CGB Review of The LEGO Movie (2014)

There’s no other way to begin this review except by saying…

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!¬† ūüėÄ

This is my review of The LEGO Movie!

the_lego_movie_2014-wide

Emmet (Chris Pratt)¬†is just your average, ordinary…LEGO person or piece or whatever you call him.¬† Anyway, Emmet lives a pretty unremarkable life as a construction worker amidst a sea of yellow faces.¬† When a strange piece called “the piece of resistance” gets stuck on Emmet’s back, he is whisked away by oddball characters such as a pretty tough gal named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks)¬†and the prophet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman)¬†on a mission to stop the evil Lord Business from freezing the entire LEGO world using the Kragle.

This plot is so ridiculous and nonsensical, which is why I love it so much!

The Hits
This movie is so gosh darn creative!  I was laughing so hard when I saw that the lava in the opening scene is made of red LEGOS!  I love how even the water is made of blue LEGOS.  The animation is truly something to behold.  Rich colors, smooth movements, excellent camerawork, the level of detail is astonishing and you can tell that a lot of thought and precision went into making everything just right.
For being a boring everyman…LEGO…being thingamajig, Emmet is a pretty endearing character.¬† They don’t make him clumsy or any other everyman (or everywoman) character trope, but they don’t give him special powers or any quality that would make him stand out.¬† He’s just¬†a bland, likable¬†guy with a kind heart (and a face of yellow)¬†who ends up truly being the hero that¬†the city needs.¬† Wyldstyle is pretty funny and with Vitruvius, you can tell that Morgan Freeman is trying so hard not to laugh with each line of dialogue he says.¬† Also Will Arnett’s Batman had me rolling on the floor laughing.¬† Batman¬†sure does¬†bruit a lot, doesn’t he?¬† I know that’s¬†one of his signature qualities, but seen in a satirical¬†form really does put perspective on it.
This is the kind of movie that should not have worked, but makes itself work with awesome results.¬† What makes this ridiculous concept work is its self-awareness.¬† The script knows that it is a laughable idea and, instead of trying to make itself more epic than it actually is, it embraces the nonsense and comedic possibilities. ¬†Self-important prophecies, the chosen one narrative and pop culture are satirized to great effect.¬†¬†The voice actors do a great job at taking things seriously when it is needed, but they aren’t like characters in a Christopher Nolan film where EVERY. SINGLE. LINE. OF. DIALOGUE is treated as the most important thing ever said.¬† The tongue-in-cheek quality is why this movie is so hilarious and¬†a real blast to watch!

The Misses
The action is so fast-paced that it is hard to see at times.  Viewers with sensitive eyes or who are prone to getting headaches from watching fast motion with neon colors might want to close their eyes during the action sequences.

Everything is awesome with the LEGO Movie!¬† This surprise hit from 2014 is a brilliantly animated gem that both kids and adults can enjoy.¬† Top-notch animation, an impressive cast, charming characters, and a clever use of satire and cheeky humor all culminates to the LEGO Movie being…just so darn…AWESOME!¬† ūüėÄ

Saint Isidore the Farmer, pray for us.

CGB Mega-Collaboration Review of Suicide Squad (2016) featuring MsOWrites, Rosalie Contrite, Catholic N00b and Surrender the Brownies

You know, for a team called the “Suicide Squad”, only one person in the squad actually kicks the bucket.

This is my¬†review of–

AMANDA WALLER:¬†Hello, Catholic Girl Bloggin’.
ME: (looks up) What the?  How did you get in my house?!
AMANDA WALLER: Flag, get the chloroform.
ME: Hey, why is Rick Flag soaking a cloth with chloroform in my kitchen?  (Sees RICK FLAG approaching) Before I go under, this is my review of Suicide Squad!

