I never thought I would see Voldemort in a Lego Batman movie, and I never thought that movie would be good. In fact, the notion of an entire movie about Legos was beyond me. However, I heard good things about The Lego Movie (creative titles, right?), and The Lego Batman Movie did not disappoint.
The Lego Batman Movie follows Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) in his battle with the Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) and his emotional struggle with his fear of being part of a family again after losing his parents as a child. A new police chief, Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson), causes trouble for Batman when she explains her desire for the police to lawfully work with Batman rather than have Batman patrol Gotham by himself. When the Joker teams up with villains including Voldemort and other fictional characters, Batman must work with the police force, Police Chief Barbara, his butler Alfred and his adopted child Robin to defeat the Joker.
Arnett delivers a satisfactory performance as Batman, lending him a very deep, gravelly voice that doubles as hilarious when he says something that contradicts his masculinity, like commenting about his favorite romantic comedy. In The Lego Batman Movie Batman is different from any other rendition I have seen: he makes fun of his own flaws, such as his narcissism and inability to permanently capture any of the villains he fights.
By animating the movie with Lego pieces, children who play with Legos can feel as though they are playing with real characters, not just their plastic renditions. With time and skill, Lego users could theoretically recreate The Lego Batman Movie at home — there’s some imaginative merit to that. In a meta moment, the film acknowledges that its characters and surroundings are Lego: at one point, the characters remove their plastic hair caps and clip onto each other — head to foot — to create a long ladder. The Lego Batman Movie uses its unique animation style and medium as a key to its success rather than an obstacle to overcome.
The soundtrack contributes to the movie’s animation as well. Many well-known songs and artists were played in the soundtrack as well as some original comical songs. Some of the most recognizable songs featured include Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” (performed by Alex Aiono), Alesso’s “Heroes (We Could Be),” and DNCE’s “Forever.” These songs add a sense of modern popular culture, making the scenes they accompany more upbeat. The original songs, on the other hand, are less motivational and more humorous. A heavy metal song entitled “Who’s the (Bat)Man” (performed by Patrick Stump) includes lyrics like “Who has the coolest gadgets? Batman!”and “Who does the sickest backflips? Batman!” It makes the characters feel more real while incorporating aspects of comedy and pop culture.
The Lego Batman Movie is essentially a respectful satire of the original Batman films, so while it is strong in comedy, it is less effective in plot. The characters are distinct from the real Batman series; Batman laments his loneliness, Robin routinely rips off his tight pants and Alfred sets parental control locks on Batman’s TV. The Lego Batman Movie is best suited for a younger audience, but still contains enough adult humor to make it enjoyable for a mature audience.
While the original characters add a unique dimension to the story The Lego Batman Movie falls short in plot, lacking the same originality in its conflicts — Batman trying to save his city from the Joker — as in its characters. However, despite the deficits in plot and somewhat offputting animation style, The Lego Batman Movie is worth seeing for its comedy alone.