‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Review

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Director: Chris McKay

Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, & John Whittington

Voice Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Mariah Carey, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ellie Kemper and Billy Dee Williams

Synopsis: Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

No one knew what to think when The LEGO Movie came out, and then we watched it, everyone (okay not everyone) fell in love with it. Something many agreed was the standout was LEGO Batman, so when it was announced that LEGO Batman would be getting a spinoff, it seemed right and logical. And before you ask, no, you don’t have to watch The LEGO Movie in order to watch The LEGO Batman Movie, in fact, the film stands on its own. So was the gamble worth it? Yes, yes it was.

The LEGO Batman Movie starts off with a pretty lengthy and action-packed opening where Batman (Will Arnett) takes on what looks to be his entire rogues gallery lead by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis). Afterwards, he returns to Wayne Manor on Wayne Island where he essentially lives by himself with the expectation of Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), and lives his life as a lonely man. However, that changes when Jim Gordon retires and his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is bought in to be the new commissioner and wants to work with the Batman to finally end crime in Gotham, which of course he doesn’t like. Add on the fact that while be distracted as Bruce Wayne, he unknowingly adopts an orphan in Richard Grayson (Michael Cera), or as the other kids in the orphanage call him, Dick. What follows is Batman bringing Dick into the fold and discovering what it means to work together and be a part of a team.

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While the film may be for kids, there is enough here for hardcore Batman fans. The film really digs deep into the core of the character and what makes him tick. The film makes fun of how long the character’s been around, but at the same time it brings up the obvious questions fans, and non-fans, bring up about him. It never gets to the point that it brings the character down – as it shouldn’t – but just enough to make you really think back and criticize the character and his actions. However, it all wrapped up as a huge love letter to Batman and it works on much a personal and ambitious level, and all done in LEGO form.

The voice cast is pretty spot on with Will Arnett, once again, being the highlight once again. He has this ability to tap into Batman that makes him comes off as both a jerk at times, but also a charming character. Michael Cera is a close second to stealing the show from Arnett as Dick Grayson/Robin as he’s equal parts naïve, adventurous and funny, moreover he’s the perfect opposite to Batman. Ralph Fiennes is pretty spot on as Alfred, Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon does the best with what’s she’s given, and is a nice non-villain foil/love interest to Batman.

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Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, which I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on when he was casted does a great job. Seeing him be down on the dumps when Batman tells him he’s “fighting around” is both hilarious and a bit heartbreaking in its own way. To go a bit nerdy, hearing Billy Dee Williams voice Two-Face –albeit in a small role – was still cool to hear. The rest of the villain cast don’t really have big moments like Joker, and some other villains Joker recruits – which leads to a fun introduction and funny moments – so I won’t get too much into them. Finally, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return to voice Superman and Green Lantern in a fun cameo appearance.

While I’m sure many will find some things wrong or misplaced with the film, the film lags for a only a bit, The LEGO Batman Movie nows who the audience is. One thing I do love about the film is it stands on its own. Despite one moment in the film, it stands on itself and doesn’t rely on The LEGO Movie to keep it up – not that it really needed it – I mean, come on, it’s LEGO Batman for crying out loud.

All in all, The LEGO Batman Movie is all around fun. Whether you’re a hardcore Batman fan or not the film has just about everything for everybody watching. More importantly, the film knows and understands the character, which makes the film feel like the ultimate love letter, and the perfect one.

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The LEGO Batman Movie

4.5 out of 5

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review

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Dir: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Juno Temple, and Christopher Lloyd

Synopsis: Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

It’s been almost ten years since Sin City came out, and at the time the movie made some bold statements. The film followed the graphic novels so close that it felt like we were watching the novel coming to life. It also took a huge leap, technology wise, in using green screen for just about the majority of making the film. The first Sin City was almost beloved by everyone, and everyone asked, where’s our sequel? Well, flash forward to now and we have Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, a prequel and sequel with the same set up as the first. A noir, over-the-top violent, narration and sexy story with four intertwined stories based in a city that will eat you up and spit you back out. But the question is if it’s any good. Well, sadly A Dame to Kill For hits all the same beats from the first, but it’s a little late for a sequel.

