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“Lego Batman Movie” director Chris Mckay is best known for directing three seasons of the Adult Swim parody show “Robot Chicken.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
Like “The LEGO Movie” from three years ago, “The LEGO Batman” movie is a celebration of the usage of LEGOs, in addition this time around to also being a celebration of the Batman mythos.
Batman (Will Arnett) ends up in a situation where he must not only stop the Joker (Zach Galifinakis) and his army of villains, but he must also raise and train Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera) after accidentally adopting him.
Since it is a movie based completely around LEGOs, the entire plot is something out of a child’s imagination while they are playing.
It’s not enough that Batman fights the Joker, he has to fight all of his greatest enemies in one big all out brawl. If that’s not enough, he also has to fight villains from other movie franchises and LEGO properties.
The film also has an expansive knowledge of the Batman mythos and goes full out with its comedic references to the universe. A number of the jokes made are in reference to the more well-known aspects like the movies, but there are some jokes aimed at the more obscure areas of the mythos.
For example, when the Joker is listing off all of Batman’s rogue gallery criminals that are running amok in the city, he ends with the obscure and lame villains like Polka Dot Man and the Condiment King.
The movie also takes comedic jabs at other parts of the DC franchise as well. It pokes fun at “Suicide Squad” for its ridiculous premise, making jokes about Batman’s age because he’s been around cinematically for over fifty years, and spoofing the kind of soundtracks super hero movies do nowadays by placing in a number of pop songs like (I Just) Died in Your Arms by Cutting Crew and One by Harry Nilsson.
While there is a high focus on comedy in the movie, it would be unfair to the movie to suggest that was the only thing to it. All of the comedy is based around a sincere story with fully developed characters about Batman learning to let people into his life.
On top of that, the movie manages to succeed when it come to two very big hurtles it needs to get over right out of the gate: being a sequel and a spinoff to a beloved movie.
As a sequel, it is completely unique from “The LEGO Movie,” only reusing characters that would make sense, avoiding having the same plot, and including multiple details that were established in the first movie as a way of building on the created world.
As a spinoff, it focuses on a character that a spinoff would actually work for, and has a story worth telling with that character.
The only real problems with the movie are some technical details and with some of the humor. There are a few instances when it becomes hard to understand some lines of dialogue: this is evident when Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) occasionally speaks.
The problem with the humor is that the writers throw everything they have at the wall to see what sticks, and it sticks about ninety percent of the time. The big issue with the ten percent that doesn’t stick is that they are mostly unfunny musical numbers that just take up time in scenes.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” is a fine addition to the LEGO film series, and shows that the people in charge of this cinematic universe have a handle on what they are doing.
Final Grade: A