The LEGO Batman Movie – Box Office Review

Occasionally, a cartoon that crosses the lines of entertainment suitable for adults and children alike drops in theaters and we’re all the better for it. Go ahead and add the character of Batman and his pantheon of supporting characters and you’re really telling movie-goers that you are trying to create something special. So let’s dive in and take a look at “LEGO Batman” in this box office review…

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First, since it’s an animated film let’s look at the voice talent that was used to tell this Batman story. Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas (RAFI BOMB!) Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jermaine Clement AND MORE!!! This film has so much incredible talent that each character was brought to life with a special and unique voice that built on the story and added humorous after humorous moment. The characters all sounded believable in their good or bad personas and each had their own great moment. I was blown away by how many characters were in this film from not just the Batman mythos but Warner Bros. films dating back decades. This was a mishmash of talent that paid off big for movie-goers and the movie studio.

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The story is that of an overly self absorbed man-child that saves the city time and time again from the likes of the Joker, the Riddler, Bane, Scarecrow, Catwoman and more. Our hero is isolated and continues to repress his desire for family and camaraderie. He’s even a bit surprised when he realizes his actions have led to the Justice League throwing a party that doesn’t involve him. It’s a coming of age tale that forces this version of Batman to see that with out others, villains included, he is just a guy who’s searching for purpose and meaning.

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LEGO Batman” is theaters now! I definitely recommend you see this film on the big screen. I have seen it twice so far. It’s one of the best Batman films ever made. The writers went to great lengths to celebrate decades of Batman mythos. From the earliest black and white serials of Batman from the golden age of cinema to present, we get all Batman all the time which is awesome. I laughed so hard I was crying and if you have kids you will get to laugh along with them. So finish reading this, collect your children and go enjoy some family time at the theater with “LEGO Batman.”

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Why Him? – Box Office Review

When marketing gives you a concept of a film, or automobile or even delicious taco’s and all that was advertised turns out to be true… well that’s a good day. The marketing for this next movie was as true and honest as could be. What you see is what you got. So let’s dive in and take a look at “Why Him?” in this box office review…

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The overall tone of the film is light hearted and humorous. It’s jokes are raunchy, rude and inappropriate. The characters each represent a specific personality and are over emphasized for comedic purposes. This movie required so little brain power that I loved it. After the emotionally charged, character driven oscar worthy films I’ve already reviewed, here comes a comedy that permits you to shut your mind off and laugh. It’s a good time and it pulls no punches.

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The main plot is boy meets girl and falls in love and attempts to win over her family in his own unique, albeit peculiar, way. Laird Mayhew (James Franco) is the most honest individual in the film, both emotionally and verbally. By the end of the film Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) realizes that Franco’s character isn’t pretending. He legitimately doesn’t have the capacity for lies. The surprise highlight for me was Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key). He plays the property manager/best friend/martial arts expert. His forced German accent was noticeably terrible but he owned the awfulness too well and made it comical. Hearing him shout “Shiza” periodically throughout the film was a small treat. There’s also a well placed joke about “bukake” that pays off well in the second act of the film. It’s tiny little comedic moments like this peppered throughout the film that made this an enjoyable time spent at the movies.

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There’s also a few surprise cameo’s in this film that I won’t spoil here because they add to the moment and are also completely ludicrous. Each character in this film represents a specific personality and every actor plays that stereotype to the fullest. Even the voice over work for “Justine” the house AI was done well. This is a silly, inappropriate and entertaining comedy for the holiday season.

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Why Him?” is in theaters now! I won’t recommend you rush out and see this before it leaves the theater but I will encourage you to put it on your Redbox or VOD list. It’s a fun film that will provide plenty of laughs if you enjoy crude humor, which I do. The story doesn’t ask for much and you won’t walk away from this film in deep thought but you’ll be smiling by the finale and you may even find yourself quoting the film going forward. No clowning.

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Trolls – Box Office Review

Dreamwork’s took a shot at making a musical animated film in a time where we don’t see many musicals on the big screen. There’s plenty of song and dance shows on television but we don’t see many musicals on the big screen right now. So let’s dive in a take a look at my thoughts on “Trolls” in this box office review…

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This film was made for kids, plain and simple. The bright colors, the hurried pace of the film, the basic plot and the overly exaggerated characters on screen are all visual candy for kids if all my years of watching movies and having been a kid once myself are any indicators. The songs explore relationships, adventure, celebrations and sorrow very broadly expanding the universality of this film. You don’t have to be a troll with magic hair powers to relate to the songs these characters sing because they’re relatable to any age beyond 5 years old and that plays to the strength of this film.

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The voice talent in this film isn’t necessarily voice actor talent as much as popular names that are recognizable. I don’t recall the majority of the actors being actual “voice actors” but just actors or singers, which is fine. After all, this is geared for children so they really only need to take a vintage toy line with popular current names and make it seem both fun for the kids and identifiable for the adults taking their kids which I feel they accomplished. This was just a fun film that didn’t ask a lot from me as an audience member. The deeper message that happiness can be achieved in new or different ways was predictable but still entertaining. Also, for as random and almost completely useless the cloud was in this film, I loved his small part and the time he was on screen.

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Trolls” is in theaters now. If you have kids or just like kid movies, this is definitely the film for you and your family. Also, why not take some time for family and enjoy some light hearted fun at the movies. This film might not win any oscars or make you think much but it has some humorous moments and the songs aren’t cringeworthy. If you feel the desire to spend some time together out of the house as a family, I’d recommend seeing this on the big screen, if money is an issue you can also wait for Redbox and make a family afternoon at home out of this film. It’s versatile like that.

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Kubo and the Two Strings – Box Office Review

Once in awhile a film arrives in theaters that doesn’t have a strong advertising campaign and is mostly word of mouth that helps it financially succeed. In this particular case, I felt, that word of mouth was everything. The people I spoke with had not heard of this film and the theater employees I normally converse with also had not seen this film. This film had an almost ghost presence in theaters, where people knew of it but knew nothing of it. So Let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on “Kubo and the Two Strings” in this box office review…

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This film starts off with intensity. We see a mother carrying an injured baby on a ship in the middle of a storm at sea and then we’re told the baby’s injured because his grandfather stole his eye. I was immediately hooked. The story continues its journey showing us the life this young boy has grown into and his magical abilities and flair for story telling in his village.  It’s soon revealed that he’s not permitted to be out at night because his aunts and grandfather are still searching for him to steal his other eye and as story’s go, he stays out a little too late one day and trouble ensues.

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The story is told so well that you feel for the boy, Kubo. Even more, the characters you meet briefly in the village are voiced in such a way that we can’t help but fall into feelings for them. Kubo’s mother is a tragic figure but has the spirit of a fighter who will sacrifice herself for the protection of her child if need be. The aunts, voiced by Rooney Mara, are chilling to hear and see. Kubo’s grandfather is ominous and determined. Kubo’s partners, the monkey and ninja beetle are compliments to each other and the story. They provide guidance and levity in an otherwise serious coming of age tale. Kubo is on a journey, much like Homer from “The Odessy”, that leaves him forever changed from the innocent boy we meet first in the movie.

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This film was done using stop motion animation and it looks incredible. The characters, other than the aunts who are twins, all have their own look and coloring. They all have their own voice, personality and charm. The look of this film is bright and sunny, dark and terrifying, colorful and vibrant. We are treated to the entire spectrum and in one scene we get scary, brooding and colorful all under the ocean. It’s a fantastic looking film and it’s a wonderful story from start to finish.

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Kubo and the Two Strings” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this film on the big screen. I saw it twice. I adore this film. Kubo’s two strings are explained and you’ll understand the importance they have by the end of the film which is symbolic and powerful. This is a film with adventure and mysticism. It’s a tale of the importance of family and their lasting impact even after they’re gone. It’s a coming of age tale for Kubo to embrace who he is and was destined to be. It’s also humorous at times which helps keep this story from becoming overly intense. If you have kids ages 10+ this film might not be too scary but below that age range I make no guarantees. It’s intense, humorous, touching and thought provoking. Go see this film!

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Florence Foster Jenkins – Box Office Review

The summer blockbuster season has come to a close and what better way to usher in the dramatic, character driven films of “Oscar” season than a Meryl Streep movie? “Florence Foster Jenkins” is based on the true story of a New York Heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite her wretched voice.  So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on this film in this box office review…

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It’s refreshing to see Hugh Grant back in the role I enjoy him performing. The classic gentleman is a personality that I have always enjoyed from his performances, when called for. He always shines when his character is a bit reserved but driven, caring and thoughtful. While he does entertain moments of base desire his character overall is remarkable once realized. The lengths we see him go to for his love is enough to make you feel a sense of warmth and by the end of the film you might be touched emotionally by his characters story. I was surprised by the relationship he and Florence had not knowing anything about the true story this is based on and I couldn’t appreciate him more by the end.

