Released 30th March (Australia)
Seen 11th November
Directed by Chris McKay
Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern & John Whittington
Produced by DC Entertainment, Lego System A/S, Lin Pictures, Lord Miller, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment, Warner Animation Group, Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Bros
Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson & Ralph Fiennes
Earlier this year I saw Lego Ninjago, a movie that was clearly spewed out to capitalize on the cinematic success that was The Lego Movie. At the start of that review, I mentioned that “Lego Batman… showed you could play around in multiple established universes and still tell your own story”. I knew this because my younger brother told me the basic storyline of the Lego Batman movie and, at that point, I hadn’t seen Lego Batman. I’ve now rectified that and somehow, it makes me think Lego Ninjago was actually worse.
Lego Batman tells the story of Batman (Played by Will Arnett) and his greatest enemy, even though he won’t admit it, The Joker (Played by Zach Galifianakis). It’s basically an hour and a half long battle between them and while Batman is dealing with that, he also must deal with memories of his tragic history that’s hitting home now that he’s accidentally adopted Dick Grayson (Played by Michael Cera) who will have to help teach Batman to let his guard down and let people in.
While this film might on the surface seem like it’s a cheap cash-in based on the success of The Lego Movie (Which… OK, it kinda is), I was surprised to see that instead of just doing a cheesy little action film they were layering it with the concept that friends are the family that you choose, something they hammer home endlessly but it works spectacularly. Similarly, with The Lego Movie, the heart of this film is that familial bond and how important it is for our main character to realise that’s there. It’s why this movie and The Lego Movie are the two superior films in this series of movies, they understood that you need to have a good emotional backing behind the jokes in order to make them work while Lego Ninjago thought that it’d be cool if you just redid Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie with a few more (Bad) jokes.
Speaking of jokes, this is one of the funniest animated cartoons I’ve seen in a good long time. it shoots them rapid fire and if one doesn’t land, there’s another one coming about three seconds later that you might laugh at. This helps because this cast can deliver one hell of a punchline. They assembled some truly gifted comic performers to round out this gigantic cast and every one of them get’s a moment to shine with their stellar performances. Will Arnett especially just kills it. He was freaking hilarious in The Lego Movie, he’s off the charts here.
The number of references to classic Batman stuff that they threw in is insane, not just in terms of characters they put in the background or the shots where they just reference every previous Batman (Genuinely love that the only live action Batman they show in the entire film is Adam West, it’s a nice touch), but just some of the quick throwaway bits like the shark repellant or the various costumes Batman’s worn, it’s one of those little touches that a massive Batman fan would love. I’ll admit to not reading the comics, and even I can tell there are some references hidden so deep in this film that some super fan is off having the best time watching this from just how much they threw into this movie.
In trying to think about what was wrong with it, I really can’t come up with much. Some of the jokes might not have landed and I would’ve liked a little more Superman in there because personally, I thought Batman’s dislike of him was so freaking funny that I could gleefully watch him being annoyed at Superman for hours but those are the most trivial nitpicks that ever picked nits.
Much like Captain Underpants, this is the kind of animated kids film we should be getting. It’s got a lot of good stuff that adults will laugh at, a ton there for the kids, a good moral and just a lot of fun. There isn’t much more you could hope for. This really is the kind of film where you just have to admit that Everything Is Awesome!