We’re finally out of the hellhole that was January. Now we can hopefully get good movies at a more consistent rate. This weekend marks the first one in 2017 to have more than one movie that I actually want to see. Luckily, I got my chance to knock the first one off my list this morning. The LEGO Batman Movie was made after the surprising success of The LEGO Movie back in 2014. No one really expected that movie to be anything more than a quick cash grab, but it landed up being one of the funniest movies of that year. The most memorable character from the film was Batman, so obviously he needed to get his own movie.
The LEGO Batman Movie made me laugh before I even got into the theater. Some of the casting choices caught me off guard in a pleasant way. Will Arnet returns to play Batman/Bruce Wayne, and yet again he’s absolutely hilarious. Everything from his stereotypical Batman voice, to comedic timing really lets this movie shine. Along with him we get Michael Cera as Robin. Thinking about Michael Cera playing Robin is a good joke in itself, but actually hearing him lend his voice to this purposely lame version of the boy wonder is a joy. Zack Galifianakis as the Joker is drop dead funny. The way he plays off of Batman and gets emotional about everything was fantastic. To round out the main cast we get Roasario Dawson as Barbara Gordon and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth. There are also A LOT of cameos from other villains (not just from the Batman universe), but I won’t spoil who shows up.
The plot of the movie is as silly as you might expect. The Joker wants Batman to admit that he is Batman’s greatest enemy, so to prove it he tries to destroy Gotham City. While this is going on the movie also explores Batman’s personal life. While this aspect is handled in a comedic way, it still manages to give the story an emotional core. If you’re familiar with the Batman character then you’ll notice where this movie is poking fun at his personality. Actually, this film makes fun of pretty much every incarnation of Batman and takes multiple shots on the story structure and character dynamics in the Batman universe. A lot of the things pointed out in the film have been things me and my friends have addressed while talking about Batman. That’s this movie’s biggest strength. Its ability to understand what Batman fans know and exploit it for comedic effect. It’s extremely effective too because I was laughing out loud for the majority of the film, and when I wasn’t, I had a big smile on my face.
The music choices were effective. There’s no big standout original song like in The LEGO Movie, but the soundtrack choices helped elevate a lot of the scenes. There’s also a point in the movie where Batman plays a song that he made about about himself that’s absolutely hilarious.
Surprisingly, the action sequences were great. The opening scene alone is impressive enough, but they follow it up with these beautifully animated sequences where things get built on the spot, and a lot of Gotham City gets destroyed. They really have a grasp on this style and it’s only going to get better with other LEGO movies likely to be made (LEGO Ninjago Movie is confirmed for this September).
The problems with this movie are mostly with how things are balanced. They have a lot of jokes piled up in one scene, then the next scene is about family. It creates this roller coaster of a movie that makes you want more jokes when the more cheesy serious stuff is happening. And when the funny and the family mix (especially near the end), it falls a bit flat.
Overall, I really liked The LEGO Batman Movie. I would say it’s better than The LEGO Movie, but not by much. The references to everything Batman related really connected with me. The film is hilarious and acted in a hilarious way that works. The animation is great and the action sequences work very well. There is an issue of balance that the movie has trouble finding, and tonal conflicts make the movie fall a bit flat near the end, but it wasn’t nearly bad enough to take away from my enjoyment. After a great 2016 in animated movies, it’s great to see a solid entry for 2017 come early in the year. If you’re a DC fan who’s frustrated with the way the cinematic universe is going. You’ll be happy to know that a good Batman film is actually here.
The LEGO Batman Movie gets a 82/100