Tag Archives: Comedy

Review of “Exodus” at The Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare by Roger Barrington

 

(3 / 5)

 

I have an unusual degree of uncertainty on how to review Motherlode’s latest offering “Exodus”. I say this because the majority of people around me were regularly laughing out loud, whereas I could only manage a couple of chuckles throughout.

I think there are two reasons for this.

The first being I had difficulty understanding the actors at times. In fact, Gwenllian Higginson a Mary, I only tuned into during the final twenty minutes. It pains me to say this as Gwenllian attended my almar mater, Rose Bruford College.

But she wasn’t alone, as I had problems ith the other two speakers, and as many of the jokes are quick fire, they just evaporated into thin air around me.

Also, the play is set in Aberdare, and there are a number of in-jokes relating to it, that I just didn’t get.

The odd thing is that for the past eighteen months, I have lived in Aberdare.

Written and directed by Rachael Boulton, “Exodus” is the company’s second production.  It’s first, “The Good Earth” toured Wales and New York where it received a favourable review from The New York Times.

In 1865, a party of mostly Welsh people sailed on the “Mimosa” to start a new life in Patagonia – Y Wladfa. Aberdare was one of the places where colonists gathered prior to their embarkation. They left because of the social and religious problems in their own country.

Fast forward to today, and a party of four disillusioned daring Aberdare people decide to set off on their own adventure, piloting their plane to Cuba.

Along the way, they recruit, train and eventually head off into the sunset, using High Street Aberdare as their runway.

Along the way, there is much social comment, mainly uttered by Mary in lengthy monologues.

Where the production works really well is in it’s moments of physical theatre. By using clever lighting and a backdrop of a 5 square panelled window, with a scene of green hills and blue sky that cleverly illuminates the action – I particularly liked the blinding sun when the plane changed course.  The use of Karim Bedda’s, (Timmy) violin skills accompanying   the physical theatre also worked well.

The other two members of the cast, Liam Tobin as Raymond  and Bewwyn Pearce as Gareth strive hard for laughs and the whole cast performed energetically throughout.

A special mention is reserved for the innovative programme.

The play tours Welsh venues and moves on to London, where I’m certain it will go down well with exiles, needing a nostalgia boost.

There are many excellent components found in this production – I just wished that I enjoyed it more.

 

Roger Barrington

 

 

 

 

Review BlacKkKlansman by Roger Barrington

 

(4.5 / 5)

Spike Lee’s latest joint, BlacKkKlansman is based upon the book of the same name by Ron Stallworth who relates his amazing experience as Colorado Spring’s first African-American police officer, and his infiltration of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

At times hilarious, it never fails to be an engrossing and unbelievable story, even more so  as it is based upon real events.

Lee has reset the action to 1979 although in reality, they occurred seven years earlier.  With questionable fashions and afro hairstyles,  you can easily be mistaken for believing that you are watching a 70′ Blaxpoitation film.

 

 

 

Ron is at first assigned to the Records Department of the Colorado Spring P.D.  There he frequently encounters racial insults from his so-called colleagues, especially the out and out racist Andy Landers, (Frederick Weller), and consequently feels that he can be more purposefully employed undercover.

His initial assignment is to cover national civil rights leader Kwame Ture, (perhaps better known by his birth name, Stokely Carmichael), address at a local rally. There he meets Patrice who is the president of the black students’ union at Colorado College.

Later, Ron is horrified to learn that Ture who is being escorted back to his hotel post rally, had been threatened  by Landers, and Patrice sexually assaulted under the guise of police handling a situation.

Ron is then reassigned to the Intelligence Department where he notices an advertisement in a local newspaper  for recruiting new members to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It amazes me that a country that prides itself on individual freedom, has no “hate crime” legal definition that allows such an insidious organisation to be allowed to flourish in the 21st century.  Ron picks up the phone and amazes his colleagues in the room, by launching into a vitriolic tirade of abuse against black people. He is so convincing that he dupes the recruiter of his deeply engrained racialism. Ron states is ability to be so convincing stems from being fluent in both The King’s English and Jive.

