The Lego Movie want's you to be a kid again, and is the best version of Batman in a while. Spoilers.
These day's it seems like a month doesn't go by where I am not brought to a mouth foaming, red haze level of rage by the news that some old franchise is getting a big budget Hollywood remake, as the Nostalgia dollar seems a far safer bet than trying to float an original thought. However I wasn't brought to this frenzied state by the news of the Lego movie, partially because unlike the old T.V shows or mobile apps that will be coming out in the next few years, Lego doesn't have a story. It has an aesthetic, it is a canvas. As such there were plenty of stories that could be told, plus Lego had built up a lot of good will from me for it's continued success in making great games off of popular franchises.
When the first trailer came out, I became excited. When the first reviews hit the stands from America (due to Australia getting fucked over with release dates... again), I avoided spoilers but my expectations were set even higher. People loved this film.
So when I finally sat down in the theatre did it meet my expectations? Was the incredibly high bar set reached? Yes, pretty much it was. It's always more fun in reviews to disagree with popular opinion than to heap more praise or scorn on a properly already buried under it. However the Lego movie just holds up, it's creative, it's vibrant, it's fun. And oh how I have been missing fun in movies.
We enter spoiler territory now, so really, if you haven't seen it yet. Back out now and come back after the movie.
I said that Lego was a canvas, that it could be used to tell any story. And that's true, what at first appears to be a chosen destined narrative which we've seen a hundred time but subverted with anarchic humour turns out to be the story of Lego. It's the narrative of creating, of not always following instructions and just doing. It's the narrative of anyone who ever played and was told to stick to the rules.
The chosen one narrative we see is that Emmet, the most unremarkable man in the Lego world is in fact destined to defeat the evil Lord Business who has a plan to end the world with his special weapon, the Kragle. A group of Master Builders, those who can build beyond the instructions given, are there to help him. In particular the resident wild girl love interest but has a boyfriend character... aptly named Wyld Style.
This is worked both into the destined narrative and the twist. The whole story we've been watching is a child at play, and certainly hints are dropped throughout the movie, still the reveal was nice and the scenes in the real world worked well. A father has been collecting and building Lego sets, his son sneaks down and puts the Lego worlds together, mixing pieces and creating new works. That the father is taking the toys of youth and rigidly confining them to the 'correct' way of enjoying them is the heart of the movie, and the reason that Batman is so central.
The Lego movie is saying that perhaps...
A gritty, dark, reinterpretation...
Of something as joyous as a child's toy...
Isn't a good thing.
Batman is after all the character most readily portrayed as the gritty face of superheros, the dark brooding loaner, and the one who always seems an inch away from snapping and killing everyone. Despite the fact he has perhaps the largest network of immediate allies, friends, and what is essentially family in the Robins, Alfred, the Batgirls, the Bird's of Prey, and his international network of Batmen. To the point where his gritty-titus has crossed over and affected his best friend Superman...yes you read that right, not enemy, not ideological opposite... Friend... AHHHHDJHSILJD DC STOP IT!!
Sorry... Back to Lego
Another thing the film does is to completely subvert the 'chosen one' narrative, the prophecy... completely made up. Our resident, Morpheus/Dumbledore/Gandalf/Obi-Wan Kenobie (even though some of those are present in the movie) is Vitruvius... played of course.. by Morgan Freeman. In what is clearly a last ditch effort, he has made a prophecy, because it can be the push to cause those needed to believe in themselves, rather than guarantee any one person can do it. While it's fairly obvious this ties more into the idea that everyone has the spark of creativity in them, everyone at times plays. I'd like to believe that is a bit of a dig at how many movies have begun using 'Destiny' as a narrative crutch because it's easier to explain.
I MEAN COME ON... WHY DID YOU NEED TO MAKE HIM MORE LIKE JESUS??!!
Right... Sorry... The Lego Movie...
A thing I've heard a lot from people having seen this move, 'this was my childhood'. Mostly from those who Lego and a parent threatening to glue it was actually present, but it still touches what seems to be a fundamental aspect of childhood. That desire to break the rules and see what can be made in place.
That most kids, will just wing it..
It' s a Bat Pun.
Captain America 2 - go see it... now... just go... why are you reading this when you could be seeing the movie??? -also *spoilers*
To say Marvel Studios has an ambitious plan, is at best, an understatement. Business Week's interview with Kevin Feige revealed that they have a movie continuity map that extends into 2028 with a planned two releases a year. So around another 27 films are planned after Captain America 2.
