Sunday, February 26, 2017

GOODBYE, BILL PAXTON...


You were always a pleasure to see, even when the roles were lean and mean. Your diversity actually graced a number of genres, though you seemed to shine brightest in action/adventure, horror and science fiction films, including "Aliens"; "Apollo 13"; "Boxing Helena"; "The Colony"; "Edge of Tomorrow"; "Future Shock"; "Mighty Joe Young '98"; "Near Dark"; "Nightcrawler"; "Predator 2"; "Slipstream"; "Spy Kids 2 & 3D"; "Terminator"; "Thunderbirds '04"; "Titanic '97"; "Tombstone"; "True Lies"; "Twister"; and "Weird Science"; plus a memorable, recurring role on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." However, your finest, all-around moment came in your directorial debut, "Frailty", in which you also gave one of your best performances. Alas, you've left us far too soon, my friend, but your entertaining achievements exceed those of many others who've lived much longer lives. In honor of your rich and affluent body of work (and for always being a down-to-earth guy), God bless and Godspeed...

Friday, February 24, 2017

GOODBYE, CHRIS WIGGINS...


Can't express the wondrous extent that your "Friday the 13th: the Series" ("Friday's Curse") adventures enchanted me. As Jack Marshak, you emerged as a mature and insightful leader to Louise Robey's Micki, John D. LeMay's Ryan and Steve Monarque's Johnny. You tracked down each and every cursed object with an air of compassionate skill, making the circumstances (no matter how fanciful or outlandish) feel credible and engaging. In addition to presenting a memorable, paternal aura to television's "Swiss Family Robinson", your vocal talent blessed the likes of Batman, Spider-man and Thor, as well as distinguishing such superb, science-fiction/adventure fare as "Johnny Chase"; "Rocket Robin Hood"; "Star Wars: Droids; and "Star Wars: Ewoks". May you find peace and joy wherever you roam, knowing full well that among your legion of fans, you'll be both deeply missed and immeasurably remembered. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

MICHAEL F. HOUSEL'S THE HYDE SEED...NOW AVAILABLE FROM AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS!!!


"The Hyde Seed" has arrived from Airship 27 Productions!!!

I wrote "Hyde Seed" in honor of those offbeat character studies found in "Twilight Zone", "Night Gallery" and "Outer Limits". 

My story focuses on former welterweight, Pepe Rodriguez, a champion-that-could-have-been, who let his chance for glory slip with the loss of love. Pepe now works as a lonesome custodian for Averton Plastics and appears an unassuming enough gent, but he harbors a secret...a demon...a creature...a weed-like Hyde that springs from out his mind. Though Pepe has kept this thing contained for more than a decade, it re-emerges when he's attacked by company thugs. Now the resentful entity plans to do as it pleases, unless the former contender can conjure the confidence to defeat it once and for all.


"Hyde Seed'"s unsettling cover was rendered by Ash Arceneaux.  Pedro Cruz, of "The Amazing Harry Houdini" fame, supplied the story's interior illustrations, and Airship 27's Art Director, Rob Davis, devised its moody back cover. 

I give my eternal thanks to publisher Ron Fortier for making "Hyde Seed" part of the Airship 27/New Pulp lineup. 

The paperback edition of "Hyde Seed'"s is currently available through Amazon at... https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946183105/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487888487&sr=8-1&keywords=hyde+seed.   (The Kindle version should be available in the near future.)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

SO LONG, GEORGE "THE ANIMAL" STEELE...


You were one of the few professional wrestlers to carry Tor Johnson's towering legacy beyond the ring, faithfully translating it into Tim Burton's "Ed Wood". Your bittersweet interaction with Miss Elizabeth would have made Kong and Ann Darrow envious, but you'll always hold a special spot in the hearts of those who knew your warm humility. Thanks for all the fun and joy you've brought us throughout these many years.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

I saw the Great Wall...


I have conflicting feelings for Zhang Yimou's "The Great Wall": a U.S./China co-production with Matt Damon in the lead. I like the basic monster-movie concept, but at times the construction feels pretentious: created, perhaps, to teach us something, but falling flat, due to its perplexing padding. 


Damon's character, William, is a youngish looking chap (mainly because that's Damon's guise, even when he sports a beard at the story's start), who also happens to be a 12th Century adventurer, in search of a destructive, black powder for the reckless European scene. He travels with a group of other enterprising gents, including a good-buddy Spaniard named Tovar (Pedro "Game of Thrones" Pascal), ever farther into the East to gain this precious commodity, but in the process, cuts into China at a time when ferocious behemoths feast. 


