Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Producers: Christopher Miller, Dan Lin, Phil Lord
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Siri, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 104 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found at Film Pulse

 


My apprehension toward spin-offs and my love of (nearly) everything Batman proved to be at odds with one another going into the kinetic The Lego Batman Movie, resulting in cautious optimism about an entire film based on the brick version of one of DC’s most popular heroes and one of The Lego Movie’s most humorous characters.

Thankfully, the film lives up to its predecessor, delivering a hilarious deconstruction of the Batman mythos while telling an action-packed and surprisingly heartwarming story. Will Arnett reprises his role voicing the caped crusader whose self-inflicted isolation starts to get the best of him, resulting in The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) rejecting his lack of emotional attachment by hatching a plan to unleash a bevy of pop culture villains on Gotham City in an act of defiance.

This plan is the result of an explosive opening action sequence involving Batman once again foiling The Joker’s plot to take Gotham, ending in a brief exchange wherein Batman professes to The Joker that he doesn’t care about him or anyone else for that matter, and he doesn’t recognize him as a worthy adversary.
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Trailer: The Bad Batch

Billed as, “A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals,” having seen the film, i can attest that that is a pretty accurate description of the film. And yet, even with that description, the film is a bit of an oddball. This is fitting, as the film is given a very unconventional trailer – which confirms one of the films chief strengths, its integration of music in to story and image.

From Ana Lily Amirpour, the director of Iranian set (Los Angeles shot) vampire picture, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the film is brimming with top actors in tiny parts (Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, and Jim Carrey all have superb supporting roles). Suki Waterhouse and Jason Mamoa star in the film (and have some excellent chemistry.) Unlike the moody black and white Jarmusch-ian urban nightscapes of her first feature, she has gone saturated sunshine in the desert here, and it is both gorgeous not easily comparable to any other filmmaker.

Great tagline: “Being good or bad depends on who you are standing next to.”

The Bad Batch opens in the US on June 23rd.

After the Credits Episode 204: Littlest Hobo Media Spew

Watch out. Here comes the Mennonite mob

Reality TV?! That’s right – we’ve been sucked into the world of reality television but this isn’t exactly “The Bachelor.”

Join us this week as Colleen and I (Letterboxd) delve into some of the material that’s been keeping us busy over the last few weeks including lots of TV, a few books and even a couple of albums!

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Blu-Ray Review: Train to Busan

Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Screenplay: Sang-ho Yeon
Starring: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
Country: South Korea
Running Time: 118 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: 15


I‘ve been enjoying a glut of East Asian genre movies of late with Creepy and The Wailing both impressing me. I hoped to continue this winning run with the South Korean zombie film Train to Busan, which has been gathering a lot of acclaim from critics and horror fans alike. I’m a bit tired of zombie movies these days to be honest, but I have faith in the Koreans to inject a bit of fresh blood into the genre and from what I’d heard, Train to Busan had done just that.

The film sees a zombie outbreak tear through South Korea after a leak at a biotech site. We don’t witness the beginnings though, instead we follow the hard-working hedge fund manager Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) as he takes his young daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) on the train to Busan to see her mother. The two parents have separated and Seok is struggling to spend enough time with Soo-an, so she wants to go live with her mother. Circumstances around the pair cause Seok to have to step up as a father though when the undead start attacking in hordes and the two are trapped on the train along with a few other survivors and the hungry remnants of the less lucky passengers.

I’m not sure it quite lived up to all the hype, but I did enjoy Train to Busan quite a lot. Pitching closer towards action than horror to some extent, the film played more towards my tastes in that aspect. Instead of jump scares and a reliance on gore (this is bloody, but not gross-out) we get pulse-racing chases as waves of zombies launch at our protagonists. This style of fast paced zombies attacking in great numbers is reminiscent of World War Z, but the scale is kept just about small enough and less CGI-heavy to seem more realistically threatening.

