Mar-29-2017

Reel Snippet – The LEGO Batman Movie

Synopsis: In the dark, brick-laden city of Gotham, only one person stands in the way of anarchy ruling the city… Batman (Bruce Wayne, also Will Arnett)! However, this stalwart heroism leaves him in a life of self-imposed solitude, much to the chagrin of his caretaker and butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and the dismay of the Joker (Zach Gallifanakis), who always thought he was special to Batman. But things get shaken up when newly appointed Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) starts taking steps to make Batman obsolete, young orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) gets adopted by Mr. Wayne before he knew what he was doing, and the Joker is planning something big to get Batman to finally notice him. It may be time for Batman to stop trying to fly solo and accept having people around him before Gotham is forever in ruins.

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie was extremely fun to watch and well-put together to boot. It’s an amazing tribute to everything Batman combined with the childlike ingenuity of The LEGO Movie. In short, something all ages can enjoy. In long (I don’t actually think that’s an actual term, but who cares), it’s a great spiritual successor to The LEGO Movie, if not an outright sequel, with really clever humor and insightful looks into the mythos of the Dark Knight.

Like its predecessor, it does clever tricks with its LEGO set pieces. For example, I really like the design they used for Clayface, a large collection of blocks with a load of single peg studs to recreate his textures. We also get some of the old tricks like the water and fire effects being LEGO pieces, which is still impressive given how much action is in the movie. There’s also a clever bit at the end concerning LEGO physics, but I don’t dare spoil it. All I’ll say is that it’s really funny.

The acting isn’t just good, it’s endearing. Will Arnett is quickly becoming a classic Batman voice, though it’s rooted firmly in the parody circuit. Zach Gallifanakas also knocks it out of the park as the Joker, carrying a manic tone while keeping a humorous bent. A lot of the guest villains are great too, like Eddie Izzard as Lord Voldemort and Jemaine Clement as the Eye of Sauron. But it’s Michael Cera who really surprised me; between this and Sausage Party, he’s been more charismatic in his voice roles than he ever had been in his live action roles. Also, if I didn’t know it was him, I never would have recognized him.

But like The LEGO Movie before it, the story is the selling point. The main focus is Batman’s self-imposed solitude being a defense against his fear of losing more family. It tugs at the heartstrings and doesn’t feel forced in the slightest. The Joker’s obsession with Batman being played like a romantic comedy is both touching and absolutely hilarious, especially since Batman seems to have more chemistry with the Joker here than he ever had with romantic leads in movies past. The whole plot is actually reminiscent of Star Kid’s Holy Musical, B@man, which I’m not complaining about because that’s an awesome production. Still, I can’t help wondering if Star Kid won’t start wondering when their royalty check is going to arrive.

Apart from a callback to one of The Killing Joke‘s more… infamous moments, this movie is outstanding. It’s funny, self-aware, and filled with references, blatant and obscure, to the Batman legacy. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the best thing DC puts out this year because this will be a tough act to follow for Wonder Woman and Justice League. It’s got enough charm to go around, so I have no problem believing that everyone will enjoy this.

Fun Tidbit: Rosario Dawson now joins Jason O’Mara as someone who is playing in both the Marvel and DC ballparks. Coincidentally, they both have similar situations — O’Mara plays Jeffrey Mace in the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and plays Batman in the DC animated movies, while Dawson plays Claire Temple in Marvel’s Netflix series and Batgirl in this animated movie.


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