The Lego Batman Movie Review

Lego Everybody

Somewhere in The Lego Batman Movie is Batman. He’s hidden. You’ll find fewer Batman references than those to Warner Bros. and DC properties, creating a rabid cluster of… stuff.

Somewhere too is a story of isolation and an introvert vigilante. That’s lost in the later half of this movie, a back half that never settles down. It’s chaos for the sake of chaos, jamming tiny and obvious gags into bundles, throwing them on screen simultaneously until there’s no room left for jokes.

Unlike the Lego Movie which preceded it, which despite being so “on brand” as to lose all commercial credibility, Lego Batman is too much. Despite 75 years of the character, Batman here seems relegated to secondary status – the Minions of the Lego Movie-verse. The flirtation with Batman in Lego Movie showed restraint and smarts. Lego Batman is why secondary characters exist for their secondary roles, difficult as it may be to accept Batman as secondary.

Lego Batman begins charming, riffing DC’s currently dreary output. A late film jab at the idiocy of Suicide Squad especially hits it mark. In the current cluster of superhero movies, there needs to exist a comical outlet; Lego Batman is almost there. Batman broods in a quiet mansion, reheats lobster dinners alone, and stares at family photos. It’s an adorable sequence, the few moments of quiet in a movie rallying around the idea of noise. So much cluttered noise.

… it’s less Batman than it is the cavalcade of copyrighted properties

This isn’t only a movie for kids – it’s a new threshold for overstimulation. Lego Batman’s legacy is that of tiring melees and edits and explosions and sound and throwbacks and giant monsters and laughs and super villains and super heroes, all of this at once. Maybe that’s the joke. The repugnant Batman v Superman suffered the same affliction, even down to the giant monsters. Poking holes in that blockbuster’s pseudo-intellectualism is a worthy cause, but strung up on the needs of cross-branding and corporate self-promotion disguised (poorly) as comedy.

Batman traditionally fights the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and Penguin. Billy Dee Williams is (finally) credited with Two-Face here, yet Batman spends more time pummeling Joe Dante’s Gremlins and a Godzilla knock-off, both with more lines and screen time than Billy Dee. The promise of Godzilla v Batman is enticing, yet it’s part of a larger whole so enormous and crowded, no one stops to breathe or appreciate it.

In what amounts to selling an infinite number of connected blocks, Lego Batman pieces together a positive message of friendship, then doused with a larger dollop of family drama. It’s so specifically focused as to appear guilty – we’re sorry for making you pay to sell you our brand, so here’s a tale of what families can do together. It’s not far off from Lego Movie, but there the reveal turned into a late film plot twist with a smattering of genuine wit and earnest charm. With Lego Batman, it’s a disingenuous sword driven through the movie’s center, then thrust in again to make sure.

Lego Batman, to that extent, exits as fluffy popcorn entertainment, a summer blockbuster without the summer. Seems appropriate given how Lego Batman falls into a series of repetitious (but colorful) action scenes devoid of distinguishable personality.