Our The Lego Batman Movie movie review was written by guest blogger, Robin Elton.
“All important movies begin with a black screen,” Batman growls as The Lego Batman Movie begins (Will Arnett, doing his best Christian Bale impression), and all the adults laugh. It’s a perfect preview of the nearly two hours to come: this movie is amusing to the kids in its own right, and earns real laughter from the older “kids” who’ve spent decades with a weird, dark superhero who, when you stop to think about it even a little bit, takes himself way too seriously.
The Lego Batman Movie isn’t actually important, but it’s a lot of fun. I attended a press screening last week with my 12 year old daughter, my six year old niece and two year old nephew, and everybody was “in it” and entirely engaged for the entire time (an amazing feat, as it’s on the long side for a kids’ movie— clocking in at an hour and 46 minutes. Definitely go for a potty break beforehand).
It’s probably best not to think of this as a sequel to The LEGO Movie, but rather as a wonderful addition to the Batman mythology. Everybody’s here: Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate), Bane (Doug Benson), and pretty much every Batman villain you can think of (and a fair number of other villains too). I missed while I was watching it that Conan O’Brien voiced the Riddler and Mariah Carey was Mayor McCaskill, and that has me giggling after the fact.
There’s so much to love. The music choices are fantastic and funny. The Lego build scenes are incredibly clever. The action scenes are bright and brilliant, in your face and fast paced, completely over the top—in a good way—without being scary for younger viewers. The scenes in between are quick witted and shockingly often, thought provoking.
The plot hinges on Bruce Wayne’s loss of his family as a child and how that resulted in an inability to commit to relationships, whether with local law enforcement, with his surrogate parent Alfred or exuberant ward Dick Grayson, or with the Joker— who Batman can’t bring himself to admit he cares enough about to call him his nemesis. There’s plenty of fodder for conversation for the drive home: about relationships, overcoming loss, and what makes a good guy a good guy. The movie manages to address the vast loneliness, arrogance and complexity of the Bruce Wayne/Batman persona, in keeping with former film treatments, while keeping the character likeable, the tone light, and the pace moving along for littles. It’s honestly a very impressive balance: deep without being dark.
For longtime Batman fans like myself (Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum being one of my favorite reads as a teenager), there are so many little things to notice it’s almost relentless. Callbacks to previous iterations of the man who dresses like a bat abound. Kids may not catch every reference and inside joke, or even a fraction of them, but there’s plenty of comedy for them too. All four of us laughed out loud, a lot. The two year old informed me with great confidence that it was his favorite movie, but he also told me that while we were waiting for the movie to start, so maybe take that part with a grain of salt.
In short, The Lego Batman Movie is a genuinely smart, fun and entertaining action movie: a kids’ movie that’s absolutely not just for kids, and a Batman movie that’s absolutely not just for Batman fans. Everything is still awesome. There’s something there for everybody, and everybody should go see it.
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