REVIEW: The Lego Movie

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The Lego Movie
Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Written by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (screenplay & story), Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman (story)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman

The two things that The Lego Movie most immediately recalls are the South Park “Imaginationland” episodes and Team America: World Police, biting pop cultural critiques from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The Lego Movie is, obviously, much more toned down and targeted at children (there is no MPAA trolling “sex” scene like the marionette one in Team America).  What exactly the movie seems to be satirizing becomes a bit watered down by the hypocrisy of its own design.

It starts off in a Lego world that George Orwell or Ray Bradbury may have built, where the inhabitants all follow the instruction manuals or risk being melted by President Business (Will Ferrell).  The Lego Movie is not (and cannot) be totally anti-business, though.  President Business eventually becomes Lord Business who eventually becomes (spoiler) a micromanaging dad in the human world telling his kid not to mess with immaculately constructed (and unimaginative) Lego buildings.  The movie is designed to show how much fun a dad and son can have with (spoiler) Legos!  The movie is more pro-child imagination, though I’m sure all Legos made after this movie will still come with instructions.

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REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story) and Bob Kane (characters)
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

It’s often impossible for a highly anticipated movie to live up to expectations, though Christopher Nolan certainly gives it his all in the conclusion to his Batman trilogy.  The Dark Knight Rises is as large-scale a production as almost anything that Hollywood cranks out on James Cameron’s down time, a pitch black morality play on the grandest scale imaginable.

Nolan is one of the premiere modern directorial maximalists, able to sustain brooding tone and narrative complexity while also delivering spectacle on a blockbuster scale.  His movies, however uneven in quality, are always eye-popping and visually inventive.  The Dark Knight Rises is not the near-masterpiece that its predecessor was, though like the first film in the trilogy it is still a highly admirable, disturbingly relevant vision.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story) and Bob Kane (characters)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Gary Oldman

The Dark Knight changed the landscape of comic book movies by taking the super out of “super hero.”  The caped crusader at its center is a man tasked with an evil so great, so uncompromisingly senseless and terrifying, that he must sacrifice his moral superiority in order to fight it.

To me, this is not only Christopher Nolan’s crowning achievement as a director (so far), but also one of the best summer blockbusters ever made.  Just as Batman (Christian Bale) is brought toward the moral center, the movie’s heavy-handed post-9/11 politics and its gloriously conceived action sequences must also meet in the middle.  
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