Magazine article Variety

The Lego Batman Movie

Magazine article Variety

The Lego Batman Movie

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

The Lego Batman Movie

Director: Chris McKay

Voices: Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes,

Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis

The first thing to say about "The Lego Batman Movie" is that it's kicky, bedazzling, and super fun. The second thing to say about it is that, like 2014's "The Lego Movie," it's been made in a sophisticated spirit of lightning-fast, brain-bursting paradox.

These movies use digital animation to create the illusion that they're set in a universe of plastic Lego bricks, yet they have such a kaleidoscopic, anything-goes flow that they trump the imagination of just about any animated feature you could name. The characters are Lego mini-figures with pegs for heads and crudely etched faces that barely move, yet they have more personality than a great many human actors. Most delicious of all: The films come on like kid-friendly parodies of the adult world, yet there's a dizzying depth to their satirical observations that grows right out of the spectacularly fake settings, which are hypnotic to look at but have the effect of putting quotation marks around ... everything.

The main satirical target of "The Lego Batman Movie" is Batman himself, voiced by Will Arnett in a deep, low, husky rasp, and with a narcissistic personality disorder that's fantastically out of control. He somehow combines the voice of Clint Eastwood, the conceitedness of Derek Zoolander, and the fast-break observational avidity of Stephen Colbert. "We're going to punch those guys so hard," he growls, "words describing their impact are going to spontaneously materialize."

The movie opens with Batman offering the play-by-play of his own film ("All important movies start with a black screen"), followed by a sequence as madly choreographed as anything in an "Indiana Jones" film, as he takes on a screenful of famous and obscure villains led by the rascally but secretly sensitive Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis).

This Batman, still scarred by the loss of his parents, roots his competitive identity in being a lone avenger, valiant and guarded, with no feelings, no vulnerability, and no need for anyone else. In his bat lair, feasting on microwaved lobster thermidor and watching "Jerry Maguire" as if it were a comedy, he's the ultimate male who won't commit, a mask of solo cool whose only loyalty is to Gotham City; deep down, though, he's doing it for his own glory. …

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