Oh yes, the time has come.
Batman fans have been waiting for a worthy successor to take over from Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan’s ground breaking trilogy and that time has come. With no Batman films being released since The Dark Knight Rises (don’t you correct that, it never happened), DC Comics are missing their winged heavyweight.
But now he comes to us in a new form, Lego form.
From the master builder boffins that gave us The LEGO Movie comes The LEGO Batman Movie. With Will Arnett’s incarnation of the Dark Knight stealing many a scene in the LEGO original, it was no surprise that he got his very own franchise. Those worried that the awesome side character may not transfer to his own film will be happy to know that The LEGO Batman Movie is a fun filled, worthy follow on to The LEGO Movie phenomena.
With Batman (Will Arnett) saving Gotham on a regular basis, things seem well for Gotham’s saviour. His wannabe arch nemesis, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), continues to cause mayhem and struggles with Batman’s inability to accept they are the ultimate of enemies. This lack of relationships is seen throughout Bruce’s life until he accidentally adopts an orphaned boy – Richard (Michael Cera). When The Joker begins to hatch a plan to destroy Gotham, it is up to Batman to save the day. Yet will the lone hero accept the help he needs from Butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Richard, and new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson)?
For this LEGO outing, directing duties fell to Chris McKay who has previously directed the Robot Chicken series. The film has the same writing team as The LEGO Movie and they have successfully transferred their own brand of humour to their new project.
For the film the story concentrates on Bruce’s/Batman isolation. Yes, he is a narcissistic hero with adoring fans but Bruce still lives alone, with the exception of long suffering butler/father figure Alfred. The film aims to create a super team that will break down Batman’s long fear of family. While Batman struggles with his personal life, The Joker assembles a new team of villains that will destroy Gotham once and for all. Emotional this must be but in LEGO, the whole of this is a hilarious piss-take. This is a longer film than the original and in terms of story it is not as strong as The LEGO Movie. Before the films brilliant climax the film loses pace but picks it up again in its final hurdle.
The style of the film does not stray from the original yet uses the DC connection as a driving force for much of its humour. In Warner Brother’s hands the film is not afraid to mock the extended DC Universe, with jokes regarding Suicide Squad and the ill-received Batman V Superman all thrown in for great affect. The film features an assemble of not just DC Comic characters but the expanded Warner Bros universe with Lord Voldemort and Godzilla making an appearance.
The stop-motion LEGO combination that audience saw in The LEGO Movie was something new and impressive. Here the animators are confident in their craft and have taken things to new heights. The film, as you would expect, is packed with action sequences and a complex Gotham backdrop. The entire look of the film is brilliant – from the city right down to the movement of its crazy selection of characters.
Leading the voice cast is funny man Will Arnett. Not only does he install his brilliant comic timing and charisma into the character but he is genuinely having the time of his life doing so. His voice over skills are even utilised to narrate the opening studio logos. Arnett is given strong support from the films large and funny ensemble cast, from awkward and stumbling Robin, to Galifianakis more emotional interpretation of The Joker. The standout side character this time has to be butler Alfred. Fiennes dry humour and calmness in a world of crazy character makes many a scene. He also has the best one liners of all the characters. Seeing as Voldemort makes an appearance in the film, you feel Warner Bros missed a trick not making the two characters (Voldemort was originally played by Fiennes) come to blows but, still, it is a great finale.
Supporting the good story, great cast, and confident animation is a quirky fun filled soundtrack. No track captures the ear quite like ‘Everything is Awesome’ but its opening and closing songs will still get audiences singing along at an embarrassing volume.
The LEGO Batman Movie is a worthy follow up to The LEGO Movie and an impressive DC assemble romp. With its slightly longer running time, it lacks the pace of it predecessor but this is a great animated feature. In the current DC Comics climate, this really is the only Batman movie that matters.
The LEGO Batman Movie is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!