The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey
(I saw the dubbed German version, though.)
Seen on: 9.2.2017

Plot:
Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett) leads a rather lonely existence. Between beating up criminals like the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and eating lobster thermidor prepared by his trusted butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), he spends most of his time alone and in pain at the memory of the family he lost. But things change rapidly when Bruce not only accidentally adopts an orphan (Michael Cera), but the Joker and pretty much the entire league of supervillains surrender themselves to Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) who just proposed a new approach to crime for the police. But there must be something behind that surrender and Bruce has to find out.

The Lego Batman Movie is a celebration and parody of all things Batman and more. It’s as funny as it is nonsensical, and yet it manages to say more about the character Batman than more serious adaptations have managed. But at its heart, there is not much behind the jokes.

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Moana (2016)

Moana aka Vaiana
Director: Ron ClementsJohn Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writer: Jared Bush
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Seen on: 3.1.2017

Plot:
Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) has always been happy on her island, but curious about the sea that surrounds it as well. But nobody on her island really ventures out to sea. But then an ancient curse starts to affect their island, a curse set into motion by the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Moana knows that she has to do something about it: she has to find Maui and make sure that he makes things right. And that means leaving the island.

Moana is a beautifully animated film with absolutely fantastic movie. There are some issues but I was able to really fall into the film regardless.

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The BFG (2016)

The BFG
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Based on: Roald Dahl’s novel
Cast: Ruby BarnhillMark RylancePenelope WiltonJemaine ClementRebecca HallRafe SpallBill Hader
Seen on: 26.7.2016

Plot:
Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) lives in an orphanage that isn’t exactly the best place. One night Sophie watches as a huge person in a cloak runs through the city of London. And then that person sees her watching and simply grabs her. Soon, Sophie finds herself in the country of giants, the mysterious cloakwearer turning out to be a giant himself. Fortunately for Sophie, he’s the smallest and only friendly giant which is why she calls him the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). But when Sophie hears what the other giants are up to every night, she knows that she has to do something.

The BFG is in many things a very nice adaptation of the book, although it does lack a bit of the novel’s magic. Nevertheless I enjoyed it a lot.

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows
Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Writer: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Rhys Darby
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Plot:
A documentary team follows a few flatsharing vampires for a few months. There’s Viago (Taika Waititi), former dandy who tries to have things just so, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who was born in the middle ages and misses torturing people, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), who just wants to have fun, and finally Petyr (Ben Fransham), who is 8.000 years old and lost most of his humanity. Their usual routine between unwashed dishes and trying to be invited into clubs gets disrupted when Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) gets turned into a vampire.

What We Do in the Shadows is not only a love letter to the vampire genre conventions (while simultaneously poking fun at them), it’s also an absolutely fantastic comedy. I was laughing practically the entire time.

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Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Muppets Most Wanted
Director: James Bobin
Writer: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
Based on: Jim Henson‘s characters
Sequel to: The Muppets
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey
Cameos by [put in camouflage so you can still be surprised by the people who show up, if you don’t know already. If you wanna be surprised, don’t read the tags, either]: Tony Bennett, Hugh Bonneville, Jemaine Clement, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Mackenzie Crook, Céline DionLady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom HiddlestonTom Hollander, Toby Jones, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloë Grace Moretz, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz

Plot:
After solving their problems in the last film, the Muppets hit a bit of a low. They don’t really know what they should do now. That’s when Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) shows up and proposes a world tour to them. Kermit is hesitant but the others are in love with the idea. But Badguy has ulterior motives – he is teamed up with the most evil frog in the world, Constantine. And for his plan to work, Constantine impersonates Kermit while banishing the real Kermit to a Russian gulag.

I think I liked Muppets Most Wanted a little better than the first Muppets film. Maybe I’m starting to have more of a connection to the Muppets themselves. (There are so many Muppets in this paragraph alone. Muppets. Muppets. Muppets.) Either way, there is not much of a quality difference between this one and the first one.

muppetsmostwanted

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Re-Watch: Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer, Danny McBride, Mindy Kaling, Ken Jeong
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Gru (Steve Carell) is a super-villain whose best days are past. When he hatches a plan to steal the moon with the help of a shrink ray, all that’s missing is the necessary cash for the operation. So he goes down to the Bank of Evil – and is denied credit. When Gru tries to follow through with his plan on his own, he is bested by Vector (Jason Segel), the nerdy new kid on the supervillain block. Since Gru is unable to recover the shrink ray, he makes a new plan: Vector has a weakness: cookies. So Gru adopts three little girls and sends them to his house to sell him some. But what Gru didn’t expect was that he’d start to like the little girls.

When I saw Despicable Me for the first time, I wasn’t very excited about it. Now that I re-watched it, I’m still not. Yes, it’s sweet and the minions are awesome, but it just feels so run of the mill that it doesn’t really get anywhere.despicable_me Continue reading

Men in Black III (2012)

Men in Black III
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Etan Cohen
Based on: Lowell Cunningham‘s comic
Sequel to: Men in Black, Men in Black II
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Hader, Emma Thompson, Will Arnett, Michael Chernus, Alice Eve, David Rasche

Plot:
Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), one of the most dangerous criminals in the universe, manages to escape from Lunar prison, where he was sent by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) many years ago. With his mind set on revenge, he finds a way to travel back in time to 1969, where he kills Agent K before he can arrest Boris. That is not only tragic on a personal level, but puts the entire earth in jeopardy. Fortunately, Agent J (Will Smith) somehow still remembers K and travels back in time, too, to save his then young partner (Josh Brolin).

I did not have very high hopes for this film, but it turns out that it is actually quite nice. While it is not quite as good as the first film, it has its heart in the right place, it’s entertaining and it manages to steer clear of the sexism that ruined the second one. I’d say that’s a win.

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Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

Gentlemen Broncos is a film by Jared Hess, written by himself and Jerusha Hess and starring Michael Angarano, Héctor Jiménez, Halley Feiffer, Jennifer Coolidge, Jemaine Clement and Sam Rockwell.

Plot:
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a huge SciFi fan. He especially admires the writings of Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement). When he gets a chance to submit one of his own stories for Chevalier to judge – a story about Bronco (Sam Rockwell), a kind of space cowboy – the last thing he expects is that Chevalier steals the story. At the same time his story about Bronco gets adapted by local prolific but amateur filmmaker Lonnie (Héctor Jiménez) who takes some liberties with the story.

Gentlemen Broncos doesn’t work half as well as it should be. Even Sam Rockwell falls flat (!!!!). Jemaine Clement was wonderful, but most of the time the film just misses its notes for me. It’s humor is just a tad too immature and the good ideas are stretched a bit too far.

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Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me is Universal’s first animated feature. It was directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and stars the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Jemaine Clement and Jack McBrayer.

Plot:
Gru (Steve Carell) is a super-villain whose best days are past. When he hatches a plan to steal the moon with the help of a shrink ray, all that’s missing is the necessary cash for the operation. So he goes down to the Bank of Evil – and is denied credit. When Gru tries to follow through with his plan on his own, he is bested by Vector (Jason Segel), the nerdy new kid on the supervillain block. Since Gru is unable to recover the shrink ray, he makes a new plan: Vector has a weakness: cookies. So Gru adopts three little girls and sends them to his house to sell him some. But what Gru didn’t expect was that he’d start to like the little girls.

Despicable Me is sweet, but it’s nothing if not shallow. The characters are stock characters without any addition, the story is predictable and generally it lacks a bit of a spark of originality. Nevertheless, it’s nice.

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