Leggo My Lego
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If Lego Batman followed its opening act, there was potential for a superhero lampooning classic. Instead, it’s a bunch of stuff, thrown toward the screen in dollops, hoping for any number of pop culture references to stick. If Lego Batman is funny, it’s only so for a few seconds before the next attempt at a joke flies at the screen. Third act chaos makes even the overlong action a jumble of Lego parts. Somewhere in that mix is Batman, but good luck finding him.
This is not a detail showcase. In some cases, particularly when the camera pulls back inside the Batcave, Lego Batman looks downright fuzzy. Try to spot Batman himself and he’s more of a smudge on the screen. Other detail is excellent. Rendering of environments, down to every digital brick, shows how meticulous animators were. Even on the figures themselves, plastic is notable. But it’s fine. Just fine, undoubtedly rendered at 2K.
Where this one excels is in the color. Outside of Lego Batman, it’s difficult to think of a UHD this early with a better example of the tech’s color depth capabilities. Even other UHD animation examples (like Secret Life of Pets) don’t come near the density produced here. Usually covered in multiple light sources, vibrant smoke, or dazzling sunsets, no scenes pass without showcasing the ability of this format. It’s like looking into a world made up of brightly colored candy rather than Legos.
The same goes for contrast and black levels, even if the former tends to skew exaggerated. A heavy blooming effect tends to railroad details, blowing out parts of the image. However, the HDR effects give life to miniature Gotham’s nightlife. Walking into Gordon’s retirement party, the scene overflows with gorgeous arrays of lights. A small drop in detail isn’t worth fussing over. Black levels won’t fall victim to any such issues, impressive considering Batman’s chosen color.
Maybe it’s just an adjustment going between formats, but Lego Batman’s Blu-ray looks pale. Depth is squandered, coating the film in a mild foggy haze. It’s not the blooming effect of the source material. Black levels lighten up and contrast feels muted.
Even color looks reduced, likewise lagging considering the intended vibrancy of the feature. It’s colorful, certainly saturated, but as if someone overlaid a extra thin sheet of tissue paper on the screen. By design though, Lego Batman keeps pouring on primaries and interesting palette choices. It’s still gorgeous.
On the plus side, detail remains high, picking up on the texture of the world and these characters. Encoding handles a plethora of fast moving, crowded challenges. By the final action scenes, the screen fills with extensive material and no compression is noted.
Both discs offer the same options for audio, DTS-HD 7.1 and Dolby Atmos. Oddly, the UHD defaulted to DTS, the Blu-ray Atmos. Go figure.
Either mix is a fine choice, even if neither of the two particularly astound. For the level of visual activity, Lego Batman doesn’t match up in terms of audio, with exceptions. A brief air battle sends ships careening through the sound field, their pew-pew lasers not far behind. It’s an active moment, so much that it’s easier to pinpoint the lack of judicious channel work elsewhere.
The front soundstage is lovely, even to extremes. Voices tend to slip out of the center abruptly or too early. Still, separation comes into play as needed. Low-end support adds a bit of thump, but also rarely rocks the room. Batman’s rap throbs a beat, better than most of the explosions to come.
Only the commentary with director Chris McKay and various people from his team resides on the UHD. For the rest, switch over to the Blu-ray, but only if you’re a die-hard. This mediocre selection isn’t worth the trouble of swapping discs. One Brick at a Time is the longest of the lot, a pretty general 16-minute making of. Interviews with cast and crew are included, playing to expectations. Four short films (seven minutes total) have some laughs. Arguably, these mark the high point of the bonuses. For one great dialog gag, the deleted scenes follow just behind the shorts.
The rest is EPK material, the lengthiest being Behind the Bricks, effectively a condensed version of the earlier making of. Inside Wayne Manor tosses out a zinger or two in a MTV Cribs-style tour of Lego Batman’s home. Buried in the promo materials section is an all-Lego Comic Con bit. That’s charming, while the other menu options beg you to skip them.
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