Good gravy, this is a darn good movie.
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble—LEGO Batman—stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham City, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.
I’ve been trying to figure this out for the last week. How can a LEGO-based Batman film actually out perform the DCU live-action line-up? Even if the movie is a comedy, the overall essence and structure of the DCU is firmly intact. You get a bevy of villains that are familiar, funny and fierce, as well as some humorous heroes that represent the soul of their serious selves, while making sure to point in the mirror once in a while and laugh. In short, it’s a comic book film that doesn’t have to carry the tone of Grave of the Fireflies to succeed, which is baffling when it comes to how the DCU is being shaped. It works.
Anyway, let’s get right into this film and break it down.
The first act starts with a hilarious take over of a unnecessary weapon-heavy plane by the ruthless and maniacal Joker. Destined to cause trouble for the city of Gotham, and his self-proclaimed rival Batman, Joker tries (and fails) to blow up Gotham’s electrical system. Thwarted by the Dark Knight and emotionally scarred by Batman’s refusal to confirm they have a love/hate relationship with each other, Joker finds his way back to his lair to plan his next scheme to get Batman back for his physical and emotional cruelty. In the meantime, Batman is reminded of his own loneliness through his butler Alfred and somehow accidentally adopts Dick Grayson to his family, thus magnifying is attitude that he doesn’t need anyone in his life (friends or adopted children). The first act ends with Joker crashing the retirement party of Jim Gordon, which also happens to be the same party where Barbara Gordon is announced as her father’s replacement.
The first act has a lot of smooth storylines flowing through it, as well as some funny, yet meaningful acting from the likes of Zach Galifianakis as the Joker and Will Arnett as Batman. Both actors do an endearing job of selling their broken selves and relationship. It’s actually touching to see Joker’s assumptions of Batman’s feelings for him broken during a mean spouting of words. In short, the first act is phenomenally well-written and acted, as well as does a perfect job of setting up the second act, which gets a bit more psychological than it should for a kid’s movie.
The second act begins with Joker storming the party and…giving up. He intends to do the opposite of what he has done for decades, which is not try to destroy Gotham. This is timed perfectly with Barbara Gordon’s arrival to get rid of Batman, whom she believes has done nothing for the city to get rid of crime (literally, he hasn’t gotten rid of crime and Barbara points that out). The lack of villains and Gordon wanting to take a more aggressive approach to Gotham’s baddies equals out to Batman not being able to do what Batman does best, which is to literally fight crime. After a series of mishaps, one involving the theft of the Phantom Zone gun that would put Joker away for good, Batman finds himself behind bars for ‘taking care of’ Joker.
The second act is incredibly intelligent. There is some actual thought to Joker’s plight and more so than I have seen in previous films involving the Joker. His plan is solid and justified by the result of it. Again, it’s intelligent writing and it works for this story. The Phantom Zone portion of act two is kind of dark. It’s also kind of sad, but it does set up the third act of the film quite well.
While I won’t go into the third act, because I don’t want to ruin it, I will say that it tiptoes to the edge of ‘too long’. If the humor wasn’t well timed, and the acting solid backing for the humor, then I would have an issue with the third act. As it stands, the story wraps perfectly and the characters are treated wonderfully at the end, as everyone gets their just desserts.
Overall, The LEGO Batman Movie is a well-written and very well-acted movie that outshines past DCU attempts. It has a perfect three-act balance that is tough to rival, as well as fantastic acting that shows the characters were firmly bought into. Definitely a must-have, even if you haven’t seen any previous LEGO films.
As for special features, you’ve come to the right place. There are a TON. Check out the goods:
· Original Animation Shorts
o Dark Hoser
o Batman is Just Not That Into You
o Cooking with Alfred
o Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That?
· The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short
· Deleted Scenes
o One Brick at a Time: Making the Lego Batman Movie
o Inside Wayne Manor
o Brick by Brick: Making of the LEGO Batman
o Behind the Brick
o Me and My Mini Fig
o Comic Con Panel
· Rebrick Contest Winners
· Film Trailers
· Lego Life Trailer
· Social Promos
o Follow Me Online
o Don’t Skip
o Happy Holidays Jingle
o Batsby New Year’s
o Team Cutdown
· Director and Crew Commentary
Lots of features to extend the experience, good folks. Especially enjoy the shorts included and the six featurettes on the creation of the film itself. Solid stuff.