‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ Review

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The Lego Ninjago Movie is the third film in The Lego Movie franchise created by Warner Bros. As a reimagining of the television show Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, The Lego Ninjago Movie tells the story of Lloyd Garmadon, as he attempts to accept the truth about his evil warlord father, Lord Garmadon. At the same time, he must lead his ninja team to defeat a new threat that endangers their homeland, Ninjago. The film stars Jackie Chan as Master Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd Garmadon, Olivia Munn as Koko (Lloyd’s mom), and Michael Peña as Kai. When I first saw the trailer for this film I was excited to see it. It reminded me of the Mighty Morphin’ Ninja Rangers, complete with giant mechs. I had not seen the animated series so all of this was new to me. Still, I was excited to see how the writers were going to combine the elements from the show with enough pop culture references to make the film enjoyable for all, as previous writers did in both The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. However, after watching the finished product I have to say The Lego Ninjago Movie falls short, making it the least enjoyable film in The Lego Movie franchise thus far. I addition, the story is lackluster and pretty straightforward. The film seems more like a continuation of the show instead of its own thing. There isn’t much character building (pun intended), so when things happen to the characters, I didn’t care. This film is clearly aimed more towards kids than adults and does not include the pop culture references to kung fu films that I hoped it would. The few funny jokes they have in the film are repeated multiple times, which takes away from humor. The worst part is that the film seems very disconnected from the other Lego movies in this universe. The way the film is set up, it would have to be a prequel to the other two films because Lloyd Garmadon, the Green Ninja, makes a small cameo in The Lego Movie, but in The Lego Ninjago Movie there is no mention of Master Builders or any other Lego characters outside of the Ninjago universe. Now, for the positives: All of the voice acting is great, especially Jackie Chan and Dave Franco! Jackie Chan even plays a part during the film’s live-action segment. Also, the quality of the animation is beautiful. Every character has such fine detail and everything looks as if it is really made of Legos. Some of the jokes are well written, but, as I mentioned before, they get worn out by the end of the film. I give The Lego Ninjago Movie a Normal 6.5/10. Hopefully, there is more connective tissue added if the characters appear in The Lego Movie Sequel or The Billion Brick Race. As a final fun note: all the ninjas have an element to match their respective colors. The Green Ninja is life, the Red Ninja is fire, the Gray Ninja is water, the White Ninja is ice, the Blue Ninja is lightning, the Black Ninja is earth, and the best of all, the Fuchsia Ninja embodies the element of surprise! (You’ll understand when you see it)

 

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‘GLOW’ Season One Review

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I know I’m a little late getting this review up, but I had a pretty busy summer. I had so many shows to catch up on, but I finally got around to watching GLOW. Based on the 2012 documentary, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, GLOW is a dramedy about the struggling actress, Ruth Wilder, trying to make it in 1980s Hollywood. Unable to get any good roles, Ruth eventually takes an audition for ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’ (‘GLOW’). I have to say that I really enjoyed watching this show. From the first episode I was hooked and wanted to know everything about every character. Alison Brie is phenomenal as Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder. Even though I’ve seen her in films including How to Be Single and The Five Year Engagement, this is the first role where her acting ability wowed me. Some of the most comical scenes of the show involve Ruth creating her Zoya the Destroya moniker. The writers do a good job at combining comedic elements with serious situations. I felt for Ruth’s struggle as a talented and dedicated actress who just can’t catch a break. Throughout the season, Ruth has conflicts with her director Sam Sylvia and her former best friend Debbie Eagan. Brie does a great job at emoting the conflict Ruth feels as she struggles to make things right with her friend Debbie. She regrets her past mistakes, but is ready to move past them. This is hindered by the fact that her new boss and coworkers know about the drama between them. As a viewer, I wanted her to get a win, but at the same time I wanted to see how long she would have to struggle first. It is interesting to see her connect with the other girls. She works to bring them all together while coaching them to be better actors so that the show can improve. Also, Betty Gilpin is great as Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan. I can imagine how women could relate to Debbie’s life balancing motherhood, marital issues, and a dwindling career. Seeing how much she wishes to fix her relationship with Ruth even though she remembers why the friendship ended brings so much more depth to her character. The fact that everything isn’t completely resolved between her and Ruth at the end of the season makes me want the second season to get here even sooner. Other standouts in the show are: Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia, Sydelle Noel as Cherry “Junkchain” Bang, Britney Young as Carmen “Machu Picchu” Wade, and Chris Lowell as Sebastian “Bash” Howard. I could relate to these secondary characters because of the backstory they are given this season. I’m sure this was done on purpose as to leave more mystery for the rest of the characters to be exposed in later seasons. I give GLOW season one a Superb 5/5. If GLOW continues on the same track it could be a bigger hit than Orange Is the New Black. The shorter season and 30 minute episodes only help with its appeal. If necessary, the show can be binged in one day. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the show’s executive producer is Jenji Kohan, who is also the creator of Orange Is the New Black and Weeds.