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There’s plenty to be said for Meryl Streep’s performance as Florence because we are treated to a woman who is suffering, should be dead but survives her life because of passion. She lives on because of her hearts drive for music and the arts. That is what keeps her going and it’s the journey Streep takes us on as this suffering character who is purely a passionate being that is incredible. The interactions between characters is telling if you pay attention to her reactions. She is passion and the moment she senses any false emotion her expression and demeanor changes signaling to us the audience she is aware and feeling stifled, if not lied too. It’s her passion which inspires characters throughout the film, not her talents, to find something within themselves they might not have discovered otherwise.

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The overall story is a period piece set in New York City and the story does well to capture the time. I wasn’t distracted by minutia which can become overwhelming if done poorly in period piece films. I don’t want to be distracted by music that isn’t from that time or slang that represents modern day unless the piece is set in modern day. This film captured the 1940’s, including artists, slang and clothing style. I was completely taking in by this film.

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Florence Foster Jenkins” is in theaters now! If you enjoy character driven stories, or movies based on true events this will definitely wet your appetite for “Oscar” season. I did, at one point, wonder if people were cutting onions in the theater because I found myself getting a bit misty eyed towards the end. So, if you decide to enjoy this movie on the big screen you might ask the folks at the theater for the non-onion theater show times. It’s a touching film with a great cast and the story is about one woman’s passion for music and the arts and how that passion can inspire others, even strangers.

 

Cafe Society – Box Office Review

Woody Allen returns with a period piece set in 1930’s America. Allen has a unique way of creating characters that appear genuine and relatable in his films with a distinct style that is his very own. “Cafe Society” builds on this anticipated style and has some big names to help move the plot along. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts in this box office review…

In my continued efforts of honesty I will admit that I am not a fan of most of the characters Jessie Eisenberg has played. That being said, I feel the nervous Jew who is trying to make it with women and in business was almost near perfect for him to portray. It was like the part was written for him and I found myself pleased with his performance. His delivery and timing of lines and even attitude felt natural. It was probably my favorite performance I’ve seen him give. Steve Carell on the other hand was a different experience entirely. Initially, it felt like his character was so two dimensional and fake it was almost unbearable. It isn’t until we see him seated in a restaurant with Kristen Stewart that he is acting as an idea of completeness and control instead of being genuine. There’s one scene in particular, again with Stewart, where he has to bounce between genuine and fake that is quite entertaining and humorous and it’s here that we see the true persona of his character only brought out by a woman. 

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Corey Stoll was also fun to watch as he plays a jewish gangster/club owner who is, in his own peculiar way, helping his family. I would’ve been more surprised by his performance but after watching his performance as the villain in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” movie I was not caught off guard at all. It was interesting to see all the character personalities in this film and even later into the movie Eisenberg and Stewart have a conversation about how they have become what they initially thought they opposed. There’s an arc to each characters story within this film and I found myself entertained. 

Overall, the story begins with a boy who wants to make it on his own in a new town. Then it transitions into a love triangle filled with heartbreak and loss and then into the final chapter where we see each character facing life from new perspectives. The success or failure of this film rests entirely on the characters as this film is, truly, at its heart a character piece. This isn’t an summer action blockbuster and one might wonder why release a film of this nature so early into summer and not closer to the dramatic pieces that drop in Autumn/fall. It’s definitely not an Oscar contender but it’s dramatic appeal and character driven story certainly lend itself more to that time of year over summer blockbuster season.

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“Cafe Society” is in theaters now! If you’re a fan of Woody Allen films I’d recommend you see this on the big screen. If the last or only Woody film you’ve seen was “Midnight In Paris” than you can probably Redbox or VOD it and get just as much from it. It’s a charming film that explores what it means to be a family, pursuing your passions, following your heart and finding true love. It’s not a great film and I doubt it will win any Oscars but it won’t ask a lot from you and will provide you occasional laughs. 

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The BFG – Box Office Review

Steven Spielberg decided to make a hybrid live action/animation adventure that is based off the popular children’s Book “The BFG” written by Roald Dahl. This film blends both computer generated characters and worlds with a young actor who is tasked with making us believe what we see on screen is real. So let’s dive in and take a look at “The BFG” in this box office review…

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To be honest, I never read the children’s book so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I trust Spielberg and his ability to tell a story and create fantastical worlds and that was motivation enough to see this movie in theaters. The overall look of the film I enjoyed immensely. It’s vibrant and colorful, it’s dark and brooding and it’s warm and sunny. We’re treated to some creative worlds in this movie and each looks completely different than the other. If you pay attention to the design of these worlds you’ll notice tiny subtle specialities that make each room or location uniquely clever. The land of giants has the remains of what appears to be a fair ground. The house of BFG has clever bottles, boats, vegetation and more showing that he’s more than just a curious character who speaks different than everyone else. The orphanage is sterile and quiet. The streets of the town are cobblestone with dim lighting and each house has a similar but different look from each neighbor. The land of dream catching is dark but the dreams are colorfully vibrant, almost electric, in their appearance. Overall, the appearance of this film was the best part.

