There are a lot of genre movies I am looking forward to in 2017.
Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
But there is one guy who makes movies that I am always super pumped on. And that guy is Batman. But this time it is Lego Batman and I could not be happier.
2016 was a rough year for Batman. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly made a lot of money (we now live in a world where 872.7 million is dismal) but not enough to make the people at Warner Bros. as happy as they thought there going to be. Plus critics pretty much smashed it. In the end, it was not met with the open arms that everybody who was apart of creating it had hoped. Then came Suicide Squad 5 months later. Same story, little bit more of a win financially considering it was filled with C and maybe D grade characters. But it still had an overall negative cloud surrounding it. And our boy Batman was in that too. Barely.
Now with all the negative press surrounding his solo outing in 2018 (maybe) we needed a bit of a pick me up. Or shall I say brick me up. ZING.
The Lego Batman Movie is dream for any Batman fan. We live in a time where you can view Batman through a lens of humor. Not in a way that is mockingly (1997's Batman & Robin) but with love all over it. And this film loves Batman. The evidence is all over the place. I couldn't even count how many Batmobile homages were in the Batcave, but I know they were all there. And that is what matters.
Everything you love about Batman is celebrated here. Every film is represented in some form. The Batman Returns Penguin, Billy Dee Williams' Two-Face (my only complaint is he was not in it more!) Little throw away lines people may not get are there ("Let's get nuts!") Repeat viewings are going to be necessary to get all of it. There is so much to digest on the screen.
The plot revolves around the idea that Batman is awesome. Everybody in Gotham thinks so, and he does as well. But when he is alone, all he does is watch sappy romantic comedies. That is the best part of the Lego version of the Dark Knight. He is a love-able self absorbed jerk, and It is so much fun to watch. His password to the Batcave? Ironman Sucks. Imagine this being the real thought process behind your favorite iteration of Batman. You know the next time you view The Dark Knight you will imagine Christian Bale self monologuing in the Tumbler about how cool his life is. At least you will now. Thank me later friends. I love this concept and the team behind the Lego films have a really fun voice in the world they are creating.
In the midst of dealing with his ego, Batman also has to deal with the Joker coming to terms with Batman's rejection of his arch enemy status. Batman see's even Superman as much more his adversary. Batman can't even seem to bring himself to tell the Joker he hates him. Which breaks the Joker's heart. So the Joker plans a scheme to trick Batman into putting him into a very powerful position. All while Batman adjusts to adopting young Dick Grayson. But he forgot about that, again he was too busy being self absorbed.
Returning to the role of Batman from the brilliant The Lego Movie is Will Arnett. He is now part of the cinematic Batman pantheon. His Batman voice is perfect. I almost want a live action version of him as Batman, because why not? I mean if Affleck walks...jk. But really, his Batman is a joy to watch and I hope they make more of these with him.
Michael Cera becomes a Lego as Robin/Dick Grayson. "Most of the kids call me Dick." This was the one character I was leery of. I like the character of Robin and I felt that this portrayal of him would set back the years of legitimate character building he has had in print. But his part serves the story well. And he really is funny. Plus an Arrested Development reunion is a good thing!
Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon was great as well. Not whiney or squeaky, Rosario's Bab's is ready to take over the role of Commissioner from her dad as he enters retirement. And she is ready! She even went to Harvard For Police! Batman is in love with her, but she wants to team up with Batman, not date him. Rosario has so much geek cred. From DC animated movies, to her job as Claire Temple on the Marvel-ous competions Daredevil, she is busy living that comic convention circuit life.
The Joker was portrayed by Zach Galifianakis in a much more subdued way as he has been in previous incarnations, which actually works well in the film. His craziness is normal to him. He really is not over the top in any of the scenes I can remember. It was nice to not have somebody doing a Mark Hamill impression in this one.
Rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth, who has the british charm needed for that role. And making their 3rd appearance in a film is Siri as 'Puter. She nailed it. Quick side note, all Lego brick people use iphones. Funny product placement.
Chris McKay did a fantastic job with this film. His background in Robot Chicken prepared him well for this project. The Lego platform works with his voice and to be honest is a really good comedic outlet for film. If you really pay attention, there are some deep cuts there. He took advantage of the absurdity of the universe to make you laugh and was able to make your heart swell too I would love to see McKay tackle another DC property in the future that requires humor and heart. I hope he can do that...quickly.
The Lego Batman Movie is a great follow up to 2014s The Lego Movie. It does not have as much heart as it's predcessor, but it does leave you with some feelings. This dad may have shed a Lego shaped tear toward the end of the film. The Lego universe is starting to build into something fun for WB. The next film is The Lego Ninjago Movie based on another popular Lego brand, and that trailer seemed to have the same humor and fun you are now getting from that brand.
The Lego Batman Movie is the Batman movie we need and deserve right now. You can tell that this was a labor of love. We all laugh at Batman because we love him. And now, hopefully Batman can learn to love back.