Review: The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie is the second entry in Hollywood’s latest blockbuster franchise. This time we follow the life of the ‘break out’ star of 2014’s The Lego Movie, Batman. Whilst this is an at times hilarious and very enjoyable film, it doesn’t quite live up to the same quality as its predecessor, suggesting Warner Bros. will continue to earn diminishing returns on each release.

That said, it provides a welcomed break from the dark and dreary tone set by every DC comics film since Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Part of the appeal in the run up to cinematic release was the anticipation towards the more light-hearted superhero adventures of old. Warner Bros. gave us not only that but enough references subtle or otherwise to suggest the film is targeted to adults more than kids. The onslaught of pop culture jokes about films or tv shows too old for them to understand further implies this. Do not fret though, there is enough slapstick comedy to keep young children sufficiently entertained.

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The biggest strength of this film is sadly also one of its biggest weakness. During the first act there are so many references and jokes that you can’t finish laughing at one before the next one comes along. After a while I just became numb, with each new joke getting acknowledgement but no audible reaction. A lot of this can be attributed to the target demographics: older adults, younger adults and children. It seems the writers added an entire films worth of jokes to please each, causing it to feel over-saturated and chaotic as the humour jumps backwards and forwards between each.

Chaos was not limited to the humour, appearing in other areas such as the on-screen action. The 129 minute runtime is by no means too long but it was simply exhausting. The animation maintained the same high standard and was accompanied by a pleasant colour palette that used an abundance of deep reds but the relentless nature of the film caused it to be visually offensive.

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Another major issue was pacing. The first act is rapid, introducing lots of characters and lots of backstory for Batman and the DC Universe (including a phenomenal Michael Cera as Robin). By contrast the second act slows down dramatically, falling flat as they explore Batman’s loneliness and his reluctance to accept others into his life. A storyline that would be exposed as incredibly thin if the thick layer of jokes was removed. As we move into the final act, the pace returns to its initial state but this just highlights the inconsistency.

The next feature in the franchise will be The Lego Ninjago Movie, the second spin-off and the first based on original Lego sets. It will be very interesting to see whether the momentum will be maintained, especially given the multiple addition spin-offs and sequels already green-lit. Let’s just hope that there are no missing pieces.

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