The LEGO Batman Movie is the first spin-off from The LEGO Movie, the surprise hit animated film from 2014. As in the latter, the former takes a satiric spin on Batman and a majority of the DC Comics universe with appearances from practically every villain from the Dark Knight’s history, even The Condiment King, who was a throwaway joke from Batman: The Animated Series. The LEGO Batman Movie has just about everything a Batman fan could ever want in a movie, while it also has a lot of heart and genuine character moments that are missing from the current DC Extended Universe films from director Zack Snyder and screenwriter/producer David S. Goyer.
The sequel to one of the most profitable movies from 2015 saw some controversy before its release. Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel left the franchise because of creative differences with the original novel’s author and trilogy producer, E. L. James. They were replaced with director James Foley and screenwriter Niall Leonard who is also James’ husband. The film’s stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were also in contract disputes to return, but ultimately opted to come back. Despite all of its behind the scenes problems, Fifty Shades Darker is on-time in theaters for Valentine’s Day 2017. Although Fifty Shades of Grey was a fun and serviceable little trashy drama (my review), its sequel is none of those things.
There were a lot of great movies in 2016, but it seemed that I was mostly attracted to coming-of-age movies. There’s just something about young people discovering who they are for the first time that interests me.
Honorable Mentions: 20th Century Woman, Elle, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Manchester by the Sea, Deadpool, Hail, Caesar!, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, 13th, Don’t Breathe, Things To Come, Arrival, and Disney’s Moana.
Since 2007, when it first popped up on the Hollywood “Black List” of the best unproduced scripts, Passengers has been in development. At one time, Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt were attached to the project written by Prometheus scribe Jon Spaihts but Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence were eventually cast in the main roles of Jim Preston and Aurora Lane, respectively. Now in theaters, Passengers seems like a very old fashioned movie with its problematic story and character choices.
Starting off with an absurdly big and impressive musical number — which involves a traffic jam, vivid colors, and an infectious showtune — La La Land sings as one of the best movies of the year, though it doesn’t quite hit all of its marks as a complete crowd pleaser. The opening is not just a statement on the film’s over-the-top tone, but as a call to the audience to shake off the dullness of sitting in a stationary spot for a long period of time waiting for something to happen, smile, and enjoy the ride. La La Land is a blast!