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.

Casa de mi Padre (2012)

casa-de-mi-padre-poster-will-ferrell-690x1024Starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Gael García Bernal, Manuel Urrego, Nick Offerman, Jerry Collins

Directed by Matt Piedmont

Expectations: Pretty high, but Will Ferrell movies are usually a thumbs down for me.

threehalfstar


Like many of the films I review here, Casa de mi Padre is not a movie for everyone. You could arguably say that about most movies, but this movie, like any true genre film, is strictly for a select group of people. If you’re someone that’s seen a shitload of Will Ferrell comedies and loved them, then this probably isn’t your movie. But if you’ve seen some low-budget Mexican films or telanovelas and enjoyed them and you like Will Ferrell in general, then this is your movie. The comedy here is mostly subtle nods to the genre’s tropes and shortcomings, and will go over the heads of those expecting Ferrell’s usual bombastic comedy.

The story tells a tangled web of deceit and intrigue surrounding the Álvarez family. Raul (Diego Luna), brother of ranchero Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell), returns home from the big city to introduce his fiancée to his family. From here… hmm… I’ve tried to summarize the plot succinctly for a few minutes now and have come up with nothing that could tell the story quick and dirty without spoiling many of the melodramatic reveals. So basically, Armando must defend the honor of his family from the evil drug dealer Onza. It takes a while to get around to that, but that’s basically the drive of the story.

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