rosario dawson

[Movie Review] ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is the Hilarious and Heartfelt Hero We Deserve

In 2016 we saw Batman twice in theaters and for most of us, we left those two encounters less than enthusiastic. With Warner Bros. flailing wildly in need of a hit, in steps some tiny plastic toys to save the day. Even with as good as The LEGO Batman Movie is, it also amplifies how inept Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were at the most fundamental level–being entertaining. In a way, the latest in the Batman universe acts as a sincere apology for the aforementioned disappointments.

To be fair The LEGO Batman Movie has the benefit of irreverent humor that leans heavily in meta territory. The film exists in a world where Gotham City and its citizens are kind of tired of Batman’s shenanigans. Years of fighting bad guys and yet crime rates are as high as ever. Even Batman’s greatest enemy, Joker, has decided that he must concoct a new scheme to get the Caped Crusader in touch with his emotions. With the help of a recently adopted orphan, Dick Grayson, and the city’s new commissioner, Barbara Gordon, Batman embarks on a mission to save his tarnished reputation and the city.  (more…)

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Movie Review: Zookeeper (2011)

Kevin James has at least one project set in New York that I always found him very funny in and ZOOKEEPER isn’t it. The chubby but loveable husband from King of Queens always manages to make me laugh in all of his movies, although his filmography is lacking in that one movie everyone can point at and confidently say it was one of his best. ZOOKEEPER is very far from being an all time classic by any standards, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t find moments of it to be enjoyable.

Griffin (Kevin James) is a lead zookeeper in New York that truly loves his job working with animals; so much that it chased away his girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). Five years after Stephanie sent him crashing and burning from a marriage proposal she returns as Griffin’s brother is getting married. Griffin becomes determined to get her back and threatens to leave the zoo to be more of who Stephanie wants him to be. The animals, love Griffin and rally together to come up with another way for him to get Stephanie back so that he stays with them as their zookeeper.

First and foremost let me get it out of the way that I would never call ZOOKEEPER a great movie. Under most circumstances I would be hard pressed to call ZOOKEEPER a “good” movie, but with the right expectations I do think it’s possible to go in and come out not feeling cheated or angry. This is a film designed for a younger audience, but with a lot of jokes that might be a litter too mature or inappropriate for them. The story itself is very simple and easy for the little ones to grasp, which might lend to its dismissal from the elder crowd.

I happen to really like Kevin James, despite his very weak movie choices and I’m always hopeful he will elevate everything to at least get a light chuckle out of me. I’m not ashamed to say I did life quite a bit here and a little less happy that it wasn’t all because of Kevin James. I really liked a select few of the animals and their voice acting counterparts along with some of Kevin James comedic moments. I still feel there’s more bad than good as far as both goes, but because my expectations were low I was able to squeeze out every ounce of entertainment that I possibly could.

Speaking of voice actors; there is an impressive amount of talent behind the animals, none of them written all that well. ZOOKEEPER is full of gags that try a little too hard to make you laugh and while I will admit I laughed quite a bit, none of them came close to making me laugh out loud. Much of the comedy just brought out a chuckle and maybe just a few genuine laughs. The film just reaches way beyond the realm of reasonable absurdity especially when Kevin James is peeing on a plant in a public restaurant all because a wolf told him it would work to get a girl. This is absurd on several levels, one being a living thinking person thinking that this is ok and would work, two being he got caught and the employee not only wasn’t upset but he wasn’t even asked to leave; he simply points out that there is a restroom, implying fancy restaurants allow for one public urination offense and won’t give you much guff about it.

