After the unexpected success of The Lego Movie, audiences worldwide couldn’t wait for the next instalment, and when it was revealed that the next movie would be a spin-off starring Batman, fans jumped for joy. With his absolute arrogance and audacity, Batman was arguably the best character in The Lego Movie and provided many of the best jokes, so The Lego Batman Movie was the obvious next step in this franchise with so much potential.
The Lego Batman Movie follows Batman in his very own Gotham City as he fights to save the city from literally falling apart at the hands of the masterful Joker. Upon learning that Batman refuses to have an exclusive hero/villain relationship with the Joker, he and all the other evil villains suspiciously surrender themselves to Arkham Asylum. With no crime to fight and with no loved ones to spend time with, Batman can’t rest until he knows the Joker is locked away for good in a supervillain prison situated in space. The new police commissioner wants to criminalise vigilantes and work together with Batman to make the city safer; Alfred, Batman’s servant, wants Batman to remove himself from fighting crime and start a family; and an orphaned boy unwittingly adopted by Bruce Wayne wants nothing more than a loving father – and they are Batman’s only hope.
Compared to it’s predecessor, The Lego Batman Movie certainly takes a much more straightforward approach when it comes to the storytelling. Whereas The Lego Movie was essentially about the art of building Lego itself and the worlds which could be created from it, Lego Batman makes almost no reference to Lego at all and focuses entirely on the internal arc of Batman himself. This unfortunately means that some of the charm from the first film is lost in that its originality is compounded into the style and humour of the film rather than the story.
However, Lego Batman is incredibly funny and, for a children’s movie, it really pushes the jokes as far as they can go, squeezing out as much enjoyment for the adults as possible. The humour which was expertly crafted and maintained in The Lego Movie remains in Lego Batman and the gags are so well intertwined with the perception of Batman’s loneliness and hatred of people around him, it is impossible not to enjoy them.
What we loved so much about Batman in The Lego Movie is deeply explored and exploited here. The writers have really juiced his brooding personality for what they can and transformed it into a story of love and friendship, without the cheesiness becoming too overwhelming. We are given scenarios of Batman having just saved Gotham whilst listening to his own rap music, and then shortly after he is sat alone watching Jerry Maguire whilst raucously laughing to himself – and then, Batman quietly pondering his old family photographs but being interrupted by Alfred as he kicks him across the room and into the body of a grand piano.
The film is littered with these kinds of jokes, and that is what makes it such a pleasure to watch, but what makes the film that little bit more brilliant is the level of cultural references and characters involved. On one side of the coin they have included almost every DC character you can think of, hero or villain, and where each of them may only have a small part of the movie, it is these one liners and quotes which keeps the humour consistent. On the other side of the coin, there is endless reference to characters and figures outside of the DC universe, clips of movies and also plenty of throwbacks to every single Batman show or movie from the past. It is nostalgic, relevant, and ultimately? Lots of fun.
Again, as per The Lego Movie, the cast is stellar. Batman is brilliantly voiced by Will Arnett, who so greatly parodies Christian Bale’s own portrayal of Batman with the deep, gruff voice to differentiate between both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Ralph Fiennes is so predictably the role of Alfred, Rosario Dawson as the new feisty police commissioner and Michael Cera as the awkward but fun loving Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson.
Other stars involved include Zach Galifianakis as Joker, Channing Tatum as Superman, Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern, Conan O’Brien as the Riddler, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Eddie Izzard as (spoiler alert) Voldemort, and Mariah Carey as Mayor McCaskill… to name but a few. The extent of the stars involved in this movie, and most who only get an incredibly small handful of lines, just goes to show the immense fun that went into creating it.
Lego Batman is a visual treat; the animation is bright, colourful and well-executed and really grabs hold of the fantastical nature of all the characters in the DC universe. DC haven’t delivered such a good movie since Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, and Arnett is a far cry from being overshadowed by any future live action Batman actor – Affleck included. Lego Batman is up there with the best of them, and for good reason.
We give The Lego Batman Movie 4 stars for bringing the Batman franchise back down to earth whilst simultaneously bringing the entire universe to life. We don’t know if a direct sequel will be the best way to move forward for the Lego empire, but we hope this isn’t the last we see of the “greatest hero ever”.
Lego Batman is in cinemas now, and you can get in the mood by checking out the trailer below:
(Images from here, here and here)