By: Langdon Kessner ‘17
Arts & Life Editor
Batman, on film, has been on a downward slope since The Dark Knight (2008). While many people, including myself, enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises (2012), it was nowhere near as effective as its predecessor.
Along came Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016) and the less said about those two, the better. Now we have Will Arnett as Lego Batman,and as shocking as this may sound, it is the best version of Batman since The Dark Knight (2008).
The Joker (Zach Galifinakis) is back with an army of villains that Batman (Will Arnett) must defeat. Alongside him are Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), and his newly adopted orphan, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Batman must drop the lone vigilante act and force himself to work with others and maybe even lighten up a little bit.
As the synopsis shows, the story mainly deals with Batman’s loneliness and his inability to care. Even though it is not the most compelling character arc as it has been done about a thousand times, this film does a solid job with influencing the audience to care about Batman’s relationship with his butler, Alfred, and his new orphan son, Dick Grayson, who eventually becomes Robin (Batman’s sidekick, for those who live under a rock).
It also helps that there are plenty of laughs throughout. Much like The Lego Movie (2014), it has a great sense of humor and is not afraid of mocking previous Batman films. There are so many inside jokes and references that come and go quickly. It would be impossible to catch them all on the first viewing, and that is not even counting the cameos.
The voice-acting is consistently great throughout with many inspired choices. Arnett provides his sharp wit and deadpan delivery. Galifinakis acts a credible Joker, much better than Jared Leto’s recent attempt as the classic clown. Cera is frequently funny as Robin, but the best is Fiennes as Alfred. He gets many dry, British one-liners that always hit the mark.
It is hard to imagine how this movie will play to a non-Batman aficionado. As funny and frequent as they are, many of the jokes require a certain amount of knowledge of the characters and history. Admittedly, this is something the average audience member might not have, despite Batman’s popularity. Then again, it is also hard to imagine why a non-Batman fan would even see this film in the first place.
Is it as good as The Lego Movie (2014)? No, but it doesn’t need to be. That was a one-of-a-kind outlier, and is along the lines of a fun superhero movie. More broad, less emotional, but not really a big deal at all. It is insanely enjoyable and a love letter to all fans of Batman, of which there are many.