Everyone appears to be in love with The LEGO Batman Movie. Taking the best character from 2014’s The LEGO Movie and giving him his own story is brilliant. Will Arnett voicing Batman is hilarious and I was really looking forward to the film. While I found the movie enjoyable (and also a little too long) I left the theater wanting more of a story.
The best part of The LEGO Movie was that the ending cut to a live action scene with a boy and his father and you realize that everything you saw before was just the imagination of a child playing with LEGOs. That scene gave the film the warmth that it needed and helped to make sense of some of the antics that happened earlier on in the story. The new LEGO Batman Movie is also a story told from a child’s point of view, but it isn’t as clear. I went in thinking I was going to see one movie and ended up seeing another.
Despite the many references to just about every Batman franchise there is, this isn’t a “Batman” movie. It’s a movie about a LEGO figure called “Batman.” All the characters and elements are there, but you aren’t going to see a classic Batman story. He doesn’t even use his utility belt. Holy disappointment.
The thin plot revolves around the fact that Batman works alone and doesn’t need anybody. This of course is not true and Alfred his butler (Ralph Fiennes) tries to tell him so. Chaos erupts when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) feels unappreciated. He thinks of himself as Batman’s arch enemy, but Batman is more annoyed with Superman (Channing Tatum) than the Joker. The Joker tries to tell Batman that they are one and the same. They both hate each other and therefore need each other. Batman counters and tells the Joker that he doesn’t mean a thing to him. Now bitter, the Joker rallies bad guys from other LEGO playsets (including King Kong, Lord Voldemort and various Gremlins) to retaliate against Batman. It’s not real clear what it is that the Joker wants other than attention.
While the Joker is brewing his plan, Batman attends Commissioner Gordon’s retirement party as Bruce Wayne where it is announced that Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (Rosario Dawson) will become the next commissioner. She states that Batman does a good job, but that none of the villains have been captured. She believes that the police and Batman should work together. While at the party, Bruce inadvertently adopts orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera).
Back at home, Dick soon learns that his “father” and Batman are one in the same. Of course, he wants to be Batman’s sidekick and comes up with his own costume and calls himself Robin. When Batman backs down and realizes that he does need other people in his life, Barbara gets her own costume and becomes Batgirl and Alfred dresses up in the traditional blue and gray batsuit because “he’s partial to the 60s.” Now working as a team, Batman has a family of his own. The movie ends with a happy little song about “friends are family.”
As with The LEGO Movie, this film is visually stunning. The animation is a hybrid of stop motion and CGI and every scene is literally built brick by brick. The characters can’t move in any way different that the real toys do. And sorry ladies, Batman’s abs are painted on.
So, all in all, the movie has a nice message about the importance of family and the dialogue is very funny throughout but your heartstrings won’t be tugged all that much. While it can be argued that one shouldn’t expect a movie like this to have heart, but Disney even found a way to make you get a little choked up while watching Wreck-It Ralph, so it can be done.
While I didn’t love this movie, I did like it very much. Kids will love this movie and there really isn’t anything inappropriate in it that I found except maybe for the line where Dick Grayson says, “My real name is Richard Grayson, but everyone just calls me Dick” and Bruce Wayne says, “Well, kids can be cruel.”
(Main Image: Warner Bros.)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.