Written By: Mike Agostinelli
Damn, I love Batman.
If you know me, even in passing, you’re aware of this undeniable fact. I’m one of those fanboys who will jump at any opportunity to correct you when you spout off about the character, assuming you know more about him than I do. (You don’t) So when something like The Lego Batman Movie comes along, I’m torn.
On one hand I’m overjoyed. An animated Batman movie getting a theatrical release is a reason to celebrate for any fan, especially since the last time this happened with Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm back in 1993, we were given what I still believe to be the best Batman movie to date. On the other hand, Lego Batman isn’t really Batman in many ways.
As established in 2014’s The Lego Movie, the Lego-ized version of the character is a bit of a bumbling and arrogant fool, at times barely even exhibiting a shred of what makes the character great. You can almost replace him with any other tough guy action hero character in the Lego universe and the movie would turn out the exact same way. Will Arnett’s raspy-voiced portrayal of the character also tends to test one’s patience at times. How the guy didn’t walk out of this movie with sever throat damage is beyond me.
But then the movie takes pleasant dips into the hardcore Batman fanboy pool, and I almost forget about the aforementioned character issues. There is much to love here. Every permutation of the character on film is acknowledged over the course of the movie, even the old school black and white “serials” from the 1940’s. They even dig deep into the comic book continuity, using obscure C-level Bat-villians like Condiment King alongside all of the established A-listers, creating a veritable smorgasbord of Easter Eggs and geek references in the process. It’s enough to cause a wet dream for any true Bat-fan, and ensures multiple viewings in order to soak it all in. It almost erases any negative thoughts you may have about the film at some points, until they inevitable arise again with more character issues.
Let’s discuss Robin. Here, he is portrayed as a wide-eyed pre-teen with the emotional maturity of a four year old. He is another case of being almost utterly devoid of anything that makes the character cool in the comics. While some will consider it adorable, it’s not Robin. It’s just a cute kid character, one who could have been simply called “Joe”, and you would have been met with the same results. Yes, I get this is a parody. But when you actively set out to do a parody, you need to be loyal to the source material you’re sending up in order to execute the whole enterprise successfully.
The orchestral score by Lorne Balfe ends up being better than it needs to be, especially since most of it is lost in the blaring sound mix. It mixes in elements of the sixties Batman theme, along with the current “moody and dark” Hans Zimmer type style, which is fitting since Balfe is a Zimmer protege. There is also a heavy element of classic 80’s songs incorporated into the film, including a funny bit where Cutting Crews “I Just Died In Your Arms” plays every time Batman lays eyes on Barbara Gordon.
The Lego Batman Movie is incredibly loyal to its source material in some areas, but totally shuns it in others. Its an exercise in contrasts, but one which is generally entertaining and at times genuinely funny. Overall I recommend it to both Bat-fans and general audiences alike, although I see the general audience getting a bit more mileage out of it than a hardcore fan like me. But who am I kidding? I’ll still see this a few more times like a zombie anyway.
I give The Lego Batman Movie a 7 out of 10.