LEGO Batman Review: Super Fun Film That Actually Understands Who Batman Is
4 out of 5 Batman cowls
Now, more than ever, we all could use a distraction from the political dissent dominating news headlines and the LEGO Batman movie provides that much-needed break. The irreverent animated comedy centers on the brooding Caped Crusader who must battle Gotham’s biggest villains while also dealing with consequences of adopting a young orphaned boy.
The film was directed by Robot Chicken alum Chris McKay and features a script from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and potential Beetlejuice 2 scribe Seth Grahame-Smith. Charlie Jao and I had the opportunity to see the film in IMAX and, as you can tell from our Facebook Live reaction, we really enjoyed the film. We talked about it in greater detail in the transcript below.
FAVORITE PARTS OF THE MOVIE?
Charline Jao: Robin as the orphan with a heart of gold and the desire to be loved by all his father figures! Bringing in the Boy Wonder in shorts was perfect to bring out the ridiculousness of Will Arnett’s brooding Batman.
Keisha Hatchett: He is so earnest and kind and sees the best in people. I just wanna hold him and shelter him from this cruel cruel world.
CJ: PROTECT HIM. It’s so hard to just pick a few favorite parts though, there are so many great small gags and throwaway jokes, like Batman moodily microwaving his favorite lobster and eating it silently with his guitar. It’s great ’cause the movie never wastes a moment for a joke or visual gag.
KH: HAHA! I also loved the Joker’s desperation to be hated by Batman. It’s like the opposite of a love story, but the neediness is there. I ship it.
CJ: This is also like MOST quotable movie, I feel like I’m going to be referencing and GIF-ing it a lot in the future. And yeah, I think we all have some Joker fatigue so seeing a fun, desperate Joker was great.
KH: Speaking of taking shots at Suicide Squad, the team did a wonderful job of referencing, making fun of and honoring past Batman projects. It’s obvious that Chris McKay and his team are big fans of the character so throwing in those perfect little nods really elevated an already fun script.
CJ: For sure! It’s definitely a movie that understands all the Batmans (Batmen?) and what people love about him. Like, Batman is silly! He’s always been a little silly and cartoony, and we shouldn’t have to shy away from that. They also embedded that much-needed humor into an arc about his inner conflicts and darkness amazingly. This movie “gets” Batman more than the blockbusters seem to.
KH: Take notes, Zack Snyder. But I think the difference between this and the blockbusters is that they were allowed to get away with being super creative. That freedom to be silly meant they could really have fun with it and it certainly resonates on screen. And they really could have just made this a completely superficial film full of jokes and comic references, but I appreciate the fact that there’s some heart in it as well. Especially when you think of how sad and alone Batman is, and how he uses his status as a vigilante to distract from his childhood trauma. Who knew LEGOS could be so deep?
CJ: I can’t think of a better medium! The LEGO Movie was all about creativity and imagination, and the Batman movie kept that spirit which I liked. Those action sequences were some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s a story that you can’t imagine being told in any other way or any other medium.
LEAST FAVORITE PARTS?
KH: With that said, I think the film could have done a better job with its female characters. I think Barbra Gordon was the only one who got adequate screen time and I’m totally into her shutting down Batman’s advances, but the other women were virtually nonexistent. I didn’t like that Harley Quinn was just there in the background, occasionally popping up to do Joker’s bidding. And Wonder Woman’s cameo was a blink-and-you-missed it moment. It felt very much like a “guy” movie if that makes sense. But still fun!
CJ: Oh for sure. Barb is great and makes a lot of valid points about the Batman myth in one scene, but she’s played as the “normal” character to offset a lot of Batman’s outrageousness. Which feels like such a “female buzzkill” or “the responsible one” role that we’ve seen time and time again. They didn’t mistreat her because she is great, but they definitely didn’t do as much as they could’ve in terms of female characters.
HOW ABOUT THAT MUSIC?
CJ: This movie is so musical, and I love that it’s never too cool for pop tunes. I love that Batman is still writing his own music.
KH: I think the music is what really pushed the first LEGO movie over the edge as a fun, enjoyable film. They took it a step further with this one by incorporating that dark, actiony style that’s become the norm for post-Nolan blockbusters. Even better, they brought in composer Lorne Balfe, who previously worked on Inception and The Dark Knight. I love and hate the fact the this soundtrack will be stuck in my head for weeks.
CJ: Oh I’m going to be aggressively singing the Robin friend song at my loved ones for a while.
KH: Too bad Joker didn’t get his own special song. Missed opportunity there.
CJ: I have to plug Holy Musical [email protected]! again, the Starkid (who did A Very Potter Musical) Batman musical for anyone who wants more silly superhero songs.
KH: Duly noted.
KH: YES! My sentiments exactly! Super fun, super funny, super super film. DEFINITELY GO SEE IT! (Especially in IMAX.)
CJ: Oh, definitely worth the trip to the theater.
LEGO Batman is out in theaters now.
(image via screencap)
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