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New in Theaters February 10: Lego Batman, John Wick: Chapter Two, Fifty Shades Darker

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By Chris Kavan - 02/09/17 at 06:36 AM CT

Let us bow our heads to mourn the loss of Split as the box-office champion. M. Night Shyamalan's latest film has had a stellar run but, as with all good things, it must come to an end. The end shall come courtesy of three big-name films looking to leave their own indelible mark upon the film landscape: Lego Batman looks to corral the family audience, John Wick's second outing will surely bring in action fans while Fifty Shades Darker will go after women and some pre-Valentine's couples looking to spice things up. All three seem poised for big openings, we'll see whose target audience shows up in the biggest numbers.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE One of the more pleasant surprises I have had with movies is that the 2014 Lego Movie was both entertaining and pretty darn funny. So many characters showed up, it was hard to pick a favorite, but certainly Will Arnett's take on Batman was a highlight. It's no surprise then that the studio decided a full-length movie was due before the second Lego Movie came out. Arnett once again voices the hero - along with his alter ego Bruce Wayne. The film revolves around our hero dealing with the worst of the worst in Lego Gotham City, while also raising an orphan he has decided to take in (that would be Dick Grayson aka Robin - voiced by Michael Cera). The movie is packed to the gills with big names - Rosario Dawson plays Batgirl / Barbara Gordon, Ralph Fiennes plays long-suffering butler Alfred Pennyworth, Zach Galifianakis voices The Joker, Conan O'Brien The Riddler, Billy Dee Williams is Two-Face, Jenny Slate is Harley Quinn, Jason Mantzoukas is Scarecrow and ZoŽ Kravitz is Catwoman - and there are plenty more to round out the cast. The previews make this looks like more of the same fun - a bit of off-kilter humor that both adults and their children can enjoy. If the movie is half as successful as The Lego Movie - it will be great, if it can equal it, well, I suspect Lego Movies aren't going to go anywhere in the near future.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 On the subject of pleasant surprises at the movies, I found the original John Wick to be one of my favorite action films in a long time. Keanu Reeves has always been a bit, well, wooden is putting it nicely, but his stoic nature served him well as Wick, a former hitman who you DO NOT want to make mad. It turns out killing a man's dog makes him very made. What follows is a one-man army and some of the best on-screen violence in ages. Yes, Wick certainly has no problem spilling blood and I'm guessing the sequel will feature more of the same. This time, he's going globe-trotting as he comes out of retirement to repay a blood oath only to find a large bounty on his head, causing him to go up against some of the world's most dangerous assassins and hitmen. It sound like another grand adventure and the character is one that Reeves seems comfortable with, so I don't see why this outing won't be just as fun (and violent) as the first one. It's hard to say what the response with be as action films up against family and female-driven movies may suffer a bit but I'll be happy to catch this one some day.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER I know that E.L. James' novels have been exceptionally popular so it was only a matter of time before they got the movie treatment. A lot of people didn't seem to be particularly impressed by the first film, but it still went on to make over $166 million in the U.S. and over $400 million foreign. That is a great success for a film with a $40 million budget. Now Fifty Shades Darker has a slightly higher budget ($55 million) but if the same amount of people show up for this one - or even a few less - it's still going to be a great success. Once again Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan portray Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Both must deal with their new relationship with Christian wrestling his inner demons while Anastasia must deal with the jealousy and anger of the woman who came before her - including Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger), an older woman who seduced a young Christian and introduced him to the BDSM lifestyle and Leila (Bella Heathcote), a former submissive of Christian who is a bit unbalanced. Eh, I'm sure plenty of people will go to see this one, but I see neither appeal in the novels or the films but more power to them.

It will be a bigger weekend this time around. Three big movies should equal three big openings, but we'll see just how big some this Sunday.


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