Mini-Reviews: The Lego Movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Flame and Citron

movie reviews

I haven’t been to a movie theater since Gone Girl, because my local theater is crap :(. So here be some more casual reviews of film’s I’ve seen recently but haven’t written about here.

Up today: The Lego Movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Flame and Citron 

Before we begin here’s some desperate shameless self promotion: I has society6 shop. Sorry about that.

The Lego Movie (2014)
Watched on Sep 22

After not watching a single animated film for about 8 months and only watching one in nearly two years, I finally decided to give The Lego Movie a shot. While in a number of ways, I am not the film’s target audience (I’m not a child, and I have never owned a lego), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed most if it (I like it a good deal more than I do Frozen if that says anything).

The hands-down best thing about this movie is how clever and genuinely funny it is. Lord and Miller’s screenplay is brimming with comedic moments. In fact, the film is so witty (and at points, delightfully irreverent) that it’s easy to forget that it’s largely for children. The film’s writing and humor are so strong, that The Lego Movie even merits repeated viewings imho.

Another lovely thing about The Lego Movie is just how beautiful the animation is. The sheer level of attention to detail in this film is a tad mind blowing really. Even the water is made of little shiny legos. Neat!

This film is packed with action and with characters. Will Arnett and Chris Pratt truly shine. Morgan Freeman also steals a few scenes (in fact, his character’s final scene was so funny that I just about lost it). Despite The Lego Movie‘s rather large number of characters, they all manage to stand out. That said, the pace of the film is a tad too hyperactive at times, making it easy to miss some of its finer details.

Now, the complaining! Though some are sure to disagree, I couldn’t help but feel that the film’s ending was a bit lazy and rather unsatisfying. Personally, I would have cut all of the live action scenes (yes, there are a few of those). They pull the viewer out of the world of the film, they are overly sentimental, and they make everything far too literal and “explained” for my taste. During much of the ending, I couldn’t shake the feeling that for whatever reason, the filmmakers were just hella determined to get Will Ferrell’s face onscreen, even if that meant damaging the integrity of their story in the process.

Still, even if the ending isn’t perfect, The Lego Movie is about as good as animated films in Hollywood seem to get, and it is certainly designed to entertain adults as well as children. Yay, adults!
Watch The Lego Movie

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Watched on Oct 06

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: AKA That Fincher Film That Doesn’t Feel Like a Fincher Film 😦

Before we get to the good (and there really is plenty about the film that is good), let me get some of the less good out of the way. First, this film is considerably longer than it should have been, and it’s a real shame. The frame narrative (which takes place in 2005) weakens the film considerably and should have been entirely cut. For real. I seriously cannot get my head around why someone working on this film did not convince Fincher to forego this portion of it. The frame narrative pulls viewers out of the fantastic world of the main story, it contributes nothing, it’s boring and hard to watch, and it adds considerable length for no apparent reason. Also, while I appreciate the grand, epic scope of Benjamin’s story, the film does drag occasionally, and is a little too sweet a sentimental at a few points, at least for my taste (personally, I go to Magnolia for that shit, not Fincher).

Anyway, the film is still worth seeing at least once. It’s beautifully shot and lit. It’s imaginative, it’s touching, and it forces one to think about life and death in a serious way and powerful way. The film also has a touching (and just occasionally dark) sense of humor. The visual effects are also quite impressive, and Pitt and Blanchett hold down the fort with considerable grace.

I suppose that in many ways, the film’s sprawling and emotional story are its biggest attraction, but they are also it’s primary weakness.

Flame and Citron (2008)
Original Danish Title: Flammen & Citronen
Watched on Oct 19

I always feel a little unsure of myself attempting to pass judgement on foreign language films, but here we go.

I recently watched Flame and Citron on a whim, simply because it is on Netflix and because Mads Mikkelsen is in it (I really love Mads Mikkelsen, now you know). While I do not think the film is as strong as the other Danish films I have seen in which Mads appears (those would be A Royal Affair and The Hunt), it’s really not fair to compare them. Directed by Ole Christian Madsen, Flame and Citron is a worthwhile WWII drama that shows a side of history not often seen in this way on the big screen.

Flame and Citron tells the story of the Danish resistance to Nazi occupation and stars Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelsen. Both actors give solid and emotionally piercing performances. As I had never seen his work before, I was particularly impressed by Lindhart whose (dyed) bright red hair and piercing eyes will stick in your brain for days after you’ve seen it.

Where more sentimental and grandiose WWII films often tell their stories in a largely black and white manner, Flame and Citron spends a great deal of time reminding viewers of the gray. The film also focuses on the sort of war heroes who never see battlefields, and it’s somewhat refreshing in both of those ways.

As a political thriller, the film is full of unanswered questions, betrayal, intrigue, and all of that. While those elements are interesting and perfectly entertaining, the film’s real strengths are its ability portray war on an individual level, to force viewers to think, and to evoke intense and genuine emotion.

Still, while is does have it’s got its gun battles and all of that shiz, the film is a character study first and foremost. Flame and Citron reminds viewers that being a hitman also means taking on a great deal of guilt, and it does so with finesse. The film also does a good job of demonstrating that everyone acts for slightly different reasons and that not every great solider is an embodiment of his nation’s professed values at the end of the day. Though it lulls slightly at times, there are some truly powerful scenes in this film, and its final moments haunt viewers for quite some time (this is most certainly a compliment).

No, Flame and Citron isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn good, and I definitely recommend it.
Get Flame and Citron on DVD

Until Next Time
Thanks for reading. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Don’t hesitate to drop me a line by leaving a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: The Lego Movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Flame and Citron

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