The LEGO Batman Movie.
A few years ago, the original The LEGO Movie really surprised us. It didn’t seem like a 90-minute commercial but instead had a life and heart to it that was unexpected. In that movie, we were introduced to Batman, played by Will Arnett, who now gets his own film. Would this movie be able to capture the essence of the first film yet also have an identity unto itself?
Batman (Arnett) is saving the day as usual when he comes across the Joker (Zach Galifianakis). The Joker wants to be Batman’s archenemy but Batman is fairly lukewarm about it, triggering Joker to find a huge and elaborate way to destroy Gotham City and prove once and for all that he’s Batman’s greatest threat. During this, Batman accidentally adopts a child (Michael Cera) and a new Police Commissioner takes over (Rosario Dawson). With the help of his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Batman must find a way to navigate these threats, as well as dealing with his real greatest enemy: letting someone else into his life.
Like The LEGO Movie before it, this movie manages to have a heart to it. This movie might actually understand Batman and Bruce Wayne better than many of the live action adaptations have. While it’s humorous in its execution (such as “One is the loneliest number…” playing while he’s introspective), this movie actually explains some of Batman’s flaws and struggles perfectly. His relationship with Robin (Cera) is both hilarious and touching. This might be one of the best Batman films we’ve ever seen.
If you’re a fan of Batman, you’ll love this. This movie is full of references for you, inside jokes about past movies and comic book arcs (and even other superhero movies). This can be a problem though, as some of these jokes are really deep cuts that the average viewer won’t understand. So if you’re a casual fan, expect there to be barrage after barrage of jokes that don’t always hit for you.
Visually this movie is very striking as well, genius in how some of these moments include the LEGO mythology. It’s beautiful for the most part, though sometimes there’s too much going on that it can make your brain hurt. Things are being simultaneously destroyed and made at the same time, all during an action chase scene. It can be a little cluttered onscreen.
In terms of voice talent, this movie has an incredible comedic cast, led by Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Zach Galifianakis. Cera and Galifianakis especially give surprising performances here, better than most of their stuff in recent years. Arnett is great as the lead but that’s to be expected. There are also tons of guest voices that you’d never recognize but the IMDb listing is spectacular.
What doesn’t work?
Only a few criticisms.
Firstly, it’s somewhat reliant on your knowledge of the Batman history and lore. Villains show up and they say a line that was a funny catchphrase from the 1989 Batman film, stuff like that. It’s sometimes very deep and a lot might go over your head.
Secondly, the movie surprisingly includes a lot of characters from outside the DC world, similar to how The LEGO Movie incorporated tons of characters. This is fun but I think I would have preferred to see more of Batman’s actual rogue gallery as opposed to bringing in villains from other movies.
Lastly, the visuals can be a little hectic at times and it doesn’t seem as clean as the first film. It seems muddy most of the time, if that makes sense.
If you’re a fan of Batman, you’ll likely love this movie. It’s chock full of references and jokes tailored specifically for you. You will probably give this a 5/5. But as a film for everyone, there are only a few criticisms that just slightly lessen the impact. Everyone will enjoy the humor, the heart, and the incredible voice talent that brings this all to life. Don’t hesitate, give this one a look ASAP.