Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Lego Batman is a spinoff from the 2014 Lego movie (which featured Batman), and has a surprising level of introspection into the Batman character.

It’s a very meta film, with Batman’s voice talking over the opening credits, remarking how cool movies start in black with ominous music, going on to comment on the Warner Brother’s and DC logos. The opening scene offers more self-awareness as its remarked that a plane with a ton of explosives is flying over a city (Gotham) with an extremely high crime rate. Naturally the Joker hijacks the plane, but the pilot is not scared of the Joker at all, as he remarks all the times Batman has stopped him (actually referencing the Dark Knight film as well as Tim Burton’s first Batman film). When asked what to do, Commissioner Gordon says out loud that they’ll do the only thing they ever do, which is turn on the Bat-signal. Naturally Batman saves the day. Joker gets away, but Batman is greeted with his usual hero’s welcome. Batman soon returns to his Bat-cave, as a journalists comments that Batman will probably go home and have a big party with all his friends.

This leads to some surprisingly quiet and mundane moments. Batman goes home to his mansion, puts some lobster in the microwave, and eats by himself. Watching the “You complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire he cracks up laughing, he finds it hilarious. His butler Alfred eventually shows up, and we immediately get the surrogate father/son relationship between the two. Batman acts like a spoiled child, while Alfred tells him that he needs friends.

Lego Batman’s central theme is Batman learning that he needs other people, and also explores what Batman fears the most, along with the concept of a sidekick, his relationship with the law, and Batman’s relationship with the Joker. In fact, it is a breakthrough in that relationship that leads to the resolution at the film’s climax.

Without giving major spoilers, early on in the movie, Joker outsmarts Batman by actually surrendering. Joker knows being locked up at Arkham won’t be enough for Batman, and this knowledge moves the plot. Along the way Joker teams up with villains from various media, including Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, King Kong, the Kraken, Dracula, Sauron from Lord of the Rings, the Gremlins, and the Daleks from Dr. Who, which are referred to as British robots. I wonder if they weren’t allowed to use the name Daleks or something.

Batman villains aren’t lacking however, we get the traditional rogues gallery of Catwoman, the Riddler, etc, but also a bunch of obscure ones. The Joker breaks the fourth wall telling us that all these characters, no matter how ridiculous (Condiment Man) are real characters, and actually encourages us to Google them.

Lego Batman is the kind of movie you’ll want to get on DVD and pause a million times to get all the Easter eggs. I doubt any movie ever had more Easter eggs than this. I believe there are references to every live action Batman appearance (including the 1940’s serials), as well as nods to the animated series of the 90’s and Batman Beyond, and nods to various comic books like The Dark Knight Returns. There’s a ton of references to the Batman Adam West TV show of the 1960’s. Actual villains from the show like King Tut and Egg Head appear, there’s more than one reference to the Bat-Shark Repellent, and there’s even actual footage of the series shown.

Given the plot, I was hoping Batman would team up with heroes from other media. This didn’t happen, but there is an appearance by Superman and the Justice League. In their segment we get both musical and visual nods to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and we see a bunch of obscure characters from the old Super Friends cartoon.

Personally, one of my big nerd fantasies is a story/a world with characters from  various media, comics, TV, film, video games, etc. all together. The Lego film series may be the closest I come to seeing this. It’s nice to have various references to things in film, but things like that don’t matter unless the movie is good. Given it’s a kids movie, Lego Batman is infinitely better than it needed to be. It is a very poignant examination of the Batman character and the tropes that surround it. Honestly, Lego Batman may be the best Batman movie there is.

 

 

 

 

 

Suicide Squad is the third entry in the DC Extended Universe. A Dirty Dozen with super villains, the premise is government operative Amanda Waller assembles a team of criminals to fight super human threats. However, only a handful of the operatives are meta-humans themselves. One might wonder why regular humans are on this team, aside from the fact that they’re characters the movie audience knows or are played by well known actors like Will Smith.

I’ve never seen a movie that tried so hard to have a cool soundtrack. It opens with three or four classic songs in a row while the premise is set up. While I was perfectly happy to hear Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, by that point the constant use of songs seemed excessive.

While working so hard to be cool it forgets a few basic things, like giving the audience enough time to read the text shown to introduce each squad member. In fact the opening shot is of Harley Quinn’s prison and they show text on the bottom right corner of the screen to tell us the location, but the colors on that part of the shot are so dark I couldn’t even read it in time.

Interestingly enough the squad isn’t assembled for a specific mission, but soon enough a situation arises that they’re sent off into, partly involving finding a certain mystery contact. The identity of that contact serves as a plot twist but the way it’s edited doesn’t carry the feeling of shock that it should, it’s just kind of like “oh ok.” Shortly after this another bit of information is presented to the team that is supposed to surprise them, but I couldn’t quite grasp why this information would be surprising, other than to serve that part of the script where the team says “screw this mission I’m going home.”

