by RYAN FITZGERALD//Staff Writer
Lego’s latest take on the life of the Caped Crusader is something never before depicted in a Batman movie.
The current movie-going audience probably deals with superhero fatigue these days, in some form or fashion. Additionally, the last thing a superhero movie fan wants is another origin story, reproducing the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha.
The Lego movie brings us a fresh take with a new spin on an old tale. The character of Batman first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939. Brought to life by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the story of Batman now spans generations, with comic strips illustrating the tales of the Bat having run for nearly eight decades. The original “Batman: The Movie” debuted in 1966, and then an additional series of films took off in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
But for “The Lego Batman Movie,” the standard, go-to storyline was changed. You see, Batman fans know what to expect, who they’ll be getting as the Batman – an egotistical, narcissistic billionaire who balances his commitment problems with the need to continually avenge the death of his parents by spending his nights sweeping crime from the streets of Gotham City.
Batman – as far as characters go – is afflicted, dark and brooding, yet a genius in his own way and misunderstood. Will Arnett’s gritty voice and expressionless delivery are perfect. But what “The Lego Batman Movie” does so brilliantly is make light of all of this. The film provides viewers with ridiculous fun, without taking itself (or Batman) too seriously. It takes jabs at the seriousness that has been associated with the character since its incarnation.
The movie is beyond clever. In the beginning, the movie throws everything at you, including every villain imaginable. Batman starts by laying down tracks, beatboxing his own theme song, while lyrically describing how great he is – all while defeating every classic bad-guy in the Batman repertoire, as he traditionally foils the Joker’s plot to destroy Gotham City once again.
Early on, the movie allows viewers to accompany Batman on a stereotypical evening, where a loner who saved the lives of thousands, wanders throughout his mansion in his silky red bathrobe, while still donning the cowl through the entire night – openly mocking Bruce Wayne’s fascination of his crime-fighting alter-ego. Batman then microwaves his lobster dinner, showing that no matter how rich or self-imposed an individual is, that person is really no different than the average man, in the same struggle of waiting around for his dinner to heat up using an everyday appliance.
The film, however, is more than just an absurd, bizarre mocking of the Batman that fans grew up reading and watching. It delves into the one thing that keeps the man behind the cowl from revealing himself – relationships. The audience can get a feel for the effect of losing his parents has had on Bruce. Then the audience can pick up on the exploitative reliance Master Bruce has on Alfred, as the billionaire never vocally offers any appreciation for everything Alfred does. Viewers get a glimpse of his reluctance to be seen as a father figure to Dick Grayson (Robin), in addition to the feelings that slowly develop for Barbara Gordon, who eventually stakes her claim as Batgirl.
Most importantly, the film offers insight into the complicated relationship between Batman and the Joker. The world can finally see that the Joker is more than just the transgressive opposition to Batman, but the fuel and fire that drives Bruce Wayne to dedicate himself to a life as the masked vigilante. Without Joker, there really is no Batman. There is no villain in the Batman universe that can manipulate, and take advantage of, Batman’s jagged-perception of reality the way the Joker does – they’re the greatest of foes, matched in wit and ingenuity.
All in all, “The Lego Batman Movie” is visually exciting and full of color, but doesn’t get caught up in the world of Lego, as its predecessor did. You get busy, eye-popping action sequences that keep your attention drawn to the story at hand.
Still, there is something melancholic about watching the Dark Knight practice his guitar solos or watch romantic comedies alone in his home theater. The movie is the perfect satirical piece that shows just how ridiculous and solemn Batman really is, and, arguably, needs to be. Nevertheless, this fatuous and farfetched interpretation of what it takes to be a superhero is why fans stay committed to the timeless, masked crime fighter.
I give “The Lego Batman Movie” 4 out of 5 stars.