The problem that lies ahead is how to deal with face to face encounters. Enter Flip Zimmerman, (Adam Driver) who trains himself to imitate Ron’s style of speaking and gradually ingratiates himself within the local chapter.

In order to expedite his membership, Ron phones David Duke, the KKK Grand Wizard. He so impresses Duke that they start a regular conversation over the telephone and the Grand Wizard, readily agrees to pass through Ron’s membership acceptance and promises to attend his ceremonial baptism into the Order.

 

 

 

Flip is Jewish and after the hatred of the Afro-American community, Antisemitism is the next important agenda for the KKK. Flip, through his involvement in the undercover assignment, for the first time becomes aware of his Jewish identity, and he too realises like Ron, that he is to some extent an outsider in the Land of the Free. A bond develops between the two of them as they infiltrate deeper and deeper into the KKK local chapter.

 

 

 

In many ways, Spike Lee’s film is one of contrasts. Kwame Ture and David Duke are both advocates of social reconstruction. Patrice doesn’t at first know that Ron is a cop, but, later, they both accept that their purpose is the same – to help their racial group emerge from the gutter of white dominance. However, Ron insists that it can only be achieved on the inside, exemplified by his role in the Colorado Springs P.D. and through his KKK infiltration, whilst Patrice believes it can only be obtained on the outside, through rallies, literature and other media instruments. When the real Ron is assigned to provide personal protection to David Duke at his fake counterpart’s baptism, (along with others), you have on the one hand, the KKK whooping it up and getting off watching D.W. Griffith’s technically brilliant but racially charged 1915 epic, “The Birth of a Nation”.  At the same time Jerome Turner, (Harry Belafonte), an elderly civil rights leader relates a story about Jesse Washington’s lynching in 1916 to an Afro-American gathering. But perhaps the most striking example of contrast is in the final shot, where an inverted Stars and Stripes slowly fades into black and white.

The casting is spot on. In particular, the two Ron Stallworths are outstanding. John David Washington as the real Ron is both immensely likable whilst being able to portray a steely determination in eradicating the evil of the KKK. Adam Driver as Flip, is, in my opinion, one of the best actors around at the moment. Check out his brilliant performance in the title role of Jim Jarmusch’s masterful 2016 movie”Paterson”.  His outbursts of racial tirades are superbly executed.

Spike Lee has an impressive portfolio of films that tackle social issues, (mostly against his own Afro-American community), behind him. “Malcolm X” (1992), “Inside Man”, (2006), “Get on the Bus”, (1996) among them, but BlacKkKlansman is the best film that he has directed for quite a while. Its lengthy 135 minutes running time passes by in a flash as the action and your interest never flags as you become enveloped within the two Ron’s infiltration. The film has received widespread acclaim and was awarded the Jury Grand Prize at this year’ Cannes Film Festival.

Lee keeps a controlled balance between moments of comedic brilliance and advocating a message of social injustice.

The KKK members come across as redneck dumbos who for all of their mental and racial inadequacies will shoot you in the head if you are Afro-American, Jewish, homosexual or any other minority group that doesn’t match up to their feeling of white supremacy.

David Duke, (Topher Grace) is a slightly different kettle of fish. His understanding of the situation is purely down to eugenics, in exactly the same way that members of the Nazi Government propagated their evil message. However, he doesn’t seem to have a personal hatred of Afro-Americans, borne out by his acceptance of the real Ron’s presence as his bodyguard, accepting his professionalism, and when he agrees for Ron to be photographed with him – something that our hero exploits to comedic effect.

For me, the final sequence that shows true life coverage of the  Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville, Virginia that occurred only a year ago is really hardhitting. This white supremacist rally, attended by David Duke, resulted in fierce clashes and the death of a counter-protestor in a vehicle ramming attack. The refusal of President Trump to solely single out the actions of the supremacists in a subsequent speech provides Lee to ram home the message of the natural association between far-right policy and racialism.

