Vampires Save Monuments with LEGOs — What to see this weekend

Vampires Save Monuments with LEGOs — What to see this weekend

Some headlines write themselves don’t they? This one sure did. I looked at the movies being released this weekend, then I looked over at my title field and it had already filled itself in.

Seriously though, I think we have one (probably) really good film here, one maybe kind of okay film here, and one that just looks terrible. I’ll list these three newcomers to the box office in that order.

New This Weekend

The Lego Movie — PG

I’ve got to tell you, I was skeptical at first, but this film looks quite excellent. That last piece I posted with the featurette and nine clips from the film convinced me that this one is going to be top notch. I have been wrong before but I don’t think I am on this one. As you would expect, it looks like a lot of great humor, but I’m also hearing that there’s a great story behind it as well.

Joe may not be with us full time here at MovieByte anymore, but he told me that he wants to be a part of this discussion so he’ll be with us talking about it on The MovieByte Podcast next week. As you would expect, this is my choice and my recommendation this week.

Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary LEGO figurine who always follows the rules, is mistakenly identified as the Special—an extraordinary being and the key to saving the world. He finds himself drafted into a fellowship of strangers who are on a mission to stop an evil tyrant’s (Will Ferrell) plans to conquer the world. Unfortunately for Emmet, he is hopelessly—and hilariously—unprepared for such a task, but he’ll give it his all nonetheless.

1 hr 35 min
PG | Mild Action and Rude Humor
Cast: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman
Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Genres: 3D, Animated

See or not: SEE

The Monuments Men — PG-13

This one is not receiving great critical reviews, and I’ve heard it said that the film’s humor and glib spirit is not very fitting for a war-time movie. I’ve also heard that the cast is most excellent and that if feels like a real waste to pull this much talent together to make such a poor film.

Who knows for sure and I do intend to see the film soon. It is on the topic list for The MovieByte Podcast so I’ll see it soon enough. I don’t expect it to be quite as bad as the critics are saying but I’m expecting it to be middling.

Still, given the cast, it seems like a solid choice this weekend if you don’t want to go play with LEGOs.

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

1 hr 58 min
PG-13 | Some Images of War Violence and Historical Smoking
Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett
Director: George Clooney
Genres: Action/Adventure, Documentary, Suspense/Thriller

See or not: Meh.

Vampire Academy — PG-13

Do I even have to tell you how bad this looks? Really, come on. Why did we need another teen vampire thing? Let’s do something different now, mkay?

Based on author Richelle Mead’s worldwide bestselling series, VAMPIRE ACADEMY tells the legend of Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), two 17-year-old girls who attend a hidden boarding school for Moroi (mortal, peaceful Vampires) and Dhampirs (half-vampire/half-human guardians). Rose, a rebellious Guardian-in-training and her best friend, Lissa - a royal vampire Princess - have been on the run when they are captured and returned to St.Vladamirs Academy, the very place where they believe their lives may be in most jeopardy. Thrust back into the perils of Moroi Society and high school, Lissa struggles to reclaim her status while Rose trains with her mentor and love-interest, Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), to guarantee her place as Lissa’s guardian. Rose will sacrifice everything to protect Lissa from those who intend to exploit her from within the Academy walls and the Strigoi (immortal, evil vampires) who hunt her kind from outside its sanctuary.

1 hr 44 min
PG-13 | Sexual Content, Language, Bloody Images and Violence
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky, Gabriel Byrne, Sarah Hyland
Director: Mark Waters
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

See or not: NOT

Still In Theaters

Frozen — PG

This doesn’t look like something I’m personally all that interested in — but then, I’m known to be a little bit cranky about goofy looking films every now and then.

Chad and Joe sure liked it. I got “deathly” ill around the time this film came out, lost my voice and everything, so Joe stepped in and reviewed the film with Chad on The MovieByte Podcast, so you should check that out.

In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voice of ‘Kristen Bell’ ) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of ‘Jonathan Groff’ ) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

1 hr 8 min
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated

See or not: See (Chad and Joe Recommendation)

The Nut Job — PG

Do I have to tell you that this looks bad? I re-watched the trailer to make sure. Yep, it looks pretty terrible. Let’s avoid this one, m’kay?

In animated 3D, THE NUT JOB is an action-packed comedy in fictional Oakton that follows the travails of Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, and his rat friend Buddy, who plan a nut store heist of outrageous proportions and unwittingly find themselves embroiled in a much more complicated and hilarious adventure.

