NOVEMBER 11TH, 2014
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 // “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is a sequel with gravitas. There is a weight to the characters and their situations that builds off the first film almost perfectly. Director Dean DeBlois and his writers recognize what makes a franchise special, by raising the stakes and injecting new life into not just the original characters, but into the specially branded new characters as well. Returning with the rest of the original voice cast, Jay Baruchel picks up where he left off with Hiccup, now in his twenties and venturing into the great unknown with his dragon companion, the one and only Toothless. Avoiding the responsibility of becoming the chief of the island of Berk, he sets out to create a map of the undiscovered lands surrounding them with his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) by his side. That is until they stumble upon dragon hunters and eventually a dragon sanctuary run by a mysterious Dragon Rider.
If you have not watched the trailer and know nothing about this film, then this could potentially be a spoiler, but in this sequel, Hiccup meets his mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), the aforementioned Dragon Rider who was presumed killed twenty years ago during a dragon raid. Crossing paths with her in the midst of a pending war started by the dragon hating Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), he and his mother must band together with the ice breathing Alpha Dragon to face off with Drago’s own alpha, Bewilderbeast. Whereas “How To Train Your Dragon” was about the blossoming connection between Hiccup and Toothless, and vikings and dragons, this sequel is about the connections between the vikings themselves. Drago wants to control the dragons while Hiccup wants them to be free, creating an entirely different atmosphere from the original film which took the human versus nature approach. Drago is a formidable villain with a distinct look that rivals any of the visual stylings of Disney’s villains. Along with some upgrades to Toothless, this second film is as refreshing as sequels get these days.
The odds appear impossible throughout most of the film and with so much more at stake this time around, the emotions run high. The writers even go as far as to allow a major causality that ends up leaving an extremely lasting impression. Personally, ever since “The Avengers” killed Agent Coulson as the driving force for the superhero faction to band together, it feels like every heroic film has been following suit in killing off a major character to drive the main protagonist towards victory. In this particular case, it felt somewhat misused and sticking a dagger in the audience’s hearts at one of the most hopeful moments, simply to get a rise. Losing a foot, as in the finale of the first film, is one thing, but taking a character’s life is an entire different beast when it comes to children’s entertainment. As dark as it may get, the humor is still present and the driving force of the film remains hopeful. With positive relationships throughout including one of the best young adult relationships ever in an animated film, between Hiccup and Astrid, and a visual presence that continues to push the bar (with visual consultant Roger Deakins), I really do look forward to what this franchise produces next.
LET’S BE COPS // How are people not familiar with Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. yet? Johnson has been the supporting player in several high profile comedies and broke through to most audiences with his unequivocal brand of humor as Nick on Fox’s “New Girl”. Wayans starred in the pilot for “New Girl” alongside Jake but ABC beat them to the punch with their canceled-too-soon comedy “Happy Endings”. With that cancelation, Wayans returned to “New Girl” where he and Jake continue to develop the personas that they have concocted. Now, they star side-by-side in the feature film “Let’s Be Cops,” where they seemingly take those same personas and bring them to the big screen.
Without these strong personalities, “Let’s Be Cops” would be just another fluff comedy. With a premise summed up by the title of the film, the ridiculousness that is involved with two grown men deciding to impersonate police officers and getting involved with some real crimes is almost too much to take. Pulling from the fish-out-of-water storyline in the most basic of ways, these characters are literally down the river without a paddle as dressing up as cops for Halloween turns into a full-time (and completely illegal) gig. But with Jake Johnson playing naive, lovable Ryan and Damon Wayans Jr. playing the wacky, need-to-please Justin, the comedic sequences take on a life of their own. Somehow Justin getting attacked by much-too-old sorority sisters and Ryan screaming in the background is undeniably hilarious. The writers are also not afraid to take the film to its R-Rated boundaries, which is exactly what sets this apart from other fluff comedies while still not delving into raunch.
Along with the pair, Rob Riggle basically reprises his police officer role from “The Hangover”. Playing Segars, one of the actual cops, he eventually gets drawn into the antics of Ryan and Justin, who stumble upon a conspiracy between a local gang boss and the actual police department. Andy Garcia also stars as the police chief, the one character in the film that could make life extremely difficult for the leading men. The real conflict, however, comes from Justin wanting to put away the fake uniforms and the struggle that ensues with Ryan. The story also reaches a serious tip, with Ryan’s desire to prove his worth after falling short as an actor. Any other comedic faces could have easily fallen into campy humor, losing the sentiment completely, but Johnson never loses the character traits that ground him in reality.
Unfortunately for the talent involved, when push comes to shove, most of the jokes throughout the film are hit or miss, with a majority of them misses. But what pushes this into favorable territory is that the jokes that do land are absolutely hilarious. There are several moments that are so funny, I missed parts of the film from laughing so hard. If you do not yet know who Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. are, then “Let’s Be Cops” is the perfect place to start. With their lucrative partnership stepping off, their eventual rise could end up similar to Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and their ever-popular “Jump Street” films.
|Drive Hard (2014)|
|How to Train Your Dragon 2|
|I Am Ali (2014)|
|James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D|
|Jersey Boys (2014)|
|Let’s Be Cops|
|Tammy: Extended Cut|
TV Box Set
- The Avengers (1967): Season Five
- Batman (1966): The Complete Series
- Dads: The Complete Series
- Getting On: Season One
- Hey Arnold!: The Complete Series
- Phineas And Ferb: Star Wars
- Sailor Moon: Set One
- Sons of Anarchy: Collector’s Set
- Star Wars The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions
- ThunderCats: The Complete Series
- True Blood: Season Seven
- True Blood: The Complete Series
- The Tudors: The Complete Series
Special Editions/Other Releases
- Abuse Of Weakness
- Attack on the Iron Coast
- Blood First
- Covert Operation
- The Damned
- Exhibit X
- Getting On
- Ghost and Demon Children of the Damned
- The House At The End Of Time
- I Am Santa Claus
- I Am Yours
- Iceman (2014)
- Lady Valor
- Let’s Ruin It With Babies
- A Long Way Off
- Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go
- Mr. Pip
- Nothing Left
- Once Upon A Time In Queens
- Patema Inverted
- Queens Of The Ring
- Sands of Iwo Jima
- The Shooting/Ride in the Whirlwind: Criterion
- Summer Of Blood
- We Could Be King
- Welcome To The Space Show