ZOOKEEPER has many other examples of how far it expects the audience to suspend their disbelief. Once or twice is forgivable, but over an hour of them is the sign of a one trick pony that just isn’t that creative or interesting. I will admit that for me ZOOKEEPER wasn’t a complete waste of time since I was able to get some laughs from it. If you tiptoe in with extremely low expectations and with no hope that it’s going to split your sides you might leave ok with it if not semi pleasantly surprised. If you have low expectations, hate Kevin James and talking animals then I see no other outcome than pure hatred. In the end, ZOOKEEPER is a mixture of live action MADAGASCAR, DR. DOOLITTLE and PAUL BLART MALL COP. With a better script with some sharper and more consistent jokes it could have been much better than it is. I can’t fully recommend ZOOKEEPER to anyone and keep a clear conscience, but I believe kids will enjoy this and the parents I believe will be extremely hit and miss.

Movie Review: Unstoppable (2010)

I’m not exactly sure where the rest of the world stands with their like or dislike of Tony Scott is concerned, but I’ll be honest, I am not a fan. He consistently makes and markets films that don’t appeal to me in the slightest. I hated THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 and skipped most of his other films, mainly just because the movies just don’t catch my eye. That being said, I actually found myself having fun watching UNSTOPPABLE, but not quite as much fun as I would have liked.

UNSTOPPABLE follows a group of railroad employees that include Frank (Denzel Washington), Will (Chris Pine) and Connie (Rosario Dawson). Will is a rookie conductor training with Frank on a day where a couple of lazy engineers (Ethan Suplee and T.J. Miller) manage to send an unmanned train full throttle down the main tracks sure to derail in a highly populated city, if it doesn’t hit any other trains head on first. Connie is a traffic controller looking to avert any possible disasters the train will cause. Once Will and Frank narrowly avoid a head on collision, Frank hatches a plan to get back on the tracks chase it down, hook it up and go full throttle the other direction to stop it.

I have a feeling that I had unfair expectations when I sat down to watch UNSTOPPABLE. All things considered I walked out liking the film enough to recommend it to everyone I know. My main complaint about the film is that I just don’t think that the kind of action in the film was the kind of action I want in these types of movies. More than half the movie revolves around people talking in an office and talking while inside of a train, with cuts of short action scenes of a train crashing into cars on the track and a Marine attempting to board and stop the runaway train. The action picks up a bit once we head into the final 10 to 15 minutes, which were much of the more satisfying action beats for me. Despite my disappointment in regards to action, there were stretches of dialogue I thought were fun and even interesting, but also several moments I could have done without specifically Chris Pine’s line of “we’re gonna run this bitch down.” It’s cheesy lines like that, that made me roll my eyes, even though I had fun with it.

Another gripe has to do with the camera movements, most notably within the beginning half hour. The establishing moments of the film are almost entirely just scenes explaining what’s going on and building the chemistry between Washington and Pine. All that is perfectly fine, the annoying part comes in the quick zoom ins or pan outs during the dialogue scenes almost like Scott is trying to pass them off as exciting action heavy set pieces. Passed the initial half hour I stopped noticing these as much so either they stopped altogether or they just stopped bothering me. The last nitpick I have involves the fact that the film is consistently pushing the fact that should the plain derail, it’s packed with insanely toxic and combustible material that will decimate an entire area, yet whenever they believe this event will occur there’s always hundreds and hundreds of people around with their cameras out and cops and fireman as well. It doesn’t make sense because they evacuate and entire town because this train is basically a speeding nuclear missile, but there’s always a mob of people packing the area they’ve just evacuated minutes before.

I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down completely and unjustly against the film, because I really did have fun with it. I feel like Chris Pine and Denzel Washington played off each other very well and were both very likable characters. I always enjoy Rosario Dawson and the small bits from Ethan Suplee and T.J. Miller are enjoyable. There’s a good deal of quick jokes and laughs to be had through the film as well.

Although it may sound like overall I have more complaints than praises for UNSTOPPABLE, I wouldn’t be too quick to just write the film off. There is plenty of content within the film to satisfy almost every type of moviegoer, even if I don’t feel it will be their most memorable watch of the year. UNSTOPPABLE easily has the steam to be a hit and Tony Scott’s runaway train escapade definitely exceeded my wildest expectations, but considering how low my expectations were, that’s not the most flattering of compliments.