Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  The whole way to the theater I was signing a mash-up of "Everything is Awesome" and the 60s Batman theme song.

The LEGO Batman Movie – 4 out of 5

I would hazard a guess to say that everyone thinks LEGO is awesome and I would also take a stab that everyone loves Batman.  However, if there are people that contradict my two statements, they are clearly very negative and I don’t want them corrupting and darkening my small bubble of happiness.  When The LEGO Movie came out, I was absolutely enthralled with it and still think it is one of the best animated films ever produced.  One of the many fun parts of the film was the representation of Batman and it was only natural that Will Arnett would get another opportunity to voice the Dark Knight in the spin-off; The LEGO Batman Movie.  So, how was the overall experience and how well does the first spin-off work?  Pretty well, actually!

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Sadly, the best DC film that has come out in the last few years.

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Sure, it's easy to say that this film was better than
Batman v Superman but...well, it was.
Batman (Arnett) lives a solitary life as a hero.  He works endlessly to keep Gotham City safe from criminals but spends his off-time alone in his vast mansion with his butler Alfred (Ralph Finnes).  When Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) announces his retirement and that he will be replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson), she declares that she is going to move forward and work to create a city where Batman isn’t needed.  Before Batman can object, his arch-nemesis; The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), turns himself in after feeling rejecting by the World’s Greatest Detective when he refuses to admit the two are the greatest of enemies.  However, it’s revealed that The Joker is actually hatching a plan to gather some of the most evil villains in all of existence and this plan will require Batman to understand that he doesn’t have to fight evil alone and that he can get help from Barbara, Alfred and his newly adopted ward; Dick Grayson (Michael Cera).

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A Joker that makes me forget all about that awful Jared Leto Joker.

The LEGO Batman Movie wastes little time in getting up and going and the whole thing moves with blazing speed.  In a rapid-fire succession, the movie tosses an amazing amount of references to seemingly every incarnation and property Batman has ever existed in, hurls an endless supply of jokes and visual gags, and throws some incredible animation that keeps the same spirit of the film that it spun off of.  It’s a fast-pace, super fun ride that is absolutely perfect for the hardcore Batman fan and all the way to every single member of the family who are just kinda Batman fans.

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Such an odd coincidence that I wear the same thing when I'm lounging
about in my home.

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The bald piece for Alfred makes him look like
Benjamin Franklin.
The film also has an incredible cast with Will Arnett leading the pack exceptionally as Batman in another go-around.  Additionally, he’s backed up perfectly by Ralph Fiennes as Alfred (who feels so natural in the role), Rosario Dawson as Batgirl and Michael Cera establishing a new persona for Dick Grayson/Robin.  Each of these players is very fun in their own right and all come together very well as the Bat-family.  I also really enjoyed Zach Galifianakis as The Joker because he brought his own spin on the character that matches the tone of the film but never tries to replicate what others have done with the Clown Prince of Crime.  Finally, the film has an overabundance of talented comedic players taking the roles of such characters as Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Bane, The Riddler, Two-Face, Catwoman and a whole bunch of cameos from other properties that are far less Batman-y (including the Daleks from Doctor Who—one of my personal favorite fandoms to obsess over).  Actors like Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams (finally being able to portray Two-Face after all these years) and more pad the cast with so much talent that I found myself wanting the more background characters to get more lines just so I can hear some of my favorite players talk more.

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For example, when I heard that Jason Mantzoukas was the Scarecrow, I
really wanted that character to have a ton of lines.

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Ha ha!  It's funny and really weird at the same time!
As much as I enjoyed The LEGO Batman Movie, I honestly didn’t find it as enjoyable as The LEGO Movie.  My biggest issue I had with the film is that it moves really fast—almost too fast.  The plot rarely wastes time and it often feels like it is in a race to get to the finish line and keep the plot rolling along.  It moves so rapidly and at such a feverish pace that it became difficult for me to take in everything the film was throwing at me and kinda robbed the story of its emotion.  While the movie does do a good job at establishing how Batman is lonely and in denial over said loneliness, I found I had a hard time sympathizing with Batman over those feelings because everything is speeding along at a breakneck pace.  It felt really difficult to really engage with the heart and charm at the film’s core when it was too busy rushing to get to the next plot point.

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Had this been made during a different time, there would have been a
"It has a hemi" joke here.

While I did find that The LEGO Batman Movie had some problems with pacing, I ultimately really enjoyed it and laughed quite a bit.  The cast is fantastic, the animation looks terrific, the humor is endlessly hilarious and the references and Easter Eggs it throws in are fun to look for and take in (and this one is overflowing with them).  Overall, it’s a wickedly fun movie that can exist with its flaws and is one of those times where a spin-off felt justified and worked effectively well. 

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