It is a salient reminder that the U.S., (and for that matter Britain) is a tinderbox waiting to explode and we ignore this message at our peril.

Country: USA

Genre: Biography; Crime; Comedy

Running time: 135 minutes

Certificate: 15 for bad language and racist dialogue and themes

The film was viewed at Chapter Screen 1 and is also widely available at nationwide cinemas throughout the country.

 

Roger Barrington

 

 

Review: Mischief Movie Night, New Theatre By Eloise Stingemore

The Mischief Theatre Company returned to Cardiff with a brand new show, Mischief Movie Night, which delivered calamity, insane capers, and much hilarity on an epic scale. What is different you may say to the company previous productions such as The Play That Goes Wrong that showed at the theatre in May – the audience is in the driving seat!

The cast is at the mercy of the audience and who must use their quick wit, creativity and sheer talent to create a performance based on the scenario you created for them in that moment. This is no small feat but The Mischief Theatre Company as demonstrated in the previous productions (Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robber) certainly pulled it off. The seasoned original cast members we know so well and have come to adore for their laugh out loud shows packed full with British humour and organised chaos, exceeded all my expectations with their new production.

Their objective is to create a feature-length film based on the genre, location and title provided to them by their audience completely on the spot, and getting you to laugh while they’re at it. A whole host of genres, mythical creatures and wishful fantasies where thrown at them, ranging from erotica to anima, fire breathing dragons and Wales winning the Six Nations. Oh boy did they deliver!

The Cardiffian Tales were born which saw Wales a divided land full of mythical beasts and creatures unite and defeat the evil ice king with a tree elf leading the charge and as a symbol of their new unity saw Wales rise up and win the Six Nations. One aspect of the show that I particularly liked was the live rewinds, plenty of pauses and even a fast-forward or two, utilised by the narrative using a figurative remote to cut out dead ends or repeat audience-hit jokes. The continuous slapstick and stupidity for a whole 75 minutes brought tears of laughter to the audience eyes and put smiles on their faces from start to finish.

Mischief Movie Night is improv theatre at its best! A masterpiece was created that night, which was brilliant, funny, interactive and truly a crying-with-laughter experience you will not forget.

Tour dates and ticket information can be found here: https://mischieftheatre.co.uk/shows/mischief-movie-night

Review: Camp Be Yourself by Sian Thomas

From the get go of this show, Camp Be Yourself, I saw that there was a lovely theatre space being used. I hadn’t been aware of 10 Feet Tall in the first place, nevertheless the kind of atmosphere it was hiding upstairs. A nice rustic feeling to it and it’s plush chairs, I felt like I was in for a good evening in a space so suitably equipped for creating just that. There was an atmosphere that had definitely existed since it was built and decorated in the way it was (disco ball? Rustic looking wooden furniture? Soft blue couches? Dotted around fairy lights? All of those are right up my alley) which had an impact on the feel of the show. What I had expected had been much different or what had been delivered. What I’d thought I’d be seeing was a more sombre or rather, a more serious, at least, show about growing up being oneself in the world where it feels like everything else is more important. I have a tendency to look at dates and times of shows and go, sometimes more than seeing what the show is about first. What was delivered however was so different, but still so good in that different way: two girls running a camp and preparing for a talent show while one finds a passion and the other opens up about her past and they do it in a way that unrelenting in their comedy.

