With the films of DC’s Expanded Universe falling apart more and more with each movie, we’re going to see a light touch added to the future films in the franchise. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice could have been the nail in the coffin if it weren’t for the $873 million worth of moviegoers (which is still a disappointing number when you factor in the $250 million budget and marketing which probably matches the previous number). With bated breath we wait for Wonder Woman and Justice League, but what if the solution to Warner Bros problems is right in front of them. What if, believe it or not, The Lego Batman Movie is the property to properly show how to properly utilize these characters and the beloved universe.
Returning as the ever self-involved Batman, Will Arnett changes his tune into something a little more dimensional. Bruce Wayne/Batman is always busy fighting off the bad guys and making sure he looks good in the process. His selfishness from The Lego Movie is just as evident, but Arnett’s performance (and writing from a five person team) help flesh out the character we all know and love into something we haven’t seen yet in this character. All of Batman’s negative behavior comes to a head when The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) along with the rest of Gotham’s bad guys turn themselves in, leaving Batman to ponder on his now useless situation.
The Lego Batman Movie is a surprise in so many different ways. Wrapping an entire feature length film around The Lego Movie’s most irritating character worried me. It’s very obvious that Batman’s purpose in the original Lego feature was to annoy, but it was up in the air as to how or if they would address his self-absorbed personality traits. Despite their producer credits, the lack of a writing credit from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had concerned further. That duo are known for rebooting and turning dead franchises into meta commentaries on their very existence. While that would seemingly get old, it hasn’t failed on any of their four directorial efforts. But I neglected to mention the constant presence of The Lego Movie‘s Animation Director Chris McKay. Popping up in the director’s chair, it seems as if his efforts here have elevated the film to heights I hadn’t even considered possible.
The Lego Batman Movie is just as fun, if not more even more fun than The Lego Movie. Between every instance of references to DC Comics and ironic humor lies an explosive energy in the animation that is just as spectacular, if a little less imaginative and surprising, as it’s ever been. Despite the setting of the dark and grim Gotham City, McKay brightens the palette with a smorgasbord of dynamic color. An increasing amount of fun comes into play with the very polished script. Not just pleased with only having DC Comics characters to play with, McKay assembled other Warner properties to show up in the film for various reasons adding a sense of unpredictability to the already crazed adventure.
A place I can unfortunately find some fault with The Lego Batman Movie is its story in comparison to the first film. Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a slight film, especially when it’s based in this subject matter, but the message of the first Lego movie was so transgressive for an animated children’s film. While it may have felt more necessary in the first Lego movie, it still hurts the latest film by comparison. It’s not even an issue with the story told in this film. It’s still a great story. It may be conventional, but it never lacks good storytelling. Again, I really enjoy both films, but The Lego Movie has more innovation.
The Lego Batman Movie is pure unadulterated fun at its finest. Not only did Will Arnett win me over with his usually annoying antics, but the film managed to make me laugh at the ridiculousness of the monopolization of the comic book world. It may very well be more fun, but it’s still less innovative than The Lego Movie. The Lego Batman Movie pulls out all the stops to make sure that if you aren’t blown away by its ideas, everything else will suck you right in regardless.
The Lego Batman Movie
- Will Arnett really shines as the Caped Crusader
- The rest of the cast match both Arnett's dedication and energy to bring this universe to life
- Animation is spot on dynamism
- Script is incredibly tight despite five different credited writers
- The Lego Movie's innovation and message loom over the entire film