Here’s a truth that may be rather surprising to most of you: I haven’t been terribly excited for this movie. I like the LEGO brand and I of course like Batman, but I was only adequately entertained by 2014’s The LEGO Movie, whereas it seemed the rest of the planet was absolutely enamored with it. I’ve actually found the LEGO video games to be wittier and more entertaining, and felt that the deeper meaning in the film came off as too forced in a franchise that isn’t known for that sort of thing.
But, come on, it’s not like I wasn’t going to see The LEGO Batman Movie, right? I’ve actually seen every theatrical Batman movie ever released in the theater (the old serials don’t count as a movie). I was able to watch a screening of 1966’s Batman: The Movie at a comic convention (along with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm), a few years ago, so that completed the “collection”, so to speak. I can’t throw it all away, now! Honestly, though, even after feeling relatively disappointed by the first LEGO movie, there’s just something about the LEGO brand that makes it irresistible, so I held on to hope for a fun time at this movie.
As far as the actual viewing goes, I’m not sure where to begin. Okay, I’ll just say this: The LEGO Batman Movie is a Batman story that can only be told through LEGO. When I say that, I’m not only referring to the physicality that takes place, but the storyline surprises, as well. And there are a lot of surprises – all of them fun. Getting right down to it, the entire movie is nothing but fun!
There are two central conflicts in the film. One such conflict regards Batman and his wannabe-allies. After losing his parents, the Dark Knight is hesitant to get close to anyone else for fear of losing them, as well. This fear of attachment extends to the Joker, who desires nothing but to be hated by Batman. But Batman won’t allow himself to feel anything at all – including hate. So, he refuses to hate the Joker. Their relationship is likened to a romantic one throughout the narrative with hilarious results and a lot of great lines.
For me, that might be the most surprising aspect of this film: it’s a movie that’s marketed as a straight comedy and it then follows through by actually being funny. Last year, the funniest films weren’t even advertised as being pure comedies! In fact, I found LEGO Batman to be far funnier than the trailers and TV spots suggested.
Speaking of the marketing for this film, it does a wonderful job of not giving anything away. All of the surprise cameos, brilliant one-liners (the password to access the Batcave is laugh-out-loud genius), and dozens of Easter eggs were completely unspoiled. They even went so far as to change the entire location of one scene in the trailer so as to avoid giving away the storyline development while still showcasing the dialogue that they desired to showcase. I find that remarkable and enormously admirable.
This is the fifth 2017 movie I’ve seen (ugh. I’m slacking and I have to do better.). I have enjoyed the others to various degrees, but three of them have been sequels to cult franchises that are only really going to appeal to the already-converted. And then Split was enjoyable and featured a pair of excellent performances but is easily misinterpreted by a certain brand of viewer. The LEGO Batman Movie is the first true mass-appeal, all-audiences film of the year. It’s appropriate for everyone on every level. Kids will love the animation, action, and silliness. Adults will love the quick (and they are quick!) one-liners that aren’t inappropriate for the kids, but just over their heads.
And Batman fans? I mean you real Batman fans? Those of you who love any and every incarnation of the character? This movie is your playground. The characterizations are true to all, just in an outside-the-box way (much like the CW’s new “Riverdale” series, but with a complete reversal in tone when compared to that particular show). And every corner of the character’s history is touched upon. Every movie, every TV series, The Dark Knight Returns, the 1940s black-and-white serials – it’s all there. There’s even a jab at the film’s box office competition for this weekend, Fifty Shades Darker. But you have to pay attention! Much of this is super-fast and, sometimes, even a subtlety in the background. So, don’t blink! Blinking takes away the fun! This movie is a should-see for general audiences, but it is a MUST-see for true Batman lovers!
I have to say that The LEGO Batman Movie exceeded every expectation I could have had. I’m pretty sure I smiled for the entire duration of the film. It’s clever, inventive, fast-paced, visually dynamic, and has just enough heart to give it depth without becoming ham-fisted about it. I actually enjoyed it so much that I think I might have to give the original LEGO Movie another chance. Sure, the two films have different directors and writers, which might be what makes the difference. But maybe I was just in a bad mood when I saw the first one. So, I’ll probably re-watch it, soon. And while I’m doing that, get out to the theater and support this movie! Take the kids, the nieces and nephews, the parents, the grandparents, the neighbors’ kids (ask permission. Unless you think it’s better to ask forgiveness? At least leave a note.), and everyone else! The world needs a good time, right now, and The LEGO Batman Movie provides it for everyone!
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