It’s safe to say that when The Lego Movie was released back in Feburary of 2014, nobody was expecting it to become the mass phenonemon that it did. With its’ satirical yet innovative take on the “chosen one” plotline, great characters, and superb humor and animation, it set Warner Bros. on the map to become the newest contendor in the Pixar/Dreamworks/Blue Sky/Illumination competition. Of course, seeing as how the film’s take on Batman and other DC Comics characters were seen as one of the highlights, one of the next logical steps would be to make a spin-off starring said take on them. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
I’ll admit that when I first heard about The Lego Batman Movie‘s announcement, I was unsure about what to make of this. Granted, that’s not to say that I thought it was going to suck, but the fact that this along with the sequel to The Lego Movie and Ninjago were on the horizon so early made me wonder if Warner Bros. was counting their chickens a bit too early. Fortunately, when I went to go see it the other day, I was proven 100% wrong.
It’s a bit difficult to find a good place to start in terms of what this film gets right, but the most logical one would have to be the story. Some time after the events of The Lego Movie, billionare Bruce Wayne continues to protect Gotham City from all sorts of scum and villany under the guise of his alter ego, Batman. After thwarting a scheme by The Joker to blow Gotham to shmithereens (but not before fighting practically HIS ENTIRE ROGUES GALLERY, including some that haven’t even appeared in a Batman film before now and even some that aren’t even that well-known), he unwittingly adopts an orphan by the name of Dick Grayson while attending a gala in honor of Commisioner Gordon, who is retiring, and his daughter, Barbara, who is stepping in to take his place as the city’s police commisioner. However, when Joker and the villains crash the gala and openly surrender themselves, Batman suspects that something is afoot, leading him and Dick (now under the alter-ego of Robin) to investigate what the Crown Prince of Crime is truly up to, leading to a series of events that threatens to unravel Gotham City as they know it. Despite being fairly straightforward, it’s told suprisingly well, having many interesting twists and turns with a good balance of comedy and immensely heartfelt moments to boot, with prominent focuses on Joker’s quest to get Batman to care about him, and Batman’s scepticism of becoming part of another family in the fear that he’ll lose them like his parents on that fateful night. Speaking of which, the comedy is great. No joke (and no pun intended either), you’ll find yourself laughing quite often throughout the runtime. Take my word for it.
Another element worthy of praise is the animation – like its’ predecessor, you can tell that a vast amount of attention to detail has gone into making it resemble actual Lego bricks, from the tiny scratches, textures of fabric on the capes of some characters, and overall sense of scale that can be felt. And then there’s (ironically enough, considering this is a Batman film) the sheer vibrancy of everything. I’m not exaggerating – along with Trolls, this has got to be one of the most vivid animation features I’ve seen in quite some time, with various locations managing to have their own recongizable palette. Despite this, it never gets to a point where it really goes overboard, which helps to keep it at a concrete level.
One thing that I’ve especially noticed is the amount of references to not only previous incarnations of the Batman mythos, but the DC Universe as a whole. In addition to the previously-mentioned opening fight scene, there’s a scene in which Alfred tells Batman about his various phases shown in the form of all of his live-action theatrical features up until this one (including the 1966 film based on the Adam West series), as well as nods to some of the more obscure characters in the DC Universe. And that’s not even mentioning the latter half, which has to be seen to be believed.
Like it’s predecessor, The Lego Batman Movie is a gloriously frenetic and heartfelt romp that’s sure to keep you glued to your seats. If you’re in the mood for more superhero films that don’t take themselves too seriously or just looking for some all-out fun, this is the film for you. With that said, BRING ON NINJAGO!