My Thoughts on: The LEGO Movie 2-The Second Part (2019)

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*note: I’m trying to keep spoilers to a minimum but a few are going to leak out. So keep that in mind as you read my review!

One of the fears with sequels is that they won’t live up to the bar set by the first film, particularly when it’s a film as funny as the The LEGO Movie. Happily, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part proves to be a fun and entertaining story, though it is not without its fair share of weak moments.

The sequel picks up immediately where the first film left off, with Bricksburg invaded by “aliens” from the planet Duplo. The story then flashes forward five years and sees Bricksburg transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Honestly, I was unsure about the post-apocalyptic vibe, but it really does work. My biggest complaint is that we don’t see enough of this new Bricksburg. Most of the story takes place in and around the “Systar System,” where Emmet must go to rescue his kidnapped friends. I will say it is very funny to see Emmet (Chris Pratt) retaining his “Everything is Awesome” personality while everyone else goes hardcore.

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There are a number of catchy songs in The LEGO Movie 2, all of which I loved. My favorites that I want to highlight include:

-“Not Evil” -Sung by the ruler of the Systar System, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), it’s a great song where the alien queen sings about all the ways she’s NOT evil (it’s as great as it sounds).

-“Catchy Song”- All I can say is “this song’s gonna get stuck inside your head.” You’ve been warned.

-“Gotham City Guys”-I can’t really give too much context for this song because that would spoiler a lot of the plot but this might be my absolute favorite song in the entire film.

-“Everything’s NOT Awesome”-The title speaks for itself.

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Aside from the awesome songs, mostly great plot and what I’m pretty sure is a wicked funny Twilight joke, I do have a problem with the last act of the film. It involves Emmet and his new friend Rex Dangervest (also played by Chris Pratt). Rex’s backstory involves a lot of time spent in live-action and it is by far the weakest part of the film. I’m pretty sure this sequence is meant to be funny in a roundabout sort of way, but to me it came across as awkward and incredibly fake (I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief watching it). I also feel like the story relies a little too much on Finn (the kid from the first film) and his family for the plot to make sense. It’s not that the segments are bad (they’re not), I just feel like there’s too many of them. The good news is the story comes back together by the end and provides a satisfactory ending.

However, I really do think that this should be the end of the story and there should not be a LEGO Movie 3. I think that because the story, while funny, relied a bit too much on jokes it introduced in the first film. I can only imagine a third film would do that even more and thus lessen the humor.

In conclusion, The LEGO Movie 2 is a lot of fun, and if you liked the first film, you’re going to enjoy this one. It’s not quite as strong as the first film, but its weaknesses aren’t enough to derail the story. Let me know what you think about The LEGO Movie 2 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Thinking about The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Thinking about: The LEGO Movie (2014)

Animated Film Reviews

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The Two Towers “Forth Eorlingas!” (2002)

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As the battle of Helm’s Deep draws to a close, all seems lost for our heroes. The Uruk-Hai have overrun the outer defenses and what forces remain are holed up inside the great hall. Theoden seems almost suicidal in his despondency (“So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?”) but even as the enemy begins breaking through, Aragorn remembers that this is the day Gandalf promised to return with help. With this in mind, he encourages Theoden to ride out and take the Uruk-Hai head on. Eager to go down fighting (that’s certainly how it appears to me), Theoden agrees, proclaiming that “the horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the Deep. One last time.”

The Two Towers “Forth Eorlingas!” (2002)

Interestingly, the music that starts this moment (beginning when Aragorn remembers Gandalf’s promise) is a soft rendition of the music heard in “The Last March of the Ents.” It might just be a coincidence, but it could also be a musical clue that the trees of Fangorn Forest have also arrived to take revenge on the Uruk-Hai for attacking them in the past.

As Theoden and the others get ready to charge out, Gimli runs up to a tower where a massive horn can be seen. If you haven’t read the books, this is the legendary horn of King Helm Hammerhand, a great king of Rohan who saved his people from destruction. He used to sound that horn every time he went into battle, and even after he died people would swear they could hear the horn sounding on certain nights. The sound of this horn was said to terrify all who heard it, so maybe Theoden is hoping to psych out the Uruk-Hai (even a little) when the moment comes.

I love the moment the charge begins. The music has remained relatively soft and steady all this time, even as Theoden utters these last lines and the doors threaten to give way:

Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn!

At that moment, Gimli sounds the Horn of Helm and it’s this spine-tingling roar that instantly gives you goosebumps. In the next second, the door crashes down and Theoden leads a wild charge as the horn spurs them on. The music restarts as the king rides out into the morning light (a fanfare version of Rohan’s theme), but that glorious moment when all you hear is the horn is what sticks with me the most.

