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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in Lego DC Comics Justice League: Gotham City Breakout it's business as usual for Batman, Superman, and the team that never quits. Characters fall, explode, and are held captive, upended, crushed, corrupted, bonked, and threatened with destruction, all while villains cackle maliciously. Separated for most of this 73-minute "feature," Batman and Superman each take on an assortment of old standbys (the Penguin, the Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy). In addition, new characters with very distinctive personal traits are introduced (Madame Mantis, the Trogowog Prince). Then there's the matter of some stunning new weaponry and wizardry to deal with, such as he Forbidden Move, a karate blow that could change the face of the planet, a Hot Tub of Horror, and the Psyche Stone, guaranteed to pry into one's mind. And the jokes just keep on coming, both cultural (for the mature kids and grown-ups) and silly (for the rest of us). Plenty of direct messages leaven the mayhem, including important notions about bravery, redemption, and righteousness. Lego/DC Comics/Warner Bros. and all their licensees continue to thrive from this cross-promotional windfall. Because of the cartoon mayhem, this new entry is only for kids who are comfortable with real versus comic book action.
What's the story?
Familiar comic book action erupts in JUSTICE LEAGUE: GOTHAM CITY BREAKOUT when Batman leaves town and Superman fills in for him in Gotham City. Accompanied by Batgirl and Nightwing on a well-deserved vacation, Batman travels beneath the surface of the earth to visit his old mentor, karate master Madame Mantis, and soon encounters surprising old villains as well. To survive and save this underworld civilization, Batman must battle an army of its citizens (the peaceful but misguided Trogowogs); a renewed, even more powerful Bane; and an old classmate who has been carrying a grudge for decades. Back in Gotham with Robin, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg at his side, Superman accidentally unleashes a super-mix of super-escapees from Arkham Asylum. Foolishly believing that because the Joker, Poison Ivy, the Penguin, and their brethren have no superpowers he can easily control them, Superman is captured and held captive in the Joker's funhouse. It's only when he realizes the error of his ways and realizes he's in desperate need of his friends that Superman is able to bring down the forces of evil. By the story's end, both Batman and Superman each have learned a little something about themselves, and both have gained new respect for each other's true amazingness.
Is it any good?
For the most part, the creators of this entry in the marketing phenom that is Lego/DC Comics strive for both wit and originality; fortunately, they achieve some success at both. Madame Mantis, the brand's answer to karate and spiritual guru Mr. Miyagi, is funny, and not just because she's a gray-haired granny, but it helps. The polite, well-spoken species of Trogowogs, headed by the cowardly but ultimately wise Grungle, are fresh and engaging. Generally, Gotham City Breakout a fun movie for the Lego DC Comics Justice League franchise and, of course, will result in lots of new action figures, toys, and associated products. Kids see the movies, buy the toys, then buy more toys, and see new movies. It's can't-miss marketing. While very young kids could be frightened by the cacophonous sounds, the explosive comic action sequences, and the continuous threats to the heroes, this film is fine for fans who understand the violence is pretend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the teamwork displayed in the Lego DC Comics Justice League stories. Could even Superman have succeeded in recapturing all the villains in Gotham City Breakout without Robin, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman? Why is it important to recognize when you need help and ask for it?
How did Madame Mantis surprise you? Describe a stereotypical "granny." How was Madame Mantis different from that picture? Why is it more interesting, and usually funnier, when characters are not what you expected them to be?
With so many movies, toys, and products in the Lego DC Comics Justice League brand, how does your family decide what to buy? Some families give away one old toy for each new one they purchase, often to someone who may not have the same resources. Do you think that system would work in your house? Why, or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: July 12, 2016
- Cast: Troy Baker, Nolan North, Grey Griffin
- Directors: Matt Peters, Mel Zwyer
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Superheroes, Adventures
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 73 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.