Cinema City Film Quiz #185

[26 February 2017]

Winning Team:
Multiplex Mayhem
Genre – An exceptionally clever play on words.. just not funny

Runners Up:
Back To The Future Part IV: For Flux Sake
Genre – Science ficiton
Can We Please Have The Twixes.. With Sexy Results?
Genre – Four people’s quest to win a packet of chocolate
Quiz 2: The Quiz Within A Quiz
Genre – Question: Which two actors connect The Terminator and Aliens?

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What was the title of the sequel to Sex And The City?
2. Who played the lead role in The Cable Guy?
3. Chocolat is set in which country?
4. Who directed Zodiac, The Game and The Social Network?
5. What is the title of the 2000 film starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg about a fishing vessel lost at sea?
6. The Road Warrior, Thunderdome and Fury Road are subtitles of films in which franchise?
7. Which X-Men film was released in 2006?
8. Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd starred in which best picture winning film?
9. Excluding Alien Covenant what are the titles of the Alien saga films directed by Ridley Scott? (one point per correct answer)
10. Go Big Or Go Extinct was the poster tagline for which film?

ROUND II: Filming [Films in Films Special]
1. Public Enemies was released in which year? 2009? 2011? 2013?
2. What is the name of the lead character in Last Action Hero? Danny? Kit? Tim?
3. In Saving Mr Banks, PL Travers is originally from which country? Australia? Ireland? Germany?
4. Who directed the 1991 remake of Cape Fear? Martin Scorsese? Brian De Palma? Luc Besson?
5. Which of the following did not appear in True Romance? Dennis Hopper? Christopher Walken? Jon Voight?
6. In A Nightmare On Elm Street, which film does Tina watch to try and stay awake? The Shining? Psycho? The Evil Dead?
7. What is the name of the newspaper Tim Messenger writes for in Hot Fuzz? Sandford Gazette? Sandford Times? Sandford Citizen?
8. The following quote is from which film, “I hate my neighbours; the constant cacophony of stupidity that pours from their apartment in absolutely soul crushing.”? 25th Hour? Kick Ass? God Bless America?
9. How old is Michael Myers when he kills his sister in the opening sequence of Halloween? 4? 6? 8?
10. Woody Harrelson’s character’s puppy in the flashbacks in Zombieland belonged to co-star Abigail Breslin. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. The following quote is from which film, “How did you ever manage to fit into those smashing tights again?”?
2. In The Lego Movie, what is Wyldstyle’s real name?
3. Which film is the follow up to Baraka?
4. Ethan Hawke, Ian Holm, Donald Sutherland and Jared Leto all appeared in which film?
5. How many Crocodile Dundee films have been made to date?
6. What did Richard Kelly direct after Donnie Darko?
7. Megan Fox played the role of Jennifer Check in which film?
8. Who wrote the script for Swingers?
9. Be Kind Rewind was released in which year?
10. Dom, Arthur, Robert, Eames and Ariadne are characters in which film?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the name of the school in Kindergarten Cop? Sherman Elementary? Greenville Elementary? Astoria Elementary?
2. William Rodman, Caroline Aranha, John Landon and Steven Jacobs are the lead characters in which film? Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes? Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes? Beneath The Planet Of The Apes?
3. Chevy Chase comedy Fletch was released in which year? 1980? 1982? 1985?
4. Which of the Dirty Dozen is a former member of the Chicago mob convicted of robbing and killing an elderly man? John Cassavetes? Charles Bronson? Telly Savalas?
5. What is the name of Ofelia’s step-father’s housekeeper in Pan’s Labyrinth? Carmen? Ivana? Mercedes?
6. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean appeared together in which film? East Of Eden? The Sandpiper? Giant?
7. Who directed Cocoon? Joel Schumacher? Ron Howard? Rob Reiner?
8. Tom Hollander plays Simon Foster in In The Loop, what is his job in government? Minister For International Development? Minister For Foreign Relations? Minister For Interventionism?
9. Who composed the score for The Untouchables? Ennio Morricone? Maurice Jarre? Eric Weissberg?
10. To minimise costs on Deliverance, nothing was insured and the actors did their own stunts. True or False?

