Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Review: The Aftermath

The Aftermath (2019 film) poster.jpg
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Running Time: 108 minutes
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Alexander Skarsgård

The Aftermath take place post World War II in Hamburg, Germany, where you find Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel in charge of removing any Nazi presence in and rebuilding a city burned to ashes.  Rachael is ready to see what life brings the newly united couple as they set off to their new home.  However, the unexpected happens when Rachael finds out that the couple will be sharing a mansion together with its previous owners, a German widower Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled teenage daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann).

This movie gives you a vintage romance story set shortly after wartime; where the wounds have not healed and it is tough to have a true winner.  With the war being so recent, it is expected that all parties involved will have experienced some sort of loss.  Rachael, Lewis, Stephan, and Freda are all dealing with vivid recent losses that cause issues in the new tense home dynamic.  No parties tackle these issues head on, creating tension between the two families resulting in yet more drama.   

Overall I enjoyed this movie. I feel like the movie nails the plot points where it tries to elicit a vivid reaction from the viewers.  And this is accomplished by some solid, but not overly strong performances from the cast.  Alexander and Keira had great chemistry, an underrated aspect of Skarsgård's work (but which Knightley seems to always have in her roles).  Clarke is predictably solid as he is in any role he takes. My only issue with this film is that the plot is super thin and, quite frankly, predictable.  The movie tries to be an emotional roller coaster, and does pick the right spots to add some intrigue or serious aspects when necessary.  And with grief being a major factor, there is some part of the story that will resonate with all viewers despite its predictability.  The Aftermath is an emotional, yet predictable roller coaster with a solid cast and a story that can resonate with most anyone.  It is enjoyable and should be seen if you absolutely love the cast, but make sure to wait for it to come out on video / streaming.  

Rent it

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: The Hummingbird Project

Release date: March 15, 2019
Running time: 110 minutes
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek

What happens when your edge over the competition is measured in milliseconds?  How much would you give to get that advantage, even for a little bit?  That is the dilemma in the new drama, The Hummingbird Project.  It is a fictional story (though it appears to be based on a real life project without all the drama) that follows two people as they try to build a special purpose fiber line that goes directly from Kansas City to New York in as straight a line as possible.  This would allow them to reduce the latency in a trade by a millisecond, and theoretically have an advantage on all other traders because of this.  

If this premise sounds a bit mundane, then maybe this movie is not for you.  Although the main challenge sounds boring, and the movie can tend to slow to a crawl at times (ironic for a movie that is all about speed and latency), the Hummingbird Project serves up plenty of drama in this high stakes technology / construction caper.  The lengths that the main characters go to in order to realize their dream is interesting to watch, even if the film does tend to drag in places.  And the main characters themselves are well cast, with Jesse Eisenberg playing his trademark confident egomaniac, Skarsgård playing a neurotic genius, and Hayek as the main antagonist.  Skarsgård particularly looks like a completely different person; he went through a complete physical transformation and is almost unrecognizable in this role.

However, the main issue with the Hummingbird Project is that it is just not a very interesting movie.  The filmmakers try to use the film to warn of some modern vices: the obsession with technology, the role of money in modern society, and the harm that both of those do to people, but these lessons are thinly veiled and fairly obvious.  And the vehicle through which these warnings are delivered is still a movie about high stakes financial traders trying to reduce latency.  I wish the story had been based on a real one, so I could have been more invested in the characters; but there is no indication in the film that this is the case.  It works overall, and the movie is worth seeing for the performances and the interesting premise of the film, but you can have a few months of latency before that happens.

Rent it


 Image result for Missing link movie poster

MISSING LINK opens in theaters on April 12, 2019

This April, meet Mr. Link: 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, but don’t let his appearance fool you… he is funny, sweet, and adorably literal, making him the world’s most lovable legend at the heart of Missing Link, the globe-trotting family adventure from LAIKA. Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, our fearless trio of explorers encounter more than their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world to help their new friend. Through it all, the three learn that sometimes you can find a family in the places you least expect.

Director: Chris Butler
Writer: Chris Butler
Producers: Travis Knight p.g.a., Arianne Sutner p.g.a.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis, Timothy Olyphant, David Walliams, Emma Thompson, Matt Lucas, Ching Valdes-Aran, Stephen Fry, Amrita Acharia

Official Site: MissingLink.Movie
Facebook: /MissingLinkFilm
Instagram: @MissingLinkFilm 
Twitter: @LAIKAStudios

Screening details are below:

Saturday, April 6
AMC Mazza Gallerie
11:00 AM

to Download Passes NOW!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: Wonder Park

Release date: March 15, 2019
Running time: 85 minutes
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver

Let me just get this off my chest: the movie is called Wonder Park, but the park in the movie is called Wonderland!  My guess is that this is because of some sort of name dispute, but it just seemed odd.  That aside, Wonder Park is a cute, enjoyable kids movie that is a quick ride for all ages.  In the movie, the main character is transported to an imaginary park that she and her mom built as a kid, but something is slowly destroying the place.  June has to help her childhood toys figure out what is wrong and find a way to save Wonderland before it is too late.  

The movie is beautifully animated, with some very imaginative scenes that bring a child's imagination to life.  The Park itself is fun to explore, and seeing the characters overcome the various challenges is enjoyable.  The characters are imaginative, if a little one dimensional.  And those characters are brought to life by some good, but over the top voice acting.  The story itself proceeds at a brisk pace, with not much down time (a good thing for a kids movie, it definitely flies by).  However, that story goes from point A to point B with few roadblocks along the way.  Maybe this is good for a kids movie, but it seemed like there were little, if any challenges for the characters to overcome.  

Wonder Park is an imaginative, enjoyable experience for all ages.  The "scary" scenes are not frightening and the action is very family friendly.  The movie has some memorable characters, an interesting setting, but a fast story.  Wonder Park is not a roller coaster, but it is an enjoyable ride that will not leave you disappointed. 

Rent it

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Screening: The Best of Enemies

Image result for the best of enemies

In Theaters Friday, April 5, 2019

This film is rated PG-13

THE BEST OF ENEMIES is a timely, inspiring drama starring Academy Award® nominee Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) and Academy Award® winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Based on a true story, THE BEST OF ENEMIES centers on the extraordinary relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), a fearless and outspoken civil rights activist who faced off against C.P. Ellis (Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader, to blaze the way for school desegregation in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971.

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Nick Searcy, John Gallagher Jr., and Bruce McGill
Director: Robin Bissell
Writers: Written by Robin Bissell
Inspired by True Events Chronicled in the Book by Osha Gray Davidson
Producers: Danny Strong, p.g.a., Fred Bernstein, Matt Berenson, p.g.a., Robin Bissell, p.g.a, Dominique Telson, Tobey Maguire, Matthew Plouffe

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – @TheBestOfEnemies

Screening Details:
Wednesday, April 3rd
Regal Majestic

to Download Passes NOW!

Friday, March 8, 2019

What to Watch This Weekend: March 8, 2019

In Theaters: Captain Marvel
Marvel's origin story for it's newest fantastic female, and the last MCU movie before Avengers: Endgame.

From Redbox: Creed II
The follow-up to the surprisingly good Creed, this movie manages to make the tried-and-true Rocky formula feel fresh thanks to some fantastic performances and the introduction of characters from Rocky's past.

Streaming (Amazon): Meru
If you wanted to check out another movie from Jimmy Chin, the director of the Oscar winning documentary (and one of my favorite movies of last year) Free Solo, then check this out on Amazon Prime.

Streaming (Netflix): Incredibles II
In case you don't want to head to the theater to check out a superhero movie, Disney Pixar's Incredibles II is now on Netflix.  Although it doesn't feel as special as the first movie, it is an exciting sequel to one of the best Pixar animated films.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: Captain Marvel

Release date: March 8, 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn

Captain Marvel is the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to come out before next month's Avengers: Endgame.  If you were hoping that the movie would answer some of the burning questions left after Avengers: Infinity War, then you will be sorely disappointed.  Captain Marvel gives almost no clues as to what will happen in Marvel's next cinematic epic.  If you were hoping for a movie that would put Marvel on top of the female protagonist superhero movie genre, then you might also be disappointed.  Captain Marvel is many things, but it is not going to usurp Wonder Woman from that throne.  However, if you were hoping for a fun flashback into the origin of Marvel's newest (and strongest) female protagonist, then you won't leave disappointed.

