Super Cops III (Bad Boys for Life, 2020)

Bad_Boys_For_Life_posterWho wasted a perfect title for a fourth film???? Seriously people… Bad Boys 4 Life.

Seventeen years after the last film, Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back. A little older, a bit…um…thicker…but they are back. Burnett is desperate to retire and spend time with his wife and new granddaughter. Mike wants to keep being the badass cop.

But when there is an assassination attempt on Lowrey, they are called into action to try and determine who the killer is.

Bad Boys for life focuses on the impact of past choices, getting older, family and trust. Like, this is the first film to not make a joke about the closeness of these two men.  It treats their friendship as noble and good, not something to be embarrassed by.

The stakes get raised and while certain twists are not super original, they do work. The action sequences are incredibly easy to follow along with, yet still exciting.

Seriously, this is the best film in this franchise and I found myself curious for the clearly set up fourth film.  Bad Boys for Life is exciting, has depth the other two films lacked and was just a lot of fun to watch overall.

The Length of Love (The Book of Life, 2014)

Book_of_Life_posterLa Muerta rules over the joyful Land of the Remembered, while Xibalba rules over the Land of the Forgotten. He tries to convince La Muerta to change sides, but she is not interested.  He proposes a wager. Observing the rivalry of two young boys (Manolo and Joaquin) over their friend Maria, each god chooses a boy as the one who will marry Maria.

La Muerta disguises herself as an old woman who asks if Manolo might give her a piece of bread.  Instead he generously offers a full loaf. Xibalba tries the same thing, but Joaquin is not so giving. Maria is sent off by her father, returning years later.  Sensing Maria is favoring Manolo, Xibalba tricks Manolo into giving up his life.

In the afterlife, Manolo discovers he has been duped and seeks the help of La Muerta.

The design of this film is remarkably charming.  The framing device is that a museum tour guide is telling the story, and all the characters look like wooden puppets.

The Land of the Dead is a wonderfully bright and colorful world. The characters are full of charm. La Muerta is a kind and gentle, yet fearless goddess.  Xibalba on the other hand is both scheming and yet friendly (he is voiced by Ron Perlman, whose performance is just a lot of fun).  And while the story frames Manolo as a kind and generous artist and Joaquin as a cheerful braggart? Joaquin is not a villain.  The story is pitting the two against each other, and it obviously favors Manolo as the man for Maria. But Joaquin is seen as simply misguided and in need of a lesson. The film has sympathy for him.  And then there is Maria.  She is not interested in belonging to anyone and regularly challenges her two friends. And there is Chuy the pig who makes a sound like a goat.

The music of the Book of Life blends American Pop music with latin flavors to great effect.  But the highlight are the two original tunes I Love You To Much and the Apology Song.

The Book of Life is a charming fairy tale of love, loss and rebirth.

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