Per Carlo Bernard, Tony Giroy and Doug Miro's script, that's why the Great Wall was built, you see, to keep these creatures out, the rise of which occurs every sixty years or so, when their hibernation periods cease. 


The monsters are called the Tao Tei: most of which look dragon-like (though wingless and shadowed throughout) and could have been presented (with a wee sum of modification) no-more-or-less as such. Well, if they are, in fact, supposed to be dragons, at least we have a new angle as to how they came to roam the land. Like dragons of tradition, they growl, snap and claw, but never croak flames. The Chinese, on the other hand, spring a fiery defense in prevention and retaliation of attack. 

Willem Dafoe also takes part as a guy named Ballard: like William and Tovar, a visitor to China, who's more enigmatic than gallant. For what it's worth, he and Tovar eventually consider getting the hell out of the mess, while the mighty William remains steadfast. He's the hero, after all. 


His presence demonstrates that one can change from a lethal-powder seeker to one who appreciates the culture and plight of his hosts. Oddly enough, the Chinese featured can't achieve the task at hand, even though they've been preparing for it their entire lives. Hell, they built a damn wall to flank their foes, but so much for that. This makes "Great Wall" a story more of acceptance and assimilation than of logic, but it's real hard to shake why it takes a kiddish Westerner to show these tenacious warriors the way. (It's odd, too, that with all the flack "Gods of Egypt" received for its alleged, racial slant, this one gets off scot-free.)


The script at least avoids romance, though in doing so, leaves its leading lady, Lin Mae (Jing Tian), the head of the spear-geared Nameless Order, to act as mere window dressing. She's tough enough to be the film's stand-out feminist, but in all honesty, if she wasn't involved, the story would have flowed just as well. 


In the end, William devises an explosive means to halt the Toa Tei. The execution may be a tad silly, but it does help wrap things up with adequate zest, as does Yimou's directorial style: fast and dizzying as it charges toward its impetuous climax, which looks great in IMAX 3D.

Alas, "Great Wall" would have worked better rendered in a more straight-forward style; even at roughly ninety minutes, it's awfully bloated with all its superfluous, motivational bridges. (Toho, no doubt, would have done it leaner and cleaner.) Still, this one's worth a shot if one fancies giant, period-piece monsters, and fans of such will probably find it worth collecting when the time of purchase comes. 

AIRSHIP 27 PODCAST #24 (FEB '17): READY FOR TAKEOFF!!!


Captain Ron Fortier and Chief Engineer Rob Davis host a new Airship 27 Podcast (#24 February '17), with tip-top topics galore, including discussion on Nancy Hansen's continuing Jezebel Johnson saga. To further the excitement, our dynamic duo also offers a super-charged update on the developing Brother Bones movie. Hot damn!!! 

Listen in at the Comics Podcast Network ...http://comicspodcasts.com/2017/02/17/airship-27-podcast-24-jezebel-johnson-queen-of-anarchy/.

Bates Returns for the Fifth and Final Stab!!!


It's been quite a psychotic ride for A&E's "Bates Motel": a parallel path to the acclaimed "Psycho" literary and film franchises. At times, it's been more of a mad soap opera than all-out horror. There's no doubt that the new-century Norman Bates, played to chilling effect by Freddie Highmore, certainly experienced more success with the ladies (well, at least of a potential sort) than his towering predecessor, portrayed by the legendary Anthony Perkins. I can't say that's necessarily a plus, but for better or worse, it's simply a bloody (pun intended) fact. 


It does appear that the teenage mush has at long last gone bye-bye, which for the sake of the show's lead character, only leaves more demented paths for him to travel. For example, as we begin Season 5, two years have passed, with the endearing but domineering Norma (Vera Farmiga) long defunct, yet lingering as an imaginary specter/Sister Hyde, as well as a preserved corpse. Her haunting presence should give Highmore lots to work with through the new season's inevitable, unsettling scenarios. With this in mind, the set-up could gain an even stronger Hitchcockian slant, along with the appropriate nods to Robert Bloch's novel and sequels. I, for one, would delight in such a blend. 


Also, Marion Crane will make her mythic entrance, this time played by pop-icon Rhianna. Will she arrive early or late in the season? Who can say, outside of those who've fashioned it? For certain, though, fans will be watching with great anticipation.  

