It must be easy being Gotham’s police commissioner. All Jim Gordon (Héctor Elizondo) has to do is flick the switch to the Bat Signal and wait. Batman (Will Arnett) will be there to save the day. But when Commissioner Gordon retires, he is replaced by his daughter, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). She wants to lower the crime rate in Gotham using the law, not Batman. Batman believes that he can do everything by himself, and when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is captured by the police, he decides that the only way to keep the city safe is to imprison the Joker once and for all in the Phantom Zone. Comic book fans will remember that the Phantom Zone is a prison dimension where Zod was sent by Superman’s father, Jor-El and the rest of the Kryptonians. In The Lego Batman Movie, the Phantom Zone contains the universe’s worst criminals. The Joker enlists the help of Voldemort (Eddie Izzard), the Eye of Sauron (Jemaine Clement), King Kong (Seth Green), Godzilla, the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys, the shark from Jaws, gremlins, and daleks in order to beat Batman and destroy Gotham City.
Easily the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight, The Lego Batman Movie swoops into theaters this Friday, Feb. 10. The movie focuses on Batman, a fan-favorite side character from The Lego Movie. Batman lives a life of solitude, his only source of happiness being the cheers and adoration from the citizens of Gotham City. He returns to Wayne Manor after nights spent fighting crime, the only other occupants being his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and a few thousand bats. He has a routine, as much as any billionaire philanthropist who dresses up in a giant rubber bat suit and beats up themed bad guys can have a routine. He gets home, takes the suit off (while leaving the cowl on), puts on a robe, eats lobster thermidor, and watches Jerry Maguire. Batman is almost childlike in his brooding personality, as Alfred has to take away his computer privileges (the secret password is Alfred the Buttler) in order to convince him to attend Commissioner Gordon’s retirement party as Bruce Wayne. Batman is convinced he doesn’t need anyone else and refuses to form any kind of meaningful relationship. All of that changes when he accidentally adopts orphan Dick Grayson a.k.a. Robin (Michael Cera) as his son. Alfred lets the boy into the Batcave in order to force Batman to bring him into his life. When Batman takes Robin on a mission, he begins to see how much better it is to have someone he can rely on.
The plot of The Lego Batman Movie, when reduced to its essence, is a pretty by-the-books-main-character-learns-a-valuable-life-lesson children’s movie. What makes The Lego Batman Movie so good is the comedy. There are jokes for every kind of audience member. Kids will laugh at the slapstick goofy humor, parents will catch the smarter jokes and the allusions to other movies, and Batman fans will adore all of the tiny references to other parts of the DC universe. For example, the ordinary Batman villains make an appearance in the movie (Two Face, Catwoman, The Riddler, etc.) but what helps The Lego Batman Movie go from good to great is the addition of the lesser known villains like Calendar Man, who commits holiday-themed crimes; Condiment King, who shoots ketchup and mustard from his gun; and Orca, who is just a whale. The Lego Batman Movie also throws a lot of shade at Suicide Squad. There is a scene in which Killer Croc swims over to a bomb and presses a button, exclaiming “I did something!”
The movie, aside from being very self-aware, has a lot of heart. Batman truly struggles with opening himself up to others. He can only remember the last time he had a family, and how it ended with the death of his parents. He is afraid of allowing himself to be vulnerable again. His friends only want to help him, and they know that he can’t continue to do it all by himself. Batman is eventually confronted with the reality of his actions, when he is labelled a “bad guy” by the Phantom Zone. As it is a movie for children, Batman’s character arc ends as expected and everything is wrapped up in a nice little bow. But, for a kids movie based on tiny colored bricks, The Lego Batman Movie is very good. Michael Bay should be taking notes.
Featured Image By Warner Bros. Pictures