After the success of The LEGO Movie, it was announced that another movie would be on its way, this time starring Batman. The worry, then, was whether the film would capture the same magic, or whether the shock success of the picture (a movie that was far better than it had any right to be) was a one-off. Well, those worries turned out to be unfounded – The LEGO Batman Movie is great, full of humour and action.
Batman (Will Arnett) has foiled yet another of the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) schemes, defeating his arch-rival and hurting his feelings by claiming they share no special hero-villain bond. The Joker proves to be the least of his worries, however, as there are big changes afoot in Gotham City. Commissioner Gordon is retiring, to be replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) – she has ideas on how to change policing in the city, restricting so they can function without the Batman. Faced with a threat bigger than any he has ever faced before, his best solution may be to drop the moody lone vigilante thing, and perhaps his new sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and his loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can help teach him a thing or two.
The LEGO Batman Movie functions on two levels – I’m going to focus on it as a movie in itself. However, if you are a particularly avid fan of Batman and his mythology, this film is packed with double the number of treats. It’s a love letter to the character, and it is full of Easter eggs referencing all the iterations of the hero, tons of supporting characters and loads of memes (and I’m the kind of Batman fan who could tell you about the Condiment King and the Batusi (it’s really worth a Google) before I saw them here. Also of note is Alfred’s enjoyable montage, referencing all of the past movies (and, in an act of not-so-incredible precognition, it predicting Batman v Superman was going to be a bit stupid).
So, what if you’re not a Batman fan? Well, you’re still in luck – this film is really funny, breezing through its runtime with a madcap, almost surreal spirit. However, despite all the innovation and daftness, it never feels stupid – it has so much playfulness and visual wit that you’d probably need to watch it twice to see everything. As action-comedies go, it takes some beating, especially given that this is a world in which anything is possible (wait for the finale, which is full of inventiveness and something to get the nerd in us all happy – to say any more would ruin the surprise).
Arnett is back as Batman, having been one of the highlights of The LEGO Movie, and he proves on fine form again, mixing a sharp observational humour with his attempts to be dark and edgy. Our main supporting cast are also strong – Michael Cera, in particular, offers a rather emotional performance as Robin, a loving child just eager to please as he looks for a family (this movie isn’t shy on the darker Batman stuff, either – it psychoanalyses the character more than Freud would). Fiennes has, as of late, found his forte in comedy, and his Alfred proves no exception – his exasperation with his master is another of the movie’s good points.
Now, I should point out some issues with the film – not all of the gags land, and some of them are overplayed to the point of exhaustion, losing the humour with it. The action sequences are far more visually impressive than The LEGO Movie’s from a technical perspective, but sometimes the LEGO-ness is a bit too much, especially with the way the movie solves its final problem. And, of course, it won’t appeal to everybody – some will find it too silly, and hate it on that front.
There won’t be many won’t watch it and dislike it though. The LEGO Batman Movie was clearly made with a love for the source material and an infectious, childlike energy that shines through. It’s the best Batman movie we’ve had in quite a while, but it’s so much more than that too.
Director: Chris McKay
Cast: Will Arnett (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Michael Cera (Robin/Dick Grayson), Rosario Dawson (Batgirl/Barbara Dawson), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred Pennyworth), Zach Galifianakis (Joker), Jenny Slate (Harley Quinn)
Running Time: 104 Mins
Image credit: http://nerdist.com/tag/the-lego-batman-movie/