Archive for Batman

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

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

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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!

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Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2016 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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From the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman to the fact the trailers were a bit boring, years of waiting, speculation and out-and-out hate speech around this movie can finally be answered and people on both sides of all the arguments can finally put it all to one side, right? Unlikely.

 Before writing this review I asked around for view points just to see if what I thought was out of kilter with the popular opinion. Turns out mine was more central than I imagined. Not that I need to justify my own thoughts.

Firstly, I’m a fan of the source material, Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is a seminal work in the comic-book medium and changed the fact of the ‘graphic novel’ forever, ushering in the grown up comic. Also, without this comic, you wouldn’t have had 1989’s Batman and it would have been a lot longer ’til we got to where we’re at where popular culture is awash with A through to Z-list characters getting their own films and TV series.

The first scene is a one we’ve seen so many times: Bruce Wayne’s parents being confronted and shot in front of their son. Quite why we needed to see this again is anyone’s guess, this is a film following hot on the heels of the most successful Batman-based films ever in which we saw this. We also saw it in the Joel Schumacher abominations and the Tim Burton versions. We know. I’ll have this exact same rant if, in three weeks Marvel do the Spider-Man origin during Captain America: Civil War, we all know about it and we don’t need to see it again. That five minutes could have been cut, if not made way for some much-needed dialogue later in the film.

Ben Affleck as Batman is the best thing about this film, his take on the Dark Knight is one who has been there, done it and is tired of the relentless bad guys he’s faced in his career. So much so, that if you were telling the story through Superman’s eyes Batman would be a terrifying villain who tortures and brands his victims.

The problem is that you can’t see things through Superman’s eyes. He’s a virtually indestructible alien with almost unlimited power, which is why he’s such a hard character to get right and why he hasn’t been handled well in recent years, possibly ever. It’s a shame that Henry Cavill (and Brandon Routh before him) is given so little to do other than mope.

Batman’s hardly a barrel of laughs either, but at least that’s expected. But that means that your leads are just pouting men having a bit of a strop and are angry at each other for effectively doing the same job. The light to their shade is provided by Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The villain. Possibly the most annoying character this year and a complete miscast. Eisenberg chooses to play Luthor as another damaged orphan but instead of being imposing and in control with anger issues (like Wilson Fisk – Vincent D’Onofrio – in Daredevil) he plays him as an eccentric brat who has more in common with Heath Ledger’s Joker than a future President of the USA. Don’t even get me started on the bell tolling monologue. The repetitive chanting reminded me of the final scene for Ray Liotta in Revolver, one of the few films I’ve been tempted to walk out of.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is fine, but criminally underused. It feels as if Zack Snyder decided he needed a female character that wasn’t a wordless henchperson or a damsel in distress. One of her scenes includes the most clumsy shoe-horning in of supporting characters of future movies ever seen. For a start, it looked like it was shot for TV and secondly, why on earth was Lex Luthor giving the future members of the Justice League names and logos?

There are some interesting scenes, the best of which feature Batman; the car chase with the new Batmobile was thrilling; the introduction to the Batman was scary and clearly based on ‘Year One’, another Miller classic; and the flight between the titular heroes was just how you wanted it to be.

These scenes were outweighed by the boring or ludicrous. The first 40 minutes was relatively boring, even though Snyder decided to get out of his own way and seemed to be shooting a proper film that had an interesting case-building story involving Lois Lane, Superman and Batman all trying to get to the bottom of what each other, and Luthor, are up to. It all starts to crumble with a bizarre dream/premonition that if you don’t really follow what’s going on or know what’s coming from Warner Brothers/DC films over the next decade you just wouldn’t understand. I know this for a fact, I asked people. And the final scene is just as destructive and CG heavy as anything in Man of Steel, something Snyder seemed so desperate to put a different spin at the beginning of this film. But hey, at least the island was uninhabited, right? What about the city’s power supply that was destroyed and anyone who must have been working there?

This film is a mess. It’s not necessarily all Snyder’s fault, the script is clunky and the dialogue is lazy, but that’s not even the problem, we don’t expect Shakespeare from superhero films. The real problem the film has is that it’s trying to do about four different things; it’s a sequel to Man of Steel (kind of); it’s a brand new Batman film (kind of) and it’s setting up the incoming Justice League (horribly) while also giving us insights into what’s coming way down the line in the WB/DC universe (I think. Time travel is tricky – ask the X-Men and Terminator). The film is never given time to focus on any of these elements for as long as they deserve because if it had the running time would have been closed to six hours rather than just under three.

I really wanted this film to work and to some it has, but there’s something about the Snyder films that leave me cold. I don’t now if it’s the fact I don’t really like Superman, the washed out colour palette of the film or the mopey tone they are setting but something doesn’t sit right with me and I can’t get behind them. I hate to compare them to Marvel films, but what else are you supposed to do? There’s a certain magic with Marvel, they’re fun and although they’re equally as ludicrous when you boil it down (Thor is a virtually indestructible alien and a lot of their big villains are CG monsters) at least they give you a laugh and wink at you because they know they’re a bit silly.

Not everything didn’t work, rip everything but Batman out and throw in any of the Suicide Squad as a villain and you’d have a great Batman film.