The first thing you will notice about the movie (and something that some viewers might think is overdone) is the 90s nostalgia.  Captain Marvel beats you over the head with it at the start of the movie.  From the stores, to the technology, to the the music, Captain Marvel is overflowing with 90s references; it leaves no doubt what era it is set in.  Thankfully, it trails off as the film progresses, but the filmmakers do a good job of throwing additional references in to keep the 90s runaway train rolling.  The next thing you will notice about the movie is Brie Larson.  She does an great job as Captain Marvel, but unfortunately the character of Captain Marvel doesn't afford Larson the range that she is capable of.  She does a convincing job as Captain Marvel and was consistent with the story and character, but it was just unfortunate that Larson didn't seem to stretch her acting chops.  The rest of the casting is mostly spot on, with an honorable mention to the de-aged Samuel L. Jackson driving much of the story with his humor (when he is not overshadowed by Goose the cat).  

The story of Captain Marvel provides what you need from this film and the universe.  It tells an origin story of a new major character, and does so in a way that keeps the mystery until the last part of the film.  It ties into the overall Marvel cinematic universe, both with some recurring characters and key plot points.  However, it feels like the directors spent so much time on her backstory, that the latter half of the movie had to be rushed to fit into a two-hour movie window.  Several scenes progress too quickly, with potentially character building scenarios rushed to move onto the action.  Relationships are built too quickly and plot twists happen too conveniently.  

And that rush to the end also reflects on the final scenes.  Overall, the effects were very good, with the use of CG believable (to the extent that a super hero galaxy movie can be believable).  The de-aged characters are convincing and don't fall into the uncanny valley.  And the flashback scenes from Captain Marvel's past are beautifully done and help to draw you into the story.  However, in the rush to the finish, the movie jumps the shark in the effects department and the last third of the movie suffers when Captain Marvel herself falls into the uncanny valley.  I was disappointed as it distracted me during the climax of the film (think the Juggernaut fights in Deadpool 2), but overall the film has the expected level of Marvel cinematic effects polish.  And those effects are accompanied by great sound effects and a fantastic score fueled by 90s and Avengers nostalgia.

Captain Marvel introduces a pivotal new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; one that clearly has a central role in the next Avengers film.  The movie gives the audience her backstory in a fun, 90s-fueled story that also manages to tie together many aspects from other films in the MCU.  If you were hoping for a fun nostalgic movie that stars a strong female protagonist, then take a flight with Marvel's newest fantastic female.

Watch it

Listen to our Audio Podcast review Hosted by Cj of below 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Screening: The Hummingbird Project

Image result for "The Hummingbird Project" Poster
Directed & Written By: Kim Nguyen
Starring:  Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek
Release Date: Friday, March 22 (Washington, DC)
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rating: R

In this modern epic, Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world. Cousins from New York, Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High-Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their quixotic adventure. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek), a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game.

Screening Details:
Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema
Thursday, March 14th

To enter for a chance to win tickets to this screening, please send an email to watchorpass [at] gmail with the subject "THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT" and include in the body of the email your name and the answer to the question: "What is your dream project?"

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Screening: Captain Marvel

Image result for captain marvel official poster

Marvel Studios: Captain Marvel

The story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Summary: Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom. 
Release Date: March 8, 2019  
Captain Marvel - March 8
Tickets for this screening are very limited 

Screening details:
Tuesday, March 5 – 7:30pm

Regal Majestic

 This screening will be in IMAX 2D.

To enter, please send an email to watchorpass [at] gmail with the subject "Captain Marvel" and include your name, email address, and the answer to the following question: " Who would you page or call if it was the end of the world?"

Winners will be notified Friday March 1st

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Release date: February 22, 2019
Running time: 104 minutes
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett

It's crazy to think that How to Train Your Dragon is nine years old!  The third (and if the filmmakers are to be believed final) movie in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy builds off of what happened in the previous two.  Hiccup and Toothless are faced with multiple dilemmas: a new dragon is discovered that has them both distracted and a new enemy rises that threatens everything that they have worked so hard to build.

As with any animated movie, the first focus is on the animation itself.  And thankfully, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World delivers in that department.  The HTTYD universe is full of different types of unique dragons, and they are all beautifully animated.  Additionally, for this film the dragon riders have been given new equipment and armor inspired by the various dragons.  The detail is immense, with visible individual scales on the armor and hair that moves with the wind.  And as with any dragon movie, the flying is spectacular with little details like realistically rendered clouds that react to the environment being a noticeable surprise. 

This is a kids movie, so the story doesn't have to make complete sense.  But this story is pretty bad.  That is fine because the characters that experience that story and the accompanying action are great, but the story itself seems to just push characters into convenient locations and encounters without any real reason why.  That being said, it does have a surprisingly satisfying ending and one that is a great capping point for this film franchise.  Additionally, some of the characters are just plain annoying, but again, as a kids movie this is to be expected.  

