Copyright © 2017
By Justyn Cortes
When I first heard this film was in development, I was instantly skeptical. Although I had loved The Lego Movie, it seemed that this film was an unnecessary spin-off solely created to market toys to kids while cashing off the comic book movie phenomenon featuring arguably the most renowned American pop culture superhero icon. The Lego Movie was an unforeseen jewel in 2014 and I am relieved to say Warner Animation Group has done it again with The Lego Batman Movie!
PROS - This film has too much fan service to count and constantly makes references about the Caped Crusader in all of his previous iterations, from Adam West's 1966 Batman to 2016's Batman v. Superman; even the racist 1940's Batman serials got a shout-out (haha). If you are a fan of this character, you will find your inner-child gleaming with joy while the 'adult-ish' part of you steadily laughs throughout the movie at all the tongue-in-cheek jokes. I personally tip my cap to the writers, Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington as well as director Chris McKay for honoring one of my favorite comic book characters.
CONS - Part of what made The Lego Movie so refreshing is that: 1. It had not been done before as a studio animated feature, so the story's characters and outcomes were new and 2. It had powerful themes of defying strict adherence to societal rules that can stiffen creativity AND that we are all special and unique in our own way. It defied the 'Savior' formula (a la The Matrix, Man of Steel, The Last Airbender, etc.) and sugar-coated an important message. The Lego Batman movie did not achieve this unfortunately. It is a very linear story about an arrogant yet charming Batman who crusades on his mission alone because he is afraid of getting too close to anyone; which is all caused by trauma he suffered from his parents' murder. I definitely have not seen that before! #sarcasm. While this is a deep complexity of this character, it has been done over and over and over again. The theme was that of most animated movies: Love your family and embrace those that want to help you. It is a touching theme but a familiar one nonetheless.
My con critique is definitely a nitpick, but that is because there is not much else to criticize about this film. Although its story is simple and its theme is trite, the conflicts and sub-conflicts were remarkably sophisticated for a kids movie; with Batman facing an existential crisis of what to do once there are no more super-villains and does his legacy amount to anything if he cannot share or bestow it with anyone? This is a great film and I am actually looking forward to Lego movies now. Who would have thunk?
Rating: REEL GOOD!