Anywhere But Here, Episode 103 – Nous ne sommes pas Charlie

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2015 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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This episode of the Anywhere But Here podcast features a lot of talk about the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, which have dominated the news this week. Tom puts some context into what happened from Wednesday to Friday and tries to uphold the argument for freedom of speech and the right for the media to print what they like – with limitations. While Ant makes the case that this atrocity is only getting the attention it is because it has spawned memes and a catchy hashtag, whereas the shooting of school children in Pakistan in December received very little coverage, which leads o to a conversation about the media in the West being biased and sticking up for their own.

This argument is derailed a couple of times by Ant’s cat pawing at the window, but was really torn apart by the introduction of whether or not Ahmed the Dead Terrorist wears a turban or if it’s called something else, as he isn’t a Sikh… not that he’s a fictional character and a figure of satire anyway. It wouldn’t be and episode of Anywhere But Here without some sort of embarrassing hole in our knowledge. We’re sorry.

Things get moved swiftly on after this and Ant talks about a guy that went missing over Christmas in his home town whose body was found washed up down river, which isn’t really a surprise if you live in Maidstone.

Finally, Ant and Tom get to talking about comic book things: Ant is upset that Batman is slowing down the Justice League and the Ant-Man trailer is discussed. What do you think of it? Are you excited? nonplussed? Let us know.

The title of this episode is not to be taken offensively, we mean no malice to the victims of the shootings in France or their families. It is simply to satire the meme/hashtag culture that has taken hold after this atrocity while others are ignored by Western media outlets.


Get in touch with us:

Twitter – @abhpod

Facebook – facebook.com/abhpod

Youtube – youtube.com/abhpodcast

E-mail – abhpod@gmail.com

Anywhere But Here, Episode 86 – Don’t Poke It!

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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A lot of things are covered in this week’s podcast. Ranging all the way from the new Batmobile design that Zack Snyder released this week, what you guys thought about it and why it NEEDS guns! Also discussed are Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and where the producers are going with the second series, thanks to an article by @monstersyfyshow.

Ant talks about the new Doctor Who episodes and brings a story about a grave-digger who exhumed a corpse for its relatives to pose in a photo with! Tom tells the story about a homeless woman who claims to be pregnant with Prince Harry’s baby, the same week that the Kate and William have announced their own pregnancy.

The guys talk about the inexplicable success of Kanye West and Justin Beiber when they do awful things like stop their concerts until they know the guys not dancing are definitely disabled. Lumped into this is the success of Mrs Brown’s Boys, a shit sit-com about an Irish man dressed up as a woman swearing. It doesn’t hold up in the shadow of good comedy like The Fast Show, Spaced and Black Books, but somehow there’s an audience for it? Do you know anyone who watches it and is a fan? Add your views to this discussion on Twitter and Facebook.

Ant & Tom also put forward some new ideas for a segment about watching and reviewing films or TV shows on Netflix as well as some ideas for merchandise, let us know on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail if you have ideas for the segment or if you would like to have as a t-shirt, mug, etc.

Big love goes out to all our listeners this week, but especially Robbie Polanco, David Williams, Monster SciFi Show and Weekly Geek Speak (we hope Andrew didn’t get into trouble!).

 

Anywhere But Here, Episode 79 – Bright Eyes!

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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On this weeks episode of the podcast Ant and Tom catch up on what they’ve been up to in the past couple of weeks including playing Destiny,  building the ABH Pod Pod.

Nights out are also discussed, including the standard concept (it seems) of taking a dump on the floor and unprovoked violence. This leads on to a discussion about a local bar worker both Ant and Tom know, Lex Giggs, who was beaten up outside her place of work for no discernible reason.

This is the podcast of segues with such topics as nights out leading to homophobic attacks to the Commonwealth Games and ‘THAT’ kiss. Also discussed is the Dawn of Justice leaked Trailer from Comic Con, which the guys geek out on and Spider-Man gets arrested!

Take a look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and see if you prefer the official version of the colourised version, let us know!

Anywhere But Here, Episode 76 – Games

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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Ant & Tom talk about gaming this week. They reminisce about computer games they grew up playing on The Atari, Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, Playstation and XBox right up to what they are playing today. Some classic titles are mentioned including Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Goldeneye, Gran Turismo, and the Final Fantasy franchise.

Ant reviews the latest games for the new generation consoles  including Destiny and Watchdogs and Tom recounts his love for the Lego games & Little Big Planet as well as the Batman Arkham series.

There was a lot more mileage left in this subject than is explored here which means you could be hearing a lot more on this in future episodes… you lucky people!

Anywhere But Here, Episode 76 – Games

Posted in Podcast with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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Ant & Tom talk about gaming this week. They reminisce about computer games they grew up playing on The Atari, Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, Playstation and XBox right up to what they are playing today. Some classic titles are mentioned including Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Goldeneye, Gran Turismo, and the Final Fantasy franchise.

Ant reviews the latest games for the new generation consoles  including Destiny and Watchdogs and Tom recounts his love for the Lego games & Little Big Planet as well as the Batman Arkham series.

There was a lot more mileage left in this subject than is explored here which means you could be hearing a lot more on this in future episodes… you lucky people!