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a beautifully animated movie that continues and concludes the story from the first two films.  It is fun to watch, despite its less than stellar story, and provides a fitting end to this high flying trilogy.

Watch it

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Screening: The Aftermath

Image result for the aftermath poster
In DC-area theaters March 22nd

THE AFTERMATH is set in postwar Germany in 1946. Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arrives in the ruins of Hamburg in the bitter winter, to be reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an unexpected decision: They will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.
Directed by:                                        James Kent
Screenplay by:                                   Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse and Rhidian Brook
Based on the novel
THE AFTERMATH by:                       Rhidian Brook
Produced by:                                      Jack Arbuthnott, p.g.a. & Malte Grunert, p.g.a.
Cast:                                                      Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgård, Jason Clarke
Facebook: @TheAftermathTheMovie
Twitter and Instagram: AftermathMovie

Screening Details:

Monday, March 18th
Landmark Bethesda

to Download Passes NOW!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Screening: Fighting With My Family

Image result for fighting with my family official poster

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a heartwarming comedy based on the incredible true story of WWE Superstar Paige™. Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her family and face this new, cut-throat world alone. Paige’s journey pushes her to dig deep, fight for her family, and ultimately prove to the world that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.

Stephen Merchant   

Kevin Misher, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Stephen Merchant, Michael J. Luisi 

Andy Berman, Hiram Garcia, Daniel Battsek, Tracey Josephs, David Kosse, Rhodri Thomas

Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, with Vince Vaughn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson 
Twitter: @FightingWMyFam
Instagram: @FightingWMyFam

Screening Details:
AMC Mazza Gallerie

7:00 PM

to Download Passes NOW!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review: The Prodigy

Release date: February 8, 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Peter Mooney

If you were looking for one of the creepiest films of the year (maybe ever), then look no further.  The Prodigy delivers creepiness in spades.  The film is about a young boy who is exceptionally smart but also has a dark side that grows darker the older he gets.  His parents must try to figure out "what is wrong with Miles" before something terrible happens.  

The best thing about The Prodigy is the acting of Jackson Robert Scott.  Young Georgie from 2017's IT is back with another horror film role, but this one lets him really work his acting chops.  He is both sweet and creepy at times--often in quick succession--doing a fantastically unsettling job as young Miles.  The film making is also quite good, with a masterful use of light and dark to raise the tension to 10.  I was on the edge of my seat a lot due to a combination of the unpredictable nature of the movie amplified by the stellar lighting.

But the problem with the Prodigy is the story is kind of ridiculous. Now look, I understand that horror movies often have supernatural or unbelievable underpinnings, but this one is particularly egregious.  And to movie makes sacrifices to move the plot along.  Some characters are too conveniently knowledgeable about the main conflict in the movie and other characters just make ridiculous choices that no rational person would make.  The story moves from point A to point B, but that journey is less than ideal.  For a film that does so much right, it is a shame that this major part is not up to snuff.  If you want to see a creepy film that has great tension and lots of jump scares, then check out the Prodigy in the comfort of your own home.  

Rent it

Review: Alita: Battle Angel

Release date: February 14, 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly

Alita: Battle Angel is based off of the Yukito Kishiro cyberpunk manga series from 1990.  This is not that manga's first movie adaptation; two of the volumes were turned into two original video adaptations titled Battle Angel Alita.  The story follows a cybernetic girl who has lost her memories, but is drawn to conflict and using her fighting prowess to right the wrongs of the world she wakes up in.

Alita: Battle Angel is more than just based on that manga series, the filmmakers clearly loved that source material as many aspects of the manga make their way into the movie.  The most noticeable (and probably polarizing) aspect of this is Alita herself: the character's eyes are roughly twice what they should be, a clear callback to the manga and anime character's propensity to have disproportionately large eyes.  Additionally, the characters will occasionally have overblown and exaggerated reactions, something that is common in anime.  I'm sure many moviegoers will think this is poor acting or writing, but I appreciated the authenticity that the filmmakers were going for.  Additionally, some of the dialogue is likewise confusing and out of order, again what I think is a callback to how the original Japanese would have been translated.  These small touches would probably be ignored by most of the target audience, but I loved seeing them in a major studio film.  