I'm confident, too, that viewers will be biting their nails regarding the fates of steadfast Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell); diligent Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot); woeful Caleb Calhoun (Kenny Johnson); faithful Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst); and conscientious Emma DeCody (Olivia Cook). Where will the madness take them? Will they survive, flee, or...well, this is Norman's world, after all, and so...


Personally, I don't think Season 5 needs to end "Psycho'"s latest incarnation. Perkins made superb use of Norman for four terrific films. There's no reason why after a few years, Highmore couldn't return from, let's say, an institution, supposedly cured and start anew before slipping again. Perhaps we could even see his extended story unfold within a hospital, meeting people, killing them...escaping (maybe running off with his good buddy, Michael Myers, only then to be captured and analyzed by that compassionate crackerjack, Hannibal Lecter--ha,ha). Indeed, for those willing to broaden their minds, the sky's the hellish limit for our precious Hamlet of Horror, but for now, seeing the fruition of his early phases should more than fulfill. 

"Bates Motel: Season 5" commences Monday (Feb 20) at 10 pm.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Alternate Reality #15: Westworld (2016)


That an extension of Michael Crichton's cinematic classic, "Westworld" (see "An Alternate Reality #8: July '15) would enter HBO territory is baffling. Oh, it wouldn't have been at one time, when the premium channel was adorned by such stylish and diversified productions as "Deadwood"; "The Sopranos"; "Carnivale"; and let's not forget those gory, ghastly, anthology shows, "Tales from the Crypt" and "The Hitchhiker". 


Alas, in recent years, with the possible exception of "Game of Thrones", which let's face it, HBO tolerated but never granted the proper respect, the station has traveled a more or less politically correct (i.e., slanted) avenue. And please don't mistake nudity, cussing, fleeting violence, and out-of-touch, social banter as being politically incorrect (but that's a topic for another time). By HBO's recent standards, "Westworld", with its merciless gunfire and pro-religious attributes (speak of taboo!), is very much out of place among its programming. 


Nevertheless, the station's executives, for whatever enigmatic reason, have decided to revive Crichton's concept (purchasing a pilot and then after a curiously long stretch, approving additional episodes). Thanks to its primary producers, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (abetted by J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burke), "Westworld" isn't a remake, but rather an extrapolation of the 1973 Crichton-written/directed, alternate-reality masterpiece and its sequel,"Futureworld" plus the short-lived series, "Beyond Westworld" (for all intents and purposes, a prequel to the later, though some would dispute that claim). Now, those young 'uns who've conjured the curiosity to watch the new series, but have been too lax to research its founding chapters, may state otherwise; still, anyone who knows the earlier installments will detect progressive links from old to new. 


In the new, there are several references to old Delos, the company that established the robotic amusement park, Westworld (and its Medieval and Roman counterparts), where a major "glitch" is confirmed as an integral part of the attraction's past. The storage areas reflect the old Delos repair stations, and there's a rekindling of accidental, autonomous evolution (a sense of growing cognition and independence) among the "hosts", which have been evidently evolving from the time of the original entries, with the first film's Frankenstein theme threading throughout. 


(Incidentally, according to Amazon's speculative, viewer liner notes, the original "Westworld" would have taken place in an alternate '83, ten years after the film's theatrical entrance, with "Futureworld", released in '76, occurring only a short time thereafter. I conjecture that "Beyond", therefore, would take place between these two movies, and based on the new series' dialogue, one could deduce that its particular events unfold roughly thirty years after the establishing trilogy, which would occur sometime within an alternate '16. Hey, it's certainly something to ponder...)


The new "Westworld" further matches the original by featuring a variety of tourists engaging in Old West exchanges (well, in the very least, scenarios in the style of what our movies and literature have detailed). We're even introduced to quasi counterparts to Richard Benjamin and James Brolin's characters in the guise of the conscientious, "white hat" William (Jimmi Simpson) and the scornful Logan (Ben Barnes), a man with evident stock in Delos. (For the record, the affluent and obnoxious Logan is a cruel substitute for Brolin's stand-up guy, though we learn that Logan isn't the only one with austere ties to the park, but to reveal any more on that would only taint the surprise.)


In addition to our duo, there are other significant characters, both human and robot. (Mind you, as the new story progresses, the designations blur.) We have Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), the charismatic and shrewd theme-park founder/manufacturer; Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babette Knudsen) the park's earnest operations manager; Teddy Flood (James "X-Men" Marsden), an affable automaton, who in addition to being deft with a pistol, seems to sense genuine love; Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), the sweet, sensitive android he fancies; Maeve Millay (Thandi Newton), a madame host, who begins to question whether she's real or mechanical (and once her cognition sparks--watch out); Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan), a congenial prostitute who works for Maeve; Lawrence/El Lazo (Clifton Collins), a cool, but respectful, character-shifting desperado; Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), the park's arrogant scriptwriter; and Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), head of the programming division, who sees worth in encoding his creations with reveries and recollection. Lowe also stands as Ford's right-hand man, a substitute for the honcho's defunct partner, Arnold: perhaps a reference to a particular actor who's portrayed a particular, artificial life form. 


