Review: After hitchhiking and helping to save the day in The LEGO Movie (2014), Will Arnett’s self-obsessed Batman finally gets promoted to his own spotlight as the lead role. In his solo, brick-world spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie, Batman is the feeling-less, insensitive, heavy metal and beat box loving, lone vigilante of more-vibrant-and-frenetic-than-Tim-Burton’s Gotham. However, he’s not some taciturn, shy Dark Knight; Batman has embraced Bruce Wayne’s narcissism personality disorder and turned into a superstar of the crime-lair city.
Things go south when Jim Gordon retires and his daughter, a Harvard for Police alumnus, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) steps in. She insists that the city doesn’t need Batman for the Caped Crusader, although succeeds in quelling city’s most notorious villains, cannot really wipe them off completely. At the same moment, Batman’s rejected arch-nemesis – the Joker (Zach Galifianakis, in a more sensitive role than Jared Leto’s swagger version) surrenders himself and his band of criminals. Fearing that it’s Joker’s mere villainous agenda, Batman aided by his cute adopted son Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) determines to stop Joker at whatever cost.
The LEGO Batman Movie is a solid piece of joke-fest. The jokes are dense from the self-aware opening credit to the plot-ground, ranging from pop culture references to blockbuster clichés. However, the film’s main target of roasting is: Batman – the history (as Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred exclaims, “I have seen you go through similar phases in 2016 and 2012 and 2008 and 2005 and 1997 and 1995 and 1992 and 1989 and that weird one in 1966.”); the niches – costumes, gadgets, et al; and the absurd ones (his 9 abs, ftw).
The Batman itself is by far the most complex character among his other incarnations, even compared to Nolan’s version, let alone Snyder’s version. This Batman claims that he’s been aging phenomenally through lots of episodes, resulting in his quirky behavior. Forget the dark, grim iteration from his latest incarnations, or the womanizer persona in his earlier incarnations; this Batman only cares about being the only Batman – who has no feelings, no sensitivity (but high reflexes), no need for anybody else in life, and no weakness. Well, there’s actually a weakness – something that gets him vulnerable (certainly not snake clown!); and this ‘vulnerability’ is what moves The LEGO Batman Movie into a dead-pan character study of a well-known character who makes the big name of DC Comics.
LEGO Batman works differently from the introductory course, The LEGO Movie in terms of pace and focus. However, the ‘rule of conduct’ is similar at most point. Both share the same pop culture references and word-play that becomes the transmitter of its idiosyncrasy. While those references might bounce off of younger audiences; but for grown-up and LEGO Movie aficionados, they’ll grab the first attention and won’t let go until the end-credit. Batman also displays his LEGO Movie prowess as a Master Builder – an essential element introduced in the introductory film – and makes use of the ability to become a more advanced Bat-incarnations among others.
While it’s not as compelling and thought-provoking as The LEGO Movie, Batman’s adventure in The LEGO Batman Movie is still a feel-good movie that shares similar vibes. The Batman ventures to some areas no Batman movie has ever been. Breaking the conventional dark, grim style to a more vibrant zone, it’s an exhilarating bat-ride from opening credit to end-credit, giving an incarnation of Batman we ‘must have’ right now
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
Animation, Action, Adventure Directed by: Chris McKay Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington Starred by: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes Runtime: 104 mins Rated PG