When the film’s director, Chris McKay, told the Sydney screening that this was a love letter to Batman, he wasn’t kidding. In this fun, funny and affectionate rendition, Batman is brought back to life (ironically) as Lego, and there’s plenty of fan-infused adventure to be had.
Batman has defeated the Joker’s nefarious plan to take over Gotham City (for the umpteenth time), and is about to start his celebrations—when the Joker has the shocking realisation he may not be as important to Batman as Batman is to him. Long believing himself to be Batman’s arch nemesis, this malevolent bromance of sorts, it seems, is a one-sided affair—it’s all about Batman. And it breaks his heart.
The Joker is not the only one feeling dissed. Back in the Batcave, Alfred makes the observation that Batman may be isolating himself from others out of a fear of having real relationships, stemming of course from having lost his own parents at a young age. His suggestion to the dark and brooding hero is to let others in, but Batman’s blunt dismissal of Alfred’s concerns leads to yet another rejection.
Without the Joker to fight and without a family, Batman carves a lonely figure, occupying his time by watching rom-coms, alone. But, with Commissioner Gordon retiring, and his rather fetching daughter assuming the lawful crime fighting reins, Batman may yet find a new desire to put on his cape once again.
The Joker too decides that if Batman won’t come to him, he will have to go to the bat. In surrendering, rather than putting up a fight, Batman finds himself confused. And, when the new commissioner questions whether Batman’s methods are ethically sound, his very place in Gotham City is threatened.
To regain his sense of purpose, Batman needs to reach out and connect with those around him. Only by finding an unlikely sidekick and embracing the need for villains and friends, will this superhero find meaning in his life once more.
The Lego Batman Movie is one for the kids, and those who have never let their child-like love of superheros fade. It’s rife with fan references that allude to the many incarnations of Batman over the generations. It’s also got a healthy dose of adult humour, which will evade the younger members of the audience but provide enough grown-up laughs, to make this an all-round hit.
There’s always been something wonderfully edgy about Batman, and it’s why his appeal has remained stronger than the more puritanic Superman (this is, of course, a point the film tries to make, over and over). Batman’s got the cool gadgets, the cooler car and a dark cape befitting his even darker mystique. Let’s face it, following a questionable start, Batman is now the bad boy of superheroes (with Ironman his only competition in that domain).
The combination of Lego and Batman is a winner, as is the addition of many modern supervillains (see Voldemort, who isn’t voiced by Ralph Fiennes, despite Fiennes featuring here). All in all, The Lego Batman Movie (animated here in Sydney) is like its central hero—a little dark, a little unusual, but ultimately a saviour for school holidays and the adults seeking to entertain little ones.
Director: Chris McKay
Stars: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakas
Runtime: 1hr 44mins
Release Date: March 30
Reviewer Rating: 3/5