Sing 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Garth Jennings
Was anyone expecting the first Sing to be anything more than cloying and treacly? I mean it’s not like Illumination has a great track record for this kind of thing, especially with those toothless Seuss adaptations, but they somehow pulled it off with that movie which was sweet, sincere, and my favorite animated movie the year it came out! The moment that it was over though, I knew that a sequel was coming and that it was probably going to be a bad idea. The first one worked as its own story, so trying to fit another one on top of it seemed like typical sequel folly and an obvious attempt at a cash grab. Then again, it’s not like I was expecting anything out of the first one and it managed to surprise me, so why not the sequel as well? Can this movie capture the magic of the first film and give us the rare animated sequel that is just as satisfying as the first one, or should we just be glad that we got a good movie in the first place and write this one off as a mere victory lap from Illumination? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, the Moon Theater is back and better than ever! The all-star cast of Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter (Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Kroll) are living their dreams and selling out shows every night; all of which should make Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who owns the theater very happy, right? I mean that’s kind of the dream that they were all striving for in the first one! Well… no. Apparently, they all want to go to the Sing universe equivalent of Las Vegas and perform shows there; presumably next to furry versions of Blue Man Group and Carrot Top. After a talent scout (Chelsea Peretti) brushes them off, Buster drags his cast as well as Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to the big city to prove that scout wrong and appeal to the biggest producer in the city; Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Carnavale). Through some high-level schmoozing and a white lie here and there, he agrees to give them a shot; albeit it with quite a few strings attached. They have three weeks to throw together a lavish Broadway-style show from scratch, they have to include Crystal’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) in some way, and they need to find rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono) so he can be a part of the show. That last one, in particular, is going to be difficult as no one has seen or heard from him in fifteen years, but if Buster says he can get him, then by Jove, he’s gonna get him! Can the crew pull off yet another amazing show, even with the added pressures of a bigger production and an overbearing executive? What new challenges will our heroes face on their latest venture, and is this perhaps the end of the road for them? I mean it’s not like Buster has a habit of getting in over his head, right? Surely he knows what he’s doing!
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Everyone loved The LEGO movie, right!? And then most people loved LEGO Batman, right!? And then LEGO Ninjago was… okay, right? Well now it’s time for the return of the one that started it all and it’ll be JUST as good as the original… right? Sigh… okay, so the trailers for this film haven’t filled me with a whole lot of confidence that it’ll be on the same level as the original film. It looks FINE if nothing else, but this is THE LEGO MOVIE! We don’t just want fine, we want PHENOMENAL! Then again, maybe that’s putting too much pressure on this film which doesn’t have the benefit of being such an out of the blue surprise, and while the trailers aren’t inspiring me with a lot of hope, maybe they’ll find a new angle to take it in that’ll make up for not being able to put the genie back in the bottle! Can this sequel be Justas good if not better than the first film, or has the LEGO phenomenon finally run its course? Let’s find out!!
Immediately following the events of the first movie, the Duplo aliens of the Systar System have waged an all-out war with the people of LEGO city for five whole years and have left it a Mad Max style barren wasteland with no more bright and shiny blocks. ONLY DARKNESS AND NO PARENTS!! Well except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) whose upbeat attitude cannot be damped even in the face of utter annihilation! That turns out to be a problem though as the nice house he built has attracted the Duplos once again and now they’ve taken all his friends from the first movie which includes Lucy AKA Wyldstyle, Batman, Benny, Princess Unikitty, and MetalBeard (Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman) back to their home planet for their own nefarious purposes that we soon learn to be a shotgun wedding between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) and a very reluctant Batman. Clearly something has to be done to save them, but the only one of the LEGO people willing to take the chance is Emmet who haphazardly travels through… space I guess, to find them. Along the way he is saved from an asteroid field by the dashing rouge Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) and his army of super smart velociraptors who agree to help Emmet on his journey to defeat the girly Systar invaders because being a TOUGH GUY means punching things that are pink and frilly! Can Emmet save his friends from Systar invaders who want to brainwash all of his friends and put Batman through a forced marriage!? Can Lucy escape from the Queen Watevra’s cunning grasp, and does she know something about this place that she isn’t telling the others? Is it just me, or did things get REALLY complicated for a movie about plastic toys?
Bad Times at the El Royale and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Drew Goddard
Oh hey! I know this guy! Yeah, didn’t he do that movie that everyone else liked but I was pretty nonplussed about? Okay, probably have to be more specific there. This is the guy who made The Cabin in the Woods (no not that guy, the guy who ACTUALLY directed it) which was an interesting idea but for me it suffered from a somewhat oblivious tone and an ending that soured me from ever really enjoying the film again. Well after a few years doing quite a bit of writing, he’s back in the director’s chair with this film that looks to be a mishmash of noir tropes as opposed to horror ones, though he managed to keep Chris Hemsworth around. Will this be the movie that sells me on the brilliance of this director after a somewhat disappointing opening salvo, or is this another guy who I’m just not gonna get and be a sourpuss about while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Let’s find out!!
The El Royale is a hotel on the border between Nevada and California, once a hotbed of celebrity debauchery but now a shell of its former self; handing out cheap rooms to unscrupulous and impoverished characters who aren’t really here for the ambiance. On the fateful day that this movie starts, there JUST SO HAPPENS to be quite a few people there who may or may not have nefarious schemes in mind, including the vacuum salesman Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), the kindly Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), and the mystery woman who signs the guestbook with an obscenity (Dakota Johnson). Now normally they would just go their separate ways and not bother one another no matter what bad stuff they’re into, but what the concierge Miles (Lewis Pullman) isn’t telling them is that this place isn’t simply a rundown hotel; rather it’s a rundown hotel WITH A SPYING ROOM! As each one of them goes about their business, things start to unravel as some discover this place and see what the others are up to which inevitably causes their stories to intertwine in ways that will either lead to fair and equitable compromises or an utter bloodbath; especially with the Mystery Woman having some serious baggage in the form of another mystery woman with her (Cailee Spaeny) and some dude who just might be looking for them (Chris Hemsworth). Will these lovely guests manage to finish what they came here to do with all their limbs still attached? What is each one of them hiding, and how important will it be to the other people there? How the heck did hotel stay open this long!? They’ve got ONE guy running the darn place!!
Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Garth Jennings
It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters. We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out. At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to. Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far? Let’s find out!!
The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions. Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition. I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary. Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on. Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better? What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else? Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?