Review: The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) — Surprisingly awesome

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The LEGO Batman Movie

Movie review

This is a spinoff of the very successful The LEGO Movie (2014) with its voice actors reprising their respective roles and its co-animation director, Chris McKay, returning to direct for the first time in his career. Initially, after watching its trailers, I was concerned that The LEGO Batman Movie was going to be a cashgrab filled with cheap, homophobic gags. Thankfully, this LEGO stop motion-like 3D-animated superhero comedy turned out to be surprisingly awesome.

The story is basically about Bruce Wayne / Batman (Will Arnett) trying to use his “accidentally” adopted son, Dick Grayson / Robin (Michael Cera), to stay relevant in the world after stopping The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and all the other Gotham villains seemingly for the very last time. Newly appointed Police Commissioner Barbara Gordan (Rosario Dawson) attempts to work together the reluctant Batman to stop all bad guys permanently and legally. The obliviously egoistic and lonesome Batman, however, wishes to keep things as they are and refuses to accept anyone into his life or to even work closely with them.

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When one of the first lines of the film is Batman saying, “What, Superman? Come at me, bro,” you can almost tell immediately that it’s going to be a fun, hilarious ride. Apart from being a parody of these D.C. characters that doesn’t take itself seriously, the film’s humour is made of plenty of superhero, pop culture and LEGO references at a very fast pace. Sometimes they are so fast and subtle that I doubt I caught them all. And sometimes they are even rapped and sung by Batman. What surprised me a lot is how directly they also take jabs on Marvel’s characters, and also the feature of non-superhero villains as the antagonists of the film. Will Arnett’s performance as LEGO Batman’s voice hits the spot once again, Michael Cera’s Robin is adorable and the rest of the star-studded cast did just fine as well. The characters all look absolutely adorable… except probably Barbara / Batgirl.

On top of all that, the film has a strong theme of change, family and parents’ influence/impact on children with the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror” as the opening reference. It’s effectively purposeful and hearfelt — heck, it even managed to make me feel sorry for The Joker in the very beginning. But all deliberately silly at the same time — but all deliberately silly at the same time.

The only problems I had with the film is it forcefully featuring the pointless LEGO Master Build ability from their LEGO video games, the lack of involvement of the other D.C. superheroes (all Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, etc. do only have cameo appearances in the first act), and the lack of variety and twist that The LEGO Movie had on a larger scale. But despite these issues, The LEGO Batman Movie is still highly entertaining, lively, loud and very self-aware animation that both kids and grownup could enjoy.

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Post-credit scene? None.

Malaysian censorship: I doubt anything was cut. Very family-friendly. Even The Joker is treating Harley Quinn too well here.

To watch in 3D? Seen it in IMAX 3D and didn’t felt that, visually, there probably wouldn’t have been much of a difference if I watched it in ordinary 2D.

Verdict: Perhaps the best D.C. superhero film on big screen since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).

Rating: 4 / 5

lego batman movie poster malaysiaBased on: D.C. Comics characters and LEGO toys

Genre: Animated superhero comedy
Running Time: 105 minutes
Director: Chris McKay
Screenwriters: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Cast: Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, and Mariah Carey

Malaysia Release Date: 9 February 2017
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: Warner Animation Group, DC Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment

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