Film Review: The LEGO Batman Movie
The LEGO Batman Movie is a lot of fun. The film strikes a nice balance between the Batman in-jokes and a wider-appealing comedy and narrative.
Batman has an enviable life on the surface. Yet Alfred, his butler, suggests that he lives a solitary life. Bruce Wayne must look after the orphan he has adopted, as well as dealing with Gotham’s criminals…
Following the success of 2014’s The LEGO Movie, it was almost inevitable that a spin-off would appear. Especially so, given that Batman was one of the film’s most memorable and entertaining characters. The LEGO Batman Movie does not seek to do a retread of the superhero origin story. Instead the film concentrates on the protagonist’s relationship with those around him.
The first quarter of The LEGO Batman Movie, is very, very funny. This section will thrill fans of the Batman franchise (in its various guises), and entertain those with just a passing interest. Director Chris McKay gently ribs previous incarnations of the character, but this is always done with affection. This reference to the comic book characters continues throughout, although not quite to the same degree.
After the fizz of the first segment, the film settles to a slower pace of movement and comedy. Jokes later in the film do not match the rapid-fire nature of the first quarter. Nevertheless, they usually hit the mark. The middle section of the film is more thoughtful, concentrating on Batman’s relationship with those he is closest to. Although this works as a narrative strand overall, at times it does feel a little over-egged.
A big part of the film’s appeal is its inclusion of many well-known characters. Like The LEGO Movie, these are depicted with a healthy dose of amusement. The LEGO Batman Movie goes beyond the Batman universe to include other DC characters and even those from other Warner Bros films. These appearances are very welcome, and are just long enough not to detract from the central character.
Animation in the film is excellent. The soundtrack, with its original songs, is fantastic in its ability to set the tone. Will Arnett reprises his role as the voice of Batman with alomb. He has good support from Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, and Michael Cera. Batman fans will raise a wry smile at Billy Dee Williams’ inclusion.
The LEGO Batman Movie does not quite encapsulate the same level of fun and energy as its progenitor, but it comes close. A very entertaining watch.