2017 Rental Roundup 1: Get Out, LEGO Batman, Absolutely Anything

Get Out

I heard an awful lot of good things about this movie, which really flew under my radar; I don’t often bother with thrillers on the big screen.

After it made a splash hardware-style at the MTV awards (a thriller winning Best Comedic Performance looks odd on paper, but LilRel Howery was just an absolute delight), it was time for me to see for myself what all the excitement was about as soon as I could rent it.

It’s damn near impossible to talk about what makes this movie so great without spoiling the whole thing. And your first viewing is best left unspoiled, though it’s more like Hot Fuzz than The Sixth Sense in that regard. The writing is so well planned that everything works so well appearing one way, but also fits seamlessly into the actual plot once the viewer figures it out.

The weak link, if anything in this movie is a weak link, is the cinematography. While the actors seem to have been directed impeccably, the camerawork is uninspired. We do get to see some nice tricks for effect when something unusual happens, but the camera does no lifting whatsoever in establishing or building suspense.

Verdict: Go for it (5/5). It’s been a while since I gave out one of these. While the overall level of praise might be too effluent, this is still the best-written thriller I’ve ever seen, and the actors were up to the task of giving that writing life.


LEGO Batman

First thing’s first: Despite the obvious and repeated callbacks, don’t try to reconcile this with The LEGO Movie canon.

The story goes places that mostly make sense for the immature, larger-than-life and cooler-than-thou Batman established in the LEGO movie, but he doesn’t really fit in the world that is built around him. While that’s the whole point of LEGO Batman’s character needing to develop, there’s no internal logic to the world as provided so eloquently in the ending of The LEGO Movie.

I was expecting it to be some kind of parable with Barbara Gordon et. al. representing a separate influence in the adventure in contrast to President Business, who was simply an imagined cracicture of another person. I was thinking that there could be this metatextual real-world growing up and learning to play well with others thing going on in the “real world.“

But no, the most brilliant part of the setting was dropped entirely despite there being an angle to work, and that really hurt its potential. Instead, the goal of the LEGO Batman movie is to take LEGO Batman and give him a character development arc, cram in as many other Batman characters as possible that would look interesting or funny in LEGO form, and try to make us all forget that this is supposed to be all be taking place in a 7-year-old’s imagination.

That being said, movie can be nice treat for a Batman fan to sit back and take in all the obscure references, but most of the sets are too over designed and straight-up busy that it’s way too easy to miss most of the visual nods to Batman history.

But if you’re looking for a more entertaining idea than every cynical teenager’s observation that the Joker and Batman have a unhealthy codependent relationship, you aren’t going to find it here.

Verdict: Rental (3/5). It’s just OK. Not a crime, but lightning just didn’t strike twice with the LEGO movies.


Absolutely Anything

This movie has the distinction of being Robin Williams’ last film (he voiced a major supporting character; he didn’t appear on screen). It’s also noteworthy for being a Monty Python reunion, with Terry Jones writing, directing and cameoing with the other four surviving members also doing voice work.

For those of you who prefer modern Brits, Simon Pegg is the leading man. He’s secretly granted omnipotence by a group of aliens who also secretly task him with determining the ultimate fate of the planet based on how he uses the power. Communication was clearly not a priority.

Pegg catches on to the omnipotence quickly enough after a few ridiculously unlikely to impossible things that he specifically wished for happen. Hijinks — and lessons in judicious wording, of course — ensue.

The pacing is methodical, which is par for the course for British flicks. And, in a rarity for films of this genre, it makes a big point about the agency of people (and animals) whose behavior is affected by wishes.

Verdict: Rental (3/5). It’s fun enough, and has a few creative twists on a well-trod plot. But it’s still just a fresh coat of paint on said well-trod plot.

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