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Friday, February 17, 2017

[GUEST] The LEGO Batman Movie Movie Review

GUEST WRITER: Don Shanahan is a fellow Chicago film critic of "Every Movie Has a Lesson." He is an elementary educator who writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. Don is one of the directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Association (CIFCC). Please welcome him as an occasional contributor to Eman's Movie Reviews. 

The Trailer:
The Good:
When done with gusto, what makes Batman unique and special is that he works in any tone.  With brooding attitude, he can be the Dark Knight.  With zest and camp, he can be the Bright Knight like Adam West.  Batman works in either setting because the human fortitude at the core of the character, his drive to right wrongs after personal tragedy, can be employed equally for heroic and virtuous causes and also for the vigilante and urban myth that takes matters into his own hands.

The roller coaster that can be praised without reservation or question is the technical and artistic achievement of the film’s sparklingly detailed animation.  The CGI and 3D rendering is off the charts and better than “The LEGO Movie.”  Every detail is so nimbly imagined, right down to the perceived-smooth LEGO surfaces with subtle chips and scratches of playtime weathering.  This confection has unquestioned luster.

Another heap of praise goes to the ensemble voice cast of inspired choices, large and small.  Galifianakis is a perfect frazzled Joker and Michael Cera steals scenes with his flamboyant Robin act.  The real hidden gems are the clever casting matches for underlying characters, like Billy Dee Williams getting to play Two-Face nearly 30 years after playing Harvey Dent in 1989’s “Batman.”  Test your ears to place the likes of Conan O’Brien, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey, Ellie Kemper, Riki Lindhome, Adam DeVine, Jason Mantzoukas, and plot the scavenger hunt of who they play.

The Bad

To say the narrative trajectory of “The LEGO Batman Movie” is all over the place is an understatement.  This is cinematic carnival bumper cars with all of the wild tangents representing the carny food confection.  Such is delicious, yet admittedly shallow and not all that healthy.  Batman being a known commodity makes this tale less compelling than learning all about the new hero of Emmet Brickowski two years ago.

The film is a great deal of fun as big-screen entertainment, but is constantly frenetic with its breakneck pace.  It stands as proof that you can’t make a movie entirely out of references, even if they are clever ones concocted by a five-man story team led by TV joke writer Chris McKenna (“Community”) and genre-bending author Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”).  The kids should come first and most of “The LEGO Batman movie” is going to zoom over their heads.

The Reason

Chock full of more jokes, puns, and references than there are virtual plastic bricks, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is a breezy blast of unabashed fun.  Twirling with dazzling animation and saturated with endless character possibilities, these two hours of zippy entertainment offer exhilarating playful engagement for young audiences and many absolute belly laughs for the adults.

The Rating: 8/10

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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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