Screenshots: Dracula / Spectre / The Passion Of The Christ / The Matrix Revolutions
Poster: Tears Of The Sun
Actor: Monica Bellucci


Why Would You Want To Leave?

Gore Verbinski

Dane DeHaan
Mia Goth
Jason Isaacs

The story wastes no time establishing Lockhart [DeHaan] as a callous, ambitious young employee for an unscrupulous financial services firm. The company receives a passionate, disturbing letter from its CEO, who is currently residing in a wellness facility in the Swiss Alps. Eager to merge their company and frame any irregularities on an unstable scapegoat, the board of executives effectively blackmails Lockhart into retrieving their wayward leader. Upon arrival, Lockhart finds the resort/facility to be laughably pointless and self-indulgent but is thwarted in his attempts to meet with his employer by the will of the unseen but highly revered director, Dr Volmer [Isaacs]. Intent on leaving as soon as possible, Lockhart is involved in a car accident and awakes in the facility three days later with a broken leg. As he hobbles around the facility, trying to locate the CEO, he learns about the sites dark history and becomes fascinated by the only other young patient, Hannah [Goth].

A Cure For Wellness is such a strange medley; a European-flavoured mix of gothic horror, Shutter Island, BioShock and The Road To Wellville. This combination of reclusive societies, cultist practices and gory, unpleasant experiments sets a really engrossing tone for audiences. Unfortunately, its full potential is never realised and what we end up with is a pleasing but ultimately flawed work. Undoubtedly, this movie’s key strengths are the beautiful production design, fantastic cinematography and keen composition. It’s almost impossible to fault the visuals throughout, which serve to create a unique environment for Lockhart’s perplexing psychological journey. Interestingly, despite being branded as a horror, Verbinski’s latest release feels more like a slow-burn suspense thriller (with a somewhat unreliable narrator), than a clean-cut jump-scare riddled horror film. That’s not to say it isn’t filled with immense cliché – as horror tends to be – but its beauty lies in its straightforward unwavering simplicity and defiance of logic, akin to a dream. That being said, for a mystery, it’s very obvious and everyone Lockhart encounters being a bit of an expert on a local legend yet having their own spin on it doesn’t have the desired effect; leaving a very predictable driving subplot that doesn’t so much seductively unfurl as unravels within the first ten minutes.

Owing to the contained nature of the story, there isn’t a great deal of supporting characters that are afforded much in the way of screen time or proper fleshing out. The three leads are that of Lockhart, Volmer and Hannah with several orderlies, doctors and patients acting as road signs for Lockhart’s “investigation.” I’m a fan of Jason Isaacs and despite playing the rather obvious Germanic-voiced villain (a fact which is never in any doubt, despite the script’s desperate attempts to throw audiences off the twist), he does a decent job. In fact, knowing Verbinski likes to call back to classic releases and genres, his channeling of the 1930’s calculating mad scientist is most impressive. Dane DeHaan was also an interesting choice, despite being 31 years old, the man looks like he’s fresh out of his teens but placing someone like that in a role of power-hungry yuppy financier works in his favour, having the ability to channel both desperate panic and selfish malevolence; a duality which means he simultaneously plays both the victim and villain. Another piece of obvious casting is that of Mia Goth. I’ve only seen her in Nymphomaniac but her otherworldly disconnection makes her perfect for this innocent role; sort of Sissy Spacek in Carrie, only without the powers. And yet, as commendable as the performances are they lack cohesive motivation, shifting wildly between what they want. At one point Lockhart seems set on escaping then he’s determined to uncover the mystery and then he wants to liberate Hannah; none of it really gels with the self-centred character we have been introduced to, even with any altered psychological side-effects or fear of prosecution should he return to New York empty handed. And it doesn’t exactly help that everyone he speaks with gets a slew of sincere babbling about the Baron’s experiments, despite one character overtly stating, “Yes but that was two hundred years ago.”

