Swanner: It’s been three years since audiences were delighted with the original The LEGO Movie. This week The LEGO Batman Movie opens in over 4,000 nationwide to entertain the young and old… or will it? The film follows LEGO Batman who has taken on the task of saving Gotham over and over again until the villains in Gotham are all locked away. When things become overwhelming, Batman must look to help from other sources to save the day.
Judd: This is a big project for director Chris McKay who is best known for his work with Robot Chicken, a fast-paced, R-Rated TV show featuring skits focused childhood pop-culture of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. This experience lends itself perfectly to the manic pacing of The LEGO Batman movie. The script is credited to five writers, Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies); Chris McKenna (Community); Erik Sommers (American Dad!; Drawn Together); Jared Stern (Dr. Ken; The Internship); John Whitttington (no previous credits). While I liked most of the movie, it felt as overstuffed as it’s writing crew with the movie losing itself with a “Batman learns to love” theme that crept into the second act and overtook the third.
Swanner: I thought the script was really well written, but the film seemed long. The action sequences are all very manic and usually followed by quiet moments, giving the film a rollercoaster effect. That’s fine in a shorter film, but clocking in at 1h 44m, it’s just exhausting. I think the Batman fans are going to like the films knowledge of the Batman lore and ever taking shots at previous incarnations of the bat man.
Judd: As our readers know, Adam West is my favorite Batman, so while the movie is playing up the fun and ridiculousness of a self-absorbed vigilante, I was having a good time. I loved the twist they put on the dynamic between the Joker and Batman, making it a plutonic-yet-romantic relationship. That was a brilliant move, but the rest of the movie – the Phantom Zone, the cross-canon villains, and Batman needs a family – felt like the writers were trying to stuff every conceived idea into the film regardless of the overall theme. A spoof would have been terrific; Batman fighting Voldemort, Godzilla, King Kong, etc, would have been fantastic as well; but the movie wanted to be all things, and while I won’t say it collapsed under it’s own weight, it came dangerously close.
Swanner: I always wonder why filmmakers overstuff a movie when they know its going to be a hit, and they’re going to have to come up with something to follow up in yet another sequel. They’ve used up just about bit source material. I know LEGO doesn’t have to make another Batman movie, but it would have been nice to have that option. The voice cast is star studded with Jenny Slate, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, Ellie Kemper and Michael Cera.
Judd: You make an excellent point, and if this is a one and done situation for LEGO with the Batman franchise, then they’ve hit all the points, but since when does Hollywood allow that to happen? I enjoyed the The LEGO Batman Movie, but I wish I would have loved it.
Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 3 stars