On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 13, 2017


The most unexpected of cinematic universe's to be born from this current trend is no doubt this massive LEGO franchise, but behind the trailblazer that is Marvel it is LEGO that seems to be having the most success in carving their own path out of a recognizable brand. Granted, we're now only two movies in with a third on the way this fall, but the point is there seems no sign that this train will be slowing down anytime soon. After absolutely blowing all expectations out of the water with The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 & 22 Jump Street) set not only a precedent for any sequels and spin offs that might come in the wake of their success, but they also set a very specific tone that will seemingly serve as the signature trait of this movie universe as The LEGO Batman Movie is just as irreverent as could be expected when it comes to this toy brands take on the dark and brooding titular hero. With the self-aware and spoof-like nature of that initial LEGO outing being paired with a character as established in the pop culture mythos as Batman there is plenty of opportunity for lampooning and lampoon is exactly what director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) does best. Beginning even before the studio logos hit the screen The LEGO Batman Movie is ready to ridicule and criticize everything about the previous phases in our hero's career while pulling off that oh so critical tone of it being all in good fun. Never does it feel as if The LEGO Batman Movie is taking pot shots at any of the other imaginings or interpretations of the Dark Knight character, but rather McKay is offering comically tinged observations on what makes a grown man running around in a Halloween costume feel so serious when, in layman's terms, the reasons as to why as much is laughable should be obvious. Reprising his role from The LEGO Movie Will Arnett is once again the very self-serious caped crusader who loves being Batman and who expects everyone else to love him because he's Batman. Arnett's take on the character is essentially this raving egomaniac who has to constantly keep up this facade he's built around himself. Pairing this type of Batman with a cavalcade of other characters and villains from the his universe as well as countless other Warner Bros. properties McKay exploits every avenue he can in order to display as much comedy and action on screen as he does merchandise. Video review here. Full review here. B

It is amazing how well John Wick: Chapter 2 actually works. There is no reason this unexpected sequel works as well as it does as the original was designed to be a contained story, a simple and straightforward revenge tale, but the biggest obstacle John Wick: Chapter 2 was going to face is seemingly overcome within the first fifteen minutes-Chapter 2 gracefully jumping over the hurdle to move on rather swiftly to establish a bigger picture for which to further justify the existence of this film while simultaneously setting up what is clearly meant to be a trilogy capper. Never would I have imagined sitting in the theater nearly two and a half years ago that this stylish, but seemingly unexceptional action flick would not only reignite the fire for Keanu Reeves, but prove itself one of the better action flicks of the last decade. Having re-watched the first John Wick this past week before venturing out to see Chapter 2, I easily enjoyed it more than I had initially-the world in which it established suddenly becoming all the more appealing, the empathy in which it developed for its titular character becoming all the more palpable. This isn't traditionally a reaction I have to films when re-visiting them. If anything, most movies lose a little bit of their charm on repeat viewings-the cracks becoming clearer than they were upon first glance, but it was very much evident by the time the credits rolled that John Wick was meant to be appreciated for more than just the surface pleasures despite being a movie all about the surface pleasures. For as much as the movie served as a platform for Reeves and his stuntmen to go through set piece after breathtaking action set piece it really allowed Reeves the opportunity to play a character who doesn't emote much in a forward fashion, but who bottles it up and exudes it through these actions. This isn't to say the two John Wick films have a giant amount of substance to them, but that they are the rare type of action blockbuster that executes their necessary beats accordingly while at the center featuring an individual we can really get behind, someone we really feel invested in, sorry for, and connected with-so much so that despite the fact they murder countless people at point blank range, some of which probably had no desire to face Mr. Wick, he is still the one we root for come the end of the day. John Wick is the one we want to see walk away from the explosion unharmed; the one we want to see fire the last bullet; the one who we want to be still standing when the smoke clears muttering, "I told you so." This sounds simple, but it is not for nothing that this affection comes to exist. It is on this affection for our titular character that these films separate themselves from the pack. Video review here. Full review here. B-

I was disappointed I missed Table 19, an ensemble comedy with a killer cast, in its theatrical run, but unfortunately it only opened in a single theater that was an hour away from my house. Timt to catch up now though, as this Duplass Brother-penned dramedy from director Jeffrey Blitz, a veteran TV director, is now on home video. Centering around ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick) - who has been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text - decides to hold her head up high and attend her oldest friend's wedding anyway. She finds herself seated at the 'random' table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers, most of whom should have known to just send regrets. As everyone's secrets are revealed, Eloise learns a thing or two from the denizens of Table 19. Friendships - and even a little romance - can happen under the most unlikely circumstances.