For all its style and slick visuals, A Cure For Wellness has very little depth or substance. I wouldn’t be surprised if less trained eyes (that’s not an insult, after you’ve seen so many films, formulas and patterns simply present themselves to you) would be shocked and bamboozled as the story unfolds but in truth everything is literal, there’s little in this film that doesn’t state matters frankly and explain itself. Sure there’s an air of ambiguity throughout but the central story is very easy to pick apart. Again, I will give credit where due and argue that if this is a mirroring of classic suspense horror, then it’s merely following a specific, if not dated, style but even then one would hope that weaknesses could be strengthened thanks to decades of revelations and hindsight. If I’m honest, I think this movie would have worked infinitely better if it were a straight period film. There are already elements and nods littered throughout the production design, from the antiquated props to the questionable medical equipment on display. Had this movie been set in the late 1800s or even a pre-World War 1 era, it might have garnered a bit more grace but every time you are reminded this is taking place in the present day, we’re momentarily shaken free from the illusion.

Of course, it’s not all bad, repeat viewings and time could prove A Cure For Wellness to be a cult sleeper as ultimately there could be a hidden depth to this film thanks to few flashes of either a potential future or the implication that the ending may be a dream/final fantasy of a dying brain. In fact, one particular shot of Lockhart on a bridge (you’ll hopefully know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the film) could imply the entire film is a fantasy. In a way, A Cure For Wellness is very reminiscent of Crimson Peak, wherein an extremely talented visual director has produced an unsettling semi-unconventional horror harking back to releases of yesteryear, with surprisingly middling results.

Release Date:
24th February 2017

The Scene To Look Out For:
For those who don’t know, horror only works when the sound design is on top form. You can present a startling image or excessive gore but the more you look at it, the less impact it has; which is where sound comes in. In order to create tension and scare the living piss out of you, one needs an appropriately clever and perfectly timed layering of musical cues, ambient hums and unique effects. Less a scene to highlight in that sense and more a continuing unpleasantness: throughout the movie there is a heightened focus on the sounds made when water is drunk. This will no doubt trigger misophoniacs but even those who pay little attention to the sound of people consuming food and drink will feel suitably uncomfortable.

Notable Characters:
Exploring the supporting cast for a second, I rather enjoyed the repeat appearances of the somewhat aloof Enrico [Ivo Nandi], the driver contracted to transport newly inducted patients from the train station to the facility. Solidifying the classic gothic homage, his character is basically the wary, exposition-disposing carriage driver archetype. In truth, he doesn’t actually bring a great deal to the story itself but I found the performance strangely endearing and, in a film so separated from reality, believable. I think if there were any relatable individuals for the audience to identify with, it’d be him.

Highlighted Quote:
“We cheat and deceive as we claw our way to the pinnacle of human achievement”

In A Few Words:
“An ambitious gothic attempt but a flawed foundation and overt twist result in a fairly mediocre release”

Total Score:



1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?

Yimou Zhang

Matt Damon
Pedro Pascal
Tian Jing

Set one thousand years in the past, a group of westerners are travelling toward China to trade for fabled black powder. Many of their number have died along the road and soon only William [Damon] and Pero [Pascal] remain. In the middle of the night, the group are set upon by an unseen animal but manage to defeat it. Without having time to process what they fought, the two soldiers continue their trek and find themselves facing a heavily fortified wall. With bandits on their heels, they take their chances with the custodians of the wall. Suspicious of these outsiders, the General of the Nameless Order distrusts them but as they are carrying a limb from the beast that attacked them, they keep them for interrogation. Using Commander Lin [Jing] as a translator, the Order explain that the arm belongs to a race of ravenous monsters that descend from a jade mountain every sixty years. No sooner has this been explained, the wall is attacked and the Europeans get their first real taste of this monstrous force.

