- Title: The LEGO Batman Movie
- Director: Chris McKay
- Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
- Stars: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis
- Release: 02/10/2017
- Rated: PG
- Runtime: 104 Minutes
NOTE: I attempt to write all of my reviews SPOILER free, however read at your own risk. I may hint or mention something that might spoil the experience.
In 2004, Warner Bros. shocked the world with the release of The LEGO Movie. It wasn’t that The LEGO Movie was good…it was that the LEGO Movie was great. Batman was a supporting cast member in The LEGO Movie and was very well received. Shortly after The LEGO Movie’s success, Warner green lit a solo LEGO Batman movie. My anticipation couldn’t be higher for The LEGO Batman Movie. Everything Warner showed was perfect. So does The LEGO Batman Movie stand tall above the Gotham skyline or fall short somewhere in Crime Alley? I’d say a bit of both.
From the moment the film rolls this movie grabs you. It opens with narration by Batman himself. Talking about the company logos and how important he in to Warner Bros. It’s borderline satire and it’s hilarious. That narration rolls right into a warehouse filled with villains. Batman shows up and starts singing during a fast paced and amazing fight sequence. The scene wraps with a brilliant exchange between Batman and Joker. Joker wants Batman to admit that he’s his arch enemy. Joker just wants to here Batman say that he hates him. It’s a hilarious swap of a relationship movie and sets the pace for the heart of The LEGO Batman Movie. At it’s core, the movie is about allowing other people into your heart and life. Pretty delicate stuff for Batman, which is why it works so well.
The voice talent really stands out here. Ralph Fiennes as Alfred is so very good. His calm and mundane delivery of each line is such a great counter to the passion and drive of Batman’s delivery. Rosario Dawson takes up the role of Barbara Gordon and does a fantastic job as well. She is commanding and confident and delivers a great strong female presence. Michael Cera has some of the best lines in the movie. He is kind of the viewers entry to the story, so he says a lot of the things we are probably thinking and Cera does it in that deadpan way so very well. Zach Galifianakis has a much harder job tackling the Joker, however he does it very well. Joker’s portrayal here is not something as rasp as Ledger’s Joker but also not as cuckoo as Hamill’s Joker. Zach finds his own voice as an emotionally attached bad guy just trying to convince the hero of his dreams just how much they hate each other. The heavy lifting, of course, is handled by Will Arnett as Batman. Arnett has such a distinct Batman voice that he’s unlike any one else to play the role. This Batman is almost adolescent and definitely narcissistic, which makes for a revolving door of hilarious one-liners and inside jokes.
Visually The LEGO Batman Movie is just fantastic. Warner Bros. took the production design from The LEGO Movie and raised the bar. While the film is 3D rendered CGI, it appears at times to be a stop motion animated film using real LEGOs. There are times watching the movie that you have to remind yourself that it’s CGI because the team does so well at rendering the bricks that you forever. Everything is made out of LEGO, from the tears a person cries to the Lobster Batman eats, a person can buy and play with just about everything on screen at all times. My one complaint here is that almost the entire movie is just so dark. It’s Batman, I know, but it would still have been nice to go a little Schumacher and neon it up a bit in places.
The thing that I loved more than anything was the film’s appreciation for all things Batman. I am a giant comic geek and grew up watching and reading Batman stuff. The LEGO Batman Movie is like a love letter to fans in a lot of ways. I don’t want to ruin anything, but the movie pays homage to all previous Batman moves, Batman 66, Batman The Animated Series, and several large comic arcs. I mean, the Condiment King is not only in the movie but has a speaking part. While the movie does honor what came before it, it also does a great job of putting it’s own twist on the lore. For example, there are no flying Grayson’s and Barbara Gordon enters the film as Commissioner, not Batgirl. Somehow the movie gets away with telling it’s own version of the Batman story while still honoring numerous others. My hat it off to the team at Warner for pulling that off, it’s not small feat.
I think it’s clear so far that I really enjoyed The LEGO Batman Movie, but it’s not without it’s flaws. The biggest issue for me is that the emotional center is shallow at best and mostly inconsequential. I was hoping for the same emotional weigh I felt coming out of The LEGO Movie for the first time, however that was missing at the end of Batman. I also felt there was little to no character progression outside of Batman. Again, back to The LEGO Movie, Emmett had the biggest arc for sure, but Wildstyle evolved over the course of the movie as did Lord Business and Bad Cop not to mention the Dad and Son. None of this is to say that the movie is bad, but in comparison to The LEGO Movie or Moana or Inside Out, it just doesn’t have the same depth.
In the end I would say that The LEGO Batman Movie is good, not great. If you are OK with a mostly funny, action packed animated feature with a gorgeous art design, then you are going to walk away fully satisfied. On the other hand, if you are someone who likes to see deep character development or heavy emotional issues address, The LEGO Batman Movie might disappoint. Either way I think The LEGO Batman Movie is a must see film for kids and kids at heart because at the end of the day who doesn’t love Batman!