This week I only managed to catch the Robocop remake. It proved timely but not probably not timeless.

Robocop
In preparation for my viewing of Robocop this week, I re-watched the original with Peter Weller as Officer Murphy. It’s not quite how I remember it, the violence is excessive. I certainly didn’t catch the satirical statements when I was younger. To me Robocop was an awesome cyborg cop who beat up bad guys. But that’s my childhood memory and nostalgia. The remade Robocop is interesting and relevant to today’s society. Robocop touches on the war on terror, drones, nation building, national security and political commentary. The story was modified, the satire is far more visible and the violence is actually toned down a bit. Murphy’s still a cop with a family who is killed, rebuilt and struggles with his humanity, or lack thereof. But he’s not the only man struggling with ethical issues, his creator, Dr. Norton, played by Gary Oldman. Jackie Earle Haley’s Mattox and Michael Keaton’s Raymond Sellars provide solid antagonists. I’m not always a fan of remakes or adaptations but I didn’t find this film particularly problematic but it wasn’t great either. It’s relevant to current events and yet I’m not sure if it will hold up over the years.

Grade: C+

Next week, I’ll be out to see Liam Neeson’s latest action/thriller, Non-Stop.

So, this week did… not go as well as I’d hoped. But that doesn’t mean it was a complete loss.

That Awkward Moment
Zac Efron is joined by half of the upcoming residents of the Baxter Building, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller. These three dudes deal with rom-com relationship issues, but from the (only in the rom-com genre) not-as-explored male perspective. The film revolves around Efron’s bro, but, counterintuitively, he was the character I liked the least. I empathized with Jordan’s failed marriage and with Teller’s discovery of his romantic feelings for his platonic friend. But it’s Efron’s movie, and his general demeanor and actions left me utterly disappointed that he was actually able to win over a girl like Imogen Poots. And then lose her and win her back again. But I suppose that was always the way it was going to happen, because there was never anything particularly fresh about this film’s plot. It was a mildly satisfying diversion with some laughs and a few touching moments and, unless you count the failed attempt to humanize a jerk, a complete lack of innovation.

Grade: C

The Monuments Men
Finally, George Clooney’s World War II Ocean’s movie, The Monuments Men, released to theaters after a huge, portentous delay! I didn’t care. I was so excited for this movie last year and remained excited for the day I could finally see it. Clooney gathers a band of misfit artists – and great veteran actors you always dreamed you’d see in a movie together – and leads them into World War II. Their mission: to protect and rescue Europe’s prized art and culture before Nazis and bombs leave nothing left to admire. The cast was an interesting choice, with the definite vibe of the Ocean’s series, but funnier. Yet the movie’s script moralizes and evangelizes so hard, trying to impart the import of art and culture, that it robs this interesting cast of its chance to do much more than hang out and josh around in uniform, criminally robbing them of their chance to stretch and make tough choices resonate with acting decisions. Tense moments (and how could there not be tense moments with how much the film tentatively evokes the Holocaust?) were cut with winking jokes a few too many times. I still enjoyed this movie on the whole, and will always come out to the theater when Clooney headlines a team-up film. I just wish this one had been better.

Grade: B-

So not a bad week, per say, but not nearly as good as I had hoped for, especially considering Clooney was in the mix. I’m not holding out much hope for next week, as I’ll likely only see one movie and it has no Clooney at all.

I didn’t hit the theaters after Ride Along and I, Frankenstein (anyone would need a break after that), but the Lord/Miller collaboration that that greeted me upon my return was worth the wait.

The LEGO Movie
Now here is a comedy I can enjoy. The LEGO Movie is easily the best movie of the year thus far. (Might survive to the end of the year with that title, that’s how good it is.) It’s funny and caring, yet not unwilling to poke fun at itself and its “corporate overlords”. I mean, come on, the antagonist (voiced by Will Ferrell) is named Lord Business! His nemesis, and our protagonist, is Emmett (Chris Pratt, soon to be Star-Lord/battler-of-dinosaurs), a standard, non-descript LEGO construction worker. He meets WyldStyle (Elizabeth Banks), a master builder looking for the Piece of Resistance. Emmett stumbles onto it by accident and WyldStyle whisks him away from Lord Business and Bad Cop (Liam Neeson!). The movie follows Emmett’s attempts to halt Lord Business’s nefarious plan to use the Kragle (all these silly names will make sense eventually) to freeze his Lego world in a perfect state. Along the way, we meet several master builders, including sage-like Vitruvius (Morgran Freeman), Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and characters from just about every licensed property you’ve ever loved. This movie never takes itself too seriously, has tons of priceless cameos, and is a truly great adventure. There are even two hilarious songs, “Batman” and “Everything is Awesome”, both of which shine as parodies of real music and as catchy tunes in their own right. Best of all, the movie isn’t afraid to point out that LEGOs really are just toys, meant to be played with and enjoyed by all. Just like this movie.

Grade: A+

Really, The LEGO Movie has more than made up for everything I’ve watched thus far. Maybe 2014 is starting to pick up, because next week looks like it will be pretty good too.