The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

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Batman (Will Arnett) with Robin (Michael Cera), Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

Even before we saw the wonder (yet somehow no Oscar nomination for Best Animated feature) of The Lego Movie (2014), Lego has give us countless laughs with Lego video game versions of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Marvel, and The Lord of the Rings (to name a few). There second movie is now The Lego Batman Movie (who also had a good video game), and it is as fun and entertaining for kids as it will be for adults much like its predecessor.

Returning is Will Arnett as Batman, who ranks up there with some of the best to play the caped crusader. His voice is (literally) pitch perfect, and (as the comedian has shown us before) he has uncanny comedic timing. He basks in how great he really is. All that changes when commissioner Gordon plans to retire and have his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) take over. During this time, Batman/Bruce Wayne unknowingly agrees to adopt a young orphan Richard Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), who is as optimistic as they come.

Even those who like the character Superman (who does have a brief moment in the film), more will agree that no one has better villains in the comics than Batman does, and we get a glimpse of all of them (even the dreaded condiment man). Batman inadvertently hurts the feelings of the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) when he states the Joker is not his greatest enemy. This leads the clown prince of crime to try to unleash villians from everywhere. These in include 80s monsters (aka Gremlins), Lord Voldemort, Lord Sauron, and “british robots” (aka Daleks from Doctor Who).

Parents, for the most part, the film is ok for kids (there is one joke that is a bit edgy when Batman first meets Robin), but that aside, the movie is ok for kids (I would say 7-8 and up).

Like The Lego Movie, this film has a lot of jokes adults will get that the kids won’t (my favorite is when we see Batman’s ultimate secret movie library). I have not even words to describe the stellar animation (which will give Disney animators goosebumps). It is also full of easter eggs that will require a second or third viewing.

Which I would gladly pay for.

Overall: Four Stars ****

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad”

It took me a lot of thinking as to how I wanted to respond to Suicide Squad. Like most people, I am rather disappointed it did not live up to the hype. However, I did still find some good things in it as well.

For those who don’t know, Suicide Squad tells the story (not long after this year’s earlier disappointment that was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) of a politician (of some kind) named Amanda Waller (the always talented Viola Davis). There is a situation that is far too complicated to explain, and would also be far to boring for you to read. All I will say is that it involves Enchantress, who takes over the body of June Moone (both played by Cara Delevingne).

Waller’s plan: gather up the worst bad guys and have them take care of the situation in exchange for shorter prison sentences. Roll Call: There is Deadshot (Will Smith, who, of course, is one of the last actors anyone would expect to play a bad guy), who never misses a shot. Harley Quinn (a wonderful Margot Robbie), who is only the second craziest character in the film, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is, you know, a crocodile. Boomerang (Jai Courtney, who gives a performance not entirely unseen in other movies). Slipknot (Adam Beach, in one of the worst roles you could ask for), who is able to escape easily. Finally, there is Diablo (Jay Hernandez), with pyro power (and regret for previous actions). The first 10-20 minutes of the film provides you with more information than I have already said (and maybe more than we needed to know in the first place).

They are under the control of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is also dating June Moone. Protecting him is Katana (Karen Fukuhara), whose Katana sword contains the souls of those it has vanquished.

I save the one character everyone was eager to see for last. That, of course, is The Joker, played by Oscar winner Jared Leto. Bottom line, while he does do a good job, he is not better than Heath Ledger’s immortal performance in The Dark Knight. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that Leto does not get as much screen time as we would like. I mean, in my opinion (and I doubt I am alone), when you have the greatest villian in comic book history, wouldn’t you want to see more of him?

It also does not help that the action is more of the same we have seen in other comic book films (slow motion action is really getting old to me).

Parents: The PG-13 rating is justified. There is swearing, some violence, action, and innuendo (Harley Quinn does wear some rather revealing clothing, and there is one scene in a night club. No stripping, however). High School and above.

All others in the movie do what they can. My favorite in the movie would go to Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, because she looks like she is undoubtably having the most fun. Will Smith (who at least did this and not Independence Day: Resurgence) is still possibly the most charming actor in movies today, so while he does a good job, it is still so hard to believe that he is playing a bad guy (though movie does try to remind us he has a heart because of his 11 year old daughter).

Still, as Hitchcock once said:

“To make a great film, you need three things-the script, the script, and the script.”

Overall: Two and a Half Stars ** 1/2