THE FILM 4/5
“I saved the world again today. It was off the chain.”
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble—LEGO Batman—stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham City, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.
It’s official. The Batman series has gone full circle.
Following the release of Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and its hideous sequel Batman & Robin, the director was pretty public about why the films had been greenlit in the first place: to sell Batman toys.
And now, twenty years later, a film has been made… BASED on Batman toys.
[insert Keanu “whoa!” meme about here.]
But this was inevitable. We now live in a world where board games, phone apps, and other assorted non-cinematic “things” with brand recognition are becoming films. Battleship, for instance, now exists, and is one of the worst things you will ever see. Ridley Scott talked up a Monopoly movie for years but was ultimately unable to move forward with it because no studio would let him play the Monopoly Man. Most recently we’ve been given the Lego Universe, featuring the kickstarting Lego Movie, and have transitioned to more familiar stories being told in the Lego world. Being that people lost their minds during Batman’s appearance in The Lego Movie, his own spin-off was pretty much solidified, and it’s now arrived. The Batman Lego Movie – and I’ll duck as I’m saying this – is hilariously a far better Batman film than The Dark Knight Rises, but definitely Joel Schumacher’s sequels as well. On the overall Batman series hierarchy, it’s nearly at the top.
A film that manages to somehow be a sequel to ALL the previous Batman films as well as serving as an homage to the series in general, The Lego Batman Movie is a hell of a lot of fun, with a pitch-perfect take on the titular role from Will Arnett, who proved with his role as Gob on Arrested Development that he can do pompous and self-absorbed like no one else – and always to maximum comedic effect. Nearly the entire cast does great work, with Zack Galifianakis coming off a little flat with his work as The Joker, which is unfortunate being that the Joker is Batman’s most well-known villain and, as has been proven by the live-action takes on the character in the past, is open to vastly different interpretations. Here, Galifianakis just opts to use the Zack Galifianakis voice, and compared to what everyone else is doing, comes off just the least bit uninspired.
As previously mentioned, The Lego Batman Movie works well enough on its own, but fans of the character and his multiple screen iterations will enjoy the countless nods to the film and television show adaptions (including an awesome slam against Suicide Squad). In an especially inspired bit of casting, Billy Dee Williams provides the voice work for Two Face, finally completing the unfinished arc that was begun in Tim Burton’s Batman. (Tommy Lee Jones would take over the role for Schumacher’s Batman Forever.)
Like The Lego Movie before it, The Lego Batman Movie moves at a clip, with a precedent now being set for frantic action and non-stop, machine-gun-style jokes. And a large percentage of these jokes definitely work, although they understandably slow down a bit as the second act rolls into the third and the film really focuses on the conflict that Batman and his crew must contend with. In spite of all the very silly gags and merriment on display, The Lego Batman Movie never fails to respect the mythos of Batman and Bruce Wayne, who is the most tragic (and depressing) character in all of superhero lore. The film treads lightly on this darkness and moroseness, being that this is aimed at younger audiences, after all; scenes of Batman going back home to Wayne Manor after having saved the city “again” has him performing a manner of mundane tasks, conveying that the idea of him that most Gotham City citizens have doesn’t jive at all with reality. (My personal favorite gag has him standing stock-still in front of a microwave for almost too long as he waits for his dinner to heat up.)
For dedicated Batman fans or not, The Lego Batman Movie offers viewers a lot of fun and continues the relentless experience established by its predecessor. Perhaps a bit too long, with the action on screen becoming occasionally chaotic and an assault on the senses, and with an underutilized cast of Batman villains, it’s still infectiously watchable and impeccably realized by director Chris McKay (and – I never thought I’d say this – an engaging and clever story by Seth Grahame-Smith).
THE PICTURE 4.5/5
Warner “Brahs” presents The Lego Batman Movie on Blu-ray with a remarkable video image. Absolutely brimming with color at every turn (which was to be expected), the picture is constantly engaging to watch, offering attractive images throughout. It will probably be a little overwhelming for people used to less chaotic imagery, but regardless of that, what’s there looks fantastic.
THE SOUND 4.5/5
Same as the video, the audio presentation also excels. The ridiculous dialogue (“Nothing bad ever happens to me!”) comes across well rendered and presented. There’s near constant ambience to fill out the soundscape, from Batman’s computerized Batcave to Gotham City’s hustle and bustle. Lorne Balfe, a student of Hans Zimmer (who scored Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy), turns in an action-packed and percussion-driven score, which smartly honors all the previous themes created throughout the series by Danny Elfman and Zimmer (with several nods to the ‘60s Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na Batman!” theme) but which also does its own thing that’s still inherently “Batman.”
THE SUPPLEMENTS 5/5
The complete list of special features is as follows:
- Original Animation Shorts
- Dark Hoser
- Batman is Just Not That Into You
- Cooking with Alfred
- Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That?
- The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short
- Deleted Scenes
- One Brick at a Time: Making the Lego Batman Movie
- Inside Wayne Manor
- Brick by Brick: Making of the LEGO Batman
- Behind the Brick
- Me and My Mini Fig
- Comic Con Panel
- Rebrick Contest Winners
- Film Trailers
- Lego Life Trailer
- Social Promos
- Follow Me Online
- Don’t Skip
- Happy Holidays Jingle
- Batsby New Year’s
- Team Cutdown
- Director and Crew Commentary
The Lego Batman Movie offers a vast amount of entertainment, regardless if you’re there for Batman OR Legos. It’s a film that honors (and pokes fun at) the series and the character, but also provides a fun time for people only looking for just that. Its Blu-ray release is phenomenal, boasting tremendous picture and audio quality, as well as a huge collection of special features for people to spend hours poring over. The Lego Batman Movie is one of Warner Brahs’ best films of the year so far, with a Blu-ray release that can say the very same. Very highly recommended.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide.