I have to admit that the original LEGO Movie took me by surprise when I first watched it. It was easily the best comedy/animated film of that year for me and it actually did make me get back into the hobby that I left so long ago. It went on to chalk up $682 million at the global box office and won over the critics alike. Which is a pretty high bar for any spinoff movie to meet that the LEGO Batman Movie unfortunately falls slightly short (BUT only slightly!).
The LEGO Batman Movie is essentially the “Deadpool” of animated movies but not in the aspect of violence and gore but in the sheer amount of irreverence that the movie is laden with. LEGO Batman is self aware, breaks the fourth wall constantly and has a tonne of witty one liners which would be great if they actually spent more time in trying to advance the plot.
The premise is as simple as they come, The Joker is hell bent on taking over Gotham City with his past failures referenced multiple times within the movie. LEGO Batman tries to stop him and succeeds but is unaware of the true diabolical plan that The Joker has up his sleeve. In order to overcome Joker’s nefarious plan, he must learn to step out of his comfort zone and embrace the help of his friends.
Which actually brings me to the best part of the movie, their treatment of the Batman. Never before have I encountered a Batman film that actually tried to dissect Batman’s almost desperate need to be alone. Nolan’s The Dark Knight is THE seminal Batman film but The LEGO Batman Movie actually did turn the spotlight inwards to really flesh out why Batman works well flying solo.
However, there is a bit of a problem with the tone of the film. It is insanely irreverent with jokes ranging from the witty to the wasted. It is so packed full of jokes, gags and nudges of fan service that the plot gets a little lost in a sea of humour. I’m sure I missed a few gags along the way as there was hardly any time to recover from one joke that the next one hits you in the face. This is great if you’re trying break the record for number of laughs per minute but then the moments that are supposed to drive the plot are diminished in their full potential.
One of the things that I love about the original LEGO Movie was that it was a very ‘LEGO’ movie. The characters could turn on their “master builder” mode which was a rather ingenious nod to the Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL). There was also a slew of LEGO “celebrities” that popped up around any corner like Han and Lando in the Millennium Falcon which was something that didn’t happen in The LEGO Batman Movie which is understandable since this is purely the LEGO Batman universe and its’ characters.
Will Arnett (Arrested Development) still charms us with his husky voice with Rosario Dawson (Daredevil) as Batgirl, Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter) as Alfred Pennyworth, Zack Galifanakis (The Hangover) lends his maniacal laughter to the Joker and Michael Cera (Arrested Development) as the boy wonder, Robin. There are also a few other celebrity voices which are not named and it was quite a surprise to see them in the end credits even though they only had a couple of lines in the whole movie. I cannot wait to see some of these villains from the Rogues gallery get their LEGO makeover in the upcoming summer wave of LEGO sets.
I definitely came out of the theatre grinning from ear to ear and recounting all the best jokes in the film although, The LEGO Movie is still my benchmark for a balanced film. Now I know why The LEGO Movie Directors Phil Lord, Chris Miller were such hot property after that movie came out. Don’t get me wrong, The LEGO Batman Movie by Chris McKay still does a fantastic job and the kids are still going to love it but somehow it just falls slightly short of the magic that was created by The LEGO Movie in 2013.