Movie Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

the-lego-batman-movieSpinning out of The LEGO Movie is The LEGO Batman Movie putting the full focus on the Brick Crusader in his quest to keep Gotham safe. In The LEGO Batman Movie, Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted. Directed by Chris McKay, the film is a visual assault filling the screen with hyperkinetic scenes that challenge you to not be overwhelmed by the sheer craziness on the screen. There’s a lot to take in and you won’t catch it all inviting fans to enjoy multiple viewings to catch every joke.

And there’s a lot of them.

With The LEGO Batman Movie, nothing is sacred in the history of Batman and everything is on the table to mock going back to his debut in 1939 in Detective Comics. And that’s the big thing about the film, if you’re a Batman fan, you’ll love it as it’s an homage and spoof of everything that has come before. If you have enough knowledge about Batman’s history and previous experiences on the big and small screen, the movie lands with a barrage of jokes that keep on coming. If you don’t appreciate a “Kapow” your enjoyment may vary.

The film itself is interesting in that it throws it in your face, Batman is really a dick, at least this version is voiced by Will Arnett. A disconnected self-centered manchild who’s all work, Batman/Bruce is focused on making Gotham free from all crime and everything else comes second. Batman is the center of the joke, the film spends an ample amount of time making fun of him and the “character” be exagerating the staples we’ve seen in so many itterations of the 75+ years since his creation. But, it’s not just Batman that’s mocked, there’s ongoing jokes involing Bane and his voice from The Dark Knight Rises, D-list villains, Michael Jackson, and the very concept of it all. I found myself laughing more during the film’s 1 hour and 44 minutes than I have in many comedies and where I wasn’t laughing, I had a smile on my face.

The lessons you’d expect in a film aimed at kids are all there, learning to work as a team, not being mean, trusting others, believing in one’s self, it’s pretty much the same basic formula as The LEGO Movie and that’s not a bad thing. It generally works being there for the kids while the adults can focus on nostalgia.

Where that underlying theme of the film fails is the pacing. As I said, the film can only be described as kinetic and a visual assault at times (not negative things) which makes the quieter moments drag on a bit too much. When the film attempts to “get serious” it drags and that adds up to a movie that’s about 20 minutes too long (the kids were getting a little restless by the end in my screening). The end solution presented to save the day is a bit cheesy as well, as if the writers weren’t sure what to do to resolve the problem.

The thing I love about the film is clearly the injokes about Batman and his history, but there’s so many more nods and winks throughout the movie, it was hard to keep track of everything. Ferris Air, Lex Corp, the background is as packed with jokes and nods to comics fans as what’s right in front of you. At times it’s hard to know where exactly I should be paying attention and focusing, there’s so much thrown out there at once. And it’s that willing to have fun and throw things in that really makes the film work. While it has “Batman” in the title, everything Warner Bros. is on the table, and the less said the better about that. The twist leading to the final showdown is part of the fun so avoid spoilers!

The voice work is pretty solid with a who’s who of talent including Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Siri, Zach Galifanakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jermaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizonda, Maruah Carey, Ralp Garman, Chris Hardwick, and so many more. The film is packed with talent and you don’t even realize it until the credits role at the end. The voices don’t stand out in a negative way, they all blend and work for their characters seemlesly.

The LEGO Batman Movie had a high hurdle to get over after the success of The LEGO Movie and the film clearly knows this. It doesn’t attempt to recreate the magic of that first film instead focusing on its own thing and formula. And with that, The LEGO Batman Movie beats its greatest villain, high expectations. I saw it once already and can’t wait to go again to see what I missed and laugh all over again.

Overall Rating: 8.65

Warner Bros. provided Graphic Policy with a FREE screening of the film