Batman

BLAP! ZLOTT! KAPOW! LEGO Batman punches its way to be one of the most entertaining DC movies yet

Batman is reeeaaally annoyed by Robin.

Fresh off the disappointing start to the expanded DC cinematic universe with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squadin swings The LEGO Batman Movie, a refreshingly funny meta action flick. Will Arnett reprises his vocal role as the caped crusader, his second feature film appearance since stealing the show in the 2014 smash hit The LEGO MovieIt was only eight months after The LEGO Movie‘s initial theatrical release that Warner Bros. announced that Arnett/Batman was to get his own flick, ultimately helmed by Robot Chicken producer Chris McKay. The quick trigger finger wasn’t without merit. Inspired by Christian Bale’s most recent take on Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and with the endless ability to skewer the super hero universe and genre that have been constantly under the microscope lately, LEGO Batman was a sure bet. And, indeed, the bet paid off. The LEGO Batman Movie is a fun, frenetic, visual marvel with a little less witty humor and heart than its LEGO film predecessor. But with enough laughs and dazzling animation to ensure its blockbuster status, it also places among the best superhero films of the last few years.

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Suicide Squad dies a slow, painfully disappointing death.

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More like an awkward dance than a ballroom blitz.

Watch the Suicide Squad trailer one more time. Do you feel that insane energy? Well, that same energy exuding from all the Suicide Squad trailers, posters, and marketing materials doesn’t exude from the feature film. All the hype, and true potential, of this anti-hero DC property has been damaged by over-bloated character introductions, weak villains, and a restrained take on some of the DC Universe’s most iconic psychopaths — looking at YOU, Joker! Suicide Squad could’ve been so much more, but unfortunately the DC film producers, again, trivialize a tremendous premise into an “extended trailer” for the Justice League movie, which is becoming less and less enticing with every preceding related release.

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Why so serious?

Face to face. Angry man v angry man. Grumble v grumble.

Face to face. Brooder v brooder. Mano y mano (with guns and gadgets)

“Hey everyone, Batman is fighting Superman!” <<everyone rushes to the schoolyard>> “Aw, is it over?” “Yeah, it didn’t last long and it wasn’t too exciting, but they promised to fight someone else together next time.” There you have it — that’s a pretty good summary of the disappointing DC tent event, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What ends up functioning as a 2 hr 40 min movie trailer for an pending Justice League movie is enjoyable at times but mostly a mess of style over substance. Anyone familiar, and probably critical, of director Zack Snyder’s work won’t be surprised by this. There was so much (tentative) hype for BvS that it would’ve been nearly impossible for it to live up to the expectations, but hey, The Force Awakens pulled it off so BvS has no excuse. BvS is disappointing on so many levels, save a surprisingly stellar Ben Affleck as Batman, because its favors more over less, background over foreground, and a serious tone over a fun one.

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The boys are back out of town.

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan strike an intellectual pose.

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan strike an intellectual pose.

You know when you think that your conversations with your friends are prime material for a movie, television show, or web series?  Well, 9 times out of 10, your conversations wouldn’t be very entertaining to others.  I’m guilty of this as well.  Thankfully we have Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, two comedians who have now created two hilarious and engaging films mostly consisting of them talking and eating.  The Trip (2010) introduced us to the semi-improvised story of Rob and Steve, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, where the latter joined the former on a restaurant tour assignment in Northern England.  The Trip to Italy is a direct continuation from the first film, featuring the same bickering, multi-course meal montages, and Michael Caine impersonations that made the first trip so enjoyable…this time with a side of Italy and a pinch of emotional depth.

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Everything about this movie is awesome.

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

When I first learned of a LEGO movie, I was cautiously optimistic.  I was raised on LEGO.  I still vividly remember setting up Robin Hood-esque forest fortresses, flag-covered castles, and farming villages (yes, the medieval times was my go-to theme).  The instructions that came with each box provided the groundwork for my imagination to later run wild.  The idea of a LEGO feature film confused me, since I couldn’t conceive of a plot worthy of the great expanse of LEGO wonder.  But then I saw the trailer, and it seemed to click.  In a brilliant maneuver, LEGO and the filmmakers have included it all – legos from across “universes” and time periods – into a charming underdog story with a genuinely heartfelt message.  The Lego Movie succeeds in its perfect execution of jam-packed jokes, self-referential humor, pop culture teases, talented voice acting, frenetic action that borders on being chaotic, and jaw-dropping animation.  So yeah, it succeeds all over the place.

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Christian Bale in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Juno Temple

written by: Jonathan and Christopher Nolan

directed by: Christopher Nolan

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language

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