For being a beloved character of many comic book fans across the world, Warner Brothers have had a tough time making good Batman films for nearly ten years. In my honest opinion, the last time they got the Caped Crusader right was in 2008’s The Dark Knight, which was headed by director Christopher Nolan. Nolan dropped the ball in his capper on the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises before Zack Snyder took a massive bowel movement with his “style over everything cinema” film Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. I feel like the venom I have spewed since that film’s release has been sufficient, so I won’t go down that path again, but we need some quality Batman in our lives because I think we’ve earned it. Who knew it would come in the form of a LEGO Movie spin-off?
The LEGO Batman Movie drops you right into the middle of Gotham with a Joker plot to destroy the city in full swing, with help from every other villain in the World’s Greatest Detective’s rogue gallery. When Batman swoops in to save the day, the Joker is hurt to find out that he isn’t considered to be the main foe of his long-time adversary. “There is no ‘us’.” Batman says to the deflated clown prince and this sets up the main thread of this film. Batman and his secret alias Bruce Wayne are terrified of opening themselves up to relationships: friend, adversary or family related. This may change when he accidentally adopts a precocious orphan named Dick Grayson and is pushed to raise him by his butler and surrogate father, Alfred.
Picking up where we left off in The LEGO Movie, our Batman is still very much the arrogant and self-centered hero we fell in love with. He brags about his nine pack abs, only has time for his own ideas and is quick to celebrate himself at any time. Will Arnett voices the character with so much gravely “douche-bro” fun that it really feels like a laugh a minute, especially as he starts his voice over immediately as the movie starts, giving his own explanation of the studio tags. Shouldering the lead voice of the film, Arnett is also in some great company when it comes to the rest of the cast.
In a sort of Arrested Development reunion, Michael Cera is adorable playing the sidekick to be Robin and, as much as I questioned the casting when it was announced, Zach Galifianakis really embraces the Joker role, giving it a sly vulnerability. Many other voices come together to make the mosaic of different characters, DC Comics related and other Warner Brothers properties, but two others, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes, get to shine in their plum roles of Barbara Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth. First-time feature filmmaker Chris McKay puts all of his Robot Chicken experience into crafting a film that has no time for chill, funneling a craziness that throws everything but the kitchen sink at you. The LEGO Batman Movie loves the world it operates in and wants you to as well. The best thing about it is that it feels effortless to hand yourself over to the madness. 5/5