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The story is definitely for children. There isn’t much for adults in this film as the basic premise is just that, basic. The language is simple and the characters speak using exaggerated phrases that one might expect from uneducated giants who each represent something different. If you’re looking for a thought provoking story this isn’t it. Even the ending is humorous but simple. It’s written for children and the movie captures that quality. If you have kids under the age of 11 or 12 they will probably enjoy the story as it’s geared for young kids. As an adult you might appreciate the acting talents of Ruby Barnhill who is cast as the lead. Considering she acts mostly in a digitally created world I was impressed at her level of believability.

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The BFG” is theaters now! I recommend a big screen viewing if you have young kids. It’ll be a fun time at the movies for you and your family. It’s a fun story that isn’t offensive or inappropriate. It’s legitimately a fun film that explores the created worlds of Roald Dahl as only Spielberg can tell. Honestly, if this movie wasn’t made by Spielberg I probably would’ve skipped it. I’m glad I didn’t because the dream world was incredibly colorful and unique. If you don’t have kids you can probably skip this one unless you’re a die hard Spielberg fan. This film won’t ask a lot for you but it does require that you suspend that part of your adult brain that denies the fantasy worlds that exist from a child’s perspective. It’s fun but it’s not a great film. Again, if you have young kids they’ll probably enjoy the time spent with you at the movies and that will hopefully be enough.

Independence Day Resurgence -Box Office Review

It only took 20 years to make but we finally got a sequel to “Independence Day” folks. Internet buzz told me that the Hollywood press wasn’t given an advance screening, which is always a bad sign, so I didn’t have high hopes for this film. So let’s not waste 20 more years in this introduction and let’s dive in on my thoughts of “Independence Day Resurgence” in this box office review…

What a piece of garbage. I can’t recall seeing a film this bad in awhile. I mean, wow. Just an absolute pile of hot garbage. I was flabbergasted at how insufferable the plot was, the characters, the dialogue, the story but I was pleased with how good it looked. So, much like the attractive musical pop stars who look great and sound terrible, this… yes, this film was a musical pop star. All look, no substance.

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I shouldn’t feel this disgusted considering Roland Emmerich directed this stink fest. His last string of films were definitely lacking in everything but visuals. In all honesty, I should’ve walked into the theater knowing it was going to be lacking in everything but look, which it was. I mean, one of the main characters actually says the line “Here’s your first encounter” while shooting aliens. Kill me. The very beginning of the film we see two pilots screw up a landing and then magically figure out a way to stop the space station from collapsing on itself while shouting things like “but the engines are gonna blow” followed by some mess like “hold together” or “come on baby” and it was terrible.

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Now there’s part of me that wants to believe there were moments of redemption in this movie. These were probably the moments which I slept in the theater. That’s right folks. I fell asleep not once but TWICE during this film only to wake up and see the exact same thing happening. This film felt like something that was made for television but got an insane budget and was pushed onto the big screen. It’s the science fiction space equivalent of a “Sharknado” film in my opinion. Just rotten to the core and such a waste of everyones time.

Independence Day Resurgence” is in theaters now! It shouldn’t be but it is. Don’t see this film unless you’re home and completely wasted out of your mind and can’t find the remote to change the channel. Then, you did that to yourself and you have to live with the consequences of your actions. If you’re into terrible science fiction films and enjoy mocking them, then this is the film for you! You can “Mystery Science Theater” the world out of this film. It’s ripe for jokes and sarcasm that is well deserved and earned. One can only wonder how much more disastrous they could’ve made this film had they waited 30 years instead of 20. Two thumbs down and flipping over tables to spill the popcorn.

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Finding Dory – Box Office Review

In 2003 “Finding Nemo” won over movie watchers of all ages all around the world. It had memorable little bits of dialogue that continued in the popular culture long after the film left theaters. In fact, if you tell someone struggling with a difficulty in their life “just keep swimming” they might smile for a moment remembering that little song Dory sang. It only made sense that a sequel would follow. So let’s dive in and take a look at “Finding Dory” in the box office review…

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The story is a bit more involved than I imagined it would be. I wasn’t sure how Pixar could take a fish with short term memory loss and make an entire film around the adventures of a mentally challenged character. They did it and they did it well. They even reminded the audience who the characters are and the story they originated from which was helpful considering this sequel took 13 years to make. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the backstory moved as well as the flashback portions reminding us of the original.

