Release Date: February 10, 2017
Director: Chris McKay
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 104 Minutes
My apprehension toward spin-offs and my love of (nearly) everything Batman proved to be at odds with one another going into the kinetic The Lego Batman Movie, resulting in cautious optimism about an entire film based on the brick version of one of DC’s most popular heroes and one of The Lego Movie’s most humorous characters.
Thankfully, the film lives up to its predecessor, delivering a hilarious deconstruction of the Batman mythos while telling an action-packed and surprisingly heartwarming story. Will Arnett reprises his role voicing the caped crusader whose self-inflicted isolation starts to get the best of him, resulting in The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) rejecting his lack of emotional attachment by hatching a plan to unleash a bevy of pop culture villains on Gotham City in an act of defiance.
This plan is the result of an explosive opening action sequence involving Batman once again foiling The Joker’s plot to take Gotham, ending in a brief exchange wherein Batman professes to The Joker that he doesn’t care about him or anyone else for that matter, and he doesn’t recognize him as a worthy adversary.
To say the film starts off with a bang is an understatement. It’s an immediate and almost overwhelming sensory overload of action featuring a musical number with nearly every Batman villain ever created – even Condiment King.
After attending the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and becoming hypnotized by Barbara Gordon’s beauty as she gets sworn in as Gotham’s new commissioner, he unknowingly adopts a rambunctious young boy, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). His path to reluctantly embracing the idea of familial relationships begins, and he’ll need the help of those closest to him in order to beat Joker and his minions.
Like The Lego Movie before it, The Lego Batman Movie is filled to the brim with pop culture references, and while they’re mostly contained to the Batman comics, movies and cartoons, there are plenty of other fun tidbits that even the most novice Batman aficionados can enjoy. A solid mix of visual gags and snappy dialogue make it laugh-out-loud funny, especially throughout the first act.
The second act, however, falters a bit when the breakneck pace begins to slow and the plot begins to dull. The jokes aren’t as numerous and hard hitting in this section either, and the nearly two-hour runtime begins to drag. Fortunately, the gorgeous animation can act as a distraction from the lull in the story.
I was concerned that the quality of the animation wouldn’t feel as authentic and detailed as The Lego Movie, but the opposite is actually the case, creating a more realistic stop-motion/CG world where everything can be demolished and rebuilt into something else and everyone is bound by limited points of articulation.
While it may not top the original franchise film, The Lego Batman Movie is still an immensely entertaining watch that fondly made me reminisce about my days as a youth, creating my own Batman adventures on the floor of my room.