DC Comics, the home that Batman built, has had a rocky past with its Dark Knight Detective-themed movies that have been adapted throughout the years. While they have been generally successful at the box office, that’s not always been true with the critics (see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). This will soon change with the release of The LEGO Batman Movie.
Without creating a revisionist history, each of the past Batman movies have had their merits. Some have been campy. Some have featured great actors. And others were quite dark. But none of them have been this incredibly fun before. That says a lot, since the character has been featured in films for more than 50 years already!
Will Arnett returns to voice billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman. Gruff, egotistical and a loner, Bats is a great warrior, always outsmarting and defeating various criminals — often breaking out into song and dance while overcoming evil — but there seems to be something missing in his life. Facing his greatest fear (and no, it’s not snake clowns!), Bruce is afraid of being a part of a family, once more, after losing his parents as a child. Adopting Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera) plays a big role in filling that void, as well as allowing Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) into the group dynamic.
Technically, this isn’t a sequel, but The LEGO Batman Movie is more like a mash-up of practically all past popular culture, including each of his appearances in various TV shows and movies. There’s nonstop pop-culture references from the character’s 78-year history that will require multiple viewings to fully comprehend and an incredible assortment of voice actors lending their talents, including a great Billy Dee Williams Easter Egg. Fans of every version of the Dark Knight should enjoy what this movie has to offer. Almost everything is awesome in this movie! The only elements that didn’t quite hit their marks were the older songs that were featured, often feeling dated instead of furthering the story.
After The Lego Movie surprised almost everyone with its success back in 2014, bringing in $469.2 million at the box office, the writer-director duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller could practically do no wrong. Almost everything they had touched was successful (The Last Man on Earth, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Son of Zorn), while many projects have turned into box-office gold (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Storks, 21 Jump Street). Many big-screen sequels and spin-offs have been released, but the biggest one yet may be the upcoming Han Solo Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film. As the film’s screenwriter and credited “Story By” author, Seth Grahame-Smith finally redeems his Hollywood writing career after previous big-screen misfires (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), although writing the script to this movie should have been a walk-off home run regardless of its author, based on the success of The LEGO Movie.
As a life-long fan of Batman’s animated and live-action movies, TV shows, video games and of course the comics, I can’t recommend this movie enough.