Movie review: Lego continues hot streak at the Box Office with ‘Batman’
–Back in 2014 animation changed. A couple of guys — Phil Lord and Chris Miller — whose biggest directing credit was “21 Jump Street” took on a new project — finding a way to bring Legos to life.
“The Lego Movie” was one of the most fun and inventing animated films that year, and one of the most fun films period. And it’s one that’s had an enduring legacy. One of the best characters in that movie was Batman, voiced by Will Arnett.
On Friday, Feb. 10 the Lego movie franchise got a new addition as Arnett’s Batman got his own feature film. And it was everything we could have hoped for and more.
In the film, Batman (Arnett) has settled into a rut. He beats all Gotham’s many villains, led by The Joker (Zach Galifinakis), and keeps the city safe. He’s revered as a hero, but he’s bored and alone.
The Joker notes he’s Batman’s greatest enemy, but the caped crusader balks. He doesn’t have a “greatest enemy,” because to have one would mean he’d have to care. And Batman isn’t invested in anyone or anything. He saves the city, as the villains live to square off another day, and Batman heads home.
He roams around the Batcave, looking at his treasures and trophies. He eats alone and keeps to himself. And soon, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) finds him wistfully looking at his family photos. Batman claims to be fine, but it’s really clear he’s lacking connection.
Soon Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) retires, leaving the city to his daughter, Barbara (Rosario Dawson), who has some different ideas about fighting crime. That begins to chaff Batman, as does the orphan, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), he accidentally adopts.
When The Joker hatches a maniacal plan that proves to be more than Batman anticipated, he has to take a hard look at his methods and lifestyle to figure out how he can be the hero his city really needs.
Batman is my favorite superhero. I’ve seen all his films — even the cheese ball one from the 1960s — and it’s clear the makers of this film have, too. In fact, they make a tongue-in-cheek reference to all the previous Batman films as part of this presentation. And it works. This is a film that works for kids, and in fact has an interesting message about connection and friendship, but it’s also a movie with plenty of nostalgia for adult viewers.
The screenplay was the work of five writers, including Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington. And it draws from everything in the Batman cannon, much of the D.C. Comics universe and some other surprising sources to make a film that’s unexpected and has great inside references.
Director Chris McKay, who previously worked on “Robot Chicken,” has a good feel for the material and the characters. He gets the most out of his talented voice cast and this wild ride of a story.
“The Lego Batman” movie is a fun follow-up to the original “Lego Movie.” It’s not a sequel, per se, but a film born from the same universe. It latches on to one of the most fun characters from the original and builds on the world. This film works great for fans of Batman, fans of the genre and really any audience looking for a few laughs and a good message.
And that’s perhaps the most surprising element — this film has heart. It’s about the connections we make, and how that helps lead to a fulfilling life. A lesson Batman has to learn, and one that audiences can take away from the film, too. “The Lego Batman” movie is a nice, family-friendly option in a market place dominated by different kinds of films.
“The Lego Batman” movie has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for rude humor and some action.
Three stars out of four.