Sunday, 2 April 2017

Film Review: "The Lego Batman Movie" (2017).




"From the team that assembled The Lego Movie"
comes The Lego Batman Movie. This computer-animated superhero comedy film, directed by Chris McKay, and written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern & John Whittington. The film is a spin-off installment of The Lego Movie, with its story focusing on the titular DC Comics character. The centers on non other than Lego Batman in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

After stealing the show in The Lego Movie, it was inevitable that a film starring it's break-out character would come to fruition. In October 2014, it was announced that Will Arnett was set to reprise his role for a Lego Batman spin-off film. For his portrayal of the character, Arnett revealed in an interview about how voicing Batman affected his voice, saying, "It's real gravelly; it doesn't feel great doing it a lot. And so when we do the sessions that are like four hours long, it would hurt. It's hard to sing doing it because I'm a bad singer anyway, so I'm thinking about trying to keep in time and then doing the voice. The rap at the end of the movie was hard. [I told the song writers] this is how it's going to be; I can't do it any better. And then all the things they call 'exertions' like running, jumping--you have to do all those kind of separately and sort of shouting stuff too. To shout doing the Batman voice is rough." In the same month, Chris McKay hired to direct, after he was considered to direct the long in-development Lego Movie sequel. The film was set for a 2017 release. In addition, Australia-based animation studio Animal Logic was in talks to produce the next three Lego films for Warner Bros., and the New South Wales government would make financial contributions to all the films. In July 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Michael Cera, Arnett's Arrested Development co-star, was cast to voice Robin. In August 2015, it was revealed that Zach Galifianakis was cast to voice the Joker when originally Steve Buscemi was the front runner. Galifianakis stated in an interview about voicing the Joker, "It was really fun! I've only done a couple of sessions, it's crazy; I'm lucky. I was telling diarrhea jokes in coffee houses ten years ago, so I'm very fortunate." In October 2015, Rosario Dawson signed on to voice Barbara Gordon. In November 2015, Ralph Fiennes was cast to voice Alfred Pennyworth. In November 2015, THR reported that Mariah Carey was cast to voice the Mayor of Gotham City, McCaskill, instead of voicing Commissioner Gordon. Ultimately, it was revealed that Héctor Elizondo was cast to voice Commissioner Gordon one week before the film's release. In July 2016, it was revealed Jenny Slate was cast voice Harley Quinn. In November 2016, it was announced that Billy Dee Williams would reprise his role of Harvey Dent for the film. He had previously portrayed the character in Tim Burton's Batman (1989). He was very eager to also portray Two-Face in future installments, however due to Joel Schumacher taking over the franchise with Batman Forever (1995), the role was ultimately recast with Tommy Lee Jones. In January 2017, comedian Chris Hardwick announced on an episode of his Comedy Central program @midnight that he is part of the film's cast. Conan O'Brien, Riki Lindhome, Zoë Kravitz, and more were revealed to round out the cast of villains in February 2017.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Arnett, Galifianakis, Cera, Dawson and Fiennes, who all gave wonderfully enjoyable performances. Galifianakis made a terrific incarnation of the Joker, a Joker that desperately yearns for Batman's attention like a needy girlfriend seeking her remote boyfriend's attention. May not have beaten Ledger's Joker but he's in my top five favourite incarnations. Cera, as always, brought his loveable dorkish charm to the Boy Wonder. Dawson imbued her character with a new level of confidence that is not seen in previous incarnations. Finally, Fiennes ba new comical dimension to the character without sacrificing his immpeacable Shakespearian delivery. In the end, Arnett, especially, deserves most of the compliments for bringing us the best incarnation of Batman, alongside Affleck's, that appeal to both children and adults alike with his unique and charming blend of brooding yet comical. Finally, Jenny Slate, Héctor Elizondo, Mariah Carey, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Billy Dee Williams, Riki Lindhome, Conan O'Brien, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Channing Tatum, Ellie Kemper, Jonah Hill, Adam DeVine, Brent Musburger and Chris Hardwick provided fantastic cameos.

The Lego Batman Movie is a wonderful surprise, cleverly written and executed brick by brick with a visual panache. It is another intricate piece that delights in both celebrating and mocking the Batman universe and its characters. In what is sure to be another lighting-in-the-bottle for Warner Bros., this crazy-funny animated adventure takes us into a familiar world where we think we know it but ultimately puts a wonderfully unique spin on it. It is as fresh, fast and funny as it can be. Delightful, inspired, affecting, utterly hilarious stuff, and certainly the first feature starring Batman to earn a couple of those compliments. It's equal parts clever, hilarious and full of heart. The film teaches our kids what it means to be heroic throughout teamwork and having a family to back you up all the way. The idea that teamwork is the greatest asset shows that sometimes the most simplistic of lessons can probably be the best lesson of all for children. Even though at times, the lessons and its jokes may end up somewhat cliche and flat. However, it's hard to imagine a more inspired Lego film for Batman, or one less concerned with selling Batman toys.

Simon says The Lego Batman Movie receives:


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