Tag Archives: The Lego Movie

The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie posterWhile the initial idea of The Lego Movie was, at first, somewhat of an odd one, the final product was one of the highlights of recent family cinema so it wasn’t surprising when a sequel was announced fairly swiftly.

The fact that this sequel would be The Lego Batman Movie, focussing on the Lego version of the DC superhero, a highlight of The Lego Movie but ultimately a bit part, just added to the surprises around the franchise.

Opening with Batman foiling one of The Joker’s schemes to destroy Gotham, all the tropes of Batman are quickly established, but added to this is the knowing, post-modern humour that made this Batman such a highlight of the previous film.

The first chunk of the film relies heavily on this and, while the action, animation and characters are well done it’s the reference heavy humour that is its strong suit.

Lego Batman and Robin

Lego Batman and Robin

After this of course a plot is required to fill out the rest of the movie and really this is the film’s weakest element. It tries to balance a further nefarious plan from The Joker with a focus on Batman’s ever-present loneliness including the introduction of a new cinematic Robin, but all with a suitably lighthearted tone (this certainly isn’t Ben Affleck’s dark and brooding version of the character from Batman Vs Superman).

While it’s still fun the slightly forced plot causes the middle section to drag a bit and it is more predictable, both in terms of story and jokes, than it could have been.

The final act brings the same feel as the first back, closing things on a high point with nods to all the previous screen versions of Batman, including the often overlooked 1960s Adam West incarnation, along with guest appearances from pretty much every villainous character Lego have licence to use from Daleks to Voldemort and way beyond.

The Lego Joker

The Lego Joker

As a whole the voice cast are very good with Will Arnett’s Batman being an excellent standout. However, while Zach Galifianakis does a good turn as Joker, it’s hard to escape the fact he simply isn’t Mark Hamill who has been the most consistently effective versions of the character, vocally at least.

While it doesn’t quite live up to The Lego Movie, I’m not sure how it could as that film’s inventiveness is of course being replicated here to some degree, The Lego Batman Movie is none-the-less great fun with enough to appeal to all the family on various levels and with enough surprises to, mostly, keep it going along very well if not quite being the standout many had hoped for.

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Films of 2014

So, before I begin this will be short as I haven’t seen nearly as many new movies this year as I’d like, but none-the-less here are my thoughts on things based on what I have seen.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Prison1As seems to something that’s going to continue well into the next decade Marvel took a big chunk of the blockbuster release schedule this year, but, unlike the last few years they actually lived up to the hype.

Following on from the sugary but ultimately unsatisfying confections of The Avengers and Iron Man 3, and the frankly rubbish Thor: The Dark World, Marvel studios stepped up their game in 2014 with the thriller-like Captain America: Winter Soldier that re-established some sense of intrigue in the ongoing Avengers storyline and the massively enjoyable and fun Guardians of the Galaxy that was one of the most enjoyable things I saw all year, whether new or not.

Quicksilver

Quicksilver

The X-Men also re-established themselves as a group of Marvel characters worth watching as Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair for Days of Future Past which built on the great work Matthew Vaughan did in First Class to be a great action adventure and set up some exciting prospects for the future.

Sony’s other Marvel property, Spider-Man fared less well in the bland follow-up to the almost ironically named The Amazing Spider-Man.

WyldStyle and Batman

WyldStyle and Batman

Family films were broadly catered for from the usual places but for me the stand out was The Lego Movie.

Like Guardians of the Galaxy it was a massively entertaining ride with enough smart jokes to make it something far more than any pre-release talk could have suggested.

It also added another great take on Batman to the cinematic canon that looks set to get his own stand alone follow-up.

Interstellar - Mackenzie Foy and Matthew McConaughey

Mackenzie Foy and Matthew McConaughey

One of the most anticipated movies of the year was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. I was very glad I had avoided most of the pre-release hype and bluster when I went to see it and enjoyed it hugely as it combined a sense of adventure with ideas and thoughts akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

While it was divisive with audiences, for me it perfectly balanced the two kinds of sci-fi, with spectacle standing alongside science and including one of the best pieces of stand alone world building I’ve seen in a long time.

