Back in 2014, who would have thought an animated movie about tiny yellow building blocks titled The Lego Movie ended up becoming one of the biggest hits that year? The secret of its success? Worldwide brand recognition (it’s Lego anyway), colourful yet memorable characters, a witty script as well as a seamless blend of stop-motion animation and CGI.
In The Lego Batman Movie, this second feature-length Lego movie and also a spin-off to the 2014 movie follows closely to its predecessor’s tried-and-tested formula: Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) may have been good on what he does as a masked crime fighter in Gotham City. But when he finds out he has accidentally adopted an orphaned boy named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and also facing other problems like dealing with the new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) as well as Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) elaborate scheme, it certainly isn’t easy being a Batman.
As expected, everything in this movie comes thick and fast with clever in-jokes and pop-culture references such as King Kong, Gremlins, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Most of them hit the mark, especially if you are geeky enough to catch all those rapid-fire gags.
First-time feature director Chris McKay of TV’s Robot Chicken alongside screenwriters Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington does a good job exploiting the past and present Batman mythology. Whether the movie deals with the subversive homoerotic moments of a longstanding rivalry between Batman and Joker or poking fun at the Adam West’s campy 60s TV show as well as every cinematic incarnation previously helmed by Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder, they succeed executing each of them in a gleeful manner. Then, beneath all the geek-centric storyline lies a surprisingly poignant undertone that addresses Batman’s greatest fears of all: getting close with people and what it means to be a family again, as well as the importance of teamwork.
Likewise, the animation is both flawless and eye-catching. Best of all, watching this in IMAX 3D truly bring the vibrancy of its depth and colour of this movie. The voice cast is all spot-on perfect but the real scene-stealer goes to Will Arnett, who reprised his gravel-voiced performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
But for all the universal praises this movie has been getting so far, The Lego Batman Movie isn’t as great as I thought. One thing for sure, it lacks neither a catchy nor memorable theme song like “Everything Is Awesome” found in The Lego Movie. The movie tends to overstretch as well, even at its seemingly economical 106-minute duration.