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The LEGO Batman Movie - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The LEGO Batman Movie
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B
Animation: B+

I'll give it this much: The LEGO Batman Movie breathes new life into a franchise that has been flatlining for the better part of a decade, and does a better job at making Batman fun in unique ways than any film since The Dark Knight. This is especially impressive when you consider it's the tenth Batman feature film in the past thirty years -- and that's not including Batman: The Movie from 1966.

And that's just the "Batman" context. This is a combination of two different franchises, the other one much younger -- and The LEGO Batman Movie is also a quality step up from the relatively fun but definitively overrated The LEGO Movie (2014). What I said then holds here as well: kids will love it. You can take that to the bank. God knows Warner Brothers Pictures will. Although I suppose I should note that for a 7 pm showing on Saturday night of opening weekend, Cinerama had a surprisingly large number of empty seats.

So anyway: Kids will love it. Adults and kids alike who love LEGO will love it. Adults and kids alike who love Batman will love it. They are the ones for whom this movie is made. For them, it's a home run. Adults especially will love the barrage of pop culture references that will fly over the otherwise delighted kids' heads, especially the countless references to every single other iteration of Batman movie that has come before. The humor even has a subtext: Batman has been a tad over done. This movie's delights are infused with the meta notion that the film makers know and understand the spotty history of this superhero's onscreen depictions.

So how about everyone else, then? Should everyone who could take or leave Batman or could take or leave LEGO run out to see this movie? Probably not. It's an objectively fun movie, yes, but it still has a niche audience. I'll grant that those indifferent to what this movie promises to offer will likely find themselves surprisingly entertained by it. But there is a certain tediousness to it as well.

Consider the action-packed opening sequence. Is this a commentary on the incomprehensible action that opens far too many other superhero movies these days? Perhaps. Except that even in The LEGO Batman Movie, it's too much, and it overwhelms both the humor and the narrative. The LEGO Batman Movie is filled with gags, but their frequency is uneven, and their impact is minimal when you'd think it should be greatest: as soon as the movie starts. To be fair, Will Arnett's voice-over during the logos that start the movie before the opening sequence even begins are kind of funny, as he talks directly about what we're all looking at.

And Arnett, of course, is a great LEGO Batman. Michael Cera is perfectly cast as LEGO Robin. Zach Galifianakis is an okay choice as a weirdly insecure Joker, although more than once the character comes across as eerily similar to "Syndrome" from The Incredibles (2004), a relatively bland villain in an otherwise spectacular movie.

Where The LEGO Batman Movie impresses most is in its cinematography and production design, everything made of LEGO blocks and LEGO action figures. It's a relief that it pulls back from the previous LEGO Movie's conceit of all the action having been just part of some kid's imagination as he plays with his toys -- or at least, it's not so pointed about it. This time, the movie doesn't go out of its way to make you think about that, but makes it easy to do so if you want. I thought of it every time a group of characters -- hero or villain -- jumped up and down and yelled "Yaaaay! in unison. Even the so-called "bad guys" have childlike charms, which is deliberate.

It may be that I'm just a little jaded from watching too many movies too frequently for too many years. For the people who love this movie, it's easy to see why they would. I just could never go that far with my language -- love. I did not love this movie. I certainly didn't hate, or even dislike it, though. It's very clever a whole lot of the time, but there were periods where I felt like I'd had enough. Few movies that are 104 minutes long are too long, but this one could easily have benefited from having about 15 minutes trimmed off. I don't feel as though I would have been missing out on anything vital had I not bothered to go see this film. It does happen to be the best thing playing in theatres for family audiences at the moment, although that's not saying much for this time of year.

I can't stress enough, however, that lovers of all things LEGO, and/or lovers of all things Batman, will feel differently. Those people -- they will definitely want to see this, and they will not be disappointed.

Michael Cera and Will Arnett become best friends in THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE.

Overall: B
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