Title: The Lego Batman Movie
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Chris McKay
Release Format: Theatrical
The movie industry is run by people looking to make a quick buck, rather than filmmakers looking to bring their creative vision to life. Making a movie as a means to sell another product has resulted in countless unwatchable movies over the years, saturating the marketplace. So when The Lego Movie was actually a genuinely good movie upon its release and not a marketing plot to sell toys to children, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s also why I wasn’t shocked, or upset when the spinoff Lego Batman movie was announced.
While sequels and spinoffs are another issues plaguing the industry, Lego Batman feels like less of a cash grab and more of a testament to the success of the original Lego Movie. And what better way to reward fans than with a movie starring Emmit’s favorite superhero – and one of mine – Batman. It’s safe to say that Arnett’s performance as the sarcastic Dark Knight warranted the Spin-off – as well as the endless plot possibilities to plunder surrounding Batman lore – and he continued to deliver in the follow-up.
The tongue in cheek Batman’s promotion to the starring role did nothing to hinder his ability to make inappropriate jokes and dry comments if anything it’s enhanced it. While a lot of his best lines were spoiled by marketing – appearing in one of the many trailers – some of the best bits were the references. From satire filled scenes joking about previous, non-Lego installments of Batman – even playing old footage from the 1960’s movie – to throwing shade at DC’s Suicide Squad ( “Using criminals to fight other criminals is dumb.”), the animated comedy is filled to the brim with references to other films. So much so actually that it takes away from the film.
The first half focus a just amount on the heroes and villains of Gotham, giving even C grade baddies like Calendar Man a shoutout, but apart from the Joker, really doesn’t take advantage of the rolls as much as they could. Instead of giving screen time to the likes of Billie Dee Williams (Two-Face) and Doug Benson (Bane), the latter half of the movie sees the Joker recruit non-DC villains that were banished to the phantom zone – Voldemort, King Kong, Sauron and even Gremlins – to help destroy Gotham. Not only do these characters feel out of place, it just feels forced and like they’re pandering to the parents in the audience. The reason this upsets me is because the original Lego Movie didn’t look like it was for all audiences on the surface, but in reality, it wasn’t just a kids movie and didn’t try to insult you by pretending otherwise.
Outside of the misplaced antagonist, the rest of the film contained all the beautiful cinematographic and choreograph aspects of the first installment. It will never cease to amaze me the things that filmmakers can do with stop motion animation and CGI, as each scene feels as realistic as possible for an animated film. Be it the Batglider screaming across the water or even the simplicity that is the characters walking, there are parts of the film that made me forget that I was essentially watching people play with Legos. The opening scene where Batman defeats all of his arch nemesis at once (and let’s face it, that’s not a spoiler for anyone who knows Bats) was a site to behold, as the entire thing was a joy to watch.
While Bruce Wayne has always been a brooding loner as Batman, the Lego Movie’s snide representation opened up ways of dealing with those feelings that previous installments have never ventured to, leading to the films interesting overarching plot. Everyone knows the origin of Batman, and how Thomas and Martha (MARTHA!) Wayne were gunned down in crime alley. But making Batman and subsequently Bruce Wayne, into a sarcastic ass made the approach to his grief unique, as instead of it hiding it below the surface as Batman, this flamboyant and arrogant version of the character (both as Batman and Wayne) is clearly in denial and doesn’t deal with it well. While Batman overcompensates by saying how awesome he is, singing his own theme song and shooting orphans with merch, Bruce Wayne his giant mansion alone eating microwaved lobster thermidor in his Batcave. His growth and eventual acceptance of a fear of losing loved ones again is a lovely way to have ended the kid’s movie, as Batman rarely gets a happy ending.
Overall the Lego Batman movie was a blast and is fun for the whole family. While references do bog down some aspects of the film, and a too many cooks situation takes hold after the second act, the film sustains the positive reputation for fantastic stop motion and CGI cinematography the original did so well. It’ll be exciting to see what the next installment in the franchise will be, as the Lego Batman proved they know how to keep the films distinct while still playing to the strengths of the previous.
The LEGO Batman Movie Review
- Will Arnett continues to wow as Batman
- Genuinely Funny
- Great Supporting Cast
- Gorgeous Stop Motion Cinemetography
- Weak Third Act
- Odd, Forced Choice of ending Villains