The performance was lively from the very beginning, also, what with leagues of “hello campers!” And “nice! High fives!” going all around the room and making it back to the stage. I thought for a while there would be more audience participation, which lead me down the “oh NO!!!” path I’d been down recently with Fringe shows but quickly overcome, but to my relief I was allowed to sit and kick back and be shown. It was nice, I really think, to be able to watch. And it will also be nice to give them five stars based on things I saw and felt, not on things I did and joined in with. Both of these things are good in their own right, but it was really nice to experience this one after experiencing two bouts of the other.
There was a lot to pick up on, as well. Fun costumes, firstly – that, in all honestly, were exactly what I’d picture for a camp-based story. Yellow t-shirts with a white outline, jeans, those eternal trackies that are somehow always everywhere. Also, bunches and high ponytails, because yeah, of course.
There was such a good use of space and effects! I hadn’t known what the theatre space had looked like beforehand but what it was hadn’t been what I’d expected but it seemed such a good fit for the show. A semicircle(ish) arrangement of seats and a nicely black and white striped wall of the stage, a disco ball (really loved that touch) and an array of lighting choices. A number of songs used, of laughs created, of amazing jokes told.
Five stars are normally used because the book was so good it must be bought or there’s more showings of a performance and I am yelling into the internet hoping someone will take my word for it and go to that other showing. I’ve broken that rule a couple times and given one time things five stars and felt weird about that even though I enjoyed them so heartily it was unbelievable. But I don’t feel bad doing that things time! There is a second showing of Camp Be Yourself, in the very same lovely little theatre space, and I can’t recommend enough going to see it (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).
One last thing was that I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s important that this show was two women cracking us all up and how full the seats were, too. I really liked that. It’s nice to see women in all fields, especially comedy. They really hooked me in, that’s all I can really describe about that. I really want to put my kudos forward; I loved the two girls, the energy they had and the laughter they created. I hope the show goes on to do well!

Sian Thomas

Review: Godden And Barnes by Sian Thomas

Coming in to see this live show, to see Godden and Barnes, there was a swelling atmosphere in the Sherman Theatre foyer. A trepidation centring when the piece would begin and exactly what it would entail, because I certainly didn’t know, but I’m glad I went to find out. Gearing up, the microphone (and microphone stand) was used and quickly the height difference between  the two was staggering (and relatable: I’m short, everyone else isn’t. I’ve been told to do my fair share of things and only been able to stare up at them and stare back at the person). I remember that being the moment that I was tipped off and knew I’d be having a fun time.

Audience participation is still (and probably always will be) both spring upon me and terrifying. I’ve said this previously and I’ll probably continue to stand by it based alone on that “oh no what are they doing oh my god what’s happening oh NO” feeling that occurs very quickly. The sudden realisation that I could be up in a crowd unprepared and anxious is so frightening. Which is kind of weird, then, that this time I got up and joined in. I don’t normally do that, but it was nice to. Normally participation like this has an overwhelmingly intimidating feeling to it, but the two did a good job of deflating that tension before it could really arise. So I jumped their taped line and I ran around in a pencil skirt (a feat, if I say so myself) and I danced (ISABELLE IF YOU’RE READING: thank you SO much for being there, helping creating the Fringe, all those things too, but especially for: dancing with me in that moment. I have no idea how to dance and you saved me from what would have definitely been me embarrassing myself. Thank you).
I’m giving this show five stars in the hope that 1) it returns and 2) because it got me out of my seat and the whole time I wasn’t in it I wasn’t acutely terrified – which is also a feat, if I do say so myself.

I normally like to keep myself under wraps at any show. I have a huge preference for staying inside my own head and sorting my own thoughts to be laid out, often in a piece like this, later on in a day or so. I like watching a performance, and bookmarking in my mind how I feel about it. I have, as well, a tendency to look quite blank while I do this (I swear I was enjoying the show, I was just doing this, and I was shy about laughing too loud in the foyer that could have echoed if I’d have let loose).  I also wasn’t aware that some of my favourite jokes must be impressions but based on the noise I made when I heard an impression of Owen Wilson’s “Wow” (something I already find funny, mind you, because I’m young and know that that is a popular joke) must make it true.

The two used the space they had really well. I didn’t even know the foyer in the Sherman had a balcony that could be used in the way that they used it. It made me think that the show itself must have to be quite flexible and the placement quite malleable in order for things to work in the order that they did the night I saw how it would flow.This production was also just an hour long (another easy thing to give! Just a slice of time reserved for the laughs we all need) It felt like a lot less; I heard myself say “Oh?” When they told us they were done (the time that they meant it, though).
The Fringe will press on in good time, continuing to carry shows I’m excited to see. (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).

