Tag: Batman

Review of The Lego Batman Movie

Image result for Lego batman movie

3 stars

“Lego Batman” a funny, clever send-up of DC comics

Like the first “Lego Movie’, “Lego Batman” is funnier and better than it has any right to be. Both films are meta, manic and over-the-top, yet in a way that works for them instead of against them. Both films have a crazy, loopy energy, that works in the service of their observational wit and charm. Lego Batman was one of the minor, yet funniest characters in the first “Lego Movie”, and here he is used brilliantly, and the film had me smiling or laughing the whole time.

The voice work is phenomenal. Will Arnett, who did the voice of Lego Batman in the first Lego Movie, is hilarious here, channeling Christian Bale’s Batman. Ralph Fiennes plays Batman’s (or Bruce Wayne’s) butler, Alfred. The plotting is pretty much all over the place, and goes in all sorts of crazy directions, which is part of why it is such crazy fun. The film has about 3 different subplots.

To begin with, Batman goes to Gotham’s winter gala as Bruce Wayne, and when he is there, Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon announces her plans to eliminate Batman from the Gotham police department, because he has not successfully caught any bad guys. Bruce Wayne is offended by this change, and he defensively argues against this, making it clear that he is Batman, without actually saying it. The Joker, though, abruptly takes over the gala and Batman feels like he really cannot save Gotham. One of the funniest parts of the film is the Joker telling Batman that he hates him, and desperately  wanting him to reciprocate, and say “I hate you too”. Batman, though, has so much trouble with relationships that he cannot even come up with this simple response.

Batman also visits the local Gotham orphanage regularly, and he accidentally agrees to adopt an orphan named Dick Grayson, voiced with great comic energy by Michael Cera, later renaming himself Robin, and becoming his adoptive father’s sidekick. Eventually, even non-comic book villains, like Lord Voldemort, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Lord of the Rings are out to attack Gotham. The eventual climax is logical and even kind of brilliant.

So many of the pop-culture references and jokes made me laugh so hard that  I could easily forgive the jokes that were not as funny. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was used so cleverly throughout the film, that I will never think of the song the same way again. The same goes for “Jerry Maguire”, which Batman liked to watch in his house by himself, and laugh at lines like “You had me at hello”,  while eating popcorn. For how profoundly silly the whole film is, its attention to detail, and highly imaginative, fully realized world, is remarkable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review of The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

“DKR” was a little bit better
than I expected

3/ 4 stars

*SPOILERS ALERT*

True, the third “Batman” installment may have a little bit of bloat, but not as much as the second one, and that is saying something, especially since this one is about 14 minutes longer than the second one. There is a twist at the end involving Rhas Al Guul and his daughter that seemed a little superfluous; and some of the action scenes went on a little too long. Also, when Cillian Murphy’s scarecrow character popped up, I was basically saying to myself  “What the fuck just happened?!” I am sure that if I read the comics blah blah blah, I would understand everything better. However, comic books (or graphic novels) are a form of literature that deserve as much as respect as any other medium. They are in addition, a somewhat different medium from film, and in order to adapt a comic to film, there needs to be context as well as coherence for the uninitiated.

Don’t get me wrong  though. I enjoyed “TDKR” a great deal. Despite most of the fans probably going in for the action, I found the film to be very well-written and I actually thought its best moments were when it slowed down to get a feel for the characters. An inspired addition was Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective John Blake. When Blake meets Bruce Wayne, he tells him that they lived in an orphanage together when they were kids. I found Blake’s monologue to be so carefully written and delivered that I almost got choked up.

Another excellent addition was Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. It was actually somehow more effective that no one in the film ever used the name Catwoman. Selina would fight criminals, sometimes alongside Batman. Something else Catwoman does is she wears goggles and when she puts them on her head, they function as her cat ears. This sounds a little quirky and self-conscious, but somehow it actually works wonderfully.

The main plot involves Bane (Tom Hardy) trying to take over Gotham. If you know this, you will get the main gist of the movie.  I warned you that there would be spoilers, so if you must know Bane is a disciple of Raas Al Guul (Liam Neeson) and he wants to follow in his footsteps. Tom Hardy does a great job as a menacing Bane. I like the effect that his gas mask has with his British accent.

What is fascinating about Christopher Nolan’s Batman series is that Christian Bale’s Batman is one of the least morally absolute superheroes ever. Gary Oldman’s Lieutenant Gordon and Michael Caine’s Alfred, and several other characters seemed to be more developed in the conscience department than Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is traumatized by his parents’ death and he can be very petty at times. This however adds to the fascinating moral dynamic of the films .A hero Bruce Wayne may be, he is far from infallible.