Batman & Robin: A Comical Cinematic Masterpiece

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For most DC fans, Batman & Robin is ranked among the worst DC films ever made. For other film fans, Batman & Robin is considered the worst film of all time. I am here to paint the film in a new light. When I first saw this film I was seven years old. I convinced my aunt to take my brother, my cousin, and I to see this film instead of Men in Black. Much to my brother and my cousin’s chagrin, we went to watch the film. I thought it was fantastic and remember running around the store after the film punching paper towels screaming, “I’m Batman!” I have recently rewatched the film with my nephew, who loves Batman, and it still holds up. Although, as an adult, I see the film for what it truly is: a comedy. In many ways its the most “Batman” Batman film we have ever had. And here’s why:

Beware as there will be mild SPOILERS below!

Batman Wasn’t A Solo Act

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What issue does Hollywood have against Robin? Ever since Batman & Robin was released in 1997 we have not had a true Robin appear in film. The Dark Knight Trilogy gave us a Batman origin story where there is NO Robin (I’m talking to you Joseph Gordon-Levitt!) and the DCEU’s version of Batman is older and has at least one dead Robin. This is revealed to be Jason Todd in Suicide Squad, so maybe he’ll pop up later if Matt Reeves gives us an adaptation of “Under the Red Hood”. All that aside, both of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films managed to not only squeeze in the character of Dick Grayson, but make him an integral part of the plot. He first appeared in Batman Forever where his family is killed and he is taken in by Bruce Wayne. Eventually, he becomes Robin and works with Batman to avenge his family. Then, he appears again in Batman & Robin, where he is tired of being in Batman’s shadow and is looking to move from sidekick to full-fledged partner. In these films, the dynamic duo behave as if they are brothers. They fight like brothers, argue like brothers, and have each other’s back like brothers. Also, in this adaptation we see another one of Batman’s partners, Batgirl, on screen for the first and last time. Perhaps, Joss Whedon can change that with his upcoming film, Batgirl, if it ever enters production.

Batman Had All The Gadgets

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Batman carries a utility belt for a reason. Also, his suit is modified with all kinds of precautions to either keep him safe or to stop people from unmasking him. In Batman & Robin, we see a variety of gadgets in use, from lasers to video recorders to ice skates to — credit cards. The Batsuit in this film was pretty much a proto Iron Man suit, but with a better design. People say that the ice skates were a bit too much, but why is that so? This film exemplified Batman’s moniker as the World’s Greatest Detective, because he was always prepared. Batman knew all there was to know about Victor Fries and his motivations. Batman knew that if he had to battle Victor, then it would make sense to have his and Robin’s costumes outfitted with skates, lasers, etc. In the end, every gadget used in the film was worth having.

Bat Nipples

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The Bat-nipples get way too much flack. Nobody cared in previous films when the Batsuit had abs. Superheroes are meant to be in perfect shape and good looking. Hence, why George Clooney was cast as Bruce Wayne. When Joel Schumacher was making Batman & Robin he wanted them to look like Greek Gods! Therefore, he had their costumesBatman modeled after the ancient Greek sculptures. On screen they looked like action figures brought to life. Also, I have to say that it worked because Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze all looked either very imposing or very sexual in the film. The muscles on their suits alone made them look bigger than the henchmen and the cops that they fought against, respectively. Christian Bale’s Batman, while an excellent interpretation, was not very imposing on screen. Yes, we have seen in Ben Affleck’s interpretation of The Dark Knight that Batman can be be large without looking like he was carved from marble. But the outfit in Batman & Robin, like the film itself, was very much a product of it’s time.

It’s A Comedy

Now onto my original point. Batman & Robin is a comedy. The film was meant to parody the mythology of Batman as well as pay homage to the original Adam West series. The only thing it was missing was a few BAM, POW, and WHAM symbols during the fight sequences. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ice-themed puns, to Uma Thurman’s seductive dance number, I don’t see how people can’t help but laugh and enjoy the film. I can agree that Batman & Robin may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is in no way a bad film and is definitely not the worst film of all time… that honor belongs to The Last Airbender! Batman & Robin is just a different interpretation of a character that we all love and enjoy. Currently, we have an awesome, older, gritty take on Batman in the DCEU, and hopefully a great new solo story on the way with The Batman. But, I implore you readers to go back and enjoy Batman & Robin for the comedy that it is. And remember, if the film had been a critical as well as a box office success, then all future Batman films would have been modeled after it. Meaning that we would not have received Christopher Nolan’s Academy Award winning The Dark Knight Trilogy or Zack Snyder’s and Ben Affleck’s interpretation as seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Now give the film another try and let me know what you think in your comments below.

