You can’t go wrong with the spin-off and sequels in the week’s new releases. Well, unless you go see Fifty Shades Darker. That’s going very wrong.
1. The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Brothers, 4,088 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated PG for rude humor and some action, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 91% Fresh [155 reviews]): If I am being honest with you, I wasn’t a big fan of Batman in The LEGO Movie. I mean, it didn’t ruin my childhood or anything, and I don’t abjectly hate it. But I just thought it was a rather one note parody similar to every other parody the character ever had.
That being said, if any character from that film was going to get a spin-off, it would be Batman, because, well, he’s Batman. The curiosity factor alone would bring people in the doors.
The film presents Batman with his biggest challenge yet, Joker and some of Batman’s worst bad guys are making an all out attack on Gotham. Batman will need help to bring the Joker down–something the loner doesn’t think he needs.
The film has received some great reviews–including one from FBOL head Honcho Rich Drees–so maybe that one-note parody added a few more notes.
2. Fifty Shades Darker (Universal, 3,710 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 7% Fresh [94 reviews]): Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we get one woman’s unique view on romance. Yes, in E.L. James world, if that hot guy skeeves you out with all-day, everyday BDSM, dump him and make sure you don’t get back with him until he stalks you for months and months. And if you are the guy, keep those flowers and surprise visits coming, because even though it is mondo creepy stalking, it will only be a matter of time before she’s back into your arms.
Rumor has it that James was none too pleased that director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcell dared try to make her literary masterpiece better. So she had them bumped for the sequels, which were shot back-to-back, and replaced then with director James Foley (who has made several good films, including At Close Range and Glengarry Glen Ross) and as screenwriter, her husband Niall Leonard, who has a number of screenwriting credits for British television. Presumably, they were both hired because they were willing to let James boss them around.
But let’s face facts. The books were poorly written recycled fan fiction and they inexplicably became a international sensation. The first film was bad and became a major hit. This one seems to be worse and will probably be a hit but even if it isn’t, we’re still getting another one. So, haters can hate, but there’s nothing else you can do.
3. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Lionsgate/Summit, 3,113 Theaters, 122 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity, Rated R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 90% Fresh [103 reviews]): John Wick was a surprise critical and commercial success, which, as a fan of an action movie, makes me happy. Now Keanu Reeves is back as the legendary hitman in a film that promises to be bigger and better than before.
In this film, Wick is forced to take a contract by a crime lord who he owes a blood oath to. Unfortunately, the crime lord double crosses Wick. Bad idea. Because it sets Wick on a path of vengeance that will end with him taking on every assassin in the world only to survive.
The film also marks a reunion of Matrix co-stars Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. So, it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
Next week, we’ll have three films that will strain all reason and make you question what you know, but not all in a good way.