I was sorry to hear that the show will be stopped for a little while, but I’m sure enough that it’s for a good reason and will yield good results for the future. I hope that whenever the show returns, I might be able to see it again, and enjoy it all over again.

Sian Thomas

Review: The Play That Goes Wrong, New Theatre by Eloise Stingemore

Returning to the New Theatre, Cardiff where the original tour begin in 2014, The Play That Goes Wrong, is a side splitting, belly aching, highly physical, extremely ambitious slapstick comedy that has taken both the West End and Broadway by storm.

The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920’s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does. In fact, it all starts falling apart even before the actors take to the stage in the equivalent of a pre-titles sequence. As a member of the cast runs around the theatre looking for a dog called Winston and a Duran Duran CD, whilst stage hands recruit an unsuspecting member of the audience to help finish the stage construction with hilarious albeit disastrous results.

 

The show sits in a fine tradition of British slapstick, and of plays about theatrical blunders: from doors not opening to the same doors not closing, pictures and props falling off the walls and parts of the set collapsed with cast members on them and parts of the script repeated on a loop as members forgot their lines. There was barely time to breath in-between each joke, for the first time in my life I truly experienced what it means to laugh till it hurts.

It is difficult to single out a cast member as they each showed excellent knowledge of comedy timing and demonstrate the physical prowess to perform their role while having to think about so many different things happening on stage.

The Play That Goes Wrong delivers laughs that come thick and fast, Mondays’ Opening night audience at the New Theatre, Cardiff absolutely roared with laughter and where buzzing as they left. If you have recently found yourself in need of cheering up make sure you catch the show as it tours the UK in 2018. It’s the perfect remedy to making all your worries and cares disappear for 2 1/2 hrs that is!

Tour dates and ticket information can be found here: http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/uk-tour/tickets

Review Deadpool 2 by Jonathan Evans

The first Deadpool movie was rude, crude and meta as all hell. It was juvenile but also revealed in how juvenile it was. It knew what it was and poked fun of itself as much as the Superhero genre, which made it hard to dislike. Now the sequel is here with more money and characters.

At the start of my review of the first movie, I made a point that Deadpool was not a hero due to his lack of moral center and just being a hired gun. It seems like this movies goal is to definitely make him a hero, one of the lewdest you’ll ever find, but a hero none-the-less.

The movie opens with Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) being a hired gun and killing all sorts of over-the-top villains, he makes it home to his beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when she is shocking shot down before him! What follows is a parody of a Bond opening that is just as shocked that they made such a decision. Deadpool then falls into depression and is pulled into joining the X-Men as a trainee, when they need to deal with a young rouge mutant Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison) this go very bad and both of them end up in Jail.

Things only elevate and complicated with the arrival of Cable, a gun-toting, robotic armed mercenary from the future. He is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays the antagonist in Avengers: Infinity War, this is a bit odd and they do indeed use it for material. Brolin himself is playing the role like he wasn’t in a comedy at all, he is playing this character as if this movie was a serious time traveling science fiction movie. This adds to the comedy greatly, he is the straight man that contrasts with the cast that are virtually living cartoon characters. He doesn’t really look that out of place with a glowing eye and robotic arm but through the interactions you see he’s is out of place.

Other players from the last movie return. Firstly there is the reliable taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) that now wants to be an active member of Deadpool’s business. Weasel (T. J. Miller), the very snarky barman that get’s a little more wrapped up in the drama of the plot this time around. My favorite character throughout these movies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who may have even less screentime than the last movie but like the last one every time she appears she makes me laugh, so I’ll take it. Then there’s the big, friendly Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), who continues to try and make Deadpool the best person he can be, it’s an uphill battle.

