DC and Warner Bros. have always struggled with superhero movies. They spend big money, hire the best of actors, and offer the best special effects. Together, they should make for a memorable cinematic experience. But, when you make a list of their joint projects, you are almost always left disappointed. This is particularly true for the Batman movies. Be it the 1966, 1992 or 1997, DC and Warner Bros. have never been able to do ‘justice’ to this character. For once, Christopher Nolan did an exemplary job with The Dark Knight series. Although Batman’s next reincarnation in Batman v Superman was great, the movie itself suffered from many issues, including overly gritty theme, dense story, and inconsistency. With Suicide Squad, it appeared that DC and Warner Bros. committed the Hollywood’s equivalent of suicide. Against the backdrop of all of this pain filled history, The Lego Batman Movie comes as a breath of fresh air.
The Lego Batman Movie is not just another superhero movie; nor is it another somber Warner Bros + DC production. It is everything that you wanted from a Batman movie. Hell, it is everything you wanted from a superhero movie. It is funny, deep, never gets boring, imaginative, and self-aware. The movie is full of humor. In fact, every dialogue, every scene has at least one joke, sometimes many. It is the best thing to ever come out of a Lego factory.
The movie begins with a typical action scene in Gotham, where Batman is again trying to foil one of Joker’s latest terrorist attacks. This incident becomes the backdrop for the hell that is soon going to be unleashed on Gotham. And, you will be hard put to answer the question – is Joker alone responsible for all this chaos? The one thing that will make you ask this question to yourself is the one thing that you won’t expect – Batman.
Joker feels that he is the arch nemesis to Batman, and that they both push each other to be the best at what they do. On the other
hand, Batman does not think that the two of them share a codependent relationship. This makes the Joker angry, very angry. And, anyone who has followed the decades’ worth of history between Batman and Joker knows that nobody wants to make Joker angry, which Batman will soon find out the hard way.
Can we really blame Batman for not acknowledging the bromance (or whatever you call that superhero-supervillain relationship between these two) between himself and the Joker? Batman aka Bruce Wayne is a recluse. The billionaire businessman builds sci-fi toys and practices martial arts during daytime, which he promptly uses in the night to beat the bad guys to a pulp. When he does have bad guys to beat, he sulks in the darkness of his Batmobile, while looking at the pictures of his dead parents. Any semblance of romance in his life comes with its own set of complications. *cough Talia al Ghul*. *cough Bat Girl*. His only companion in life is his butler, Alfred. He doesn’t need anyone in his life. At least that’s what he thinks. So, when a self-proclaimed arch nemesis comes to Batman seeking acknowledgement of his special status in Batman’s life, well, he had another thing coming.
To exact his revenge on Batman, Joker hatches a diabolical plan. He empties out the entire Arkham Asylum. Fans need no introduction regarding what evils and pathos Arkham Asylum is home to. But, that’s just the beginning. Joker, then goes ahead and opens up the gates of the super-prison, Phantom Zone. Superman fans might recall Phantom Zone as the ultra-maximum security prison created by the Kryptonians to hold their prisoners, and from which there is no escape. So, you can imagine if something was too much for Kryptonians, then it definitely is too much for the beings of earth, super or not. If this gets too gritty for you, don’t worry. The innocent, cute voice of young Dick (future Robin) will keep you plenty happy with where Batman is going with his life.
Although the movie follows a serious theme, it is done in a more comedic style. In fact, there is a particularly satirical tone to the movie. Much of the satire is focused on its own past. It is very rare to see DC movies being self-aware of their own history. The Lego Batman Movie indicates that it is aware of the existence of previous versions of Batman. There are some references, and everything is part of the same universe. This is one of the things that make the movie a great watch for the adults. Those who have followed Batman’s long history since their childhood, will love the jokes that many others will simply miss. But, if you are not updated on Batman’s history, there is nothing to worry. There are so many jokes, and so closely placed that by the time you will be laughing at one, you will have missed the next one. You will never feel that you are missing anything on this hilarious rollercoaster of a laughing marathon.
Finally, there is the cast. Will Arnett resumes his role as Batman, and is as exceptional as always. A special nod to Ralph Fiennes for giving his voice to Batman’s butler Alfred. He has simply nailed the performance. Hector Elizondo’s Commissioner Gordon, Rosario Dawson’s Barbara Gordon, and Michael Cera’s Dick have all managed to pull off their roles perfectly. Although Zach Galifianakis’ Joker is a welcome performance, he dwarfs when put against the legends like Mark Hamill, John DiMaggio, and others who have come before him.
Perhaps, the best thing that works in favor of this movie is its unassuming nature. It is not targeted at any specific age. The quality of humor is good for all ages, the story gripping for every type of crowd, and there are enough references to keep the hardcore Batman fans satiated as well. This is everything that everyone wanted out of a superhero movie. Short of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this is easily the best Batman movie in the recent years.