“The LEGO Batman Movie”



In “The LEGO Batman Movie,” everything is decidedly not awesome. Not by a long shot. This sequel to the 2014 runway hit “The LEGO Movie” is repetitive, annoying, stale, and will most certainly make my shortlist as one of the very worst films of 2017.

Everybody wants to see gags at the expense of infallible superheroes, but the movie misses just about every opportunity to poke fun at Batman, his cohorts, and his enemies. The film is not amusing, the jokes not funny enough to warrant more than a few polite chuckles, and the satire not biting nor irreverent enough to make any meaningful impact.

There are too many pop culture references masquerading as jokes and the shallow plot (Batman must rise to the occasion and save the city from a group of super villains) makes for a dull evening at the movies. The film tries but sputters, and never quite gets off the ground.

Not helping matters is the animation. I really hate the way this movie looks, with its ugly, chunky and clunky animation. I understand that the animators are trying to capture the look and feel of the popular LEGO brand building toys, but the unpleasant-featured facial expressions come across as shoddy and junky looking. The movie is crowded with repetitive, rapid cut action scenes, and animated action scenes rarely work on a film of this scale (or any, for that matter). Here they are overdone to the point where they feel junky and obnoxious, nothing more than extended scene fillers that stink of desperation.

The voice talent is surprisingly uninspired, especially Rosario Dawson‘s irritating Commissioner Gordon and Michael Cera as the wide-eyed orphan boy who will soon be Robin, Dick Grayson. Will Arnett‘s raspy-voiced, arrogant Batman, while very amusing — briefly — in the original “The LEGO Movie,” just gets too irksome far too rapidly here. It’s a laborious gimmick that’s quickly tiring to the point of no return.

Kids won’t like this movie and adults won’t like this movie. Just like the lead hero’s voice, this one is one big, long, boring monotone.

“Ratchet & Clank”



Colorful, loud and boisterous with an uninteresting plot, “Ratchet and Clank” is not a good movie for adults or kids. This is exactly the kind of animated movie that gives all animated movies a bad name. That it actually got a wide theatrical release will go down as one of the greatest mysteries of the decade (it’s much better suited as a Nickelodeon cartoon television movie of the week for the kiddos).

The characters are cute and likeable, especially the big-eared, fox-like creature Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) and defective war robot Clank (David Kaye). The friendly Clank is inexplicably cuddly (I never thought I’d feel all warm and snuggly about a robot) and you can’t help but root for the duo to save the galaxy. Most of the others are completely generic and forgettable. Captain Qwark (Jim Ward) is a Mr. Incredible looking vain buffoon and Elaris (Rosario Dawson) is a slightly nerdy femme sidekick.

The voice actors are more than capable and I have no complaints about any of their performances, but there are two well-respected actors who have no business lowering their standards to be in a movie like this: John Goodman (Grimroth) and Paul Giamatti (Chairman Drek). Goodman and Giamatti at least give it their all so you can’t fault them for that.

The story is generic too: our misfit heroes must work together with the Galactic Rangers to stop evil aliens from destroying every planet in the Solana galaxy. There’s a lot of double crossing and lasers and noise that blends into a cacophony of blah. The animation is good enough, but barely. It looks like a video game, but maybe that is the point.

Not everything here is awful, however. I found myself snickering at a lot of the smartass, sarcastic humor and way more than a handful of jokes are genuinely funny. The snappy buddy banter works well at first, but the overly long movie later nosedives into a boring mess of repetitive ruckus — and I still have a headache from the robots and laser guns hours after my screening. God help you if your kid demands to see it in 3D.

I knew nothing about this film before I watched it, but apparently it’s based on a very popular SONY video game. As such, the movie feels like a 90 minute commercial for PlayStation.

This might be something children would enjoy if they are familiar with the game, but I shared the sentiment of the little girl sitting in the row behind me. “Mommy,” she asked about 30 minutes into the movie, “when do we get to go home?

Matt was unavailable for review.