Friday, February 10, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

In 2014, "The LEGO Movie" took February by storm, opening to $69.1 million on its way to $257.8 million domestically. While it wasn't the biggest opening weekend in February at the time, it was the movie that essentially showed Hollywood that big blockbusters can be released and do well in February as the only other movie that had opened higher at that point was Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004, which was considered more of an anomaly when it comes to February openers. Since "The LEGO Movie," Hollywood has been more confident with the month as movies such as "The SpongeBob Movie," "Fifty Shades of Grey" and "Deadpool" have all done great, "Deadpool" being one of the highest grossing movies of last year. "The LEGO Movie" was also the beginning of yet another heavyweight animation studio as Warner Animation Group has now joined the party with the many other animation studios already in existence. Warner Animation Group is especially hoping this LEGO franchise will work out well for them as in addition to "The LEGO Movie 2" in 2019, we have two spin-offs this year with "The LEGO Batman Movie" in theaters now and "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" coming in September. And man are they off to a fantastic start.

I personally loved "The LEGO Movie." Not only was it fun and hilarious, but it was an extremely smart movie that had a crazy twist ending that made the second viewing of the movie a completely different experience. It's not often a movie can pull that off, especially a major animated movie. I know many people who said they weren't excited for the movie, but ended up being caught off guard by it actually being a great movie. I was a little different in that I was actually super excited for the movie, but I was still caught off guard by how great it was and I'm still way bitter that it didn't get a best animated feature nomination at the Oscars. Being that Batman was one of the funniest parts of the movie, I was immediately on board with the idea of a LEGO Batman spin-off. Given the type of humor that "The LEGO Movie" provided, I was excited for an animated LEGO Batman movie that was going to spend the movie poking fun at the history of the franchise. I was curious to see what they were going to pull off in terms of story and creativity, but I was still excited. No, "The LEGO Batman Movie" isn't as good as "The LEGO Movie," but I don't know if any movie in this LEGO franchise will be. That said, I was genuinely shocked by how amazing "The LEGO Batman Movie" was.

"The LEGO Batman Movie" successfully hits the sweet spot as a movie that should be equally as entertaining and appropriate for both kids and adults. That said, quite frankly I believe that the people that are going to enjoy this movie the most are the DC comic book nerds who love Batman. I wouldn't quite put myself on the level of "comic book nerd," but the DC comics, TV shows and movies are the ones that have made more of an influence on my love of the superhero genre. I grew up watching the Batman and Superman movies and TV shows and I especially love the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy. There's many people in this world that know more about Batman than I do, but nevertheless I love Batman. This movie literally spends time referencing and poking fun at literally every generation of Batman from his very early beginnings to his recent run with the Batfleck in DC's current movie universe. The Batman jokes hit hard and they hit often. And they don't slow down. The more you know about Batman, the more you are going to pick up on all of the Easter eggs in this movie. It had me smiling like a little schoolboy the whole time. You can essentially call this a Batman parody movie. The parody movie genre is mostly a dead genre right, but this movie brings it to life.

In addition to being super clever with all the Batman references, this movie is absolutely hilarious. The opening credits sequence is absolute gold that literally gave me that gut-busting laughter from the very second the movie started. And it didn't stop there with the opening credits. The opening sequence in this movie is also laugh-out-loud hilarious. In fact, most of the movie had me caught up in uncontrollable laughter. Have you ever watched one of those movies that was so funny and made you laugh so hard that you became exhausted and out of breath? Yeah, this is one of those movies. I almost wanted it to stop being so funny for a second or two, so I could catch my breath. But for the most part it didn't let me. Until it did. In which case, we completely flipped the switch and went for the exact opposite emotion. Sadness. I expected to laugh. I may have not expected to laugh so hard, but I did expect to laugh. I didn't expect to almost cry at this movie. This movie throws all the best feel-goods at you at all the right places. And it does so in a perfectly smooth way without being jarring in a way that some movies are when they transition from funny to feel-good.

If you think about the history of Batman, it makes total sense that they would go this direction. Batman has always been a very complex character, which is one of the reasons he is one of the best characters. He doesn't have superpowers, but rather trained in a way and built a suit that matches any superhero. His tragic backstory with the death of his parents also gives him a backstory that is unparalleled with any almost any other superhero. He is lonely and he is depressed, but he often masks all of them with not only his Batman suit, but also his Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy facade. That is exactly what "The LEGO Batman Movie" plays off of. This LEGO iteration is the same hilarious, wise-cracking Batman that we saw in "The LEGO Movie." In this version of Gotham, he is the hero that the city needs and deserves. Everyone loves Batman. Everyone relies on Batman. Batman always saves the day. Batman is super confident and cocky and knows that nobody can match him, not even the Joker's many attempts to destroy the city. Batman always wins. But deep down he is lonely. He misses his parents. He is depressed. He needs help from others and he needs family, but he refuses to accept that help because of his pride when certain people came into his life to help him.

I was honestly floored by how emotional this movie got in addition to how hilarious this movie was. Thus it definitely hits the sweet spot. Lifetime fans of Batman should love this movie with all the Batman references. Young kids who love Batman or other superheros will have a blast with this movie even if they don't get all the references and parents who take those kids should have a good time as well, even if they don't know every detail about Batman's history. This movie literally has something for everyone. You want laughs, you got it. You want an emotional story, you got it. You want a good superhero movie, you got it. You want a movie with an intelligent story and a good villain, you got it. I've heard some critics give it a harsh review because it didn't pull off the mind-blowing magic of "The LEGO Movie." That's a bit harsh. I don't know if any movie in this LEGO franchise is going to pull this off. But as a simple spin-off Batman movie made from LEGOs, this works as a fun, hilarious family-friendly Batman movie that will have the kids laughing and the comic book nerds screaming in joy with all the clever references. If Warner Bros. wants to to do more DC movies in this LEGO universe, I am totally game. Bring them on! I'm giving "The LEGO Batman Movie" a 9/10.

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