The LEGO movie quite simply is a clever, fun, and a somewhat… MoreThe LEGO movie quite simply is a clever, fun, and a somewhat introspective ball of joy. On one base level, it seems to scream HEY REMEMBER ALL THESE LEGO's YOU USED TO PLAY WITH? WASN'T THAT SO FUN BEFORE LIFE BECAME SOUL CRUSHINGLY TERRIBLE? But on a deeper level it is a vivid, beautifully crafted world with a third act twist that makes it easily the first truly great movie of the year so far. Granted there is little to no competition, but credit must be given where it's due. There are terrific action set pieces (no pun intended) and a visual aesthetic design that is quite simply on drugs. DAMN good drugs. And yes, as you guessed I enjoyed LEGO Batman a lot, even if he was a dick most of the time. Will Ferrell stands out quite a bit here, as he has a multilayered performance worthy of praise. (You will have to see this to understand exactly what I mean, this is seriously the best thing he has done in years.) There is also some conceit about the nature of corporate franchises, loss of creativity, commentary concerning "Hero of a Thousand Faces" syndrome in adventure plots, and some truly existential questions asked toward the end, but I honestly I didn't care. And neither should you. Check your brain at the door and enjoy it like an eight year old.
You can't win them all. Such is the case with Monuments Men, a… MoreYou can't win them all. Such is the case with Monuments Men, a slightly above average, but mostly insubstantial movie made with earnest intentions. The aim and objective of this particular flick is to tell the story of the real Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program in the vein of a 1950's - early 60's WWII mission film. It's hard not to think of old classics such as The Dirty Dozen, The Guns of Navarone, Kelly's Heroes, and Von Ryan's Express (movies I watched growing up). But as where Inglourious Basterds was a clever deconstruction of said genre, Monuments Men is a neutered carbon copy and comes off as a bit schmaltzy. Too often, characters go off separately on the equivalent of fruitless treasure hunts, and there is little cohesion holding them together.
Which is a real shame because this story is one worth telling, and it needs more public attention. To its credit, the cast is superb, sets and locations were quite impressive, there are a couple of memorable conversations and tense moments, and there is a fair bit of humor that somehow works. To me, a slower paced, more serious attempt at showing the Monuments Men coming up with techniques that were used by American and British strategic bombing raids that avoided destroying sites of artistic or cultural value in European cities would made a greater impact. But that would have clashed with the tone presented here, I assume. It's worth a watch on TNT on a Sunday afternoon, where it will probably play frequently in a couple of years alongside other disappointing, but pretty period epics, such as Lawless, the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby, and Legends of the Fall.