“Iron Man sucks.” This phrase is used twice in the film. This and hundred other self-referential jokes aren’t just another jab at Marvel, but a statement that DC has arrived and it’s genuinely doing something better than its counterpart. The tiny black plastic figure which appeared three years ago in The Lego Movie is back. Yes, the dark knight legend has returned. And what an emphatic comeback! Whoever came up with the idea of giving Batsy his solo film in the Lego Universe deserves applause. Not for the risk taking factor but for imagining something really, really big. After all, how far could have someone succeeded in captivating the viewers through just visuals and gags? The Lego Batman Movie is a terrific Batman film. Probably the best we’ve ever had.
Imbuing several life lessons, it qualifies for being a fantastic superhero movie too. As a parody of the caped crusader, it persistently makes mockery of all the absurd elements of the previous Bat outings. Not only does it ridicule the superhero clichés and genre tropes, it outvies them.
After a hilarious prelude, the film kickstarts in the most spectacular fashion one can expect. In contrast to the trend of blowing up major portion of the film’s budget on the climax, we are served with a grand, gobsmacking opening scene: a party of dozens of iconic characters (villains) who’ve assembled to take down Batman. Constituting each and every bad guy the dark knight has fought in the past, the troop is led by the Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). His insane plan of bringing the city down to ashes seems impossible for anyone to ruin. But of course, we have the Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) to save the day. And he does it in such a breathtaking style you can’t resist rooting for him.
But what after this? Where exactly can the film go from here? You wonder. It would have been sheer disappointment if the film had failed to live up to its promise. Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. Credit for this goes to some ingenious writing. The Lego Batman Movie keeps finding an ante to take the level a notch up, until the climax. Even in areas where you least expect the film to excel, it does. Most of which involves deconstructing the relationships in the Bat family.
We surely had well-etched characters before. Particularly in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. But in Lego Batman, a great amount of focus is put to bring a sense of awareness among characters that the world they live in is nothing more than bricks and blocks. We have the genius billionaire Bruce Wayne, who can build (read: mould) vehicles on the run. A city that can be mended as soon as it is destroyed. And people who manage to walk away in fully functional form even if thrown out of air planes. Or a freaking device which can create a portal to the Kryptonian Jail aka The Phantom Zone (as simple as it sounds).
The film takes full liberty of its diminutive yet larger-than-life world. The set-pieces, the action figures are all unique, gorgeous and massive. Watching the film on IMAX format is an icing on the cake as the plastic looks crystal clear with the scale even more expansive. One particular sequence where Batman rescues Robin mid air in slow motion is jaw dropping. There are many more moments like this which are bolstered by some fantastic voiceovers.
Will Arnett, reprising his role from the previous Lego movie is outstanding as the growling Batman. From the opening credits till the concluding song, his wit never goes out of style. Be it his imitable dialogues or his guffaws, Arnett is a delight to listen to. It is may seem unfair to compare his version of Batman with Christian Bale or Michael Keaton but aurally, his portrayal is the best so far.
Same can be said of Zach Galifianakis’ Joker. His Joker isn’t a Jared Leto kind of flashy maniac but a character you will truly love to hate. His story arc with Batman is undisputedly the best ever written. It’s a shame that it took so much time to explore their equation so inclusively. The reason behind their hatred for each other, or why they can’t be friends (there’s a small moment of brotherhood and it’s cute) to why their lives are so mutually dependent is well explained.
Even for the fairly disliked Batman-Robin relationship, things are better. The characters share a lot of scenes but their bonding never feels awkward as it did in the films before (Joke’s on you ‘Batman and Robin’). Michael Cera, who voices Robin, is responsible for the turn of events. He is as amazing as Robin as much Zach and Will are as Joker and Batman. He astutely brings the character to life. As a new sidekick to the dark knight legend, his over enthusiasm is joyously worth blushing.
Ralph Fiennes lends voice to the dutiful Butler of the Wayne manor aka Alfred Pennyworth. And corresponding to his name, his work is worth every penny of your investment. I’ve always adored Michael Caine as the chief manservant of Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Batman trilogy but Fiennes is more goofy and kickass (he even dons the classic Bat suit for a fight) than him. The only pitiful thing is to not have him voiceover for Voldemort. Yes, the dark lord makes an appearance as a baddie for a significant amount of time (he is one of the jailbird in the Phantom Zone). So, it would have been fun to hear him again in his menacing avatar.
Nevertheless, The Lego Batman Movie has something for everyone. It’s the big cup of a flavorful, visually delectable Baskin and Robbins timeless ice-cream with some outrageously funny explorations of classic characters stuffed within.
Watch it with your family and friends. It’s the dawn of a new franchise which holds a lot of promise to come up with equally wonderful films in the future.
P.S. For the merchandise lovers, ‘Scuttler’ is the toy to buy.
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