February: The Five Films to See

The LEGO Batman Movie – 2/10

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Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted. (IMDb)

The LEGO Movie was a fantastic example of how to create an animated feature capable of being equally enjoyed by both kids and adults.  Who would’ve thought that a film about LEGOs would provide such a hilarious critique of consumerism and American cultural values?  While I’m a little skeptical that the sequel will be able to match its predecessor’s wit, I’m confident that it will deliver a hefty amount of laughs.  Plus, Ralph Fiennes is voicing Alfred the butler.  How can you resist that?

John Wick: Chapter 2 – 2/10

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After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. (IMDb)

John Wick was action filmmaking done right.  While Keanu Reeves has given some questionable performances over the course of his career (Remember his attempt at a British accent in Bram Stoker’s Dracula?), his prowess as a physical performer is nearly unrivaled in Hollywood.  He was reputed to have done around 90 percent of the stunts in John Wick himself and it shows.  The film could work as a masterclass for crafting energetic, impactful action.  If the sequel can retain these qualities, we’re in for a treat.

The Great Wall – 2/17

The Great Wall Movie Stills

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European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures. (IMDb)

Now bear with me on this one.  I would likely write this film off if it weren’t for these two words: Zhang Yimou.  This man is one of the most renowned directors working in China today.  A number of his films have gone on to receive Academy Award and Golden Globe recognition, cementing his status as a director revered on an international level.  A cursory glance at the trailer is enough to tell you that The Great Wall will not be met with the same amount of appreciation that Yimou’s best has received.  It’s an action-adventure monster film and a piece of unadulterated popcorn entertainment.  And with a director who has a flair for creating exquisite action sequences, that may not be a bad thing.

A Cure for Wellness – 2/17

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An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. (IMDb)

At last, Gore Verbinski is making his return to psychological horror.  Fifteen years ago, he started the American J-horror remake craze with The Ring, a competent, disturbing film that some consider to be better than the Japanese original.  He later went on to direct the first three installments in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, catapulting him to directorial stardom.  But film fans have always wondered when he’d go back to the genre where he thrived.  A Cure for Wellness marks that return, and if the trailer serves as any indication, Verbinski hasn’t lost his touch.

Get Out – 2/24

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A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate. (IMDb)

Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele.  Wait, Jordan Peele?  The man from Key & Peele is directing a horror flick?  Set aside your consternation friends.  The buzz for this film has skyrocketed since its warm reception at the Sundance Film Festival.  In my previous blog entry, I wrote briefly about how the horror genre has been suffering from stagnation over the past few years.  Get Out looks like it could be one of the rare cases where something fresh is on offer.  Race relations is, to my knowledge, predominantly uncharted territory for the genre.  Let’s hope Peele’s film is an assured blend of nail-biting intensity and satirical bite.



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