Monday, February 13, 2017

Lego Batman review

As the movie poster says, be yourself unless you can be Batman. I think it should go one step further and say be Batman unless you can be Lego Batman. I have been anticipating this move since the original Lego Movie. I remember thinking to myself that I wanted more Lego Batman and was rewarded for that hope when the movie was revealed to be in production.

Let's be honest, I don't believe any of you are on the fence about this film. Likely you want to go see it but just haven't had the time and so you're reading reviews in the hopes it will tide you over. Don't worry, Lego Batman made 55.6 million over the weekend so it should be in theatres for a while.

The plot of the film, without spoilers, is Batman coming to grips with his loner nature and learning to accept friends. Batman is the perfect character to explore this, even in a kids movie, because he is a guy that became a vigilante after losing the people most important to him. He is Batman to make sure nobody has to suffer the same loss he did. As the trailer featured Alfred, Robin, and Barbara Gordon it doesn't spoil the movie to say that Batman's relationships with these characters and his need/want to be a loner is the focus of the film.

Now, as serious as all that is, and I admit it gets really touching in the third act, this movie is funny. Very funny. There are tons of jokes that go from chuckle to guffaw but the major humor for me is the TONS of references and easter eggs they dot throughout the film. So many that I want to go back and see it again just to see what I missed the first time (though I want to see it again just because I had such a good time watching it). And they dig deeeeeeeep for some of these. If you don't want these spoiled for you I will wrap up the review by saying that Lego Batman is just a good 'ol time at the movies where you will laugh and smile and enjoy being a kid and a nerd. I give it my full support as a great film and if you loved The Lego Movie you will only find more to love with Lego Batman. To me it's the best DC film since 2008's The Dark Knight.

Now scoot, I have references to list!

*Reference, plot, and Easter Egg spoilers*

This movie digs deep into Batman and popular culture to bring the funny. As I'm sure you'd suspect, most of these are going to fly right over the kids in the audience but for us older folks there is a funnier depth underneath the movie that will bring you TONS of delight.

Now first are the obligatory Batman references to the previous live-action Batman films. Lego Batman exists with the knowledge that Batman has been around and fighting crime since 1939 ("and still look fabulous"). There is a teaser trailer out there that even highlights all the films as "phases" Batman went through, from Adam West to Ben Affleck. A montage of images at one point shows the look of Batman as far back as his first appearance and even the 1940's Serials with Lewis Wilson. In scenes inside the Batcave you can quickly notice the various batmobiles that have existed through the years as another nod to Bat-history.

As you could suspect, the 60's Batman with Adam West gets a fair share of exposure in the film. Not only is there the small live action clip, but they reference the bat shark repellant from the 1966 film in what first feels like a throw away gag but comes up again in the 3rd act. References also include Egghead, King Tut, and others into the gang of Bat-villains trying to destroy Gotham. One particularly satisfying move in the third act is when Alfred puts on a Batman costume, an exact replica of the one Alfred puts on in a handful of episodes to deter people from thinking Bruce Wayne is Batman. The Alfred costume even displays a white pencil mustache on the cowl. Other notable Batman references are to the 1989 Michael Keaton movie and involve "the balloons and Prince music" and a more subtle reference to Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent portrayal. In Lego Batman, Two-Face is black and sounds exactly like Lando Calrissian, something that kinda made me squeal with joy because in a different universe we would have had a Keaton film fighting a Williams' Two-Face.

Other fun references include The Wonder Twins and their monkey Gleek, Apache Chief, and Samurai are present at a party Superman throws at the Fortress of Solitude. In the third act of the film the Joker breaks an assortment of villains out of the Phantom Zone, including: The kraken and Medusa from Clash of the Titans, gremlins from the movie Gremlins, Agent Smith from the Matrix, Dracula, Voldemort from Harry Potter, Jaws (whose fate clashes with the previously mentioned shark repellant), Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, The Wicked Witch of the West and her flying moneys, King Kong, Dalek's from Dr. Who (in the movie they say "British Robots....ask your nerd friends"), and even Sauron as the black tower with the lidless eye. At one point in the epic fighting, Robin heads out onto Batman's jet to fight the Gremlins with Gymkata:

When this happened I was overwhelmed with satisfaction that the reference game was over 9,000. A real mic drop moment.

There are dozens more I could list, but these I mentioned where the highlights for me. Oh, and the film references a couple of Micheal Jackson songs (for no apparent reason, not that I minded), primarily Man in the Mirror.

All in all the film is just a fun, light-hearted, pop-culture glee fest and you will be doing yourself a major favor by going to check it out. I defy you to make it through the film and not at least smile, much less laugh. And if you have seen it, what references did I miss that you think were worth pointing out? Comment below and let me know!

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