Saturday, February 25, 2017

Movie Review: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (Review #2)

There are big changes brewing in Gotham City, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker's (Zack Galifianakis) hostile takeover, Batman (Will Arnett) may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

Two years after its release, The LEGO Movie still resonates with us both in its quality as a film, which stands as one of the best animated features of the last few years, and in the way it shook the business and showed you can make great movies out of toys. Still that hasn't meant quality films in this department. In the last two years no one has reached the standard of brilliance, wit, comedy and heart that made The LEGO Movie the beauty it is. That is, until now. From the same creative team behind the first film comes another wildly funny film which almost serves as a further reinvention of the spoof/parody genre.

Director Chris McKay demonstrates a deep understanding of the character of Batman, its fascination and its mythology. Because of that, we get a film that is chock full of references, easter eggs and running gags that, incredibly, don't call attention to itself. He has struck the perfect tone, the same one that made The Naked Gun so special. Everything is done with homage to the material, there are no cheap jokes or overused gags, there is always novelty in the comedy, a film that starts being funny from literally frame one and doesn't stop even with the credits.

As in all good comedies, the filmmakers have found a balance of very different acts and we get to enjoy all of them, from the pop culture references, the nonsense humor, the visual gags to smart dialogue and, to a length, witty black humor, it has them all and it excels at all of them. Of course one should also mention just how visually interesting these LEGO animations are. Other than giving us constantly rich and incredibly busy frames, they establish a tone in the film that helps its sense of flow and comedy. One could almost say that the LEGO animation is just an art-form unto itself, the uniqueness of it, the very dry sense of humor that naturally emerges from it is wildly fascinating.

And then, somehow, the filmmakers manage to even get into some emotional territory, ridiculously, in a parody film about Batman. They manage to pull off a good story about the iconic character. One that takes into consideration the deeper aspects of Batman's legacy and plays around with characters in ways that we haven't seen before and that touch really interesting point on his figure. It seems really strange to point out, but I have to insist that in some insane way this film also ends up being a very well told tale about The Dark Knight, one that touches high emotional beats and that explores the characters and their relevance today really deeply.

If something should be pointed out it is that the film does carry itself on a little too long. Some of the set-pieces don't quite flow story wise as they do with comedy. Their are some gags and situation that are stretched just a little and I think that cutting about 20 minutes the film could have had a much, much better shape overall and wouldn't have left the focus of what it was doing at brief moments.

I am so happy to see the genre of the spoof done so well again after all these years. It reminds us of how kinetically funny these films can be and how beautiful well structured humor is.

James' Score: 7.5/10

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