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The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/13/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/12/2017

Here's a question which must be asked -- Does Hollywood have a plan, or is every decision based on money? Outside of film series based on external sources, when sequels are made, is there a roadmap laid out for a group of movies, or are they simply the result of receipts? What about spinoffs? What is the planning like there? As much as Hollywood likes to be in control of everything, they can't always predict what the public is going to like. For example, when The Lego Movie was released in 2014, did the people behind that film know that Batman would be such a popular character? (Aside from the fact that Batman is always a popular character.) Was a solo movie already in the works? No matter the case, The Lego Batman Movie is here.

As The Lego Batman Movie opens, The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), along with a horde of Gotham City villains, hijacks a plane filled with explosives in an attempt to destroy the fault shelf beneath the city. Of course, Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) leaps into action, saving the day. As they face off, Batman informs The Joker that they are not arch-enemies. The Joker takes this news very hard, influencing a new master plan. Meanwhile, Batman returns home to Wayne Manor, where he wrestles with the fact that he's alone in his life, save for his butler, Alfred (voiced by Ralph Fiennes). His life is further complicated when Batman learns that his longtime contact Commissioner Gordon (voiced by Hector Elizondo) is retiring, only to be replaced by his daughter, Barbara (voiced by Rosario Dawson), someone who is not a Batfan. And, making matters worse, Batman inadvertently adopts an orphan named Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera). Can the Caped Crusader handle all of these changes in his life?

If you didn't see The Lego Movie or aren't familiar with the long-running line of Lego projects, then you may assume that the features are shallow and aimed only at children. (I know that this was my thought until I saw Lego Star Wars for the first time.) This couldn't be further from the truth. I don't know if no one if monitoring the Lego productions or if they are intentionally given carte blanche to go nuts, but the projects all show an impressive amount of irreverence. They are incredibly meta, as they are aware of the source materials and constantly refer to them. They also poke fun at how stiff Lego characters can be. From there, we get a mixture of pratfalls and very clever humor.

The Lego Batman Movie is certainly no exception. The first act is packed with crazy referential jokes. The film calls upon all of the previous Batman live-action movies (with Lego inspired stills from the films) and then throws in a picture from the 1966 television show. The movie also throws in real villains from the DC Comics universe which sound made up, such as Condiment King and Orca. There are also over-the-top examples of how isolated Bruce Wayne is -- When you are eating lobster thermidor by yourself at 1am, you are alone. The second half of the film focuses more on action, but we do get a slew of Warner Bros. villains who join the party.

The mixture which we see in the humor is also reflected in the overall tone of the film. The Lego Batman Movie could have easily been a fluffy, fun piece. But, it decides to bring in a very serious tone in which it examines Batman's insistence on remaining alone, shunning help from others, and rejecting anyone else's ideas. Obviously, any Batman story focuses on his isolation and fear of intimacy, but this movie really takes it to the extreme. It's a nice message, but it gets in the way of the fun at times. Also, at 104 minutes, the movie is too long. The story runs out of gas in the second half and the seemingly never-ending action sequences drone on. It's hard to tell what the powers-that-be were thinking. There's no doubt that the movie was aimed at kids, so did they think that they needed to keep the action going in order to keep their attention? If so, why not just make the movie shorter? Still, there is no denying that the movie contains some very funny moments and quotable lines. The Lego Batman Movie make take itself a bit too seriously, but it's still a lot of fun. Pray hands. Pray hands.

The Lego Batman Movie portrays Bane accurately on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 50 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic and the rainbow of tones works well here. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail here is amazing. The animators did a lot of work adding textures to this Lego world and we can see it all here. The depth is also impressive, and the animation never looks flat. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. From the outset, this track rocks, as it provides consistent stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects. The stereo effects highlight sounds coming from off-screen, while the surround effects deliver individual sounds which are impressive. The subwoofer effects aren't afraid to be powerful, delivering deep, wall-shaking bass.

Warner Home Video has also brought The Lego Batman Movie to Blu-ray 3D. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an MVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22/12 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects. The depth is very good, as the characters are clearly separate from the backgrounds. The action moves smoothly through the frame, giving a truly layered look. We don't get any "comin' at ya" effects, but the depth certainly adds to the experience. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track delivers competent stereo and surround effects, but it doesn't have the range of the Atmos track found on the 4K Disc.

The only extra found on the 4K UHD of The Lego Batman Movie is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Chris McKay and about 20 assorted crew members. The remainder of the special features are found on the included Blu-ray Disc. There are four new "Animated Shorts" which run about 8 minutes in total, feature characters from the film. The titles are "Dark Hoser", "Batman is Just Not That Into You", "Cooking With Alfred", and "Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That?". The first two are quite funny. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes. Some of these are in storyboard form and all of them are worth skipping. "One Brick at a Time: Making The Lego Batman Movie" (16 minutes) takes us into the studio to hear from the filmmaking team and the voice actors who walk us through the genesis of the film and how it was constructed, showing each step of how the Lego animation is created. We get to see that Arnett and Galifianakis worked in the recording booth together. "Inside Wayne Manor" (3 minutes) is a short in which Batman takes us on a tour of Bruce Wayne's house. "Brick by Brick: Making The Lego Batman Movie" (4 minutes) is a short featurette which plays more like an EPK and while it has some new interviews, it pales in comparison to other making of. "Behind the Brick" (4 minutes) is a look behind the scenes, but through animation, and includes interviews with the characters. "Me and My Minifig" (1 minute) has the actors seeing their toy counterparts. "Promotional Material" contains three trailers, and seven shorts including a fake Comicon panel.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long