Archive for Will Arnett

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: The Lego Movie

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

the-lego-movie

Lego is one of the most successful brands in the world, starting life in the shed of Danish carpenter, Ole Kirk Christiansen – who set up the company in 1949. The company has expanded ever since, spilling out into theme parks, lucrative movie tie-ins, computer games and now a full-length feature film.

The plot focusses on Emmet, a regular construction worker who builds things in a team and always follows the instructions until, one day, he stumbles upon a group of super-builders who are fighting against the tyranny of Lord Business, who controls the Lego world with instructions that the populace follow in complete obedience.

This is the thrust of the movie; don’t be constrained by the instructions, use your imagination and you can create what you want. Which is, kind of, the point of Lego. And, why wouldn’t a Lego movie be about anything else? Well, for a start, it could have been about anything. Literally. But instead, this is a very formulaic, paint-by-numbers, nuts-and-bolts film that is pretty devoid of any real soul.

Understandably, the calls of “but it’s a kids film” will be flung my way, but it could have been made a much more inspirational story and have a slightly more likable character at the centre of the action. Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, is fine and lovable when he’s playing by the rules, unaware of the control asserted on his world by Will Ferrell’s Lord Business. Emmet is upbeat and fun-loving, but when he is recruited, wrongly, but the master builders, led by Vitrvius (Morgan Freeman)among assorted heroes such as Batman (Will Arnett) and love interest, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet turns overly reluctant and a little whiny. This is overcome by the end of the film, but doesn’t detract from his character’s personality in general.

The Lego computer games are peppered with sly bits of humour and there are moments in this film that elicits laughter, but not enough to raise it into the big leagues of Pixar or even DreamWorks.  The funniest moment for me involved the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, involving cameos from Anthony Daniels as C3PO and Billy Dee Williams as Lando, but not Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

I think, in the end, this film is missing something that the games have nailed. It’s difficult to say what it is, but perhaps it’s because the games are based on an existing script and story line? Whatever the reason, The Lego Movies is fun which you watch it, but not engaging or funny enough.