"The LEGO Movie" (2014) was hugely popular, with an awesome voice cast, amazing set designs all done in LEGO Construction Toys, and a charming storyline. LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) was a breakout character in that movie, so Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group, in association with LEGO System A/S, thought that LEGO Batman deserved his own film, "The LEGO Batman Movie". Great idea, poor execution.
Gotham CIty is in the throes of a hostile takeover by The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). Batman comes to the rescue, but is reticent to name The Joker as his "greatest enemy", a request The Joker demands --- and he's not joking.
Rebuffed, The Joker seeks aid from all of the worst criminals he can round up. Offered help from the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson), his trusted butler, Alfred (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) and his newly adopted "son", Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera), Batman chooses to "work alone. That's my motto. Copyright Batman." But this new army of thugs proves to be too much for Batman, leaving him no choice but to accept the assistance of his new "family".
What should have been a delightful romp with Arnett's cleverly, self-styled Batman, an arrogant loner with a uniquely raspy voice, has turned into a too-long and ultimately dull statement on the virtue of friends and family. Yes, this is a film for children, and morals of the story are always a swell idea, but the multiple writers of "The LEGO Batman Movie" have overplayed their intent. It's simply is not a fun movie!
This production, like the original, is entirely built out of LEGO pieces, connected the same way real LEGO pieces are put together. The digital animation company, Animal Logic based in Australia, was once again on board to create the thousands of digital LEGO bricks which are assembled in the computer to construct the sets, props, figures, etc. It is amazing to behold as Gotham City, the Bat Cave and all of Batman's gadgets come to life as LEGO pieces.
Unfortunately, even though the animation, sets and design are phenomenal, the story of "The LEGO Batman Movie" doesn't match up. It drags more than it should, and there is not nearly enough humor --- for children, but especially for the adults who must accompany them. Batman is not nearly as amusing as his notable performance in "The LEGO Movie". He is whinier, and much less appealing. And the monotonous clashes between the good guys and the bad guys over the fate of Gotham City are innumerable and way too lengthy,
I loved "The LEGO Movie", so I was particularly psyched about this sequel. Alas, I'm not even sure if children will like and appreciate it. We have a five-year-old great nephew who is an aficionado with constructing LEGO toys.. The fate of "The LEGO Batman Movie" will lie with children like him.
Opinion: Wait For DVD
When approximately 400 people work on a film for over two years, it's difficult to acknowledge such a Herculean effort and still criticize the end result. But sequels tend to look and feel much like their predecessors, and "The LEGO Batman Movie" is no exception.
Following on the heels of the smash success "The LEGO Movie" (2014). "The LEGO Batman Movie" focuses on one of the more popular characters from the original, Batman/Bruce Wayne, again voiced by Will Arnett. His chief adversary is, of course, The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), and each exists because of the other. If The Joker was not desirous of taking over/destroying/otherwise-putting-his-stamp-on Gotham City, Batman would be pretty bored. As I was for most of "The LEGO Batman Movie".
Unlike the original, which parodied a host of fictional characters --- from Wonder Woman to the Green Lantern --- and real-life people --- from Abraham Lincoln to William Shakespeare --- this sequel is content to key on a super hero defending his megalopolis against super villains. And that's what makes "The LEGO Batman Movie" a dull sequel for much of the time.
We get brief moments of everyday hilarity, as when Batman returns home to use the microwave to heat up lobster thermidor, but absent-mindedly sets the timer for 20 minutes instead of two --- you know, the kind of stupid things a bachelor might actually do.
Instead we get the usual barrage of good guy-bad guy battles, which get exceedingly mundane. There are obvious themes running through "The LEGO Batman Movie" which could liikely have an impact on kids watching. Borrowing on Hillary Clinton's mantra of "It takes a village", the storyline projects a lonely Batman who refuses, initially, the help of Gotham City police commissioner Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson). Who needs teamwork to fight The Joker? Certainly not Batman.
The movie's CG animation is again led by Animal Logic, the Australian company that created the original film's look. Taking over the director's chair from Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, who wrote the original's screenplay, is Chris McKay, known primarily for TV's "Robot Chicken". Thus, "The LEGO Batman Movie" is his feature length debut. One of the writing credits for the sequel go to Seth Grahame-Smith, whose novel was the basis for a surprisingly good film called "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies".
Conclusion: Will "The LEGO Batman Movie" be a box office bonanza? More than likely. Will it be a critical hit? Not likely.
Opinion: Mild Wait For DVD