Along for the ride are also new characters. Most prominent is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck, this lends itself to some well-constructed and creative action set-pieces that are well thought out and executed, and she is a fun character in her own right. There is also Bedlam (Terry Crews), able is dish-out large amounts of power, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) is an alien who is apparently better than humans in every way, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) has the ability to spit acidic saliva and then theres Peter (Rob Delaney) he’s just a regular guy that showed up and they decided to take him along for the ride. There is also Vanisher, but the least I say about them the better so just go and see the movie.

I didn’t mention it in the last movie and it’s still present here so I’ll make up for it. Ryan Renolds costume in the movie covers his face completely and uses that limitation to emote through his entire body. From subtle head nods to iconic body posing and moments of energetic movements he brings the character to life.

I know that this isn’t the most sophisticated of comedy but sometimes that doesn’t matter and the results speak for themselves. I laughed during the movie, multiple times and somewhere rather big laughs. As did the audience at the screening so it seems to be hitting the right nerve.

This is an R rated action comedy that is meant for teenage to young men. It knows this and revels in who the character was made for and is still sharply shot and the script is solid. This is much more emotionall grounded than the last movie and I would say after the journey Deadpool is a hero, not the best example of one but there we are.

 

Review: How to Win Against History by Gemma Treharne-Foose

 

(5 / 5)

If you’ve never heard of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey or Henry Cyril Paget – that’s exactly what his family intended to happen when they erased him from their family history by burning every photograph and possession relating to his life.

Based on true story, this completely original production pieces together the charred remains and distant memories of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey – a cross-dressing dandy who inherited the keys to the kingdom in Victorian Britain, but lived fast and died young.

At one time the richest man in Britain, he rejected the duties of his title to live an outrageously opulent and controversial life, putting on elaborate plays, building over the chapel on the family estate to build a theatre and tour Europe with his ‘Electric Butterfly Orchestra’ – with himself as the leading artist, of course.

This is a fabulously foppish flight of fancy that will have you belly laughing from lights up until lights down.

The Marquess of Anglesey was an unapologetic narcissist, who if born in more recent times would no doubt be the subject of a gaudy commercial deal, a magazine spread or a reality TV series. But although the production pokes fun at the story, it is never cruel.

How to Win Against History is a high-camp, high energy extravaganza, subverting the almost homoerotic goings on within public schools, the aristocracy and the Empire.

Starring Seiriol Davies who plays (or should I say ‘slays’) as Henry Paget, this show chasses, minces and shimmies its way through his back story, shining a light on the social awkwardness of Victorian times, the absurdity and pomposity of theatre and the sheer hilarity of being a square peg in a round hole.

Matthew Blake plays the part of Paget’s right hand man – the Victorian west end actor Alexander Keith and the pair have incredible chemistry and comic timing. Every movement, sigh and flick of the hand is played up and milked for laughs.

Imagine a show featuring Lawrence Llywelyn-Bowen’s lovechild on acid at Mardi Gras, mashed up with Monty Python, Downton Abbey and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. That wouldn’t even come close to how remarkable this is.

Despite the madcap silliness and outrageousness though, it’s a show with substance and heart. Seiriol Davies has created something quite heartfelt and poignant, the music and lyrics are sharp and clever and the incredible vocal performances of the trio on stage meander from genre to genre.

You really want Henry Paget to win and the way audiences are responding to this production shows that in the end – he has.

Some lights are too bright to ever be distinguished.

Review Happy Death Day by Jonathan Evans

Happy Death Day is a black comedy with pieces of a genuine horror mixed in, essentially Groundhog Day meets Halloween. From that you can already guess the main problem with the movie, it lacks a distinct personality. It is quite good at times and blunt at others but the overall product has a tonal problem that leaves you coming out of it not sure with what you just saw.

It opens with a girl named Theresa waking up in a college dorm room, she is hungover and can barely remember the night before, she goes about her day and things happen that establish that shes popular but not very nice. It is also her birthday, which she doesn’t want people to know or acknowledge herself. She heads out for the night, while on her way a figure appears and stabs her to death. She then wakes at the start of the day and must relive the day of her murder over and over again.

