By Mathew Dillon
The best DC Comics film released since Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy ended is Lego Batman. A spinoff of the successful and surprisingly watchable Lego Movie, Lego Batman stars “Arrested Development” actor Will Arnett as a satirical, legofied version of the Caped Crusader, as he tries to come to terms with his antisocial behavior and place in the world while also just being Batman.
Despite being based off of a children’s toy, Lego Batman felt significantly less soulless and corporate than a lot of its peers. You can tell the people behind this film had a lot of passion for their work and an immense amount respect for the source material. As a comic fan, it was pretty cool to see bizarre, half-remembered characters like Zebraman and Condiment King show up again in any capacity. Thankfully, the filmmakers know better than to rely on the labyrinthine, convoluted mythos of comic books for all their humor and it is more of a fun Easter egg than a main attraction.
Lego Batman has a lot to offer older audiences, which is more than I can say for most animated movies. Where a lot of modern comedies are obnoxiously hyperactive, I was surprised to see that a lot of Lego Batman’s humor relies on extended, slowly built up sequences.
The movie is not constantly bombarding viewers and gives its audience room to breathe, which easily elevates it above a lot of recent movies, animated or otherwise. It helps that Lego Batman has a very talented cast of voice actors, featuring Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis and Ralph Fiennes. They all had a lot of charisma and chemistry and I am actually kind of bummed we will not get a “real” Batman movie with all of them in it.
Lego Batman was a bit more adult than I expected it to be. A lot of the jokes will probably go over younger audiences’ heads, particularly the glut of hit or miss references. Some of the jokes were more risqué than I had expected out of something with the word “Lego” in the title. The film also puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that Batman never got over being orphaned: a detail a lot of Batman adaptations aimed at younger audiences tend to gloss over for obvious reasons.
The animation of Lego Batman is very impressive as it manages to capture the look of those stop motion videos you see on Youtube while still being very complex. While the animation looks great, I do think it gets a bit too flashy during the film’s climax. The glut of well-known movie villains, such as Voldemort and Sauron, showing up during the film’s climax was a very questionable decision and ended up diluting the film. That being said, Lego Batman was a surprisingly enjoyable movie with a strong voice cast and I think it is a decent comedy.