You know, after The Dark Knight back in 2008, I was wondering when Warner Bros. were going to release the next great Batman movie. Well the wait is finally over! The LEGO Movie is the best movie featuring Batman in years! (And from the looks of it, the only good movie featuring Batman for the foreseeable future …)
But let’s start with the other, more significant character: Emmet Brickowski! The opening scenes of the film are what make up most of the trailer, Emmet (voiced by Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Chris Platt) doing “jumping jacks”, paying $37 for coffee, and absolutely loving everything about everything. The trailer does a fantastic job of setting up the type of humor you can expect throughout the entire movie.
Emmet’s whole characterization is being so plain, boring, and unoriginal. He even goes to great lengths to fit in and make friends. But Em happens to blend in so well, that even his yellow, generic-faced “friends” don’t even realize it when he’s gone. For someone who’s that overly optimistic, with no original personality, he carries the movie pretty damn well.
(Peter Quill/Star Lord this Emmet is not.)
If The LEGO Movie does a great job at anything, it’s inappropriate juxtaposition; they show something very serious, important, or dramatic, and then immediately show the most ridiculous, silly, and hilarious thing in their next breath. It keeps the viewer on their toes, so the movie never takes itself too seriously, but it also has enough drama to balance out all the outlandish scenes, and move the plot forward. And they bring the silly pretty hard.
Speaking of drama, I’ve played a few LEGO video games, and was expecting a lot of the tired old “things just fall apart” schtick, and the movie to just rely on that for humor. Fortunately, I was very wrong! Quite the opposite, actually. There is a lot of very quick building done by all the “master builder” characters in the film. And they all take things falling apart very seriously. In fact, there is one point in the movie where a certain character is essentially decapitated (which for a kid’s movie I thought was kinda dark, but they pulled it off!), and afterwards was considered “dead” for the remainder of the movie…
In the rules of this movie’s world, these little LEGO characters are mortal!! They can die!! It makes the danger in their whole mission just that more serious, and makes you want to root for these characters even more.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the visual effects. Explosions, steam, water, smoke, and anything else they have to represent using only Legos, the effects are absolutely beautiful. Even though these elements are made with little rectangular blocks, they could not look more fluid and realistic.
Will Ferrell is the main antagonist of the film, and actually plays a bigger role than you’d expect. So if you’re a Will Ferrell fan, you won’t be disappointed. . . buuuut, I won’t get into that to avoid anything too spoilery.
The movie does include Batman — perhaps the prime reason GHG‘s resident DC Minister is reviewing this in the first place — and Will Arnett does an awesome job bringing this parody of the character to life. LEGO Movie’s Batman has the personality of a narcissistic jock, talking himself up, not wasting his time with things that aren’t bat-themed, or dark. While urgently building a submarine, Batman still has his priorities straight, and calls out: “Give me all the black pieces; I only work in black. And in some cases, very very dark gray.”
Also making an appearance is the rest of the Justice League, although they play very minor roles. Jonah Hill plays an extremely annoying Green Lantern that bugs the crap out of Superman (voiced by Channing Tatum), the comic relief for this comedy (which is pretty impressive, considering all the non-stop laughs going on!), Wonder Woman makes a few appearances “to the invisible jet! . . . . dang it” and The Flash is on screen for… well, for a flash.
The rest of the supporting cast includes Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle (which is a ridiculous name, but after watching the movie, even that makes sense), Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, the wise, blind guru of the film who’s amazing voice is reason enough to head to the theater. Alison Brie as Unikitty, a combination of a unicorn and a kitty, which is probably my favorite character in the movie… don’t judge me (No worries, Gabe; Unikitty is probably my favorite in the video game version, too. – Moody).
One of the coolest feats in the film is watching Liam Neeson play both Good Cop/Bad Cop. Seriously, I had no idea Good Cop’s voice can come out of such a bad-ass man. None of the characters are one-dimensional either, all presenting great motive, awareness of consequences, and development throughout the film, which is a lot to ask for of a “kid’s movie”.
The LEGO Movie is a genuine good time for all audiences. I haven’t spoke with anyone who hasn’t really enjoyed it. I originally went in not expecting much, but could not stop laughing the entire time. And if this review doesn’t convince you, maybe this will: Name another movie where Batman jumps off a pirate ship to party with Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon.
Our LEGO Movie video game review (for all consoles) will be posted this Tuesday.