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The Lego Batman Movie

The director of the 1997 film ‘Batman & Robin’ once called it ‘toyetic’. He meant it was purely a vehicle to sell more toys and related merchandise. He was right about that notorious mis-fire and he would be with ‘The Lego Batman Movie’. Basically a long Lego commercial, it can’t be anything but ‘toyetic’. Almost as if its makers poured boxes of Lego onto the screen and see what came out, it’s silly but fun. With a new generation embracing the yellow block of plastic, the film’s success won’t hurt sales anytime soon.

Bruce Wayne/Batman (Will Arnett) is having a bad day. Even though he’s the cool dark knight protecting the streets of Gotham City, he wishes his usual hoard of villains would disappear. The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), The Riddler (Conan O’Brien), Two-Face (Billy Dee Williams) and others are making his life miserable. Added to the mix is young orphan Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera) who wants to become Batman’s side-kick. Something has to give as Batman aims to eliminate his rogue’s gallery as they hatch their most audacious plan yet.

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ sets out to be an entertaining mish-mash of the Batman mythology. From the campy 1960’s TV series to the latest dark and brooding version, it’s all here. They are lovingly skewered along with general superhero conventions. The makers of ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ know it won’t win any awards and succeed in generating ongoing fun. It doesn’t hurt having some messages about working with others and asking for help. These are blended well amongst the colourfully cartoonish mayhem.

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ certainly is colourful as it comes alive like a glittering rainbow. All of Batman’s enemies are present and correct and voiced by an enthusiastic cast. That it also has an actual story-line is a credit to the care taken in creating something imaginative than just having a pile of noise and action. The film moves briskly with the myriad of in-jokes coming thick and fast. It also proves you don’t have to be dark and sombre to be noteworthy with Batman finally letting loose after decades of moody outings.

Although ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is a gratuitous plug for toys, it is a good film in its own right. The animation is great, the characters are engaging and the script is consistently entertaining. This is an all-ages movie anyone can see without any talking down to the audience. Batman has never been more amusing with Lego shining along with Batman’s sleek Batmobile.

Rating out of 10: 7

Now You See Me 2

If anything makes a ton of money, a sequel inevitably follows. After racking in the dough in 2013, the ‘Now You See Me’ crew return for more magical hijinks. Think a magicians version of ‘Ocean’s 11’ and you’d be on the mark. Watching a group of people pull a heist is always fun, which ‘Now You See Me 2’ has in abundance. Full of the fast pace expected from such a movie, it should ensure viewers are bedazzled by this cinematic sleight of hand.

The Four Horsemen magic group, including Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) and Merritt (Woody Harrelson) are on the hunt for new adventures. This they find when blackmailed into carrying out another heist by tech wizard Walter (Daniel Radcliffe). Determined to gain the upper hand, the industrious foursome use their tricky guiles to grapple out of their latest dilemma.

‘Now You See Me 2’ is a cinematic confection not lingering much in the memory. It’s diverting while watching, but as soon as you walk out the door only a modicum of its story remains. The reason is mainly due to the threat levels our heroes face. Never for a moment do you think the Four Horsemen are in any danger as you know they’ll eventually win. Reaching the end game is delicious enough but not as satisfying as it should be. The cast give fine performances although most are simply playing to their already established screen personas.

What ‘Now You See Me 2’ has going for it is its sense of scale. Events move briskly around the globe magnifying the scope everyone faces. Locations such as China and London look suitably imposing with the action sequences handled with skill. Jon M. Chu directs with a degree of enthusiasm although the flair needed to make the story sparkle is missing. Watching the magic tricks is always a treat though with the ‘how did they do that?’ question going into overdrive.

‘Now You See Me 2’ is largely forgettable fluff even if it’s a perfect movie for a rainy afternoon. It doesn’t tax the brain-cells too much with the creaky plot feeling as familiar as a ‘rabbit out of the hat’ and equally as engaging.

Rating out of 10: 6