D.C. Finally Makes A Good Superhero Flick With “The Lego Batman Movie”
By Scott Kurland
Film: The Lego Batman Movie
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, and Zach Galifianakis
Director: Chris McKay
Congratulations D.C., you (unintentionally) finally did it. You made your first good superhero film in almost half a decade. Unfortunately for you, that film is an animated homage that pokes fun at one of your greatest creations: Batman. In the past, I’ve been very vocal about my love for the Marvel cinematic universe, and my hatred for the D.C. cinematic universe. I've suffered through one bad DC movie after another and it wasn't until I saw this week’s film “The Lego Batman Movie,” that I finally figured out what the D.C. cinematic universe is missing....but I’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at “The Lego Batman Movie,” shall we?
“The Lego Batman Movie” tells the tale of Batman (Will Arnett) who has, as he puts it, “aged phenomenally” over the last 90 years. Unfortunately, Batman is at a crossroads. He’s terrified to be a part of a family again or even be part of a team. He refuses to listen to the sage-like- wisdom of his butler-and-father-figure Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and he completely ignores his ward, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Things go from bad to worse for the caped crusader when the new Commissioner, Barbara Gordon, (Rosario Dawson) requests that Batman work with the police department to catch the Joker (Zach Galifanakis). However, the Joker may finally have plan up his sleeve to beat Batman once and for all.
Let’s get back to that thing virtually every D.C. film is missing…it's heart. No D.C. film since 2013 has had heart. Their idea of heart is brooding men with serious issues wearing super-suits. “The Lego Batman Movie” is filled with heart, and plenty of humor riding along in the sidecar like some exuberant sidekick. Director Chris McKay and the screenwriters have crafted such a loving homage to Batman in this film. This Batman is not only the Lego universe version of Batman, he’s also ALL the Batmen: Adam West, Keaton, Bale, Conroy and, ugh, even Clooney & Kilmer. What I liked the most about this film is how much fun it was. The animation is gorgeous and unbelievably Lego-like for a movie filled with CGI. It hits all the right notes in story and execution, which makes for the best D.C. movie in five years. I think that might be, in part, due to all the wonderful performances.
Two years ago, I wrote an editorial about the best actor to put on a cowl and play the Bat. I still stick by my statement that Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from the animated series, is the best Batman. Next to Conroy, I think Will Arnett might be the second best Batman. He’s equal combinations of West, Keaton, Bale, and Conroy. Arnett brings something different to the table . He shows that selfishness needed to be a vigilante Batman. This performance is like if Arnett’s George Oscar "G.O.B." Bluth from “Arrested Development” claimed the Batman throne and just went with it. In my opinion, Arnett is the best and only choice to be Lego Batman.
“The Lego Batman Movie,” is filled with so many great performances. Zach Galifianakis is the Joker we deserved; not the sorry excuse we got from Jared Leto. Michael Cera might possibly be the first successful version of Robin to ever grace the screen, and the most enjoyable at that. Cera turned down the role of Jacob in “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them,” to play Robin. Usually, I’d say that was a poor decision. This time however, I think it was the right move for him. Cera’s career has been in limbo the last few years, and it’s starting to take off again which is great because he’s so entertaining.
This film reminds you why voice actors are the hardest working actors in Hollywood. Ralph Fiennes as Alfred is spectacular; almost too perfect. And I can’t even put into words how good Rosario Dawson is as Barbara Gordon. Dawson is now one of the few actors to appear in both the Marvel and D.C. universe. Dawson’s Gordon is a strong, positive female role model. She’s also smart and vulnerable as well. Dawson is a great actress, but here she just knocks it out of the park. Not since “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” has there been a Batman film that has successfully been able to blend all the worlds of Batman together. With“The Lego Batman Movie,” we get the comic, television, and film world all in one film. “The Lego Batman Movie” is not just a great film for children, but it holds a valuable lesson for adults as well. Beneath all the capes and the cool cars this film shows us how important a family can be in a persons life and what a painful lonely life it is without one. “The Lego Batman Movie” is one of the best family films of 2017, and it deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Well done Warner Brothers, well done indeed.
REVIEW RATING: B+