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Blu-ray Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

June 14, 2017

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Existing as a spinoff of sorts from 2014’s The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie finds its dark and brooding hero (Will Arnett) going up against his arch nemesis the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), who is vying for the place of Batman’s favourite enemy and is working with tons of other villains, while also dealing with his own personal loneliness.

But in order to save Gotham City, Batman first needs to learn valuable lessons about family and how to work with others, having to rely on the help of the new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), his trusty butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), and the excitable orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) that he accidentally adopts.

For my money, The LEGO Movie is one of the most overrated movies of this century, so I’m clearly not the target audience for this franchise continuation.  I guess not surprisingly, I found myself pretty much equally uninspired by The LEGO Batman Movie, and even more perplexed by the praise that many critics have heaped upon this relentlessly hyper animated film that reeks of being a blatant cash grab.

Sure, the voice cast seems to be having fun with their roles, the animation is technically proficient, and there are some amusing nods to previous Batman franchises worked in, along with a boatload of other pop culture references.  But this is basically a glorified toy commercial, that exists more to sell LEGO sets and further the corporate brand than it does to tell a singular story, and there’s something brashly cynical about it.  This feels like a movie made almost solely for marketing purposes.

The film is so fast moving and colourful that watching it often feels more like an assault on the senses made squarely for short attention spans, throwing so much at the screen that it taxed my eyes more than delighted them.  But the randomness of the film’s humour also can’t hide the fact that the outcome of the plot is never in question, and the story’s pro-family messages are incredibly rote and predictable.  Kids and fans of the first film will likely be delighted by The LEGO Batman Movie, but the whole thing is so hyperactive and frantic that I found it much more exhausting than entertaining to watch.

The Blu-ray also includes commentary with director Chris McKay and members of the crew, four deleted scenes that are presented with incomplete animation, as well as six featurettes, four brief new animated shorts featuring characters from the film, along with The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short which serves as a preview for the next franchise entry.

The LEGO Batman Movie is a Warner Bros. Pictures release.  It’s 104 minutes and rated PG.

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