There's, alas, no Yul Brynner Gunslinger (beyond a blurry, nearly indiscernible background image; too bad, since here's an instance where an uncanny-valley, CGI recreation would have proven acceptable). We do, however, meet an interesting human variation in Ed Harris' Man in Black. He's there to kill the mechanical population, but there's more to his shooting them down than meets the eye. He's on a mystical mission of sorts, likening Westworld to a game or maze, with an answer at its end, or rather at its heart. That answer can unravel (or so it's hoped) the meaning of the game or maybe for that matter, life itself. 

The robots seek such meaning, as well, which becomes more pronounced throughout their cognitive awakenings: Who made them and why in Heaven or Hell do they exist? The Man in Black asks this, too, but only does so through seething impatience and violence. As to why, is one of the series' big mysteries, revealed only at the end. 


While the Man in Black's inquisitive quest may seem selfishly and sadistically motivated, the androids' questioning of matters stems from a sincere need for self-preservation. The guests treat the poor hosts callously, with some "murdered" on a daily. They're also likely to lose part of their identity during their repair processes, but also gain, through some deep, intrinsic means, a platform for memories. Their sporadic recollections strike them as something akin to alien abductions: unpleasant, but enough so to spike their curiosity and after a time, make them crave total recall.  


Such cerebral components give "Westworld" a religious-allegorical texture, though this technique is nothing new to science fiction. (Did not "Star Trek'"s Nomad and V'Ger seek their makers and therefore, the meaning of life?) However, in "Westworld'"s context, the machines also question the worth of their creators (their "gods", if one will), and some ultimately determine them an inferior life form. From this, discussion emerges from both factions as to how the machines might turn the tables, but for the existing interlude, the replicants are content in snuffing out humans in various, off-the-cuff ways. Because of this, they come across as lofty, more calculating versions of the Gunslinger, some even growing colder and more callous as they advance, much like David McCallum's Gwyllm Griffiths in the "Outer Limits'" classic, "The Sixth Finger".


Unlike "Westworld '73", which becomes like Crichton's "Jurassic Park", an attack-of-the-tourist-attractions, the new edition adapts a pensive perspective. Like Phillip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"/"Blade Runner", the machines of neo-Westworld not only question reality, but in their own peculiar ways, fight for their civil rights. They're imprints of Dick's Roy Batty and friends, and as a result, they continue to fascinate throughout the saga and therefore become its most absorbing feature. 


The machines are us in many ways, or at least those of us who've faced persecution, bigotry...violence. Similarly, the machines reflect those of us who've questioned our origins, perhaps having attended church or indulged in prayer to understand the mysterious hows and whys. Therefore, what the androids experience in their here-and-now is mirrored by what we experience in our own reality. It's impossible to shake this notion when watching the series. When the gamut of its intent drills into one's head, the effect can be as uplifting as it is unsettling. No matter how one cuts it, "Westworld" reminds us that we're not so unique in our behavioral and social desires, let alone our pursuits for purpose and plan. We're all more than mere machines. We just need the chance to prove it. 


If there's any drawback to the series (beyond its unsavory "sex" scenes), it's in its length. At ten episodes, the series is about two hours too long, with the last, two installments marked by heavy rehashing; ponderous gobbledygook; and an "explanation" regarding the saga's time-leaping framework that's far muddier than succinct. However, among today's television shows, this pretentious excess isn't too strong a fault, since most series (even the briefest) often exceed their comfort zones: case in point, the otherwise intriguing "Jessica Jones". 


In truth, the original film and its initial follow-ups supply the same information and depth, but in more compact and linear forms. The same can be said of Dick's famed fable (novel or film); "Ex Machina"; "Creation of the Humanoids"; Ray Bradbury's "I Sing the Body Electric"; Rod Serling's "The Lonely"; various portions of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D'", "Star Trek: the Next Generation" and of course, any given segment of "Humans". Though these examples do their job through tighter and/or more coherent, long-term designs, they still make one yearn for more. In all fairness, in rendering Crichton's concept over a longer stretch, HBO's "Westworld" does a better job than one might expect, unlike "Beyond", which even at three, aired episodes seemed strained at best. 