Jessica Rothe plays Theresa. She fulfills everything that the script requires her to do well. She screams very high and loudly, she comes off like a spoiled rich kid, there are other moments that call for her to be funny etc. She does a solid job in the movie.

The killer is dressed entirely in black with a cartoon baby face mask. A good design that is both distinctive and easily recognisable. It may become iconic and then again it might not, but credit goes to creating an easily registrable visual.

With any kind of teen movie as well and having a plot where repetition is a main theme naturally there is a montage sequence. It is stuff like this that clashes with the overall movie. Are we meant to always be laughing or genuinely feel frightened for out main character? At the start we do, then it becomes a case of “ow dang it!” then near the climax we’re meant to feel for her again.

This is a spoiler free review but I will say that the two main questions I had while watching the movie were (obviously) how is all of this happening? And how does the killer seem to always magically track her down? We get answers to none of these.

The concept is fine and the execution is good at times as well. However it’s stereotypical portrayal of teens and suffering from either not knowing what it wants to be or wanting to be too many things it becomes pieces of a solid work rather than a whole. If there are no better offers at the cinema then it isn’t a waste, but is also only worth one watch.

Jonathan Evans

Review The LEGO Ninjago Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 5)

I am shocked that an obvious big budget toy commercial are able to create such fun and well made (pun intended) movies. The LEGO Movie was number one on the year it was released and earlier this year I had a blast watching The LEGO Batman Movie. Now we have another and surprise I’m excited for it.

After an introductory opening sequence in live action we are transported to a LEGO constructed world and the city of Ninjago, where on a regular basis (daily) evil forces merge from a nearby volcano and attempt to conquer it, lead by the all black, four armed Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux). Luckily for the cities inhabitants there is a group of ninjas with giant mech’s to fight and win against them.

In the forefront is the Green Ninja, Lloyd (Dave Franco), Red Ninja (Michael Pena), Blue Ninja (Kumail Nanjiani), Silver Ninja (Abbi Jackson), Black Ninja (Fred Armisen) and the White Ninja (Zack Woods) who’s probably a robot for some reason. They all have their special power and design of giant robot as well as distinguishing personality but as the movie goes on they get lost amongst other things. The ninjas are revered by the towns people but it turns out that in his civilian life Llyod is Garmadon’s son (da-da-dah!). This leads to regular hate, blame and judgement from nearly all the other civilians.

Another character is Master Wu played by legendary martial arts star Jackie Chan. This is doubtless the role where Chan is having the most fun, how can he not when he is given a script with so many funny lines. He is the martial arts master that teaches the ninjas how to better themselves. But he comes out with either too blunt or too cryptic ways of going bout it. He is also amazing at laying the flute.

All the other movies have had the initial presentation of a crazy colourful world with comedy at a fast passe. However through the watching it is revealed that there is an emotional center to it that ties the movie together. Here it is the father son relationship between Lloyd and Garmadon. About how a father and son can become astray and the outward devastation that can cause. It’s just presented with larger than life scenarios and jokes tying it together and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The comedy is very tongue-in-cheek and that is the overall style that these movies have adopted. Having their source material and playing within it but never be beyond poking fun of the world or archetypes they have.

The animation still embraces the limitations of the real plastic of the LEGO pieces however they allow themselves some more lapses than the other movies animation. They unhinge the arms from their sockets, squash some other pieces and have water instead of a vast amount of moving blue pieces. It’s a valid artistic choice to make but the previous movies commitment to the real limitations was so impressive that this somehow feel like a letdown.

Something I feel is a drawback for the movie is that it doesn’t have much access to as many resources as the previous LEGO movies did. The first had the entirety of the franchises that LEGO has worked with and Batman had not just the Dark Knight but a a bunch of other DC lore to bring in.

Even if this isn’t as good as the other two movies to come out this ones still fun with a lot of talent and enthusiasm put into it. There is so much creativity put into the setting it up  and has an emotional core that ties it all together.

Jonathan Evans