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The LEGO Batman Movie

By my count, there have been 8 Batman movies since Michael Keaton donned the cowl in 1989. In addition to Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, and now Ben Affleck have all played the dark knight. Do we really need another Batman movie?

If the new movie stars Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as the caped crusader, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) as the Joker, and is made entirely of tiny plastic bricks, the answer is resoundingly “yes!”  Yes, we do need this movie, because it sends up all those other movies, as well as a million comic books (DC hardly has a title these days that isn’t in some way connected to the world’s greatest detective) and that campy TV show in the ’60s (which also produced a movie.) Along the way, LEGO Batman pokes fun at just about every entry in our current superhero cinematic craze, and most especially the tendency of certain directors to think that the grimmer the characters and the darker the movie, the better it is. (Anyone seen Logan yet?) This particular bubble really needed to be burst.  Thank God LEGO was on the scene to burst it.

The plot revolves, of course, around the relationship between the Joker and Batman.  After yet another defeat, the Joker is crestfallen to learn that Batman doesn’t consider him his arch enemy — Batman likes to fight around, he’s never really had an arch enemy, he’s not ready for that kind of commitment, he doesn’t like the Joker, but wouldn’t go so far as to say he HATES him, etc. So Joker launches a nefarious plan to round up all of Batman’s various and sundry supervillains (including Calendar Man, Condiment King, and Cat… Man?) and turning them in to commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson,) thus eliminating Batman’s reason to exist.

Along the way, Batman (well, Bruce Wayne) sort of accidentally adopts Dick Grayson, but then thinks he might be useful as a sidekick/sacrificial lamb Batman sends into dangerous situations ahead of him. But over the course of two hours and three acts, a makeshift family starts to form around Batman, who has been a loner (and a jerk) since the tragic death of his parents. It’s a testament to director Chris McKay’s skill that he’s able to give this plot emotional weight in the midst of all the silliness.

LEGO Batman doesn’t quite measure up to the insane brilliance of The LEGO Movie, but that’s a really high bar. Both movies toss off jokes so fast you can barely keep up with them, but this time around, the pace feels frenetic and occasionally forced; it wears you out a little, partly because not as many jokes land as solidly as they did in The LEGO Movie. Nonetheless, it’s fun, entertaining, exciting and even a little tear-jerky, maybe. And it’s a welcome tonic after all the darkness-and-gloom that has dominated superhero movies for so long.  I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a hell of a lot better than the last Batman movie.



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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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