Quick Takes: The Lego Movie, Machete Kills, Only God Forgives

lego_movie_ver9The Lego Movie (2014)
twohalfstar

Starring Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Jadon Sand
Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

So pretty much everyone loves this movie, but I just thought it was OK. I also found it ironic that the song Everything is Awesome became so popular among fans of the film, but yet it’s the butt of many jokes about the conformity of the mainstream Lego people in the movie. Whatever. The jokes largely fell flat for me, and while I enjoyed the premise and the imagination on display, it was all too loud and abrasive for my tastes. I did love the little Star Wars cameos and Batman’s hilarious song, though, and I wish the film had more of that kind of comedic brilliance.

machete-kills-new-poster-and-13-new-photos-1Machete Kills (2013)

Starring Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega, Marko Zaror, Tom Savini, William Sadler
Directed by Robert Rodriguez

This, on the other hand, was pure entertainment for me. Robert Rodriguez makes fun B-Movies, and I love him for it. Machete Kills feels like more of a James Bond spoof than a sequel to Machete, but as long as you like both Machete and Bond (like me), that isn’t an issue. Charlie Sheen is wonderful as the US President, and Mel Gibson definitely makes for a fun asshole villain. The film is somewhat spastic with its ultra-long list of characters, though, which doesn’t allow many of them to get much screen-time. I understand this allows for a long list of celebrities to fill the poster, but quality is usually better than quantity. But this is a B-exploitation flick, so more is better, right?

only_god_forgives_ver6Only God Forgives (2013)
onehalfstar

Starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Tom Burke, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Pitchawat Petchayahon, Charlie Ruedpokanon
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

There are times when I am a film masochist. Despite thinking Refn’s Drive was an overrated, boring mess of staring people, I felt compelled to watch Only God Forgives. I guess being set in Thailand was a big enough draw to pull me in, regardless of my misgivings. Anyway, this one probably has more staring than Drive. There’s even a whole scene where an entire room of people sit and stare, all while a man has his eyes cut out… Refn is clearly preoccupied with all things ocular. Even still, I think I liked this one a hair more than Drive because the exotic, urban Thai locations and the bold uses of color are pretty to look at. It’s also interesting to see what is basically a B-movie all dolled up in artsy clothes, but it’s not something that really works for me. At least in these clothes it doesn’t. For some reason, I still feel compelled to see more of Refn’s work. Like I said, sometimes I’m a film masochist.

Pacific Rim (2013)

pacificrim_1Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Diego Klattenhoff, Mana Ashida

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Expectations: Very high.

threehalfstar


Pacific Rim is the epitome of what the summer blockbuster film stands for, concerned only with being as awesome as it can possibly be. It may have the look and feel of an emotional story at times, but these moments are mere flourishes on the canvas of awesome. Consequently, the film can be quickly discredited by those that would prefer to cross their arms instead of raising them in a cheer — and they’re not wrong. Pacific Rim speaks directly to the 10-year-old inside you, warping you back to a time when the most pressing matter in your life was whether an awesome robot dude could beat up an awesome lizard dude. Director Guillermo del Toro is obviously a huge fan of that type of thinking, and he has delivered a grand, modern kaiju film for the ages.

Pacific Rim doesn’t waste a moment of your time, as roughly 30 seconds after it begins the first kaiju hits the screen. Concurrently, we learn of the genesis of the Jaeger program, or how nations put aside their differences to build massive, awesome robots to combat the kaiju scourge. But a few years into the Kaiju War, things aren’t so hot, and that’s where our tale begins. To tell any more would be to give away too much (not that there’s a lot to give away). Pacific Rim‘s strength is definitely not its storytelling, but its ability to consistently and thoroughly entertain.

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