The LEGO Batman Movie spins Will Arnett’s beloved minifig Dark Knight into his own movie. But does it rebuild the success of The LEGO Movie…?
Ever since Batman Begins re-envisioned the Dark Knight as, well, a Dark Knight 12 years ago, the traditional idea of Batman as a figure of comedy – see Batman ’66 and, if you have to, Batman & Robin – has been swept aside. But in the wake of last year’s Deadpool, the time is right for a new tongue-in-cheek take on Batman and The LEGO Batman Movie brilliantly delivers on that. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece by any means but the constant barrage of nerdy in-jokes and laugh-out-loud humour ensures you can’t fail to be entertained.
Make no mistake, this is a movie made by and for Batman fans. In many ways, it reminds me of last year’s Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders as both are celebrations of Batman’s transformative cinematic career. Within LEGO Batman‘s opening scene alone – a thrilling, funny sequence where the Joker and his supervillain team threaten Gotham with a giant bomb – we get references to Batman ’66, Batman ’89, Batman: The Animated Series, The Dark Knight trilogy and Batman v Superman!
The film that follows has even more of the frenetic energy and fast-paced humour that characterized The LEGO Movie. Unlike its predecessor, though, LEGO Batman doesn’t quite manage the heart of that film. Batman’s character arc – going from an orphaned loner to accepting a new family – is perfectly solid kids’ animated movie fare but it is a tad predictable. The movie’s third act does capture the feeling of smashing your toys together as a kid that the first movie managed, though, as things expand out of the DC corner to cover other bastions of pop culture.
Thankfully, it is just as fun watching Will Arnett’s gravel-voiced Bats here as it was in The LEGO Movie. His take on Batman as an arrogant man-child is just so infectiously loveable. The supporting cast is also a lot of fun. Michel Cera’s peppy Robin is brilliantly adorkable while Rosario Dawson’s Commissioner Gordon is so awesome she deserves to crossover into the DCEU proper. Zack Galifianakis is the other star of the show as a comic Joker who still manages to pose a threat.
While it is missing something to lift it to greatness, The LEGO Batman Movie is still a thoroughly entertaining ride that is jam-packed full of belly laughs and fan-pleasing easter eggs and references. We will have to see whether the busy yet undercooked plot will stand up to repeated viewings, but I know for sure that I came out of the first viewing with a Joker-sized grin on my face.