The Lego Movie was one of the best movies period of 2014. The combination of witty, self referential humor and the pure ridiculousness of everything made of Lego blocks (including fire and water) made it must see and must buy. Warner Brothers attempts to capture lightning in a bottle again with The Lego Batman Movie. Those who have seen the original Lego Movie know that Batman was one of the marquee characters. Now we have a movie that’s focused solely on Batman and what is revealed is surprisingly deep and introspective yet endearing and hilarious. And yes….this is spoiler free.
Almost immediately, you’re hit with the humor with Batman commenting on each of the familiar company logos that accompany the beginning of most films. This self referential, fourth wall breaking sets the tone for the rest of the humor in the film…and boy is there a lot of humor. Lego Batman crams a lot of jokes that are spot on for the most part. However, at times there are so many jokes that you barely have time to process one joke before the next one is thrown at you. Fortunately, the movie gleefully pokes fun at earlier Batman films (including the Adam West version) and makes many references to other DC characters and even one Marvel character (I won’t spoil that one because it’s pretty funny). There are even characters from other movie franchises that cross over (similarly to what The Lego Movie did). Once past the jokes however, we see a story that is actually more poignant than many of the live action portrayals of the character. This version of Batman is an arrogant prick who prefers to do everything alone (because he’s Batman). He lives alone in a giant mansion save for his butler, Alfred. Still emotionally scarred from the death of his parents, he refuses to engage in meaningful relationships with anyone. This fear is actually humorously put in stark contrast with the Joker. This version of the Joker simply wishes to be “hated” by Batman, to be acknowledged as his true enemy. However, Batman rebuffs Joker’s “advances” in a scene that plays out humorously like some kind of twisted romance. Joker therefore begins his plan to attack Gotham City in order to make Batman acknowledge him. Compounding this is the introduction of Dick Grayson (aka Robin) and his longing for an adoptive father. From there, Batman must navigate his own feelings and come to terms with his own need for relationships and sense of belonging. The overall story is very good and one that parents and kids will find enjoyable. I would say my main complaint would be the pacing issues. As I mentioned before, the jokes and action sequences are very fast but when the film slows down for more character building, it SLOWS down. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker but it’s worth pointing out. The slower sequences kind of drag the film down and almost make those sections slightly boring (almost). Fortunately, the character arcs in those slower moments make up for it and the overall story is better for it. One more thing, while this movie is fine for kids (I brought my 8 year old daughter along), there is one slightly inappropriate joke regard Robin’s real name.
This version of Batman is voiced by Will Arnett and he delivers a spot on portrayal. For most of the film, he uses the gravely type, slightly “Christian Bale”, Batman voice but that’s part of the charm. Arnett’s Batman is still in “character” even when he goes back to Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne is only in the movie a couple of times but Arnett’s portrayal is still excellent with him switching to the “billionaire, philanthropist, playboy” nature of Bruce. The Joker as played by Zach Galifianakis will probably divide some fans. It’s a more silly and over the top performance that some people will like and others will love. Personally, I thought it was fine. It actually reminded me somewhat of the villain Him on Powerpuff Girls where his personality splits between the silly and darker natures. Regardless, Galifianakis still retains the more unpredictable aspects of Joker’s personality as you see how far Joker goes in order to make Batman “hate” him. Robin, voiced by Michael Cera seems annoying at first but grows on you as the movie goes on. Robin himself is an interesting character as he strives to be accepted and loved by Batman as a father. The performances by Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon) and Ralph Fiennes (Alfred) are good as well with both characters providing more guidance roles in their relation to Batman.
Animation and Sound
As with The Lego Movie, Warner Brothers Animation did a SUPERB job with the animation. I am continually amazed at the level of detail of each Lego block. You could swear that they filmed actual Lego blocks in stop motion (it’s CGI). Apparently, every single thing in The Lego Movie (and presumably the Lego Batman Movie) can be made with actual Legos. One of the ongoing jokes in both Lego movies is the mere fact that everything is made of Legos and certain gags take advantage of that fact. Sound-wise, this sounds like a proper Batman movie. The score is reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s theme from Batman Begins with shades of Batman: The Animated Series. In typical Lego fashion, many of the sound effects (particularly gunfire) is literally someone saying the words for the sound.
The Lego Batman Movie is a fast paced, hilarious film with surprising depth and character development. The movie has something for everyone, although those familiar with the comics and movies will enjoy the references peppered throughout the movie. The film suffers some pacing issues in the slower sections and the copious amount jokes make it hard to digest one before the next one comes. However, the jokes are very funny and the slower sections develop Batman’s character in meaningful ways. I would definitely recommend seeing this movie. I hope you enjoyed my review, thanks for reading!