The first thing you will notice about this film (and probably the reason many people are going to see it) are the special effects.  The CG is unreal in this movie.  As with any computer-generated character, the risk of falling into the uncanny valley is very high, but the filmmakers used some innovative video game-inspired techniques to turn Alita into a lifelike member of the cast.  Rosa Salazar filmed the movie in a motion capture suit (to record her body movements) with two high definition cameras aimed at her face (to record her facial animations).  The result of all this effort is a clearly computer generated character that moves and emotes like a regular actor.  

Alita: Battle Angel does have several flaws, so make sure you know what you are getting into.  The movie is fun and exciting, a great summer popcorn flick.  But the movie is not going to win awards for complexity or easy to follow plot.  Several details are left unexplained and the ending is unsatisfying, clearly setting the movie up for a follow on sequel.  And for those that don't appreciate some of the anime influences, the dialogue and character reactions can be unsettling.

That being said, Alita: Battle Angel is a special effects force that should be seen in theaters to fully enjoy.  The animation and sound are awe-inspiring, and the effort that the filmmakers went to to realize this world is great to see.  Despite its flaws, this is movie you will want to see in theaters to really take in everything it has to offer.  

Watch it

Monday, February 4, 2019

Review: Fighting With My Family

Release date: February 14, 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, Florence Pugh 

What would you do to achieve your dream?  And what would it take to actually realize that dream once you were given the opportunity?  Fighting With My Family is a WWE produced movie based on the true story of WWE Divas phenom Paige.  The story follows Paige's unlikely journey wrestling in an obscure English amateur wrestling league to the largest wrestling federation in the world.  There was much more drama than I had thought there would be, which I enjoyed seeing.  Although wrestling is a key focus of the movie, a lot of the film deals with Paige's own personal struggles going from her tight knit, familiar family setting to the more ruthless process of trying to become a wrestling professional.  

And to complement the drama (and as is instantly clear from the trailer), there is a surprising amount of humor thrown in.  As with any good WWE event, there is plenty of fighting, dramatic performances, and a good amount of humor thrown in to keep the audience entertained.  The characters are all quirky and entertaining; the story is fun to follow; and the overall effort put in by Paige to fulfill her dream is great to see.  Pugh is believable as a young Paige and has you rooting for her from the start.  The Rock and Vince Vaughn are both perfect in their roles, with the Rock adding his trademark humor and wrestling authenticity to the film.  

The movie is not without its flaws.  The character progression is made for Hollywood, with too convenient character changes and epiphanies at just the right times.  Also, the movie takes some liberties with the time line that makes the last part of the movie seem too convenient to be true.  The compressed timeline also cheapens the effort that Paige put forth to fulfill her dream, making it seem like she worked hard, but that it wasn't as difficult as the real life story.

Despite these minor flaws, Fighting With My Family gives you a heartwarming story, filled with thoroughly enjoyable characters and action, that takes some creative liberties but still tells a solid tale.  I haven't watched wrestling in years (I used to sneak downstairs to watch WCW on Saturday morning before my parents woke up) but I loved this film; fans of wrestling, both old and new, will enjoy watching this.

Watch it

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Release date: February 8, 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett 

The Lego characters are back for a follow up to the surprise 2014 hit about the iconic childhood toy.  The story follows the events of the first film, with the heroes encountering a powerful new adversary that causes their world to change into a decidedly less awesome and more desolate place.  Can Emmett's relentless positivity survive in this harsh world?  That is one of the many questions that are answered in this second movie.

As far as sequels go, this one is a decent successor.  It changes enough about the first film to keep everything fresh, and introduces a host of new semi-Lego characters to change up the formula.  All the main characters have returned and it introduces fun new ones to liven up the adventure.  The animation is as stellar as the first, with plenty of Lego details that are lovingly thrown in.  The attention to detail is insane, with oceans of legos, great modern effects "de-mastered" into lego style, and wear on the various characters that one would expect from typical rough play.

However, the movie isn't without its flaws.  The story, while being a new adventure, wasn't as engaging as the first one.  I found myself wondering several times why certain events were happening and when the story would move on.  There is a ton of foreshadowing in the movie that also makes the plot predictable.  Maybe this film just isn't as special as the first one.  The first movie was such an amazing breath of fresh air, a unique animation style for an old children's toy, that perhaps this film just couldn't live up to that.

The Lego Movie 2 is a good sequel to the phenomenal first movie, but the story is easy to follow and it doesn't have the same special charm that the first film had.  Only masterbuilders should see it in theaters.  Everyone else should:

Rent it