This film falls flat on its face thanks to underperformance in two simple areas, plot and reach. The story itself is incredibly simplistic and linear, never stepping outside formulaic trappings. After the introduction, the supporting characters repel three separate attacks (one of which takes place away from the wall), while the leads dither about whether they should stay and fight or see through their mission to obtain black powder by any means necessary. The trouble is there are so many stupid blockbuster plot-holes; events happen because they move the action along rather than being logically dictated (see the highlighted scene below). While I won’t slate the vanilla dialogue – only because this film offers a bi-lingual feel rather than every character inexplicably speaking one language – there is far too much focus on the foreigner saving the day. What’s odd is that the film doesn’t start this way. From the beginning we totally understand that to have made it this far alive, William and Pero must be competent and capable fighters. What’s more, their service on the wall is decent but this is largely due to the fact they happen to have a magnet; meaning we have a pair of talented individuals who are utilised as useful allies/tools. But as the film progresses, this quickly breaks down and the white saviour narrative steps up as victory could not be assured if it weren’t for the bravery, ingenuity and skill of the outsider. I really hope I shouldn’t have to explain why that undermines literally every other character, so I’ll just sidestep it and address the issue of reach. This is much easier to cover as it’s a complaint about something most films tend to unnecessarily overindulge in: spectacle. The first third of The Great Wall succeeds in being pretty fun, big glossy fantasy schlock but the potential for bombastic outrageousness is never really explored. Don’t get me wrong, there’s tonnes of absurd developments brought in solely for being cool but neither the story nor the visuals go so over-the-top to give us something radical and hitherto unseen. One need only compare the brassy, ballsy scale of something like Starship Troopers to realise how ultimately safe, tame, uninspired and CGI-reliant this action release is.

On the acting side of things, the characters themselves are incredibly two dimensional and little more than worn out clichés. I can’t even think of a single character that didn’t walk through the most predictable of arcs: we have the conflicted hero, the loveable rogue, the noble general, the duty-bound commander, the treacherous prisoner/guest, the wise advisor, the timid novice who yearns to prove himself, etc. Each one has a set narrative and there are ultimately no surprises with any of them. And yet none of the roles are particularly badly acted; everyone performs admirably, so I can’t even slate it for that. I will, however, state that I have no idea where William is supposed to be from; I imagine this was done intentionally to ensure scrutiny of a specific accent could be avoided by saying he’s just generic northern European. But it’s distracting as hell. Is he Irish, English, Norwegian?

While the reach of the film may not satisfy, what is present is incredibly impressive. In what seems a perfect marriage, the combination of Zhang’s flair for style, precision and detail is partnered with the quality and intricacy of WETA Workshop’s output. And before anyone starts on about the anachronisms and inaccuracies in the costumes or the sets, everything about this film is set in fantastical legend; the film even goes out of its way to explain so in the opening titles. And with such a broad and beautiful achievement, the production design really does carry the entire film; that is, when the acceptable CGI isn’t pissing over itself. To clarify, it’s not that the digital imagery is bad or that the designs for the creatures aren’t interesting, it’s the choice of angles and sprawling, charging monsters that we have seen countless times before. On top of all that, Ramin Djawadi has done his usual 50/50 thing by being brought on to a project and produced a serviceable but forgettable score; which would arguably be fine, if he weren’t capable of producing some truly spectacular musical accompaniment.

Rather than being an Asian film with a few Western actors, The Great Wall is an American film with a Chinese director and supporting cast and absolutely everything about the narrative feels that way. I understand the appeal of hybridising two of the biggest cinematic markets to produce material that would appeal across the board but nothing here particularly feels akin to the greatest achievements of either. But considering the wealth of talent on display, this is a shocking disappointment; not that I’m particularly surprised.

Release Date:
17th February 2017

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Spoilers within**
I will openly confess, I am not exactly familiar with the history of magnets in China (sorry to let you down) but it’s quite evident that they didn’t have them in abundance at the time. What bugs me, however, is that midway through the film we learn that not only does the magnetised rock that William carries cause a neutralising effect – coincidence enough on its own – it was even recorded in an ancient battle record. That’s right, an adviser from the Emperor arrives with a document which describes a small magnet being the key to victory during the last attack. So.. where’s that magnet now? If you know this is something that can be of use, why do you need Damon bringing one to trigger events? They’ve had sixty years to prepare, did no one think to get another magnet?

Notable Characters:
Ignoring the central European characters for the moment, I rather enjoyed Tian Jing’s role as Commander Lin Mae. Raised in the military, loyal to the cause, fighting on the frontline and decently acted, she’s an all-round hero and if I’m honest, I would have enjoyed an alternative version of this film wherein she was the lead character.

