On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 7, 2019

It was a given The LEGO Movie would eventually get a sequel, but it's kind of crazy it took five years for that sequel to actually happen. That said, Warner Bros. has certainly expanded the LEGO brand by giving LEGO Batman his own feature as well as delivering their only misstep thus far, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. And while there was some trepidation going into this delayed, but inevitable sequel given original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were no longer at the helm there was some hope given it was still their minds that conjured up the screenplay. Thankfully, Trolls director Mike Mitchell was brought on board and has successfully converted Lord and Miller's screenplay into a sequel that keeps things in step with if not necessarily surpassing the original. Of course, given the precedent set for the original and what it turned out to be versus the raised bar for the sequel and what it has turned out to be-that's a solid accomplishment and a resounding endorsement. That is to say, upon initially hearing there was going to be a movie based solely around the LEGO brand and the toys and properties they owned it seemed obvious the eventual movie would turn out to be little more than a cash grab; nothing more than one big commercial, if you will. To expect this was ultimately foolish given the creative team behind it as Lord and Miller delivered a witty, colorful, and (per usual) meta piece of cinema that took some unexpected themes and conveyed them in a manner that allowed the children to enjoy the toys coming to life while the adults latched onto those ever fleeting moments of innocence that come with raising children and attaching certain memories to their playthings. The LEGO Movie intentionally evaded everything audiences expected it to be, disrupting the status quo and turning heads, but how was something so inventive and appropriately rowdy supposed to then follow itself up with something as conventional as a sequel? Especially given the abstract qualities of the first and having to continue the same narrative while holding tight to the themes the first film so perfectly encapsulated? It turns out, the trick is to lean into such things even further; deliver the same goods in a different package and through different techniques. And though The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part might feel redundant in certain ideas, the ideas it's pedaling never don't need to be heard...especially when they're this creatively catchy. Full review here. Video review here. B+

The best, funniest, subtlest, most effective detail in What Men Want that communicates everything this overlong comedy wants to say is the fact 48-year-old Taraji P. Henson had them cast 32-year-old Aldis Hodge as her love interest with nary a peep concerning their age difference. D

The Prodigy absolutely knows it owes every ounce of its being to multiple horror films of the past, but instead of this outward acknowledgement being a detriment to its quality it instead feels more like an embrace-a cold, creepy embrace-but an embrace nonetheless.

While not hard to see where the story is going the style with which director Nicholas McCarthy unfurls the familiar beats allows for the overall affect to be strikingly tragic and appropriately chilling. Consider this praise a benefit of low expectations, but The Prodigy knew from the get-go it required a certain style for there to be any semblance of substance and it ran with this perspective. Knowingly unoriginal yet somehow completely successful in producing its intended result. I dig it. C+

Ethan Hawke's directorial debut, Blaze, about the life and music of Blaze Foley is a movie of moments more than it is a research paper on its titular subject. That doesn't mean it isn't cohesive and it certainly doesn't mean we don't feel we learn what is essential about the figure being documented, but while there are many of these moments that ring authentic beyond belief and offer an insight into the mind of Mr. Foley there is still this sense of distance between the audience and the subject that's difficult to shake.

The film bounces around from one point of Foley's life to another wanting nothing to do with linear structure, but what comes to be the essence of Blaze is that of this great paradox. The greatest paradox of life, if you will and that is the one so fantastically phrased by newcomer (and Arkansas native) Ben Dickey as Foley when he says, "things that aren't love are pulling at me and I have to let them take me." It's this dilemma of which kind of love you're going to choose for your life: the love of a passion or calling that you feel your life would be incomplete without or the love of another who makes you feel complete. Full review here. C

Imagine telling any one of these men we see in this footage that one hundred years from then their great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren would have the opportunity to not only see them on the big, cinema screen, but to know how far movie-making technologies have progressed to the point people a century into the future might be able to catch a glimpse of what it was like to experience this “great” war. It would be as utterly mind blowing to them as is to us what Peter Jackson has done here in They Shall Not Grow Old.

This is not the movie we deserve right now, but it’s without a doubt the movie we need.

Fate is a very strange thing. B+

Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (The Past, A Separation) utilizes real-life romantics Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in Everybody Knows, a film about Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, who returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister's wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.

Elisabeth Moss stars as a self-destructive punk rocker struggling with sobriety while trying to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success in Her Smell. This Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Queen of Earth) film made a few waves at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, but never seemed to gain much traction. Either way, I always tend to have an affinity for any Ross film I happen to come across and will likely try to make time for this one soon as well.

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