Tag Archives: genre: action

Feature Presentation: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

lego_movie_2The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnet, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, Jadon Sand, and Brooklynn Prince

Warner Brothers/Warner Animation Group, 2019. Rated PG

Synopsis: When Lego Duplo invaders from outer space decimate the world as they know it, Emmet, Lucy, Batman, and their friends find themselves surviving in a Post-Apocalyptic wasteland with little hope of rebuilding. When Lucy, Batman, Unikitty, Spaceman, and MetalBeard are kidnapped and taken to the Systar System, Emmet must once again summon his courage and rescue his friends before the 5:15 wedding that will usher in the “Ourmamageddon”.

Filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, catchy songs that will get stuck in your head, and lots of movie homages, The Lego Movie 2 is a well-rounded sequel with a surprising amount of heart. On its surface, yes, this is a kid’s movie, but the range of the jokes and the message it sends about working and playing together hits home with more than just its target audience. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is still as optimistically naïve as ever, spreading the notion of awesomeness all around Apocalypseburg (a nod to the Mad Max universe and Planet of the Apes) as the movie opens. Lucy/Wyldestyle wishes Emmet were not so optimistic; but when she is carried away by invaders, changes her tune and comes to realize that his somewhat childish approach to things has its benefits. There is an amusing moment in which Maya Rudolph’s character steps on a Lego when trying to break up a fight between her children to which most viewers – especially parents – will be able to relate. The film seems to focus in on a theme of working together and showing kindness instead of acting out, which was well-executed, even if it did take its time getting there. Fans of the first film and even those who did not will find something to love about this fun and creative brick-built world. Now, if I could just find a way to get this catchy song out of my head…

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The Alias Men Review

double_vision_alias_menDouble Vision: The Alias Men by F.T. Bradley

HarperCollins, 2014. 978-0062104434

Synopsis: After his last mission, Linc thought his undercover junior agent days were behind him and tons of boring studying ahead of him. But when supersecret government agency Pandora wants your help, you don’t exactly have a choice. Sinister criminal Ethan Melais is on the loose in Tinseltown, and it’s up to Linc to find him. But while he’s on the job, Linc is snagged by a famous director to star in a movie. Add “trying to impress the cute Hollywood starlet Savannah Stone” to Linc’s to-do list and this mission has suddenly become more complicated. As always, Linc’s look-alike agent nemesis, Ben Green, is hot on Linc’s heels, and time is running out. Can Linc nab the thief, charm Savannah, and beat Ben at his own game? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: This trilogy came back up on my radar when I was searching for a good fast-paced mystery at my library.

Why I finished it: This book has everything readers love about spy novels: action, intrigue, mystery, and lots of twists and turns along the way. What Linc thought was going to be an uneventful weekend at the Baker family reunion quickly escalates into an adventure of Hollywood proportions. Recruited to capture a man of many faces while trying out his newly discovered acting skills, Linc is surprised just how many angles a case can take. “Bond Girl” Savannah Stone’s movie history and industry knowledge proves invaluable to Linc in his mission to make it as an actor and uncover clues that will help them uncover the identity of Ethan Melais and retrieve Chaplin’s bowler hat. Alias Men is a thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that will keep readers engaged from page one and fuel their own secret agent adventures here in the real world.

Other related materials: Double Vision by F.T. Bradley; Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley; Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian; Agent Colt Shore: The Games Begin by Axel Avian; Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers by Gary Blackwood; Upon Secrecy by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by Jeff Crosby and Shirley Ann Jackson; The 39 Clues books; Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer; Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz; Young Bond series by Charlie Higson;  The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman; Spy School books by Stuart Gibbs; Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt

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Feature Presentation: Peter Rabbit

peter_rabbitPeter Rabbit starring James Corden, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Fayssal Bazzi, Domnhall Gleeson, Sia, Colin Moody, Sam Neill, Elizabeth Debicki, Christian Gazal, and Ewen Leslie

Sony Pictures Entertainment/2.0 Entertainment/Animal Logic Entertainment, 2018. Rated PG.

Synopsis: Peter Rabbit (James Corden) his three sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), and Cotton Tail (Daisy Ridley) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) enjoy their days harassing old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill) in his vegetable garden. After old McGregor’s death, his great-nephew (Domnhall Gleeson) inherits the house and seems to share his late uncle’s views about rabbits invading the garden. But when he starts to fall in love with the animal lover next door, Bea (Rose Byrne), his feelings towards Peter and the others begins to change. But is it too late?