Highlighted Quote:
“They need more than us.. these people are doomed”

In A Few Words:
“A wonderful example of how two major filmic nations can come together to produce an exceptional amount of quality material and an equal amount of muddled dreck”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #184

[12 February 2017]

Winning Team:
The Day Of The Yakult
Genre – The French President is threatened by a toxic yoghurt drink

Runners Up:
The Jive Funky Krew
Genre – Because assassinations aren’t just for kicks
Clear, Unpleasant Danger.. With Sexy Results
Genre – An assassination attempt on Harrison Ford by a door
Ass Of Nations
Genre – Alec Baldwin stars as the ass of nations who butt-fucks the world until he is assassinated by the United Nations
Bourne To Quiz
Genre – Thriller

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
2. In which film does Kevin Costner play a gilled mutant fighting an eye-patch wearing Dennis Hopper at sea?
3. Masters Of The Universe is based on which cartoon series?
4. In which film did Reese Witherspoon play Elle Woods, a fashion student studying law at Harvard to prove to her ex-boyfriend that she can be taken seriously?
5. Name the lead actor in The Naked Gun franchise.
6. What is the title of the 2007 comedy about teen pregnancy starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera?
7. Which Bond film was released in between You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever?
8. Which wrestler played the lead role in Mr Nanny?
9. What is the name of Indiana Jones’ father?
10. What type of animal is Chief Bogo in Zootropolis?

ROUND II: Filming [Tom Hanks Special]
1. What is the name of the young girl that Leon trains in Leon: The Professional? Madeline? Mathilda? Margueritte?
2. The American, starring George Clooney, takes place in which country? Italy? France? Greece?
3. Who starred in the lead role in 1972’s The Mechanic? Gene Hackman? Roy Scheider? Charles Bronson?
4. What is the name of the assassin in Grosse Point Blank, played by John Cusack? Vincent Blank? John Blank? Martin Blank?
5. What is the name of the hitman played by Chow Yun Fat in The Killer? Ah Jong? Li Ying? Fung Sei?
6. The Day Of The Jackal was released in which year? 1966? 1973? 1981?
7. How much does Vincent offer Max to drive him around LA for the entire night in Collateral (excluding the additional money offered as a tip)? $600? $1000? $3500?
8. How many times is the word fuck (and it’s various derivatives) said in In Bruges? 126? 431? 1185?
9. JFK ends with a title card explaining that classified records relating to the assassination will be made public in which year? 2020? 2029? 2033?
10. Zhang Yimou’s Hero is the story of the attempted assassination of China’s first emperor. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was the title of the first Coen brothers film to feature George Clooney?
2. What do JJ Abrams’ initials stand for? (one point per correct answer)
3. Emily Blunt and Amy Adams star in which film about two sisters setting up a crime-scene cleaning company?
4. Rocky, Adam, Billy, Kimberley, Tommy and Aisha are the names of the lead characters in which film?
5. Flight Of The Navigator was released in which year?
6. What are the respective titles in Sergio Leone’s Dollar trilogy? (one point per correct answer)
7. Which film starred Selma Blair, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, Tara Reid and Sarah Michelle Gellar?
8. What was the title of Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length theatrical release?
9. The following quote is from which film, “Can you count suckers? I say the future is ours, if you can count”?
10. Baba Yaga is the nickname for which character played by Keanu Reeves?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following films is not a Jackie Chan release? Armour Of God II: Operation Condor? City Hunter? Hard Target?
2. How many weddings has Professor Brainard missed at the start of Flubber? 2? 3? 4?
3. What is the name of the footstool in Beauty And The Beast? Frouf? Sultan? Spot?
4. Jaguar Paw, Middle Eye, Zero Wolf and Flint Sky are characters in which film? Dances With Wolves? Apocalypto? The Lone Ranger?
5. Under The Skin is set in which country? Scotland? Ireland? Wales?
6. What weapon is finally used to defeat Godzilla in the 1954 film Gojira? A 30 metre wall of electrified fences? A device which disintegrates oxygen atoms? A hydrogen-powered laser?
7. How many crew members serve on the Icarus II in Sunshine? 8? 10? 12?
EIGHT (Capa, Mace, Cassie, Corazon, Searle, Harvey, Kaneda, Trey)
8. Which film is referenced in the opening titles of 1978’s Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes? Bride Of Frankenstein? The Island Of Doctor Moreau? The Birds?
9. How many of its eleven Oscar nominations did Oliver! win? 1? 6? 10?
10. Garth’s drum solo scene in Wayne’s World is faked as Dana Carvey can’t play the drums. True or False?

