In 2014, The Lego Movie had a lot of memorable characters, but Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) stole so many scenes, it was unfair to the rest of the master builder crew. It was only a matter of time before the dark knight had his own starring vehicle…in a Lego Universe. However, it didn’t have the genius of Chris Miller and Phil Lord (the guys behind The Lego Movie) behind it, so the real question is, can it stand apart from the film that birthed Will Arnett’s caped crusader while retaining a lot of the factors that made it great?
Yes and no. While The Lego Batman Movie is not nearly as memorable or as funny as The Lego Movie, it still finds a way to include plenty or humor and heart that keeps it within the same wheelhouse. The film opens with a 4th wall breaking Batman talking over logos that immediately lets you know what you’re in for. From there, we get a massive opening with every Batman villain showing up, just proving how fantastic the rogue gallery is. The beginning of the movie is so jam packed with stuff, it feels like someone is throwing 10 darts at a board. Because of this, the exposition following slows the story down quite a bit, which may bore the kids. I kind of was shifting in my seat a bit too, only because there’s a lot of talking and not much action or funny stuff. As a Lego Movie, you would think the gas would never be let up on.
Thankfully, once Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera, perfect casting) comes into the fold, the movie gets right back on track, bringing in great cameos you wouldn’t expect, some really exciting set pieces, and touching moments. A ton of Batman inside jokes are thrown in too, for good measure. In addition, the last half hour is just pure insanity, as if the metaphorical toy box these characters exist within vomited. I’m saying that in the best possible way. The nature of these films really appeal to kids because they are so whimsical and nutty, and The Lego Batman Movie knows this and runs with the ball. It’s a ton of fun.
Besides the sluggish section I spoke about earlier, the only other complaint I have is Zack Galifianakis as The Joker. While it’s not an awful voice over, it is not as “on the nose” as Arnett’s Batman, and doesn’t really give The Joker the personality you’ve come to expect. Since he clearly serves as the main foil, it’s just a disappoint choice. Everyone else in the cast, though, is perfect.
While The Lego Batman Movie had its flaws, I couldn’t walk away from it without a smile on my face. Even though the superb greatness of The Lego Movie may never be touched by sequels and spin-offs, the brand knows how to combine silly and sweet. And The Lego Batman Movie had a brick ton of that. The DC Universe can learn a thing or two from the constructed caped crusader caper. Yeah, I said it.