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When the Trade Federation sets up a blockade around the planet Naboo, two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent to find a peaceful settlement. When the negotiations fail, the Jedi flee with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to the Republic capital Coruscant. Their ship is damaged during the escape, forcing them to take shelter on the planet Tatooine. There, they meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who Qui-Gon senses has a strong connection with the Force and accompanies them on their journey.
After waiting 16 years since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas finally shows how the Star Wars Saga all begins. With the progress in special effects since Return of the Jedi comes a whole new visual style to the Star Wars universe. Although it has its bumps, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace tells the story it wants to, while throwing in some visual flare to really make it pop.
The Phantom Menace follows a similar formula to A New Hope. There is some exposition to learn about the characters, but for the most part it concentrates on the action. It hardly takes a break so it keeps moving along fairly quickly. However, there were times it felt like scenes were cut short to keep the movie moving forward, making transitions feel abrupt. This does not apply to action scenes, which receive their fair share of screen time.
Despite knowing several of the main characters and already aware of their fates (if you have already watched the original trilogy), there is still a sense of wonder and discovery throughout the film. One of the draws for me about the original Star Wars trilogy was the vast universe it built. This film takes that same feeling and builds on it. Sure, a good chunk of the movie is set on Tatooine, a planet seen several times before, but more time is spent amongst the city and ordinary folk and learning more about their way of life. There is a sense about how vast and strong the Jedi are. The Republic Senate, merely mentioned before, is shown, along with the galactic capital Coruscant. If this movie does one thing correctly, it’s expand the Star Wars mythos and universe.
Much like A New Hope, a lot of the core cast of this film were relatively unknown at its release. Liam Neeson and Ian McDiarmid were the only ones who had any major acting experience (again, referring to the main cast). Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman were just starting their acting careers and Jake Lloyd was just a young boy. It was easy to tell they were still somewhat new. There didn’t feel like there was much emotions in their lines and it came of very flat most times. But overall they all did well with their parts.
My biggest complaints about The Phantom Menace is the dialogue. Much of it was delivered as if the actors were on a stage play, making it come off as corny on screen. I know the actors can do better, I’ve seen most of them do better. Maybe it was because some of the actors were still fairly inexperienced, but they just seemed awkward in their deliveries.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace gives Star Wars fans what they have been waiting for almost two decades: a glimpse at how everything began. The film’s pace is quick, concentrating a lot on the action. Although I know the fates of the main characters, it is still entertaining to see their origins, as well as expanding the Star Wars universe. It is a very similar sense of wonder during Star Wars: A New Hope. Because of the movie quick pace, several transitions feel abrupt. Most of the cast were fairly inexperienced at the time and it was obvious but the parts were well cast. The Phantom Menace isn’t as good as its predecessors, but it does well to expand on fan-favorite characters from the original trilogy.
Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Writer
John Williams – Composer
Liam Neeson – Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman – Queen Amidala / Padme
Jake Lloyd – Anakin Skywalker
Ahmed Best – Jar Jar Binks (voice)
Ian McDiarmid – Senator Palpatine
Pernilla August – Shmi Skywalker
Oliver Ford Davies – Sio Bibble
Hugh Quarshie – Captain Panaka
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO (voice)
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Terence Stamp – Chancellor Valorum
Brian Blessed – Boss Nass (voice)
Andy Secombe – Watto (voice)
Ray Park – Darth Maul
Peter Serafinowicz – Darth Maul (voice)
Lewis Macleod – Sebulba (voice)
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just an ordinary guy but all that changes when he stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance after following Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) through a mysterious hole. She informs him that he is The Special mentioned in a prophecy and takes him to meet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), an old wizard. Together they embark on a quest to gather the MasterBuilders to stop Lord Business (Will Farrell) and put an end to his dastardly plan.
The Lego Movie is the movie I have been waiting for ever since I was a kid. One of my biggest fears was that I overhyped this movie for myself after I saw the trailers. Honestly, I can say I have never been more excited for a movie in my life. I mean I was even more excited for this than I was for Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith or Marvel’s The Avengers, and that’s saying a lot. Thankfully, The Lego Movie was everything I hoped it would be and I left the theater very satisfied.
This movie is straight from a child’s imagination. By that I mean everything is made from legos and I mean everything. If there was a puff of smoke, it was legos shaped and moving like smoke. If there was water, it was legos shaped and moving like waves. On top of that there were many characters from different universes interacting together, such as city figures, pirates, the wild west, and DC characters. It reminded me a lot of the opening to Toy Story 3 where there were no rules and anybody could be a part of the story. And there were other objects that were included too, like a laser pointer, nail polish remover or a band-aid. Whenever these items appeared, they were all sized relative to the lego figures. It was very meta.
The voice actors in The Lego Movie knock it out of the park. The core cast of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Morgan Freeman all do well, but my favorites would have to be Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop and Charlie Day as Benny, the 1980-something space guy. I didn’t realize Neeson did both Bad Cop and Good Cop and Day has such an energy that is hard for others to pull off. Will Ferrell really gets into the part of Lord Business. There are a ton of cameos as well, including Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams reprising their roles as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian, Jake Johnson (Barry), Jonah Hill (Green Lantern), Channing Tatum (Superman), Cobie Smulders (Wonder Woman), Shaquille O’Neal (himself), Keegan-Michael Key (Foreman Jim) and several others.
