Category Archives: warner bros

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

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…

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The Hatchet Man

The Hatchet Man ~ This 1932 Warner Bros. classic, from the heart of the pre-code gangster era, has an all star cast – Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young in the leads, along with J. Carroll Naish and a pre-Ming the Merciless Charles Middleton. In fact, it may have been his performance here in Asian make-up that won him the villainous role in the “Flash Gordon” serials.

Even with the terrific cast, a script based on the popular play The Honorable Mr. Wong, and the brilliant direction of William Wellman, there is much to shame this film by today’s standards. Besides the non-code depictions of narcotics and adultery, the politically incorrect use if the word Oriental, and violence typical of this era, there’s the fact that this is the equivalent of an Asian minstrel show – the majority of the actors are whites portraying Asians.

Nevertheless, the direction and performance of the cast are exemplary. Loretta Young shines through her make-up, and we see both the hard side and the little seen soft side of Robinson. Edward G. plays the ‘hatchet man,’ the fist of justice among the tongs in Chinatown, San Francisco. While some of it is misperception, much is a tale of the old ways giving way to the new world.

When the tongs go to war, it’s not like a John Woo or Ringo Lam flick, but it does match up to the gangster films of its day, and you do get to see some fancy hatchet work. If you can get past the make-up and the stereotypes, this one’s worth watching.

Quickies 2-19-2013

Steel Against the Sky ~ A classic Warner Bros. two-reeler from 1941, this has stock characters and a predictable end, but all in all is great fun. Two brothers, Lloyd Nolan and Craig Stevens, high rise construction workers, compete for the same girl, sexy dame Alexis Smith. Thrills abound in the climax high above a bridge construction in a raging ice storm. Classic forties Hollywood melodrama at its best – snappy banter, comedy, romance, and adventure. And watch out for the young Jackie Gleason. Worth watching.

Spaceship Yamato ~ This 2010 live action version of the animated TV series “Star Blazers” is everything you would expect it to be. I liken it to seeing my comic book heroes, the Avengers, on the big screen. It’s something I never thought I would see in a million years, and yet here it is. Fabulous special effects bring the animation to life. So worth seeing, even if you just look at it with no subtitles on YouTube. Absolutely must see for any “Star Blazers” fans.

21 Jump Street ~ I really only watched the first season of this show when it was originally on, so I’m not a fan by any real stretch, but I do hate the idea of remaking old TV series into comedy movies, especially when the source material was not a comedy. I can forgive “Bewitched,” but this one doesn’t quite fit. About the only thing I liked about this was the Johnny Depp reveal at the end. The rest of this mess is really like Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum just got stoned and improv-ed what they thought “21 Jump Street” might be about. Hill is so not funny here, and I equally don’t get what all the fuss over Tatum is. Avoid this like a salad bar without a sneeze guard.

The Cabin in the Woods ~ Joss Whedon strikes again. There’s really not much I can say about this one, other than it is always more than you expect, and always goes one better. Unpredictability at its best, a modern horror classic. If I told you anything else, I’d spoil it. You’re on your own.

Double or Nothing ~ This great one-reeler from 1936 stars Phil Harris as a stunt double in Hollywood who while under gas dreams he goes to ‘Doubles Heaven,’ home to lookalikes of the stars. An amusing musical romp, and lots of fun for fans of classic Hollywood, starring many doubles of the day.

Dark Knight Rises Prelude

Everyone knows basically what happened Thursday night in Aurora, Colorado. The tragedy that is being called by the news media, the ‘movie massacre,’ is now inextricably tied to the film The Dark Knight Rises.

I was up late Thursday night when I heard about it on the top of the hour news during Coast to Coast AM, and immediately clicked on the television news. Like 9/11 or Columbine (not all that far from Aurora) I was one of millions glued to my TV watching and waiting. I finally dozed off to images of the tragedy.

Later that afternoon, I kept plans to see The Dark Knight Rises despite everything. Things were a little different at the theatre. Bags were checked, we weren’t allowed in to the theatre until just before the show, and nobody was in costume. I think this may actually be the end of that. No more costumes, and maybe even no more midnight release showings.

Another difference was that there was no chatter before the movie. No one was talking. It was very disconcerting. Usually on opening day, everyone is excited, not this day. I suppose everyone was thinking about the shootings.

One specific preview, for Sean Penn’s new film Gangster Squad made children jump, women gasp, and grown men scream. It depicted men with guns shooting through a movie screen and then into the audience. I hope Warner Bros. has the sense to pull this preview for the time being. The audience was shocked and horrified.

I am left numb. I enjoyed TDKR but am unable to write about it yet. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families and friends.

Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet Two ~ I read a synopsis in the newspaper of this movie well after I had seen it. The synopsis made sense, a hell of a lot more sense than the film itself, and I wish I’d read it beforehand. Maybe Happy Feet Two should have had a narrator, or one of those long scrolling intros like in Star Wars – if only to remind the writers what it was about, because it felt like they were forgetting every ten minutes.

This was a sore disappointment as the original was so good and so emotional. It’s almost as if director and co-writer George Miller had forgotten everything about the first Happy Feet. When the film is on point, it’s about Mumble (Elijah Wood) having fatherhood troubles, but oddly enough, based on his coloring, as opposed to his size, Mumble isn’t even an adult yet. I guess it’s a trademark thing, but it was very distracting.

I liked the addition of P!nk and Common, but couldn’t help wondering where Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy were. Hank Azaria manages to be more annoying than Robin Williams here, a feat to be sure. Although, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon come very close to taking the annoying crown as krill who have very little to do with any of the plots, sub or otherwise.

There are several other annoying and seemingly pointless subplots thrown in as well as a baseball bat beating of ecological messaging, which even the thoroughly green first film didn’t do. The music and the CGI animation are still top rate and worth seeing, but all the other little irritating stuff ruined the flick for me. I also didn’t care for the original songs. I couldn’t help but think that when “Glee” started doing new music over covers, they jumped the shark.

Wait for DVD or free TV, it’s not worth the theatre experience. Except if you want to see the cartoon before the movie, then definitely put out the cash. It’s a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes classic, “I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat,” featuring Sylvester and Tweety, that was originally done for a record back in the 1940s – so it has Mel Blanc and June Foray’s voice work – and animated with today’s technology. This is amazing, the movie not so much.

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Bad Ronald

Bad Ronald ~ In the early to mid-1970s ABC did tons of TV movies, also known as telemovies or movies of the week. The best of these were low-budget yet very memorable horror thrillers. Warner Home Video has finally released some of these lost classics on DVD in their Archives Collection.

One of these was Bad Ronald, based on the book by science fiction writer Jack Vance, and starring Scott Jacoby (Mario from The Little Girl who Lives Down the Lane) in the title role and Kim Hunter (Zira from Planet of the Apes) as his mother.

Social misfit Ronald accidentally kills one of his tormentors and his equally twisted smothering mother hides him away in a secret room in their house. When Mom heads to the hospital and dies, Ronald falls deeper into dementia. When a family moves into the newly vacant house, and one of the daughters begins dating the victim’s older brother – it gets really creepy as he starts drilling peepholes in walls and pillaging their fridge for food.

A wannabe writer, Ronald, in his loneliness, begins to blur the line between reality and his fantasy world of Atranta, envisioning the daughter as his princess and the boyfriend as an evil duke. When the parents go away for the weekend, Ronald comes out to play, and things take a wild turn into horror movie land and the fun begins.

The stranger living in the walls idea is a classic of the genre, almost as notorious as ‘the calls are coming from inside the house,’ and Bad Ronald is a classic in its own right. I’m glad this is finally out on DVD.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The good news is that it opens in spring of 2010, the bad news is that it’s at Universal…

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Bat-Mite Strikes Again

Cartoon Network’s hit series “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” will be taking a ride on the crazy train soon. The program, which features an old school Batman teaming up with various other superheroes to fight crime and defeat costumed baddies, welcomes a few familiar names back onto the small screen on May 29th.

Paul Dini, who was instrumental in the ongoing creation of Fox’s award-winning “Batman: The Animated Series” during the 1990s, comes on board to write a special episode featuring another name from the past, Bat-Mite!

In the episode titled “Legends of the Dark-Mite!” Bat-Mite (voiced by Paul Reubens AKA Pee-Wee Herman) kidnaps Batman and takes him to the Fifth Dimension where hilarity literally ensues. Lots of old school versions of Batman’s enemies show up to the party as well, with more than one nod to the Looney Tunes cartoons of yesteryear. Don’t miss it!

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