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The new characters introduced in this film were just as fun as the previous characters in the first film. Are they as memorable? Probably not but that’s ok because the screen time we are given is enjoyable, thought provoking and humorous. The journey to find Dory’s parents was also entertaining. Also, the special effects team did so well that certain scenes above water looked so good I had to blink a few times to make sure what I saw was digital and not real water.

It’s Pixar and as everyone knows these films always have a way of striking the emotional strings of our hearts and playing them to perfection. This film continued with that tradition. I’m man enough to admit that I did get a little misty eyed. I still suspect someone was cutting onions in the theater but I can’t say for certain. It’s not the film itself that created a beautiful heartfelt moment. It’s the celebration of Dory being a character with a mental handicap still being able to achieve so much. This film did a spectacular job getting the audience to see how someone with a disability can still contribute so much to the community and still succeed in the matters closest to their hearts. The ending really tied all this together in such a beautiful way I felt the heart strings being tugged and it was a genuine emotional moment enjoyed in the theater.

Finding Dory” is in theaters now! I recommend a big screen viewing because the film is absolutely worth a ticket price and the animation is fantastic. I wasn’t disappointed in this film at all and in fact I’m considering a second viewing. I absolutely abhor 3-D but am strongly considering seeing this a second time but in 3-D. I’m curious if there will be a bump in animation excellence with the added depth that only 3-D can give. I typically see 3-D as cheap gimmick to raise ticket prices without adding any extra value plus I hate wearing sunglasses in a theater. I’ll wear sunglass in a restaurant to give off the appearance I’m a rock star but a theater just feels dumb, Any who, enough about me, go see this film!!

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Now You See Me 2 – Box Office Review

In 2013 we were asked to believe the impossible. Movie watchers were taken on a magical journey with four characters who fancied themselves to be modern day “Robin Hood” like hero’s. The film was enjoyable and successful enough to get a sequel, even though it took 3 years to make. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on “Now You See Me 2” in this box office review…

First, I’m not overwhelmingly a fan of Jessie Eisenberg but he does well in this particular role. I’m not entirely sure what it is about this character he identifies with so well that makes his screen time fun to watch but whatever it is, nice work. He delivers the arrogance, cockiness and slight “chip on the shoulder” attitude incredibly well. The supporting cast is also entertaining but Woody Harrelson is by far my favorite character in this series. This is important because he actually plays two different versions of his character in this film as it is revealed he has a twin. The back and forth between himself was so enjoyable and humorous.

The story doesn’t really ask much from people as it’s similar to the first film. Theres a new face added to the series as Daniel Radcliffe is cast as the antagonist. His role adds a slight twist to things that make this film stand on its own which was a positive. However, there’s the build up towards the end and the big reveal at the end of the film that really made me smile. The story continues to shape and develop around the “Four Horsemen” and that works. This film did have one major storyline that felt forced, which was kinda odd for me. Mark Ruffalo’s character felt somewhat forced to me. The film starts with some backstory on his character but it’s the four horsemen who move the story. His presence felt like a Mcguffin than an actual character. I can’t give much away without ruining the ending but it’s in the finale that my head tilt slightly in confusion. I asked myself, “Was his entire role in this film to serve as just a means for the story in a possible 3rd film?” If so, that’s a bummer.

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The one thing this film did well was entertain. It made such little sense but was such a treat to see. It was actually quite refreshing. It’s an original story and for that I instantly give it bonus points. It’s not a familiar book, or comic book or franchise being rebooted or video game. It’s just its own thing in the cinematic universe and that’s ok. We need more original ideas right now I feel and this is one of those films. It’s not a great film as there’s some story issues that ask a lot of the audience to go along with. It is, however, great to watch. Today we are fortunate enough to have special effects that almost appear as real as the clothes the actors wear. This helps in the some of he scenes as the movie demands a high level of disbelief being suspended.

“Now You See Me 2” is in theaters now! I recommend seeing this on the big screen because of its originality. I’m hopeful that people will really get out and see these types of films to help show Hollywood that we’re ready for new and exciting stories. Don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m not a fan of the franchise films that stem from books, comic books and video games. I absolutely am but I also really appreciate fresh films with new perspectives. It’s what I feel Marvel does well. They take comic book mythos and create a fresh look at familiar stories in a way that feels brand new. If you don’t see this in theaters, definitely Redbox this or watch it at home wth VOD.

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