Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATPUN.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017) is an animated adventure comedy directed by Chris McKay. It stars Will Arnet as Bruce Wayne/Batman who must attempt to deal with having a family again when he accidentally adopts the bubbly orphan Dick Grayson at the same time of contending with a new nefarious plan from his maybe-arch-enemy the Joker.
While Australia annoyingly had to wait an extra month to the rest of the world to see this Lego Movie spin-off (what the hell WB, seriously), now that its arrived, the world is right again. Birds chirp in the trees, children play outside again and most importantly A GOOD CINEMATIC BATMAN FILM HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. Seriously, for hardcore Batfans (and a bit of a stretch but I think I can be classified as one) this film is a pure refined drug of glorious references, in-jokes and oh-so-much fan service. The endless supply of fan love plastered a Symlex level grin onto my face that’s still stuck with me. So let me just start – Batfans, just go see it. Now. There’s literally no reason you shouldn’t.
But as a movie rather than just fan-appreciation, it still holds up well. While it does suffer by following the genuine masterpiece of animation that was the original Lego Movie, the plot skips along at a great pace with plenty of momentum and action that builds into an albeit overlong but no less satisfying climax. While it doesn’t have the emotional poignancy of Lego Movie (not for lack of trying), there’s still a sweet and pleasantly told message here even if the delivery skews too young for anyone over the age of 12. Even so, there is so much imagination and sheer joy that clearly went into writing this movie, and that enthusiasm bursts through from beginning to end, making this a light bubbly ride that stays smooth and leaves no regrets afterwards.
And my god, this film is funny. Not only do the constant in-jokes and references help, but this film presents a barrage of endless chuckle-inducers and laugh-out-loud gawkers for all ages. And barrage is right – for much of its run-time Lego Batman just refuses to take a break, more content to through gag after gag at you until the audience drowns in a sea of Bat-puns and one-liners. This means that not every joke sticks – particularly anything that involves Batman rapping or singing – but considering the literal deluge of comedy far more works than it doesn’t.
Oh, and the animation! Just as good, if not better, the technology behind this fully lego world is joy incarnate – every block, every minifig and every construction a loving creation and homage to the brand that makes this all possible. This contributes to some incredibly fast and fluid action sequences with crazy choreography that feels like ’66 Batman and the animated series had a kid addicted to LSD. These deranged flashing colours and visuals make it hard to follow at times, but never dull or not entertaining. And for Batman, its a significant step-up from any and all cinematic action scenes from ’89 onwards. I could watch it all day. Would probably end up with a headache and a strange urge for concentrated sugar after around 12 hours, but it’d be worth it.
And the voice cast! Will Arnet keeps all the cocky hateability/lovability from The Lego Movie intact, with all one-liners, ego and rapping carrying over to the spin-off. He even manages to sell a few more dramatic scenes with the necessary emotion in a solid display of breadth. And he’s just the tip of the iceberg (lounge). Michael Cera’s adorkable Dick Grayson is also an absolute joy – while I wasn’t initially sure about their adaption of the character, it works wonders and is the sweetest, lovable thing in a movie full of things to love. Ralph Fiennes also brings a surprising amount of gravitas to the role of Alfred J Pennyworth too. The gravitas of a dignified British Gentleman. Rosario Dawson is also a welcome addition as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl – simply because Rosario Dawson is just plain awesome, but she also does a really great rendition of the character. If DC were to cast her as actual Batgirl in the films, well… I’d have no complaints. Even though they’d probably find a way to screw it up.
And honestly that was the most relieving thing about coming out of The Lego Batman Movie. After two horribly disappointing Bat-films last year, this film is the greatest blast of fresh, high energy air imaginable. The film even speaks to what has made the character so enduring after 75 years, his flexibility. This rendition can exist perfectly alongside the animated series, the Dark Knight trilogy and even Burton’s Batman as a worthy addition to the Bat-mythos. And honestly, this might be the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight. And the best lego-tinged, cameo filled, joy-inducing film in a long long time. Ok, well, since The Lego Movie came out anyway.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
True Believers (Batfans): Must-see
Kids: Highly Recommended