The story is set where most Batman stories take place, Gotham City (although the Gotham City in this film is brilliantly animated as if it were all built completely with LEGO building sets). As always, there’s trouble brewing in the city. This time it’s with Batman’s constant nemesis, The Joker, who’s come up with yet another dastardly plan to take out the Caped Crusader and rule over Gotham. Police Commissioner Gordon has retired and replacing him is his tough-talking daughter Barbara, who has had it with the crime in Gotham and Batman’s vigilante attitude. In the meantime, Bruce Wayne/Batman, who is extremely lonely but won’t admit it, inadvertently adopts young Dick Grayson from the Gotham Orphanage and Alfred, his loyal butler, encourages Bruce/Batman to take the kid under his wing. Now with The Joker’s latest and very ambitious attack on Gotham, Bruce/Batman has to decide if he’s willing to let anyone help him battle this team of evil doers–and if he’s willing in to let anyone into his broken heart.
While this all sounds rather serious, it really isn’t. The film is made for laughs and it gets them constantly. Jokes and sight gags are practically flying off the screen from the first frame on. As with The LEGO Movie, multiple characters from within the DC Comics universe along with characters from many other sources are part of the mix–including Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, King Kong…the list goes on and on–and they’re all very funny.
The animation for the film was expertly done by Animal Logic, who also did the animation for The LEGO Movie and the upcoming The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. One of many brilliant things these talented animators did was to make the whole film feel like it’s stop motion animation. I was also particularly impressed with the lighting done as well as the tremendous range of emotion conveyed through the very simple faces of all of the LEGO characters. Even Batman expresses a wide range of emotion through the clever ways they animate his glowing eyes. Kuodos to the Animal Logic team for their wonderfully creative work.
The voice cast adds so much to the film, too. Will Arnett is truly the star as the brooding, arrogant Batman. He has to carry the film and he absolutely nails the performance. Michael Cera as Dick Grayson/Robin is absolutely hilarious. Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon was an outstanding choice as she gave the character the right amount of toughness and vulnerability. Ralph Finnes was also an outstanding choice as Albert the loyal and long suffering butler to Bruce Wayne/Batman. Playing The Joker this round is Zach Gallifiankis and he’s terrific (although Mark Hamill would also have been a great choice).
But I think the real MVPs of this production are the screenwriters and story team. The amount of jokes put into this film is staggering and, thankfully, the humor remains constantly funny throughout the entire film. It was so refreshing to see a DC Comics-based film that wasn’t just pitch dark and joyless. The writers pulled off a miraculous feat by making it an interesting Batman story yet also making it an incredibly broad and and irreverent satirical comedy.
Go see The LEGO Batman Movie with your family and enjoy this wildly funny and super creative experience together.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars