In 2014 there were two movies that came out and inspired sequels that I believed would be along my favorite movies of 2017. The first was John Wick and the obvious follow-up being John Wick: Chapter 2. I was a huge fan of the first entry and a big fan of the second, they leaned into the self-awareness a little more than I would have preferred. The second was The LEGO Movie and it’s spin-off The LEGO Batman Movie. The first iteration was very creative in how self-aware it was whereas the second was not very self-aware at all.
The LEGO Batman opens with Batman (Will Arnett) taking down all of the villains without much effort. During this initial fight, he happens to tell Joker (Zach Gaifinakis) they are not mortal enemies. This causes Joker to re-evaluate his purpose and come up with a bigger plan. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne meets newly elected Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) … and happens to accidently adopt Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) while falling in love with Barbara. Now Batman must learn to be part of a family while defeating Joker.
I would give it 7 “lobster thermidores” out of 10.
There is a tie between my two favorite things from this movie: the Batman lore they poured in and the voice acting decisions.
When I say they poured in Batman lore, I mean they managed to fit in several decades of Batman history into less than two hours. They managed to reference every Batman movie and tv show while tying them into the overarching story. The bomb and shark repellent from the Adam West Batman movie got to make an appearance. There were villains from the golden age of DC and the 60’s Batman show that many people have forgotten after the darker / serious incarnations. Some examples are King Tut, The Condiment King, Polka Dot Man, Eraser, and Egghead to name a few. On the topic of villains; some not so silly ones who made appearances that the non-informed might not know include the Mutant Leader from The Dark Knight Returns, Calendar Man from The Long Halloween, Hugo Strange, or ManBat.
For the voice talents, there are two in particular that made me giddy: Billy Dee Williams as Two Face and Doug Benson as Bane. Billy Dee Williams played Harvy Dent in Michael Keaton’s Batman movies but never got to play the alter ego. My favorite voice choice was Doug Benson playing Tom Hardy who played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. The mumbly recreation was spot on … and I enjoy almost all imitations of that version.
When The LEGO Batman Movie worked, it worked fantastically! However; when it didn’t … it was horribly boring. They beat the friends are family theme into the ground. They then dug a bigger hole and beat it further into the ground. When the movie treats everything as a comedic moment and doesn’t take anything serious; the serious moments are lost. This happened a few times near the end and just fell flat.
This entry is easily the best DC comics movie since The Dark Knight. This even ended up being a better Suicide Squad movie than Suicide Squad. If you liked The LEGO Movie, then you will like this entry. It was missing the surreal aspect, but kept the same parody styled comedy. I would recommend catching it in theatres, it doesn’t hurt that this is also the only decent animated/family movie for a while.
My favorite parody movie will always be The Last Action Hero. It poked fun at the action genre as a whole and was still able to perform as an action movie. There were even several Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes made by Arnold Schwarzenegger!