The LEGO Movie was such an unexpected surprise when it came out in 2014. It was refreshing, funny, ridiculous (in a good way), and had plenty of heart. Lego Batman was also one of the highlights of the film, so it’s not a big surprise that they made an entire movie about him. The LEGO Batman Movie has plenty of fun moments and touched on more depth than some live-action Batman films, but there is something off about the film and it’s apparent throughout. It is too long, plays too fast and loose with its villains, and although it explores Batman’s psyche, it also hits us over the head with it, too. It’s the semi-fun superhero movie we thought we needed, but not the one we necessarily deserved.
Batman (Will Arnett) is on a mission to stop the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) latest plot to terrorize Gotham City. There’s a lot of action, which the film heavily capitalizes on, and right at the last second of course, Batman swoops in and saves the day. But it’s less of the fight with the Joker and heroics in this opening sequence that sets the film on its course. It’s what Batman tells the Joker–that no one is important to him and he doesn’t care or need the Joker in the way described, which is that the pair are two peas in a pod who wouldn’t exist without each other. Put off, the Joker gets away and plots to prove Batman wrong by hatching a plan that sends him to the Phantom Zone, rounding up every villain there for help.
Back in Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon–Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and later Batgirl–believes that the police department can work hand-in-hand with Batman and operate inside the law. After all, Batman doesn’t always have to go it alone. But Batman is adamant about keeping his solo vigilante lifestyle, or see he says. Really, his life is devoid of family and friends and it’s because he’s afraid to let anyone in for fear of being hurt again. Sure, on the surface they seem like valid reasons, but, as Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Barbara, and Robin (Michael Cera)–whose dream of being adopted by Bruce Wayne come true by way of the entrepreneur’s own negligent document signing–remind him: everyone needs backup and a support system and that’s ok.
The film does its best and goes out of its way to include almost every character from properties Warner Bros. owns–Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings, and even The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern make appearances. Their presence definitely works for some of the film, but the film is often bloated with too many characters vying for attention and laughs. While entertaining, The LEGO Batman Movie isn’t as comedic as it markets itself to be. The humor does fall flat on occasion and the repetition of some jokes becomes tiresome. The constant mention of Batman’s loneliness or that of being a loner throughout is very overbearing and excessive. The film, directed by Chris McKay, has a high jumping off point, but never quite sticks its landing.
The film does poke fun of Batman and his famous mythos and has a surprising amount of depth. It truly takes the time to examine the core of Batman’s life as a recluse and the reasons behind it, but also recognizes that his avoidance of people is unhealthy and that he does need people in his life. Batgirl, Robin, and Alfred are thankfully put to maximum use and it’s this kind of team-up and interaction that is the highlight of the film. It also proves that, while Batman can be an interesting character on his own, the inclusion of the Bat family makes the film much more dynamic. The LEGO Batman Movie uses its lead character’s flaws in a way that is sometimes to its own detriment, but regardless of the film’s underwhelming nature, it’s still entertaining enough to enjoy.