Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie actually came from nowhere, for me. I had not watched the Lego movie which came last year and so wasn’t really prepared for the outrageously funny jokes that lit up the movie, the writers riffing on everything the fantasy books/superhero comics ever threw at the large screen. The smart-alec quips, the ripping fast narrative and the depth of the characterization that came to fore was something pretty unexpected. I basically went because, the dark vigilante is my favorite superhero. (Yup: I own t-shirts emblazoned with him, Watches with his motif engraved into it, Car-Bumper Stickers with the bat-mobile motif. The works. And am not ashamed!) And I was happy to be landing back in the troubled Gotham city once more. The comic books and of late, the movies or even the TV Series set in this city, about the Batman or his fringe characters have all been exceptionally grim and dark. And so this personally for me, was a slam-dunk winner; watching a fast-talking highly intelligent child slapping his Lego toys together and then taking them apart, all the while chattering non-stop, coherent in bursts in a stream of consciousness that will knock you down with its imagination.
The Lego Batman Movie is smart, subversive and an animated ‘superhero’ spoof that even parallels DeadPool in terms of the irreverence and joke-a-minute intensity. It’s basically the brooding bat-vigilante like you’ve never seen him before. Jiggling up that tight cape a bit loose, letting his cowl down and letting it rip in rare moments of absolute beatbox-ey rhythm. It’s a pleasure to watch this version of a superhero, we’ve seen plumb the dark depths of stygian darkness in search of his own soul while crime-fighting to save his city. And this time too, make no mistake, he’s still got insecurities galore – and an army of villains landing on Gotham to take it apart but the manner in which he discovers himself, while saving the city, (And himself in that process) is such a brightly executed pirouette that would have the audiences jumping in glee and clapping.
So in terms of narrative, it’s a straight forward storyline. Batman has to save the city of Gotham from the army of super villains, led by his arch-nemesis Joker. But this time, he’s not alone. The newly appointed Commissioner of Police, Barbara Gordon puts down the rules that it ‘takes a village’ to save the city and ‘not some unsupervised adult in a Halloween costume karate-chopping poor people.’ Which dents Batman’s plan for all the glory and fun to be coveted by himself. He needs to learn to work with Barbara – and join forces with the stiff-upper lipped Alfred Pennyworth, whom he refuses to acknowledge as a father figure and the incessantly persistent Dick, the orphan who longs to be ‘adopted’ by Bruce Wayne/ transform himself into an eager student/sidekick to the Batman (Robin!) even as Joker, who takes offense at the casual-handed apathy handed out to him from Batman, plots revenge. To be acknowledged as the greatest villain Batman has faced and is ‘obsessed’ with. This is a hilarious twist on the trope of the ‘star-crossed forever-lovers’ and Chris McKay and his team writers, given access to the entire treasure trove of Warner Bros characters, start going at it, with an unrestrained glee. The self-referencing gags in Will Arnett’s gruff voice, pouring irony and poker-faced sarcasm into every single line of Batman’s, are never-ending.
Rosario Dawson voices the fire-brand ‘commish’ on whom Batman has a huge ‘crush’ while Ralph Fiennes gets on with the British-accented Butler and Michael Cera lends his voice to the geek-nerd ever-eager to please, Robin. The ‘spurned-enemy’ act of Joker is voiced to perfection by Zach Galifianakis, skewering to pieces the intense psychosis that Christopher Nolan built into his character. And no, we aren’t complaining.
The finale act features fire-balls and explosions with the entire cast of villains from the Warner Bros vault coming out to play: Godzilla, Voldemort, Wicked Witch, King Kong, Gremlins, you name them. Oh hey and there is even Superman, voiced by Channing Tatum, ‘the superhero leader of the Justice League’ whom Batman despises and is jealous of. Fluid CGI on blocky Lego characters works really well. The action is non-stop and some of the stunts pulled were fascinating to watch on screen. But I think the best thing about the movie, is the carpet-bombing of cultural references from across the super-hero comic books and fantasy universe, nothing is safe as Batman and his cronies go all-out to prove that brooding is boring.
So the Caped Crusader breaks out of his bat-rut, moves onto accept his greatest fear, of having/losing a family ( other than ‘snake-clowns’ which are not really a thing now!) and re-unites with his greatest villain, Joker in a city of Lego Blocks that can be put together, if we work together. Oh and I cannot help but share this, Batman going full-cheese-out with his horrendous yet funny one-liners during this fight-scene alongside Robin.
“We’re going to hit them so hard that words that describe the impact are gonna spontaneously materialise out of thin air.” Kaboom! Pow! Wham!
This, by far, is the BEST BATMAN movie I have ever seen. I shall stop with that.
And the music. Oh my God……Oh. I shall stop.
End Credits are usually in white.