(Cuts to black)

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Based on the fictional organization known as¬†Task Force¬†X in¬†DC Comics, Suicide Squad is¬† basically what happens when Viola Davis–er, I mean–Amanda Waller decides it would be a good idea to¬†assemble a taskforce of¬†DC comic book baddies should another Superman ever walk the planet again.¬† Things go horribly awry when a squad member named Dr. June Moore, aka Enchantress goes off the rails and uses her dark magic brouhaha to ruin the city.¬† Now it’s up to Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo and¬†Katana to save the world from being enslaved by Enchantress all while the threat of the Joker looms large.

(Wakes up in the back of a truck) W-where am I?
MsOWrites: Catholic Girl Bloggin’?
ME: Huh?¬†¬†MsOWrites, is that¬†you?¬† You’ve been kidnapped too?
MsOWrites: Yeah, they grabbed me while I was on vacation.  AND they took my new scapular, too!
ME: Those jerks!  Kidnapping bloggers and taking scapulars!
(Enter ROSALIE CONTRITE)
ROSALIE CONTRITE: At least you weren’t snatched up while in the middle of a podcast.
ME: Is that why yesterday’s Contrite¬†podcast ended so abruptly?
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Apparently my latest “interview” was a set-up.
(Enter SURRENDER THE BROWNIES)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Better that than having your brownies spiked so that you’d end up unconscious.
(Enter CATHOLIC N00b)
CATHOLIC N00b: There are three things in life that I know to be true: There is a God, taxation is theft and Amanda Waller will kidnap you at some point in your life.
ME: It looks like Waller has her sights set on Catholic bloggers.
(The truck stops and the trailer opens up) (Enter AMANDA WALLER)
AMANDA WALLER: Good morning, ladies.¬† I see that you already know one another.¬† Let’s cut to the chase: I want to assemble a taskforce of Catholic bloggers to fight off supernatural entities.
ME: But what exactly would we do in the wake of such an event?
AMANDA WALLER: Oh, you wouldn’t do anything…but your Guardian Angels would.¬† If your Guardian Angel gave you, CGB,¬†a katana in your BFG review, then imagine what he and¬†the other¬†Guardian Angels¬†would do if I held you and your friends hostage.
ME: Wait, what?¬†¬†You’re gonna try to¬†get other people’s Angels to do your bidding.
MsOWrites: Your logic is not compatible with our Earth logic.
CATHOLIC N00b:¬†That’s not how this works.¬† That’s not how any of this works!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Oh, the early Church fathers would have a field day rebuking you, Ms. Waller.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Somebody get Bishop Robert Barron over here ASAP!
ME: (Looks in the back of the truck) Hey, you guys do realize that our weapons are in the truck, right?
AMANDA WALLER: (Looks confused) Wait, those aren’t supposed to be there.¬† (Gets hit in the shoulder¬†with ROSALIE CONTRITE’s arrow)
ME: (Grabs katana) Looks like our Angels are looking out for us!
(CATHOLIC N00b uses the Force to pull her lightsaber towards her, while MsOWrites whips out her crossbow and stake) 
ME: Hey, Surrender the Brownies, what’s your weapon?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Smiles as fire emanates in her hands) You’re about to find out why my brownies are the very¬†best, like no one ever was!
ME: And now the Pokémon theme song is stuck in my head again.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES:¬†(Raises arms) I’m gonna need everyone out of the truck in 3…
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Everybody, move!
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: …2…
(Everyone evacuates the truck)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: …1…(Incinerates the truck with her fire powers)
ME: (Looks around at the destruction of the truck, as well as any buildings in the area)
MsOWrites: CGB, look out!¬† (Pushes me out of the way of a¬†falling Little Caesar’s¬†sign)
ME: I didn’t know there was a Little Caesar’s nearby.¬† (Stand up and¬†brushes off the¬†dirt¬†and soot¬†from my¬†clothes) Well, I’ll tell you all one thing: This was an impressive showcase¬†of our super abilities, kind of like the new Suicide Squad movie…

