Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie
Directed by Chris McKay and accompanied by the directors and writers behind The Lego Movie, Warner Animation Group's The Lego Batman Movie, is a computer-animated superhero comedy and spin-off starring Will Arnett as the voice of the caped crusader. Originally created from the DC line of LEGO video games, this is the first time the hero has had his own feature-length film. Other stars include, Micheal Cera (Robin), Zach Galifianakis (The Joker), Rosario Dawson (Barbara/Batgirl), and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth. The film utilizes many assets from the DC comics and LEGO toy brand and is the second film to be released to fuse these two elements. The plot boils down to Batman and his greatest fear, family. The films' greatest strength relies on the satirical treatment of the Batman character and its luminous voice acting talent.
In DC's LEGO Universe, Gotham City has never been safer. Batman continues to patrol the city's streets fighting crime and taking down the Joker. But, as Commissioner Gordon retires, Bruce Wayne faces a new enemy. The commissioner's daughter, Barbara rises to the new position and pushes a more pro-police, anti-Batman agenda. However, Joker returns out of nowhere with some of the most dangerous villains from the DC LEGO Universe! It is up to Batman to not only get over his greatest fear (snake clowns?) but also enlist the help of many people close to him to close the Phantom Zone and return the bad guys of the LEGO Universe back to where they belong.
To every comic book fan's delight, many superheroes and villains from DC comics make an appearance! Villains such as Scarecrow, Twoface, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Clayface, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and many others make a well appreciated cameo. And heroes such as Wonder Woman, Superman, The Flash, Robin, Batgirl, and several others make an appearance for the hero side. This movie is clearly a DC animated film inside of the LEGO Universe. Not the other way around.
The golden feature of this movie is its ability to not only be hysterical but brilliant in its approach and writing. From the opening credits, the movie never takes itself seriously. From Bruce Wayne breaking the fourth wall, to homages on old Batman comics and superhero movies. The jokes told are something fans of the comics will instantly get and then laugh out loud. It would have been easy to fill the movie with nonsensical comedic lines for the little ones and while there are a few, it is to be noted that there is a lot of smart jokes as well. And the film's use of contrapuntal music (music opposite to the music expected for an emotion in a scene) make the movie even funnier!
While visually all aspects of the film is LEGO, unfortunately the movie puts less emphasis on the building aspects of the toy franchise. From my previous experience with the LEGO videogames and even more recently The Lego Movie, the narrative was always conscious that it still took place inside the LEGO universe. Though not totally absent, it would have been better to include more scenes where LEGO's are the centerpiece to the film's world. Besides that, the characters are painted faithfully to their character counterpart and look great in shiny LEGO fashion.
The Lego Batman Movie is a fantastic treat for kids and adults. Whether you're a DC comics fan or collect and play with LEGO toys and blocks, it's a fun and joyful watch to be had. The voice acting is wonderful from Will Arnett's dark, raspy Batman to Robin's eccentric and weird behavior. And although the movie doesn't take itself seriously, there are sentimental moments attached designed to tug at your heart strings. The movie's ability to switch its tone from comedy to action to sentimental, and then back to comedy keeps it from becoming boring in the slightest bit.
The Lego Batman Movie is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD, and available streaming platforms.