You know, back in 2014, I'm pretty sure nobody could possibly predict the decision to make a feature length film revolving almost entirely around the insanely popular children's toy otherwise known as LEGO Bricks. What's even more baffling was how The LEGO Movie was a phenomenal success both economically and critically, and a couple days ago they made ANOTHER LEGO movie.
This one however, is The LEGO Batman Movie. Which makes me happy because I like LEGO and Batman is my favorite DC character (as well as my third favorite superhero ever, with Iron Man in second and Spider-Man in first!).
In the wise words of Batman, "The Internet blew
up the Twittersphere" when this movie was announced.
In case you somehow don't know what LEGO is, and if that's the case that's almost as sad as not knowing what Star Wars is, LEGO is a insanely popular children's toy where you use hundreds, sometimes thousands, of bricks and pieces to build really cool stuff. While the newer sets give you step-by-step instructions on how to build official stuff like cars and what-not, that doesn't stop you from building whatever the heck pops into your imagination.
And if you don't know who Batman is, he is a very well-known super-hero/vigilante who was one of, if not the first super-hero ever to not have any super-powers whatsoever, instead relying on a combination of detective skills, gadgets, and martial arts to defeat his adversaries. And because The LEGO Batman Movie kind of assumes you have decent knowledge of Batman-lore, a quick rundown of his origins goes as follows. Batman, real name Bruce Wayne, was born into a very rich and prosperous family, and for most of his childhood Bruce lived the sweet life. That is, until both his parents were murdered by a robber right before his eyes. Seeing his parents' untimely demise sparked Batman's hatred of criminals, but rather than seeking vengeance on that one robber, Bruce Wayne decided to use his family's fortune to become a vigilante known as Batman, going out into the dead of night to punish those who terrorize the innocent. Although, considering that The LEGO Batman Movie is a family-friendly film, Bruce Wayne's parents' deaths are left extremely vague (the only hints that his parents are deceased in this movie are the scene where he looks solemnly at the family portraits and when Robin mentions he's the world's most famous orphan).
The basic premise of The LEGO Batman Movie is that after perhaps the most hilariously epic opening sequence ever (complete with Batman shattering the fourth wall by providing funny quips about the companies that helped make the movie, singing a song about how awesome he is, and claiming that "Batman does NOT do ships! As in, relationships!"), Batman stops fan-favorite villain The Joker from destroying Gotham City AGAIN, and this time Joker realizes that because Batman doesn't feel any emotional attachment to ANYONE, he doesn't view Joker as his greatest foe, which effectively shatters his worldview. Also, is it just my imagination or does this incarnation of the Joker have a weird bromance thing with Batman? Seriously, LEGO!Joker's sole motivation is to earn Batman's respect as a rival, but sometimes he sounds like a guy who's been dumped by his significant other and is still trying to make up with that significant other even though the significant other in question has already moved on (complete with his peers trying to console him). That, or I'm looking way too deep into a family film.
So the Clown Prince of Crime goes to increasingly extreme lengths to earn Batman's respect and get him to consider the Joker as his greatest foe. Meanwhile, Batman has to deal with raising an orphan he adopted who later becomes Batman's sidekick Robin as well as facing the possibility of being replaced by the more efficient crime-fighter Commissioner Barbara Gordon.
Oh, and the final act is surprisingly epic, if a little strange. This paragraph will contain mild spoilers for the movie, so skip to the next paragraph to remain unspoiled. Basically, after deeming his current posse too lame to warrant Batman's respect, The Joker literally resorts to bringing villains FROM OTHER FRANCHISES ENTIRELY to level Gotham City. Special mention goes to King Kong, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, The Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings, and of course the Daleks from Doctor Who (or as the Joker calls them, "Those British robots you should ask your nerdy friends about"). What makes this hilarious is I myself am a fan of almost all the franchises the Joker teams up with, so it felt like somebody made the final act specifically for nerds like me.
First thing I would like to say about this movie, it's really, REALLy funny. A lot of the humor comes from Batman himself. It's just plain hilarious seeing the Caped Crusader drop his usual edgy, dark, and brooding behaviour in favor of a self-centered, beat-boxing celebrity hero who, despite his fame, is actually pretty lonely. Whether his loneliness is because of his lack of emotional attachments to anyone, or because he assumes ALL superheroes are #ForeverAlone when they aren't stopping baddies from destroying cities, is up to your personal interpretation.
