Even though “The LEGO Batman Movie” may not be as fun and original as it’s source material of 2014, “The LEGO Movie,” it is jammed packed with the action, campiness and breaking-the-fourth wall humor that was kindly brought to us by “Deadpool” a year ago. The film is clearly made for children and is significantly less dark than all of the live action Batman films, including the 1966 “Batman” starring Adam West.
Batman (Will Arnett) once again foils the Joker’s and rogues’ plan to take over his hometown, Gotham. Despite his fame amongst the people of Gotham, we quickly learn that Batman is a loner and rejects the idea of having a family, or friends for that matter, because he never recovered from the murder of his parents. The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) craves to be Batman’s number one adversary, and creates an elaborate scheme to gain access to the Phantom Zone where all the “really bad guys” are imprisoned.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” is a well-crafted satire on all Batman movies and the superhero genre. Often the characters will point out, occasionally to the audience, the irony and overall ridiculousness of their actions or the situation at hand. The film’s life lesson to the children watching is life is better with friends and working as a team, which is quite contrary to that of most superhero films. In most superhero films, the hero wants to work alone in order to keep friends and family out of harm’s way, which is what Batman struggles with throughout the film. One cannot help but wonder if this is Warner Brothers’ way to convince viewers and Batman fans to accept and welcome the upcoming “Justice League” film, where Batman seeks out other superheroes to form an Avengers-like team to take down really powerful bad guys.
As a Batman film, “The LEGO Batman Movie” stands proud amongst Batman’s filmography of excellent and rather subpar films. Batman is the only superhero who has the constant internal conflict of being serious, like in the comics, to silly and campy as a reaction to the comics. The 1960s Batman television program did not have much cinematic Batman material to build on and wanted to find its own place in the Batman universe. In reaction to the show, Tim Burton played up the dark tone of the comics in his two films starring Michael Keaton, which lead to a lighter spin by Joel Schumacher, then back again to a darker tone by Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Dark Knight Trilogy. It is hard to say what tone, outside of a violent one, Zack Snyder plans to lead his Batman interpretation.
This Batman film is once again a lighter tone, but unlike the other whimsical versions of Batman, it recognizes and satirizes the previous films and the existing dark tone of the comics. Batman himself is super dark and serious—he reminds the viewer that the best color is black throughout the film—but the world around him is fun and jovial like the world created in the original “LEGO Movie.”
Fans of the darker Batman comics and films should find common grounds with the fans of the fun Batman movies and television show with this film. Not only is it simply a fun film, but also it effectively bridges the entire Batman universe in one simple and clean satire made for children who just like LEGOs.
Film Grade: 5/5 Stars