I wasn’t quite sure what to think about this movie, but I ended up really enjoying it. The characters are endearing and charming, though sometimes the comedy can get a little crass (likely for the adult audience rather than the kiddies). My only real qualm with the movie is that it is supposed to be based on ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’. While the movie shares some of its source material with the beloved children’s books by Beatrix Potter (namely, the characters and the basic plotline of Peter repeatedly sneaking into the garden), I don’t think it is a true adaptation (The World of Peter Rabbit and Tales of Beatrix Potter more closely follow the books). That said though, I liked the different angle the writers took to make it a little more relatable to modern audiences. There is a running joke about the contrast in Bea’s paintings (her ‘real work’ is abstract at best while her drawings of the local wildlife (a side project) are much more captivating) that seems to hold up over the running time. The extermination methods McGregor uses go a little bit over the top and the ridiculousness just made me bored after a while. The back and forth between the rabbits and McGregor also have moments where the jokes fall a little flat, but for the most part, the exchanges are clever and engaging. The message about learning to understand others and to ask for forgiveness is important to instill in younger and adult viewers alike. It’s a cute family film that will be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

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Feature Presentation: The Incredibles 2

incredibles_2The Incredibles 2 starring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Bird, Sophia Bush, and Brad Bird

Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios, 2018. Rated PG

WARNING: There are VERY intense strobe effects in this movie. Be careful, this could cause an epileptic seizure or affect those with seizure disorders!!!

Synopsis: Having heard about the superheroes’ illegal antics to save their city, a high-powered executive at Devtech offers Elastigirl/Helen Parr a chance to help bring supers back into the light by showcasing crimefighting from her point of view. But while she’s off saving the world, Bob must figure out a way to care for their children without losing his mind.

The sequel literally picks up where the first movie left off with the Underminer’s attack and the Parr family donning their super suits to save the day – turns out, this does not go according to plan and the family is left cut off from their government protection program. When Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone are approached by the Deavor siblings of Devtech, it appears that there is an apparent solution to their problem. The parallel plotlines deal with Elastigirl’s efforts to save the city from a new villain Screenslaver and Bob/Mr. Incredible’s struggles with being a stay-at-home dad. One particularly amusing scene involves Bob attempting to help Dash with his math homework; Dash criticizes his father for not doing it correctly and Bob throwing up his hands in frustration that they have apparently “changed math”. Bob also has some further trouble when he discovers Jack-Jack DOES have powers – multiple powers, in fact – that make the baby difficult to manage. Screenslaver’s use of hypnosis to control people on an individual level and on a mass level has some definite meat to it in terms of how it relates to the amount of screen time the movie characters and the audience experiences. It seems to send an underlying message about how attached we are to our computers, phones, and televisions and that the art of having a face-to-face conversation seems to be all but lost – a commentary the audience has no doubt heard before. Sadly, the villain reveal for me was not all that surprising, then again, it was hard to tell if it was meant to be a surprise since there were a fair amount of hints dropped in the first half of the film. The humor will be enjoyed by both kids and adults, though most of the humor seems to be aimed at adult-ish issues. There are sequences in which Violet and Dash experiment with being able to control and track their baby brother’s powers that are very much kid humor, along with a scene in which Jack-Jack has a battle with a raccoon that is raiding the Parr’s garbage cans. Overall, it was a solid sequel that will be enjoyed by viewers of all ages, though expect there to be varying reviews among adults.

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Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex Review

artemis_fowl_7Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer

Disney-Hyperion, 2010. 978-1423128199

Synopsis: When Artemis commits his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy, it seems that goodness has taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind. But the truth is much worse: Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies and most likely triggered in Artemis by his dabbling with fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy. Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind-and the grips of a giant squid-in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: After the cliffhanger in the previous book, I was eager to embark on another cat-and-mouse chase.

Why I finished it: Surprisingly, the plot doesn’t continue where it left off in the previous installment. Instead, we find our young genius suffering from a fairy form of PTSD, which unfortunately wasn’t that interesting of a plot. Coupled with the second storyline of a former criminal seeking to stage an elaborate prison break to get back to his family, this novel was sort of a disappointment. It’s important to have an awareness of mental disorders, like those Artemis is experiencing with the Atlantis Complex, but the way Colfer executed that bit of the story felt flat to me. Yes, we do get some Holly/Artemis shipping, but this book didn’t feel like it tied in very well with the rest of the series so far. Adding another criminal to the mix could have made it more exciting, but with the multitude of other characters in the Artemis Fowl universe it merely seemed lazy – almost like Colfer was running short on ideas. Colfer is at the point in the series where he isn’t pulling any punches with his readers: he’s assuming we’re already well acquainted with the general workings of this universe and we have a good understanding of the characters. So when the author introduces a new idea and a new character to the mix, we’re expecting more than the anti-climactic ending that we receive. If not for the Atlantis Complex bit, this book could have been a one-shot or a companion story that helped to further flesh out our heroes. As it is, the reader does get a sort of one-off feel from the story, but not one that satisfies the heightened sense of adventure or drama that in one of the hallmarks of the series. I’m hoping that the final stand-off we’re anticipating is better executed in the final book.

