Lego Batman Blu-ray laugh out loud funny
By Jim Bray
I thought my pants would never dry!
The Lego Batman movie, now on Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, may not seem like something worth watching unless you're five year old, but it's full of laugh out loud moments young kids are likely to miss, which makes it a good movie to watch with said kids - you can not only explain some of the jokes but you can spend some quality time with the ankle biters without worrying about the latest Hollywood assault on their minds. Add a lack of sex and (other than comic book) violence, and even some personal growth that didn't really need to be there, and you have an enjoyable 104 minutes in the home theatre for the whole family.
This was my first experience with a Lego movie. My eldest son saw the first one (the Lego Movie) and told me he'd enjoyed it a lot more than he thought he would going in. And I'd seen a scene or two of it on TV and it made me smile. I had figured all it would be was some toy product placement extravaganza thing that would be more commercial than story.
It intrigued me enough than when Warners' announced the Lego Batman movie on Blu-ray, I bit. I'd hoped for it in 4K, but NOOOOO! Obviously, 4K discs are still in short supply and hopefully this will change.
So I fired up my home theatre, anticipating a mildly amusing time watching Lego Batman, and was amazed that, by the time the movie was half over, I had laughed harder than I have at any movie I can remember in recent years. Heck, I might not have laughed this hard since "Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF and, before that, Airplane!
Geez, I'm old! And, it appears, movies just aren't that funny anymore.
My favourite line came when the "not yet" Robin meets Bruce Wayne and introduces himself as "Richard Grayson," adding that his peers at school call him "Dick" - to which Wayne responds sympathetically that kids can be so mean. Just about fell off my chair with that one! The jokes keep up at least through the first half of the movie (it slows down a tad as the action speeds up later), the filmmakers refusing to "Lego" of your funny bone.
The story takes bits of Batman and Superman lore and puts it into a food processor with a bunch of other nerdworthy things, including the DC comics universe, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Heck, even Lego Daleks are on hand as the Joker tries to take over Gotham City.
Alas, this Joker is more a joke - he's pretty darn warm and fuzzy for a supervillain - and he wants Batperson to admit that he really needs Joker around to "complete him," a la Jerry Maguire. The Batdude exiles Joker to Superman's Phantom Zone (thanks to a doohickey ripped off from Supe-baby's Fortress of Solitude), after which Joker returns with an entire army of baddies culled from a number of such franchises (even Lord of the Rings' Sauron is on hand, via his dark tower).
Batman, who works alone, is forced to trust others to be on his side and to help him, and that's when the movie loses some of its delightful joy and becomes a more typical Hollywood outing. But it's a lot of fun, very very funny, and a definite "should see" if you like your superheroes to be funny as well as exciting.
I figured Lego Batman would be one big product placement (how could it not be, with a connection like that?) but beyond the obvious Lego stuff, which is more as if these characters and situations just happen to take place in a Lego world. And taking the characters out of their natural element gives plenty of opportunity to twist the usual mythos into something new and fresh.
There is some product placement, but they make that a joke, too: the iPhone, with Siri. They just can't be "Siri-ous" with this thing.
This is one of the best DC comics movie ever made. I've been very disappointed in the DC universe's translation onto the big screen. I loved the Richard Donner Superman (it's still one of my desert island discs) and the Christopher Nolan Bat-trilogy was great (though dark) - but the rest of the DC movies have left me cold. And I was a DC comics reader when I was a kid. Yet today I enjoy the Marvel universe movies a lot more (and I was never a Marvel reader). So Lego Batman, even though it isn't really a "DC Universe" movie per se, was a wonderful breath of fresh air.
The voice cast does a nice job. It includes Will Arnett as the bat person, Zack Galifianakis as the Joker, Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler and apparent parent figure.
The Blu-ray looks great, and Warner Brother also includes a DVD and a code for a digital download (though you have to sign up for a service to get it, which I refused to do since I'm a cyber-curmudgeon). It's obviously digital in origin (or features really good makeup effects!) so there's no excuse for the video to look anything less than first rate, and it really does look beautiful. Colours are rich and vibrant, there's plenty of fine detail (well, you don't get a lot of skin textures and the like…) in that 2.41:1 aspect ratio image - and the blacks are nice and deep as well.
Warner Brothers has offered an abundance of soundtrack options with the Lego Batman movie. There's a Dolby Atmos track (the studio says it's remixed especially for home theatres) and on most Atmos-equipped discs I've seen you can run that track even if you don't have Dolby Atmos capability - it "dumbs itself down" to "conventional" lossless Dolby audio. But here, Warners has also included a DTS-HD Master Audio track (and since I don't have enough speakers and amplifier channels for Dolby Atmos) that's the one I used.
The audio fills the home theatre very nicely and is very dynamic. All channels, including the subwoofer, get a nice workout yet dialogue is never compromised (and, since it's the writing that makes this thing so enjoyable, that's a very good thing).
There are plenty of extras, too, including four animated shorts (one looks into the timeless question of whether or not Batman is actually Canadian) and six featurettes. You also get a few deleted scenes, some trailers and director/crew commentary.
I enjoyed Lego Batman so much I'm going to seek out the original Lego Movie. I just want to make sure I have clean underwear on, or maybe something more absorbent. I guess it Depends what's in the dainties drawer when I get it, and how much laughter the Lego Movie elicits.
Copyright 2017 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.