Always be yourself… Unless you can be Batman.
For all its mockery and self-awareness, this is a Batman film. It’s also very much a LEGO one, but it doesn’t quite catch up with its predecessor, The LEGO Movie. It’s also aware of the DC universe of films that came before it, and has no problems mocking them as well. It still very much pays homage to the Bat, which means it has a lot to live up to.
I don’t think I need to tell you what you’re going to see. The quirkiness of scenes have a wonderful dry humour but it contrasts with the zippiness of the action, which can get a bit hard to follow. It does get to be a little much past the half mark for me, and some will find it tiresome a bit sooner than that. It doesn’t get into Michael-Bay-esque intensity though, and you do get a pause to catch your breath but it’s obviously aimed at kids with a generous portion of Bat nostalgia and mythos to keep older fans amused. I can’t quite say it will spare tired parents, this is an action movie with LEGO and Batman after all.
In Dark Knight terms, LEGO Batman is the movie the studio wanted but not necessarily a movie you need. That means, I think the superhero genre is saturated and there was a part of me that knew the line between cute and annoying, as well as tribute and recycling is way too easy to cross. LEGO Batman (Will Arnett) is Batman in this movie, although some of the other characters have a had a bit more of a creative makeover. I did love Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), who is recognized by the minifigs of Gotham as effective. Robin (Michael Cera) is played up for laughs, more campy and less serious that its comic counterpart but at the same time that he can be a bit annoying, he also brings a much needed levity to the film. Even Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) has its time to shine. Commanding the legions of Batman’s rogues, and there’s a loooot of them here, is the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) which is a little less crazy and far more campy. He’s whining through most of the movie, but you can be thankful he’s not close to recent movie incarnations.
The lesson for Batman to learn, and you knew before you ever saw the trailer that there was going to be one, was the old teamwork/family can achieve things if they work together. Old chestnut, but very much one that the Dark Knight needs to learn and never has. Strangely enough, it’s also the same lesson that Greg Berlanti’s productions of Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow re-learn every week. Too bad that the other movie versions never quite learn it.
Recommended only for LEGO fans or LEGO fans who also happen to be Batman fans. And kids and families of course. Batman-only fans might want to abstain. It doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the screen, so I’d wait for it to be available on iTunes and/or Netflix.
- The movie has shoutouts to almost every Batman reincarnation and gag.
- Don’t expect any Batman/Catwoman romance. Instead Bats seems to have a thing for Barbara but they remain friends. Thanks heavens for that. Barbara does become Batgirl, although she’s not thrilled about the name.
- Will Arnett does play Batman, but not really Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne doesn’t drop the Batman voice.
- Speaking about the voice, Will Arnett does the perfect Batman voice without going full Vader/Bane/Zuul.
- The original songs are a bit of a hit or miss. There’s nothing quite as viral as “Everything Is Awesome” in this one. Not even Batman “dropping some beats” is as memorable as his old “Darkness, No Parents” beat. Instead the movie uses 80’s rock hits to accentuate certain moments.
- There are no tasteless jokes based on “The Killing Joke”. If you were dreading hearing a reference, don’t worry – they steered clear of that cringe factory. Yes, I’m talking about the movie but the original comic material was already dark enough.
- There is continuity from the previous movie in the sense that the heroes do have to use Master Builder abilities at times, but don’t expect Emmet to pop up. Unless he did, in which case I missed it.
- More than a few references to the 60’s show including the POW and ZAP visual cues and the “atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed” on the Batmobile.
- Speaking of which, I kept thinking I could’ve built a better version of the Batmobile than the ones Bats gets to use. Actually there were a few others in the Batcave we barely get a glimpse at. Perhaps that was my biggest LEGO gripe of it all.
That will do for now.