Having logged a far too generous amount of hours playing the Lego Batman videogames and thinking that The Lego Movie was pretty neat, it’s no wonder that The Lego Batman Movie was one of my most anticipated 2017 films, the first official trailer for which had me cracking up with laughter to no end. As you probably already know, it’s about Batman (“oh, you don’t say?”) taking on The Joker and a whole host of baddies while at the same time, encouraged by Alfred to develop some properly meaningful relationships in his life, starting with young Dick Grayson, who he inadvertently adopted.
As Bruce Wayne/Batman, Will Arnett is ideally cast, very effectively playing Batman as a stubborn, cocky, gravelly voiced curmudgeon, essentially an overgrown teenager, and his comic delivery constantly hits the mark. Ralph Fiennes is also an excellent comic foil as Alfred, Rosario Dawson is great and authoritative as Barbara Gordon and Michael Cera injects a huge amount of zeal and energy, stealing a great number of scenes as a lovable Robin – a pocket sized Michael Cera, you can’t go wrong. Plus, Zach Galifianakis doesn’t overplay The Joker and while he may not be the best incarnation, he’s still pretty fun and gets to bring an interesting new dimension to Batman’s greatest enemy.
Alongside the main cast, the film is filled with recognisable names as we get to see the likes of Conan O’Brien, Seth Green, Jenny Slate and Jason Mantzoukas (Parks and Recreation reunion!), Zoë Kravitz, Hector Elizondo, Jemaine Clement, Billy Dee Williams (playing Two-Face, as it should be), Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill returning as Superman and Green Lantern, and surprisingly, Garfunkel and Oates themselves Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci. The Lego Batman Movie goes a little berserk with its cast list and most of them are pretty much just cameos, but it was still great to be surprised by just who was involved.
Also, Eddie Izzard voices a certain character but it probably would have made much more sense if Ralph Fiennes did that particular voice. But then you’d probably have to pay him twice . . .
The film writers clearly have an affection for the Batman universe and the constant stream of references are quite clever and amusing. The film isn’t dumbed down too much for kids and as others have said, the writing reminds us of why we love Batman films while at the same time, the writers aren’t afraid to poke fun at the ridiculous nature of the franchise, including some very welcome Suicide Squad bashing (Killer Croc actually DOES something!) and a welcome return of the good ol’ shark repellent spray. It is fun to see a barrage of recognisable (or perhaps not so) characters and they are brought to life with good humour, wit and imagination.
As with The Lego Movie, the film is visually amazing and I’m glad that I got a chance to watch it on the big screen, a place where it’s ideally suited. In particular, the opening sequence is totally awesome (gotta get that word in there somewhere!) and I certainly smiled so much while watching it, the same goes for the final crazy battle. Although it does have a similar problem as The Lego Movie in that sometimes, there is so much going on that it’s sometines hard to take it all in and characters often talk over each other, letting many lines completely fly away.
The film also has a few pacing issues; in between all the frantic action sequences, the lingering emotional scenes threaten to derail the whole film and it sometimes looks like it’s in danger of stopping dead. The film has something of a stop/start approach and the emotionally heavy scenes, while a few of them are genuinely effective, feel a bit drawn out and overblown. Plus, the film wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, but that’s probably because the trailers got all the laughs out of me.