The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The LEGO Batman Movie

Batman has been a staple in the world of the LEGO building bricks for a while. There are more than a few really cool sets centered around the character. That's why he had a memorable supporting role in The LEGO Movie. That film is one of the most clever and original animated features of the modern era. Now, its spinoff, The LEGO Batman Movie, gives the Dark Knight his own full-length adventure. Regardless of your age, gender, or other defining characteristics, if you are even remotely interested in Batman, you can have a grand old time at this funny, charming picture.

Batman (voiced again by Will Arnett) is his usual moody, vigilante self when a number of problems arise. First, the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), no longer wants him to work on his own. She pushes for a more compliant Batman who will work in conjunction with law enforcement. Second, he inadvertently adopts an overly-enthusiastic young orphan named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Batman has to learn to cooperate with Barbara and accept Dick's desire to be his “Robin” after the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) unleashes a slew of famous supervillains – including Sauron from The Lord of the Rings and Godzilla – from a space prison.

The LEGO Batman Movie has an insane number of Batman-related jokes. The '60s TV show and all previous big-screen incarnations of the character are fodder for gags, puns, and meta references. Some are overt, others more subtle. The more you know about the Dark Knight, the more of them you'll get. Thinking about how much time it must have taken to come up with them is as mind-boggling as it is amusing to behold.

Like The LEGO Movie, the visual style here is reminscent of a child's building block set come to life. Everything is made of LEGO and looks as though you could make it yourself at home, provided you had access to millions of the little bricks. That's a vital element of the film's appeal. There's a palpable sense of wonder for anyone who ever played with LEGO as a kid -- or currently plays with them as a parent. Fostering imagination has always been the company's objective. The LEGO Batman Movie crucially feels just like the kind of adventure a child would dream up during an afternoon of play.

Those qualities are sufficient to make this a terrific family film. What really sweetens the deal, though, is that it's also a legitimately great Batman story. Although largely played for laughs, The LEGO Batman Movie really understands the character's long-standing desire for isolation and control. With that in mind, the plot shows how he softens up, coming to recognize that while he can rid Gotham of crime all on his own, it's not necessarily a good idea for him to do so. Batman learns to open himself up and to accept help. Going this direction with the character proves to be a brilliant choice.

Will Arnett is hilarious as the brooding crimefighter, as is Michael Cera, portraying the incessantly peppy Robin. A host of other stars provide the voices of the familiar supporting characters, which include Bane, Superman, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, and more.

Because we've already had The LEGO Movie, the sense of LEGO-world-come-to-life discovery may not be there as strongly this time, but that's an extremely minuscule point. The LEGO Batman Movie is overwhelmingly a joy to watch. Every second is packed with visual creativity, humor, and heart.

( 1/2 out of four)

Blu-ray Features:

The LEGO Batman Movie comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, 3D Blu-ray, and Blu-ray combo pack on June 13. (Disclosure: A complimentary copy of the 3D Blu-ray was provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for review purposes.)

The 3D presentation on the disc is outstanding. Whereas some 3D movies make you very aware of the format at all times, it is integrated naturally here, adding a nice sense of depth to the LEGO environments. When elements emerge into the foreground, they do so smoothly and not in a distracting manner. The effect adds a layer of fun to the film. Color quality remains bright and crisp throughout. All the way around, this is a high-quality 3D transfer. If, for some reason, you prefer 2D, a second Blu-ray in the box has the film in that format.

There are plenty of bonus features on the disc, too, starting off with a lively audio commentary from director Chris McKay and several cast/crew members. After that, there are four animated LEGO Batman short films: Dark Hoser, Batman Is Just Not That Into You, Cooking with Alfred, and Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That? All contain the same great wit found in the main attraction itself. They're a lot of fun to watch, as is The Master, a very funny LEGO Ninjago short.

Six featurettes take you behind the scenes, showing how the movie was conceived and produced, and how the actors crafted their vocal performances. One section lets us peek at LEGO workers using real building bricks to come up with designs for the film. The Comic Con panel is also included. All the segments are slickly produced, giving you an understanding of just what an imaginative process creating The LEGO Batman Movie was.

Elsewhere, you'll find some deleted scenes, many still in the storyboard stage, showing some jokes and gags that were at one time under consideration for use in the picture. It's interesting to see some of the ideas that didn't quite make the cut. The winning entry in a LEGO fan filmmaking contest is additionally on the disc, as are a handful of theatrical trailers and social promos.

With a terrific feature, superb 3D, and an impressive array of supplementary material, The LEGO Batman Movie Blu-ray is well worth adding to your home library.

The LEGO Batman Movie is rated PG for rude humor and some action. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.

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