(AOTN) Building off the success of 2014’s The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie perfectly follows its predecessor, adding an exciting chapter to the Lego cinematic universe in a fully satisfying and fun way. The Lego Batman Movie essentially is constructed of self referential humor and dialogue poking fun at all previous Batman films that have come before it. For any Batman fan this will be welcomed with full glee. While poking fun at the films and television series that came before, The Lego Batman Movie does it in a non-cynical way- paying homage to the installments that came before. After last years Batman V. Superman and his brief cameo in The Suicide Squad, it’s great to come out of a Batman movie both happy, entertained, and relieved they didn’t fu*k up another Batman movie.
It’s been three long years since Lego Batman, voiced brilliantly by Will Arnett, graced audiences with his standout performance in the original Lego Movie. In that time he’s continued to fight crime in Gotham City- working alone of course. After stopping another plot to destroy the city by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Batman is forced to reveal that The Joker is not very important to him in his life. The Joker is rightfully upset after thinking they had great hero-villain chemistry. This sets up the entire film as both Batman and The Joker are forced to look within themselves and discover whether or not they truly need each other. While this is the underlying plot of the movie, lots of crazy action happens, things blow up, jokes are rattled off at exuberant speeds, at heart this is still a kids movie.
Using the Batman-Joker dynamic as the backdrop, The Lego Batman movie does an amazing job bringing together elements from the entire Batman sandbox. There is a lot the filmmakers had to play with-and they certainly take advantage of Batman’s rich and goofy history. The film itself references everything from the 1940’s Batman Serials, Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy to the most recent BVS and Suicide Squad. No character from Batman’s history is too obscure for references either- I’m looking at you Polka-Dot Man (a real DC Comics villain who first appeared in the groovy 1962). The thing that really stands out is the movies ability to poke fun of Batman and his cinematic and televion history, but in a respectful manner. It’s easy to be cynical (especially the way the DCU has begun) but The Lego Batman Movie partakes in none of that. The movie respects the material and it comes through in the final product.
On many levels, The Lego Batman Movie explores the character of Batman better than any previous installment. Certainly taking a serious character and adding levity to situations allows room for self referential and self awareness that truly explores the main characters in a way we’ve never seen (at least on screen). Robin (Michael Cera) and Batman’s relationship is explored and analyzed just as Batman and The Jokers dynamic. Giving room for spoof, allowed The Lego Batman Movie to peel back the level of mystic and show each characters personality traits and how each character in the Batman universe feed off and need each another.
Lego Batman feels like one giant easter egg. Not only does every scene have a joke every 10 seconds with action happening all around- there are a ton minor details that are hard to catch on one viewing! It’s hard to keep up with JUST how much Batman they put into this iteration of Batman. Having said that, Warner Brothers doesn’t just stop with characters from the world of Batman but also their back-catolouge of characters including but not limited to King Kong, The Eye of Soron and Lord Voldemort. Now at first I was a bit pessimistically curious why they would put these non-Batman characters, but it works. It adds a new dynamic between Batman and his plethora of villains in a satisfying way.
Although Lego Batman is a kids flick, it works for adults. While the themes aren’t as rich or complex as the themes tackled in the first Lego Movie, there is enough to keep the parents occupied. Maybe non-Batman or superhero parents may find it tough to sit through, overall I think a vast majority of audiences will find The Lego Batman Movie an enjoyable watch. The visuals are stunning and the star-studded cast of voice actors do an amazing job coming together to construct a well-balanced movie that moves at a rapid pace.
The Lego Batman Movie is now playing in theaters nationwide and stars Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, and way too many other legends to name.