Hello, Spongey here.
Now it’s time for the first General Review of 2017 that I actually planned on doing, and of course it’s an animated one. And this one is rather interesting, not just due to what it is, but it’s place in the 2017 lineup.
See, every year since at least 2013, the first animated film has been…uh…not good. Escape From Planet Earth, the Nut Job, Strange Magic, and the polar bear whose name shall not be mentioned. Especially on the Razzies Nominations for some reason.
They weren’t all the worst animated films of that year, but most were. Of course, that may because most of those came out in January. But this year, this seems to be different. No animated films came out in January this year. Well, not in theaters.
I have my eye on you, Surfs Up 2.
And on top of that, the first animated film slated for release actually look good! Or at least, not terrible. I was waiting for something else to be moved up, like the upcoming Rock Dog, but nope, this stayed in it’s slot.
But that’s not important, let’s explain the movie. Back in 2014, they released The Lego Movie, which based on the title seemed like a big soulless marketing machine. But instead it was a marketing machine with a lot of soul that happened to be great.
Everyone and their mom has gone into detail on why the movie works so well, even me back when it came out. The animation was fantastic, the humor was spot on, and the writing was really smart and clever using the concepts to their fullest.
Again, you can kind more detail on exactly how good it is in other place. Anyway, naturally with how popular it became, they wanted to make this into a franchise. They had plenty of ideas including a direct sequel.
…And we’ll be getting that in 2019. In the meantime, they’ll be tiding us over with spinoffs. First up is a film all about Lego Batman. Yeah, the original film had a lot of memorable characters and Batman stood out with how they made fun of his dark persona.
“DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!”
So they when they announced a film all about him, I wasn’t too surprised. Admittedly, I was mixed on the idea. Besides the usual dangers of giving supporting characters the spotlight, I wasn’t sure if his joke could work for a whole movie.
That and we know what happened the last time they went with a Batman focused film instead of a direct follow up to what it was following, right?
But still, I was rather excited for, especially with all the info about regarding casting and such. Plus, the trailers were pretty funny. I was sold from the teaser that infront of Batman v Superman.
And it looks like my faith may payoff because the reviews are good so far. How good? 98 on RT right now. Whoa. Okay, the reviews I skimmed arent’ on that level but people seem at least highly enjoy it.
So yeah, I’m excited. As for the creative team, the director has this as his debut film but did have some decent tv work before this. As for our 5 (!!!) writers, one has Igor and a bunch of American Dad Episodes, One had AD eps as well as Drawn Together, one wrote Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, one did nothing, and finally, one had a a part in Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Yeah, mostly TV stuff here and usually having that many writers is bad, but we’ll see. Will the be the spin off we deserve, or will it fail to even begin to rise? Time to find out.
This, is The Lego Batman Movie
I don’t have a lot to say here because it’s done in the same style as the Lego Movie and I went into detail on the animation was fantastic. It’s CGI done in the style of stop motion Lego and it’s great. There’s a lot of attention to detail as about everything is done in Lego and the animators done a lot of great work, even in the backgrounds.
They take it a step further by giving it a sort of yellow aesthetic, and they use color really well, especially in the Gotham scenes. As in, the scene with them outside. The animation is again well done, although I have one nitpick.
While everything is made of Lego, they cheat a bit more than they did in The Lego Movie. There, even the water was lego. Here, it’s mostly water. No big deal, since they likely figured people wouldn’t care this is basically filler until they get to the real Lego Movie sequel, but it’s something I noticed.
Otherwise, the animation is as top notch as before.
Batman goes on a personal journey to find himself and learn the importance of teamwork and friendship in the hopes of saving Gotham City from a hostile takeover set by Joker
This is a comedy, so once again I must review it on that level, but also critique the story since there is one. And let me tell you, they did a surprisingly good job here. I say surprising because I thought the story would be meh, and while it has problems, it got the job done.
But first off There are no direct connections to Lego Movie. Batman mentions building a master builder, but that’s it. I was hoping for something, maybe even a nod to the twist but it’s no big deal, it just means you don’t need to have seen it to understand the movie.
Anyway, I’ll go over the actual story first. It seems fairly typical, with Batman not wanting to work with anyone bu through his newly adopted son, he learns the importance of teamwork…and they, it kind of is. I will admit that it’s not exactly unpredictable, and they do hammer in the moral a tad too much. But it’s actually executed decently. I think it might be because there is a real heart to. The sweet moments are a tad rushed due to something I’ll get into, but in the 3rd act, they work a lot better and 2 in particular are very effective.
As cliché as the story, sometimes it’s just engaging as it needs to be. I will say that Batman bonding with Robin is a tad rushed as they head off very soon after they meet up in the mansion, but they do set it up beforehand nicely enough.
But in general, the story mostly works for what they are going for, and they have some moments of heart to pull it through. Heck, even the ending isn’t too rushed which is the only thing is has over The Lego Movie.
Spoilers, not as good as Lego Movie but it’s not trying to be, at least.
So the story works, but how about the comedy? Oh, that works even better. This movie is really funny all the way through. As in, even the logos are funny! This got a fair amount of big laughs out of me, and there’s humor from all over the place.
