2017 has been a fantastic year for movies. It has given me a new Transformers film, a new Blade Runner movie, and an incredible new Star Wars film. But not only that, I’ve also had three major Justice League entries from DC: ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Justice League’ and ‘The Lego Batman Movie’.
So when asked to take part in a large Action A Go Go team project, celebrating the best movies of 2017, my first thought was to pit ‘Justice League’ against ‘The Lego Batman Movie’. Not only do they both feature members of the Justice League team, but I absolutely adored each of them.
The hard decision is…which is the better movie? Let’s find out…
The Tale of the Tape
In ‘The Lego Batman Movie’, Batman battles his arch enemy the Joker yet again, but breaks Joker’s heart when he reveals that the dastardly clown is not only far from his greatest foe, but is actually of no importance at all. The Joker’s rage is pushed into overdrive and he sets out to show Batman that he is Gotham’s greatest threat. With his trusty aides, Robin and Batgirl, by his side, Batman must steal the Phantom Zone projector from his fellow Justice League member Superman, to banish the Joker once and for all, and restore justice to Gotham City.
In ‘Justice League’, Bruce Wayne witnesses the ravages of Gotham City at the hands of countless killers and terrorists, after the death of Superman. Desperate to change the fate of his city and the world, he sets out to unite several special people with incredible superpowers. Bringing together Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg and Wonder Woman, Wayne dons his Batman cape to join the new team of heroes in an all-out war to protect humanity from the horrific Steppenwolf and an army of Parademons. But are the Justice League powerful enough to save the world? Or do they need the help of another mighty hero to fight by their side? Can a certain red cape fly through the sky once more?
The People Who Get Paid To Talk
The star power in both movies is spectacular, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ features an all-star voice cast, including Will Arnett as Batman, Zach Galifianakis as Joker and Michael Cera as Robin. Also starring are Ralph Fiennes as Alfred the butler, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl and even Billy Dee Williams finally gets to play Two-Face (He starred as Harvey Dent in 1989’s ‘Batman’, but was later replaced by Tommy Lee Jones for Two-Face in ‘Batman Forever’). ‘Justice League’ stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Between ‘Man Of Steel’, ‘Batman V Superman’ and ‘Wonder Woman’, these stars have proven they are more than worthy to take on these roles again. And they do a stellar job in ‘Justice League’, in my opinion. But the award for best cast would have to go to ‘The Lego Batman Movie’, even if just for the genius choice of Billy Dee Williams, and once again reuniting Michael Cera and Jonah Hill from ‘Superbad’. Channing Tatum is even in there, from the terrific Jump Street movies with Hill.
What’s Action A No No and What’s Action A Go Go
‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is the second in the Lego Movie franchise. While I loved ‘The Lego Movie’, I felt it somewhat repetitive, and the third act really lets me down. But there’s no such disappointment with Lego Batman. A lengthy movie for an animation, it somehow keeps my full attention from start to finish. And that’s thanks to a wonderful story, a collection of legendary supporting characters (Gremlins, Sauron, Voldemort and dinosaurs from ‘Jurassic Park’ all appear!) and a script jam-packed with joyful gags that tap not only into the movie’s core characters but also modern pop culture. A movie that I seriously can’t fault. I’m shocked that it didn’t make far more money at the box office than it did. I’ve nothing but love for it. A real treasure and spectacular tribute to the world’s favorite comic book hero.
‘Justice League’ has proven to be a very divisive movie among fans and movie-goers. With a box office take coming in at well under $700 million, it’s been a rough road for the mega-budget blockbuster. But for any problems I felt it had, I’m a huge fan of it. Its flaws are easy to spot…
A little short, the Danny Elfman score is not what was required, and some jokes come across slightly too comic book. But even those flaws come with positives. Short movies are easier to process and to enjoy. Hearing Danny Elfman score a Batman movie for the first time in 25 years is an absolute joy, even if Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL should have done it. And while some of the jokes are a little corny, it took me back to the Adam West show from the 1960’s, with a touch of light-hearted humor and some camp thrills. Tim Burton went dark for 1989’s ‘Batman’, then delivered his masterpiece with the even darker ‘Batman Returns’ soon after. But when Joel Schumacher took over with the magnificent ‘Batman Forever’, we got that sense of 60s wonder again. But following the bombing of the flawed-but-fun ‘Batman And Robin’, the Caped Crusader would appear again until Christopher Nolan took over and made everything all incredible and incredibly serious. Even ‘Batman V Superman’ comes across as less fun than I’ve had with a Batman movie, although I’ve come to adore it. But ‘Justice League’ brings back the wildness, color, and fun I longed for again. And for that alone, I truly love it.
The Final Verdict
Choosing a winner between both movies is very easy. But the reasons are somewhat hard to understand. I’ve great adoration for both, but of the two, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is practically flawless. It does what I had hoped it would do, which is to deliver beautiful animation, fantastic comedy and tons of Batman action that could almost be compared to the live-action movies. Whereas ‘Justice League’ sadly at times suffers slightly, without that current blockbuster Hans Zimmer sound we’ve come to love, and some noticeable CGI mistakes, mostly with Henry Cavill’s altered lip in post-production. For the rest, I can’t fault it. It’s packed with dazzling action and stunts, plenty of humor and the pace, although a little short, is so much fun in an age of 150-minute superhero movies. I strongly disagree with JL’s detractors, but I must hand the trophy over to ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ as the winner of these glorious movies. Though not my top movies of 2017 (That honor goes to ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, obviously), they both break my top 5.