The Lego Batman Movie

Posted: February 14, 2017 in Film reviews
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Directed by Chris McKay. Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes.

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“Dunnu dunnu dunnud dunna…BATMAN!”

Gotham City is blighted by a multitude of masked villains, most notably the Joker, but thankfully they’re protected by winged vigilante Batman (Arnett). Hero though he is, Batman is also something or an arrogant narcissist who was so traumatised by the death of his parents that he fears getting close to people ever again. After hurting Joker’s feelings by claiming he doesn’t have an arch enemy, and that Joker is just another bad guy, the clown prince of crime begins enacting a cunning plan that will potentially see Batman finally fall.

When Jim Gordon retires, and is replaced as Commissioner by his daughter Barbara, Batman suddenly finds his brand of lone wolf vigilantism is no longer flavour of the month. Barbara believes in team work, which is an anathema to a man who thinks the world revolves around him.

When the Joker catches everyone off guard by surrendering, Batman decides there’s only one way to truly rid Gotham of the clown prince of crime, but he’s just playing into Joker’s hands, and soon Gotham is plagued by an army of villains far deadlier than the likes of Penguin, Bane or Catwoman.

Will Batman’s burgeoning feelings for his new young ward, Dick Grayson (Cera) Barbara and faithful butler Alfred (Fiennes) help him defeat Joker and his newfound villainous allies, or will fear of being hurt once more ensure Batman fails to save Gotham City from destruction.

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“Get ready to smile!”

For anyone who’s seen the Lego Movie, it comes as no surprise to say that an awful lot of love has gone into the Lego Batman Movie. The Lego Movie might have caught people a little flat footed, but I think most will be going in to see this Bat themed offering with much higher expectations. Thankfully the Lego Batman Movie doesn’t disappoint. There might be a commercial impetus behind the Lego films, but when it’s balanced with such a commitment to making entertainment, who cares?

Right from Batman’s gravelly toned introduction this film is a hoot. This is a film made by people who seem to know Batman inside out, and who aren’t afraid to be both affectionate but also irreverent towards the Caped Crusader, whether it’s taking the mickey (frequently) out of the 1960s Batman, or making fun of last year’s Dawn of Justice (and really someone needs to tie Zach Snyder to a chair and make him watch this film on a loop until he gets it) this is a film that earns its right to laugh at Batman by virtue of clearly loving Batman.

Arnett is great as Bats/Bruce Wayne, aping Christian Bales deep tones and making Batman seem like a narcissistic arse, whilst also making us empathise with him. His fear of getting close to people and his apparent shallowness make perfect sense given what happened to him as a child, and more than once the film tugs on our heartstrings in a way far few Batman films have, even if any emotional beat is usually followed by some slapstick comedy or joke (usually at Bat’s expense) to ensure we aren’t downbeat for long.

The visuals are stunning and the films rockets along at a clipped pace. Pretty much every scene is crammed full of content, and this is clearly a film that will only benefit from repeated viewings so you can spot every little in joke.

After the recent funereal efforts from DC it’s so refreshing to see a film about Bats and co let loose and be fun.

There are a few (very few) flaws. Cramming every Batman villain into the background means no one outside of Joker really gets to shine—although Bane’s Tom Hardy style delivery raises a few titters—and as such Penguin, Catwoman and co get lost in the crowd. And yes the film does get a little soppy towards the end, but in fairness the film earns the right to do this, and it’s nowhere near as mawkish as the Lego Movie was in its latter stages.

Casting wise Cera makes for an engaging Robin, over eager and desperate for affection, but brave and resourceful as well, and similarly Dawson puts a lot into Barbara, and the ever so slightly sexist overtones of her Bat alter ego are nicely defused. Fiennes is a good Alfred, although it is curious to see him not playing a certain other character in the film (you’ll know who). On the subject of casting, it’s exceptionally neat to see who’s playing Two-Face!  Galifianakis is ok as Joker, but he is slightly hamstrung, given the child friendly nature of the film his Joker can’t be anywhere near as homicidal as he should be (he’s still better than Leto though!)

It’s funny, exciting, ever so slightly moving and, most of all, a film that adores Batman, even when it’s making fun of him. In fact especially when its making fun of him. Time will tell, but this might well end up in many Bat fans top three bat films.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to reheat my lobster thermidor. Oh yeah, and Iron Man sucks!

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“It’s not what it looks like, Alfred!”

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Comments
  1. I’ve never seen the Lego movie, but the Lego games are ace fun. This looks similarly entertaining.

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