Be Batman, because Iron Man sucks
The Lego Batman Movie is directed by Chris McKay and stars the voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes. It is meant to be a spin-off, not a direct sequel, of The Lego Movie.
The weekend of February 10, 2017 may very well have been the most competitive weekend for new releases this year, in which there was not one, not two, but three different sequels released on the same day. Kid-friendly Lego Batman was released alongside the more mature action thriller, John Wick: Chapter 2, and the sexually-charged, Valentine-killing Fifty Shades Darker. But like I just said above, Lego Batman is not necessarily a sequel. So the best way to say it is this way: The weekend of February 10, 2017 saw the release of three different works that spawned from some previous work. Now Lego Batman applies, right? It turns out that Batman was the box office victor of that opening weekend, and how could he not be? A timeless superhero up against a fairly new action hero and a follow-up to one of the most controversial and detested book adaptations of the 21st century? Now, mind you, I did enjoy John Wick 2 quite a bit, and I still have yet to find the time to be all alone and waste away two precious hours of my life in watching Fifty Shades Darker. But between the trio of these February releases, Lego Batman has the most appealing package to offer, being both a Lego movie and a Batman movie. And as you can imagine, the movie aims to be as silly as can be by poking fun at the Caped Crusader and his decades-long history.
The version of Batman seen in this film is quite unlike any of the previous cinematic depictions of Batman. That's because it turns out that Lego Batman is a narcissistic and domestically reclusive vigilante that loves to soak up the Gotham spotlight, as opposed to avoiding it altogether like pretty much all of the past Batmans. Batman is so convinced of his own awesomeness, that he purposefully avoids partnering with others. Batman's selfish nature also owes in part to the death of his parents, which led to Batman's greatest fear: being part of a family again. The film opens with Batman going on a mission to stop a bomb that was planted by the Joker, facing off against every major villain in Gotham. During the mission, Batman confronts Joker and tells him that their hero-villain relationship means basically nothing to him. The Joker is hurt by this statement, and he sets out to take the ultimate revenge on Batman.
This is not the gothic, earnest return-to-form Batman that Tim Burton brought to us in 1989, which was then re-reinvented by Christopher Nolan in 2005. In all honesty, Lego Batman highly resembles the more cartoony, humor-centered Batman of the Joel Schumacher days. The skeleton of the plot actually compares quite a bit to that of the campy, "we can do this together!" storyline of Batman & Robin. But Batman & Robin sucks ass, so let's not dare use it as a criteria for evaluating Lego Batman, which definitely does not suck ass. It's a film that never attempts to get overly sappy and is always mindful of dishing out well-timed jokes and Batman teases.
- The various references to previous Batman films. First off, if you haven't seen any of the previous Batman films or aren't at least aware of their major beats, you will not find this movie as funny as you could find it to be. The film goes as far back as the Adam West TV show, with a scene where Batman and Robin fight some baddies with fight words like Kapow! and Bam! in the background. It is a dream come true for any Batman buff, and for all those who may not be so Batman crazy, there's plenty of other laugh-out-loud moments on top of all of the Batman in-jokes. There's even a moment where Batman insults one of DC's recent releases, Suicide Squad. Batman says, "Using supervillains to fight other supervillains? What a stupid idea!"
- Batman is his own worst enemy during the film. So much so, that the Joker acts as a catalyst to help Batman go from selfish loner to Gotham's family man. In fact, this is about as vanilla as the Joker has ever been, not resembling anything like what Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger represented. Zach Galifianakis is....acceptable as the voice of the Lego Joker, even though Galifianakis lacks the ability to convey the dual characteristics of maniacal evildoer and laughing, sadistic prankster that are essential to the Joker's overall personality. The Joker has no moments of "evil bad guy laugh", and the best he does is give some big, evil smiles. Galiafinakis also doesn't provide any memorable lines; a disappointment for one of the most famous supervillains ever.
You will either love or hate the self-obsessed personality that Batman attempts to overcome during the film. But even if you haven't seen all of the previous Batman movies, I would be shocked if you got through this entire movie without laughing at least once. Lego Batman never tries to be melodramatic or sappy with romance or non-cartoonish drama, always maintaining a silly, fun attitude that never takes itself that seriously. It is a wacky superhero comedy that is Lego fun for all ages and a film worth re-watching several times.
Recommend? Yes, and you don't have to see The Lego Movie to enjoy it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: