One of the first things you consider when watching a children’s film is weather it’s appropriate for your child and are you going to be entertained as an adult. Lego Batman delivers with plenty of humour for all ages as well a very strong message about relationships. And you know it caters for everyone when you can hear different age groups laugh at different jokes. And when it comes down to it, it’s fair to say just about everyone has been or still is a Lego fan will enjoy Lego Batman. But there’s the never-ending debate noted numerously within the film, which would win a battle out of Batman and Superman?
This is the spin-off from the 2014 Lego Movie, which is where Lego Batman made his big screen debut. While the Lego Movie only cost a mere US $60 million ($78M AUD) to create, it pulled in some US $460 million ($598M AUD) at the box office. So with that kind of return it’s hard not to give it a sequel or spin off. Lego Batman had the budget of $80 million ($104M AUD) this time around but has already grossed over US $280 ($364M AUD) million so far and it hasn’t even been released in Australia. The release for Australia wont be until March 30 once again putting Australia behind the rest of the world in theatrical releases as was done with The Lego Movie. The delayed release cost Village Roadshow, the distributor of the Lego films, US $5 ($6M AUD) million in piracy.
Lego Batman hears the return of Will Arnett (Arrested Development, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blades of Glory) as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Batman has been stepped down in an attempt to rein him in and give the Police back their power to control the bad guys. And when the Joker voiced by Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover, Birdman, Due Date) manages to hand over his entire team of bad guys, there isn’t much left for Batman to do in Gotham City. But sadly he doesn’t have any friends, which is why he found purpose in helping keep the city safe. So when Bruce Wayne adopts a little orphan boy Dick Grayson voiced by Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno), Batman struggles to let him get close. In Batman’s selfish ways he uses Dick Grayson, now Robin, to capture a gun that sends bad guys to the Phantom Zone. But when it comes time, Batman has to let go of his fears and work together with the people who love him to save Gotham City from all the bad guys that were released from the Phantom Zone.
As the Lego Movie pulled some of Hollywood’s A-Listers, Lego Batman was no different with the likes of Rosario Dawson as Batgirl, Ralph Fiennes as the Butler Alfred Pennyworth, Channing Tatum as Superman, Mariah Carey as Mayor McCaskill and Conan O’Brien as the Riddler. Will Arnett managed to steal the show with his version of Batman giving the Christian Bale husky, deep and emotionless voice a little twist. Michael Cera absolutely nails his little and excited boy voice to Robin notably shying away from his usual comedic delivery.
Will Arnett talks the children through the opening credits and the importance of a black screen. This sets the tone for the film but also brings in the audience as they quieten down, a useful little tactic from the studio when dealing with children. Something that never ceases to be funny are the characters making the sound of a shooting gun as they shoot away. And it wouldn’t be a children’s film if it weren’t for a sing-a-long song, Who’s the (Bat)Man. Batman sings this song about himself as he takes on an entire team of villain’s with minimal effort.
Visually the film explodes with everything you would expect not only from Lego but also a children’s film. Bright colours, recognisable faces or at least costumes for the children to enjoy. And for the parents there are plenty of things to recognise from the Dr Who Daleks to the Agent Smith from The Matrix. The film also throws in some jokes about particular events from the real-life Batman films right the way back to the TV series from the 60s. There is so much attention to detail in each scene that it’s hard to keep your eyes on the action in front of you.
On top of a funny children’s film full of colour and action, you have this beautiful message to take home. Batman struggles to let anyone close to him and is horribly sad he has no one to share his life with. Even when he wants to show emotion towards someone, like Robin or Bat Girl, he pulls back and pushes them away. There is even this beautiful story between the Joker and Batman where they need each other to fulfil their own journey. The story builds up to a point where seeing Batman in this vulnerable state is actually very true to his backstory. When you watch a real-life Batman you look past that and focus on the action and gadgets. But as the final scenes come together we all learn that important life lesson, to love one another.
With the DC and Marvel Universe dominating the big screen, there isn’t a great deal for the younger children to enjoy. This is a great way to bring in a new audience and let them enjoy the characters without the horror in the real-life action films show. The humour is perfect from the ground up giving some laughs for the youngest of children right up to the parents. You’ve also got a story on the other side that will really resonate with the audience. A story about acceptance, friendship and love that you will find in any film, but narrowed down to the point that even the children who aren’t really watching will be able to walk away and understand the message.
Review by Jay Cook