The Lego Batman Movie full movie review - An incredibly fun animation with plenty of jokes and visual flair that also has some important themes and a brilliant satirical edge.
'The LEGO Batman Movie' is the first spin-off film from the surprisingly excellent 'Lego Movie', an animation that focuses on the caped crusader's struggle with both family and some of the greatest villains he's ever faced.
I was tentative about the feature, since the first LEGO based film seemed to be 'lightening in a bottle' and would be hard to match in terms of quality. Thankfully, the flick didn't disappoint and, while I don't think it is quite as good as the aforementioned predecessor, I think that it is one of the best animations - and Batman films - of recent years.
From the very beginning of the film, the witty satire and fast-paced jokes are instantly prevalent - in fact, before a single brick appears on-screen several genuinely funny jokes have been made. The opening sequence is a treat, especially to Batman fans. It immediately pulls you into the tone and style of the piece, effortlessly mixing clever set-up with plenty of visual flair. It made me smile immediately, the break-neck pace keeps up for quite a while which ensures no time for boredom. For me, the movie is at it's funniest when satirising Batman's past appearances and the overall lore; the subtle parody and in-jokes never failed to make me grin. The film as a whole is almost constantly chuckle-worthy even if it does cause few genuine belly laughs. It works as an almost parody, with an enormous sense of fun constantly present; I'd say it is the most enjoyable film experience I've had this year. The humour is generally pretty broad though, so even if you aren't well versed in the lore of the caped crusader you'll find something to laugh at: be it sight gags, word play, potty humour or sly self-references. It manages to maintain a joyous tone and is a blast to watch because of it.
Thankfully, the film knows when to pull it back a little and focus on character. This leads to several scenes that actually felt quite poignant and effected me emotionally. The characters are all excellently written, as is the script in general. The writers managed to take the pre-established characters and translate them into this zany universe. Batman himself is arrogant, stubborn, ignorant and insensitive but still remains likable thanks to some believable motivation. He is different to all the other versions we've seen on screen, the zeitgeist of our cultural reverence for the character personified, self-aggrandising because we as fans have elevated him up to incredibly high standards. It's a refreshing and somewhat meta take on the character that works really well. He is also given a meaty character arc that, while a little predictable, successfully develops over the course of the film and culminates in a satisfying emotional conclusion. The other characters are all painted vividly too. Alfred appears as a parent figure for a teen-angst ridden Batman, and also gets more action than he has in prior incarnations. Robin appears as upbeat and chipper as the 60s version, but he too is developed well and his almost-camp nature provides more than a few laughs. The Joker is here, too, and is much better than Jared Leto's attempt at the character (in 'Suicide Squad'); he feels almost like Cesear Romaro's version, more mischievous than deadly. He has a unique relationship to Batman which provides another strong arc and also appropriately motivates him. The 'rogues gallery' of Gotham's super-villains is here in full force with almost every Batman villain appearing at some point. Most of them are just broad spoofs of various incarnations of each character, with several of them poking fun at the individual character's very silly nature (Condiment King, anyone?) Their brief but funny cameos are appreciated, even if they generally have little screen-time or impact on the plot.
The animation here is excellent. The use of vibrant colours, a stop-motion like aesthetic and fluid character animation really help boost the visual engagement of the film. So much happens on screen at once that it can be, at times, difficult to discern everything that's going on. That said, you can always see the main action and these sequences are engaging throughout. The zany fight-style that has the characters bouncing around the frame really works with the established universe and tone. The voice acting is all great too, including some cameos from famous people as the various villains, especially that of Will Arnett and Zach Galifianakis. Their turns, as Batman and The Joker respectively, are some of the best incarnations of the characters and their delivery - while sometimes over-the-top - includes some subtlety that makes their arcs believable.
Overall, 'The LEGO Batman Movie' is a wonderfully fun and vividly animated feature that rivals most of the other live-action incarnations of the caped crusader. I had a blast from start to finish and a smile on my face throughout, plus the characters are well-written and the flick had some emotional impact too. The satire is on point and really clever, so if you're a Batman fan like I am you'll have an extra layer of enjoyment. This is perhaps the best big-screen version of Batman we're going to get for quite some time: 8/10.