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Cinecast Episode 471 – Bronze is Better Than Silver

While we have two new theatrical reviews this week, the first review is mostly a Kurt monologue while with the second, it’s mostly Andrew’s mic and podium. I expect some disagreement from the peanut gallery in both cases. We talk a little bit about the upcoming summer films of 2017 and how our hope is reinvigorated for the blockbuster. Andrew is still playing some catch up with 2016 including more (yes, more!) Michael Shannon and the controversial personalities of Nate Parker and Mel Gibson. Kurt heads back to 1985 with Mickey Rourke for a couple of hours and is baffled that the bedlam on display was blocked from his memory. In a moment of fantasy speculation, we ponder the effects on the careers of Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke had their roles been flip-flopped. We’ll be back next week with some of Godzilla’s ancestry in China and some sci-fi body horror from Gore Verbinski.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

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Blu-Ray Review: Cul-De-Sac – Criterion Collection

Director: Roman Polanski
Screenplay: Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran
Country: UK
Running Time: 103 min
Year: 1966
BBFC Certificate: PG


I, like many film fans I imagine, have a chequered relationship with Roman Polanski. His controversial private life is something I won’t get into here, but it has tarnished his work to many over the years. I’ve never liked how he comes across in interviews either, but I don’t usually let my opinion of a filmmaker’s personality or private affairs get in the way of the quality of their work. Unfortunately though, I’ve found the quality of Polanski’s work a little hit and miss over his lengthy career. Tess for instance, which I reviewed here a while back, bored me to tears, whereas Chinatown has long sat in my list of favourite films of all time. There are plenty of Polanski films I’ve yet to watch though and because I regard one or two of his films so highly, I’m always happy to give new ones a try. Cul-De-Sac was his third full feature film in the director’s chair and it’s being re-released on Blu-Ray as part of the prestigious Criterion Collection in the UK, so an offer for review came my way and I thought I’d give it a shot.

Cul-De-Sac sees two injured gangsters (Richie – Lionel Stander and Albie – Jack MacGowran) stuck on Lindisfarne (a.k.a. Holy Island) in Northumberland when their stolen car breaks down in the middle of a road which is regularly submerged under the sea due to the shifting tides (this is indeed true to the location – I’ve been there myself). They seek refuge in a nearby mansion inhabited by the care-free couple George (Donald Pleasence) and Teresa (Françoise Dorléac). Taking advantage of the remote location and his ‘hosts’ weaknesses, Richie, the muscle of the operation, essentially takes them hostage whilst he waits for his boss to show up and sort out the mess they got themselves into after their botched heist. So begins a blackly comic fight for power as Teresa attempts to force her cowardly husband George into taking control of the situation.

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Friday One Sheet: Skull Island

For the past few months, I have been deeply impressed with the poster campaign for the upcoming King Kong picture, Skull Island. From wide British Quad highlighting the scale of the beast, to this unabashed homage to Apocalypse Now! the promise from these graphic designs has been a muscular undiluted B-film with an big budget (of which There are enough these days.)

But along comes this Japanese poster which is all Kaiju hand-painted collage goodness! This poster is exceptional, both historically, and from a contemporary point of view, it also promises lots of secondary creature (tentacles, spines, tongues oh my!), and strong imagery. It is busy, but in the best possible way, and I would happily hang this one on a wall, if I could get my hands on it.

Trailer: The Circle

I just finished the novel of Dave Eggers’ “The Circle” a couple of nights ago. Just in time for a new trailer to hit the web. I have to say, I’m intrigued to watch this train-wreck of a story on the big screen. The book is basically a modernized, hipster version of Orwell’s “1984.” But it’s ridiculous and the characters are callous, pretentious, lack foresight and are generally “millenial” idiots. It’s also incredibly predictable and frustrating.

But here’s the thing, within the frustration, you can feel the author’s disdain for social media and the slow but inevitable loss of privacy. He writes his characters as idiots and easily brainwashed because… well, they can be. It’s an unfortunate reality exaggerated to make a point; i.e. satire. So maybe there’s something in there. Still, Tom Hanks and Emma Watson feels like poor casting choices and the only director I could see doing this movie proper is Paul Verhoeven. But since it’s James Ponsoldt (End of the Tour, Spectacular Now), I don’t see anything in here that’s going to be particularly edgy or anything we don’t already know or have thought of before.

At any rate, here’s Emma Watson, John Boyega and an admittedly interesting cast (Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Bill Paxton) in the new trailer for The Circle; opening at a theater near you in April.

Trailer: It Comes at Night

When you see the above logo, you now you’re about to see something good; likely great. We’re probably looking at something here that is not an exception to that rule. You can tell by the awesome trailer they’ve cut. It’s got great mood, hints at something sinister and dark without giving us any details about what kind of world we’re in or what kind of evil we’re dealing with. Is it zombies? Is it ghosts? Is it a demon? Is it a disease? Is it simply a dangerous person? Or maybe it’s something more intangible or ethereal. Whatever is going on here, I wanna know more. And by the grace of (the almost always wonderful) Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough (American Honey), Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbot and acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults (Krisha), I’m going to find out this summer!

Take a look. What comes at night!?