Movie reviews:  'John Wick 2,' 'LEGO Batman' and 'Fifty Shades' sequel offer choices this weekend, Feb. 10
Lionsgate, 2017.

Several new movies from various genres open today, ensuring that there is something sure to tickle your fancy this weekend.  Two highly anticipated sequels and a family-friendly spin-off headline the week at the box office, but two smaller movies are also making their way into theaters this week.

Here are reviews of the movies opening on Feb. 10, 2017:



“The LEGO Batman Movie”

Click here for the full review of "The LEGO Batman Movie."


“Fifty Shades Darker”

Click here for the full review of "Fifty Shades Darker."



“John Wick 2”



John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is one bad mo-fo, and his mythology is expanded upon in the explosive, worthy sequel, appropriately titled “John Wick: Chapter 2.” If there’s ever a dude who could hang in a fight with Chuck Norris, it’d be John Wick. As an adversary points out in this new film though, John Wick is really bad at retiring, and even though he tries again to step away from the assassin game, he is drawn back in to carry out a blood oath that he had promised to a major baddie (Riccardo Scamarcio). The original “John Wick” was a surprise hit, and featured a tongue-in-cheek reluctant hero who was hell-bent on revenge. Much of what made that film work was that it did not take itself too seriously. Those days are gone. In the sequel, things are much more serious, but the action scenes are inspired and often times invigorating, despite becoming a bit redundant as the film wears on. Yes, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is a bit too long, but in many ways it is a far superior than its predecessor. Common shows up playing a fellow assassin who is the first real blow-for-blow equal we’ve seen Wick face off against, and Keanu’s old “The Matrix” buddy, Laurence Fishburne shows up as an interesting nemesis, who looks to play a larger role in the inevitable “John Wick 3.” Yes, there will be a third film in the series, or at least this film confidently marches along to that conclusion. But the underworld created in the John Wick Universe is especially fascinating…it’s a world inhabited by very dangerous men, all of whom operate by the same codes and rules of conduct. Yes, there is much to be explored there, but for now, give me John Wick over James Bond any day. This is a real winner for fans of the first film, and even accessible for those that may have missed Wick’s first time around the block. The real question will eventually be: Who in the world would dare oppose John Wick? But at least for now, it’s still fun to watch countless thugs try and fail to bring him down. Grade: B+.

Read our review of the first “John Wick” film here.

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller. Run Time: 2 hours 2 minutes. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Common, Lance Reddick, Claudia Gerini. Directed by Chad Stahelski (“John Wick”).



“Paterson”



It's a simple film about a simple man, living a simple existence. “Paterson” is a story about a man named Paterson, living in a town called Paterson, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (“Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Coffee and Cigarettes”). Adam Driver actually won the Best Actor award from the LA Film Critics for his performance as a subtle bus driver who just so happens to be a budding poet. The story is soft and somewhat sleepy, a contemplative journey through the normalcy of everyday life. Actress Golshifteh Farahani is a revelation as Paterson’s bubbly girlfriend, who lives a black and white existence despite Paterson’s search for more color in his life. Their scenes together are infectious and their chemistry undeniable, but this will be a hard nut for most audience members to crack due to its slow, deliberate pacing and the fact that not all that much actually happens. Still, if you stick with it, you’ll find this to be an interesting character study, and like Paterson, you may just find poetry in the mundane. Grade: B-.

Genre: Drama, Romance. Run Time: 1 hour 58 minutes. Starring: Adam Drive, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley. Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch (“Gimme Danger,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Broken Flowers,” “Coffee and Cigarettes”).



“Julieta”



Director Pedro Almodovar delivers again with his latest film, “Julieta,” which was Spain’s official entry into this year’s Academy Awards (although it fell short of landing an Oscar nomination). It is the story of a mother trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter, a feeling that is rekindled after a chance encounter. Emma Suarez portrays the title character as an older woman, whose story is told mostly in flashback as she recounts the origins of her daughter. But it’s the younger Julieta, Adriana Ugarte, who is simply astonishing. Beautifully shot with a deeply compelling story, “Julieta” just works and pays off nicely, and gives us some very strong female characters, of which Almodovar is now known for. Grade: B+.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Foreign. Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes. Starring: Emma Suarez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao, Michelle Jenner, Inma Cuesta. Co-Written and Directed by Pedro Almodovar (“Talk To Her,” “The Skin I Live In,” “Volver,” “All About My Mother,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”).



All of these movies open locally on Friday, Feb 10, 2017 (check for showtimes).

Next week reviews include: "The Cure for Wellness" and "The Great Wall"