Reviews: The LEGO Batman Movie
This Is the Batman We Deserve
A kids' film staring a huge toy brand about one of our greatest super heroes? Could DC sink any lower? Well, if you've seen what The LEGO Movie did with its own basis, you'll know that this is perhaps one of the purest Batman adaptations to come to the big screen. The film is just as much a love-letter to Batman as the predecessor was to LEGO. Lots of research to all eras and adaptations of Batman (which, by the way, all happened in this world) and just as much detail, comedy, and fun as the first. Now, the animation. It's good, don't get me wrong. But I'm slightly annoyed by how the LEGO boundaries were stretched a bit. Minifigures now have a bit more motion than the plausible animation of before, not every elemental effect is made from LEGO bricks, and there are even more simple things, like Batman's cowl changing shape rather than the eye print on his head. These all feel a bit lower-charm because the integrity of the animation isn't as strong, and it no longer looks as much like an immersive LEGO world with the stretched articulation and non-LEGO environmental effects. It's still fine, but I prefer the original. The story is really pretty simple. but it's told well. Batman struggles with his relationship with the Joker throughout it— and it's presented like a romantic conflict. It's a brilliant twist on the themes of stories like Death of the Family, which is also pretty bold for a film intended for general audiences. Also, Batman has to learn to love people and have a new family rather than moping like a depressed teen (which is also pointed out) about his life. None of the deeper elements to the original come into play, but they wouldn't fit in this context. The characters are all good. Will Arnett's Batman is back and still as funny, but with a good capacity for portraying vulnerability beneath the Bat-growl. It's also a credit to him that the voice never gets grating or stupid, partially because it's not supposed to be too serious. Robin is a lot of fun and a sweet character (would you believe he's George-Michael Bluth?), and Batgirl rounds out the cast, even though she's not really funny. Joker is fun, despite the relatively normal voice by Zach Galifianakis, and he has a good handle on the evil. If possible, this film is even funnier than its predecessor, but I think a portion of that humor is only accessible to DC nerds, so perhaps it's even. The end credits song also manages to be a highlight, due to the talents of Oh, Hush! and Jeff Lewis, who somehow know just how to condense the essence of happiness into an awesome song. The dearth of upbeat music on the charts isn't present in family entertainment, and this really delivers. Overall, this film may not be quite as emotional as the first, but it's still great, and I think any Bat-fan should watch if they miss the fun in DC Comics.
Pure fun ( Possible spoilers )
Honestly, I've never seen anything related to Batman before, but I do really like The Lego Movie. So, I decided to go watch this movie not because I wanted a Batman flick, but because I wanted a lighthearted Lego Movie spinoff. And what do I think? I think it is just as good, if slightly more flawed, than it's predecessor. The movie is really funny. Not only can dialogue get a laugh, but the fact that the movie is made out of LEGO and the fact that the entire movie loves to poke fun at the entire Batman franchise can bring some laugh-out-loud moments as well. There's also the interactions between characters and how well they play off each other. It's really fast-paced and always shoots jokes at you, which helps it a ton. I throught the animation was, just like in the first movie, awesome. I loved how the action scenes were shot and I really liked the shots of Gotham being covered in lava. It's impressive how these guys can make LEGO bricks look this good. And finally, I liked the characters - Batman is a likeable jerk and sort of a self-parody of himself who can still bring some genuinely heartwarming and even sad moments, Robin is an absolutely Adorkable little guy who bringed smile on my face everytime he was on-screen and Joker was a fun villain who managed to be symphatetic and yet intimidating at the same time. If I had any problems with this movie is that it may be slightly more fast-paced than the original Lego Movie, which may make it tiresome and annoying to some. Also, while I throught that Batman was a funny and cool character, I think he was a little too much of a jerk in some scenes, especially in the first half. But other than that, it's just pure fun. I don't know how people who aren't fans of Batman or Lego Movie will like it, but if you like either of them, check it out. It's a typical animated comedy/action movie, but in the best possible way.
The Batman Movie We Need
The Lego movies have no business being as good as they are. Audiences are normally very critical of cynical, nostalgia pillaging, geek baiting cash grabs such as Michael Bay's Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and then there are the Lego movies, which do it way more so than anyone else. "Hey geeks, remember those toys from your childhood? Want to see it spliced together with a bunch of your other beloved franchises? Then watch our two hour toy commercial!" And yet despite all that, The Lego Movie was great. It was tightly written, smart, funny and had a genuine heart. Lego Batman manages to do it all again. Lego Batman does a great job of putting its own spin on a 75 year old comic book character who has been re-visualised at least a dozen times. The Batman we get is one who reflects on all of these different "phases", somehow being both the campy pugilist from the 60s and the grim dark anti-hero from last year. This peculiarity is hand-waved by Batman being characterised as a narcissistic dude-bro who has been thriving off of the past 75 years of constant attention. He's so self-obsessed and off putting that the rest of the Justice League have taken to avoiding him where possible. Batman now finds himself stuck with Nick Grayson, a wide eyed kid who just wants a father figure, his long suffering butler Alfred who wants Batman to open up to others for once, and Barbara Gordon, who lampshades all the inconsistencies that come with a world that delegates its crime problems to a "billionaire adult who slaps around impoverished criminals". The Lego Movie surprised audiences by having a much darker streak to its comedy than one would expect from a children's action movie. Lego Batman never goes quite as far as having Liam Neeson murder his own parents for the sake of a gag, but a lot of the jokes (particularly anything involving by Barbara Gordon) matches that same knowing, adult orientated humour. Whilst I think Batman's rapping outstays its welcome, there is absolutely something for everyone to like in this. Lego Batman does a tremendous job of balancing being a Lego movie and a Batman movie, and much like its predecessor, it never lets up with the energy, wit and goodwill. If you liked the last movie, you've probably already got tickets. If you haven't yet, stop hesitating.
The Lego Batman Movie is very much an offshoot of the Lego Movie itself - and not just because it stars one of the same characters. Where TLM managed to be goofy, thought-provoking and emotive, so too does Batman's solo project. And make no doubt about it, this is definitely a Batman project. There are references to pretty much every single iteration of the Dark Knight, animated, live action or comic book - some as plot points, some as one-shot gags but none of them wasted. The film is in the Airplane! tradition of throwing puns, callbacks and visual jokes at the viewer almost relentlessly, with the director's background with Robot Chicken being pretty evident. Whilst hilarious, it also manages to be genuinely moving at times, giving the dynamic between Batman and others some genuine depth. Robin, Alfred and (of course) the Joker - Batman "doesn't do relationships" but his film definitely does. This particular Batman is one of the jerkiest and most egotistic of them all but there's still pathos when the film maker's wring genuine sympathy for a lonely and confused man - who is a Lego figure in a cowl, no less. Like it's predecessor, the film makes good use of it's Warner Bros. backing to cram in a bunch of characters from other franchises - Daleks, Gremlins and King Kong all feature and somehow in the world the film creates, this all makes sense. It's manic and madcap but never at the expense of meaning. The animation is also fantastic. There aren't as many big building scenes as TLM but the stop motion/CGI combination is as strong as ever; I for one soon stopped seeing them as 'Lego' characters and simply as living, dynamic characters (who happened to be made of Lego.) If I was to criticise anything, it would be that Batman can sometimes verge on being simply too much of a jerk to remain sympathetic, and there's a rapping/beatboxing joke that overstays it's welcome, but overall, an excellent film. If you are a Batman fan, a Lego Movie fan or just want a film that will genuinely entertain all ages, this is definitely worth a watch.