This evening Jill and I went to see The Lego Batman Movie.
This movie is made for two groups of people: kids, and geeks.
It’s definitely a kids’ movie. There is absolutely nothing subtle whatsoever in this film. It’s all about Batman – a guy who has everything he could ever want except family and feelings – and his journey to discover how important these are. Along the way, his journey is full of ROCK MUSIC and HUGE BATTLES and LOTS OF THINGS GOING ON. It is all action from start to finish; the few moments of introspection are lampshaded mercilessly until they’re over.
For geeks, there are a lot of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. If you’re a fan of DC comics, there are references from Superfriends and Dark Knight Returns and appearances from the most esoteric Batman villains. If you’re a Lego fan, a few villains from Lego Dimensions appear here. If you like 80s pop music, the movie pays homage to several songs you know. If you especially dig romantic comedy-drama films, you’ll see mentions of them show up in odd places.
On NPR I heard a discussion of the history of Batman: that the 1960s TV series was intentionally made campy because the TV studio couldn’t get the rights to the heroes they really wanted (like Superman), and that all the “modern” incarnations of Batman hit the other extremes of dark and brooding entirely as a reaction to that. The Lego Batman movie is a reaction to dark-and-brooding Batman. And because of the emotional journey that Batman takes during this movie, NPR says that “The LEGO Batman Movie stands as the most emotionally mature Batman film yet made.”
Unfortunately, it all comes together to less than 2014’s The Lego Movie offered. Lego Batman is fun, don’t get me wrong; but it’s predictable, and I found myself bored at a few points during it. It’s really hard to fault the movie given its energy and its cleverness, but at it’s core it’s about one character’s one-dimensional journey, made as colorful as possible.