Hot Take: The best Batman movie in the last 12 months. Look, there’s a lot of Batman movies these days.
In the last 12 months, there was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman: The Killing Joke and Suicide Squad which, technically, isn’t a Batman movie but he does make an appearance. The most represented cinematic character of the last 12 years had a busy year in 2016. With The LEGO Batman Movie hitting theaters in February, he’s not getting 2017 off.
On the heels of the success of The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie is a spin-off of Will Arnett’s Batman character from the 2014 box office phenomenon. The LEGO Batman Movie looks a lot its predecessor but differentiates itself from its source material which is both good and bad. The focal point of the film is pure satire of the entire Batman franchise. It even takes shots at the ’60s TV show. It’s also kid focused with one breakneck action sequence after another but adult enough in it’s frenetic, cutthroat parody that The LEGO Batman Movie should be the first surefire family hit of 2017.
The plot is simple. Batman is still struggling with the loss of his parents. He’s full of himself and unwilling to acknowledge his biggest fear of getting close to others (instead claiming his biggest fear is snake clowns) settling for a nightly post-crime fighting life of eating microwaved lobster thermidor and watching and laughing at the most serious parts of Jerry Maguire alone in spacious Wayne Manor on Wayne Island.
Batman’s phobia of relationships runs so deep, he refuses to acknowledge The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) as his greatest enemy which sets The Joker down the path of trying to pull off a plan to prove to Batman that he’s his greatest foe and they need each other. As the movie progresses, we are introduced to a plethora of characters from the Batman universe. When The Joker hatches his master plan to get sent to the Phantom Zone, we also get treated to some of the most nefarious villains in movie history… in LEGO form, of course.
The voice lineup for The LEGO Batman Movie in addition to Arnett and Galifianakis is awesome. Hector Elizondo (Commissioner Gordon), Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon), Michael Cera (Dick Grayson/Robin), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred), Mariah Carey (Mayor McCaskill), Billy Dee Williams (Two Face), Conan O’Brien (The Riddler), Doug Benson (Bane), Channing Tatum (Superman), Jonah Hill (The Green Lantern), Eddie Izzard (Lord Voldemort) and Seth Green (King Kong) are the most familiar names and voices amongst the recognizable cast. The focus is around Batman, Dick Grayson, Alfred and Barbara Gordon and how they must come together to fight off The Joker’s evil plan.
While the animated kids flick hits a few home runs, it’s not without its flaws. Occasionally, the silliness is more nonsensical than parody. Like why is Batman a rapper? Also, it’s difficult to be a sequel to a movie as original as The LEGO Movie and not lose some of the novelty of the original. The action gets a little stale, too. You could accuse The LEGO Batman Movie of doin’ too much, essentially.
The LEGO Batman Movie is an adequate spin-off to The LEGO Movie that doubles as a satire of the superhero madness locking down our cinema. The film takes shots at not only Batman but the superhero genre and both DC and Marvel (the password is “IRON MAN SUCKS!”) throughout. The pot shots come as rapidly as a Naked Gun movie between and during every action set piece that is as visually spectacular as the first movie. It would be unsurprising to see more from this franchise (and no, Ninjago doesn’t count just because its a movie featuring LEGO action) down the brick road. It felt like there might be more in the tank as the credits rolled.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Will Arnett Isn’t the Worst Batman Ever
That would be George Clooney if you’re scoring at home.
- Holy Parody, Batman… Those Pot Shots at the ’60s Show!
The most success The LEGO Batman Movie had at tickling the funny bone were the handful of references the movie made to the ’60s Batman.
- You Can Leave the Kids at Home (With a Babysitter, Of Course)
As much as The LEGO Batman Movie is for kids, the film is strong enough in its adult level humor that not having a kid with you when you see it won’t make you feel awkward. This isn’t Hotel Transylvania.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Not as Much Fun as the First Time
The LEGO Movie had a level of novelty and freshness to it that The LEGO Batman Movie can’t repeat because, well, it’s no longer novel or fresh. This hurts the spin-off as it has to rely solely on the action and comedy which carry it far but at an hour and 44 minutes, it occasionally drags.