Archive for animation

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by Tom Austin-Morgan


The popularity of the Batman character, played by the excellently tongue-in-cheek Will Arnett, in The Lego Movie and the popularity of the character itself as well as the Lego games made the idea of a spin-off film a no-brainer.

Rather than being a spin-off however, The Lego Batman Movie is a stand-alone film that exists in its own universe. And what a joyous universe it is. The Lego version of Gotham is the brightest version of the fictional city since the 1960s TV series, the characters are all fun which sets it apart from the live action films of the past few years.

In fact, this movie spoofs virtually every Batman property that has existed in the characters nearly 80 year history. It even references the 1940s black and white series! One of the biggest criticisms that I have of this film is that the break-neck speed with which the cuts are made means that you probably miss around 70% of all the visual gags. It feels as if there are so many things going on that you just want the ability to pause it to find all the references and jokes going on around the frame.

The basic story is that Batman is super self-obsessed and narcissistic to mask a deep-rooted loneliness that he has repressed since his parents died. Through the course of the film the other characters get him to start working with others, including some of the most unlikely characters.

There are so many laughs in this film that it’s impossible to cover them all, but suffice to say that there are some really interesting character deviations from the norm that work so well, you wonder why they haven’t been done before. For example, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) becoming Batgirl virtually as an aside to her being such a kick-ass police officer. Also, every version of Alfred since Michael Caine has been touted as the most hands-on and handy in a fight, but Ralph Feinnes’ version takes this to new levels.

What’s truly wonderful about The Lego Batman Movie is, because it’s an animation, it can go anywhere. The roster of villains is ludicrous, not just the actual Batman rogues gallery that really exist but also the extra bad guys that crop up.

As with The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie has a deeper message hidden behind the jokes about the importance of working together and combatting loneliness, but it’s done in such a joyful way that you barely realise you’re being taught a lesson.

This film is supposed to be a children’s film, but it works so well as an adult – especially if you happen to be well versed in the lore of Batman. I would almost go so far as to say it’s the best Batman movie ever made… it’s even confident enough to take a pop at The Dark Knight, and survives!


Review: Frozen

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan


It’s been out for a while now, but I finally got round to seeing this Christmases big animated extravaganza, Frozen. Something is to be said for a film that manages to stick around in the cinema for over a month in recent time, but something about this film has kept it in the top ten longer than a lot of the sub-standard digimations that have been thrown together for the holidays this year.

This is a Disney film through and through. The plot focuses on two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who grew up in a castle together with loving parents. Elsa has a magical gift of being able to conjure ice and snow and they have lots of fun playing in the vast ballrooms of the castle building snowman and suchlike. This is, until Elsa accidentally hurts Anna who is revived and has her memory erased by a wise troll. Elsa locks herself away from the world – and Anna – as her powers grow, in fear that she will hurt her sister further.

A few years later, and after the obligatory tragic deaths of their parents  (a Disney trademark!), the palace doors are open to the world as the young princess Elsa is to ascend to the throne. This is the first time the sisters have seen each other in all this time and their feelings are mixed; Elsa (Idina Menzel) is fearful, but knows it has to be done and Anna (Kristen Bell) is full of joy at being able to meet people and especially her older sister. Both of their feelings are put to a classic Disney song where the themes are played out against each other in a glorious harmony.

Needless to say, things don’t go quite according to plan and Elsa’s powers reveal themselves in front of everyone forcing her to flee into the mountains and bringing a harsh Winter to her kingdom. This spurs Anna to go on a quest to talk to her sister and bring her back home with the help of an ice-cutter, his reindeer and an enchanted, talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad). Who is right up there, in terms of Disney sidekicks, with Donkey from the Shrek films.

All the Disney magic and clichés are in there as this is pure fairytale story telling and singing, which Disney are renowned for. It won’t win any major plaudits as it is a straightforward, nuts-and-bolts film, but when Disney are firing on all cylinders nothing can stop them. Frozen is well worth a watch