It’s been three years since The LEGO Movie became the surprise hit of the box office. Rapturous reviews (including here at The Lego Car Blog), a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and winner of the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, the animated adventure shook up a cinematic genre that was starting to look a little tired.
Fast forward to 2017 and LEGO, DC and Warner Bros. are hoping to repeat the huge success of the original with the spin-off we all hoped for. Yes, LEGO Batman has got his very own movie.
Reprising his role as the Very Very Dark Grey Knight, Will Arnett is joined by an all-star cast including Zach Galifianakis as an inspired Joker, Michael Cera as Nightwing, and the brilliant Ralph Fiennes as Batman’s long-suffering butler Alfred.
It is Batman of course, who narrates the opening credits… “All important movies start with a black screen…”, Arnett growls, and The LEGO Batman Movie duly does.
A frenetic opening returns movie-goers to the colour and vibrancy that only a world built from LEGO bricks can provide. The animation is absolutely first class, and there are some brilliant adult-friendly sight gags and pop-culture references throughout, including a nod to every Batman movie ever made (especially the bad ones) and a long-running joke about the pointlessness of many of DC’s superheroes (kudos to DC for the self depreciation!).
The story itself is pretty engaging, probably on par with even some of the better Batman movies – whilst some of the worse ones would be glad to trade their plot for this one – and it employs a wealth of cameos and small-part characters to keep the amusement coming.
Our favourites though, are the two leads. Arnett’s mini-figure Batman we know and love from the original LEGO Movie, and Zach Galifianakis’ Joker is no doubt his equal, being both brilliantly comedic and delightfully scary in equal measure. Our warmth for these characters doesn’t extend to Nightwing though, who is just as annoying as he is in the trailers, and is surely the Scrappy Do of the entire Batman franchise. To that end at least, Michael Cera has nailed it.
The Lego Batman Movie is a wonderfully self-aware addition to the Batman franchise, poking fun and reverence at the comic’s history, whilst also managing to continue the LEGO Movie saga.
However, the film is not quite as fresh or clever as The LEGO Movie of 2014. Whilst a very good family-friendly animated movie, and no doubt enhanced by the inclusion of the LEGO universe, The Lego Batman Movie could ultimately have been animated in any number of ways and remained a very good family-friendly adventure. It’s a film made because the box office demanded it, and with The Lego Ninjago Movie on the horizon too, we could be entering a period of diminishing returns.
The Lego Batman Movie is the film that cinema deserves, but not the one it needs right now.