Monday, February 20, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

The Lego Batman Movie looked like a decent chance for escapist laughs, all things considered, and bearing in mind I still haven't seen the galactically successful first Lego movie. What do I need to know? It's a cartoon with a Lego toy overlay in terms of visual textures. A preview I happened to see made me laugh. Take it as DC's attempt at the ingenious comic book movie parody of Marvel's Deadpool—which it more or less is, case closed the end. I may be a little more of a DC partisan over Marvel, but I know how much DC can flop at their own game when they start chasing what other people do. As usual, they come up short. But that doesn't mean the movie isn't fun or worth a peek. I mean, come on. The Batman (with or without the definite article) is a target-rich environment for parody by any standard. A lot of creative, inventive, and funny people are busy in this movie deconstructing the enterprise for the last 50 years or possibly more, along with other features of the DC universe. They reach over into the Superman bag of tricks for the Fortress of Solitude and the Phantom Zone. In fact, practically everybody gets a cameo in a quick Justice League of America reunion scene to which Batman wasn't invited. The problem with the antisocial Batman, you see, is nobody likes him. Next thing you know, everybody in a certain legal silo of the entertainment universe is there: the Wicked Witch of the West, Godzilla, King Kong, gremlins. Something about the Phantom Zone. You'll want to score the disc when it's released because there's a whole series of regular freeze frame fests for the cameos alone. The animation is a dazzling mixed bag of primitive stop-motion, CGI, and I don't know what all, straying at will into Transformers territory too with big complicated machines that change shape at lightning speed. Wowza! And often quite surprisingly beautiful. But ultimately it's a Batman movie (with Lego toy textures), paying respect to the heritage even as it sends it up. In one flashing eye-popping montage the style of every Batman movie is riffed on, concluding with the '60s TV show. Mostly they make fun of the darkness of the Batman but they also have a lot of obvious fun with the Robin story. It's all good. This Batman turns out to be a preening, whining, aging narcissist who takes credit for battling evil even as all his arch-villain enemies get away and nothing gets better. At one point he brags that he doesn't pay taxes. He is like the most foul grizzled Clint Eastwood imaginable—he keeps the mask on most of the time—and he is insufferably, bunglingly macho. This movie among other things is on a mission to fix these character flaws, mostly with song and dance and happiness. Commissioner Barbara Gordon, succeeding her retiring father, is all about law and order and raising everyone up with community service: Stronger Together, you might say. Or, as Commissioner Gordon actually says (twice), it takes a village to stop crime. That's the problem with escapism. You just can't get away from what you're trying to escape. Even so, The Lego Batman Movie is a pretty good comedy and not a bad Batman movie. Great soundtrack too.

1 comment:

  1. Any theme to the soundtrack? Eighties hair metal? Trent Reznor? Weird Al?