 

Like the first film, A Dame to Kill For features three stories that take place in Basin City – I mean Sin City. One features Johnny (Gordon-Levitt), a gambler who looks like he doesn’t think things through. Nancy (Alba) who is still stripping but is aiming for revenge for the death of Hartigan (Willis), and then the “Dame to Kill For” story that follows the “Dame” Ava Lord (Green) and Dwight (Brolin) trying to kill each other. While all the stories have their elements, they pretty much share two things in common, Senator Roark (Boothe) and Marv (Rourke).

 

Like I stated before, the movie is intertwined with these three stories and some of the transitions are a bit clucky and murky but the story that obviously takes up most of the screen time (and the middle) is the Ava and Dwight story. The story sometimes feels like a soap opera, but it feels deliberately and connects a bit to the noir theme but lucky Green, Rourke, and Dennis Haysbert as Manute (taking over after Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing) performances save, the otherwise, slightly more than average story. Which is a shame, since the story is probably one of the most famous and favorite stories from the graphic novels (next to Hell and Back).

 

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Brolin is okay as the pre-surgical Dwight. He brings his usual gruffness to the role and has a couple of standout moments but the segment belongs to Eva Green (which I’ll get to). Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven play cops Mort and Bob respectively but Meloni gets the better role of the two, in what turns out to be a weird and maybe unnecessary arc that really goes nowhere and is only there to show how powerful Ava Lord is. Mickey Rourke, who pops up as Marv throughout the movie, has his strongest outing during this part, as does Haysbert as Manute who comes off as a powerhouse, and seeing the two fight each other was pretty cool.

 

But like I said, this story and maybe the movie, belongs to Eva Green. I’m a fan of Green and not because she’s nice to look at, but because she brings something different to every role and although her character is a typical femme fatale, Green does her best to make Ava her own. However, if guys need another reason to watch the movie, you’d probably like to know that Green has the least amount of wardrobe than any character, maybe ever.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny story is rather interesting. Gordon-Levitt brings his usual charm and makes Johnny a pretty likeable character. Although, it’s not that hard considering he’s surrounded by crooked cops and dirty senators playing poker in the back of a strip joint. But, Johnny’s story is really here for two reasons; to show how Sin City works, who runs it, and brutal it can be, and to show how viscous Senator Roark is. Other than that and a cameo by Christopher Lloyd as a “doctor” the story really serves no other purpose that prove Sin City is not a city you want to live in.

 

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The final segment is Nancy’s story. Alba’s Nancy is more matured in a sense; she’s still a stripper but now heavily drinks before, during, and after performing. All she wants is to kill Boothe’s Roark for driving Hartigan to kill himself so she can live. Bruce Willis pops in as a spirit for the lack of a better word, following Nancy and sees how hard it has been for her since he’s left. Alba is okay as the tortured soul but Powers Boothe as the villainous Senator Roark is great, but Boothe is always great as villain, but at least he has more to do than the first Sin City.

 

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While it might sound like I didn’t like the movie, A Dame to Kill For does have some cool moments. The whole movie is filled with essentially cool screensavers and some great performances by Green, Boothe, Gordon-Levitt, and Rourke. The fight between Marv and Manute was cool to see and could have been bland if it wasn’t for one particular instance. Then there is Miho, played by Jaime Chung who replaces Devon Aoki (because she was pregnant), who basically glides around with samurai swords and a bow-and-arrow and kills anybody that she looks at because, why not.

 

All in all, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is more or less of the same as Sin City. Whether that is a good thing is completely up to you when you watch it. I for one, didn’t mind the sequel, but considering we waited soo long for it, it lost some of its charm and effect on me, and it was kind of boring sometimes.

 

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

3.5 out of 5