Someone once said (though I can’t quite remember who); “there’s a thousand ways in which you can portray Batman, and most ways will work.” Evidently, there’s much truth to this, having seen the once-never-Dark Knight go from a ridiculously-camp, spandex-clad Adam West to a Gothic caped crusader in Tim Burton’s interpretations, before morphing into a horribly-futuristic, nipple-boasting Bat-Clown (or Cloon) in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, only to be resurrected an acceptable number of years later by Christopher Nolan in the grittiest and most realistic way that also honoured the graphic novels, and then even darker in the hugely-popular steampunk-esque Arkham game series. Simply put, Batman is and always will be re-imagined, and his story re-told. But now you can enjoy Gotham’s most dangerous orphan in the way he was never meant to be portrayed: in Lego.
After Batman tells The Joker that their relationship isn’t “special”, the Clown Prince of Crime turns himself in to police custody. But Batman soon learns that the surrender was all part of a grand plan to destroy Gotham with the aid of several villains from other movie franchises, and so he must quickly get over his “lone vigilante” attitude and learn to work with what little family he has left to save the day.
Strangely, the first half is a darn good Bat-flick, with Will Arnett reprising his role as the undeniably-cool and hilariously-egotistical rendition of the Dark Knight. The set pieces (pardon the pun) are fantastic too, presenting perhaps the most dazzling Gotham City to date. Sure, it’s a parody, and sure-sure, it’s Lego of all things, but the comedy potential in the Bat-verse has always been richer than Bruce Wayne himself.
But just as things really start to get interesting, with The Joker surrendering himself to imprisonment and Bruce Wayne inadvertently adopting an annoying nerd who is quite obviously Robin, disappointingly, the film doesn’t think twice about jumping cowl-first into Lego-mania by shoehorning in every merchandisable-cameo possible from The Wizard of Oz to Jurassic Park, which might leave you wondering why the brick-makers didn’t go the distance and call the film “Lego Dimensions: The Movie” instead after the insanely-popular current video game that ties together countless infamous movie franchises.
Ultimately, the film wastes its true potential by becoming something of a generic Lego movie, and even outstays its welcome through some out-of-place poignancy and repetitive conversations about Bruce Wayne’s conscious detachment from those he cares about. But remarkably, it still manages to generate more substance, humour and humanity (as well as a coherent plot) with Lego bricks (and ones that aren’t even plastic, for that matter) than Zack Snyder could with a handful of long-standing, reputable Hollywood actors.
If you love Batman and Lego, look no further. The movie might fall short of somehow being one of the best Batman movies to date, but remains a colourful celebration of the long history of pop culture’s most iconic superhero nonetheless.