This year we have a large line-up of promising superhero flicks but oddly enough, the first one is made of toy blocks. The Lego Batman Movie, the spiritual successor to the surprisingly well-made and acclaimed The Lego Movie. This movie has a lot to live up to in order to please both Batman/Comic fans as well as fans of The Lego Movie.
The story features Batman, played by Will Arnett, as the beloved hero of Gotham whose private life is not as glamorous but rather lonely. He’s determined to avoid building relations with anyone; no friends, no family, he won’t even acknowledge the Joker, played by Zach Galifianakis, as his greatest enemy. His life takes a drastic turn when he accidentally adopts Dick Grayson, played by Michael Cera, and the new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, played by Rosaria Dawson, manages to arrest all of his enemies in one night when the Joker surrenders. She and Batman both suspect the Joker is up to something, but while Barbara wants to work with Batman to figure out Joker’s true intentions, Batman plots to steal the Phantom Projector and send Joker to the Phantom Zone, where the worst villains are kept. Little do either know that the Joker is baiting them into sending him there so he can break the villains out, use them to take over Gotham, and show Batman that he is his greatest enemy.
Initially I had concerns about this movie’s portrayal of the Bat–family and the Joker since it would be taking a more light-hearted approach to these characters but I found myself enjoying how the movie portrays them. The writing and dialogue is brilliant and histerical, on par with The Lego Movie in terms of entertainment. Less than a minute in and the jokes had me laughing and kept delivering great comedy with inside jokes and references to the comics, the Christopher Nolan Trilogy, the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films, the Super Friends, the Adam West show, and many more that provide a hilarious, satirical look at one of DC’s greatest heroes.
The cast is marvelous, Will Arnett’s Batman acts more like a manchild with a massive ego living out his fantasies through vigilantism. I had issues with how much of a showoff he was yet what makes this Batman memorable and great is how it doesn’t view Batman as this serious, all-mighty defender but as a man still suffering from the loss of his parents and afraid to be part of a family again because he doesn’t want to feel that pain again. This is one of the key defining features as Batman, a hero who fights crime to honor his parents and make sure that no one suffers like he did and the film captures it perfectly. The Joker is another character I was worried about at first but Galifianakis does a surprising job at playing the hysterical, comedic, chaotic villain while also making him possibly the first sympathetic Joker in scenes where he seeks the approval of his rival.
As for Robin, I feared his joyful, helpful attitude would get annoying but instead he comes off as playful, adorable, and a incredibly sweet pushover that works well with Batman. My one issue is that the film does gloss over what happened to his family and how he learned acrobatics, which I consider an important part of his character, which makes him seem too perfect. Barbara Gordon doesn’t act very different from her other incarnations and acts as a nice foil to Batman, but what baffles me is that early on Batman gets a crush on her and then it never really goes anywhere. Finally, Alfred has a surprisingly large role in the film that reveals just how crucial Alfred is to Batman not just as a butler, but as a father figure to Batman.
There are also a plethora of villains in this, such as Harley Quinn, Condiment King (yes really), and just about every villain Batman has faced over the past 78 years, in addition to some odd ones from other movies like Voldemort, King Kong, and the Daleks from Dr. Who. What’s disappointing is that the villains are all lumped together and just barely get any time to shine, even though some of them are voiced by celebrities like Conan O’Brien as the Riddler, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent (again), and Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn. I felt like there could have been a lot of potential with them but they’re mostly used as forgettable cameos, easter eggs, and plot devices.
The action scenes are amazingly well choreographed and can get intense at moments. At times I found it hard to believe that a movie with Lego in the title could be this good, even though they wowed me in the past. Of course this movie has some flaws in story but I never really noticed until after I left the theater. This is one of the films you’ll be so engrossed in that you won’t notice any faults initially.
All in all, if it isn’t already obvious, I love this film. Warner Bros managed to make another astounding Lego film that manages to respectfully satirize Batman while keeping him true to his roots. I sincerely hope that other superhero reboots/adaptations learn how to reimagine superheroes faithfully like this film. I highly recommend that people go see it while it’s still out in theaters and hope that any future Lego movies continue to amaze me.