THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, US, 2017. Voices of: Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Siri, Zack Galifianikis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O'Brien, Billy Dee Williams, Zoe Kravitz, Eddie Izzard. 104 minutes. Directed by Chris McKay. Rated PG (Mild and animated violence).
In recent years there have been quite a number of Lego movies, extremely popular in cinemas and on television. With the popularity of Lego and children using the different blocks for building all kinds of creations, it is understandable that the film companies decided that this would be an effective and profitable type of animation.
There have been some Lego Batman movies but this one is designed for wide popular release and was very successful. It also benefits from a talented voice cast ranging from Will Arnett as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Roasario Dawson as Brenda Gordon, the collaborator in the fight against crime in Gotham city,Michael Cera as the orphan, Dick Grayson, Zach Galifianilis as the Joker, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred the butler.
While the story and the look of the film are designed for the younger audience who will delight in all the shapes and colours in action (often non-stop), there has to be something for the adults accompanying the children! This is immediately found in the opening sequences where the voice-over explains a lot of the techniques how action films work and then illustrates this (which they do at the end of the film is well). Actually, there is a lot of verbal and visual satire and the dialogue which may go over the heads of the children but entertains the adults.
The film is zany to say the least. After referencing all the previous Batman films, we are introduced to the Joker, plans for defeating Batman, rounding up all the DC comic villains, borrowing from Suicide Squad and with references to Superman and General Zod. But things are changing in Gotham city, Jim Gordon is retiring as the police chief, his sister Barbara taking over, acknowledging the contribution of Batman but believing that there should be collaborative effort in the fight against the Joker and crime.
Then there are the orphans, especially a very pushy young fellow, Dick Grayson (voice of Michael Cera) who twists Bruce Wayne’s words about adopting orphans and finds himself not only adopted but a part of the Justice team. Bruce Wayne is rather narcissistic, a hero-figure loner.
There are all kinds of sequences for the combating of the villains, Barbara being a force for good, and even Alfred somewhat critical of his master (in Ralph Fiennes voice) but also becoming part of the active crime-fighting team.
In many ways it is in one eye and out the other, a quick entertainment which is bright and breezy – but, with a more philosophical note at the end, acknowledging the perennial fight between good and evil, Batman and the Joker realising that they have to have their stances otherwise there will never be any stories and no conflict!
Roadshow. Released March 30th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.