face animation and some jokes but the overwhelming amount of CGI muffles some of the charm of the original, creating a less organic, homemade feel. The first contained loads of CGI as well but disguised it better. The result is a hybrid, an animated action movie that both parodies and pays tribute to the comics and comic movies that inspired it.