This week at the movies, we have funny Batman (The LEGO Batman Movie, with voice work from Will Arnett and Michael Cera), angry Keanu (John Wick: Chapter 2, starring Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane), and bondage (Fifty Shades Darker, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan). What are the critics saying?
With its crowded voice cast, fast-paced storyline, and dazzling visuals, The LEGO Movie didn’t really have a true “star.” Will Arnett’s Batman owned some of its most memorable moments, however, and it didn’t come as a shock when Warner Bros. announced he’d be getting his own spinoff. It’d be equally unsurprising if The LEGO Batman Movie suffered from diminishing returns — how many times can these little bricks build cinematic magic? — but critics say that isn’t the case. Instead, Arnett’s latest Bat-outing delivers another fizzy dose of its predecessor’s madcap magic, hurling nonstop gags while offering an effective and surprisingly clever sendup of the Caped Crusader’s tortured mythology. If you’ve been on the fence about whether to head to the theaters — with or without the kids — don’t worry. As more than a few reviews have pointed out, everything with this franchise is still awesome.
Movies about reluctant killers dragged back into action by a personal tragedy are certainly nothing new, but a formula is only a formula if it works — and with 2014’s John Wick
, directors Chad Stahelski
and David Leitch
proved it’s still possible to wring a couple hours of effective thrills out of this one, especially if you’e got some killer set pieces and Keanu Reeves whooping the bad-guy butt. Stahelski and Reeves are back for John Wick: Chapter 2
, and reviews describe another delightfully high-impact outing; whatever your reasons for wanting more Wick
, critics say this stylishly violent Chapter 2
Fifty Shades of Grey
didn’t exactly prompt moans of pleasure from critics, but it still racked up more than $550 million at the box office — and since the bestselling novel that inspired it already had a pair of equally popular sequels, we all knew Fifty Shades Darker
was a given. Right on schedule, here’s the second installment, which adds some twists to its protagonists’ S&M-assisted relationship; unfortunately, they only seem to have stiffened critics’ resistance to the saga of billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his progressively kinkier paramour Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). You can safely expect a certain amount of unclothed canoodling, in other words, but if you walked away from the first chapter hoping for a better sequel, you might want to sit this one out and wait for the trilogy to conclude with next year’s Fifty Shades Freed
What’s New on TV
Bold, intelligent, and visually arresting, Legion is a masterfully surreal and brilliantly daring departure from traditional superhero conceits.
Proudly stupid yet surprisingly soulful, Detroiters showcases an impressive level of commitment from its charming, well-matched leads — and balances its goofy humor with an equal helping of heart.
APB‘s reliance on high-tech gadgets at the expense of high-stakes drama makes it a cutting-edge police procedural not worth pursuing.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
- Kedi (2016) , a documentary about the street cat community in Istanbul, is at 100 percent.
- Speed Sisters (2015) , a look at the real-life team of female race car drivers challenging gender boundaries in the Middle East, is at 91 percent.
- Left on Purpose (2015) , a documentary hinging on antiwar activist Mayer Vishner’s decision to end his life on camera, is at 86 percent.
- A United Kingdom (2016) , about the real-life international drama that erupted after the king of Botswana married a British citizen, is Certified Fresh at 84 percent.
- Land of Mine (2015) , about German soldiers conscripted for an Allied mine-removal effort after World War II, is at 81 percent.