When it was released, The Lego Movie took the world by storm. No one expected a movie about colored bricks to be so hilarious, crowd-pleasing and original, that’s why it made it on to so many “best of” lists despite being majorly snubbed at the Oscars. While a sequel is on the way, there are two Lego spin-off movies hitting theaters before then, the first of which stars one of the standout characters from the original film and, is aptly titled, The LEGO Batman Movie.
Directed by Chris McKay (director of Robot Chicken), The Lego Batman Movie follows Batman as he deals with a changing Gotham. As all the super villains attempt to take over the city, Batman learns that he may have to drop the solo act in exchange for a team if he wants to protect the city he loves. In that timespan, he has to learn what it means to embrace relationships including being a father, since he accidentally adopted a son.
Will Arnett’s Batman is fantastic in The Lego Movie and it was hard to tell if the brash, egotistical superhero would succeed as a lead given the types of jokes he relied on throughout that film. I thought the jokes would grow old when translated to a feature film full of them and, in ways, they do, but the key to this film, as with The Lego Movie, is the supporting cast. As egotistical and demeaning as Batman can be, there are quirky sidekicks there to really compliment his isolated and inflated persona. While The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) seems to be the most prevalent, it’s Michael Cera’s Dick Grayson aka Robin aka Batman’s son, that steals the show. Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) was a nice touch as well to become Batman’s love interest, but she didn’t bring nearly as much humor as the rest of the cast.
There are a lot of fun elements to this film, including plenty of references to the various Batman incarnations over the years that keep the film focused on the character. It’s references such as those that make the film suitable for both kids and adults yet, surprisingly, it seems to skew older simply because a lot of big words are used which kids wouldn’t understand. The movie also utilized the master builder elements that helped ground the feature very much in the LEGO universe which allowed for more creativity.
While entertaining, the movie isn’t without its flaws. At times, the picture feels a bit more like a Robot Chicken episode than a cohesive feature film due to the way each scene was directed and edited. It’s a shame they couldn’t get the original creative team to write and direct this spin-off since it had a ton of potential. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the jokes were very hit or miss and Batman’s humor could get a little stale from time to time which made the film feel a little long. The one annoying aspect of the film that stuck out the most was the product placement. Apple clearly paid a ton to have Batman use an iPhone and for Siri to be the computer voice that obeyed his commands. It’s one thing to include branding, it’s another to make it an integral part of the film which distracts people from the entertainment they‘re watching.
Overall, I did find The LEGO Batman Movie entertaining but it is flawed and doesn’t come close to the greatness of the original LEGO movie.