300: Rise of an Empire: If there was anything at all you liked about “300” you’ll get lots more of that thing in “Rise.” The movie basically just reused the gimmicks that made the first installment visually interesting (to me, at least) and layered it on a story that wasn’t particularly compelling. Imagine the following prototypical scenes:
2.) Attractive brunette actress says something snarky and badass and then smirks.
3.) Attractive men stand around sulking shirtlessly.
4.) Inspiring battle-related speech.
Play these in a loop, throw in some slow-motion blood-spatter, and there’s your movie. I do give Miller credit for creating two women characters who weren’t strippers/hookers. (Though one of them was a rape victim, natch.)
The Heat: My husband says (approvingly) that “The Heat” is just an excuse for Melissa McCarthy to say awful things. I think he’s pretty much right. From start to finish, the movie is just a vehicle for her to be outrageous and funny, and most of the time she is. Sandra Bullock is there too, being likable and stuff, but saying Sandra Bullock is likable is kinda like saying Dolly Parton is a likable–it’s not exactly a revelation for naturally likable people to be likable. Her performance is not notable. But “The Heat” is McCarthy’s movie, make no mistake. And while it’s not a perfect–or perfectly feminist– film by any stretch, I really enjoyed it.
The Lego Movie: This movie surprised me by being as cute and clever as it was. The cast was great, the voice work was great, Morgan Freeman took a break from playing dignified serious characters by to play a dignified funny character, and the whole shebang was consistently funny. When you get to the live action part, you get a fun and surprisingly poignant twist. Plus there’s a unicorn-cat. Really, what more do you want?