I very much enjoyed The LEGO Movie, from that damn catchy earworm theme song “Everything is Awesome!” to the subversively funny and delightful script. Hands down, the scene-stealer from that film was Batman (Will Arnett)–gravelly-voiced and cranky, he listened to metal and made up songs about darkness and having no parents. If there needed to be a sequel, of course it was a no-brainer to give Batman center stage.
But of course, now that LEGO Batman has his own movie, you suddenly realize that you are watching… yes… another Batman movie. Raise your hand if you haven’t seen a variation of Batman in the last couple decades. (Crickets.) Well, here is another version to add to the list, with the main difference that it is funnier than any recent incarnation of The Dark Knight (which isn’t difficult, if you think about it), and of course it is all made of LEGO. Otherwise, yes, we have yet another superhero movie.
If you haven’t tired of the superhero formula, at least this one is very clever. Batman/Bruce Wayne lives on his own private island in the Bat Cave, and has all sorts of toys from the Batmobile to a private movie theater where he mocks Jerry Maguire. The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is still trying to get a rise out of Batman, he is disillusioned that Batman won’t proclaim his love/hate, making him Batman’s #1 nemesis. But now that Police Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) is stepping down to be replaced by Police Commissioner Gordon (Rosario Dawson), things may settle down in Gotham, potentially leaving Batman with not much to do.
Like The LEGO Movie, at the center of this film is a big squishy plastic heart. Batman is alone but learns the power of friendship, see? When all of the bad guys from the Warner Bros. collective universe are unleashed on Gotham by The Joker, it turns out Batman may need a little help from his friends (including Ralph Fiennes’ butler Alfred and Batman’s new adopted orphan son, earnest and eager Dick Grayson/aka Robin, voiced by Michael Cera) to conquer evil.
The style of the LEGO movies can only be described as visual overload. My friend proclaimed he was done after about 20 minutes. Though your optic nerves may burn out watching these films, it is hard to deny the fun in them for both adults and kids. And if you have ever wondered what a LEGO person looks like when they’ve taken off their pants, this movie gives you the answer you’ve been waiting for.
Extras include a few deleted scenes, which are fascinating as some didn’t make it beyond storyboards with voiceover. There is a feature commentary with director Chris McKay and a huge pile of crew. There are a bunch of short featurettes, including a behind-the-scenes piece about the animation process. Best of all are the extra shorts, one of which seems to give us a peek at the next movie LEGO Ninjago (co-starring, in this case, a chicken). But easily my favorite was Dark Hoser, which posits the valid question if Batman is Canadian, shouldn’t he actually be joining the Justice League of Canada?