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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie



Batman learns the meaning of family in The LEGO Batman Movie, an absurdly funny, balls-to-the-wall celebration on pretty much everything cool, funny and weird about Batman. Let's face it, there's a lot weird about Batman. Gleefully referencing over 75 years of Batman history, especially all of the previous live action Batman movies and the classic 1960s Batman TV show - all done in the inimitable LEGO style - The LEGO Batman Movie is a loving takedown of the Dark Knight and tries to lighten him up a little. As Batman (who hardly ever removes his cowl and identifies mainly as Batman - Bruce Wayne is just a guy who lives in Batman's attic), Will Arnett pushes his irrepressible voice to its gravelly max as he portrays the most unapologetically idiosyncratic version of the Caped Crusader we've ever seen.

Arnett's LEGO Batman is a swoll alpha-bro narcissist with unlimited billions to spend on the coolest gadgets ("Iron Man sucks!") to protect Gotham City from the scores of super villains trying to destroy it. Batman is totally into himself, but his self-absorbed swagger masks a lifetime of pain and fear of abandonment after (stop me if you've heard this one) his parents were killed in front of him when he was a boy. The LEGO Batman Movie completely understands that Batman, with his cars, toys, and his endless assortment of Bat-branded paraphernalia, is essentially a 10 year old's response to a violent world around him. LEGO is the perfect way to depict Batman's ridiculous excesses to compensate.

The LEGO Batman Movie's heart is in Batman growing to accept that he needs relationships in his life, be it with his long-suffering arch foe The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), who longs for the affirmation from Batman that he is Batman's greatest enemy, to Gotham's new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), whom Batman totally has the hots for, to his newly adopted son Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), a lonely orphan who needs Batman just as much as Batman needs him. However, Batman is a huge dick, and it takes him the entire length of The LEGO Batman Movie to stop abusing everyone in his life and accept that being Batman alone isn't as fulfilling as being the head of the Batman Family.

A lot of the fun of The LEGO Batman Movie comes from the free-for-all of characters throughout. Batman's entire rogue's gallery is in the movie from Bane, to The Penguin, to Poison Ivy, to Harley Quinn down to the deepest cut C-grade baddies like King Tut and Condiment King. The Justice League are in the movie, throwing a party in Superman's Fortress of Solitude (Batman's email invite must have gotten lost). Most fun of all are the scores of villains from outside the DC Comics Universe who The Joker recruits to help him destroy Gotham, including Lord Voldemort, Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, Daleks from Doctor Who, and Medusa and the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. (Incredibly, Ralph Fiennes provides the voice of Alfred, but he does not voice Voldemort. Eddie Izzard does the honors.) In the end, Batman becomes an even greater hero (not just because of his killer 9-pack abs) and learns that having the biggest Batcave is meaningless without people in his life to fill it with. Lobster Thermidor for everyone!