Saturday, February 11, 2017

Everything Is Pretty Awesome With "The Lego Batman Movie"


After The Lego Movie made a huge splash at the box office and after Will Arnett emerged a standout thanks to his voice work as Batman, it would seem to make sense that they would make a Lego Movie spinoff centered around Batman. Spinoffs can often have mixed results. For every Bourne Legacy or Machete, there's a dreadful Minions lurking in the corner. How does The Lego Batman Movie fare, though? Well, it is enjoyable. Admittedly not great. But it is worth the price of admission.

The Lego Batman Movie centers around the life of Batman who lives a life of crimefighting in Gotham City and solitude with his only companion being his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes). But he finds himself trying to juggle being both a vigilante, fighting off the Joker (Zach Galifanakis) in the process, and being a surrogate father to an orphaned boy named Richard "Dick" Grayson (Michael Cera). 

The film's greatest asset lies in Will Arnett's voice work. He nails the arrogance that Batman displayed in The Lego Movie while slowly giving him layers of sympathy that lie beneath his deep, gravelly voice. If his voice work were to falter, then the movie would but thankfully, that is not the case. Also, Michael Cera is perfectly cast as the very jittery and optimistic Dick Grayson who's the opposite of the more reclusive, straight-laced Batman. Aside from Arnett, another reason the movie works so incredibly wells is thanks to their chemistry.

While this film manages to be as self-referential as The Lego Movie, what sets this film apart from The Lego Movie is how it focuses more on referencing the DC Comics Universe rather than the Lego toy brand that The Lego Movie does. Lego Batman has a lot of fun with elements to Batman's general storyline. For example, Batman may live a life of loneliness yet it includes watching romantic comedies. Also, the film focuses deeply on the dynamic between Batman and The Joker but incorporates interesting and surprising homoerotic subtext within the dynamic they both have. The film even pokes fun at the different Batman films with Alfred referring to them as various "phases" in Batman's life. Even if the self-referencing tends to go overboard, it still had me chuckling from time to time.

Not only does Lego Batman carry the self-referential style of its predecessor and humor, but it carries the same kind of heart as well. The bond that Batman and Dick possess gets very deep as it reveals a lot about Batman's character and how part of the reason he avoids any connection is so he doesn't lose another family like when he lost his parents. So the film delves into the themes of family and loneliness, allowing plenty of poignancy to be found as well as fun humor. Adults will love the self-referential gags to the DC Comics Universe while kids will get a kick out of a few physical gags, like ones involving the two main heroes having a lack of undergarments, as well as the thrilling action scenes that take place. So it definitely has something for everyone.

While I find The Lego Movie to be superior due to its refreshing originality, I still think The Lego Batman Movie is certainly worth the price of admission. It has action, humor, heart, and wit. Everything is still awesome!!

Grade: A-