Directed by Chris McKay
Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson
The Lego Movie was one of the surprise hits of 2014, delivering not only laughs, but an incredibly well thought out story with dramatic impact. One of the stand-out characters of the film, Will Arnett’s take on the Dark Knight, gets his own film in this second of the Lego films. The question is, will it live up to it’s vaunted predecessor?
For Batman (Will Arnett), everything is awesome. Able to defeat his entire rogue gallery of Gotham villains in the opening scene (complete with a Bat-metal solo), a collected arsenal of Lego vehicles in his Batcave under stately Wayne manor, and the faithful family butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) to make him lobster thermidor, it would be difficult to conceive how it could not be. However this is all about to change as the Joker ( Zach Galifanakis) seeks to involve the newly promoted commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosaria Dawson), in his most devious scheme yet. Can even the recently adopted orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), help Batman overcome this clown prince of crime’s dastardly scheme.
The bad news it The Batman Lego Movie is not as good as its predecessor. It lacks some of the stark originality that The Lego Movie had, and is not quiet as thematically resonant. But only slightly. Considering what an exceptional achievement The Lego Movie was across the board, this still places The Batman Lego Movie as a great piece of film making.
In and of itself The Batman Lego Movie is an excellent film that delves deeply into Batman mythos for its heart. This is a film that is incredibly referential to the films and TV iterations that went before it – from Batman v Superman, all the way back to the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial. It demonstrates a breadth of knowledge by a similar deep delve into the comic book iteration, dredging up obscure characters such as Crazy Quilt and Kite Man. This film and comic book knowledge is similarly applied to Warner Brothers back catalogue, both in the Superhero genre and in others (the inhabitants of the Phantom Zone will provide plenty of chuckles to ciniphiles) all to great effect in providing a clever and affectionate parody.
Thematically it dives into the family issues that the character of Batman has, and how the character often struggles to trust in others versus his overwhelming sense of self reliance (or in this case – self proclaimed awesomeness). It’s a common trope in the Bat Family stories and it is one that is made comical by the overwhelming bravado of Will Arnett’s portrayal of the character. It also explores the adversarial relationship with the Joker. Again another common source of writer’s fodder in the history of the Bat, although perhaps none quiet so emotionally needy as Galifanakis’ version of the harlequin of hate. Again, it may not be up to the same level of complexity as The Lego Movie, but it’s certainly no slouch in understanding its subject matter and using that to forward the plot.
The result is frenetic and funny, from Arnett’s self involved angst ridden caped crusader, to Cera’s overly eager and earnest boy wonder. It’s a film that delivers for the fans, both children and adult alike.