From a distance, it seemed like The LEGO Batman Movie was nothing more than a clever cash-in following the success of 2014’s The LEGO Movie. However, in the hands of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Warner has managed to magically reassemble the same playful and satiric plastic universe with much better results. With witty and bedazzling animated LEGO Batman at the centre of the journey this time, audiences are catapulted into a story that races forward with a joke-per-minute script. Laugh too long and you might miss another great moment. It’s Batman like you’ve never seen him before – fun and funny.
Fans like their Batman the way they like their coffee. Some like it dark with no milk and no sugar, while others prefer it with cream and honey. LEGO Batman is a very different Batman from any of the interpretations that have gone before. Here Warner Bros. has repackaged him as a macho, playful and often hilarious superhero that plays on all the character’s familiar stereotypes – dresses in black, has multiple gadgets for every situation and speaks in a deep husky rasp. In a way, it’s an ode or a love letter to all the Batman films that have gone before, with the film even referencing Batman 66′ and George Clooney’s Batnipples. Nothing is off limits. Not even the studio’s recent superhero films Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. “Get criminals to fight criminals? That’s a stupid idea!” mutters Batman at one point.
Like The LEGO Movie before it, amidst all the brilliant and super-fun antics of Will Arnett’s Dark Knight, lies a deeper moral about friendship and family. “You can’t be a hero if you only care about yourself,” our hero learns while Michael Jackson’s Man in The Mirror plays in the background. It’s this kind of silly but clever film-making that lifts the film above its predecessor. It’s an hour and 46 minutes of pure joy that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
The LEGO Batman Movie follows a manic, self-obsessed, profoundly unloved Batman who lives in an isolated Wayne Manor on Wayne Island. While the city of Gotham loves him and sings his praises, Bruce finds himself isolated from the people he protects. In the evenings after chasing down criminals, he helps himself to the same lobster meal and a cinema screening of Jerry Maguire – which he finds hilarious. See deep down, Batman is still suffering from the loss of his parents and is unable to let anyone into his life – not even the Joker. Things change when he accidentally adopts Dick Grayson.
It hardly seems possible, but even before the opening credits roll, LEGO Batman will have you in stitches as he narrates over a black screen. It’s an incredibly well-made film that understands its audience and delivers on every opportunity it gets to be fun. The animation is fun. The cast is fun. The writing is fun. The music is fun. The Joker is fun. Batman is fun. It just exuberates FUN in every department.
There are also a fair amount of clever cameos present, even from characters outside of the Batman universe. It’s the LEGO world, so no character is off limits. We get Gremlins, Sauron from The Lord of The Rings and even Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. It will be nearly impossible to list every clever cameo here. Although, special mention must be made of Tom Hardy’s Bane, who offers a few good laughs. It’s full of surprises.
Superhero movie fans tend to be divided into two camps. Marvel fans tend to steer away from the dark gritty atmosphere of DC’s films, whereas DC fans prefer it to the lighter stories found in Marvel films. The LEGO Batman Movie might be common for both camps; it’s fun, funny but also deep and moving.
Parents, prepare your wallets. You’re going to be buying a lot of LEGO Batman toys.