I... I just, I am boggled by a plan like that. And having now seen The Winter Soldier, I am completely excited about it. The reason Marvel's plan sounds like it might just be pulled off rather than saturating the market with to many superhero films is because they are embracing secondary genres to their films. The Winter Soldier is a superhero film, but it is also a political thriller. Guardians of the Galaxy (if you don't know what it is, look it up and get pumped) is a superhero film but also a giant space opera in the veins of Firefly.
Now we begin to enter spoiler territory, let's do a quick run down of the plot.
Cap is now working for the security agency Shield, going on covert missions with Black Widow. We see Shield is building an air fleet to take out threats before they arise. Nick Fury is suspicious and suddenly assassinated by the Winter Soldier. Cap and Black Widow go on the hunt whilst being chased down by Shield and the Winter Soldier, only to discover that Hydra; the agency dedicated to peace through 'cleansing' and control, is not dead but in fact alive and well within the walls of Shield. From then on it is a large third act as our five heroes, Cap, Black Widow, Maria Hill, Nick Fury (oh come on, you didn't think he would actually die did you?), and the new hero Falcon have to infiltrate Shield and take down both Shield and Hydra.
At the heart of this film it's asking what measure of freedom are we willing to sacrifice for protection? The film's position is about as subtle as a superhero but it doesn't hit you over the head with it; it's also a nice reversal of The Dark Knight. While that movie is amazing,the sacrifice of personal liberties is how Batman defeats the Joker. In contrast Captain America 2 is all about not sacrificing personal liberties for security, while still making a genuine case for why people would do so. Yes it is the science Nazi's Hydra who makes the case, but their reason is still very human. 'If your daughters were being taken out, about to be shot by terrorists, and you had the power to stop it, instantly without other casualties. Wouldn't you do it?'
I've heard this film touted as a brilliant spy political thriller. For those who are use to political thrillers they'll find the plot a little simple and easy to work out, the twists are pretty easy to pick with the exception of the decision to take down SHIELD as well. The strength is in the characters, we have a strong arc for Cap 2, Black Widow and Nick Fury as well as a weakish one for the Winter Soldier. Falcon doesn't have much of an arc, however we do get a strong sense of his personality and an incredibly bad-ass introduction to his wing suit and his humour as the 'I'm not cut out for this shit' person is played well and not overdone. If they end up giving a main character status to him in his own movie, Falcon could easily become one of my favourite Marvel Heroes.
The stand out however, was Black Widow. A friend of mine mentioned, 'Hello Captain America, and awful lot of you in my Black Widow movie'. While Cap is the emotional anchor for most of the story Scarlett Johansson really does steal the show. So it is unsurprising that there is such a call out for a Black Widow film to be made.
Yeah... I just wanted to include this image... for reasons.
The Marvel Stingers, so now I'm going to quickly run-down the things that are in the film that will most likely return in other Marvel movies. Please note, speculation and comic book geekery follow.
The Winter Soldier - In case you didn't stay till the end of the second after credits scene, we have a shot of the Winter Soldier, formerly Bucky Barnes looking over the history exhibit of himself, giving a pretty clear indication that rehabilitation is in the future for this character rather than tragic death. The other thing that suggests this, Bucky Barnes is important in the comic for a number of reasons. He had a romantic relationship with Black Widow, and more importantly he took the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rodgers death. Now, in a film universe the idea of killing a character like Captain America when there are plans going into 2028 seems strange. However there isn't a chance that the entire cast of the Avengers will be interested in hanging around for ever. In fact the first two to suggest they are ready to move on is Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans. Iron Man 3 gave a strong suggestion that Iron Man is ready to retire, while now it looks like Cap might pass on in the near future (Avengers 3 would be my guess).
The Carters - Peggy Carter was Captain America's best gal in the first movie. Cap 2 finally gives a bit of resolution on that having them talk. It also introduces Agent 13, Sharon Carter. Originally Peggy's sister in the comics and then her niece, Sharon is Cap's on and off girlfriend. I also have heard rumours of Peggy getting her own film or tv show, considering she was the creator of Shield. There is certainly a lot that can be done there. However, that is very much only a rumour at this point. And I have heard a lot of rumours.
