WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2017)

 

Director: Chris McKay

 

Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Siri

Always be yourself…unless you can be BATMAN.

 

Wise words.

 

After his success in The Lego Movie, Lego Batman has his own movie and you better believe he loves it. Not content with simply riffing on Christian Bale’s Batman voice, the movie throws in more Batman references then you can throw a batarang at and ropes in pop culture icons from just about everywhere.

 

It must’ve been a blast making this.

After spending the day finding crime in Gotham City, Batman (Arnett) returns home to his super-awesome Bat Cave/Wayne Manor where he changes into his purple gown (Bat mask staying on) plays electric guitar loudly to himself, watches movies by himself, eats lobster thermidor by himself – you see the pattern, Batman’s a bit of a loser really. To listen to him, though, would say otherwise – brash, cocky and self-centred, this Batman is full of it. New Commissioner/future Batgirl Barbara Gordon (Dawson) exclaims to the people of Gotham that Batman is no longer needed, you see all the bad guys are still roaming the streets and committing crimes, so what does Batman actually do? On the same night, Batman inadvertently adopts a young boy, Dick Grayson, whose adventurous personality may come in handy eventually.

 

Add to this a complicated relationship – Joker adores Batman and his attentions, but Batsy doesn’t want to be tied down to just one villain, he fight around. Now, Joker has to devise a scheme to obtain Batman’s full attention to be his number one enemy whilst also taking over Gotham City in the process. Batman will need the help of Robin, Batgirl and Alfred if he is to succeed, but try telling him that.

 

Throw in every madcap gadget and vehicle, a who’s who of villains, chuck in the Justice League and some Michael Jackson lounge music and you have an idea of what to expect. There aren’t many scenes without gags flying about so buckle up for 104 minutes of fun, colour and daftness.

 

Superhero fatigue is a thing, and though many will draw their Lasso’s of Truth and fight to the death, its apparent – repetitiveness storylines, naff villains, and no stakes to add to the spectacle. Lego Batman takes this and runs with it, playfully poking fun at it whilst embracing it fully. There’s epic fights, super gadgets, family tragedy and good messages for kids galore and all delivered with a joyful hubris. It’s almost a celebration of the genre.

 

Packed through the movie are Easter eggs galore. For the fans of the 60s Adam West-era, the famous “na na na na” theme gets a run out, the POW’s, BLAM’s and THUD’S race about on screen and the iconic costume is worn again (by Alfred, no less). Vocal and visual quips about Michael Keaton’s Batman era, the Christopher Nolan trilogy and even the popular video games are aplenty, and other comic book heroes get roped in too – “Iron Man Sucks” is the Bat Cave password, Suicide Squad is ran down and the super-happy Justice League throw a party without grumpy Batman around. Joining the Joker’s mass parade against Gotham are Sauron, Gremlins, Voldemort, King Kong, Dracula, Jaws and so many more (including a Tom Hardy-esque Bane), there’s literally a character for everything. Jerry Maguire gets a go too. One liners come think and fast and generally hit the mark nicely.

 

Through all the jokes, and some only adults will get (Batman: “As you know, when I’m in there…I’m in deep” casually pointing at his groin), this is a kids movie and there is an important message to learn - teamwork is great, make friends and trust in them. It’s a message that gets played out through the entire movie, so by the ends of it, kids should have been brainwashed by it.

 

The animation is spot on and the voice work is great (including cameos from Channing Tatum, Mariah Carey, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Conan O’Brien, Zoë Kravitz and Jonah Hill), and I can only imagine Arnett had a raw throat by the end of recording. The pacing lagged during the middle of the movie, coincidentally during the most ‘superhero movie’ aspects (villainous scheming, mid-movie fight) but picked up after and carried on until the gloriously OTT ending. Who knew Batman could rap too?

 

Another smash for the Lego movie franchise, The Lego Batman Movie breathes some fun back into the character that’s been missing since 1989 (or even further…) once you bypass the car crash of Batman & Robin. If you just want some fun and laughs, watch The Lego Batman Movie.

 

He is the hero we deserve.

August 9th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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