Too bad the new "Westworld" failed to find a home on a more suitable network like A&E, AMC, F/X, or even a place of genesis on Amazon or Netflix, where its explorations may have been better secured. Still, HBO has agreed to renew the series, though the second season won't premiere until sometime in '18, if we're lucky at that: an outrageous eternity by television standards, and this comes on the heels of the series earning the network's highest ratings in years. Odd...

Will folks still tune in after such a prolonged hiatus, let alone recall the affluent ideas once placed before them? Will viewers get to visit other Delos worlds, as they did in the original films and if so, within what time frames? Will a CGI Brynner surface at some given point? Will the saga officially cross over into "Blade Runner", "Terminator" and/or "RoboCop" turf? Will it make ironic statements on whatever defines our own reality at the time it re-transmits? Guess we'll have to be patient, keep our fingers crossed and with hopes and dreams religiously aligned, see...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I saw the Dark Knight Legoized (sigh)...


I’ve nothing against Lego: that is, the actual building-block sets, where kids (who no longer have the gumption to assemble Aurora/Lindberg/Revell cars, planes, boats, let alone character dioramas) can utilize their creative skills to accomplish feasible and satisfying tasks. 


I do, however, object to my favorite characters being represented in generic, Play School manners. Hey, those sorts of representations are fine for the tots, but I never saw the appeal for adolescents, and it appears that teens dig these super-deformed munchkins more than any other age group. 

That means the figures are manufactured for millennials who should otherwise be watching big-or-small-screen DC and Marvel adaptations, but due to their timidity, need watered down versions. This is precisely why we get stuff like “The Lego Movie”, a "Toy Story"/"Wreck-It Ralph" wannabe to which these precious hearts flocked in Winter '14 instead of “RoboCop”. 


With "The Lego Movie" kicking butt at the box office, it would only reason to do a sequel, but this time it was decided to tackle a superhero (along with a few others of his caliber). After all, Batman costarred in “The Lego Movie”, which makes him a prime candidate for his own full-blown essay, right? While we’re at it, why not squeeze Robin in there and sprinkle the entire scene with smart-ass disdain? 

Well, such are the traits of director Chris "Robot Chicken" McKay's animated spin-off, "The Batman Lego Movie", written in part by Seth Grahame-Smith, of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" fame. (BTW: The Lego superhero concept made its way to a direct-to-disc format several years back, but we're now asked to pretend that such never happened, and for the sake of this review, I'll oblige the request. Whoops! So sorry...)


On the surface, the here-and-now/big-screen "Lego Batman" appears a hardy spoof of the Caped Crusader's vigilant past and present, commencing with the Adam West version (and only fleetingly referencing the movie-serial phase, which is probably just as well, in this wealth of insults). The West incarnation does exude a lighter tone than other versions. However, as much as this film labels "Batman '66" as "weird" (therefore, not in touch with today's so-called "sensible" views), West's Bruce Wayne was never shy about slugging it out with thugs and of course, held a clear, moral compass: not so weird in my book. The West approach, evidently, is a big no-no in today's see-it-from-all-sides, teen culture, which the "Lego Batman" represents with maddening delight. (Also, keep in mind, if lightness-of-heart is what DC/WB believes Batman requires, then why the hell wasn't the excellent “Return of the Caped Crusaders” given a substantial, theatrical release?)


Much to our disadvantage, our Lego Batman (voiced by Will Arnett, doing a sort of cross between Christian Bale and Michael Keaton) isn't characterized as being square-to-the-point-of-being-cool or as a dark, tormented avenger, but rather as a misguided goofball, who when not tackling high-flying “crime”, leaps around his shiny cave, pluckin' his electric guitar. Hell, wet-behind-the-ears Robin is just as bad, depicted as an annoying, sniveling snit. (Make him predominately yellow and you have your basic, run-of-the-mill Minion.) Additionally, poor Alfred is a go-through-the-motions bore, rehashing the don't-be-a-loner spiel (like solitude was ever an obstacle for any prior Dark Knight). And then there's Batgirl (perhaps the most baffling caricature of all), who pompously poses as Commissioner Barbara Gordon until the film's climax and throughout the story finds Batman's techniques outdated, crude and unethical. Pardon my presumption, but I thought Batgirl/Gordon, despite any governmental status she might attain, would always stand strong by her parental mentors' methodology. 

