‘The Lego Batman Movie’ might bask in its own fun and games, yet finds an undertone as giftedly dark as its hero.
It’s never easy building off of past success. That is, unless you have Legos as your building blocks. Director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken, Moral Orel) unleashes a spin-off that’s worthy of its very existence, with this year’s borderline-brilliant Lego Batman Movie. What really makes this animated comedy top-shelf material is how, for all its whimsical (and hysterical) antics, it holds its own pedestal among the big leagues. I mean, who would’ve thought that the best Batman film in existence would come out of a children’s franchise?
The set-up follows basic bat-protocol: Batman (Will Arnett) is the glorified reformer of a crime-ridden Gotham City, feeding off the high praise of its citizens and the coveted hatred of its villains. However, when the infamous Joker (Zach Galifinakis) feels betrayed by Batman’s lack of appreciation, he does the unthinkable and surrenders.
Batman begins to see himself as disconnected from his once-adored city. In a moment of pure denial, his bubbling ego convinces him that the Joker has more tricks up his sleeve. With help from his adopted son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), as well as father-figure Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and new chief commander Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Batman takes on what essentially becomes the justice of a lifetime.
This Lego-spinoff holds more depth that one would expect; unlike The Dark Knight trilogy or even Tim Burton’s franchise, it begs a valid argument that has lacked in previous ventures to Gotham City: Is Bruce Wayne’s worst enemy himself?
The Lego Batman Movie makes morality its top priority. Sure, the laughs are an unstoppable force. However, if one takes a closer look, it’s all at the expense of Batman’s headstrong flaws. Chris MacKay, hence, gives us the bells and whistles of a superhero flick, with the defining underbelly of championing loneliness.
“The Lego Batman Movie was unbelievably awesome! It walks the line between ‘hilarious’ and ‘emotional,’” said Shannon Zang, 15. “Even though the first Lego Movie was better, this one definitely makes that decision much harder. It’s a definite must-see for not just kids or teens, but for adults as well.”
Overall, this spin-off might live in the shadows of 2014’s acclaimed The Lego Movie. Nevertheless, The Lego Batman Movie plays to its own strengths by exploiting its very weaknesses. It’s funny, thrilling and oddly thought-provoking. Besides, if anyone can withstand some shadow, it’s the Caped Crusader himself.
The Lego Batman Movie is now playing in movie theaters worldwide. Some more local venues include AMC Clifton Commons, AMC Loews Wayne 14 and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas in the heart of Upper Montclair. For a list of even more theaters and showtimes, visit fandango.com and start planning your trip to the movies today.