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Review: The Lego Batman Movie is a superhero film for the true fan

The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie manages to combine darkness and joy to perfection

Lego animation television shows, video games, films, and of course, toys, whether they were based on licensed entities (Star Wars, DC/Marvel Superheroes, you name it) or their own homemade properties (Ninjago or Chima) have been a success.

The empire has no doubt infiltrated most homes in one way, shape or form wherever youth or the young at heart are present.

But when Phil Lord and Chris Miller set out to make the Lego Movie, a 2014 film that uses hybrid computer animation to make it appear as if the entire feature was done in the style of stop motion animation, they drew all Lego aficionados together in the movie theaters to remind us all that everything related to Lego — and the creativity of building with the toys — is in fact, awesome.

The fascination, the charm and fun of the cubist-shaped blocks in the hands of the limitless creativity of the beholder made master builders of us all.

There were three things that came out of the Lego Film phenomena: an evil earworm of a song, the mere mention of which will bore a tireless loop inside your brain; a fast-tracked sequel; and a popular notion that made the round tables of comic book fandom of it being the best interpretation of Batman, voiced by Will Arnett.

Oh he was his usual dark, brooding self, but he was also a completely a self-centered, egotistical, death metal-loving glory hound that was incapable of feeling love for anyone but himself.

He wasn’t anywhere near as perfect as he imagined himself to be but, boy, did he steal every scene.

Lego Batman was a pure caricature that in real life regularly walks a fine line, but in the appearance of a Lego mini-figure was as adorable as it was hilarious.

So what bigger star and ego to support a “sequel” to the Lego Movie than to give Lego Batman his own story in his familiar world of Gotham City.

Now how were Lord and Miller going to attack a Batman movie that hadn’t been done before?

If we’re not all feeling a little bit of superhero film fatigue, we’re just not being honest with ourselves.

And as I mentioned, Lego has many hour-long instalments of Lego Batman fighting crime in direct-to-video films.

So this needed to be unique and there five writers credited for the script including Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington.

What they came up may not be as unique as the Lego Movie, but they might have made the best Batman movie ever. Fans will surely debate, but no one can argue that it’s certainly the most joyful one.

At the core of the Lego Batman Movie are Batman’s endless dance with the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), his needs for Robin (Michael Cera) outside the help he provides fighting crime, Alfred’s (Ralph Fiennes) loyal devotion to him amidst his laundry list of daily demands, and the stubbornness of the world’s greatest detective in refusing the help of Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) because of one very important reason. Yes, that’s it.

I said this isn’t your typical Batman film, but perhaps that’s why it works on multiple levels and, yes, there are still opportunities for Batman to save the day, but there’s no need to spoil the experience and regurgitate the plot, step-by-step.

The Lego Batman Movie manages to incorporate all of the elements of Batman done well in other media in one film but is also capable of doing so with joy as well.

There are Bat-vehicles up the wazoo, cameos of nearly his entire rogue gallery, and as kick-ass a Bat-Cave as any that has ever been, well, assembled — for the lack of a better description.

But this isn’t the Christopher Nolan Trilogy that’s so dark and bleak that hope, happiness and smiles don’t exist.

Even some of the mainstream storylines in the comics can be so relentless and stacked against Batman that there’s never a moment of levity.

In this film, an entire minute is devoted to Batman microwaving his dinner. Seriously. And the Lego builds are extraordinary, as expected, and will be coming to a store near you.

The essential Batman building blocks are there to ensure it’s a story born and bred in Gotham. But a film personifying what should be a traditional therapy session, focusing on the relationships Batman is forced to confront, is a ballsy move since that might have been a tough sell given the current direction of the DC Extended Universe.

Oh there are countless references and sight gags that will necessitate multiple viewings to catch all of them.

The more you know about Batman, in all of his incarnations, his dark evolution, and comic book storylines (and I do mean all), as well as the villainy of the entire Warner Brothers film vault, the more you will get a kick out of this film.

This amalgam of pop culture is really the only thing that ties it to The Lego Movie, but that doesn’t make it any less essential in your must-see movie list.


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