(I'd also like to interject that I've seen Batman icons spoofed and quasi-altered in many fan films over the years, some of which can still be viewed on YouTube. Such examples are fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek tributes, rather like the new "Powerless" series, where the filmmakers respect the characters contained and the spoofing results in silly, celebratory nudges. There's a fine line between laughing along with characters and laughing at them; it only takes a slight tipping of the scales to achieve either degree, but when it happens, it's easy to see. Remember when the once dignified Space Ghost became a dumb-ass talk-show host?)


As it stands, "Lego Batman" enters its pretentious passages by swinging us back to yet another attempted Joker takeover and during this tedious stretch, presents hero and foe as indivisible, all of which is somehow Batman’s implied fault, since his world perspective is so skewed. Really? The very essence of this concept should insult any comic-book aficionado, particularly those who've embraced the Caped Crusader’s woeful past. I mean, what the hell’s Batman to do after all he's been through: play patty cake with Gotham's scum in hopes of keeping its citizens safe? 

As the film progresses, we begin to realize that Batman's foibles are really his disguised political failings, and according to this take, it's imperative to fault him for that. Politics (when expressed in a two-fisted way) and all villainous deeds are one and the same. Hey, it all comes out in the wash, kids. Pick a side, as long as it's the bad, and if the good somehow rises to the occasion, twist the variables so that good looks bad. Wow! Upliftin', ain't it?


To add insult to injury, there's a scene where Wayne greets his fan base with marked conceit, for no other reason than just to do it. Sure, he'll grant one an autograph, but dismiss one just as fast. Also, amazingly enough, Batman is made to look foolish whenever he successfully implements his sterling skills. Alas, the other Justice League members are handled in the same lame vein and yes, that includes Superman. (Get a load of the film's gut-wrenching JL anniversary-party sequence at the Fortress of Solitude, if you need proof.)


Throughout it all, we're reminded that teamwork is paramount, but only as long as no participant shines too far beyond the pack to accomplish any given task. Our heroes can excel, but they must also take a step back and talk things through as to how they'll "fight" the "bad" guys, and therefore the film's oh-so-clever banter rises the point of absurdity, not to mention insolence. The enormous harm that can be inflicted by the Joker; Harley Quinn; King Kong (don't ask)...Two-Face (voiced by the man who played him first, Billy Dee Williams) never resonates. Every character has a special point of view and the privilege to act as he/she pleases. There's no real evil in the world or at least nothing so bad that a wee chat or minor, action spree can't fix. Please... Now, none of this is actually verbalized in "Lego Batman", but it's still there, succinctly seeping from out the irritating seams.


"Lego Batman'"s self-ridicule is so stark, in fact, that it often feels masochistic. Whether it's referencing "Batman '66" or "Batman v Superman", the filmmakers handle each with the same holier-than-thou derision. After a time, the film smacks of propaganda, like those current crop of movies about decent folks who are made to look corrupt, even though they're not, financed by one indignant side or the other in hopes of blemishing some proven, iconic creed. In the same regard, the film reeks of mainstream-slanted news reports, which advocate bigotry toward clowns (and I ain't talkin' the Joker, Pennywise or Pogo type, either) and vilify such traditions as Halloween and Christmas as the pinnacle in pious ignominy. 


If the filmmakers despise the DC characters this much (though it's hard to believe that such talented, tested individuals would), why bother to make the damn film? Perhaps it's for no reason other than to appease the many anxious nit-wits out there who crave any chance to hero bash. (Just look at the baffling reviews of praise for this dreck, and you'll see what I mean.) The same practice occurs in schools these days (and on all academic levels, I might add), so why not in theaters? If we're going to smear George Washington, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan via rewritten history, why not do the same to one of most popular, by-the-book fictional champions of all time? Why should one aspire to be all one can be, when one can be Batman, who's in the wrong by doing right until he realizes that being wrong is right? Gee friggin' whiz!!!


I've feared that a Batman movie of this horrendous sort might surface someday. Maybe it's just as well it came in the form of clunky, computerized animation, but considering how much money the first, big-screen Lego movie collected, I suspect that this Dark Knight variant will gain even more, enchanting even more spineless, overgrown babies, who've been inspired by even more narrow-minded, wrist-wringing adults.  

The marketing on this one declares "It's good to be Batman", but as a lifelong fan, it was anything but good to sit through this deviation. Sure, some might say "Lego Batman" is little more than a throwaway, kiddie flick, with its heart set in innocent, play-set ideology, but I say it's blasphemous, no matter what dirty lens one views it through.