You can tell the writers are huge Batman fans because they get a lot of humor of who he is and there’s tons of references to the various comics and adaptations, from the animated series to even the old black and white serials. Now that’s going obscure.
Oh, and Kiteman pops up. 10/10. (Bonus points for involving him in a joke about how stupid old comic villains could get)
Almost every joke hits it’s mark, and of course it’s the kind of humor about everyone can enjoy. There is one thing about the movie in general to note, which can be either good or bad. The pacing.
For the most, this thing has a very breakneck brace. Once it starts,it rarely lets up, with tons of jokes flying all over the place. It does calm down in some parts, like right after the huge opening set piece, but most of it does involve very fast pacing.
I noticed one example where it hurts the story, and that’s kind of the thing. Some will enjoy the pacing and really get into it, while others may find it to be a bit too much. I got into it very easily, but sometimes I did want it to slow down slightly.
But the 2nd half balances it out a tad better. Just know if you plan to see this that it is that kind of movie, and I get it I you may find it slightly overbearing. Although I find the big first act battle to be slightly more overbearing than the final act battle, which is the opposite of how other reviewers seem to feel.
If you can get into the pacing, you will really enjoy this. I really enjoyed the humor here, it all worked and there’s plenty of laughs to be had. It’s really clever and irreverent, which I dig. While the story itself is a tad cliché and has it’s bumps, it is well done with some pretty good sweet moments.
The writing is not perfect, but it mostly works with great humor, and a solid heart.
As you can tell from the Cast List, there’s a ton of people in this but thankfully the focus on the group of characters that matters most, and I think they were done well. We will of course start with the most important player…Kiteman!
JK, let’s start with Batman, voiced by Will Arnett. He’s the 2nd best Will Arnett character from 2014 and he’s still great here. He’s like he was before, a egoistical but still very funny version of Batman. He’s such a dick but yo can’t help but love him, because he’s right, he is awesome.
He works as lead and provides a majority of the jokes, most of which work. He is also well developed as they explore his lonely side and how he learns to let people into his life. It’s cliché but the character is well written enough for it to work. So yeah, he works well.
With him is Dick Grayson aka Robin, voiced by Micheal Cera. At the start we see he’s a bit of a Batman AND Bruce Wayne fanboy so when Bruce accidentally adopts him, he is very happy. Thankfully, he’s overexcited in a mostly funny way. He never screws up (at least not in a too annoying way) and is a decent help in the end.
He doesn’t exactly grow too much, but I found to be likable enough.
I’ll go over the next two at the same time, because why not. They are Alfred, voiced by Ralph Finnes and Barbra Gordon, voiced by Rosario Dawson. Alfred is the trustworthy butler we all know and love, and he gets some good lines and is the first ot point out that Batman needs help. He’s good supporting and gets plenty of spotlight, thankfully.
I really like what they did with Barbra. Here she becomes the commissar after Gordon retires and she’s already had a history of being badass and she wants to improve Gotham…mostly by trying to get Batman to work with the law. She’s not hugely complex but it’s cool what they did with her, and while Batman kind of crushes on her (which is brought up twice and never comes into play in a big way),they don’t do any real love story with her, so she stands on her own.
So she was nicely handled. The final notable one is The Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis. He’s what you would expect the lego Joker to be and he’s pretty funny. I especially the weird sort of romance he and Batman have. Yeah, they have a far more well written romance the whole Barbara thing.
It starts as a typical “Nemesis Romance” but they really go all out with at points, and even make it part of Joker’s motivation. It’s even a tad sweet at points, which is rather surprising. He’s well done.
Everyone else is there for a quick joke or to fill up the roster in action scenes. There’s far too many to list, from Harely Quinn, to Riddler, to a Two Face voiced by Billy Dee Williams. Yeah, finally, I know.
Also, Kate Miccuci pops up, proving she wants to take over all animation.
This works out fine as the focus is kept where it should be and they work. Although it is wasteful to cast certain actors only to give them nothing to do, like the aforementioned Billy Dee, but ah well.
There’s a lot of people in this, but it’s good to know that the ones that matter are mostly well done, and fun to watch.
While it obviously it’s quite as good as The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie is still a really funny ride. The pacing can be a bit much, and the story is a tad cliché but it’s well executed with the characters being spot on, great animation, and really clever and funny humor with a good heart.
This is a movie I’d recommend to most people, as it has enough to appeal to everyone. Batman Fans will get the most out of it due the references, as well as Lego fans but most can get into the humor.
Some may find it a bit too much but I’m sure most will enjoy it fine regardless of if they find the story a bit cliché. I had a ton of fun with this movie, even with it’s minor issues. I laughed a lot and got into the more emotional scenes.
Now this is how you start an animation year. It’s nothing complex but it’s total blast that does good job of getting us ready for hopefully heavier stuff later this year. It’s good to finally break that first animated film of the year curse, in the least.
In other words, I recommend this one.
Enjoyment: B+ (Won’t write out a fuill section for it anymore, I’ll just put it here to make things easier)
Our next general will also be our next animated film. And based on how it looks…i think they swapped the first two animated features by mistake,