The Lego Movie: 9/10
All things considered, the animated movie front has delivered a steady stream of quality films over the last decade and beyond. Even with a recent near-drowning in sequels, many new series have been happily embraced by audiences. Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s The Lego Movie provided arguably the freshest breath of air to the genre in some time with self-referential jokes poking fun at the genre’s cliched elements and excessive positivity (with the notable exception of the opening sequence of Up (2009) and other top-shelf Pixar films which weave somber elements into their fabric to make a more satisfying emotional product). Taking full advantage of the medium, the film constructs an amusing world of lego-physics. Actually, the film loses its step mainly when it leaves the lego-world and delves into live-action elements with a contrived story line. Animated movies function best when they bring us those whimsical visuals of a balloon-propelled house, two robots dancing in space, or an ogre and donkey escaping from a love-struck dragon. Plenty of fantastic animated movies center around digitally designed humans, but The Lego Movie continues the healthy tradition of imaginative visuals. As a bonus, Chris Pratt lends his happy-go-lucky goofiness to the brick-based central character and we are more than happy to witness his continued ascent in the film world.
300 Rise of an Empire: 3/10
Visually this movie is a few steps behind its predecessor. In terms of plot, acting, intrigue, and overall enjoyment, 300: Rise of an Empire isn’t even in the race. The movie is not without its moments but they are brief and infrequent. I have an admitted soft spot for sword-and-shield-epics but for every 300 (2006) and Gladiator (2000) we get plenty of The Legend of Hercules (2014), Pompeii (2014), Centurion (2010), Alexander (2004), The Wrath/Clash of the Titans (2010/2012), The Immortals (2011), Conan Redux (2011), The Eagle (2011) etc. The genre’s trash heap has piled high with few gems justifying its growth. But cheap rip-offs have always clamored behind established box-office successes in a panicked squabble for the box-office take. Horror tends to be the most reactionary genre in this regard with dozens of found-footage and exorcism films cropping up over the last few years. Great horror films exist, but no other genre will reach the mountainous proportions of horror’s junkyard.
The Colony: 1/10
This seemingly never-ending 93 minutes left me almost as angry and confused as Germany’s World Cup victory (actually the pain doesn’t come close). At least I knew 300: Rise of a Cashcow would be terrible. I didn’t expect much from this Morpheus/Bill Paxton venture but the final product is basically a bloated vessel of horror/zombie/post-apocalyptic sci-fi tropes loosely
welded stapled together and stretched to reach the 90 minute threshold only Adam Sandler dares to disobey. About halfway through the movie (aka about the amount of time it takes to watch one episode of Breaking Bad), I reached the horrifying and enraging realization that the loose and uninteresting plot of the first 45 minutes would be the plot of the entire movie, not just a boring teaser storyline we’d have to muddle through before the real action gets going. The Colony is an example of movies at their worst and is guilty on multiple counts; terrible acting (even from good actors), uninspired writing, uninteresting characters, and the demand that innocent movie-goers pay real money for a ticket.
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