Sunday, February 12, 2017


          Constructing loads of laughs, this tangential sequel to The Lego Movie toys with the gravelly-voiced Dark Knight loner.
          Admittedly, the quality of the content defies expectations. Yet unlikely as it seems for a movie consisting of Lego figures to be so good, it nonetheless is.
          The problem is that Batman (Arnett) blocks relationships. He needs to connect, build bonds with others. When he's done fighting crime for the evening, he zaps himself a late dinner and jams on his guitar all alone, but what he really needs is someone close to give him a fat beat so he can grab a mike and lay down his sick flow.
          Enter Barbara Gordon (Dawson). As the new Commissioner of Gotham City, she notices that Batman hasn't done a very good job because he keeps having to capture the same villains. Over and over again.
         Meanwhile, the Joker (Galifianakis) has a foolproof plan (this time) to lay waste to the good people of Gotham and thereby really tick Batman off.
         The story, however, is effectively immaterial to the experience. What makes it work is the jokes. And what makes the jokes work is the quality of Arnett's voice coming through a self-obsessed super-macho Lego toy. You have to see it to get it. It's just a great juxtaposition. Again, totally surprising, yet totally effective.
          Voluminous references to past Batman incarnations contribute throughout. Chiefly, homages to the '60s TV show strike the right note. Not everyone will remember the Bat Anti-Shark Spray utilized by the Adam West portrayal, but it works either way. Ditto references to the show's theme song.
          When Bob Kane created Batman, he based his character on a amalgam of two main sources: Sherlock Holmes and Zorro. Specifically Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro. Conan Doyle's Holmes (wrongly credited with deductive reasoning when in fact it is inductive) results directly from the first literary detective, Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, a character obsessed with darkness and the night who was basically a reflection of Poe himself. Zorro, on the other hand, is an early-California Robin Hood. And Robin Hood is a member of the aristocracy who lives on the fringe as an outlaw fighting corrupt and false authority. Therefore, when we see the words Dark and Knight together, we are looking at the combination of Edgar Allan Poe and Robin Hood.
          And so, even though it is easier to write and seems at first blanche more visually appealing to give the hero gadgets than to have him solve crimes, the one true vision of Batman which we have never seen eschews the tech in favor of detecting and pits him against unjust ruling functionaries as a champion of the downtrodden, and not merely a lackey of the privileged.
          That said, the toy movie has merit. Worth checking out.

Starring (the voices of)
Will Arnett,
Michael Cera,
Rosario Dawson,
Ralph Fiennes,
Zach Galifianakis,
Jenny Slate,
Conan O'Brien,
Doug Benson
Directed by Chris McKay
Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKennon,
Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger
Runtime 144 minutes
Rated PG


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