The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Screenwriter: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington
Cast: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated PG | 104 Minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2017
It wasn’t that long ago when The LEGO Movie burst into movie theaters with a million of bricks and an equal amount of laughs. What looked liked a bad idea at first turned out to be interlocking blocks of bubble gum pop and child-like nostalgia. Its success would, of course, give way for sequels and spinoffs, because that’s how successful movies work nowadays. And now we are getting a taste of that with The LEGO Batman Movie.
Sure enough, The LEGO Batman Movie proves that its predecessor was no fluke. It continues the tradition of capturing the child-like imagination of playing with these building blocks to construct a manically energized spinoff full of hilarious Batman references and self-deprecating humor. But it is also a visual bubble gum pop joy that has a heartfelt message and crazy action that can be damn near exhausting.
But at the end of the day, The LEGO Batman Movie is a pure delight that even non-Batman fans will enjoy. Check out the full review below.
In the film, LEGO Batman (Will Arnett) has just defeated all of his greatest villains in one song, and lives an unfulfilled life of loneliness. Brooding awesomeness aside, he refuses to work with anyone, and cannot develop a normal relationship with those closest to him, like Alfred the Butler (Ralph Fiennes), and even his enemies like The Joker (Zach Galifiankis). Despite that, crime still runs rampant, and Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), the new police commissioner, suggests that the police work together with the Batman. Overcome with shocked that Barbara wants to work together with him, he accidentally adopts a fanboy orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Soon, the Joker hatches a plan that could split LEGO Gotham City apart, and its up to Batman to conquer his fear of having a close relationship to defeat the Joker.
The LEGO Batman Movie is chock full of Batman references from film, TV, and comics. In some ways, it mocks the source material and its predecessors. From Prince’s “Trust” on the 1989 Batman soundtrack, doing familiar poses seen on movie posters to mocking DCEU films (check out what Killer Croc says), the film makes sure it covers almost all the bases to let you know that it is a Batman movie. It may be a bit heavy-handed at times, but this is a LEGO Movie spinoff and based on the world of Batman.
The self-awareness of it all goes even a step further by mentioning how all films begin and end, and addressing IPs, lawyers, how the movie got made in the first place, and how corporate tycoons can get in the way of filmmaking. So while the script, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington, may seem like it has more energy than it knows what to do with it.
Batman starts off as an egotistical brooding loner, much like how we’ve seen in character, recently, in film, TV, and comics. But it also weaves in the campiness of the 1960’s Batman. This version embraces his cool introverted personality wholeheartedly, and yet he also recognizes just how awesome he is as noted by the opening scene of him beating all of his rogues while rocking out to a kick butt theme simultaneously.
But it does spend a great deal of time getting to the point. Right from the get-go, we see that Batman is a loner and doesn’t even consider The Joker one of his greatest villains. The Bat’s decision to live alone is exaggerated for obvious narrative reasons, and as a result, the film does lag and becomes very predictable. The fact that the film is willing to recognize its own flaws and make fun of itself shows that the writers have a deep respect and knowledge for the material.
And that is what makes The LEGO Batman Movie so entertaining. It has plenty of action and humor (for adults and kids). It takes a long retread on a message we’ve all heard before, but still, it takes all the Batman history, pop culture references, and LEGO Movie animation charm, and turns into something truly wonderful and a joy to watch on the big screen.