“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous.” And with that we were on the glorious ride known as the LEGO Batman Movie.
When I first heard about the LEGO Batman Movie (to be referred to as the LBM from here on out) I was mildly excited. I enjoyed the LEGO Movie but didn’t think it was anything overly special. I will admit that Will Arnett’s Batman did steal the screen whenever he was he was on it. My question was can that hold up over a runtime of 1:44? For the most part, yes.
The strength of the movie is not just the comedy. Although there were times I was rolling on the floor with how funny it was. The funniest part to me had to be the opening monologue from Batman that I took a bit from at the beginning of this review. The strength of the movie is the story. If you’re an older Batman fan like me and are worried that the LBM is for kids, well it is. But it’s so much more than just a “kid’s movie”. The LBM might just be the best Batman story we’ve seen play out on the big screen.
Once you strip away from what I call “the nonsense” they had to put in there because the movie is mostly aimed at children, there is an incredibly deep and well executed Batman story for the adults to hold on to. The Joker is the main antagonist but there are plenty of cameos from your favorite Batman villains like Harley Quinn, Bane and The Riddler. There are even some non-Batman villains the Caped Crusader has to deal with such as King Kong and the Wicked Witch of the West. The relationship between Batman and The Joker is what drives the LBM. At the very beginning of the movie Batman thwarts yet another attempt of The Joker to destroy Gotham City and during that Batman is tasked with catching The Joker or stopping a bomb. Batman lets Joker go because he basically tells Joker he means nothing to him. This sends The Joker into a tailspin where he comes up with a plot to get Batman to realize just how much he needs The Joker.
We’ve seen different versions of this story play out in animated features such as The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. The obsession the two have with each other is very apparent despite Batman claiming otherwise. The Joker’s whole motivation in the movie is to get Batman to realize just how much he really needs him.
The other main storyline is how Batman likes to do things on his own. We know Bruce Wayne to be a very solitary character that mostly keeps to himself. Batman repeatedly fights the need to be a part of a team and does his very best to push Robin, Alfred and Barbara Gordon away during the movie. Batman/Bruce’s motivation for this is that he’s never gotten over the death of his parents and doesn’t want to get close to people because he doesn’t want to experience the pain of losing people he cares about again. Again, this storyline is what something there to keep an older viewer interested as the little kids are more concerned with LEGO blocks that have come to life.
Maybe the most fun part of the movie is the Easter Eggs and they are plentiful. There are numerous references and The LBM even pays homage to the Batman movies that come before it. Like when The Joker was asked how a new plan of his is different than the one with the two boats or the one with the Prince music. Apparently this Batman in The LBM is really old because Alfred reminds Batman that he’s gone through similar situations in 2016, 2012, 2008, etc. and he even includes his weird phase in 1966. We even get to see LEGO versions of scenes from those movies except for the 1966 one which sadly they used actual video from that movie.
To wrap this up, what’s my final grade of The LEGO Batman movie? I’ll have to give it a 7.5/10. The 1:44 runtime may have been about 15 minutes too long as there were parts that dragged a bit but overall it’s a really fun movie that had a really deep story. The story was the biggest surprise to me as I didn’t think they would have delved that deep into Batman’s issues considering it was a kid’s movie. The comedy was great and Will Arnett was the perfect person to pull off this Batman. There are plenty of DC Comics cameos not just from villains but from members of The Justice League as well. The animation was really good and the colors are going to make this a joy to watch on blu-ray when the time comes. This is the perfect family movie for two generations of Batfans. The story and comedy keeps Dad entertained while the bright colors and singing keep junior occupied. The LBM movie is killing at the box office and while it’s not something I can 100% get behind to tell you to rush out of your house to see, it is something you need to see if you call yourself a Batfan when it hits home video in a few months.
Follow me on Twitter: @Christian_973