Most of the Squad members seem pretty interesting, but this team movie mostly centers around Harley Quinn, because she’s a beloved character, and Deadshot, because he’s played by Will Smith. Quinn is fantastic by the way, and I’d happily watch another movie with her, but potentially more interesting characters like Killer Croc are underused. I wanted to know what his condition is, what is his life like, etc. Instead Killer Croc seems to serve the role of Groot in this August would be block buster. Action happens, Harley says something funny, Croc grunts, repeat.

The character Slipknot just kind of shows up, and it’s said that he can climb anything. Why can he climb anything? Is he a skilled master thief (and if that’s all it is why does this qualify him to be on a team to fight meta-humans)? Is he a meta-human? Can he climb walls like Spiderman or something?

Katana is another character that just kind of shows up, apparently because when they wrote the script they forgot to introduce her earlier. She seemed like a cool character I’d like to see more of. She’s not a criminal, but a government operative, which left me wondering why she joined the team in the “screw this mission we’re going to the bar” scene. Maybe because the writers didn’t know what else to do with her or they didn’t have time to film a scene where she fought them instead.

Team leader Rick Flag is pretty good, his life as a government operative leaves him conflicted. Amanda Waller is like an evil Nick Fury of this universe and she’s good to watch. I enjoyed the Joker as well.

The final battle isn’t very suspenseful. The evil plot isn’t exactly clear, a machine is being built, but I couldn’t tell you what it was supposed to do, other than generic destruction. There’s no timeline on this plan either, it just seems to always be there with no real progress. One of the big bads get’s destroyed by conventional explosives, which made me wonder why the conventional military couldn’t have stopped it, aside from the fact that the movie is about Suicide Squad. Rick Flag himself wonders why he can’t just take care of the problem with his own soldiers. So is a character in this movie wondering why this movie exists?

As I’m writing this I realize I have a lot of negative things to say. I didn’t hate watching this movie. Looking back on it Harley Quinn pretty much saved it. I will say that one of the things the DC Extended Universe has over the Marvel Cinematic Universe is they’ve established that a lot of things have already happened. Rick Flag has a history. The actual government name of Suicide Squad, Task Force X, has a history. Katana has a history, and Batman ran Killer Croc out of town. Batman vs Superman established a Batman that was active for 20 years, and the upcoming Wonder Woman movie takes place in World War One. (BTW I’m disappointed nobody made a World War One movie since it’s been a hundred years. I find it ironic that the only World War One movie we’ll get is a Wonder Woman movie.)I enjoy this approach more than how Marvel has all their big name heroes being active right now.

Suicide Squad is not a terrible movie, but in the context of a underwhelming Man of Steel and a divisive Batman vs Superman, this movie needed to be so much better than it was. In fact, for all my complaints I’d still say it’s the best movie of this universe so far. As I think about it, that’s worrisome for the future of this franchise.

Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice is the second entry in the DC Cinematic Universe following Man of Steel. This movie, more than it’s predecessor, tries to expand the DC Universe, planting seeds for future movies to follow.

Batman appears in the title first as he does in the narrative as well. We start with the climax of Man of Steel where Metropolis is getting destroyed while Superman fights Zod. Bruce Wayne rushes into the wreckage to save his employees that work in one of the demolished buildings.

In this universe, Wayne has been Batman for a long time, and it has taken a toll on him mentally. He doesn’t believe in the inherent goodness of Superman, and sees him as a threat. Hence he starts training to take him down.

Meanwhile Clark Kent is wanting to cover the Bat story in Gotham, against the wishes of his editor Perry White. Clark disapprove’s of Batman’s methods, saying they violate people’s civil liberties. I wasn’t as clear to why he would object to Batman so much, as both Batman and Superman are vigilantes.

There’s some great training scenes with Bruce, and we get to the final showdown that does have a definitive winner. However while the first half of the movie is pretty solid, things fall apart toward the end. There’s a plot point relating to the reason that they’re fighting that should bring a lot of tension, but doesn’t at all. Said plot point almost makes the fight seem silly anyway. Plus certain characters seem figure out certain things out of the blue.

Meanwhile Lex Luthor is lurking in the background and uses the corpse of Zod to create Doomsday. Doomsday at first looks across between the Incredible Hulk and Cloverfield, and is pretty much attacks the heroes because the plot tells him too.

Part of the problem with this film as a sequel is that you pretty much needed to see Man of Steel to understand this. Especially the opening scene, you’ll have no idea what’s going on without having seen Man of Steel. Also, in this film Lois and Clark are very much in love, which is nice, but I don’t see that progressing from the last movie. The emotional weight of their relationship does not rest in the previous movie, but the fact that the audience is probably familiar with their relationship from 70+ years of pop culture.

All the characters are played well. Affleck makes a great Batman. Eisenberg’s Luthor is basically Zuckerberg from Social Network just more mentally unhinged. Wonder Woman is great, but her absence would not have affected the plot at all.

Some big chances were taken with this movie. Batman in particular already has a long established history in this world that hasn’t been touched on yet. Evidently some big changes have already happened to certain things we take for granted about Batman. I also liked that the first time you see Batman on screen the horror aspect of his character is played up.

One of the potential problems I see down the road with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that they’re introducing all their big heroes at once. I like DC taking a different approach, having solo films spin out of the upcoming Justice League film, having their TV shows be their own thing. In this movie world the upcoming Wonder Woman movie takes place in the past. I would hope the next Batman movie would as well.