The Imitation GameSomething of a wild card entry for me was The Imitation Game as, while its subject (Alan Turing) was one that greatly interested me and it starred Benedict Cumberbatch, who is generally a great performer, it had something of the look of an Oscar-bait biopic come English costume drama to it.

Thankfully it avoided this and ended up being very entertaining while also tackling some serious issues and taking a look at an only recently revealed part of second world war history.

PrideIn the end though, my favourite film of the year has to go to Matthew Warchus’ Pride. With its story of gay rights campaigners in London supporting striking Welsh miners in the mid-80s it could have been a very worthy film, but, instead it took a huge load of exuberance and positivity, along with all the issues surrounding both sets of characters, and created the most all-round entertaining and engaging movie I saw all year.

At no point did it shy away from anything, but at the same time it didn’t preach or posture and, while it encouraged tears along with the laughter, Pride made for the best time I had in a cinema in 2014.

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The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie posterComing into The Lego Movie on Blu-ray certain expectations were in place following the near unanimous praise it received during its cinema run earlier in the year… unlike many films that this happens with, I am happy to say I was far from disappointed, 100 minutes or so later, as the credits rolled.

Telling the story of an average Lego man’s quest to save the world from being frozen, The Lego Movie is one of the most good-hearted and genuinely entertaining films I’ve seen in a long time. Despite the fact it is a one hundred minute toy advert, it manages to entirely make you forget that as you get swept along with the characters, the joyful animation and action and the amazing sense of irreverence that is laced through it all.

What this combines to make is a genuine family film as there is stuff there, in the basic story and the, at times cutesy, animation that will appeal to youngsters, there is a sense of rebellion that I think teenagers and young adults would get (not wishing to stereotype) and the combination of all of it along with actual jokes and references, and the denouement, that would appeal to adults – and if I’m being honest, a combination of all of these could appeal to anyone and certainly did to me.

Princess Uni-Kitty and Emmet

Princess Uni-Kitty and Emmet

With hints of 1984 as the film begins we soon get into some of the best action scenes I’ve seen in a long time and, despite being purely animated, act with their own sense of internal logic that often seems missing in the CG parts of live action movies.

This includes the thing that is Lego’s unique selling point, that the bricks can be used to create entirely new objects and machines, which is so ingenious it never gets tired, despite being used time and again and does some of the things I’d expected from the Transformers films far more successfully than they managed.

It’s this USP that becomes the moral of the movie and, while it could easily fall into being a cynical advert, it never does as we are left with the message that being yourself is, in the film’s vernacular, “awesome”, but so is being able to work in a team. This may sound trite and obvious but the way that message is delivered, and the fact that every fibre of the movie stands by this, is what makes it work so well.

WyldStyle and Batman

WyldStyle and Batman

Normally at this point I’d point out the things that I didn’t enjoy about the film, but, in this case there really was nothing I didn’t enjoy, from the glimpses at the relationship between Superman and Green Lantern, to the joyously out of character, but so in character, Batman to the giant robot pirate and the cameo from Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca and the Millenium Falcon, it was a movie packed with things to just make you smile and have a good time.

On top of this the animation was consistently first-rate and believable in its context and the voice acting was spot on giving us one of the best voiced screen Batmen we’ve yet to see and Chris Pratt delivering another fine performance as the hero to stand alongside Guardians of the Galaxy. Will Ferrell even manages to not grate and Liam Neeson is a true standout.

Bad Cop and Lord Business

Bad Cop and Lord Business

I’d imagine if you approached The Lego Movie cynically you would probably have trouble with it, but I can’t see why you bother watching it if that was your attitude as, above all, it is simply a joyous celebration of imagination and fun – though I will admit its got me wanting to find all my old Lego and see what I can build.

And, well, because its awesome… Everything is Awesome!

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