What a world we live in where the best Batman on the big screen in years wasn’t from the big-budget tentpole film featuring an Oscar winner behind the cowl, and instead is the sarcastic animated spoof based on a toy line.
“The Lego Batman Movie,” spun off the 2014 monster hit “The Lego Movie,” is a kinetic, silly explosion of crazy ideas, where a metal Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) — not metallic, but imbued with the heavy-metal spirit and sometimes an electric guitar — is a badass loner who protects Gotham City with a cocky attitude and a slew of amazing vehicles.
But the one thing he’s missing is a family — partly because he’s so self-centered to even acknowledge Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), his butler who raised him.
He’s such a loner that he won’t even acknowledge to the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) that he’s his greatest enemy. The Clown Prince of Crime is hurt — Batman won’t even tell him he hates him. So the Joker raises the stakes and comes back with a plot so dangerous that Batman alone can’t save the day — unless he can get help from friends, in the form of the orphan he accidentally adopts, Dick Grayson, aka Robin (Michael Cera), and police chief Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).
The movie fully embraces the Batman mythos, with all of the familiar supporting characters and villains — not to mention a trove of obscure baddies that seem fake, but are actually pulled from the 75-plus years of Batman comics, movies and television shows. The movie is overflowing with ideas. It’s not afraid to mock previous films, or anything really.
It continues the tradition from “The Lego Movie” where it brings in other brands to be part of the fun, just like kids grabbing any villain they can find to battle the hero, leading to hilarious showdowns between Batman and the glowing eye of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings.”
It’s hard not to have a good time watching “The Lego Batman Movie,” which is something that you can’t say about most of the other recent “Batman” films. Some are good, sure, but they’re so heavy, missing the excitement of seeing a man in a cape beating up a clown. This movie gets that.