What do you think of this moment in “Forth Eorlingas”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” (2003)

The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

The Return of The King “The Haradrim Arrive” (2003)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Shire” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Shadow of the Past” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Wood Elves/Passing of the Elves” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Treason of Isengard” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “A Knife in the Dark” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Flight to the Ford” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Many Meetings” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Ring Goes South/Fellowship Main Theme” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “In Dreams” (2001)

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)

 

The Return of The King “The Haradrim Arrive” (2003)

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The Return of the King “The Haradrim Arrive” (2003)

Yesterday I talked about “Ride of the Rohirrim” and how the riders crashed into the armies of Mordor. For a few glorious minutes it looks like the battle is definitively won, with Eomer eager to drive the orcs all the way to the river, while Theoden wants to make sure the city is secured. But suddenly, everything comes to a halt and we hear a strange booming in the distance along with shouting. The Haradrim (glimpsed in The Two Towers by Frodo, Sam, and Gollum) have arrived, mounted on enormous oliphaunts. The riders of Rohan are frozen by this sight (and if you listen closely, before the camera closes in on the oliphaunts, you can hear some of them say they’ve never seen anything like this). I’m not sure if this is actually a separate cue or not, but it is one of my favorite musical moments in The Return of the King.

What’s great about the Haradrim’s introduction to the scene is that all of the orchestral music has stopped (just moments before we had a rousing fanfare as the Rohirrim routed orcs left and right). Aside from the booming steps of the oliphaunts, all you hear for a few moments is the leering horn sounded by one of the Harad riders along with the war shouts of their fighters. I’m fascinated by the sound of this horn, as it helps to establish just how different the men of Harad are from anyone we’ve met before. Everything about it just sounds foreign. When the camera finally pans downward to capture an oliphaunt in all of its glory, the score finally returns with an ominous chord, to emphasize that the Haradrim are just as much a threat as the orcs. This impression is helped by the reveal that the oliphaunt’s tusks and feet are bound with metal spikes and razor sharp wire, ready to obliterate anything in their path (like horses, for example).

Theoden is not daunted, however, and quickly orders the riders to reform into a line, ready to charge. However, unlike the first charge, this one feels different. It’s understandably rushed given the Haradrim are swiftly approaching, but it also feels like more of a desperate gamble compared to the first charge (especially when you hear Theoden’s command to take them head-on). Given the ominous sounds in the score, it’s no surprise that this second charge is swiftly crushed by the oliphaunts, who literally sweep horses and riders from their path with their tusks (while archers and spear men have free reign to take out as many as they can).

What do you think about the arrival of the Haradrim? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” (2003)

The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Shire” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Shadow of the Past” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Wood Elves/Passing of the Elves” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Treason of Isengard” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “A Knife in the Dark” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Flight to the Ford” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Many Meetings” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Ring Goes South/Fellowship Main Theme” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “In Dreams” (2001)

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)

The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

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The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” (2003)

It’s one of the oldest tropes in storytelling, but also one of the best: when the heroes seem doomed to fail against overwhelming odds, more heroes suddenly arrive to lend their assistance. This is the setup that leads to “Ride of the Rohirrim,” one of the best cues in the entire film. At this point, Minas Tirith is close to being completely overrun by the armies of Mordor. Gandalf is doing his best to lead the defense but there’s simply too many of them (not to mention he also has the Witch King to deal with). But then…a distant horn call grabs everyone’s attention: Rohan has arrived!

The Return of the King “Ride of the Rohirrim” Soundtrack (2003)

The music starts off slow as Theoden gives his commanders their orders. But as the king launches into a rousing speech to his men, the music is filled with more and more trumpets, culminating in a blast as Theoden shouts “A sword day, a red day, ‘ere the Sun rises!” The music then briefly pulls back but not by much, it’s clear the climax for this scene is imminent. One of my favorite moments comes right before the charge when all the horns of Rohan are sounded at once (it actually gives me goosebumps every time I hear it).

The charge itself is followed by Rohan’s theme played over and over again as the Rohirrim charge the lines of Mordor. What’s clever here is that Howard Shore grows the theme in power with each iteration. No matter how many arrows the orcs send at them, the riders simply keep coming. I love how the charge builds with equal intensity, you can see the lust for battle building in all of the riders as they race forward. I also love the moment when it finally dawns on the orc commander that nothing is stopping this charge from hitting them head on. Finally, with trumpets blazing in the background, the cavalry strikes the orcs and decimates their forces. It’s a supremely uplifting moment that instantly restores hope that the good guys will win the day. But while Rohan’s arrival has somewhat evened the odds, our heroes are forgetting that Mordor has been holding forces in reserve all this time. For next time I’ll discuss the arrival of the Haradrim.