The Hits
The film’s bombastically comedic tone works to its advantage.¬† It matches the unstable nature of the characters and the aimlessness of the narrative.
This movie is definitely what I call a “character showcase,” in that the script allows the charisma of the¬†cast of villainous characters to shine.¬† In particular,¬†Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Katana¬†and El Diablo look amazing!¬†¬†The costume designs don’t look too silly, which make it easier for them to be taken seriously when said characters are on screen.
I feel that Harley Quinn was handled as well as she could have been.¬† She has¬†her signature¬†sadistic charm, but¬†Margot Robbie doesn’t make her too over-the-top or¬†childish.¬†¬†The flashbacks of her time with the Joker give us an idea of why she is the way she is.¬† While I am¬†very aware of the abusive nature of her relationship with the Joker in the comics, I thought that, for the time being,¬†it made sense (at least for this first installment) for her to have glorified flashbacks of her time with him.¬†¬†She seems to me to be someone who has not yet¬†figured out who the Joker truly is, therefore she is subconsciously allowing herself to remember only “good” times with the Joker.¬† Going¬†forward, I do hope that we get to see Harley’s eyes opened and for her to begin breaking away from the Joker’s hold on her, but for now, her mentally instability is well established via¬†the flashbacks and her own behavior.
I was somewhat invested in the romance between Rick Flag and June Moore/Enchantress’ relationship.¬† While their scenes together are short,¬†the¬†performances of both actors involved capture the difficulty of their¬†romance. ¬†In fact, I wish they had their own movie.¬† How interesting would it have been to see the story of a man coping with his semi-possessed girlfriend?
I really like the¬†rapport between Deadshot and Rick Flag.¬† There’s a reluctant brotherhood to their¬†argumentative relationship that makes it enjoyable to watch.¬† Speaking of which, yes, Will Smith is as charismatic as always.¬† Granted, his “assassin with a heart of gold” trope is pretty overdone, but you know, I actually like that archetype; it has conversion-story potential to it.
Where the last DC film I endured–er, I mean–watched, which was Batman v. Superman, was dreary and convoluted, Suicide Squad is definitely a step up in terms of having fun with its premise and¬†being actually entertaining instead of¬†populating the screen with bruiting¬†men.

SURRENDER THE BROWNIES
: (Raises her arms) Come to me, my chickens!  Mwahahaha!  (An array of chickens teleport onto the scene)
CATHOLIC N00b: The Force is strong with this one.
ME:What, with her or her chickens?
CATHOLIC N00b: (Grins) Why not both?
MsOWrites: Hey, where did Amanda Waller go?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Buttercup, come to me!  (A chicken named BUTTERCUP approaches SURRENDER THE BROWNIES) Find Amanda Waller!
BUTTERCUP: Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk…(scurries away to find AMANDA WALLER)
ME: Hey, instead of going on a wild goose chase for¬†one of the cast members from “The Help”,¬†shouldn’t we¬†just¬†call the rest of the Avengers?
CATHOLIC N00b: You mean the Marvel superheroes?
ME: No, I mean the Pro-Life Avengers!¬† I’m talking about Pink-Haired Papist,¬†Aimee Murphy,¬†Albany Rose, Angel Armstead, Kelsey Hazzard,¬†Stargift Tarakasha and, of course, Bryan Kemper!
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: We’ll¬†assemble with¬†them during the next Planned Parenthood protest.
(Enter AMANDA WALLER)
AMANADA WALLER: (holds up BUTTERCUP the chicken by the legs)¬†You guys thought I’d just run off without apprehending you, didn’t you?

SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Lights hands with fire powers) Release Buttercup now, Waller!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: I got this!  (Holds bow and arrow to AMANDA WALLER)
AMANDA¬†WALLER: (sinister¬†smirk) (clutches onto BUTTERCUP’s legs tighter)¬†Go ahead, shoot the arrow and provide me with a nice chicken dinner.
ME: (raises katana) Ready your weapons, gal pals!
AMANDA WALLER: Oh, I’m not the only one you’ll be fighting…

ROSALIE CONTRITE
: Shush!  Do you hear that?
(An eerie, maniacal laugh is heard from a distance)
ME: Uh oh, looks like¬†Trump found us…
MsOWrites: No, no, it sounds more hoarse and chain-smokerish.
ME: Oh, so it’s Hilary whose after us!
(Enter THE JOKER, who pulls up in a white van with henchmen accompanying him)
JOKER: Well, well, well, if it isn’t the League of Catholic Bloggers.
MsOWrites: I didn’t know we were an established¬†League.
ME: (Gasps) Oh my gosh!¬†(Pause) I think I like Heath¬†Ledger’s Joker better.
JOKER: (Eyes narrow in my direction)¬†Oh, talking like that’s¬†gonna get ya hurt, baby doll.¬† (Whips out semi-automatic) (The henchmen start surrounding us)
MsOWrites: CGB, look out!  (whips out stake and crossbow and shoots a henchman coming towards me) Strong like an AMAZON!  (spins around and slashes enemies with her stake)
CATHOLIC N00b:¬†(Smiles as she lifts up her lightsaber) Time for my ultimate battle cry…(flips into the air)¬†Taxation is THEFT! (Slices through henchmen as she lands)
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Hey, Surrender the Brownies…(raises bow and arrows)…think we¬†can use some of that fire power of yours?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Grins) (Hands light up with flames) I thought you’d never ask.
(SURRENDER THE BROWNIES creates a shield of fire around herself and ROSALIE CONTRITE, who shoots flaming arrows at oncoming henchmen)
ME
:¬†(Holds up katana) When in doubt…(runs into henchmen)…Offer it up!¬† (takes down henchmen with jumps, kicks and the katana)¬†Whoa, what the?!
JOKER: (Charges at me)¬†I’d like to think that I was pretty good in Suicide Squad!
ME: You want me to lie to ya or tell ya what I really think?
JOKER: Surprise me, sweetheart.
ME: Well…

The Misses
It’s PAINFULLY obvious that¬†many of the¬†Joker’s¬†scenes have been cut down and as a result, he is grossly underdeveloped.¬† I can tell that Jared Leto did more preparation for the Joker’s character than the screenwriters did.¬† The thing is¬†that I understand why Harley loves the Joker, but I don’t understand¬†why the Joker even bothers to keep her around.¬†¬†The mistake made here is that the Joker puts a lot of effort into getting Harley back even though in previous incarnations of Joker and Harley, it’s clear that he doesn’t personally care for her, that he is only using her.¬† The few times that he does express¬†a desire to get her back feel really forced and out-of-place because we know that the Joker’s true nature is relentless anarchy¬†with no hints of sentimentalism.
Yes, this movie doesn’t have much of a plot.¬† It does try to attempt a plot by making Enchantress the main villain, but it doesn’t hold much weight because Enchantress herself is pretty much a standard villain.¬† She is a little intimidating at first, but once she brings back her CGI brother–Incubus, I think is his name, but he¬†had next to no impact on the plot, so I don’t really care–and just stands in the devastated subway station, doing something with a blue beam in the sky, she becomes nothing more than a video game villain from that point on.
I really wish this movie had a main character.  While I always appreciate a multi-character showcase, I went into this movie hoping that either Harley or Deadshot would be the main protagonist whose perspective drives the story.  It is clear that this movie went through many last-minute creative changes.  Except for Harley, Deadshot, El Diablo and (to an extent) Rick Flag, the other Suicide Squad members feel half-baked and underdeveloped.
Going back to this movie not having much of a plot, this film really does play out like a long music video. ¬†If this were a music video, it would be awesome, but alas, there’s a difference between¬†cinematic motion pictures and MTV music videos (yeah, I grew up watching many of those). ¬†The wonky pacing and overabundance of non-diagetic song choices prove my point about this picture being a glorified music video.

