Tuesday 14 February 2017

Movie Review - The Lego Batman Movie

Three years ago The Lego Movie opened to respectable success from a critical and commercial perspective, considering it was about a line of plastic toys and the first theatrical film based on it all. One of the most renowned supporting characters was none other than Batman himself, played by Will Arnett, who many adored due to his sarcastic sense of humour and numerous parodies of the character's many iconic traits. Now, such popularity has led the studio to craft Lego Batman his very own movie, which thus far appears to be equalling the success of it's predecessor.

The story features Batman going about his day to day crimefighting routine, but lacking something deep down - family and friends. When the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) arises with yet another evil scheme, based on his own heartbreak following Batman's cold rejection of Joker as his "greatest enemy", it's now down to Batman, his inadvertently adopted son Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), and loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) to put a stop to it and save Gotham City from further destruction.

But more characters of DC heritage are still present in this latest Lego hit - from Superman to Green Lantern to Wonder Woman, most of whom find themselves in small cameo roles rather than full on starring ones. Villains, however, is where the film truly thrives from a comedic and visually admirable perspective - not only does the lineup of DC baddies include some of Batman's most acclaimed foes, the film later starts to expand it's lust for parody outside of the DC universe and into other major blockbusters, making for some hilarious results and one epic climactic battle.

However, where Lego Batman slips is actually that aforementioned insane lust for parody - funny as it can often be. The film sometimes just doesn't know when to take a step back from it's endless comedic nature, and while I hardly expect a film based on plastic toys to have serious emotional heft, a respectable amount of such drama was present in the original film without resorting to sappy, cheesy clich├ęs. Here, every moment where it feels like a decent tender scenario will pop up is instead ravaged with unnecessary gags that eventually become incredibly tiresome.

The animation is as gorgeous as ever - textural detail and fluid movement aside, the art direction put in place to craft all these sets and characters out of Lego pieces makes for wonderful eye catching results and an equal amount of amusing visual gags. While this is all fab, the main issue I have with this film that prevents me from truly loving it is, again, it's continuing obsession with cheesy jokes and pop culture references. It's a trait of the film that most people love, so this is purely my perspective of things, but to me The Lego Batman Movie is a film that is admittedly funny, beautifully animated, and backed by some fab voice acting (annoying as Will Arnett can be), but also one that goes overboard too often with the comedy to the point of being obnoxious and irritating at key moments - and so the story and characters suffer as a result.