The Lego Batman Movie (2017) Review: The Best Batman Movie In Years.
From the swinging 60s to the 2000s, Batman has lingered on throughout cinema. As a brand, it’s one of the most successful and versatile I can think of. Movies, video games, television, even music. Batman is one of those properties that doesn’t only stand the test of time but just happens to be the best of whatever it touches. ‘The Dark Knight’ remains the pinnacle of superhero filmmaking, and ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’ revolutionized the way video games are played, with a combat system that’s become the new standard.
So naturally, when it came time to develop another Lego movie to supersede the 2014 surprise hit, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ was the obvious choice. Will Arnett was the breakout performance of that film and of course, everybody loves Batman. That’s the central premise of this movie and an integral part of what makes it work. It assumes that after spending 78 years watching Batman films, Batman tv shows, playing Batman video games and reading Batman comics, that you know a thing or two about the Caped Crusader.
|Unless of course, you’ve been living here.|
In fact, it depends on it. ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ features many a moment where the crux of the joke is a play on Batman’s storied history cinematic or otherwise. Moments that to me were glee-inducing but would fall flat to someone a little less versed in the Batman mythos. There are other laughs in the movie. Some playing off of action movie tropes and referencing other non-Batman movies, but none as big as those played at The Dark Knight’s expense.
‘The Lego Batman Movie’ then is a movie that both seems to revere Batman, but also hold him in contempt. In the same breath, the movie will espouse praise for Batman’s skills, but then knock him down a peg for being a drama queen. Batman is treated similarly to the titular character in ‘Archer’. He’s arrogant, brash and thinks the world of himself. He’s also right most of the time, which makes him all the more insufferable. It works if you’re a big fan of Batman, or if you think he’s overrated.
|There’s a lot of Batman to be made fun of.|
Of all the iterations of Batman, I’d say ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is the most truthful about the character. It delved a lot deeper into what makes Batman tick than I expected. There’s a clearly defined arc that’s the fuel for the film’s most heartfelt moments. It didn’t make me cry, but there’s a surprising amount of pathos in the movie. Will Arnett’s Batman voice is great for the over the top moments played for laughs, but it’s the moments of solace that his take on the character shines through.
|It’s actually a pretty perfect performance.|
The rest of the cast are similar. Each has a grasp on the perfect voice for each character. Michael Cera’s Robin is a delightful contrast to Arnett’s brooding Batman, as he is quite literally bouncing off the walls at times. Ralph Fiennes as Alfred is superb as well, but that’s just by nature of being British. The other big performance of note comes from Zach Galifianakis as The Joker. He’s far from the worst to play the character, but I can’t say I’d mind a recast should there be another Lego Joker in the future.
For all that ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ does right, I didn’t love it. It’s mostly good. It’s extremely clever, and it never wants to stop trying to make you laugh. Except when it takes a break to make you feel. All of this is well balanced, but for a movie that’s only an hour and 46 minutes, it feels a lot longer. The lego format has a sort of anything is possible atmosphere about it. After about an hour into it, I had seen what Lego Batman had to offer. I didn’t need much more of it.
Rating: Very High Half Price