Batman was one of the best parts of The Lego Movie so it was unsurprising that shortly after its release it was announced that Batsy would be getting the Lego treatment in full. And boy does it deliver. Packed full of quotable one-liners and blink-and-miss-it references, Lego Batman mercilessly offers up the Dark Knight’s cinematic past on an altar of comedic chaos.
The first half of the film is a joy for anyone who knows their Bat-facts, part of what makes Batman such an enduring franchise is because it can accommodate many iterations, all of which are referred to here. From Adam West’s glorious sixties era through to the recent gloom fest that was Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman, all of it is fair game as far as the writers are concerned. But it’s done so with such love and irreverent wit, there’s no cause for any Bat fan to take offence.
Like all good Batman stories the focus here is on Bruce Wayne/Batman’s psyche, albeit in a family friendly setting. As Gotham enjoys its first period without crime in well…ever, Batman struggles to adapt to a city that no longer needs him and finds his own life empty, and resolves to remove Joker from the equation forever by imprisoning him in the Phantom Zone in an effort to give himself purpose.
If anything, Lego Batman offers a genuinely unique take on the Batman/Joker dynamic, portraying their ongoing enmity as that of a troubled relationship. Watching Joker almost brought to tears by Batman refusing to acknowledge him as his greatest enemy is a new track on a road that has been walked many times in the past 78 years.
The focus on Batman’s universe lessens somewhat in the second half as the film explodes with villains, and not many from Batman’s world either. Akin to The Lego Movie many franchises appear in Lego Batman, from Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Gremlins and Lord of the Rings to name a few. It’s at this point the film dilutes a little and risks overstuffing and distracting itself, but thankfully it manages to refocus on Batman and his native characters enough to prevent this from becoming Lego Movie 1.5.
From a visual standpoint Lego Batman looks great, maintaining that same unique visual impact that The Lego Movie had, not to mention the amount of colour present in this film which is impressive for a character whose favourite colour is black.
In terms of audio there’s no real equivalent to the now infamous ‘Everything is Awesome’ track this time around, but at the beginning of the film there is a rather wonderful song about how great Batman is, penned by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy fame. Also the cast for Lego Batman is incredible, as well as the core talents of Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera and Zach Galifianakis there are appearances from Channing Tatum, Adam DeVine, Jonah Hill and Billy Dee Williams.
Despite the theatre being full of children, the biggest laughs were coming from the adults and like the best family films there are jokes that will fly over younger heads. Whilst completely mad, Lego Batman manages to maintain that quick fire humour established in The Lego Movie whilst also juggling Batman references, a multitude of characters and telling a story that has genuine heart.
If you liked The Lego Movie, you’ll like this. If you like Batman, you’ll love this.