I’ve been sitting on this review for a while. Not because I didn’t want to talk about it but simply because I didn’t have enough time during its release to talk about it. Unlike a lot of my reviews, I’m coming from a place where I’ve had a lot of time to think about the movie and really marinate on how I actually feel. Part of the reason I want to still review “The Lego Batman Movie” is because of how much I enjoyed it. “The Lego Batman Movie” is the follow-up/spin-off to the highly successful (and much like “John Wick” in this regard) and incredibly surprising “Lego Movie”. I was very excited for this film; not only because I’m a massive Batman fan but also because Batman was one of the best parts of Phil Lord’s and Chris Miller’s original “Lego” film. Then again we could be dealt another “Minions”; Great and funny side character (or characters) given the spotlight and can’t hold the movie together.
“The Lego Batman Movie” has no such problem. This is a fast, quick witted, smart, intelligent and wickedly fun comic book Lego adventure. This is easily one of the best experiences with DC characters that audiences have been dealt too in a while. It doesn’t reach the heights of “The Lego Movie” and does hit a little bit of lull in the middle but all in all this parody and satire in the best form. It succeeds as a way to poke fun at the characters but also stand on its very own as a satisfying Batman adventure.
“The Lego Batman Movie” follows (who else?) Batman as he handily deals with every criminal scheme with ease and receives praise from everyone. Everyone loves him but he is also utterly alone. He accidently (in a really funny turn of events) adopts a young boy, Dick Grayson. Alfred forces Bruce Wayne to take care of the boy. Meanwhile, Joker (played wonderfully by the hilarious Zach Galifianakis) is reeling from Batman not accepting the Joker as his greatest enemy. Joker is depressed but will not stand for Batman not accepting him as his greatest enemy.
Chris McKay directs this movie and it’s very clear that this guy is a massive Batman fan. There are layers upon layers upon layers of Batman jokes. This movie pokes fun at nearly every aspect of Batman with a wink and a nod. They play up his masculinity and his harder edge darkness for brilliant self-aware comedy. There are nods to every movie, every show, and really deep comic book cuts. Billy Dee Williams voices Two-Face which is a great nod to Tim Burton’s “Batman” where he played Harvey Dent. There is something here for every level of Batman fan. What’s nice is even if you’re not a big Batman fan many of the jokes stand on their own as well. Besides that, there are plenty of comedy for non-Batman fans.
There are so many jokes in this movie that you might miss a few while you’re laughing at a previous one. By the third act, this movie just opens up into a realm of mayhem and creativity that only a Lego movie can provide. With cameos and characters that I never thought I would see on the same screen together. McKay was given a blank check and an open script and he takes every Lego out of the play chest and has fun with them.
Where the movie lacks I think is in the second act. The movie is still funny but the laughs do subside and a few of the jokes do miss a bit. That could be part of my exhaustion after the first act making me laugh so hard but I did find some of it dragging a bit. Maybe this next criticism is a bit unfair considering the nature of “The Lego Movie” but part of the reason that “The Lego Movie” does rise above “The Lego Batman Movie” is this one doesn’t have that same existential and social commentary. That type of storytelling doesn’t have a place in this movie so I’m not knocking this film for not including it. But, I think that is part of the reason I enjoyed the first movie just a little bit more.
But that’s not a major flaw in the least bit. This movie makes up for that by just being so damn creative and fun. The action is actually very entertaining (more so than any of the “Taken” sequels) the animation is excellent (although there are a few moments where I didn’t think it was as on point as it was in the first movie), and the amount of humor is amazing. The voice acting is all on point with Will Arnett taking center stage in his dry-witted take on the Batman and the shining standout of Michael Cera voicing Robin. In an era of “Epic Movie”, “Haunted House”, and endless “Scary Movie” sequels; an era where Parody was killed and buried, “The Lego Batman” serves as a shining example of how to approach parody and do it correctly. It appears that DC/Warner Brothers wants to make a live action Nightwing movie with Chris McKay as the director. After seeing how much he loves and understands the characters of the Batman universe (and amazing success of this film), I can’t wait to see him take on DC in the live action realm.