The LEGO Movie served as one of the biggest surprises of the last few years; what seemed like a corporate product designed to sell merchandise turned out to be an incredibly clever and subversive comedy that parodied both genre cliches and the nature of filmmaking. The LEGO Batman Movie is relatively similar, taking on similar topics, but this time setting it within the superhero world, which is more than ripe for parody. Not only is The LEGO Batman Movie a hilariously intricate comedy, but it seems to understand the character of Batman, giving us a comical portrait of the Dark Knight that’s also a tribute to his rich history.
Batman (Will Arnett) has saved the world countless time, but remains isolated and unwilling to work with a team or family. After his loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Finnes) encourages him to work with the new Police Commissioner Barbra Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and a young orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), Batman must team up with his new allies to take on a villainous plot by the Joker (Zack Galifinackis). The story gives us more than a few references for die hard DC and Batman fans, playing into the mythology and universe of the character and retaining much of his psychological elements as well.
Yes, The LEGO Batman Movie is a comedy, but it’s not an outright spoof that diminishes any of its material. The movie is filled to the top with clever jokes, many of which may not be picked up in an initial viewing. Yet, these are never jokes at the expense of the character, and for an animated LEGO Movie, the film’s action works incredibly well, mostly due to the creativity used with the LEGO products. The tone of these films are made to appeal to kids, but they may not be their target audience; for an animated audience, the film’s witty, and at points thought provoking, comedy seems much more targeted towards an adult audience.
Will Arnett continues to do an excellent job voicing the titular character with great comedic timing, and Michael Cera’s Robin provides the film with one of it’s strongest relationships. There’s a great number of side characters and cameos that populate the film’s vast universe, and although it could easily become overpopulated, the extended cast gives the film an added depth. It’s a brilliant comic book film, one that’s hilarious and exciting, and potentially one of the best ever depictions of Batman on screen. Grade: -A