2014’s The Lego Movie was a manic and inspired delight, a dazzling array of colors with a new joke about every five seconds. The next, newest installment in what’s apparently becoming a franchise, The Lego Batman Movie, is about half of what The Lego Movie was.
Now when I say that, I don’t mean that it’s only half as good as The Lego Movie.
No, what I mean is that the first half of The Lego Batman Movie also captures that insane inspiration of the previous film, as we meet a skewed version of Batman who’s so intent on relying only on himself and on no one else that he’s possibly the most arrogant person to walk the Earth. And that includes the vast array of supervillains he fights in the first few minutes, characters that are both very familiar to us as well as the more obscure baddies from Batman history, including Clayface, Egghead, and the Condiment King. Yes, the Condiment King is a real Batman villain.
In fact, Batman is so self-absorbed that his foes start to become insecure that he doesn’t even actually care about fighting them. Notably, this happens to the Joker, who wants so badly to be Batman’s true nemesis that he concocts schemes that will help Batman see just how badly he really needs the Joker in his life. Naturally, Batman is having none of it.
Of course, this is still a superhero movie, and eventually we fall into the same trap that all superhero movies do, where our hero is fighting the bad guys in elaborate ways that zip and zoom and generally cause a lot of damage, and here is where The Lego Batman Movie loses some of its steam. The jokes sort of still keep coming, but not nearly as quickly or as sharply, and while it’s still visually stunning, we do lose a little bit with so many things happening all at once.
Even so, the ultimate message is a good one, as Batman learns that he can’t always go it alone and he needs help from his friends to accomplish the greatest tasks. It’s a nice message of the power of teamwork, and maybe not a surprising one given that it’s delivered by animated building blocks.