A good LEGO movie is composed of a never-ending stream of puns, physical gags, hidden references, and fun for both kids and adults. I recently tested out all of these elements in a family viewing of Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom with my 8-year-old son and (age redacted) husband.
The focus of the story in Legion of Doom is Cyborg, the newest addition to the Justice League. It’s tough to be the new kid on the block when the block is occupied by a host of experienced superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Cyborg has grand dreams of becoming a respected member of the team, but, first, he needs to wake up on time for the staff meetings. He’s especially desperate to impress Batman but is having a very difficult time chipping away at Batman’s taciturn LEGO exterior.
Even the veteran Justice Leaguers have a number of issues that are distracting them from the day-to-day crime fighting. Flash and Green Lantern are engaged in a “Legolas vs. Gimli” competition to be the most awesome superhero, all in an effort to impress Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is doing her best to ignore Flash and Green Lantern.
Batman and Superman are vying for the group leadership role, although Superman is too supportive of Batman to really put on a good show for himself. Indeed, for much of the movie, Superman is channeling a “Drax the Destroyer” level of naïve literalism that is hilarious. (And, in a lovely turn of events, ends up wearing his underwear UNDER his clothes!)
And, Batman is just serious.
(On a side note, Legion teases us with Aquaman, Hawkman, and Green Arrow in an opening sequence to the story, but, sadly, we never see them again. What better place to bring back Aquaman than in a LEGO movie? Get on that, LEGO DC Comics Superheroes.)
Our heroes are, of course, pitted against The Legion of Doom. (Cue massive movie title card and dramatic soundtrack.). Sinestro, Black Manta, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, and Captain Cold join the team led by Lex Luthor in a plot to discredit the Justice League and . . . wait for it . . . take over the world. With lots of evil “bwahaha” laughing. (Cue dramatic soundtrack again.)
One of the best bits in the movie is the “Obstacle Course of Doom,” Lex’s method for selecting new members for the Legion of Doom. This is a wonderfully inventive and hilarious action sequence that sees a bevy of hapless villains eliminated from the running, including The Joker and Penguin. We are treated to a brief glance of the wonderfully skilled Deathstroke, who aces the course but is ejected by Lex in a fit of jealousy.
The climactic battle is a free-for-all melee with a monkey army, kryptonite rays, flying buildings, and disco missiles that winds up in a moral about learning how to trust your instincts. (I know this for a fact, because Batman says it at the end.) Everyone learns something, newbie and pros alike.
Throughout our viewing, we were extremely impressed by the quality of the animation. Every scene was crisp and detailed, especially in the character close-ups. This is animation made for fast-paced HD scrutiny.
For the most part, Legion of Doom does a great job of mixing up humor for the younger audience with references adults can appreciate, as well (nods to Men in Black, Kill Bill, Spinal Tap, Lord of the Rings, etc.). Wonder Woman has a string of hilarious exclamations whenever anything exciting happens . . . “Petrified Pandora!” “By Hippolita’s Hairnet!” “Cassandra’s Corset!” “Athena’s Fallen Arches!”
The only running gag that got a bit old was the competition between Flash and Green Lantern. Their attempts to woo Wonder Woman seemed a bit beyond something my son’s age group could appreciate, and the incessant bickering between the two was a bit annoying for the adult age group.
Legion of Doom was a very fun family viewing experience that I’m sure my son will re-watch over and over. You might even find one or two of the adults sitting down to re-watch along with him, when we’re not playing a LEGO video game, that is. (Seriously, LEGO is taking over our lives . . . send help!)
My 8-Year-Old Son’s Review:
“I liked the movie a lot. My favorite part was the battle between the ships at the end. It would have been a good thing for Deathstroke to have worked for The Legion. My favorite character would have been Deathstroke.”
The Husband’s Review: (Age Still Redacted)
“I liked it. It was a cute kid’s movie. My favorite character was Batman. The Flash and Green Lantern bit got old.”
P.S. We were fairly excited to see what Special Features we’d be treated to; however, we only found an extensive segment about sound effects that was too long to keep the attention of either the kids or adults in my house. Would have loved even a small gag reel. Sigh.