I never really understood the love for Will Arnett’s Caped Crusader in The LEGO Movie, especially when there were so many other great characters featured there. However, there’s no denying that everything we’ve seen from The LEGO Batman Movie these past few months made it look like tremendous fun, so I went into this spinoff with high expectations. Sadly, the movie, while fun, failed to live up to those.
There’s a lot here that works, though, including an inventive style of animation and some very funny nods to the Dark Knight’s history. Despite that, humour is sadly an area the movie struggles with because while it’s entertaining throughout, it lacks the wit and big laughs that Phil Lord and Chris Miller brought to the table with The LEGO Movie. On the plus side, it has some heart and tells a strong story about Batman embracing a family again, but it’s never quite enough to really grab you and make you fully invest in these pint-sized characters.
The biggest mistake here, however, is the decision [SPOILER ALERT] to spend the final act having Batman go up against villains like King Kong, Voldemort, Daleks and…the Gremlins?! While viewers of all ages will no doubt get a kick out of seeing this lot, it’s a shame that the hero’s rogues gallery is pushed to the background – with just a line or two between all of them – for this random assemblage of classic movie baddies to take centre stage in an action-packed, yet jumbled finale.
Thankfully, Zach Galifianakis does manage to steal the show as The Joker, while Will Arnett is on top form here as The Batman. His line delivery is excellent, while an early musical number is so good that it’s a shame The LEGO Batman Movie doesn’t have more of them. Michael Cera (Robin), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred), and Rosario Dawson (Batgirl) are all also great, but beyond that, not a single performance manages to stand out. In fact, it’s surprising just how generic many of the voices for these characters are, with a mayor portrayed by Mariah Carey seemingly reading the lines directly from a piece of paper and a Bane trying and failing to sound like Tom Hardy’s version from The Dark Knight Rises. Star Wars fans will also find it hard to forgive just how wasted Billy Dee Williams is as Two-Face!
Perhaps the biggest issue with The LEGO Batman Movie is that it’s just not all that inventive. Sure, there are some cool action scenes and fun Easter Eggs, but nothing that will really wow you. If anything, most of the movie feels like an extended toy commercial as we’re treated to all manner of vehicles which children will no doubt be nagging their parents for on the way out of the cinema. Ultimately, though, this is a movie meant for kids and it should work wonderfully for them. For older viewers, it’s a so-so Batman adventure which most definitely isn’t a highlight of the Caped Crusader’s many big screen appearances, but is at least an enjoyable (if somewhat overlong) look into a very different world featuring him and his supporting cast.