Rick and Morty “Rest and Ricklaxation” Review

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 8.03.32 PMWe have another episode in the books that gives us more information about the conflicting psyche of Rick. “Rest and Ricklaxation” did a great job letting the viewers learn more about what Rick thought of himself in an obscure way. In this episode, Rick and Morty decide to take a vacation to an intergalactic day spa after a very troubling mission. While there, they have the toxins sucked out of their bodies, leaving them relaxed and less cynical. Things change when the toxic versions of themselves escape the day spa and try to take back their lives. This gave viewers insight on the Rick and Morty dynamic and shows how they balance each other out. Without his toxins, Rick is a good guy who wants to do the right thing and he sees that his actions have consequences. We see how much he loves his grandson, even though he does not show it in an overly abundant way. He is willing do anything to fix his mistakes, even if it means sacrificing himself. Without his toxins, Morty is confident, talkative, selfish, and a bit of an asshole. He doesn’t care about his grandfather or what happens to the other people in his life. He was willing to let his toxic version die because he thinks those parts of his psyche are unnecessary. Also, we see that Morty is highly intelligent, which contrasts past episodes in which viewers are told he has a learning disability. This leads us to believe that his insecurities are the only thing holding him back. The artistic choices taken in this episode are subtle, but make the episode better when noticed. A prime example is the color changes of Rick and Morty without their toxins. The animators made their colors less muted and their expressions more upbeat. Other noticeable inclusions in the episode are exactly how many precautions Rick has hidden throughout the Smith household. We basically saw that if anyone managed to deal a lethal blow to Rick that he had ways to preserve his life. The funniest of these was in a scene that mirrored the birth of a xenomorph from the Alien franchise. We have seen Rick use technology before to prevent his death, but never in such close quarters. I give “Rest and Ricklaxation” a Good 4.6/5. I was hoping this episode would give viewers another world ending apocalypse as seen in “Rick Potion #9”, but maybe they are saving that for another time.

Rick and Morty “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” Review

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Finally we get a Rick and Jerry episode. After not seeing Jerry the past two episodes, it was nice for us to get an update on how his life is going and it was just as horrible as we expected. “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” was the perfect episode to give us some insight into Jerry’s relationship with Rick. Due to Morty pitying his father, he gets Rick to take him out on an adventure to cheer him up. However, since Rick knows Jerry would most likely die, he takes him to a space resort where all the inhabitants are immortal as long as they are on the property. The reason Rick takes Jerry here is a nice callback to “Mortynight Run”, where Rick admits that “Jerrys don’t tend to last five minutes off of Earth”. There are a lot of laughs to be had at the resort. Especially when things start to head south. The bits here are a satire on how rich people can sometimes horrible parents. Knowing how much Jerry truly loves Beth, its sad to watch as Rick breaks him down at every turn. We find out that Jerry still blames Rick for ruining his marriage and that Rick blames Jerry for ruining his daughter’s life. It’s the typical story of the father not thinking the daughter’s husband is good enough for her. While this may be true considering who Rick is in the universe, it was still harsh for him to take all of his anger out on Jerry. Its like he knows its really his fault she’s with Jerry because he wasn’t around much when she was younger. Thus she had issues with men in her life and settled. Also, there’s the fact that Jerry got Beth pregnant on prom night, which Rick is clearly still livid about. This leads us into the B story involving Beth, Morty, and Summer. It’s becoming clear that Beth’s horrible parenting skills stem from her father Rick. She’s no better of a parent than he was to her. She has a hard time connecting with her children and cares more about pleasing her father so that he won’t leave her again. Morty lets her know that if she keeps in with that line of thinking, she will lose her family entirely. Overall this episode was hilarious and offered much more insight into how horrible of a person Rick actually is. He cares little about the lives he destroys as long as he comes out on top. His intelligence is really a gift and a curse as its what keeps getting him in these predicaments to begin with. Yet, thanks to his intelligence, he is always able to get out scott free. I give “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” a Superb 5/5! It’s interesting that we keep getting to see more of Morty’s dark side. He’s becoming more and more like Rick every episode. Maybe we will get more insight into that this season as well.