Wednesday February 22, 2017
Book 17: A Little Immortality — Part I
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The Lego Batman Movie

LegoBatmanWhile it did not quite make it across my Threshold of Awesome, The Lego Batman Movie was plenty of fun, and had lots of awesome moments. It’s something I’ll probably want to pick up on Blu-Ray, because there are plenty of amusing, fannish, and/or Easter-eggy things going on in the background, and those are usually good for a couple of re-watches. At least for me.

The opening romp¹, in which our hero is awesome and makes it look easy, is possibly the most over-the-top action movie romp ever. Possibly. I hadn’t realized this was something for which I would want to be keeping score.

Unlike The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie does not have live-action stuff happening outside the fourth wall. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Those scenes made The Lego Movie work for me², but I know they threw a lot of other people out of the film. I share this not as a spoiler, but as a meta-unspoiler. Don’t sit there waiting for live action moments to explain in-Lego plot points. You might be able to headcanon³ a few such moments (I know I did) but that’s always a perilous path to walk, since you’re putting things into the movie that the director did not put in.


 

¹ By my definition, the Romp is the Act I scene in an action/adventure film in which we see our hero(es) being competent and successful. It is used to make promises about the kinds of action we’ll see later, and it sets the bar for what our hero is capable of. Some films do it really well (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) and some do not (I won’t name names here.)

² The Lego Movie placed #4 on my 2014 list, and totally crossed my Threshold of Awesome.

³ “Headcanon” is usually a noun, but verbing it makes total sense to me.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2

JohnWick2If you enjoyed John Wick, which starred Keanu Reeves as a hitman whose retirement is interrupted, you’ll enjoy John Wick: Chapter 2, which stars Keanu Reeves as a hitman whose sabbatical from retirement is extended by more non-retirement.

Dog lovers might appreciate knowing that the death of a dog is not Wick’s impetus in this film¹. Car lovers² will appreciate John Leguizamo’s estimate about how soon Wick’s car can be fixed. People who love witty dialog in the style of superhero banter should probably just re-watch one of the Avengers films, or at least not show up for this film with high hopes for any of that.

I enjoyed John Wick 2, but it does not clear my Threshold of Awesome. The fight scenes are every bit as amazing as they were in the first movie, but the story is on rails. There are no plot twists, unless you count employer treachery as a twist, which is about as unexpected as a meet-cute³ in a romantic comedy.

So, you know… enjoy the fight scenes, and pretend that the world will be a better place without any of these nameless thugs, who probably eat babies with a garnish of puppy.


¹ I was asked very specifically about dogs by someone on Twitter.
² I was not asked about cars. 
³ If you re-watch THE MATRIX before seeing this film, pay attention to the meeting between Reeves’ character and Lawrence Fishburne’s character. I think they re-used some dialog on purpose, just to see if they could.

 

The HUNTED Camera Loves Myke

I don’t watch much TV. We don’t have cable. If a program gets good reviews from my friends, I’ll pick it up on Amazon Prime, or I’ll wait until it hits Netflix. Sometimes I’ll buy DVDs and Blu-Rays.

MykeCole-HuntedMy friend Myke Cole, whose books I’ve plugged in blog posts of yore¹, is featured in a reality TV program from CBS called “Hunted.” (Episode 1 is currently free to stream from CBS.²) Reality TV is pretty much my least favorite form of TV, but Myke is awesome so a gave it a shot.

No regrets. None.

A team of investigators, of which Myke is a part, break out all the tools of their trades to track down nine two-person teams of runners, who are playing the part of fugitives, with a $250k prize awaiting them if they can stay hidden for 28 days. We follow some of these teams each week, and each episode thus far has had at least one capture in it.

I have no idea what the actual mechanics are behind this game, but the tools and skills on display are the real deal. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s entertaining to wonder how long you’d make it before Myke tracks your “untraceable” burner phone from a convenience store receipt and a traffic camera. (Answer: I can remain hidden for at least three meals if you give me a 1-hour head start. That’s probably it.)

Here’s the thing: The camera loves Myke. Several times during the first two episodes I noticed that shots were framed to include Myke in the background for no other reason than to make the shot look better. The costuming department is dressing him in t-shirts made of little more than paint and hard living, and I am forced to concede that not only is my friend Myke a fine human person and an outstanding writer, he looks really, really good on TV³.


 

¹ Here, here, and here. No yore was harmed in the reposting of these links.

² We’ve subscribed to the show via Amazon Prime, which is my least favorite part of this whole thing. Their digital delivery of HD is full of MPG artifacts that I never see from NetFlix. I’ll take MPG artifacts over commercials, but it stings to do that after spending actual real money on HD.

³That paragraph won’t embarrass Myke. His already-thick skin has been hardened under regular abrasion provided by his friend and mine, Sam Sykes, on Twitter. The Sam and Myke show (as I like to call it) is worth following: @MykeCole and @SamSykesSwears.