By Jim Scroggs
February 14, 2017
@JHScroggs on Twitter and Instagram
In Brightest Day, In Blackest....no, that's not it. Look, up in the sky! It's a bird....nope, not it either. Ah, yes, I know...... I'm Batman. Two words in the last 30 years haven't had as much meaning as those but with another Batman movie, we have to compare it to the last one and even those before it. The Lego Batman movie is a love letter to those who love Bruce Wayne, Batman and anything to do with that universe. Let's take a look at what this iteration of the Caped Crusader has to offer
What I liked
The Joker and Batman are arguably the greatest adversaries in the last 100 years of literature/media. There are so many layers that have been expanded upon in comics, movies, video games and cartoons but this story between the two characters should be up there with some of the best Joker/Batman stories. Joker plans an elaborate heist involving a huge amount of villains from Batman's rogue's gallery and like usual, Batman finds away to take out almost everyone and saves the day to plenty of admiration from the citizens of Gotham City. Joker tries to get Batman to admit the gravity of their relationship but Batman shrugs it off and says he doesn't do relationships. He then goes back to Wayne Manor, to relax with his favorite movie, Jerry Maguire. I'm sure you can see the irony there. While attended the retirement party of Commissioner Gordon, Bruce meets the orphan Dick Greyson at the same time of being love struck by seeing Barbara Gordon and inadvertently agrees to adopt Dick. Barbara is named new commissioner, announces she wants to work with Batman and that really irritates the Caped Crusader. Joker crashes the party and comes up with a plan to turn himself, along with all the villains in to Arkham Asylum and that leads to Joker becoming very zen and using the Phantom Zone to get his biggest revenge on Batman. He uses all the villains in the Phantom Zone to take over Gotham City to break it in half. Yes, it's a slight retread of the previous plot but the amount of villains they got was quite impressive and I'll hit that later. There is an underlining theme of longing for a family, not wanting to get too close to people and is delivered in some very heartfelt monologues by Batman but that shouldn't be surprising considering how that has been portrayed in all media for the last 30 or so years. I think Seth Grahme-Smith did a fine job with the story and is a credited with working on the screen play but the directing by Chris McKay was really great and if that name doesn't sound familiar, he's worked on some episodes of Robot Chicken and other Adult Swim shows. The film does end on high note with Batman admitting to the Joker how much of a relationship they have and after thinking that Batman was going to win the final battle all himself, the Bat Family comes together to save the day.
The cast list is very random but very effective especially with some of the bigger roles. Will Arnett should be considered as a great Batman, even up with with Keaton, Conroy and Affleck. Rosario Dawson is great as Barbara Gordon, the same goes for Micheal Cera as Robin and Ralph Finnes as Alfred. I feel like some of the villains fell a bit flat like Harley Quinn. Jenny Slate played her and I wasn't looking for a complete Tara Strong impression but maybe a little more Brooklyn/New York accent would have helped. Zach Galifianakis as The Joker was fine but nothing mind-blowing. Some other surprising roles were Mariah Carey as Mayor McKaskill, Adam Devine as The Flash, Brent Musburger as a reporter and Conan O'Brien as The Riddler.
There are so many here that I might have to see it a second time to get a full spectrum of what was on screen. The first act is so fast with the jokes and the past Batman references that it was like an overload at one point but it was still fun. There's a Batman Beyond suit, Alfred dressed in the 1966 Batsuit, references to the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy, Batman v Superman, General Zod gets mentioned, but the big plan by The Joker included Daleks, Gremlins, Raptors, King Kong, Sauron and Voldemort so you definitely got your pop culture fix for this film.
Not so much
This is going to be short because there were only two things that I would have done to change it. I think Barbara Gordon should have already been Batgirl instead of naming her that and getting her suit at the end of the movie. There's a training montage at the retirement party of all her accomplishments and considering how ego driven Batman is, would he really have noticed another person dressed in a Batsuit in Gotham City? It could have been a nice reveal at some point during the film. I thought it was a hair too long, maybe 5 minutes cut from it and it could have flowed better but that's me being nit picky.
Considering how underwhelming the 2016 movie slate was, I couldn't think of a better way to start 2017 with something different and fresh. Yes, it's from the Lego universe, which we've seen but this is a movie for both kids and adults, in my opinion. The amount of easter eggs are enough to keep some older fans intrigued while the poppy, bright colors and solid story is something great for almost every kid. It's a great but simple movie, I definately recommend seeing it, maybe multiple times and oh yeah, Iron Man sucks.
The Lego Batman Movie is in theaters now