By: Muneeb Arshid
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Lego Batman!!
Mid-February movie releases. Usually reserved for funny, witty superhero films like Deadpool last year and Fifty Shades of Grey the year prior…. Oh wait! Well, this year we have a different type of superhero film, one that is even more intense than the 2014 film…. yes, I’m totally talking about Fifty Shades Darker, that intense film featuring a seriously hunky emotional Jamie Dornan as the sexual addict.
Yeah, let’s cut to the chase, the sexual deviant that I’m talking about spends way too much time alone thinking he’s way better working alone, in the dark, living in his isolated island home/cave. Yes, that would be the “block-y”, “Lego-y” version of Batman. Will Arnett is back as the animated Dark Knight in the spin-off film of the 2014 Lego Movie. Now, the 2014 version of the film was a very rosy take in telling a story about someone who is an average joe overlooked in the crowded world that is “Lego-Earth”.
Yes, Lego Batman features all the normal aspects of a superhero film: superheroes, villains, action etc. but this version of Batman is much more emotional and willing to make Batman more vulnerable not just physically, but more important emotionally.
The film takes place in a crime-ridden Gotham City where Batman is still up to his crime-fighting, day-saving antics which makes him an endeared figure in the entirety of the city, to a point where he gets a parade for each time he defeats a villain. This ends when Commissioner Jim Gordon retires and his daughter Barbara takes over and doesn’t want the city to solely rely on The Batman to save the city each time especially when he hasn’t been able to clean the city for the past 60 years or so according to the multiple past film montages shown.
This doesn’t really infuriate Batman, rather he has to readjust to his new role in the city which further isolates Bat-Wayne and he has to figure out how he can be of any help to the city without partnering up with anyone else.
The film then continues through the motions of a superhero movie but just as an animation using blocked figures. With the added bonus of the concept of family being developed and analyzed by the characters all in their own form. Batman himself has to reanalyze what it means to be alone and what it means to have a new, surrogate family with whom he can fall back on. While the rest of his “family” which includes Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson), Robin (voiced by Michael Cera), and Alfred (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) are analyzing the concept of family in terms of inclusion, Batman has to move out of the notion of exclusion and shift his mindset to including new members.
However, as you can variably understand, the film starts to fall towards extreme amounts of sentimentality where it seems as if the filmmakers were bent on providing a philosophical take on Batman rather than the films of the past that have focused on the action, or relationship, or Bruce Wayne himself in the large number of reincarnations that we are conveniently reminded of by Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). Now, is this is
Now, is this is a good thing? Well, to a certain extent, sure! However, the emotional aspect of the story where we are sort of forced to feel bad about Batman lasts a bit too long and it certainly starts to affect the pacing of the film, which is never a good thing. Not the biggest issue, but definitely got a little tough to watch in and around the transition between the second and third acts.
Other than that, the film is impeccable. The voice acting is absolutely wonderful with Will Arnett leading the charge in that respect as the broody Batman and suave, witty Bruce Wayne. Robin’s character was definitely going towards the path of all-out campy, “weird-ness” but it didn’t get too overwhelming to a point where you may have started to hate his character and the writers were able to exert control on not forcing the character down our throats.
Now, if The Lego Movie looked absolutely gorgeous, which it did, Lego Batman blows it out of the water. This film is absolutely gorgeous in the way that Gotham is animated but just how great the animation of the Lego blocks looks. Yes, these are naturally stilted characters that have to walk by attaching themselves to attach point on the Lego piece, but there is a certain smoothness to the movement which you forget about and never becomes a distraction.
Now, is it better than its predecessor? It’s probably on par, with this being better just based on personal preference. The first film felt way too jolly-go-lucky whereas this film expands the range of emotions but also the range in which the plot can flow just by focusing on a character that seems to have all of its stories already been played out in other reincarnations. There’s definitely something new that is brought to the Batman legacy of films, which is always a great thing in my book.
The Lego Batman Movie receives a grade of B+ (8.5/10)