By Paul Hall
In 2014, The Lego Movie brought us a unique and exciting brand of animation using the fabled Lego bricks with a funny and genuinely entertaining film for young and old. One of the characters who stood out in that film was the iconic Batman. It was only natural to give the Caped Crusader his own film, cleverly titled The LEGO Batman Movie.
From the opening credits, it is clear: Batman is the star of this movie. Will Arnett returns to provide the voice of the Caped Crusader and it is impossible to keep a smile off your face as he comments on every decision — from title credits to song choices — involved in making this movie. Arnett brings his personality to the mix to create a unique vision of Batman and we are launched into the film.
As our story goes, Batman adopts a young orphan. Even if the adoption is a bit inadvertent, the young boy becomes his perfect sidekick, Robin. And as Commissioner Gordon steps down, he brings in, well, Commissioner Gordon (his daughter). She wants to do the best for Gotham with her own strategies and those don’t include calling Batman every time there is trouble. As you can imagine, this bruises Batman’s ego. In spite of that, Batman needs to win over the new commissioner quick as Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) is doing what he does best and trying to take over the city.
Joker has a bone to pick with Batman. As Batman exclaims, Joker is no longer his primary nemesis. Yep, bruised egos exist among both heroes and villains in this film. As Joker joins forces with a number of the bad guys in Gotham, is his plan more about taking over Gotham or earning Batman’s respect?
When The LEGO Batman Movie focuses on its comedic aspects, it is absolutely as funny as any animated film in recent memory. But — and you knew a but was coming if you peeked ahead at my grade — after the initial set of humorous quips by Arnett and a couple memorable sequences, the better part of the middle of the film tends to fall into a trap of trying to relay more of a dramatic message. It’s during that middle chunk that the movie loses its way a bit.
Good thing there is a third act that brings us back around and ends on a high note, because I really wanted to like this film and ended up quite pleased overall.
Yes, I left the theater talking in my best Will Arnett Batman voice and I will do that in the future. I love the Lego universe and what they are doing with the films, but if I had any recommendation, it would be to stay in the wheelhouse of comedy and deliver great fun for all. When the filmmakers do that, we all win.
In my next career, I want to be Bruce Wayne and Batman, too. Don’t we all? Maybe because he is super cool or maybe just because I want to utter the words “I’m Batman.”
Paul’s Grade: B / B-
The LEGO Batman Movie
Voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera
Director: Chris McKay
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