Dr Steven Strange - Steven Strange gets name dropped twice in this film. For those who aren't familiar with the comic, Dr Strange is the sorcerer Supreme and one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. He serves as protector of the earth from Magical and Mystical threats; and is one of those heroes where you have to conceive reasons for them not to be able to win. Much like the common complaints about Superman, Dr Strange is very possibly too powerful. So while I would put money on his film being the second movie for 2016 along side Captain 3 to be announced. I very much doubt we will see him in the line up of the Avengers.
The Twins - The first after credit scene shows a Hydra fort that has a set up for Avengers 2. The introduction of Quick Silver and Scarlett Witch. If you're familiar with the X-Men franchise you already know these characters. However due to Fox owning the rights to X-Men and the concepts of Mutants don't expect this to be a lead into a cross over. Their powers are unlikely to be explained and daddy Magneto will definitely not be mentioned, probably in favour of an orphan back story.
And... Oh so much more but I've wasted enough of your brain cells for a day, come on back later and expect far more musings on Marvel as well as my predictions on who characters we will see in Phase 3 and 4 of Marvel Studio's ambitious plan.
When I had first heard of Noah, I like most of my friends, was immediately thinking of The Passion or the more recently Son of God. Films that pander to extreme demographics in an attempt to draw funds from the hardcore Christians. Suffice to say, I didn't plan on seeing it. However, a review I frequent made a video explaining why he was excited for the film. Saying that Darren Aronofsky was using the Christian myths as a canvas for creating an epic more in the veins of Ten Commandments. MovieBob got me willing to give it a chance, this is the video in question.
I still was cautious, having dispelled the fear of a propagandist film I now began to question if the epic was in fact aiming a bit too high with all the ideas it wanted to explore. On this count the movie does suffer a little, but there was still a lot in this to make me suggest it.
Firstly I should note that I don't personally have anything against a movie which does chose to represent religious stories sincerely, even though I know several of my friends do. I find Prince of Egypt, a Dreamworks film to be incredibly beautiful, moving and heartfelt. It doesn't skirt around including God nor does it spend its time trying to force it upon you. The religion matters to the story because it matters to the characters in it.
That said I found that the increased presence of pandering Christian films in this past decade has left a slight social dissonance within Noah. I kept expecting the worst of the medium and was left confused when it didn't happen. But enough about Christianity and this movie, lets talk about the film itself.
Noah is a very ambitious film, a large scale epic with huge spectacle. If you like seeing films with big moments there is plenty here to get you excited. So much that a few aspects got left by the wayside to my disappointment. Such as Methuselah's fire sword... yes, you read that right. There are also incredibly creative creatures in The Watchers, a group of fallen angels who had decided to help man after they were cast out by the Creator. Ok, sorry, back to religion real quick. This film skirts around a full representation of Christian religion because, it's not what it want's to be, and it appears to not want to offend or alienate audiences. As such there is only mention of a 'Creator' and the description of the creation of earth by the Creator is a montage from Big Bang through evolution.
And now, back to the plot.
The sons of Adam and Eve were three, Cain, Able and Seth. Cain killed Able and his descendants serve as our bad guys. While the descendants of Seth act as shepherds to the world caring for the creatures. The sons of Cain are numerous, greedy and selfish. They are post/pre-apocalypse versions of any Captain Planet villain. Although Noah and his family would suggest to be passive, as the last remaining descendants of Seth, Noah frequently kills in this film, a small hint to what will be the massive turn for this film.
During the building of the ark and the flood the movie has already been good. But once the ark is afloat is where things suddenly become dark. Noah believes that all man must be purged; including himself and his family. So they shall die off as the only women young enough to bare children is barren; however she becomes pregnant and Noah realizes that if it is a girl than mankind has a hope of continuing and all those he sacrificed, all those he killed have died for naught because the world is still not clean of the sin of man.
Noah, seemingly suffering from both sever post-traumatic stress and cabin fever, has said that he will kill the child if it is a girl. And they live in a constant state of fear for months as the baby is carried to term, it is tense to see how far Noah has slipped and to see his family unable to escape him.
What this movie does right it does amazingly well, however it is probably a bit to ambitious and some parts could have been cut as I get the impression that part of some sub-plots was already removed for time. While the remains feel disjointed.
Still, you should see this one. As I bitterly complain about another nostalgic property from the 80's, or a mobile phone game receiving a blockbuster treatment, I will always try to reward ambition when it does emerge.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.