Screenshots: Star Trek Beyond / Green Room / Terminator Salvation / The Smurfs
Poster: The Beaver
Actor: Anton Yelchin


Always Be Yourself. Unless You Can Be Batman. Then Be Batman.

Chris McKay

Will Arnett
Michael Cera
Zach Galifianakis
Rosario Dawson
Ralph Fiennes

After an opening sequence featuring almost every villain in his rogues gallery, we learn that the life of Bruce Wayne/Batman [Arnett] is an extraordinarily lonely one. Emotionally cutting himself off from the world, Batman refuses to let anyone into his a life outside of his butler Alfred [Fiennes]; a fact mirrored by the way each room in his cavernous mansion-cum-lair dwarfs the solitary figure. Frustrated with constantly failing to defeat Batman and feeling a lack of appreciation from his nemesis, the Joker [Galifianakis] devises a plan to make Batman obsolete and simultaneously reap his revenge. Meanwhile Batman must contend with Gotham’s new Commissioner, Barbara Gordon [Dawson], who believes vigilantes working outside the law are not the way to resolve the crime-ridden city and newly-adopted orphan, Dick Grayson [Cera], whose exuberant innocence and willingness to please/be accepted lies in stark contrast to Batman’s selfish existence.

From the very outset, The Lego Batman Movie avoids the typical spin-off pitfall of taking an entertaining side character, making them centre focus and producing a middling, mediocre release. I imagine this comes down to the fact that, as a character, Batman has such a wealth of solo story history to draw from, rather than say the likes of Jack Sparrow or Joey Tribbiani. On top of that, despite being written by committee, the narrative flows neatly, albeit simply; clearly the product of stringing together countless proto-jokes, drawing on 75+ years of changing iterations and adaptations of the character and property of Batman. I will point out that the self-referential/deprecating humour is also part of the problem with this movie but I’ll return to that later.

Continuing its predecessor’s formula, The Lego Batman Movie utilises a fantastic cast of voice actors, with each key role filled and performed brilliantly. Given the interpretations of these characters (mostly talking about Robin here), Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Zach Galifianakis all deliver the requisite level of heart and absurdity needed to somehow both create something new and honour what’s come before. Having said that, there does seem to be a bit of a competition going to see how many one-liner cameos can be crammed in to each release. Throngs of supporting characters are given a handful of seconds to blurt out one line of dialogue and a great many of them are voiced by surprisingly high profile actors. I don’t know the exact cause or reason for this but after a while it goes beyond distracting and you start to realise that outside the central characters, everyone else is brought in as a setup for a joke without any actual logic for their selection. “We need someone to react to a main character’s line of dialogue to imply they feel sad. Any thoughts?” “We haven’t used Bane yet, we’ll get Bane to say it.” “In the Tom Hardy voice?” “Yes, that’ll make it funnier.” Frustratingly, it works surprisingly well, probably because it’s been exploited so perfectly for over a decade by Robot Chicken.

I also can’t praise the visual effects enough. With the prolific nature of Lego products, we have become so accustomed to the designs that it’s easy to forget how spectacularly impressive the cinematography is. I really shouldn’t need to say this but these aren’t models being filmed, it’s all constructed within a computer and the uncanny valley is bridged effortlessly. The only downside to this level of realism is the same issue that cropped up in The Lego Movie: the imagery is so frenetic and detailed that, sometimes, trying to discern what you’re looking at can be difficult. Ultimately it’s a by-product of setting the film in a universe where everything has those cylindrical Lego connectors. Accompanying the visuals is a wonderful score from Lorne Balfe (and a series of pop songs, including an odd amount of Michael Jackson numbers but the less said about that, the better) which draws on the most recognisable elements of several Batman themes whilst adding its own deep, rumbling brassy stamp.