(CATHOLIC N00b uses Force lighting on surrounding henchmen.  MsOWrites finds herself in a one-on-one confrontation with AMANDA WALLER,  who wields a pistol.  SURRENDER THE BROWNIES and ROSALIE CONTRITE continue firing flaming arrows at henchmen)
ME: (sees MsOWrites fighting AMANDA WALLER)
JOKER: Hey, CGB, look me in the eye!  (charges at me with a semi-automatic)
ME: How can I? ¬†Your eyes are so unsettling and just freaky-looking. ¬†It lacks the subtley of Ledger’s Joker.
JOKER: If you like Ledger’s Joker so much, why don’t I just quote him? ¬†(Sinister grin) Let’s put a smile on that face!
ME: ¬†Nope! ¬†(Jumps in the air) Angelic katana, activate!¬† (Blade of katana glows as I land back down and slice JOKER’s semi-automatic)¬† Catholic N00b, think you can use a Force-push?
CATHOLIC N00b: Oh yeah, girl!  (From afar, she Force-pushes the JOKER away from me)
(MsOWrites¬†stabs¬†AMANDA WALLER’s shoulder with her stake, but AMANDA WALLER¬†¬†is about to shoot at MsOWrites) (I swing the katana and block the bullet with the katana)
MsOWrites: Thanks!  Is that how bullets work, though?
ME: Hey, my guardian angel gave me this katana. ¬†I didn’t exactly ask him if it abides by the laws of physics.
(SURRENDER THE BROWNIES creates a fire circle around AMANDA WALLER while CATHOLIC N00b paralyzes her with the Force)
(ROSALIE CONTRITE points an arrow at AMANDA WALLER’s forehead while MsOWrites holds up her crossbow)
ME: (Faces AMANDA WALLER) ¬†Hey, wasn’t this whole thing about you getting our Guardian Angels to do your twisted bidding?
AMANDA WALLER: That was the plan.
ME: Well, so far, all that has been accomplished are flashy action sequences, quips and a half-hearted Joker appearance.
AMANDA WALLER: Much like the Suicide Squad film, it was an attempt at a plot.
(Enter JOKER)
JOKER: See, this is what happens when so many of my scenes are either cut down sloppily or just chopped out altogether.  (Holds up a grenade)
AMANDA WALLER: (Clutches cell phone in hand) You have two options, ladies.  Either the Joker can blast you to bits with the grenade or I make one phone call to Lucifer himself and get him up here.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: What the fudge brownies?!
ME: No, no, you don’t wanna do that!
MsOWrites: (Holds up Miraculous Medal and Benedictine Cross) The heck you are!
CATHOLIC N00b: Triggered!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: You do know that all we would have to do to send Lucifer running is just say the Name of Jesus, right?
ME: Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. ¬†Just say the Name of Jesus and the devil will be tripping over himself trying to get away. ¬†Just ask Saint Gemma Galgani.
AMANDA WALLER: Can the Holy Name stop a grenade?
JOKER: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
(Enter THE SPARTAN)
THE SPARTAN: I know I can!  (As a flash of light, THE SPARTAN rushes past the JOKER)
JOKER: What the? ¬†Where’s the gren– (CATHOLIC N00b springs in the air and slices JOKER’s hands off with her lightsaber while MsOWrites finishes him off with her crossbow from a distance)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (uses her powers to close the fire circle in on AMANDA WALLER)  I prefer my villains medium-well.
ME: Has Charles Xavier contacted you yet?   You might to consider joining the X-Men.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: I don’t think he’ll be getting in touch with me after I kinda sort of burned down the school.
CATHOLIC N00b: The Force might be too strong with that one (points at SURRENDER THE BROWNIES)
MsOWrites: Who was that guy? ¬†The one who took the JOKER’s grenade?
CATHOLIC N00b: He calls himself The Spartan. ¬†That’s all I know.
ME: You know this how?
CATHOLIC N00b: I’ve encountered him before, while traveling to the Dagobah system to learn from Yoda.
MsOWrites: I think I’ve come across him while slaying vampires.
ROSALIE CONTRITE: So, CGB, what are your final thoughts on Suicide Squad?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Compared to Batman v. Superman, which made you question your will to live, how does this DC film hold up.
ME: Well…