The animation of The Lego Movie is beautiful. Animal Logic, the studio responsible for the CGI, made the pieces look photoreal. The models were so lifelike I was under the impression it was stop motion for the longest time. Characters and locations did incorporated a mix of real lego sets along with the special effects to add in the extra sense of realism.
Normally an animated movie like this has more of a younger audience in mind, but there was more adult humor than I expected. There is plenty here for the younger crowd, such as the characters and action, but several of the characters’ relations and jokes are geared toward the older crowd. I suppose WB understood parents would get dragged to seeing The Lego Movie so they at least made it worth their while. In any case, no matter how old you are there is something here you will enjoy.
Emmet’s journey should be very familiar. It is much like Luke’s from Star Wars or, well, pretty much any protagonist’s that goes on some kind of trek for something. Basically what I’m saying is it has been done over and over before. So at this point, I look more at what happens along the way rather than the journey itself. In a way, the end of Emmet’s quest if fairly predictable. However, there is an unanticipated element to the ending which makes the entire journey worth more than it initially lets on.
I have been waiting my entire childhood for The Lego Movie. It has great voice actors with even better cameos and photoreal animation that had me questioning whether or not it was stop-motion. But its greatest strength is the expansive universe that duplicates the feeling that anything can happen, the same idea that fuels the imagination and what makes legos themselves so enjoyable. Although the journey may be familiar, the destination has some added bonuses that bring out the imaginative side in everyone.
Cast & Crew
Phil Lord – Director/Story/Screenplay
Christopher Miller – Director/Story/Screenplay
Dan Hageman – Story
Kevin Hageman – Story
Mark Mothersbaugh – Composer
Chris Pratt – Emmet Brickowoski
Elizabeth Banks – Wyldstyle
Morgan Freeman – Vitruvius
Will Arnett – Batman
Will Ferrell – Lord Business/President Business
Liam Neeson – Bad Cop/Good Cop/Pa Cop
Charlie Day – Benny
Alison Brie – Unikitty
Nick Offerman – Metal Beard
David Burrows – Octan Robot
Official Synopsis: The film, the first-ever full length theatrical LEGO movie, follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.
There’s a chance I may be too excited for this movie, but don’t care, I’m really, really thrilled. Legos were a large part of my childhood. I remember spending hours building with Legos (hell, I still do!), playing Lego Island on my computer, and Lego Racers on the N64. The stop-motion stuff on YouTube is pretty cool, but now we get a full fledged movie.
The first trailer sold me on the concept, but this latest trailer solidified by excitement. Even if this wasn’t a movie about Legos, the voice cast alone is top-notch and worth going to see. This trailer has some very memorable quotes and hopefully the dialog is like this throughout the entire film. The idea of one person chosen to save everything is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting, especially with all the different characters helping along the way.
The Lego Movie hits theaters February 4, 2014 and stars the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, and Morgan Freeman.
After being away for eight years, Bruce Wayne returns to his home in Gotham City. Using what he learned from his time training with the League of Shadows, he takes up the mantle of Batman and begins a crusade to rid Gotham of crime and corruption, starting with Scarecrow and his drug operation.
I grew up with Batman: the Animated Series in the 90s and Justice League in the early 2000s (or Batman and his Amazing Friends as I like to call it). And although I don’t read the Batman comics, I try to stay up-to-date with what is going on in his books. So you could say Batman is pretty close to my heart. As good as Michael Keaton’s Batman was, it wasn’t really an origin story for the character. Batman Begins looks to establish a definitive Batman origin story, and create a dark and gritty Gotham City that is less exuberant and more grounded than the Joel Shumacher Batman films.
The Gotham City in Schumacher’s films evolved into a place full of neon signs and cartoonish characters. It may have started out strong, but it become a mess that tried too hard to display its comic book roots. The Gotham City presented in Batman Begins returns to that grittiness of the 1989 Batman, but doesn’t become overly stylized. You can imagine this Gotham is a real place. Not only is the setting more grounded, but Batman’s equipment is as well. His suit, gadgets, and vehicles are all more realistic than those in previous Batman movies. It’s more fitting with the movie’s more serious tone.
Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul are not iconic Batman villains, but I liked the fact they used lesser-known members of his rogues gallery. They could have played it safe and done someone like the Joker or Catwoman, but instead chose B-list villains (Well Ra’s may be considered A-List, but he hasn’t had much mainstream exposure). They took a risk and it payed off because it allowed for a great set-up for Batman’s take down of Gotham’s crime.
I don’t think there could have a better cast assembled for this film. Christian Bale is perfect as both a young Bruce Wayne and Batman. It’s funny how none of the previous actors didn’t change their voice when they were portraying Bruce versus when they were portraying Batman. Now after Bale took the part, it seems like it should be a no-brainer. Michael Caine does great as Alfred and Bruce’s mentor. Gary Oldman as Sargent Gordon (not commissioner yet), Liam Neesan as Henri Ducard, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane, all fantastic. And Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, well, when isn’t Freeman awesome? Only one I am a little iffy about is Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. She doesn’t do terrible, but she doesn’t step up and basically is just not as great as the rest of the cast around her.
Han Zimmer’s score as become iconic and really adds to the atmosphere. I instantly recognize his Batman scores when they come on my Pandora station. And the best part is it balances well with the rest of the sound work. Sometimes a film’s score is too overpowered and covers up the dialogue. But not here. It’s regulated to quiet background when necessary, and loud and prevalent when it needs to be.
I can’t think of very many negative things to say against this film. With a superb cast, a more grounded world, and an amazing score, Batman Begins is the perfect superhero origin story and first entry in a Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.