**Sort of a spoiler mentioned in the middle but hardly a major one**
For all the silly, innocent fun, I left the film feeling conflicted. Without a doubt, this is a funny release but immediately I knew I would be awarding this film three out of five. Moreover, I would need to explain this odd ineffable feeling and justify why I marked it down to merely average, despite the universal acclaim and evident audience appreciation. I guess the reason is that this movie is somehow both the best and the worst Batman film. Bold claim considering most people would agree The Dark Knight and Batman & Robin hold those titles respectively. At the very heart of the story is a message which has eluded or been glossed over in every live-action Batman movie: the apprehension of making a familial connection for fear of potentially losing it. For a children’s film, The Lego Batman Movie manages to drill down and simplify the concept of distancing people as a means of avoiding/dealing with death and loss; which is a frankly marvelous feat. And then it falls flat on its face by trying to smooth over the absolute and continual fumbling perpetrated by Warner Bros. As I mentioned before, everything from the last seven decades is up for ridicule and frankly the last few years have been a mess for DC but making fun of your flaws doesn’t give you license to generate more. Maybe I’m just being pedantic but there’s something unusual about parodying your own failings as if they are executed by someone else. Sure, you can laugh at yourself but when you’re the studio who’s making all these mistakes in the first place, maybe try and fix them rather than releasing an animated film to say “We know there are issues but it’s cool because we can laugh at ourselves.” What? No. Get your house in order then feel free to reminisce about the turbulent days of a punning Mr. Freeze and a charmless tattooed Joker. Admittedly, one could argue that this has nothing to do with the nature of the movie itself and while I would agree that it doesn’t necessarily detract from any overall enjoyment, this complete lack of regard or understanding of the property is such a detrimental flaw that soars in this setting but fails miserably when applied to their live action adaptations. If that’s too tangential, I could just as easily fault this film for failing to be as clever or funny as The Lego Movie and therefore, despite the enormity of the narrative, loses some of the scale. And on top of all that, at no point was this film necessary. I found Batman’s role in The Lego Movie amusing but I had no desire to revisit his world and as much as this film was fun, I have absolutely no desire to see another instalment.

What we have here is an altogether pleasing feature but it feels more like a Family Guy/Robot Chicken special with a slew of bat-jokes driving the plot as much as anything else. The tension is never earned, the plot is paper thin but the laughs and heart are there and for many people, that’ll be more than enough.

Release Date:
10th February 2017

The Scene To Look Out For:
When so much of a film is firing on all cylinders, it becomes more than apparent whenever the quality dips. Almost every single version of Batman is subjected to mockery with differing reactions but when the film catches up with itself, there is a sudden call to parody its own creation. And what defining characteristics set Lego Batman apart from the other versions? He’s cruel, egomaniacal and he likes to rap about himself. So while Batman and Robin are sitting in adjoining cells in Arkham, Batman tries to lift his ward’s spirits by getting him to beatbox. It’s probably the cheapest, least funny element of the whole film and for a moment I felt like I was watching just another forgettable, bloated, cheesy guff peddled to kids; Smurfs films, I’m looking at you.

Notable Characters:
I really enjoyed Zach Galifianakis’ interpretation of the Joker. Despite stepping away from the manic laughter and croaky voices we’ve come to identify with the role, there was a real embodiment of the core values – obviously toned down from the more psychotic murderous ones. His obsession with Batman (which he believes should be reciprocal), ridiculous schemes, unpredictability and disgust for the failings of his peers fall in line with what we know of the Joker. But coming back to the point I made earlier, this means that a Lego version of the Joker is currently better and more accurate, despite being a parody of itself, than the live-action flagship version. Madness.

Highlighted Quote:
“You mean nothing to me.. no one does”

In A Few Words:
“It’s quite rare to find a film aimed at children that doesn’t stoop to the endless stream of easy fart jokes but despite this, The Lego Batman Movie failed to thrill me as much as I would have liked”

Total Score: