Movie News & Reviews

‘LEGO Batman’ is good – just not awesome

Movie trailer: 'The LEGO Batman Movie'

"The LEGO Batman Movie" stars Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Seth Green. It opens in movie theaters Friday, Feb. 4.
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"The LEGO Batman Movie" stars Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Seth Green. It opens in movie theaters Friday, Feb. 4.

Anyone who has seen 2014’s “The LEGO Movie” knows (partly because the song that is still stuck in our heads) everything about that movie “is awesome.” Dazzling design, great writing and a sympathetic character will make a movie memorable.

The LEGO people are back at work and have bricked together “The LEGO Batman Movie.” That’s not a shock since Batman (voiced with gravely distinction by Will Arnett✔) was a scene stealer in the 2014 production.

But Stealing scenes and being in every frame are different. While “The LEGO Batman Movie” is fun, visually stunning and a memory trip for Batman fans, it is less awesome because it doesn’t have the same sweet core.

This film revolves around a grumbling Batman, who outwardly appears to be the coolest superhero on the planet. As with EVERY Batman that has appeared on TV, film or in the pages of comic books, inwardly Batman is haunted by the death of his parents. Even his butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), knows Batman needs a family.

This personal story unfolds at the same time the Joker (Zach Galifanakis) has come up with a plan to get himself sent to the ultimate prison – Superman’s Phantom Zone. Once there, the Joker escapes, bringing with him a bevy of villains that include King Kong (Seth Green), Voldemort (Eddie Izzard), the Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys and Kraken.

Toss in a superhero party with more caped crime fighters than a year full of DC Comics and “The LEGO Batman Movie” features more characters than anyone can see in just one viewing. But, it’s not the size of the cast that matters, it’s how well they are used.

The script, which was done by multiple writers, generates the most laughs from the Batman history. There are constant references to past movies and films, including a clip of Adam West’s “Batman” TV series. The jokes are both the obvious visual ones – like the TV clip – and more subtle – like a mention of the time Batman fought the Joker during a parade where Prince music was playing. True Batman fans will know that as reference to the 1989 “Batman” directed by Tim Burton.

The jokes will entertain older audiences. And the movie has enough Pow!, Zap! and Thunk! action to keep the youngsters in their seats. That’s enough to give the film good marks.

What is missing is that sense of innocence that the first movie captured so successfully. Viewers were introduced through the character of Emmet (Chris Pratt) to the spectacle that can be created in this blocked world. That awe is not there this time around.

Instead, Arnett’s gravely voicing of Batman gets a little tiresome. There are just enough flaws to keep “The LEGO Batman Movie” from hitting awesome status.

The movie is enough fun that it will be a good one to buy on DVD. That’s the only way to enjoy all the jokes and see the massive amount of characters who populate this latest brick-built world from LEGO.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

The LEGO Batman Movie

Movie review

Cast: Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Seth Green

Director: Chris McKay

105 minutes

Rated PG (rude humor, action)

Opens: Friday, Feb. 10

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