The Secret Life of Pets ***
Dir: Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, Starring: (voices of) Louis C.K., Eric
Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks,
of the owner of the old toy/pet, the two toys/pets get stranded leading to a series of misadventures and perilous situations as well as a mutual understanding/bonding and an eventual emotional reunion with the owner. However,
familiarity aside, The Secret Life of Pets offers enough chuckles (and some outright laughs) as well as some excitement to keep you entertainingly engaged. Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet provide the voices for Max and Duke, Katie’s (Ellie Kemper) two dogs and they do a fair enough job. But Jenny Slate as Gidget, the Pomeranian in love with Max, Lake Bell as the mouthy plump cat, Chloe, Albert Brooks as the perpetually hungry hawk, Tiberius, and Kevin Hart as the angry little bunny, Snowball, completely at odds with his cutesy physical appearance provide the bigger laughs and the more engaging voice acting. The animation is also pretty good – the movie comes from the same people that brought you Despicable Me (the movie is preceded by a Minions short).
Cut to chase: Fun and amusing enough.
The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials ***
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter
Darden, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Aiden Gillen, Lili Taylor, Barry
Pepper, Alan Tudyk, Nathalie Emmanuel
Based on the novel by James Dashner. The second installment of the “Maze Runner” franchise opens up the postapocalyptic world witnessed in the first movie. Our young heroes – Thomas (Dylan O’Brien),
Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of the “Gladers” – have left the claustrophobic testing ground that forged their bonds and now find themselves in the desert landscape known as the Scorch, searching for clues to unearth the secret behind WCKD, a powerful organization that has ulterior motives. Dangerous
I’d been underwhelmed by the first Maze Runner movie, but director Wes Ball (who also directed the original) is able to build on that foundation, inject a little more personality into the protagonists, and pump enough adrenaline into the action sequences to make the sequel a surprisingly better watch than the first entry into the franchise. This is still fairly familiar fare after The Hunger Games and Divergent,
but does work well for what it is.
Cut to chase: A sequel that’s better than the ho-hum original.
* Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see ***½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection