A spin-off of The LEGO Movie (2014), this film stands on its own, singular in its mission. With everyone knowing who Batman is—at least, the character; don’t tell anyone his secret identity—there’s no need for a sloggy origin story. That said, I must warn straight out of the gate that this is not TLM; all the depth and layered complexity concerning politics, capitalism, the attack on creativity, et cetera, is gone. Instead, The LEGO Batman Movie is more family-oriented, with not as much to go over the kids’ heads, message-wise…although, it certainly helps to understand a lot of the humor if one is as cultured as an adult, especially in the history of Batman’s media presence.
Full of references, nods to other classic films, and inclusions of varied and colorful characters—both from past Batman generations and properties that LEGO has worked with before—this is definitely a fun film, don’t get me wrong. I’m not as versed in Batman as some of my colleagues, but I got a lot of the humor and jabs that Will Arnett’s titular hero spouts for a good chunk of the film. This is a charming, meta aspect that made TLM what it was…but this one doesn’t quite stack up, unfortunately.
The animation is very well-done, and it’s clear the technology has evolved since 2014’s venture. Knowing what they’re capable of, the animators were able to do more, physically, in this new film, and make it more visually appealing than its predecessor. I certainly enjoyed the creativity involved in the animation here: the most laborious and time-consuming of the cinematic art-forms. Warner Animation will continue to build their LEGO multiverse with the Ninjago movie coming out in the foreseeable future, and a sequel to TLM, slated for 2019.
This film asks big questions, especially concerning the Batman character’s intrinsic loneliness and how he overcomes it. Makes for a good character arc, and, like I said, this is not and origin story; everyone knows Batman, so the filmmakers were just able to tell the tale they desired. But, while entertaining, laugh-worthy, and light, it lacks the established cheekiness that we’ve seen the LEGO joint-franchise can deliver on-screen. This one’s Hollywoodized with its “ensemble cast”, almost to the point of ridiculousness. The jokes were decent, but not so tongue-in-cheek and elevated as they had the potential to be. Simply put, this felt like a money-grab—with DC attempting a cinematic universe likened to Marvel’s, what better time to pop out a Batman spin-off that would attract kids and their families?
Will Arnett creates a fresh, eccentrically-egotistical take on the Dark Knight, and others—like Zach Galifianakis as the voice of the Joker, Michael Cera as Robin, and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, along with other big names—make the universe a whole. That’s what I’ll remember of this film when people ask me. Otherwise, though, I forgot a lot of it—even just on the car-ride home from the theatre. It just…didn’t grab me, like I thought it would…
Chris McKay’s The LEGO Batman Movie gets an honest ***/** ‘Risk Assessment from me—a fun film that stands okay on its own, but fails to recapture the magic of its predecessor.
Next review: A Cure for Wellness