Lego Bat­man: A vir­tual play­ground for su­per­hero fans

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JOE SZADKOWSKI

Di­rec­tor Chris McKay’s block-build­ing com­puter-an­i­mated block-buster star­ring the not-so-Dark Knight ar­rives on home, ul­tra high-def­i­ni­tion screens to thrill young su­per­hero fans in The Lego Bat­man Movie (Warner Bros. Home En­ter­tain­ment, rated PG, 105 min­utes, 2.39:1 as­pect ra­tio, $35.99).

An all-star voice-over cast brings to life the tale about a leg­endary, oc­ca­sion­ally tax-pay­ing crime fighter who bat­tles su­pervil­lains and lone­li­ness.

Af­ter Bat­man (Will Ar­nett) once again stops the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and a cav­al­cade of en­e­mies from caus­ing may­hem in Gotham City, the Clown Prince of Crime re­thinks his strat­egy and de­cides to sur­ren­der to au­thor­i­ties. His in­car­cer­a­tion forces the hero to look for a more per­ma­nent way to get rid of his arch­en­emy, re­quir­ing a de­vice used by Su­per­man to ban­ish vil­lains to the Phan­tom Zone.

The Joker uses Bat­man’s even­tual strate­gic blun­der to un­leash a master plan that threat­ens to de­stroy all of Gotham.

Our caped hero must band to­gether with his new ward Robin (Michael Cera), Bat­girl (Rosario Daw­son) and Al­fred (Ralph Fi­ennes) to stop the may­hem while learn­ing about the im­por­tance of team­work and fam­ily.

The film doesn’t just pop from the screen; it bathes in pop cul­ture through­out with funny di­a­logue and amus­ing odes to Bat­man and movie uni­verses. For ex­am­ple, Bar­bara Gor­don de­scribes Bat­man as “an un­su­per­vised adult man karate-chop­ping poor peo­ple in a Hal­loween cos­tume,” and Bat­man’s pass­word for en­ter­ing the Bat­cave is “Iron Man sucks.”

The cast in­cludes Jenny Slate as Har­ley Quinn, Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, Chan­ning Ta­tum as Su­per­man and Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern.

Fans also will sa­vor a look at un­usual ve­hi­cles stored in the Bat­cave in­clud­ing the Bat Kayak, the Bat Dune Buggy, the Bat Zep­pelin and the Bat Space Shut­tle as well as watch­ing the Scut­tler (a mul­ti­story, Bat-shaped mech walk­ing on its wings) in ac­tion.

In ad­di­tion, ap­pear­ances by a cav­al­cade of Bat­man’s more un­usual vil­lains such as Eg­ghead, Bane, Clay­face, King Tut and the dreaded Condi­ment King, com­bined with walk-ons from evil icons such as Sau­ron, the Wicked Witch of the East, Count Drac­ula, Lord Volde­mort, Agent Smith and King Kong will make hard-core fans giddy.

The movie now is poignant be­cause of the re­cent pass­ing of ac­tor Adam West. The an­i­mated ef­fort of­fers many an ode to the live­ac­tion “Bat­man” tele­vi­sion show and film from the 1960s that starred West in the ti­tle role.

A few mo­ments in­clude Robin grab­bing a can of shark re­pel­lent, an im­age dis­played of Bat­man car­ry­ing a gi­ant bomb above his head, Al­fred ac­tu­ally wear­ing the clas­sic TV cos­tume and the team punch­ing guys so hard that, para­phras­ing Bat­man, “words de­scrib­ing their im­pact spon­ta­neously ma­te­ri­al­ize out of thin air.”

Note: I fondly re­mem­ber get­ting to play this film ear­lier this year via the video game se­ries Lego Di­men­sions that in­cludes a story pack de­voted to “The Lego Bat­man Movie.”

It glee­fully re­quires build­ing real mini-block fig­ures of Bat­girl and Robin and mag­i­cally port­ing them into the ac­tion via a hub pe­riph­eral. This companion ad­ven­ture for gamers who love the movie will be all-con­sum­ing.

4K UHD in ac­tion: A com­puter-gen­er­ated world built from vir­tual Lego blocks, piece by piece, re­ally shines un­der the spot­light of 2160p res­o­lu­tion while greatly ben­e­fit­ing from high dy­namic range that makes col­ors prac­ti­cally scorch the eyes, and dark and light lev­els more ex­treme.

The ex­cel­lent trans­fer is es­pe­cially no­table dur­ing any ac­tion scene sport­ing a near-flu­o­res­cent color pal­ette — more specif­i­cally, in Bat­man’s tuxedo dress-up party, a group fight in a body scanner, and a more artsy seg­ment in which the color de­sat­u­rates from Gotham City and re­mains only on a de­pressed Bat­man’s cos­tume.

Over­all, I’d swear that the dig­i­tal ar­ti­sans used stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion to bring Lego mini-block char­ac­ters to life, ripped from the shelf of a child’s bedroom.

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