The Lego Batman Movie Review

The LEGO Batman Movie movie posterSynopsis
Batman (Will Arnett (voice)) is the hero of Gotham City and has everything he could want except for one thing: a family. When the Joker (Zach Galifianakis (voice)) enacts a his largest, most villainous plan yet, Batman must lean to work with a team to stop the Joker’s diabolical scheme.

Review
I am a huge, huge fan of The Lego Movie. It had all the right elements to make it fun for both the younger and older audiences. Also being a superhero fan, I went into the theater hoping that I would see that cleverness and self-awareness return but pointed at the superhero genre that has exploded over the last 10-15 years. The Lego Batman Movie may not hit the high that The Lego Movie did, but it sure comes close.

Batman has had a very wild and varied history, a fact the movie brings up several times. Although this is wrapped in the aesthetic of a children’s toy, I would qualify this a good Batman movie. It looks at the Dark Knight from a different perspective, but it keeps much of what makes Batman Batman. Although this is a very different kind of Batman (arrogant, obnoxious, self-centered), he still feels like Batman. This should please long-time fans of the character while still not being too inclusive for those who aren’t as familiar with the character.

The photo-realistic look from The Lego Movie was astonishing and one of the things I liked best about that film. There is not much difference in the look and feel of between that and this film and that’s perfectly fine with me. It still looks like real Lego bricks and figures on the screen. Nothing is not made out of Legos. I can’t get enough of it!

So far, these theatrical Lego movies have brought together the perfect voice casts. Will Arnett returns as Batman and kills it. Michael Cera, Arnett’s co-star on Arrested Development, fantastically plays the innocent Dick Grayson. His Grayson is much younger than any Robin seen in any Batman film so far and Cera gleefully brings a childlike naivety to the role. Other stars of note are Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, the no-stranger-to-superheroes Rosario Dawson as Barbra Gordon, and Zach Galifianakis, who is clearly having too much fun as the Joker.

Going into a Lego movie like this, you should expect some zany action sequences. With everything being composed of Legos, the possibilities are endless and this film takes full advantage of that. Every scene is explosive, insane, and batshit crazy. The constant intensity keeps the story moving quickly. However, it still takes the time to have the softer moments. One thing’s for sure, you won’t get bored during this movie.

Although this is an animated film that might be geared more towards a younger audience, this movie incorporates enough to appeal to many ages and groups. There are plenty of references to previous Batmans (Batmen?), such asΒ the recent Ben Affleck Batman, Christopher Nolan’s version of the Dark Knight, and even β€œthat weird one in 1966.”  There are also references to other superhero properties, like Suicide Squad, which are sure to please comic fans, as well as other franchises like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings to hit a wider audience. If you’re a little bit older, there are jokes and pop-culture references that you’ll catch. Then the colorful action will surely keep the attention of the young ones.

I thought The Lego Batman Movie was GOOD πŸ™‚ The goofiness and cleverness that made The Lego Movie so much fun returns. Although this Batman may be very different than any Batman seen so far, I had a blast as a fan of the character. Whether you are a lifelong fan of Batman like myself or just know who he is, chances are you will find something to enjoy in this film and end up having a good time.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Chris McKay – Director
Seth Grahame-Smith – Story / Screenplay
Chris McKenna – Screenplay
Erik Sommers – Screenplay
Jared Stern – Screenplay
John Whittington – Screenplay
Lorne Balfe – Composer

Will Arnett – Batman / Bruce Wayne (voice)
Michael Cera – Robin / Dick Grayson (voice)
Ralph Fiennes – Alfred Pennyworth (voice)
Rosario Dawson – Batgirl / Barbara Gordon (voice)
Hector Elizondo – Jim Gordon (voice)
Zach Galifianakis – Joker (voice)
Jenny Slate – Harley Quinn (voice)
Jason Mantzoukas – Scarecrow (voice)
Conan O’Brien – The Riddler (voice)
Doug Benson – Bane (voice)
Billy Dee Williams – Two-Face (voice)
Zoe Kravitz – Catwoman (voice)
Eddie Izzard – Voldemort (voice)
Seth Green – King Kong (voice)
Jemaine Clement – Sauron (voice)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie posterSynopsis
Four turtles, Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and their master, a rat named Splinter (Danny Woodburn), were mutated by a mysterious experiment. Fifteen years later, the four brothers must protect New York City from the Foot Clan, led by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).

Review
I was in an interesting place growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I had not one but two series I could call mine. I was at the tail end of the original cartoon that started in the 1980s, plus there was another series in the early 2000s that I also watched. One thing that I have always enjoyed about the TMNT franchise as a whole is that each generation has their own incarnation and each one is different. So having seen a few different versions of the characters, I was looking forward to seeing this interpretation.

