Monday, February 13, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie

LEGO Batman Movie isn't as good as The LEGO Movie, but let's face it, what is?

The first sort-of-followup to Phil Lord and Chris Miller's surprising licensed masterpiece takes a lot of the same cues from the original - manic action, broad comedy, clever comedy, pop culture satire, and heartfelt sincerity. And it succeeds on almost all fronts.

For obvious reasons, the centerpiece of the LEGO Batman Movie is, well, Batman. Which means both Will Arnett's emo bad boy Batman and also the very idea of Batman, particularly the Batman of TV and film and the current incarnation of the DC Cinematic Universe. The movie can barely swing a Catwoman without hitting a reference to one or more previous incarnations of The Dark Knight, and that's ignoring the fact that Batman spends pretty much the ENTIRE MOVIE in the ridiculous armored light up eye cowl from Batman Vs. Superman.

The stunt casting is so good it makes you wish the parade of Batman villains were given more screen time. I love that Kate Micucci is Clayface, but the movie doesn't give me any indication of why they did that, because Clayface says three things and I think they're all yells. The exception? Doug Benson's Bane, the most comedy-nerd casting in history.

In an odd choice that works, the main villains of the movie aren't the three dozen Bat-villains, who mainly take up the first half of the movie, but a smaller assortment of classic villains from licensed (Voldemort), public-ish domain (The Kraken), and just-skirting-legality (Daleks, referred to only as "British robots"). Because this group of villains is smaller, they get more screen time, so Jemaine Clement's Sauron, for example, gets a lot to do.

Where the movie sort of stumbles is in the heartfelt redemption story of Batman, as he goes from being a tortured loner to someone who can trust Robin, Barbara Gordon, and Alfred as part of a family again. Not being as deft as Lord and MIller are with heartfelt emotion in the midst of insanity is not an insult. It's just the natural order of things. But it does drag down the last 10-15 minutes of the moview a bit.

Still, 85% as good as The LEGO Movie is a very good movie indeed.

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