Posts Tagged ‘ralph fiennes’

lego batman movie

Fresh from vanquishing all the villains in Gotham City, including his arch rival The Joker (Zach Galafiinakis)  Batman (Will Arnett) takes a victory lap to Gotham’s orphanage, where he mistakenly adopts Dick Grayson. (Michael Cera)  Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) suggests that Batman take care of his young ward, so Batman hatches a plot to steal Superman’s Phantom Zone Projector, a device that will send the Joker to an alternate dimension, called the Phantom Zone. Only Dick Grayson is small and agile enough to take the Phantom Zone Projector, and he succeeds from taking it from Superman’s Fortress  of Solitude.  Does Batman use the Projector on The Joker and send him to The Phantom Zone?  Does Dick Grayson get the love and support he craves from his adoptive father?  Does Batman learn to work with Dick Grayson and other allies, or does he continue to be a loner?

The Lego Batman movie is oddly disappointing.   Batman was a very funny part of the Lego Movie, so it seemed natural that Batman had a Lego movie of its own.  But the Lego Batman Movie lacks the humor and charm of the Lego movie.  In fact it’s not very funny at all, and instead choses to be another re-telling of the Batman mythology.  The writers had the perfect physical representation of a man cave, namely the Bat Cave and didn’t use it. The writers instead try to push a romance, and a phony father son relationship with cloyingly bad results. The writers return time and time to a theme, that doesn’t gain credence with repetition.

Will Arnett hams it up relentlessly, which is alright for a supporting character, but it is redundant and rather unfunny. Michael Cera plays Robin as an infantile boy begging for love.  There is something annoying about every character that Cera plays, and he brings that annoyance factor to a likeable character. Rosario Dawson plays Barbara Gordon as an uninteresting daughter of a commissioner who becomes commissioner. Dawson is also a love interest for the egomaniacal Batman, which is neither interesting or carries much chemistry along with it.

The direction is not noteworthy.  The pacing is slow, the performances are weak, and there is nothing eye-catching about the animation either.

The Batman Lego Movie:  A Batastrophe.

hail caesar

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of Capitol Studios, he’s also the studio’s chief fixer.   Deanna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) has a child out of wedlock and Eddie has to find a solution for her.  Superstar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is set to star in the biblical epic Hail, Caesar, when he is kidnapped by two extras (Wayne Knight, Jeff Lewis) for a 100,000 dollar ransom.  To complicate matters, Eddie is being offered a job by an aeronautics executive. Meanwhile, cowboy crooner Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is starring in famed director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) new sophisticated romance, the problem is Hobie can’t act. Can Eddie find Baird before gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) write a tell-all story on Baird?  Can he fix Deanna’s single motherhood issue? Can Eddie get Baird back in time to finish Hail, Caesar?  Will Eddie quit Hollywood altogether and join the aeronautics firm?

Hail, Caesar! is obviously a satire of Ben Hur and Spartacus, but the Coen brothers are not content to showcase one movie, so they attempt to glamorize an entire era of films, the singing cowboy movies of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, the seafaring musicals of Gene Kelly, the aquatic films of Esther Williams, the choreography of Busby Berkely, and the films of Latin star Carmen Miranda.  There is also some subtext of the Hollywood blacklisting scandal and a Hedda Hopper type gossip columnist roaming around.  It also tries to echo the outlandish screwball comedies of the 1930’s and 40’s. In order to create these vignettes and characters, the main story gets diluted and loses its cohesiveness, and the resolution to all the questions seems like an afterthought.  At times the humor was too broad as well, more like David and Jerry Zucker than the Coen brothers.  I expected a little more sophistication here.  It helps that I’ve seen most of these classic movies, if a viewer hasn’t seen those films, they may be lost.

The acting is very good in this film. Josh Brolin is as good as I’ve seen him in anything, he plays a very serious straight man in the middle of two or three different disasters, all of which he’s trying to keep off the pages of the gossip columns.  I’m not a big fan of George Clooney, but he hams it up pretty well here and does a good job as a larger than life Charlton Heston type actor.  There’s something about the Coen brothers that brings out the best in Clooney, he was also very good in O Brother Where Art Thou, as  a small time con-man with a big-time ego.    Scarlett Johannsson is very funny playing a tough-talking swimmer with a baby.  I’ve never seen her take on such a broadly comic role and she was good at it.  I wish she had a bigger role.  Ralph Fiennes was funny as the exasperated arthouse director trying to teach the singing cowboy how to act. Tilda Swinton is quite good as the devilish Thora and Thessaly, competing with each other and threating Eddie by exposing a major scandal.  Swinton is also pretty good at comedy.  Channing Tatum still can’t act, but he can sing, and does a pretty good song and dance here.

Hail Caesar is a wonderfully visual movie, the viewer feels like he/she is watching those classic movies from which the scenes are taken.  The Hail Caesar movie looks very much like Ben Hur.  The scene with three crosses in silhouette is visually shocking for a comedy, but necessarily authentic to mimic the look of a Biblical epic.  The Esther Williams vignette is visually breathtaking, and illustrates the beauty of a Busby Berkely choreographed film.  The Gene Kelly-esque scene is scarily accurate in terms of visuals.  The Coens also get great performances from a stellar cast.  If the writing was as good as the acting and direction, this movie would have been an instant classic.

Hail Caesar.  I come to bury Caesar not praise him.