And that basically covers the story without going too deep into spoilers. As far as graphics go, almost everything looks like LEGO, and some of the builds are straight up IMPRESSIVE. While this is a CG movie, they made it look as stop-motion-y as humanly (minifigure-ly?) possible. And as you can see in the above picture, they use realistic smoke instead of making the smoke out of LEGO pieces, which the original The LEGO Movie did. Another nice detail is when Batman emotes, both his face and his mask change accordingly, like the eye-holes narrow down when he's angry and widen when he's surprised, which is a nice touch, because in the original, only the face changed when Batman emoted, and the eye-holes on his mask were always static.
As for music, the only parts of the soundtrack that stand out are when Batman starts beat-boxing, does guitar solos, or is singing songs about how awesome he is ("Who does the sickest backflips? BATMAN!!!"), but like most movies, you don't want to watch this for music. You want to watch it to see the hilarity of LEGO!Batman doing his thing.
As far as characters go, I was genuinely impressed that some of the more obscure DC villains made it into the movie (Gentleman Ghost, anyone?). And as the Joker says during the opening, "They're all real. Definitely worth a Google...". And speaking of the Joker, I really like this incarnation of everyone's favorite Clown Prince of Crime. He borrows elements from several previous takes on the Joker, most notably Batman: Animated Series Joker (the coat and hair) as well as the Suicide Squad version of the Joker (several times throughout the movie we see LEGO!Joker has tattoos on his arms, just like in Suicide Squad).
Speaking of Suicide Squad, I think the script writers have a vendetta against that movie, since there's not one, but THREE jokes about that movie. I myself actually haven't seen Suicide Squad but I have been told that it wasn't the BEST movie in the world (in fact it was find of a flop), although my good friend Vincent liked it.
I also like Barbara Gordon, who later becomes Batgirl. And I will give The LEGO Batman Movie bonus points for not making Barbara become Batman's girlfriend by the end of the movie (even though he has a very obvious crush on her) because that would have been the cliche thing to do as well as drive a few Batman fans crazy, since almost every incarnation of Batgirl viewed Batman as a pseudo-father figure. But the thing about Barbara is that she's like that girl you're friends with (or your girlfriend, take your pick) that doesn't really get Batman but she doesn't want to tick you and your turbo nerd friends off so she tries to understand Batman logic while inadvertently ruining the reasons why you love the Batman franchise. But how does this oddly specific metaphor apply to Barbara? Like I said in the premise, she is effectively putting Batman out of a job by being much more efficient. Kind of ironic because the first thing she does as Commissioner is propose Batman works alongside official police officers rather doing everything himself vigilante style. So you will either love her or hate her, depending on how much of a diehard Batman fan you are.
However, I do love LEGO!Robin. Why? This incarnation of the Boy Wonder is based off of both the original Robin, Dick Grayson (I feel so sorry for anyone who has that word for their first name...) as well as The Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Robin, Carrie Kelly (that Robin was a girl, in case you're wondering). The Dick Grayson (I still feel so sorry for people who have to live with that word in their name...) part comes from the fact that 1) this Robin is named Richard "Dick" Grayson (at least it's only a nickname here), as well as having the overall appearance of Grayson!Robin. The Carrie Kelly aspects come from both the hairstyle and the goggles, since Kelly!Robin's suit came with a pair of green goggles.
Something else I love about this movie is the fact that there are TONS of pop culture references and clever nods to previous Batman films, which probably explains why the guys who made this movie said it was like a 90-minute easter egg fest.
Overall, I give The LEGO Batman Movie a 9/10. It's a fantastic movie, and it proves that the lovely folks at LEGO know how to make great movies while keeping them family friendly, which is nigh-impossible nowadays. And who knows? Maybe LEGO will become the next Pixar...
P.S. I was the only person in the theater that laughed when Batman shouted that he doesn't do ships (as in, relationships) because I was the only person that knew what the term "ship" means in that context. Also because my good friend Vincent ships a certain hoodie-wearing skeleton with a certain motherly goat (and stubbornly insists that this dream couple is canon despite lots of evidence proving otherwise) from a certain indie game released on Sep. 15 2015 famous for it's SLAY/SPARE mechanics that I will not mention by name because if you've been here long enough you should know what game I am referencing.