On one hand, Suicide Squad is miles better than BvS thanks to strong performances from Margot Robbie, Will Smith and the rest of the cast. ¬†The rapport between the members of the Squad is fun to watch and has a whacky-dysfunctional-family feel to it. ¬†On the other hand, the choppy pacing, clumsy editing and weak portrayal of the Joker doesn’t do this comic book adaptation any favors. ¬†If you’re curious and/or are a fan of director David Ayers, then you’ll probably have a good time checking it out. ¬†While I’m glad I saw it, I don’t think I’ll be seeing it again in the near future.

Saint Theodore Guerin, pray for us.

CGB Review of The Shallows (2016)

So I happen to be a subscriber of YouTube’s Markiplier, who has repeatedly stated how much he hates the ocean.
After watching this flick, I now see why.

This is my review of The Shallows!

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To cope with the death of her mother, med student Nancy Adams takes a trip to a secluded beach to catch some waves, but when she is attacked by a shark and ends up stranded on a large rock, she must preserve in courage and strength in order to escape the shark and return to shore in one piece.

The Hits
Between this and Age of Adaline, it is clear that Blake Lively is more than capable of carrying a film on her own. ¬†There is an everywoman quality to her that make her relatable, which hits home the idea that this scenario could happen to anyone.¬†¬†Nancy’s resourceful nature and¬†survival skills¬†make her a worthy heroine to follow and give her plenty of agency. ¬†Also, and this is to any¬†fans of Saint Christopher,¬†if you look closely, you’ll notice that Nancy is wearing a Saint Christopher medal.¬† ūüôā
The camera work is¬†pretty good.¬† Not spectacular, but there are some beautiful shots of the ocean and the entire landscape.¬† Also, the swimming¬†sequences and other scenes that call for¬†Nancy to¬†flee from the¬†shark are nicely filmed to where you can actually make¬†out what is happening.¬†¬†I particularly like the seagull that hangs around with¬†Nancy during her ordeal.¬†¬†However, as an animal lover, I did find myself¬†worrying¬†about the seagull’s¬†survival.¬† This Nostalgia Critic clip best demonstrates my feelings about the seagull: https://youtu.be/YOcDhyhZO5g?list=PLxMCAq3dOW6BTGLQCwH__KdU92O3Q5xDT
I really like that Nancy has a personal history with the island, how it is the same place where her late mother discovered she was pregnant with her [Nancy].  It gives the island a symbolic significance as the place she was conceived and the same place where her life could be brought to an end.

The Misses
While the movie does do an overall good job at suspension of disbelief, there are a few times where the main character makes one or two decisions that are hard to the audience to buy.
The scene where Nancy has to sterilize and patch up the deep wound in her leg is difficult to watch.  If you are squeamish, I recommend either getting a snack during the scene or just closing your eyes.
Okay, so there is an elephant in the room that must be addressed and this is kind of a SPOILER
In the middle of the film, Nancy¬†sees a drunk man on the shore and tries to¬†enlist his help, but when he goes into the water to steal her surfboard, he is¬†mauled by the shark, resulting in him being (quite literally) torn in half.¬† We get one close-up shot of his body and then it just cuts to black.¬†¬†We never see¬†his body swept¬†up by the waves or even his body lying on the sand after that.¬† The only reason this bugs me is because the story takes place over the course of¬†a day and a half, so¬†if his body wasn’t¬†taken by the waves, then¬†it should still be there when Nancy¬†does make it off the tiny island she has been confined to.

The Shallows is a surprisingly¬†intriguing thriller, held together by¬†a committed performance from Blake Lively, clever editing and a suspenseful plot.¬† If you’re looking for a flick that keeps you on the edge of the seat till the very end, then The Shallows just might be the good time you’re looking for.

Saint Christopher, pray for us.