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Surprises for all with LEGO Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker, and John Wick Chapter Two

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017)

Grade: B

Rated PG -- 104 minutes

"Buy the video because you will want to see it more than once!"

This may be the best written Batman movie ever! And that is saying something. That's the truth. So funny. So clever. So joyful. So well-written. I am willing to bet that every fan who goes to see THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE will probably miss one-third of the jokes. The pacing of the script is absolutely fast, furious and frenetic. I would recommend that you gather all of your friends. Go and see the movie together. Then go out for coffee – and talk about your favorite scenes. Only then will you discover that you probably missed one-third of the inside jokes. What a great, crazy movie.

Lego Batman is voiced by Will Arnett. If he wasn't animated into plastic, he would have my vote as Best Batman. The kids are going to love it. The parents are going to love it more. The Joker is voiced by Zach Galifianakis. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay for the credits and watch the names of so many familiar actors and comedians roll by. Chris McKay directs this project. Ten names are credited as writers.

When the video is released, you might consider obtaining a copy and watch it again when you need that laughter and some smiles after a long, tough day.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017)

Grade: C

Rated R (for sexual content and graphic nudity) -- 118 minutes

"Exhausted from desire, submission, and pleasure?"

I didn't particularly care about the first movie, so I had zero expectations going to see this first sequel. And, knowing in advance, that there will be a second sequel one year from now. If you stay for the end credits, you will see the first trailer for FIFTY SHADES FREED, to be released in early 2018.

I claim to be "the public's film critic." Always notice the applause, listen for the laughs or the gasps. There were plenty of each. It is safe to say that both women (and actually some men) were turned on by the erotic content and the graphic nudity.

I will say this. Dakota Johnson is slightly better this second round as Anastasia Steele. And I never thought I would ever be writing this, but so was Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. I still don't see the attraction between them. However, if the group of ladies who were sitting directly in front of me and in back of me are any measure – they all seemed to be exhausted from returning to "The Red Room" for desire, submission, and pleasure.

James Foley directed the picture. The film was scripted by Niall Leonard, who happens to be married to E.L. James, the best-selling author of the FIFTY SHADES series. They both are returning for FIFTY SHADES FREED. The music, which dominates the film, is from the great four-time Academy Award-nominated composer, Danny Elfman.

Was I exhausted from the desire, submission, and pleasure? Not really. My recommendation is for you to go and see THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017)

Grade: C

Rated R (for graphic violence) -- 122 minutes

"Bloody style over bloody substance"

I loved JOHN WICK (2014). So did my favorite film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote this in his review three years ago: "Dazzling action choreography; and a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves."

Although there are strong artistic values to be found in CHAPTER TWO, I left the theater with a cold feeling of disappointment. I still love Keanu Reeves. I wish he would make more movies. He returns in this JOHN WICK again as an assassin who reluctantly is drawn out of retirement, being taken away from his dog and his house filled with photos and memories of his late wife.

What I didn't like was that returning director Chad Stahelski has made a film where more is less. Far too many stylized killings, in what almost seems like non-stop carnage. The locations in Rome are spectacular. The constant flow of blood is brutal. And despite watching the interaction between Reeves and Ian McShane, as well as with Laurence Fishburne, I cannot rate CHAPTER TWO more than a C.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

THE GREAT WALL (2017) is directed by one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou, and stars Matt Damon. THE GREAT WALL tells the ancient story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world's most iconic structure. It’s the largest film ever shot entirely in China. Reviewed next week.


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