Saturday 11 February 2017

'The LEGO Batman Movie' Review: You Had Me at 'LEGO'

Back in 2014, when The LEGO Movie hadn't been released, the LEGO cinematic universe was nothing, and nobody expected the film to be great - or do great at the box office. Yet here we here, three years later, and pretty much everyone is hyped for The LEGO Batman Movie. The trailers have been hilarious and we were expecting a very funny film. Was the hype justified? Well, we're glad to confirm it was: The LEGO Batman Movie is funny, and is also much more. Read our spoiler-free review below.

Batman (Will Arnett) is living the life. He saves Gotham City time and time again from its multiple villains and is loved by everyone. But something isn't quite right with Bruce Wayne: because of his past, he won't be part of a family again and prefers to work alone. As a result and though he won't admit it, he feels lonely. Meanwhile, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) has a plan to destroy Gotham, but more importantly he wants Batman to acknowledge he's his archenemy.

So The LEGO Batman Movie is funny. Continuously, non-stop funny. The only downside here is that the humour downplays the more serious and heartwarming parts. The jokes are coming so incessantly that it can become quite hard to focus on the rest, which is also quite good.
The humour in the film is very self-referential. Sometimes it can be a terrible thing, but because of the LEGO universe that was set up in the 2014 film, it works. Though it must be said that since so much of the jokes come from making fun of past Batman iterations, a good knowledge of the previous movies featuring the caped crusader can be quite helpful: every Batman film is satirized multiple times in the silliest and most ridiculous ways you can imagine, and when you spot the references, it's joyous.
The weird things about the Bob Kane/Bill Finger character are mocked or addressed in ways that prove the filmmakers understand the property, and they put their own twist on it.

Also, there are amazing surprises that are made possible by the specific story the film is telling, but that deserves to be first experienced on the big screen, so we won't spoil it for you here.

The story is weirdly heart-warming. Behind the many jokes, there is character development for Batman, Robin and the Joker and it leads to a heartfelt yet absurd climax. This is still very much a Batman movie and fans of the character should be very happy with the way the dark knight is treated.

Will Arnett is tremendous as Batman, Michael Cera is near-perfect as Robin… In short, the voice cast is very good; the only one that I thought wasn't that great was Zach Galifianakis as the Joker: this part has seen so many memorable performances that this particular one didn't seem great. It's just okay. I had more fun with the facial expressions of the clown prince of crime than with his voice.
Sadly we don't hear much of the other villains; the real shame here being that we finally get Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, and he only gets two or three lines in the whole film.

In conclusion, The LEGO Batman Movie is a great spin-off to The LEGO Movie. It may not be as surprising as the 2014 film, but it's equally hilarious, fast-paced and silly. The same ridiculousness wouldn't work as live-action, but here everything clicks and we've got a great animated Batman film for the ages.

Rating: 9/10

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