In every new version of the turtles, it is very important that the familial relationship between the turtles and their various personalities are correctly translated. That might be what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does best. Each of the turtles’ personalities are exactly what is to be expected from them. I don’t want to go into what makes them such great characters and why I like them so much because of their dynamic, so as long as you understand the turtles were faithfully portrayed here then we’re good.

I really liked the look of the turtles. In most incarnations, the main visual distinction between the four brothers have been the colors of their masks, if they weren’t holding their weapons. Here, each of them have something unique about them that fit into their personality, such as Donatello’s goggles, Michelangelo’s surfer-shell necklaces and Raphael’s bandanna. Even their physical appearances differed slightly. It may not be much but these small differences were a nice touch that really made them stand out from previous versions of the characters.

Throughout the movie, I was having a hard time telling if it was trying to be serious or playful. It did poked fun at itself several times. I mean, the series has always had a ridiculous premise anyway and is pretty much a spoof. But hey, that’s comics. For the most part, it did well to understand that and never became overly serious. There were times it felt like it was trying to show a serious side but those moments didn’t last too long and it moved on before it embarrassed itself.

Although the film was around an hour and forty-five minutes long, it felt like it moved quickly and not necessarily in a good way. You can feel Michael Bay’s influence, for better or worse. The movie mostly follows April O’Neil (Megan Fox) but quickly introduces us to the titular turtles, then is followed by one action piece after another. It doesn’t take any time to establish the villains, other than letting the audience they are tough.

There are two villains in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder and Eric Sacks. Most of the time spent with the villains is spent with Sacks, mostly because he has a personal connection to April. This left Shredder relegated to being the muscle. Shredder isn’t supposed to be simply the muscle. He is supposed to be the one giving orders, not taking them. He is briefly seen outside of his suit (which is pretty cool by the way) early on then after that he is only in the suit. As much as this film seemed to get the turtles right, it really dropped the ball on the franchise’s most iconic bad guy.

I thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was GOOD :-). Although Shredder was lacking, the rest of the main characters from the TMNT mythos were portrayed well. Despite the normal run time, it still feels rushed, sacrificing development for any character who wasn’t one of the turtles for action. I still had fun but I couldn’t help think there was missed potential to be a great film.

Favorite Quote
April O’Neil: What are you?
Leonardo: Well, miss, we’re ninjas.
Raphael: We’re mutants.
Donatello: Technically, we’re turtles.
Michelangelo: Oh, and we’re teenagers. But we can still have adult conversations.
April: You’re… Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers?
Donatello: Well when you put it like that it sounds ridiculous.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jonathan Liebesman – Director
Josh Applebaum – Writer
Andre Nemec – Writer
Evan Daugherty – Writer
Bryan Tyler – Composer

Megan Fox – April O’Neil
Will Arnett – Vernon Fenwick
William Fichtner – Eric Sacks
Pete Ploszek – Leonardo
Johnny Knoxville – Leonardo (voice)
Alan Ritchson – Raphael
Noel Fisher – Michelangelo
Jeremy Howard – Donatello
Danny Woodburn – Splinter
Tony Shalhoub – Splinter (voice)
Tohoru Masamune – Shredder
Whoopi Goldberg – Bernadette Thompson
Minae Noji – Karai
Abby Elliott – Taylor
Paul Fitzgerald – Dr. O’Neil
Malina Weissman – Young April O’Neil

The Lego Movie Review

The Lego Movie movie posterSynopsis
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.

Review
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 CopΒ 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.

Rating
5/5

Trailer

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

The Lego Movie Trailer #2

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.Β  Legos were a large part of my childhood.Β  I remember spending hours building with Legos (hell, I still do!), playing Lego Island on my computer, and Lego Racers on the N64.Β  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.Β  Even if this wasn’t a movie about Legos, the voice cast alone is top-notch and worth going to see.Β  This trailer has some very memorable quotes and hopefully the dialog is like this throughout the entire film.Β  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.

The Nut Job Teaser Trailer

Synopsis (from IMDB): Surly, a curmudgeon, independent squirrel is banished from his park and forced to survive in the city. Lucky for him, he stumbles on the one thing that may be able to save his life, and the rest of park community, as they gear up for winter – Maury’s Nut Store.

So I really enjoy heist movies, and this looks like it could be pretty interesting twist on a the genre. The voice cast looks pretty solid, at least the main cast. It probably won’t be high on my to-see list this January, but I’m willing to give it a chance.

The Nut Job will be in theaters January 27, 2014 and stars the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Stephen Lang, and Sarah Gadon.