Two years ago, The LEGO Movie surprised a lot of people by being not only a wonderfully entertaining kid’s movie, but something adults could love too. It is so much more than a feature length toy commercial. A followup was inevitable, but I don’t think anyone at the time would have predicted it would come in the form of a Batman spinoff. But thankfully here we are!
Will Arnett‘s caricatured turn as The Dark Knight was easily not only one of the best parts of The LEGO Movie, but arguably the most entertaining version of Batman we’ve ever seen. The LEGO Batman Movie brings him back for this solo outing, along with a whirlwind of other comedic talent. The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is up to his old tricks and Batman needs to save Gotham once again. We don’t really need much more of a plot than that to get the ball rolling.
From start to finish, The LEGO Batman movie delightfully skewers everything there is to dislike about the nocturnal DC crime fighter, as well as the genre, while at the same time taking a deeper look into his psyche than we’ve perhaps ever actually seen on the big screen before. Wonderfully clever jokes pepper the script at every turn – MacGuffin Airlines anyone? – and pop culture references abound. If you pay attention when the credits roll, there is an astoundingly meta moment that has to do with the casting of certain characters (whether intentional or not) that hits you. Anyone with an interest in the history of the character of Batman will be rewarded time and again.
This is not to say that the film forgets about the target audience by relying on humor that will fly over kids’ heads. Not in the least. Whether in the form of slapstick, awkward moments, well timed jokes, or visual funny business, the jokes for the youngsters come just as quickly and frequently as the clever references for the older crowd. Adults were applauding the jokes about “British robots” and kids were howling at Robin’s (Michael Cera) antics.
The animation, like The LEGO Movie is a real joy, treating the digital animation almost as if it were stop motion LEGO bricks. It is bright, brilliant, and executed perfectly, though perhaps with slightly less detail than the original.
The story gets right what so many other superhero films have been getting wrong – you don’t need to have a world/universe/galaxy at stake EVERY TIME. And even though the fate of the city hangs in the balance at times, that doesn’t feel like the primary issue our hero is facing. No, the biggest issue Batman is facing is Batman. Inner turmoil, fear, loneliness, and the whole shebang are the driving forces behind this story – yet it’s not a dark and gritty sullen adventure into moodiness. Congratulations on that, guys!
If there’s a weak spot here, it’s the ending. It just feels a bit cliche. Super fun, but a little weak. And yeah, that is sort of the point as it both celebrates and skewers the whole concept of the superhero movie. But after The LEGO Movie blew us away with such an insanely clever way to wrap things up, it does feel a little bit like a letdown. I would have liked to have had maybe another fifteen minutes with these characters, really take the time to dig deep into them and develop some of the cameos a bit more while setting up an even more satisfying conclusion. Still, one of the best animated films out there, and certainly one of the very best Batman movies you could ever hope to take your kids to.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“I hate Batman, but it’s okay because this movie makes fun of everything I can’t stand about him.”
Brother Hamster says:
“Non-stop laughs, non-stop entertainment. Zach Snyder wishes he could make a Batman movie this good.”
My rating: Four out of five hats
The Lego Batman Movie clicks together in 4,088 theaters, including IMAX 3D, February 10