What do you think of “Ride of the Rohirrim”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” (2003)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Shire” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Shadow of the Past” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Wood Elves/Passing of the Elves” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Treason of Isengard” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “A Knife in the Dark” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Flight to the Ford” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Many Meetings” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Ring Goes South/Fellowship Main Theme” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “In Dreams” (2001)

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)

The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” (2003)

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The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” Film Scene (2003)

While there have been many criticisms leveled at the final entry in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, you can’t deny that the film possesses some awesome musical moments. One of my particular favorites is “Lighting the Beacons,” when Gandalf dispatches Pippin to secretly light the city beacon so that Rohan can be notified that Gondor needs help. While it is a deviation from the book (in the original story Denethor ordered the beacons lit before Gandalf and Pippin even arrived at Minas Tirith), it’s one I don’t mind because the music that goes with this scene is just wonderful.

The Return of the King “Lighting the Beacons” Film Score (2003)

The cue starts with a tentative motif in the strings, matching Pippin’s secret climb up to the beacon while Gandalf observes from below. Despite the two guards sitting nearby, there’s never any real sense that Pippin is in danger of being caught or falling. As soon as the guards notice the beacon is lit, the music quickly jumps up into a “burning” melody that matches the leaping flames shining for all to see. As the next beacon in the sequence is lit, the music “ignites” again, flourishing higher and higher as the message is passed on with each new beacon.

The next segment in this scene is a montage showing beacons being lit all across the mountains. There’s actually far more than the seven beacons mentioned in the book, but it makes for a great filler scene so I don’t mind. The music heard during this scene is a fast reprise of Gondor’s theme. I’ve always loved the power in this theme, which is dominated by the brass. The theme slowly fades as the final beacon is lit and observed by Aragorn at Edoras. The music trails off on a note of suspense because, in the following moment, Aragorn dashes to inform the king that Gondor is calling for aid (the music for that can be found in another cue, that’s why it trails off to silence).

If you compare the film version to the soundtrack version, you’ll notice there are some musical differences. While they sound very similar to each other, I think the soundtrack version of this piece comes from an alternate take that didn’t make it into the final soundtrack.

What do you think of the music for “Lighting the Beacons”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Shire” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Shadow of the Past” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Wood Elves/Passing of the Elves” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Treason of Isengard” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “A Knife in the Dark” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Flight to the Ford” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “Many Meetings” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “The Ring Goes South/Fellowship Main Theme” (2001)

The Fellowship of the Ring “In Dreams” (2001)

The Two Towers “Lament for Theodred” (2002)

The Two Towers “Last March of the Ents” (2002)

 

My Thoughts on: Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-1992)

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Tiny Toon Adventures Intro

If you grew up in the 90s (like me), then you know it was a great time to be alive in terms of animation. The Disney Renaissance was in full swing and the airwaves were full of amazing cartoons! In this decade television animation experienced a surge of quality and created a host of memorable shows (like Batman: The Animated Series). One of my favorites growing up was Tiny Toon Adventures, a sort-of next generation take on Looney Tunes, just updated to the 90s. Contrary to popular belief, the Tiny Toons characters are NOT the children of the classic stars (except for Gogo Dodo). Rather, they’re young toons who take after particular characters. For example:

Buster Bunny/Babs Bunny: These rabbits are both inspired by Bugs Bunny. Buster represents Bugs playing the “straight man” during the 1950s while Babs represents Bugs’ more wacky side as seen in the 1940s.

Plucky Duck: Plucky is almost a carbon copy of Daffy Duck (except that he’s green), right down to his greed and resentment of Buster and Babs.

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Hamton Pig: Supposed to be inspired by Porky, but honestly I don’t see it.

Elmyra: It might not be clear, but Elmyra (feminine of Elmer) is a take-off on Elmer Fudd. Except instead of hunting animals with a gun, Elmyra “hunts” animals to be her unwilling pets. She LOVES animals, any kind of animal, in fact she’s been known to chase after several of the characters. A running gag is everyone being terrified by the mere mention of her name.

Montana Max: a spoiled millionaire brat inspired by Yosemite Sam (he gets his comeuppance frequently throughout the series).

Sweetie Pie: Picture Tweetie Pie as a girl and the instigator of conflict instead of the victim. That’s Sweetie in a nutshell.

Fifi: If Pepe le Pew were a girl and could control his scent at will, that’s Fifi.

Calamity Coyote/Little Beeper: The younger versions of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. Sadly you don’t see these two very often (from what I read, Chuck Jones, who created Coyote and Road Runner in the first place, was not amused by their appearance and made his displeasure known).

Gogo Dodo: The only character confirmed to be the son of an original character, Gogo lives in Wackyland and acts just like the original Dodo.

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A lot of Tiny Toon episodes were parodies of famous TV show or movies, or whatever happened to be popular at the time. For instance, the 2nd episode “A Quack in the Quarks” is a shameless parody of Star Wars (Duck Vader anyone?). There’s also “The Acme Acre Zone” (The Twilight Zone, where Charlie Adler (voice of Buster) does a pretty good impression of Rod Serling), “Citizen Max” (Citizen Kane) and “Duck Trek” (Star Trek), just to name a few. There are also too many Disney parodies to count, but my particular favorite is the rip-off of Night on Bald Mountain (from Fantasia) in “Stuff That Goes Bump in the Night.” Many episodes also center around Acme Looniversity where the toons learn how to be proper cartoon characters.

The series is understandably a little dated especially when technology comes up (some of the characters brag about owning a VCR) but most of the humor still works (though there are some quips about Donald Trump (not many but they are in there) that might rub you the wrong way).

Tiny Toon Adventures paved the way for several spin-off series, including Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and the very short-lived Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain. Currently the entire series is available to stream on Hulu (and is also available on DVD if Hulu isn’t an option). I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this cartoon series. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

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All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

After literally digging his way out of the city pound (the canine equivalent of prison), Charlie (Burt Reynolds) and his long-suffering best friend Itchy (Dom DeLuise) make their way back to the casino that Charlie used to run with Carface (Charlie’s name is conspicuously scratched out on all the signs). All of the dogs are shocked to see Charlie, since apparently he was meant to be “on death row” (scheduled to be euthanized if I had to take a guess). Charlie doesn’t have a clue that it was Carface who set him up to be taken away in the first place, he’s too busy enjoying his freedom. As Charlie explains (with Itchy’s help), nothing is ever going to keep this dog down!

Why settle for a couple of bones when you can have the whole bank?”
Oh you can’t keep a good dog down (No sir)
No you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve seen pain and hurt, I’ve eaten dirt (That’s true)
It’s hard to buy but even I have been jilted by a skirt (He lies)
But look out, I’m still around
Cause you can’t keep a good dog down

Ya can’t keep a good dog down (No you can’t)
No no no no, you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve been bought and sold
He’s been warm and cold
But ten to one I’ll still be runnin’ rackets when I’m old
Not in some cage in the city pound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down

In him’s the luck of the Irish
The pride of the German
And even a bit of Siam
Siam? You see the come of the English
The charm of the Spanish
A pedigree certainly ain’t what I am
So call me a mixed up pup
(You’re a mixed up pup)
But the only way this pup knows is up
Ya can’t keep a good dog down
Ya can’t keep a good dog down

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I need to talk about this verse before we move on to the rest of the song. I nearly fell over in shock when Itchy did the line “And even a bit of Siam” complete with a bowl on his head and a faux Asian face (granted it’s not as extreme as older Asian stereotypes, but still!) The reference to Siam is not a problem in and of itself as the film takes place about 4 months before Siam became Thailand (while only the year 1939 is given, Carface later mentions Mardi Gras which takes place in February). No, my problem is that in a film made in the late 1980s, they thought it was okay to include a racist, Asian stereotype. That is not okay!

This concludes my rant, now back to the song:

He’s been fat and thin
I’ve been out and in
He tried a life of virtue
But prefer a life of sin
So tonight when we own this town
I’ve known hunger, I’ve known thirst
Lived the best and seen the worst
But the only way I know to finish best to finish first
So watch out when you hear this sound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog, no ya
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down
You can’t keep a good dog down!

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise were friends for many years and you can really feel a solid dynamic between them as they perform this song. The song makes it clear that Charlie is popular, charismatic and a confirmed crook (the last verse even mentions “He tried a life of virtue but prefer a life of sin” It’s not wonder Charlie is so nervous about judgement once he arrives in Heaven). I also noticed that despite being a dog, Charlie acts remarkably human during this scene (in that he stands and performs on two legs). Most of the time Charlie gets around like a regular dog, but this is a noticeable exception (sometimes I wonder if Bluth originally meant to make the dogs more anthropomorphic and then changed his mind).

The Siam moment aside (do let me know what you think about that in the comments), “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” provides a rousing musical start to the film. Which is good because the story only gets darker from here (at some point I’ll write some articles pointing out all the Nightmare Fuel aspects of this film). In the meantime, let me know what you think about “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” in the comments below and have a great day! Thanks for helping the blog reach 650 followers!

See also:

All Dogs Go to Heaven “Let Me Be Surprised” (1989)

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 “It Feels so Good to be Bad!” (1996)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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