The LEGO Batman Movie is the spinoff to 2014’s shockingly fun and endearing The LEGO Movie and takes us to Gotham city for the LEGO Caped Crusader’s first official standalone film. I have to say, even with the high expectations that this film’s predecessor laid down, this film still surprised me in great ways especially with the heart that it has. Instead of duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller helming the project, Robot Chicken veteran Chris McKay stepped into the large shoes to fill and did an absolutely wonderful job, allowing this film to strive in the same ways that the first film did, and then some! The best parts of the original film were expanded upon, and this movie easily becomes the greatest Batman film to hit theaters since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Animated films these days are hardly “kid’s films,” and this one proves it yet again: animated films are family films, made for people of all ages and there is most certainly something in here for everybody to enjoy. Most apparent from the first scene is the quality of animation, which appears to be entirely stop motion aside from the characters’ faces, and this is an aesthetic that works absolutely perfectly for the style of film that this is. Also, the fact that the plot plays off of the fact that the characters and environments are made out of LEGO allow for a lot of enjoyment and comedy to be had. As The LEGO Movie did, this film also brings in many outside characters and environments such as the Phantom Zone, the Fortress of Solitude, and an incredible amount of pop culture references including Voldemort, Sauron, King Kong, etc., and they’re all fun to see interact with each other, and they all serve the story without making it feel like it’s too much.
The story is really something that surprised me with how much depth it had. There are two main plot point that this film explores: Batman’s relationship with The Joker, and Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Robin which is important because of his fear of having a family since he lost his as a kid. All in all, this film is about how, in order to become a true hero, Batman must overcome his fear of connecting to people, changing from a stoic and heartless man to a better person. Because of those elements, the film has a lot more heart than I ever could have expected, and it has a lot more heart than it leads on. As mentioned, this is hardly a “kid’s film,” most of the themes and ideas would go right over any 10-year-old’s head, and adults will have just as much fun as their children will. There are jokes for everybody here, and the film has many of them; I laughed out loud numerous times, mostly because of how self-aware the film is. Not only does this movie know it’s a movie, but it knows it’s a silly, over-the-top animated film with LEGO characters; it never laughs at itself, but it always uses what it is at heart to succeed at what it attempts. It’s not quite as meta as the first film, but it does break the fourth wall, and it’s a ton of fun when it does.
As this is a spinoff, this movie had the job of making sure The LEGO Movie still made sense, and I was nervous as to how that would work since we never saw Gotham in the predecessor, and now are expected to believe that it is its own stand-alone entity. However, because The LEGO Movie introduced us to different “worlds,” it totally makes sense why Gotham-world would exist, and how it would be disconnected from the city in the first film, or any other world in the LEGO-verse. In order to do that, the film introduces us to The Phantom Zone, which I’m sure we’ll see in future LEGO films as this Zone contains villains from many, many, many properties. One difference from the first film that’s obvious is that Batman’s eyes glow blue instead of not glowing and being plain white; this is because when Batman is a comic-relief supporting character, he doesn’t need to do much to be an effective character in the way that he needed to be. In this film, he needs to have a lot more emotion to his character, and the glowing eyes allow them to have that extra emotion that he needs. For example, look at Deadpool: his eyes are where all of his emotion lies. The same goes for Batman in this film, and the glowing eyes put a lot more emphasis on them which make them stand out, and therefore whatever emotion they have is much more apparent and clear to the audience. It was great and a very smart move on the animators’ part.
The voice-cast also stood out, for many reasons both good and… great. Will Arnett is perfect as a humorous Batman; we laugh at him more than with him and the comedy that Arnett brings to the roll services the character impeccably. Michael Cera was also perfectly cast as the hilarious and flamboyant side-kick and catalyst for Bruce Wayne’s character growth, bringing out the best in his paternal superhero. Zach Galifianakis gave me some mixed feelings, however, as I wasn’t sure he made the best Joker; I don’t mean to say that he made a bad Joker, he was perfectly fine but I guess I was expecting more flair a la Mark Hamill, which I know is the gold-standard and hard to compare anything to him, but still. Galifianakis sounded like a normal guy when the Joker was talking off-screen, and on. He did a great job, but I’m not sure he would have been who I would have picked for the role, that’s all. Lastly, the film was ridiculously unpredictable most of the time which made it all just a great time to watch. I’m sure that the next time I watch it, I’ll still be saying “Ohhh!” due to not being able to see things coming.
Overall, The LEGO Batman Movie is a hit, and is easily the best film with Batman that we’ve seen in the last half-decade! The animation, characters, story, humor, depth and voice cast are all worthy of applause and they come together to make a very entertaining and exciting film. It does drag a little and some of the humor falls flat which makes the film feel a little longer than it could have, but the film was still a blast. Because of how fresh it feels at all times, and how surprisingly emotional and original it was, I definitely can’t wait to watch this film again, and see where “Warner Brahs” takes this ingenious LEGO Universe in the future. I’m going to give The LEGO Batman Movie a solid 7+/10 and a green recommendation! (8 is usually what I reserve for “great” films, and I would call this “very good,” just above “really good,” to be over technical) Have you seen this, or will you see it soon? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!