RELEASED: 4th February 2017
DIRECTED BY: Chris McKay
WRITTEN BY: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern & John Whittington
PRODUCED BY: Christopher Miller, Phil Lord, Roy Lee & Dan Lin
MUSIC BY: Lorne Balfe
STARRING: Will Arnet, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson & Zach Galifianakis
Since the DC Extended Universe was first announced a few years back, its properties have been plagued with misfortune. Batman v Superman had fans jumping between excited and wary, until it was released and the film became hated by a good chunk of its audience. Justice League, having the same director, had people fearing for the fates of their favourite characters. The Flash has been through three directors already and is currently in the process of being COMPLETELY rewritten. And then there’s Ben Affleck’s The Batman; a film with so much anticipation built around it that the star of the piece dropped out of the director’s chair, and now, rumour has it, wants to abandon the franchise completely. And you know what? I don’t blame him. Poor Ben Affleck.
Luckily, Warner Bros and LEGO teamed up to prove that the DC Superhero properties are salvageable in some cinematic form, by bringing us The LEGO Batman Movie. It’s well-written, steeped in Batman lore and all-in-all a really fun flick.
The film follows Bruce Wayne/Batman (but I’m sure you already knew that – it’s in the title) as he’s forced to change the way he operates in his war against crime. After accidentally adopting Dick Grayson as a son, watching Barbara Gordon become the new police commissioner and antagonising the Joker into hatching a new master plan that involves a wealth of cinematic villains (not necessarily contained to Batman mythology), Batman is forced to open up and accept his loner lifestyle may not be as great as he claims it is.
Lets be clear, the basic plot of this movie isn’t really covering any new ground, but after all, it is a kids movie. You’ve got your gruff loner hero, and he goes through a series of events and realises that family and friends are important. It’s all very heartwarming but we’ve seen it all before.
No, the beauty of this movie comes in the way it’s executed.
For starters, the threat is a fantastic way to breathe new life into a Batman film, and it’s the sort of threat that you couldn’t really accomplish in any live-action Batman movie.
[SPOILERS – BUT NOT REALLY, BECAUSE IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS EARLY ON IN THE FILM]
After seeing Superman talk about sending Zod to the Phantom Zone, the Joker sets out to get himself incarcerated there and rally all the trapped villains to his cause and humiliate Batman for rejecting him. The twist being that the villains aren’t so much DC comic villains, so much as they are characters from other franchises like Voldemort, the Daleks, Sauron and a wealth of others.
[END OF SPOILERS]
This works really well, because it allows us to see Batman face off against a completely different type of threat than he’s used to. He’s outnumbered and outgunned, more so than he’s ever been in any story. Plus, it gives the writers a chance to bring in even more wacky patter than if Batman was facing off against the same old villains he always does.
But that’s not to say it necessarily needs that extra bit of wacky patter. The film is pretty hilarious in it’s own right, even without that extra added element. The jokes come thick and fast, and while some of them fall flat (I personally found that some of Alfred’s jokes were a bit weak – you’d think being British I’d relate, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case) the majority are pretty great. And it’s not even just the outright joking that will bring the chuckles. For one, there are a wealth of amusing references that fans of the Dark Knight will love. And then there are all the little amusing additions, like every characters say ‘pew pew’ when they fire a gun, like a child playing with LEGO would do, or acting choices like Bane speaking in a mock-version of Tom Hardy’s voice from The Dark Knight Rises.
In fact, that last point is something that’s relevant to every character/actor in this film. Although I wasn’t sure about Zach Galifianakis as the Joker to start off, he and everyone else in this film brings their A game and fits the character their voicing perfectly.
In short, this film is just what DC and comic-book fans need right now; a super-hero film that’s willing to really poke fun at itself and the genre, having a lot of fun at its own expense. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, heartfelt, and excellently made (seriously, the look and detail of both this and it’s predecessor, The LEGO Movie are phenomenal).
Perhaps the only issue I have with the film is that sitting there watching it, it felt like a lot of the jokes probably wouldn’t hold up on repeat viewings, but we’ll just have to wait until the home entertainment release.
I give it:
For being a great time and out-doing the majority of DC’s live-action films. I wouldn’t say it’s the best Batman movie ever, but it’s certainly up there.
Oh, also, the soundtrack’s fantastic. The following is one of my particular favourites: