Remember the phenomenally successful The LEGO Movie back in 2014, where everything was awesome? Well… Even more awesomer bricks have gone into the building of spinoff The LEGO Batman Movie, a film where the famous black-and-yellow dark knight takes centre stage. And, in his words, it’s simply “off the chain“. I will warn you, this review does contain spoilers so I can discuss plot-points in detail, so if you want to remain unknowing of what to expect, go watch the movie and come straight back afterwards!
Batman did, of course, make an extended cameo appearance in the original 2014 LEGO blockbuster as an ally to Emmet and Wyldstyle, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer that the superhero deserved his own movie with the added LEGO treatment. But guess what we didn’t expect? Warner Bros have potentially turned the dismal tides on DC Comics movie adaptations with this fun, family-friendly comedy action-adventure.
Up until now, Warner Bros recent DC titles (Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Suicide Squad) were panned by critics, mostly for being too gritty/dark/mature in tone, and for unevenly paced storyline. While I personally loved all three, I do agree that The LEGO Batman Movie is certainly refreshing, as it is an almost-parody of one of DC‘s flagship characters and the franchise. There is a truck-full of puns, pop culture references, and self-digs at every single previous Batman title.
Will Arnett does an incredible job of providing the low, angsty voice of the title character, with perfectly-timed sarcasm and satirical personality. Zach Galifianakis has secured what has got to be one of the best Joker performances in a very long time, taking the character back to his silly, comical roots, not too dissimilar to Cesar Romero from the classic 60’s to show. Batman and The Joker’s “ship” (um, Batman’s shortened term for “relationship“) is at the centre of the movie’s storyline, and it is made clear that neither character can exist without the other, whether Batman wants to believe it or not.
Batman’s supporting team consists of his accidentally adopted son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), a chipper, loveable kid who becomes Robin, his faithful sidekick; Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), who believes the only way to cure Gotham of its crime-ridden streets is to team up with Batman and that strength is in numbers, leading to her newfound career as Batgirl; and Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes), Batman/Bruce Wayne’s loyal long-suffering butler who will do anything to serve his master, proving a more-than-helpful ally for when Batman’s judgement is impaired by the occasional bout of selfishness. The entire rogues’ gallery of Batman villains make appearances throughout the movie, including The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Mr Freeze, Bane and Harley Quinn amongst many, many others. The majority of the Justice League members also make a memorable cameo as Superman holds a sick party at his Fortress Of Solitude.
I literally have only one minor criticism of this movie, and that is the inclusion of non-DC Comics properties. The inclusion of multi-licensed characters worked well with The LEGO Movie because the movie clearly depicted the events being created by the imagination of a human child, and I think we can all remember mixing our Barbie dolls with Power Rangers figures as a young kid. However, for a movie which advertises itself as being about Batman (and only showing DC Comics characters in the trailers), removes the presence of human characters unlike its predecessor, I felt including the likes of Lord Voldemort, The Gremlins, The Wicked Witch Of The West, Sauron, Jurassic Park dinos and “British Robots” (who are clearly Daleks) seemed like a little step too far, and that stage of the movie certainly transformed Gotham City into a LEGO Dimensions commercial.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, The Gremlins, Wizard Of Oz etc, but did it REALLY need to be included into The LEGO Batman Movie, of which, let’s face it, has an audience of mostly Batman fans who are watching The LEGO Batman Movie purely for BATMAN awesomeness? Story wise, I didn’t feel it was needed, it was like watching a rip-off of HISHE Villains Pub, the premise slightly withdrew me from the Batman universe and the climax could’ve easily been achieved using DC characters only. With The LEGO Movie Sequel on the horizon (set to premiere 2019), these non-DC characters would’ve been far better appreciated if held back for this production instead.
The theme of family, friendship and teamwork runs strong at the heart of this movie, as well as what makes a good guy “good” and a bad guy “bad”. Is The Joker a typical criminal mastermind, or does he indeed have a sensitive side? Is Batman really the selfless hero Gotham deserves, or does he struggle with favouring isolation from others? All this is covered while still providing a tonne of laughs by the minute with LEGO‘s staple laugh-out-loud humour and a brilliant soundtrack that both the young and young-at-heart can enjoy. I definitely recommend watching in 3D for extra indulgence into the wonderful animation which could easily convince you that this movie has been created through stop-motion rather than CGI. Definitely stay for the funky song-and-dance credits scene too, you won’t be disappointed!
In conclusion, I feel there is only one way to wrap this up…
“Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.”