Batman’s foes have an existential crisis in his latest outing, The LEGO Batman Movie.
Kicking off with an amazing 10-minute song-and-punch introduction, the LEGO Batman Movie not only features a bevy of villains, known and obscure — Crazy Quilt and Killer Moth! — the movie also treads into interesting meta territory.
After Batman saves another day in Gotham City, he drops a bombshell on the Joker — the Dark Knight doesn’t think the Clown Prince of Crime is his greatest foe.
Teary-eyed, the devastated supervillain escapes and begins work on a new plan to get Batman’s attention.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne finds himself torn against a potential love interest and a new commissioner who sees Batman as a problem. Between bouts of love and anger at Commissioner Barbara Gordon’s new plans for the city, Bruce agrees to adopt the orphan Dick Grayson.
Butler Alfred Pennyworth sees this as the perfect opportunity to overcome Batman’s one weakness — the fear of being in a family — but Wayne sees the expendable ward as a way into the Fortress of Solitude to steal Superman’s Phantom Zone Projector.
When the Projector falls into the Joker’s hands, the Warner Bros. rogues gallery come out to play, and Batman will have to rely on his friends and family to save the day.
On a technical level, the film’s animation is stellar. The pacing is swift, the action is thick, and the lines are incredibly funny. I read a headline the other day that LEGO Batman has the best plot of any Batman movie ever, and I’m inclined to agree.
Not only does it feature the most villains in any one Batman movie, it also delivers a twist in which the villain’s main goal is something in the vein of a rom-com.
The voice cast is star-studded, and Will Arnett plays a great Bruce Wayne and an even better Batman. With a gravelly voice that oozes narcissism with a hint of borderline personality, Arnett’s maniacal Batman is somehow still endearing.
Michael Cera is chipper as young Grayson, and Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred is both regal and fatherly. Zach Galifianakis as the Joker gives the villain some restraint — while others have tried hard bringing the larger-than-life personality to the big screen, Galifianakis works on building the villain’s pathos.
The LEGO Batman Movie is worth seeing, whether you’re an adult or child, as long as you’re a fan of the Bat. Easter eggs abound, and there are references everywhere. Casting Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face was no coincidence, and the appearance of the infamous Bat-shark repellent is reminiscent of the ’60s show and movie. Bonus points if you catch yourself snorting out loud when Killer Croc shouts out one of his key lines.
It’s sort of a celebration of everything Batman — the peculiarities, the pop culture, and the ridiculousness of it all. It pokes fun at itself without becoming a pandering meaningless mess, and there’s a magical imaginative quality that makes for compelling entertainment.
In a world where Batman has something for everyone, this is his Bat-movie.
The Lego Batman Movie
Directed by: Chris McKay
Screenplay by: Seth Grahame-Smith and Chris McKenna
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Siri, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, hector Elizondo, and Mariah Carey