Movie review: The LEGO Batman Movie

Ralph Fiennes is the third Academy Award-nominated British actor to play Alfred Pennyworth

Lego Batman movieWhile the wife and daughter were away in North Carolina, doing good deeds, I was home alone, except for the cats. I went into a movie-viewing frenzy, seeing four movies in four days, and The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) was the fourth.

A free movie on a Tuesday afternoon at the Palace Theater in Albany. What could be the downside? Well, there were well over 1000 kids and their parents, and they were LOUD, making the subtle dialogue in the beginning rather hard to hear, that “Black. All important movies start with a black screen… And music… Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous… And logos…” bit. But as the movie ramped up, this became less of a problem.

I saw the first LEGO movie on my birthday in 2014, also for free. I enjoyed it. But Batman was there for comic relief, and it really didn’t delve into the character. Now the guy in the newer movie, HE was Batman.

David Sims, the reviewer for The Atlantic, nailed it: It “works precisely because it knows audiences are sick of its hero. It’s a reassessment, an intervention, an effort to try and remember what’s fun about him.” Because Batman can be a real drag, such as Ben Affleck in Justice League, and doesn’t always play well with others.

The film is filled with witty references from many phases of the character, from the Adam West TV/movie character (shark repellent) to “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” from Batman (1989 -Michael Keaton). My favorite line may have been from Alfred about Batman going through “similar phases” in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2005, 1997, 1995, 1992, 1989, and a “weird one” in 1966, a reference to every year in which a major Batman film was released.

Will Arnett was absolutely dead-on as the voice of Batman / Bruce Wayne, though that guttural snarl must have done damage to his vocal chords. Michael Cera was earnest as Robin / Dick Grayson. Rosario Dawson was great as Batgirl / Barbara Gordon. I learned Ralph Fiennes is the third Academy Award-nominated British actor to play Alfred Pennyworth, after Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons. Zach Galifianakis showed the various shadings of The Joker.

I was glad I went to The LEGO Batman Movie, though it got better as kids exited well before the end of the film.