Kind of like The Lego Movie in a sense that it would not be easy to expect something along these lines at first to be half as good as it was, but it manages to succeed in bringing good fun. The unexpected success of The Lego Movie was one among many of the decade’s biggest surprises for it managed to capture a certain playfulness in itself that in turn created a product far better than it really had much right to be, but with The Lego Batman Movie now focusing on DC characters, one can only have enough of Will Arnett’s Batman impression filling up the final product. Turns out what I got was exactly what made The Lego Movie work nearly as well as it did although probably not to the same degree of effectiveness as said film, but maybe the same sort of fun.
Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman from The Lego Movie and now he’s joined by Ralph Fiennes (Alfred Pennyworth), Michael Cera (Robin), and Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon) in order to fight what may be his greatest threat and one set to put Gotham City at stake. Surprisingly, it isn’t the Joker in spite of the many times they’ve feuded, for maybe he meant something better along the way? The Lego Batman Movie plays itself out as a parody of the Batman films in the fashion of The Lego Movie and only brings out the most fun that one can expect from watching something inside of this universe. But that’s not to say it was ever immune to qualms that I still felt were present as I watched The Lego Movie now that we have another film from this universe left in the hands of Robot Chicken’s Chris McKay.
The likes of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are only left serving as producers for The Lego Batman Movie but their touch still feels present under Chris McKay’s own eye behind the camera. McKay, a supervising animator for The Lego Movie does indeed recreate the joys that made said film’s humour work nearly as well as it did through The Lego Batman Movie, whether it come down to the self-awareness of what kept the most typical films of the sort from standing out as much as they should, but at the same time recreation never pans out half as well as it did. There’s a specific level to which it ends up falling towards the same lows that the humour of The Lego Movie had ended up succumbing to amidst its self-awareness from the overuse of pop culture-related gags, but it still moves by rather swiftly as it keeps them coming.
Where the movie best works though, would be in how it parodies the story arcs of a Batman story, considering how well it understands the sort of singular dimension that Batman’s heroic attitude is known for, and exaggerates it all to the maximum. One can watch from Batman’s tendency to “work alone” to an over-the-top degree it leaves him at a distance from the community he believes loves him. With the family dynamic coming in as a challenge for Batman, it already challenges the typical “unstoppable hero” arc, now by questioning how seriously a hero takes their own personalities. Arnett is wonderful as Batman, but with new players like Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, and Rosario Dawson bringing their game into play, everything only becomes all the more fun based on the energy coming in.
Where The Lego Batman Movie falls is exactly where The Lego Movie finds itself falling, in a sense that it takes pop culture references far too much to the extreme. In The Lego Movie we have a sense of justification for their overuse in family films even if it suffers at the hands of its overly self-aware tone, and The Lego Batman Movie ends up taking them to a more blunt degree. On occasion you will see clips from Jerry Maguire coming in and these references end up in a sense distracting from the film overall. It was awkward enough trying to watch these references come in a kids’ film, but the main problem with how they are handled is that they are far too blunt for their own good. I’ve no problem with the bluntness of these pop culture gags but they aren’t particularly clever in the same sense that they were in The Lego Movie for they mixed perfectly with its self-aware tone.
The Lego Batman Movie in some way could be exactly what last year’s Deadpool should have been in terms of a superhero parody, but at the same time it falls into certain areas that hinder The Lego Movie from being a great film. Nevertheless, the charm it presents makes for a fun watch all throughout and while it lasts, it’s great fun. Like The Lego Movie, the animation fits perfectly for the world of Lego and its frenetic nature only makes everything a breeze. Phil Lord and Chris Miller may not be present to recreate the same sort of cleverness that allowed The Lego Movie to be half as clever as it was, but on its own rights, The Lego Batman Movie is extremely fun for both kids and adults – even if it lacks a certain edge the concept could have carried. Like The Lego Movie it wouldn’t have worked but the right hands manage to make it better than expected.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Warner Bros.
Directed by Chris McKay
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington, from DC Comics and Lego
Produced by Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 104 minutes