Category Archives: danny elfman
Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite ~ I am always wary of movies, books, and even potato chips that have long titles and subtitles, and this one is a doozy. I shouldn’t have worried though, because it’s Lego, and Lego is always cool, even when I can’t play their video games.
From the get-go, this was good. The opening is a Lego take off on the opening credit sequence of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, and even uses Danny Elfman’s great score (and later John Williams’ Superman music). And if that’s not cool enough, it has Clancy Brown wonderfully reprising his role as the animated Lex Luthor. What’s not to like?
The story is simple enough, and accessible to new viewers perhaps not savvy to the DC Universe continuity. Luthor joins up with the Joker to defeat Superman, Batman and Robin, destroy Gotham City, and win the Presidential election. Throw in guest stars from the Justice League and Batman’s Rogues Gallery, along with that clever Lego sense of humor, and you’ve got a very entertaining flick for all ages.
Of course it has all the charm and wonder of the animated Lego stuff, that coolness of hey-I-could-build-that and a wink-wink slyness that the characters know they and their world are made of Legos. The cityscapes and sets of Gotham and Metropolis are stunning. The best part is Luthor’s weapon, which is a gun that literally takes Legos apart.
Watching this I can’t help thinking that this could probably not only be better than Warner Bros’ upcoming Batman/Superman movie, but quite possibly could serve as an excellent script or template. If only…
Epic ~ The previews for this flick made it look amazing, with a stunning sense of wonder and discovery. They showed a young girl suddenly discovering a whole new world right under her nose, a battle between good and evil fought by tiny leaf men two inches tall.
You see the leaf men immediately in the movie. I couldn’t help but think this movie might have fared better under a veil if secrecy, sort of like what Disney did with Brave. Let the audience experience the sense of wonder and discovery along with our protagonist, like The Wizard of Oz, allow the magic to be seen simultaneously through the heroine’s and audience’s eyes.
That aside, the film has a stunning voice cast, including Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried, Chris O’Dowd, Beyonce, and Pitbull, all putting in great performances. I was really blown away by the voice work, in some portions of the movie, keeping it afloat where the story was failing.
Speak of the devil, the story was horribly predictable and telegraphed early on. Again, this is something else that might have been helped by holding back some in the previews. I was also saddened by a less than memorable score by Danny Elfman, that made me wonder if the man has list his touch.
The Bride and I saw this opening night in 2D as opposed to 3D, hoping to save a few bucks. It appeared flat and fuzzy, and I was assured there were no projection problems. I thought it looked drab, compared to previews (in 3D) I had seen. Perhaps this is one of those films, like Life of Pi, that just needs to be seen in 3D.
All in all, this is a good flick for the little kids, although I wish there hadn’t been so many in the ten o’clock showing we were at. You’re better off waiting for the home release however.
The Wolfman ~ This 2010 remake of the Universal classic has so much going for it – a script by Andrew Kevin Walker, a novelization by Jonathan Maberry, and a phenomenal score by Danny Elfman that features an almost Jaws-like opening. I was surprised and liked it however, it didn’t knock my socks off.
Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins are at best adequate in subtly over the top roles that require their level of talent to pull off and yet neither steps up to the plate. Rick Baker’s make-up effects are stunning, and they should be – the original flick is what made him want to do make-up in the first place. He’s come full circle.
Speaking of the original, this is a fairly tight remake. The Walker script has lots of nods and winks here. I especially like the reference to the actual French werewolf murders at Gevaudan, and the brief glimpse of topiary animals a la Stephen King’s book “The Shining.” And the asylum scenes are very brutal.
This remake is very moody, very atmospheric, and unfortunately very dark. A light here or there wouldn’t hurt, folks. You have the care going with everything else, you don’t need the dark to help you – especially when it hinders the visuals. And as far as visuals go, the climax is quite impressive. Check it out.
Wanted ~ Wanted, the comic book mini-series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, is about super-villains, superheroes, global conquest, brainwashing, parallel universes and secret conspiracies. Wanted, the movie, is about a fraternity of assassins and secret conspiracies. Hmmm, just like the Superboy comics and the “Smallville” TV series. The names are the same and the characters seem familiar, but in reality they are two completely different animals. This is very loosely based on the comic book, so much so I think it should have said just that in the credits. The stories are sort of close, close in that same way that The Godfather and Mafia! are both about organized crime. But while the comic was one of the best on the shelves in the last few years, the movie after the first hour becomes just another over-the-top action movie. And not a very good one either. Ride yes, movie no.
James McAvoy plays mild-mannered, apathetic, panic attacked loser Wesley Gibson whose life is turned upside down when he’s informed his father is one of the world’s greatest assassins and he has to take his place in a secret fraternity of assassins. In several twisted Rocky/Batman training sequences he makes the grade and begins the hunt for his father’s killer. McAvoy is a lot of fun, and he’s very good. He’s got quite a bit of range in his past roles and I always look forward to seeing his work. That said, I liked his human Wesley more than his super-assassin Wesley.
Co-star Angelina Jolie looked suitably sexy and dangerous as the Fox, one of the few names kept from the comics. Other than eye candy however, she’s not much else. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman. It was refreshing to hear him swear once in the flick. It reminded me of his Oscar-caliber role in the much-overlooked Street Smart all those years ago. Ya know, with a nudge and some effort I think Morgan Freeman could easily be Samuel L. Jackson again. Common doesn’t have a lot to say, but damn, he still looks fierce. Marc Warren, who I loved when he appeared in “Doctor Who” and “Life on Mars,” is terrific as the Repairman. He’s a face to watch.
There are some truly spectacular stunts here but the quick cut shaky cam tricks do this flick a solid disservice. Why create terrific stunts if you’re not going to let the audience see them? Equally, the curving bullet effects are cool, but after a while they became just that, another overused effect. It reminded me of the visuals in The Matrix and Jumper – it just ain’t that special if it’s used too much. And the Danny Elfman soundtrack is superior, especially “The Little Things,” perhaps his first real rock vocal since Oingo Boingo.
The biggest loss, in my opinion, of this non-adaptation of the source material is that the outstanding villain of the piece is not the frightening Joker-template, Mister Rictus as in the comic, but instead Wesley’s overweight harpy of a boss, Janice. Great comic and good summer fodder for a movie ride. Worth the ticket price, but still Wanted left me… wanting. All in all I think I’ll read the comic series more times in my lifetime than I’ll watch this again.