Saturday, February 18, 2017

'The Lego Batman Movie' Makes Nonstop Batman Jokes and References

2014’s The Lego Movie was surprisingly awesome.  And one of the best things about it was its brilliant, satirical depiction of Batman, fantastically voiced by Will Arnett.  Back then, I thought it would be great if an entire movie could be dedicated to the character.  I guess many felt the same way since a spin-off movie was indeed made – The Lego Batman Movie.

For this movie to work effectively for someone, it’s required that he or she has watched The Lego Movie, has good knowledge with the Batman mythos and franchise, and has some familiarity with some other non-Batman-related properties.  This is the only way for someone to enjoy this Master Builder, self-important version of Batman, as well as the torrent of jokes and references that the movie makes, which spans years of comics, TV shows, cartoons, and movies.  (My favorite of which is the parody exploration of Batman and Joker’s unique dynamic.)
The Lego Batman Movie is hilarious.  For long stretches, it’s like a “machine gun” spewing gag after gag, joke after joke nonstop.  However, in this regard, it sometimes hits, sometimes misses.  Yes, there are tons of smiles, chuckles, and laughs to be had.  But there are also some awkward, tiresome times when it feels it’s just trying too hard to be funny.  It doesn’t exactly have the smooth-flowing comedy and evenness of tone that The Lego Movie had.

Also, The Lego Batman Movie feels a tad bloated due to an overabundance of characters.  The Lego Movie was also packed with characters, but the presence of each one of them is purposeful, either to the narrative or a gag.  While it’s always fun to see cool cameos, there’s always the chance that they can become distractions when mishandled.  Unfortunately, The Lego Batman Movie has spans where this has been the case.

The stop-motion animation style looks fantastic in general.  But in some dense action sequences, I felt it gets a bit messy, making me prefer the animation style of the direct-to-video Lego Justice League animated movies.
But for all its negatives, its positives compensate for them and then much more.  Through its parodying of the typical ultra-competent, grim characterization of Batman, it also serves as a brilliant critique of the fan-favorite character’s overlooked flaws.  And its main arc amusingly and heartwarmingly restates the truth that long-time Batman fans have always known: Batman may be the embodiment of utter badassery, but he’s at his strongest when he’s not alone, most especially when he has his Family at his side.

The Lego Batman Movie might not have reached the awesomeness of The Lego Movie, but it’s still another terrific installment to a flourishing franchise.

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