Galvanic Cinema – Lego Batman

So. Why did this article take so long? Honestly… because I couldn’t really think of much to say about the flick. So let’s just dive into this.

So. Lego Batman is a spiritual spin-off to The Lego Movie. I say spiritual because it literally never references the events of that movie at all, and only makes a vague reference to the universe in which that movie takes place. I don’t chalk this up to criticism, however. Given the twist of The Lego Movie, it’s entirely possible this story takes place in a different kid’s/adult’s imaginary lego world. Either way, it’s not an especially big deal.

That said, how’s the movie? Well, let’s start with the characters. In this film, Batman is portrayed as… well… a narcissistic jerk. In other words, he’s a big “what if” as to how Batman would be if his Bruce Wayne and Batman personas were indistinguishable from one another. And it works for the narrative and story of the movie. The entire thing is about him and his needing to let others in, and so-on. You can’t do the brooding loner thing for 80 years. It just ain’t healthy. All that said, IronMan is also something of a narcissistic jerk, and I’m sorry, but this was just… annoying at times. A part of it had to do with the more child-conscious sense of humor throughout the movie. Which had the effect of making Batman honestly just a big man-child. And that person grated on the nerves every once in a while with gags that were just… just not funny to anyone past the age of eight or nine.

As for other characters, we’ve got four to talk about. First up we have The Clown Prince of Crime, himself, The Joker. Joker is as much a mastermind in this as he’s always been, surprisingly. Though there was a part of his plan that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Worry not. I have no intention of spoiling it. If you want to know, just asking me directly on twitter or something. That said, I found Joker’s motivation to be quite fresh and interesting. He was driven by a desire for Batman to see him as his greatest enemy. And that’s actually pretty cool. It’s taking that most basic premise of the dynamic between Batman and Joker and making an entire narrative out of it in a way that’s seldom really all that successfully explored. Most attempts at analyzing it just get pretentious. This? It was an interesting concept, in theory. Though if I’m honest… I didn’t much care for its execution. It legitimately played out like a sort of spat between a couple that’s hit a rough patch in their relationship. I get that it was meant to take that dynamic and play it for laughs, but… I’m sorry. I just didn’t find it funny.

The other three characters filled more supporting roles. First up is Alfred, of course, who is just as dryly sarcastic and clever as he’s ever been. And he was legitimately like a parent, disciplining his child throughout the majority of the movie. That was funny. As was most of his dialogue. Then there was Barbara Gordon, who… is veeery different from the comics. Aside from clearly not being a teenager/young adult, she’s actually already taking over for Jim as Gotham’s new Police Commissioner. Jim hardly even does anything in the flick, other than spout some amusing lines. She’s more of a ‘by-the-book’ cop, who doesn’t like Batman working outside of the law. Which… is sort of a paradox, given the later stages of the movie, let alone her rather undefined plan for working with him in the first place. Not kidding. They never actually crack into how she intends to do that. Barbara’s also kind of set up as sort of a romantic interest for Batman, though more or less in a completely one-sided case, as the latter seems far more interested in her than vice versa. Neverminding how bizarrely creepy that is, given the implication that she was a kid when he was already a full grown adult, doing the Batman thing. But whatever. The last character I wanna bring up is Robin. Now. The movie calls him Dick Grayson. I’m just gonna call him Robin. Why am I just gonna call him Robin? Because he’s actually, like, a weird amalgam of Dick Grayson and Carrie Kelly. In fact, he leans waaay more towards being Carrie Kelly, just… a dude. He looks exactly like her, is only implied to have any connection the circus at best, is a Batman fanatic… he’s a genderbent Carrie Kelly with Dick Grayson’s name. Which is fine. I’m just putting it out there. I don’t have a terrible lot to say about him. He served his purpose, was funny at times, unfunny at others. That’s generally just how things went with this movie as a whole. The point is that all the characters are likable, serve their purposes well, and all of them get some good humor in, every once in a while, bar Alfred, who I genuinely think may have been the best individual character in the movie. If nothing else he was perhaps the only one that really entertained me without playing off of anyone else, as well as when he was playing off of others. And he occupies two pretty big moments in the movie, too.

Let’s address the humor. This movie really shines in the humor department when it steps away from what I call the “Easy Laughs,” and actually makes an effort to generate some clever commentary, or reference the quirks of the Batman mythos, such as the campier villains of the 60s era Batman, or the melodramatic tone of Batman movies throughout the years. Those moments were hilarious, especially to me, as a comic book fan. Then there was pretty much all of the final act, which I won’t spoil. But it’s just some of the funniest parody I’ve seen in a long time. And at that point it doesn’t just go for Batman. Err’body’s invited for the roast. That said, I just felt like there wasn’t really enough of that more clever humor. It’s way more in-your-face, and that’s just never been my style. The Lego Movie, for all the in-your-face gags, had a lot of more clever, subtle humor, as well as a lot of the visual gags that the lego videogames are known for. And it was great for that. This movie’s humor was only firing on all cylinders, for me, about 60% of the time, and that’s being generous.

Of course the movie is visually immaculate. The style of The Lego Movie is very much maintained, so that’s a plus. The music… well… it was playing. I’ll be honest. I don’t remember a single track from the score. But there were a couple of standouts in the soundtrack… not that I especially cared for them, but they… definitely stood out.

All in all, this is perhaps a bit more kiddy than its predecessor. Definitely still a fun time, for the most part, but it comes with a few pitfalls and the like that I just couldn’t really overlook. When it comes down to it, I have to give Lego BatmanB-. Slightly above average for infrequent, but really clever humor, brought down only by the really lowbrow humor that occupies the rest of the time. Solid storytelling, beautiful visuals, and strong pacing. All around worth the watch if you’re perhaps a Batman fan. Bonus points if you’re a Batman fan, trying to raise a mini-Batman fan. With all that said and done, folks, that’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, as always.

Keep up the awesome,
Chris V.

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