That’s how long it’s been. From Detective Comics #27 to Batman V Superman, the Dark Knight has come a long way. He has been part of our popular culture longer than we can remember – be it games, movies, animated series or comics. Now, thankfully sooner rather than later, Lego takes up the cowl of the World’s Greatest Detective.
The Lego Movie was the breakout hit of 2014. And if there was any one character that stayed with us, it was their version of The Caped Crusader. This was unlike Burton’s campy take, Nolan’s grounded and realistic version or Snyder’s raging monster of a man (seriously, though, that was awesome). This little two inch crime fighter was, for lack of better words, full of himself to the brim. He was a total tool and impossible to deal with, so obviously, he needed to have his own movie.
Right from the start, the movie nails literally everything. Batman explains the concept of a black screen to make studio executives edgy. He also talks about the various logos that appear on the screen and so on and so forth. Without going into much detail, let’s just say that this leads into one of the greatest action sequences I have witnessed in recent memory. Every villain ever created for the Batman is here and yes, that does include CONDIMENT KING as well. It is, as it turns out, worth a Google. From then on, the movie never relents. Every scene, every dialogue, every visual is a story unto itself. The detail is mind boggling, the action is brilliant and it would take me a week to outline all the references to the Batman Universe and otherwise.
But is that all there is to this movie? The trailers would certainly have you believe so. It would be remiss for any of us to go for this movie and not expect a fun filled ride. But what I believe most will never expect is the depth that this film reserves for its characters.
Yes, yes, yes. We’ve all seen the tragic psyche of Bruce Wayne one too many times. We know the rage he feels and the absolute darkness he deals with every day. But the nuanced way in which Batman’s ‘true fear’ is dealt with here is remarkable. For the reason he works alone is not because he’s awesome or super cool. It’s because he’s afraid to have a family, for reasons that are obvious.
This is where the film makes its mark. Every facet of his personality is put through the Lego treatment. His relationship with The Clown Prince of Crime is explored to a great degree. I confess that I was cracking up when the Joker started to cry when Batman told him that he wasn’t his greatest enemy. But it was towards the end, when Batman finally does so (Oh don’t act like that’s a spoiler) that the movie truly reveals the huge heart that beats at its centre. To show this culmination without the spilling of blood or heads getting bashed in is truly masterful.
The writers of this film deserve all the credit for this. This movie is a film aimed at a younger audience, and nothing about the Batman can be that. They surely managed to sculpt their own version of the Bat-Universe, a place where what would seem like the darkest of moments on paper would make you burst out laughing. There is a reference to a very famous scene in The Dark Knight that would serve as the perfect example. Think two boats and you’ll get it, and that’s not the only reference in the movie.
As I mentioned before, The Lego Batman Movie is ridiculously crammed with Batman characters, characters from other universes, jokes, references, puns, satire, slapstick humour, gay jokes, pee jokes and…sigh, you probably get it. What makes it all amazing, from a writing standpoint, is that never does the movie feel like it’s trying too hard or doing too much. An absolute creative ‘marvel,’ if I may say so. (THAT’S RIGHT).
The animation could be written about till death so suffice it to say that just like the Lego Movie, the visual detail here is at par, if not better. To create the stop motion mechanics of Lego pieces moving on Lego Boards in Lego cities is no mean task. Kudos to the animators for once creating a world with limitless possibilities and boundless humour. Truly, I’ll probably have to watch this movie at least thrice to catch all the funny stuff going on in the background.
The voice cast is the most unnatural mixture on paper but works brilliantly in the movie. A movie with Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson and Zach Galifianakis sounds absolutely bonkers. But, and I am getting tired of saying this, they fit amazingly well together. Dawson is no stranger to voice work, having been the voice of Wonder Woman in a lot of DC Animated movies, and her talents are for the world to see. She brings the right amount of strength to Barbara Gordon, a hope we have from all future live action Batman movies. She acts as the perfect foil to Batman and his solemn pledge to always work alone.
Accompanying her are Fiennes and Galifianakis as Alfred and The Joker, respectively. Ralph Fiennes is always a pleasure to watch and it is just perfect to hear his voice as Bruce’s no-nonsense butler. The Joker, or rather this version of him, was probably tailor made for him. Never once do you hear Zach falter in his performance as the Batman’s arch nemesis. He even has a character arc in the film that works alarmingly well with Batman’s and comes to a satisfying end at the climax. Zach successfully brings never before seen sides of the Joker’s personality to the fore and not once does it seem too childish or unrealistic. This is the Joker, doing what he does best, which is blowing up cities and at the same time, rubbing his backside all over Batman’s vehicles.
The real stars of this movie, of course, are Arnett as Batman and Cera as Robin. Arnett owns his role as Batman like he was preparing for it his entire life. The growling fashion in which most of his speech is directed is enough to make anyone laugh. Add to that some of the best words the Dark Knight has ever uttered and you have got yourself a comedy masterpiece. I will never get tired of watching Batman looking into Robin’s face and screaming, “LIFE DOESN’T GIVE YOU SEATBELTS!!”
As for Robin, one would call Michael Cera the scene stealer in this movie if Arnett was not so damn good. But he gives us the most adorable Robin we could ever wish for. I confess to hearing the word ‘Aww’ every time he said something. His character design is not subtle, taking all this in context. He has the young face and big puppy eyes and the way he calls Batman his Padre! His scenes with Batman will make you laugh until you have a crack in your ribs. Case in point being:
R: Hi Mr. Wayne, my name is Richard Grayson. The kids at school call me Dick.
B: Well, kids can be cruel sometimes.
Ultimately and in a rather fitting manner, it is Bruce’s relationship with Dick that truly develops his character throughout the film. The father-son bond that Batman and Robin share has been a staple source of story telling in DC comics for centuries. So, it makes sense to tackle Batman’s fear of attachment to literally have him stuck with someone who isn’t really that different from him. Their first scene together as their costumed selves is a sight to behold and it would take a heart of stone to watch it without having a smile to rival the Joker’s.
One of the only qualms I have with this movie are that it wasn’t longer. I wish it was. But here’s hoping the sequel will be better and more freaking awesome! If you’re a DC fan, watch it. You are a movie fan, watch it. If you like the Lego Movie, watch this. In fact, I don’t care. Watch this. This movie may look as something aimed at children, but be prepared to be reintroduced to the child inside you. And to convince you, here’s a message from the Batman himself.
“Watch my movie. It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidociously fantastic. Why? “CAUSE I AM BATMAN!!”
Our Verdict: 4.5/5
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