Review: The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

As someone who doesn’t watch many animated films in cinemas, I would have been perfectly content to wait to rent it once it was out on home media. Yet, I was intrigued to see how Warner Bros. could re-create its innovative approach to adapting the toy franchise to the screen. And it kinda worked! Spoilers ahead.

The Lego Batman Movie is really charming, and I think kids and adults will enjoy it. It’s very genuine and action-packed, empowering at the most basic level but still lovely overall. The focus on the Bat family is the real selling point here narratively; I truly loved the inclusion of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon (and of course the omnipresence of Alfred Pennyworth), and the emphasis on Batman needing comrades to meet his true potential. We’ve had a lot of loner Batmans/Batmen?! over the last few decades, and it’s nice to see him embrace the family fully.

Whereas the live action films tend to focus a lot more on Bruce Wayne, it’s also really cool to see that he’s legitimately indistinguishable from Batman in this incarnation, and this is done to full parodic effect. It’s wonderful. Batman rarely takes the cowl off, and instead walks around in ‘regular clothes’ while keeping with his ~dark, edgy~ aesthetic quite literally. This is also the first Batman film that I’ve seen in a while that emphasises how much of an undesirable character he can really be. That comes through so strongly because of the simplicity of the narrative; it just highlights his strongly dichotomous nature and points out just how ridiculous Bruce Wayne is.

Also, the fact that Warner Bros. owns the Batman property so singularly allows for really great references to creep into the film. The meta approach is always welcomed when it comes to superhero movies – especially those today now that there’s been so many grimdark ones out there.

The voice-acting is really superb and Will Arnett is, dare I say, the best Batman. Michael Cera is a favourite in this film as the over-eager Robin, and Rosario Dawson plays it straight as Batgirl and does a very good job. Special mention actually goes to Jenny Slate who voices Harley Quinn – I couldn’t place her voice while watching the film but she’s deliciously charismatic and diabolical.

But I do have to say that the medium of Lego wasn’t utilised in as fresh a way when compared to The Lego Movie. That one was meta in a gigantic, real-world sense and truly captured the spirit of playing with Legos in my opinion. Its amazing plot twist really sold that film for me when I was only merely curious about it. I was wondering how they would replicate that here and in a way perhaps it is a good thing that it didn’t happen, because what’s novelty can’t really be repeated without it losing its flavour.

Perhaps now that I know what to expect, I’ll be able to look past this if I ever do see the film again. I do think the movie has a lot of merit narratively, and the way it deals with Batman as a franchise and a character is in itself super creative. Most of the jokes sailed thanks to the superb cast, and the animation is so vibrant and pretty. A very well-made, beautiful, and heartfelt film.


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