The LEGO Batman Movie
Running Time: 106 mins.
Premise: When the Joker unleashes a new threat to Gotham's citizens, Batman (Will Arnett) must save the day while embracing his extended family, including adopted son, Dick Grayson a/k/a Robin (Michael Cera).
Behind-the-Scenes: Director Chris McKay hails from TV's Robot Chicken. In one of many nods to 1989's Batman, Billy Dee Williams voices Two-Face a/k/a Harvey Dent (who he played in that Tim Burton film). Arnett's Batman first appeared in 2014's The LEGO Movie, and you can expect him to pop up again in the sequel to that film, due in 2018.
The Good: Starting with a black screen and Arnett's droll voice-over as studio logos whiz by, The LEGO Batman Movie comes on super strong and makes a heck of an impression. Its first half-hour is a rapid-fire gagfest aimed at deconstructing and celebrating the Batman mythos and all of his TV and silver-screen incarnations over the past 50 years. The jokes fly by fast and furious early on, almost demanding a second viewing. The animation - like The LEGO Movie before it - is bright and stylish, with excellent lighting and cinematography, and it's just plain marvelous to behold. The voice work is solid, with some surprising names in the cast list. Cera is a standout as the wide-eyed Robin.
The Bad: The script ultimately can't sustain the comic momentum, and, though never boring, the movie grows more pedestrian as it goes along. A little bit of Arnett's Batman goes a long way - perhaps he's better in small doses. There are lots of action sequences, but they play as overly busy rather than inventively staged. Even though the movie is armed with a bushel of Batman's greatest villains, it fails to do anything with them. Instead, the third act is dominated by unrelated characters, who work better as an enjoyable sight gag than a major plot point.
Should You See It?: Yes. This is an above-average kids' film, but it fails to transcend the genre like its predecessor.
Star Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Sing, The Secret Life of Pets
Worse Than: The LEGO Movie, Zootopia
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