Batman, or rather his Lego equivalent (voiced by Will Arnett), arguably the breakout star of 2014’s The Lego Movie, gets not just the solo movie he needs but the one he deserves with The Lego Batman Movie, the most over the top, hilarious, gloriously silly version of the character we’ve seen for quite some time. It also happens to be the best movie featuring Batman since 2012.
When a new commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) pledges to rid Gotham of crime without the help of a masked vigilante, Batman, in an effort to reassert his dark and brooding protector status, vows to do it himself by capturing the Joker (Zach Galifinakis) and putting him away in an inescapable prison. Along the way, Batman accidentally adopts a young orphan, Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson (Michael Cera) and the duo are off, kicking ass, learning life lessons and taking names.
If you’re a fan of the character The Lego Batman Movie hits all the right notes, paying homage to the cinematic legacy of the Caped Crusader while mercilessly mocking both his history and recent cinematic (mis)adventures at the same time. The film plays as a satire of almost every dark and brooding comic book hero, and neatly skewers everything about the character.
The gag rate is relentless and it almost certainly will require multiple watches to catch them all. Whether it’s jokes for the adults like the slew of unexpected but hilarious villainous cameos from other franchises, or the for the kids and very childish adults (hello!) with Joker renaming the Batmobile the “Buttmobile” after rubbing his rear end all over it, there’s literally something for everyone. Furthermore, I can’t explain why Batman having trouble changing the source on his massive TV is funny. It just is. Director Chris McKay, and writers Seth Grahme Smith, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, know that sometimes an extended gag – one that goes on way longer than it has any right too – is always funny. Hint: Batman microwaving his dinner.
As with The Lego Movie every frame of the film is rendered in Lego bricks and one imagines the painstaking process of animating millions of individual Lego pieces is similar to standing on one, barefoot, in the middle of the night. But it looks incredible and it’s surprising just how much emotion the animators are able to imbue one and a half inches of plastic with. While it doesn’t have as much depth or profundity as its big brother there are still moments that might just bring a tear to the eye. A scene with Bruce Wayne talking to a picture of his parents is surprisingly touching, and has a lovely payoff towards the end.
The only criticism I could level at the film is that aside from Arnett and Cera as the Dynamic Duo, none of the voice cast really stand out and it wasn’t until the credits that I even knew who half the voices were. But it’s a small quibble for a film that will have you grinning ear to ear for the entire running time.
Can this just be the DC universe from now on, please?
PS. There’s a song that’s 100 times better than Everything is Awesome. Because it’s about Batman.