Batman vs Superman is not a terrible movie, but it falls apart at the end when it needed to be great. It does make me want to see a Wonder Woman movie and a Batman movie set in this world.

Vendetta in Gotham is a crossover comic book where Batman meets the British comic book icon Judge Dredd. It is also a sequel to an earlier crossover called Judgment on Gotham. It opens with Judge Dredd,who is from the future, travels back to hunt down Batman. Right away he shoots down the Bat-mobile from his motorcycle, and the two get into a big brawl. First they fight in a playground like children, then go a top a train of all things.

At first it seems Dredd sought out Batman simply to get revenge from their last encounter. Batman notes that this is pretty childish andabsurd. However, there’s a another factor involved that Dredd is reluctant to tell Batman, and it involves a strange choice of Bat-villain in the ventriloquist. This twist is pretty interesting and I’d say fairly unique to crossover stories.

Near the end of the story Dredd reveals that one of his psychic allies had premonition that he would meet Batman again and that it would involve the Joker. Dredd meeting the Joker is a curious premise indeed.

The Lego movie is a CGI film from Warner Brothers based on the toy building blocks of the same name. The story is about a Lego builder man named Emmet who lives a completely ordinary life as a construction worker. He follows his daily instructions on how to live a happy life. His favorite song is the pop hit “Everything is Awesome,” and his favorite TV show is the popular “Where’s my pants?” He works as a construction worker demolishing buildings that aren’t built according to instructions/that are weird, and rebuilding them the right way.

One day he meets a woman named Wyldstyle, and accidentally finds a mythical piece of resistance.The piece of resistance is said to be able to stop President Business, who rules the world they live in. President Business believes in order and everything being in it’s proper place, and secretly has a plan to keep things in permanent order. Wyldstyle and Emmet join the Master Builders, a group of characters that can build anything without needing instructions, and try to stop President Business.

So the central conflict is between structure and spontaneity, however it’s not cut and dry. The disadvantages of 100% spontaneity are hinted at, and Emmet realizes that victory can only come about through a balance between the two. Some interesting philosophy from a movie one can dismiss as a mere toy commercial.

At the end of the movie you find out what’s really going on and it’s very meta. The animation is great and it’s a highly enjoyable movie.

One of the coolest things about the Lego movie is all the licensed characters that appear. Warner Brothers’ DC comics characters appear, Batman having a supporting role. One of the funniest and surprising moments came with the arrival of Star Wars characters Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon. We see Star Wars characters on screen with DC comics characters, and the crossover potential for future installments is huge. The characters that appear are as follows;

DC comics characters Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.

Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

Dumbledore from Harry Potter

Milhouse from the Simpsons

From history Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare

Pop culture, Shaq, the Statue of Liberty

Then there’s more generic characters like Mermaids, Knights, and Cowboys.

Here’s to future installments.

Judgment on Gotham is the 1991 crossover between Batman and the popular British comic book character. For those that don’t know, Dredd is a Cop/Judge from a Dystopian future where police serve as judge, jury, and executioner. The story opens with a creature from Dredd’s future world wreaking havoc in Gotham. Batman stops him and then is accidentally sent to Mega City/Dredd’s world where he encounters the British Icon for the first time.

Batman fans may not like the fact that Dredd easily knocks out Batman, but this is perhaps later made up for as Batman easily escapes his bonds while Dredd interogates him. The pair go back to present day Gotham to stop the creature, who has teamed up with the Scarecrow. There’s a nice Sympathy for the Devil reference along the way.

Judgment on Gotham has the action expected of the two characters with that offbeat humor of the 2000 A.D. comic.It also ended up being the first of what I believe were 3 Batman/Dredd crossovers.

Spiderman and Batman is a one shot comics crossover from 1995 examining issues of whether or not madness can be cured and illustrating how the family life of the two titular heroes affected their lives.

It opens with a quick rehash of the violent origins of the two heroes. They both lost their parents, but Spiderman/Peter Parker had the love of his Aunt May and Uncle Ben to guide him, giving him a brighter outlook on life than Batman.

The story has the heroes most insane foes meet. For Batman we obviously have the Joker, and for Spiderman we get Carnage, the serial killer who bonded with the symbiote descendant of Venom.

Carnage is locked up in an Asylum in New York where we get a quick debate on if madness can be cured or are some people beyond help. It is settled when a government scientist lobotomizes Carnage so that he may be able to function in society. He is then brought with his doctors to Gotham City where the same is done to the Joker. However, Carnage manages to pull himself free and wants to join with the Joker for some mayhem.

Spiderman has tagged along to keep an eye on Gotham, and after a quick disguise reveal Batman arrives. The two heroes don’t fight, as traditional crossovers go, but the villains end up going at each other a bit, and in a nice touch the Joker ends up helping the heroes get Carnage.

Spiderman and Batman is a nice quick read. It made sense to focus on the two most insane foes, though I’d have liked to have seen a story with some mob based super villains. If nothing else, I always wanted to see Batman fight the Kingpin.