MUPPETS MOST WANTEDFrom the first musical number, The Muppets: Most Wanted admits what it’s up to. “We’re doing a sequel,” the beloved Jim Henson puppets croak and caw, “that’s what we do in Hollywood. Though everyone knows that a sequel’s never quite as good.” And even though Kermit might be spot on with his sentiment, starting things off with this kind of disclaimer doesn’t offer a ton of hope to an expecting audience. Following that mantra of mediocrity, director and writer James Bobin offers up a Muppets that’s fully tolerable but never exceptional.

the-wind-rises10-1(Note: I saw the original version in Japanese with English subtitles, not the redub featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Traumatic and introspective, The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki‘s magical realist account of pre-WWII Japan as it navigates a seismic earthquake, battles the emergence of lurking fascism and sees its populace wither at the hands of TB. To say it’s not an experience for kids is an understatement, so don’t let the pretty pictures fool you. And yet, preserved is the crisp and distinct Miyazaki visualscapes and a ubiquitous, if stayed, element of whimsy. “In good times and bad, life is magical,” Miyazaki seems to say with a hopeful sigh.

LegoMovie Dripping with commercial appeal and name brand recognition, The Lego Movie could have easily joined the ranks of previous toy-turned-tale blockbusters. With the likes of Transformers and Battleship, studios have established a shady history of leaning on bankable properties to churn out flimsy showcases that add up to little more than an audio assault and visual fireworks, a cheap attempt to