Will Arnett’s Batman was one of the highlights of the ground-breaking Lego Movie, it made complete sense for the franchise to give him his own spin-off. The Lego Batman Movie could prove to be one of the highlights of DC Comics Universe since Christopher Nolan left the Batman franchise after his brilliant trilogy. The question has to be whether this is more a Batman film or merely another chapter in the Lego franchise?
It has been three years since Batman (Will Arnett) assisted Emmet and Wyldstyle in The Lego Movie and he is back in Gotham City fighting crime and everything seems to click. He is on his own helping Commissioner Gordon fight all of the dastardly villains of the city with his trademark vigilante tactics. Even when all of his arch enemies team up to wreak havoc on the Lego community, the black caped crime fighter manages to fend them off.
Then two things occur that cause Batman to begin to lose his connection with the residents and police force that hold him in such high regard. The first is his misstep in offending The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and forcing him to go to new extremes to get the attention of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego. The second event that would change everything in Gotham was the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and the instalment of Barbra Gordon (Rosario Dawson) as the new head of the police force. The law enforcement leader’s goal is to stamp out crime without the man in black’s assistance. This causes Batman to take drastic measures to regain his place as the king of crime-fighting. In amongst some poorly thought decisions, he does make one good choice which leads to him adopting a new sidekick, Robin (Michael Cera). Is this the end of the caped-crusader’s days in Gotham or will he be able to change the mind of the citizens he has served for over 70 years?
The Lego Batman Movie turns out to be a healthy combination of both worlds of DC Comics and Lego. Animation coordinator turned director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) has managed to recapture the magic of the original Lego film and draw from the nostalgia of the much revered crime fighter. The creative animation techniques continue to maintain their winsome qualities, but it is the fast-paced and quick-witted script that allows the story to connect with audiences. The writing team manage to make the story accessible for the young boys in the audience and keep the parents entertained with reminders and in-jokes from the films and television shows that defined much of their viewing pleasure from the 60’s to the present. It does become challenging to keep up with the multitude of characters which may only be familiar to the fans of the comic books, but may be lost on mere fans of the Lego franchise. This is an element that works in Emmet’s adventure, but in this superhero chapter they cause unnecessary distraction to a hyper-active visual experience.
That is where things prove to be challenging for McKay’s directorial maiden voyage, being inevitably compared to previous films. It is a fun adventure for the young and the youthful at heart, but it never quite reaches the enchanting levels of The Lego Movie. There is an attempt to venture into the emotional spiritual elements of the original, but it fails to capture the heart of audiences with the same depth. Within the category of the Batman franchise, it sits comfortably in the middle of the multitude of films. It is better than the vast majority of the films of the 80’s and 90’s, but does not reach the heights of the Nolan legacy. Even with these comparisons, this outing does stand on its own and will win new fans into this world of Lego master builders.
What should parents know about The Lego Batman Movie? There is nothing quite like the love of a parent. Even in the worst of experiences, the love, support and hug from your father or mother should have a soothing effect on your very existence. The Lego Batman Movie provides a glimpse into the value of family, but at the heart of the story is the essential need for the love and acceptance of a parent. This relationship can come in the form of blood relations, a blended family or through adoption and shows that no price can be put on the importance of parents in the life of a child. Have you told your parents how much they mean to you today?
- What is sacrificial love? (John 15:13, Ephesians 5:25)
- What should we do in difficult times? (John 16:33, Philippians 4:6-7)
- What does the Bible say about family? (John 15:12-17)
Reel Dialogue encourages parents to be active participants in the entertainment choices of their children and discuss with them the lessons that they can learn from these films.
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