Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis
Who doesn’t love LEGO? I would have thought that everybody loves creating incredible structures with the little coloured building blocks, and now it seems as if people are enjoying making wonderful animated features with them too. Back in 2014, Chris Lord and Phil Miller surprised everybody with The LEGO Movie. If you had told me that one of my favourite films of 2014 would be a movie involving the Danish toys, I would have laughed it off, but it just so happened to be true. It now seems as I’ll be slipping another LEGO movie into one of my favourite movies of year lists. The LEGO Batman movie isn’t just a great animated film, it’s also one of the best Batman movies ever made.
The LEGO Batman Movie sees Will Arnett reprise the role of the Caped Crusader which he very much made his own in Lord and Miller’s 2014 The LEGO Movie. This time around not only does Batman have to deal with the Joker (voiced brilliantly by Zach Galifianakis), who’s threatening to destroy Gotham City by bringing together all of Gotham’s most notorious villains, but the Dark Knight also finds himself having to care for his new adopted son, Robin.
My name’s Richard Grayson, but all the kids are the orphanage call me Dick.
One of the best things about The LEGO Movie was its humour, and although Lord and Miller weren’t involved in this LEGO Batman spinoff, director Chris McKay and the film’s writers have managed to keep the same tone. LEGO’s now become so much more than just about the toys themselves. There are books, TV shows, video games and now Hollywood blockbusters, and they all have a similar humour running through them, however The LEGO Batman Movie takes it one step further. Using a character like Batman was a masterstroke, mainly because he takes himself so seriously, and having an actor like Will Arnett voice him was perfect casting. Firstly, Arnett’s seriously low and gravely voice suits Batman wonderfully, but he also lends his own sense of humour to the role. Honestly, I feel that without Arnett, this movie just wouldn’t work.
From the very moment you hear Arnett as Batman you know that you’re in safe hands. His narration over the Hollywood studios’ logos at the beginning of the film had me chucking and I never really stopped from that moment on. The LEGO Batman Movie is packed full of jokes, one liners and pop culture references, so many in fact that I’m going to have to see it again just to make sure I catch all of them. It has to be said that they aren’t all winners, but the writers and Arnett opted for safety in numbers, and it certainly has paid off. I particularly liked the references to previous iterations of Batman, especially with respect to Adam West’s 1960s version of the Caped Crusader. However, there are jokes in there for younger audiences as well, which is vital for an animated film such as this one.
You wanna play games, do you Batman? Save the city or catch your greatest enemy!
In terms of the animation itself, The LEGO Batman Movie really is something to behold. There are so many colours on show, so much movement, so much spectacle. I didn’t think they could top The LEGO Movie graphically, but somehow they managed it. I had to remind myself on multiple occasions that what I was watching was all digital animation because it almost looks like incredibly meticulous stop-motion, which undoubtedly was what the animated were trying to achieve.
The LEGO Batman Movie, much like The LEGO Movie before it, is one of those animated films targeted both for kids and adults. Often these types of films fail miserably and tend to just haphazardly chuck in a few rude jokes for the older audience members. This film however, succeeds in making itself feel relevant for its entire target audience. There are things in there specifically for people who remember the Batman movies before it, but it manages to incorporate these references without alienating a huge part of the film’s audience. Everything feels necessary and carefully thought through, which isn’t the case with a lot of animated features.
I have aged phenomenally.
What Chris McKay has done – and I do not say this lightly – is manage to make one of the best Batman movies of all time. After a year in which we were subjected to the rather lacklustre Batman v Superman, The LEGO Batman Movie is exactly what we needed: a fresh take on one of DC’s most famous superheroes, which doesn’t take itself so seriously. Maybe the people heading up the DCEU could learn a thing or two from this film, or at least I hope they do.