Archive for Zach Galifianakis

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: Puss In Boots

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

Now in his fourth screen appearance Puss In Boots is back, this time in his own film. The story for which is the typical mish-mash of various fairytales into one storyline…with varying results.

The plot of the film is that Puss (Antonio Banderas) and Humpty Dumpty, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, grow up in an orphanage together in a small Mexican village. Humpty is obsessed by the myth of a magic beanstalk that leads to a castle filled with golden eggs. After many failed attempts to find the magic beans that produce such a beanstalk, Humpty and Puss start to find other ways to amuse themselves. This leads to a life of crime ending finally with a bank robbery which goes wrong; Puss finds himself branded an outlaw and Humpty is left behind to face the music.

Flash forward to the present and Puss has been told that Jack and Jill have the magic beans; his attempt to steal them is foiled by another cat. After a brief chase and a ‘dance-fight’, the cat – a she – reveals herself to be Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a sexy and deadly thief who is in league with Humpty to steal the golden eggs to make up for the  foiled bank robbery of his youth. So off they all set on a mission to take the eggs together while evading the murderous Jack and Jill.

From here on in the film unfolds with all the predictability of these digital animations: someone isn’t quite who they seem to be, emotions start to get in the way of the mission, the bad guys might not be all bad, things don’t go quite as planned with the mission, etc, etc. And the problem is that we’ve kind of seen this film done with much more depth four times previously in the Shrek franchise. This feels very much like a paint-by-numbers spin-off, and spin-offs very often don’t work anywhere near as well as the original movie.

This is not to say that it’s an inferior film; the graphics match the high standards set previously and the voice cast is proficient, though not outstanding (minus Banderas, whose voice is rich and conveys all the correct emotions perfectly). But the plot is a bit loose and there are no real stand-out set pieces that will stay with you, apart from the trick Puss does with his eyes to make himself  look cute which, even after four films, still works.

It’s a shame that this film wasn’t better, but the Shrek films are so popular and well made that it never really stood a chance.