1 hr 26 min
PG | Rude Humor and Mild Action
Cast: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Genres: 3D, Animated, Comedy, Family

See or not: Not!

Lone Survivor — R

I saw the trailer and I was really not interested. I just didn’t want another “guys war movie”. But then it was getting pretty good critical reviews. And audiences love it. So I decided to see it and talk about it. Let’s just say that I did not find it as compelling as many (including Corey, who wrote the MovieByte Review). But I did find it to be better than I expected and I would even go so far as to say everyone should see it once. Sure it has pacing problems and it’s a bit worshipful at times, but it does have a great morality tale to tell and for that, you should see it.

I talked about it with Chad on episode 77 of The MovieByte Podcast so be sure to check that out too!

LONE SURVIVOR, starring Mark Wahlberg, tells the story of four Navy SEALs on an ill-fated covert mission to neutralize a high-level Taliban operative who are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Based on The New York Times bestseller, this story of heroism, courage and survival directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) also stars Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana.

2 hr 1 min
R | Strong Bloody War Violence and Pervasive Language
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana
Director: Peter Berg
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama

See or not: See

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — PG-13

Jack Ryan used to be a CIA analyst who would accidentally get himself into all sort of trouble and strange international situations that resulted in action. Well that’s not really the case anymore. Now he’s a secret agent who’s looking for the action.

This film was slightly better than I thought it would be but not nearly as good as I wanted it to be. I’ve been a fan of the previous Jack Ryan films and this film just doesn’t live up. For more, be sure to read my review, and catch The MovieByte Podcast Episode 76 where Chad and I talk about the film.

To his friends and loved ones, young Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) appears to be an ordinary executive; however, he has secretly worked for the CIA for years. Ryan was originally brought in to crunch global data, but when he uncovers a carefully planned scheme to crash the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now a full operative, Ryan finds himself caught between his secretive handler, his clueless fiancee and a brilliant Russian leader.

1 hr 45 min
PG-13 | Intense Action, Brief Strong Language and Sequences of Violence
Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Peter Andersson, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

See or not: See

American Hustle — R

Chad, Fizz, and I talked about this film on The MovieByte Podcast episode 78. It was not as special as the Academy Awards nomination might lead us to believe but it was decent. I think Chad liked it the best of the three of us but I think even he would say that it’s not really worth an Oscar nomination.

What I can say is that Amy Adams and Christian Bale gave awesome performances. I was singularly unimpressed with Jennifer Lawrence however, which I was surprised at since I’ve traditionally like her in whatever I’ve seen her in.

And in the end I did have to wonder what the message of the film was and whether the bad guys were the ones that got away with what they were doing.

But it’s worth watching and evaluating at least once I think.

A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.

2 hr 9 min
R | for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: David O. Russell
Genres: Drama

See or not: Maybe

I, Frankenstein — PG-13

I really don’t know exactly what to say about this film. I kind of like the concept, but I am having a hard time taking this thing seriously. I’m actually expecting this to be pretty bad. Maybe I’ll see it, so I can see for myself how bad it is, but it sure won’t be this weekend.

Set in a dystopic present where vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons rage in a battle for ultimate power, Victor Frankenstein’s creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself caught in the middle as both sides race to discover the secret to his immortality. From the creators of the hit supernatural saga, UNDERWORLD, comes the action thriller I, FRANKENSTEIN, written for the screen and directed by Stuart Beattie based on the graphic novel “I, Frankenstein” by Kevin Grevioux

1 hr 32 min
PG-13 | Sequences of Fantasy Action and Sequences of Fantasy Violence
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto
Director: Stuart Beattie
Genres: 3D, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

See or not: Probably Not

The Wolf of Wall Street — R

I wanted to see this film. I was interested in the story, it’s Martin Scorsese, etc. But I have to say, given what I know about this film, that my personal opinion is that under no circumstances should you go see this film. Again, that’s based on a what I know. I do not plan to see this film. My understanding is that it is filled with graphic sex (to the point of what could be considered pornography) and nudity, and all manner of debauchery. It is one thing to depict that this is the lifestyle these men led, it’s another thing to revel in it. It seems to me that The Wolf of Wall Street is doing the latter.

In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.

2 hr 59 min
R | Graphic Nudity, Drug Use, Language Throughout, Some Violence and Strong Sexual Content
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genres: Documentary

See or not: NOT!!!