The original Lego Movie is one of my favorite movies of all time so I was excited to see what a film featuring one of the best parts of that film, Will Arnett’s Batman, would look like. It was definitely one of the best films of 2017 and would’ve been my pick for the Best Animated Film Oscar if Coco didn’t exist. It also happens to be the best Batman film since Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Not only was it hilarious, the voice acting was great all around, and it also featured the criminally underrated Friends are Family. (original review)
Synopsis: There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman wants to save the city from the Joker’s hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin and loyal butler Alfred can show him a thing or two. (Warner Bros)
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Cera.
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Director: Chris McKay
Rating: PG (Canada/United States)
Running Time: 104mins
Everyone has a preconceived notion of Batman which is what made his depiction in The Lego Movie such a welcome change of pace. Even though he returns here in his own film, you don’t absolutely have to see the first film but you really should anyway because it’s great. For those who don’t know, this version of Batman is cartoonish and over the top that it fit so well within the film universe. This film just took him and let cut loose but being a kids film, this behavior got reigned in during the film’s traditional “lesson”. This wasn’t exactly unexpected but it didn’t feel sappy.
The film was predictable in that respect but was still an entertaining story, in the vein of The Lego Movie. The story mostly revolved around Bruce Wayne/Batman (Arnett) and his ego. In stopping one of the Joker’s (Galifianakis) schemes to destroy Gotham City, Batman didn’t consider him one of his greatest villains. This upset him greatly and he spent the rest of the film trying to prove himself to him so their relationship wasn’t one-sided, that he was worth hating.
He was used to working alone all of his life so he also had to learn to embrace others. He had the orphan boy he unknowingly adopted named Dick Grayson/Robin (Cera), his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), and the new commissioner of Gotham, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). This was easier said than done as he had to overcome his own selfishness and ego to start to let people in. Ever since losing his parents, he did not want to let anyone else in out of fear of losing people like he did with his parents.
Just like The Lego Movie, the story should entertain both children and adults, providing ample humor and pop culture references which both should enjoy. They came at a quick pace so it is easy to miss some. From the story, to the dialogue, most of the humor worked with the interactions between Batman and the Joker standing out. It never took itself too seriously and often satirized other superhero and Batman films, taking swipes at some recent failures.
This was one of the best looking animated films with the level of CGI making it easy to forget that the film didn’t use real legos. They were able to add more life to something that is traditionally lifeless. Characters have a great degree of emotion to them, allowing us to connect with them on an emotional level. The vibrant colors and amount of detail within the film world and character animation only helped the story and the storytelling.
The voice acting was excellent all around, bringing out the great material. Arnett continues his run as Batman, putting his own spin on the role with his deep, gravelly voice and his hilarious deadpan delivery. Galifianakis’s Joker was a interesting interpretation of the character, especially how they played his relationship with Batman. He and Arnett had amazing chemistry, assisted by each of their comedic backgrounds which helped to elevate the material. Cera stole scenes as Robin with his delivery, depicting his naivety and sheer sense of wonder. Fiennes and Dawson were also great in supporting roles. All the actors had amazing chemistry which spoke to the quality of the acting and the material.
Overall, this was another classic animated film with amazing animation, an entertaining story, taking what we are used to in a fresh direction, and featuring fantastic vocal performances.