In advance of the release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, we’re taking a look back at the other films in the Lego Franchise. Today we dive into 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie.
After the success of The Lego Movie, Warner Brothers quickly greenlit and fast tracked The Lego Batman Movie, a spinoff of The Lego Movie, featuring Will Arnett as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Michael Cera as Robin/Dick Grayson, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl/ Barbara Gordon, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth, and Zach Galifianakis as The Joker. The film was directed by Lego Movie co-director Adam McKay and written by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington.
The film begins with Batman stopping a bomb set by Joker and a full roster of villains from Batman’s rogues gallery. In the process, he destroys The Joker’s feelings by telling the clown prince of crime that he means nothing to him. Joker then sets out to get his ultimate revenge on the caped crusader by manipulating Batman into putting him into The Phantom Zone, a parallel universe prison where some of the worst villains of all time are held. Joker breaks out of the Phantom Zone and wreaks havoc on Gotham city with the help of the other villains from the Phantom Zone, including Voldemort (Eddie Izzard), Sauron (Jemaine Clement), The Wicked Witch of the West (Riki Lindhome, who also voices Poison Ivy in the film), and King Kong (Seth Green).
In order to stop the Joker and his new team of villains, Batman must learn to work with his “Bat-Family” consisting of his newly-adopted son Dick, Alfred, and Barbara. In the process, he faces his fears of losing anyone who he lets into his life and accepts that being part of a family could be a good thing for him. With the help of his Bat-Family and his rogues gallery of villains, they’re able to stop Joker and save Gotham city from complete destruction.
There are a lot of great things about this film, but it’s not exactly as strong as the initial Lego Movie. It features references to every single incarnation of Batman featured in film and animation. There are cameos by nearly every recognizable Batman villain, most of which are voiced by some of the best and biggest names in comedy right recently. There are a few references to The Lego Movie and a handful of classic romantic comedies. But the film isn’t as repeatable as The Lego Movie, and after two or three viewings, gets a little old.
That’s not to say it isn’t a decent film, and honestly it may be one of the better Batman films ever created. The film plays heavily into the idea that Batman is the true person, and Bruce Wayne is the façade with Batman coming home from fighting crime and constantly wearing his mask or “armored face disguise.” It also is one of the few Batman films that actually sees the character grow in a substantial way. Most Batman films center on the character simply stopping a villain or saving the world, but this film is just as much about him saving himself as it is saving Gotham City–all of which help the film significantly.
The biggest mark against the film is simply that it just gets a little old after repeat viewings. Which, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing . If you’re watching it for the first time or after not having seen it for months or a year or two, it still packs a punch. And there are some great moments and details that you will find yourself noticing that may have slipped by the first couple viewings. In the end, that may be the thing that helps the Lego franchise succeed overall. Besides being quality films that the whole family can enjoy, each one is filled to the brim with an immense amount of detail. Every frame has so much within it that even after 50-something viewings, there are still elements and Easter Eggs that you may have missed before.
How long the franchise can last on the promise of extensive detail and boat-loads of Easter eggs is uncertain, but for now, the franchise is definitely set to continue chugging along–and that’s not a bad thing. These films are fun, funny, heartwarming, and good for the whole family, which is actually a trait that is becoming slightly harder to find. While I’m not sure if I can take my son to see the latest Avengers,–because every character he loves might die, and he’s too young to understand it–I’d easily watch another Lego movie with him. And that will help this franchise as time goes on.
The Lego Batman Movie is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital.