The Lego Batman Movie Review
I have been a Batman fan since childhood. He is the most elastic, flexible, and generally different superhero out there. I got into Batman movies with the original 1989 Batman with Michael Keaton, I love that movie. I also love its sequel, "Batman Returns." I loved the blend of dark, gritty Batman mixed with comic book elements, and it all seemed plausible. "Batman Forever" is a guilty pleasure, but "Batman and Robin" set a new low standard for the superhero genre, and the Batman franchise and the latter nearly never recovered. But then Christopher Nolan came along, and while his trilogy was ultra realistic, it worked very well. If we look at the Adam West era, the animated series era, the different versions of the movies, the various writers who wrote Batman comics, the character has had no two variations alike, he's a highly flexible character like I said, and you can do nearly anything with him.
"The Lego Batman Movie" is a continuation of the Batman we saw in 2014's "The Lego Movie." What I loved is that "The Lego Movie" took Batman's characteristics and exaggerated them to the point of near-extreme. Now, in his own movie, everything about the Batman mythology is exaggerated. As the movie begins, we hear Will Arnett's voice tell us that only the most important movies begin with a black screen. Sure enough, all we get is a black screen, as we hear Arnett's Batman talking to us. As he talks over the studio logos and further into the opening credits, I knew this movie had me.
Much like "The Lego Movie," this is a movie not just for the children. This is a movie that anybody who has possibly liked Batman over the years can enjoy. But of course your kiddos will love it. Its Legos and its Batman. There is enough imagination on display in any five minutes of this movie than your average non-Pixar family film. Batman goes on a big adventure, and he's making big jokes throughout, and there is nearly non-stop action. So yes, kids will love it.
But hey, if your a huge Batman fan. If you know the comics, or every single movie featuring the character, or the cartoons, or anything Batman related. You will absolutely love all the cleverness on display here. Billy Dee Williams, who played Harvey Dent in the 1989 Batman movie, voices Two-Face here, and it made me laugh. There are obscure villains, bad guys you'd only know from the 1990s cartoon or the old 1960's serial with Adam West, that show up here. It all made me smile. When The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) is planning something evil at the beginning of the film, thinking Batman won't stop him this time, there are references to two boats and the parade with the Prince music and the movie nerd in me almost couldn't handle it. Its pretty clear that the team behind this movie did their research, or they are in just as much love with Batman as I am and thousands of other fans everywhere.
But this movie is more than just a Batman fan checklist, its more than just a silly kids movie. The story itself is what elevates the movie from good to great in my opinion. Like I said before, this movie takes Batman and his mythology and exaggerates it all. One thing that has always characterized Batman is that he truly is a very lonely person. He's a dark and brooding man, who hates working with others and that is due to watching his family die in front of his face. What I didn't expect was that this movie is about family. Batman is a character that has everything figured out, and he doesn't like to admit certain things, he doesn't want anyone to know he'd be better off getting help fighting crime, like from Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) or Jim Gordon's daughter Barbra (Rosario Dawson) or his newly adopted son, Richard Grayson (Michael Cera). Batman can't even admit to the Joker that he truly is his arch-nemesis, which is Joker only true plot in the entire movie. He wants that official title, and he wants to hear it come out of Batman's mouth. Several of the best Batman movies force Bruce Wayne to confront something that he fears, in this movie he fears the idea of family, coming together for the greater good. Its remarkably powerful at times, throughout all the clever jokes and fun involved, there is a sweet message.
Its interesting to me that movies geared towards adults or older audiences are becoming more and more mindless and most children's movies are beginning to create moral, well-observed messages. I think that's great though, we need that in these big, kids movies. We need to create a better tomorrow for the next generation. The movie really does a good job of telling a good tale on the importance of family, of it being okay to ask for help, understanding that we shouldn't try to do EVERYTHING ourselves, and when we have bonds that we trust, we should enjoy them. Its something I didn't expect, but I love the movie more for that. I still haven't revealed some of the bigger set pieces, and I don't plan to. But director Chris McKay throws the kitchen sink at this movie. Its a big, bombastic, crazy movie and I love through it all that the powerful message in the story was left intact.
I would have never guessed in 2013 that this "Lego" franchise would have such a profound impact on me. I would have never guessed that I would have loved two big "Lego" movies right out of the gate. I hope the "Lego" movies keep running this fast out of the gate, because right now, they are doing great. Batman nerds, get your kids and see this movie. You won't be disappointed!
FINAL GRADE: A