‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ review

Synopsis

In the irreverent spirit of fun that made ‘The LEGO Movie’ a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble—LEGO Batman—stars in his own big-screen adventure.

But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

Review

Going in to the cinema I had very few expectations for ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’. From seeing the ‘The LEGO Movie’ I had an idea about the kind of comedy to expect but not how that would translate to the world of Batman. What I found was pleasantly surprising.

Writers Seth Grahame-Smith; Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington were able to translate large parts of the Batman world without compromising them for the audience. Given its U rating it’s not hard to imagine how little violence it contains. Batman staples Alfred, Joker and the whole rogues gallery are all there to make his life difficult. Only this Batman goes about his business with an arrogance and comedy that even Deadpool would be proud of.

Will Arnett packs an awesome punch voicing Batman. His voice reverberates around the cinema with some serious gusto. There’s not much room for Bruce Wayne in this film, Bruce is very much Batman’s daytime disguise. His relationship with Alfred is still at the core of the story although it takes some prodding for Batman to realise it. Despite being a movie for kids ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ still gives its lead an arc in discovering his humanity.

Unlike any other Batman we’ve seen Will Arnett’s version raps, sings, dances and does it all whilst kicking-butt and basking in the glory of it. He’s still a flawed hero but flawed in an entirely different way to his comic book counterpart.

The supporting cast all works well in the context of the film. Commissioner Gordon is quickly written out of the film to make way for his daughter Barbara. Rosario Dawnson is a great choice for Babs but fans of the DC Universe animated film will take a moment to adjust as she has been voicing Wonder Woman since 2015’s ‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis’.

‘I Like To Fight Around’ – clip

Zach Galifianakis also puts in a brilliant performance as The Joker. As the above clip shows he even manages to bring a comic vulnerability to Joker that is often missed in other portrayals of the character. His master plan is a little convoluted but this wouldn’t be a comic book derived movie if it wasn’t.

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is at its best when it pokes fun at itself. It opens with a plane from ‘McGuffin’ airways which sets the tone for the more grown up members of the audience. The nods to previous Batman movies might also fly over kids heads but the adults will love it. This film being so new and current there’s time to poke fun at the recent DCEU movies.

The inclusion of a Robin origin story helps make the film accessible to younger members of the audience. Michael Cera brings a youthful glee to the character which fits the LEGO ethos as well a providing some great comedic moments.

What lets the film down is its overly complicated plot. The plot seems designed to ensure the largest number of cameos possible much like in ‘The LEGO Movie’. Twists and turns require more and more DC and non-DC characters to make appearances. As the film builds towards its third act the cast balloons and becomes so huge that even the leads become a little lost. Interestingly it is the other Justice League members who get lost in the mess. Superman has the largest role of them all with the others only really appearing in one or two scenes.

Much like ‘Batman v Superman’ or ‘Suicide Squad’ the film has to have its giant anomaly in the sky, this time a portal to the Phantom Zone. It also has a huge climatic battle which becomes a little difficult to follow due to the huge volume of characters in the melee. What ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ does to improve on its predecessors is do all this with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. For that very reason all of its flaws are forgivable and entirely enjoyable for its 140+ minute runtime.

Much like ‘The LEGO Movie’ this film is designed to make it appear to have been made using stop-motion. ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ looks great throughout. Batman’s costume shows off fine detail and landscapes are sprawling and distinctly LEGO from start to finish. One of my favourite aspects of the film is how all the characters have to make gun noises when they shoot. It’s small details like that which make the LEGO franchise so incredibly well made.

Gotham City looks great in LEGO form. It still has all the character of previous versions whilst taking on a life of its own. The backdrops themselves include a huge number of easter eggs and in many ways echo the styling of the 60s ‘Batman’ series. Wayne Manor is sprawling, it becomes its own TARDIS even after seeing that it exists on its own island.

Another aspect to translate well from ‘The LEGO Movie’ is the music. With score provided by Lorne Balfe and music from various artists ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ sounds great. Will Arnett does some great Bat-rapping during several key moments. Balfe’s score never copies Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer but evokes the feeling of their scores well when required. At times the music becomes a little poppy, even against Batman’s wishes, but it all remains true to the context of the film.

Verdict

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is a fun ride through a kid-friendly version of the Batman universe. There are a lot of laughs, a lot of easter eggs and nods to previous incarnations of the character. The film takes some liberties to gloss over darker sides of the Dark Knight but overall it is well worth your admission fee.

7/10

Checkout our video playlist of ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ featuring trailers, clips, featurettes and the newly released b-roll footage from the film.

Will Arnett reprises his starring role from ‘The LEGO Movie’ as the voice of LEGO Batman, aka Bruce Wayne. Zach Galifianakis (the ‘Hangover’ films, ‘Muppets Most Wanted’) stars as The Joker; Michael Cera (TV’s ‘Arrested Development’) as the orphan Dick Grayson; Rosario Dawson (TV’s ‘Daredevil’) as Barbara Gordon; and Ralph Fiennes (the ‘Harry Potter’ films) as Alfred.

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ officially hits cinemas worldwide on 10th February 2017.

Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG

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