Other related materials: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer; The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl, Book 2) by Eoin Colfer; The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer; The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4) by Eoin Colfer; The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, Book 5) by Eoin Colfer; The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer; The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, Book 8) by Eoin Colfer; Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, art by Giovanni Rigano, colors by Paolo Lamanna; Artemis Fowl: The Seventh Dwarf by Eoin Colfer; W.A.R.P.  books by Eoin Colfer; The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer; Max Powers and Project Gemini by Keith Philips; The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

 

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Kung Fu Robot: How to Make a Peanut Butter, Jelly & Kung Fu Sandwich Review

kung_fu_robot_1The Adventures of Kung Fu Robot: How to Make a Peanut Butter, Jelly & Kung Fu Sandwich by Jason Bays

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017. 978-1449479633

Synopsis: Kung Fu Robot is an international machine of mystery and the savior of all things awesome and cool. He’s the world record holder for ice cream sandwiches eaten in one sitting, the reigning champion of continuous nunchucking, and once won a bronze medal for the simultaneous stomach rubbing and head patting. Together with his 9-year old sidekick, Marvin, he faces his arch-nemesis, Kung Pow Chicken: a robotically-enhanced, foul fowl bent on destroying the city’s peanut butter and jelly supply. Kung Fu Robot and Marvin must save the day . . .  and their lunches! – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I was not only intrigued by the title, but the app that went with the story.

Why I finished it: So, to be able to write about the full experience of the story, I downloaded the app so that I could experience all of the Kung Fu awesomeness while I was reading. Some downsides are that to use the Kung Fu Vision, the book has to be held flat for the camera to pick up the different QR codes hidden on the pages and the camera has to be held about a foot away in order for it to focus on the page. But really other than that, the app had a lot of really fun things that enhanced the reading experience: there’s a couple mini-profiles about Kung Fu Robot and Marvin, and there are three different games you can play that correspond with different fight scenes throughout the book. Plus, if you’re the type that loves to push buttons and sound effects, there’s quite a few pages in which strategically placed theme music and karate chops can be added by the reader. The games can also be played independently of the book and an e-book is also included within the app so you can have the Kung Fu action even when you’re on the go. And even without the app, the story is still jam packed with laughs, action, ninjas, and the foiling of evil plans to force people to eat sandwiches that are way less awesome than peanut butter and jelly. Kung Fu Robot is a likable hero that is often overly eager to share his love of lunch time essentials, but he definitely has his heart in the right place – especially when it comes to Marvin. Marvin is something of a worry-wart, but with his logic and quick thinking, you can be sure Kung Fu Robot will be able to save the day. Bays’ art is just as fun and action packed as his story, and it reminded me a little bit of Dexter’s Laboratory. It’s softer and has fewer edges than Tartakovsky’s art, but it still gives it that fantastic, adventurous feel. I’m excited to recommend it to reluctant readers because it has the interactive app that goes with it and even if you don’t or aren’t able to get the app, you can still experience the awesomeness of the story.

Other related materials: Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior books by Cube Kid; Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series by Marcus Emerson; Secret Agent 6th Grader series by Marcus Emerson; Crime Travelers series by Paul Aertker; Phoebe and Her Unicorn books by Dana Simpson; The Bad Guys books by Aaron Blabey; Dog Man books by Dav Pilkey; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Hilo books by Judd Winick; Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

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Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! Review

agent_q_or_the_smell_of_dangerAgent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1416986409

Synopsis: Now that the monks of Vbngoom have been saved and their monastery relocated (see Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware), Lily, Katie, and Jasper are eager to get home. But the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro and his agents at the Ministry of Silence have other ideas, and they will do anything to detain both the children and the monks. Including hiding in glove boxes and disguising themselves as furniture in order to apprehend the fugitive travelers!

Why I picked it up: I always enjoy a bit of light reading after a long, arduous week of work.

Why I finished it: It’s been a while since I read Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, so picking up this book had me a little bit lost. I guess I had gotten lucky and picked up the ‘stand-alone’ books in this series (Whales on Stilts!, He Laughed With His Other Mouths), so it wasn’t necessarily important for me to have remembered an entire book. Then again, this is what I get for reading series books out of order. So don’t be like me: read them in order. Okay, PSA over. Turns out it’s just as hard to get out of Delaware as it is to get in, maybe even harder since the Ministry of Silence is always watching you. Except when they lose track of you. Which isn’t often. Because these guys and gals are good. So good there’s even a whole TV series devoted to the best of the best of the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro’s spies in which they expose themselves and their dastardly deeds before a live studio audience…of spies! The story is part spy thriller, part after school special, combining the derring-do heroics of an action-packed thriller with the ridiculousness of our favorite Saturday morning cartoons (they still have those, right?). I love that Anderson is able to take the time within the text of the story and in footnotes to give the reader hilarious commentary about some of the more over-the-top elements of the story. There is a bit with sentient lobsters about half-way through the book that the author points out would be totally ridiculous in almost any other story…except this one, in which there are sentient lobsters…that are actually an important bit of the plot. It’s a fun and engaging mystery/thriller that will have readers eager for more of Jasper, Katie, and Lily’s adventures.

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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