The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Genre: Superhero and Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

Release Date: February 10th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Chris McKay Actors: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Susan Bennett, Zach Galifianakis, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Hector Elizondo

 


 

“A

ll important movies start with a black screen …” growls Batman (Will Arnett) as he narrates the opening of the film, even before it actually begins. His commentary goes so far as to extend to the various production company logos that alternate onscreen. And then he provides a quote or two.

“You should be terrified!” insists the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) to a pilot who doesn’t seem fazed by the supervillain’s presence. After all, Batman always comes to save the day. So when the Joker’s latest plot to utilize an unnecessarily complicated bomb to destroy the infrastructure under Gotham City itself (which will cause everyone to fall into an underwater abyss) involves such recognizable baddies as the Riddler (Conan O’Brien), Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate), Scarecrow (Jason Mantzoukas), Two-Face (Billy Dee Williams), Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), Clayface (Kate Micucci), Poison Ivy (Riki Lindhome), Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, and more (including the hopelessly obscure Condiment King), Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) has only to press the button to the Batsignal.

In no time at all, the caped crusader bests the bevy of villains simply by being Batman – aided by some cool toys and a snazzy song that he sings while unleashing an arsenal of explosive gadgetry. His vehicle even has an “overcompensate” mode. And much to the Joker’s dismay, Batman admits that he doesn’t need an archnemesis, which brings his renowned enemy to tears. Later that day, after saving the world, Batman retires to his private island, where he watches a movie and dines … alone. Thanks to his butler’s thoughtful musing, Batman realizes that his greatest fear is being part of a family again. “I don’t talk about feelings, Alfred.”

Since this is the second computer-animated LEGO feature, the visuals don’t possess quite the same freshness that they did three years ago. But the humor is still sharp, and the references to countless other entities and properties are still innumerable. Extreme sarcasm surfaces with virtually every line (with contributions from a sizable cameo cast), while the editing and storytelling techniques tend to break the rules of continuity and sensibility for the sake of additional gags. Supplementing the action and comedy are numerous pop song montages (and former theme music riffs) and spontaneous dancing.

Also at work are family-friendly themes of responsibility, accountability, competitiveness, facing fears, teamwork, loneliness, stubbornness, and good parenting. The more mature idea of real-life heroes proving more useful than halloween-costumed, brooding, crimefighting vigilantes prevents the picture from being too childish – along with unhealthy behaviors relating to Batman’s feigned love of isolation and friendlessness, a few predilections for not wearing pants, and light romance. Also, a background character resorts to looting when panic takes hold of the city.

Although this is the LEGO Batman movie, Superman’s influences are quite pervasive in the plot. The Joker eventually unleashes an army of otherworldly creatures from the Phantom Zone, a space jail that houses the likes of King Kong (Seth Green), Voldemort (Eddie Izzard), Sauron (Jemaine Clement), some Gremlins, and even a few British robots. The adventure – as nonstop as it is – isn’t confined to the usual dark realism of Gotham. Instead, this tale is replete with supernatural forces and monsters from another realm. In many ways, it faces the same problems of the Avengers or the Justice League: when too many superheroes team up, the only opponent worth their time is something beyond any one character’s universe. Though the end result, full of dependable action and comedy, doesn’t top its predecessor, it’s nevertheless decent entertainment.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10