By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
The Lego Batman Movie is the follow-up film to highly successful film The Lego Movie in 2014 and I was excited for the film as it focuses on the Batman which made a brief cameo in the 2014 film. Also as Lego has played a huge part in my life growing up, I had high expectations for the film. The film uses highly recognisable voices from Hollywood which features a stellar cast of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes.
The film opens with the Batman voiced by Will Arnett narrating the film and providing a commentary in assimilating the audience into the world of Batman while stereotyping the opening scenes of films. The film takes place mostly in Gotham city but does feature iconic locations in the comic book world such as Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and the Phantom Zone. However, I found that the film struggles to continue to captivate grown-ups as the humour of the Batman wears thin towards the ending of the film. The positive aspect is the banter of Robin who is voiced by Michael Cera that continues to engage the audience.
While watching the film, be prepared to notice many DC villains that I guess I have to buy the physical copy of the film to identify all the villains that were showcased. I laughed out loud when we were introduced to the other motley crew of villains such as Voldermort, Godzilla, Sauron, Agent Smith, King Kong, the Gremlins and other pop culture icons. It was weird to have a crossover of other icons not from the DC universe and it looked like they were out of place, mostly. I mean how all the other villains end up in the phantom zone. I was not sure that the crossover effect worked to the film’s advantage as I would have liked to see more Justice League action sequences instead.
Some of the dialogue could be improved as the Joker was not menacing enough to strike fear into the hearts of the Batman to make him seem like a tangible threat. Though the Joker was his usual scheming self to get Batman to notice him, it was a little too forced and as one of the main villains, I expected him to play a larger role in antagonizing Batman. The over-used formula of saving Gotham city from the plans of the Joker does not bring anything new to the storyline which is why the ending of the movie felt a little cliché and out of place.
The film is not all too gloom and doom as there are positive highlights such as the fact that Bruce Wayne is given as much screen-time as Batman. We get a closer look at the Bruce Wayne persona and I wished that the live action Batman movie will utilize more of Batman’s detective and gadget inventory like they did in The Lego Batman Movie. The soundtrack of the film was amazing as the songs were memorable and catchy which complimented Batman’s over confident bravado in trying to save the whole city by himself.
Children will enjoy the film as it has child-friendly fight scenes complete with sound effects from the 80s Batman series. Though the film tried its best to incorporate most of Batman’s infamous villains, they even had the Tom Hardy sounding Bane in there, probably to poke fun at The Dark Knight Rises. Batman fans would appreciate this film after the mixed responses of DC’s slate of films such as Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. The film shines in its first half but its supporting cast struggles to keep up with the momentum with the main cast which is Batman and Robin. I would say that this film will probably save the DC universe in a small way and probably in bigger ways if it performs well at the box office. I am glad and relieved that the director, Chris McKay and film makers know what they are doing with the Lego franchise as it appeals to die-hard batman fans and children alike.
Batman also pulls a punch at the Marvel Universe with, “Iron Man Sucks” in the Batcave scene which I hope that the DC universe can pull itself together for its upcoming slate of movies. The Lego Batman Movie has fast pacing and spins out of control with its visual effects and flying Lego pieces. I would recommend this movie if you are suffering from a bad week of stress as this is a film to watch if you just want a whole lot of silliness and cool Batman dialogue. Add in a little emotional storytelling and you have a got a funny and witty film that will “fight around” other films that are opening in cinemas as Batman would put it. Just remember that, “Batman lives in Bruce Wayne’s Attic and Bruce Wayne lives in Batman’s Basement.”