Exceedingly clever and gorgeous to look at, The LEGO Batman Movie is a good follow-up to The LEGO Movie, albeit lacking some of the original’s freshness and simple sincerity. Think of it like the difference between the first and second Shrek movies — the second one is definitely more self-impressed.
Kids should love it as much as the previous installment, but adults might already be considering that this franchise has the potential of getting real old real fast.
There’s just so much — maybe too much — of everything. Every second.
Computer animation is still animation. The smoothness of the action is still dictated by how many images per second the eye is provided to recognize. In other words, even with CGI, there is a Disney level of richness and (on the other end of the scale) there is the Hanna-Barbera level. Both styles can be effective ways of storytelling, but one is a lot easier to watch on a big screen for 110 minutes. This is my issue with the visual dynamics of LEGO Batman, even though I’m aware that much of the jerkiness of the action is not by accident.
However, the culmination of candy bright images, rapid fire editing and consistently loud scoring begins to be frenetically hypnotic after awhile.
As much as I appreciated the witty script, it became a mind-numbing sensory assault by about 45 minutes in. Much of the art direction is spectacularly beautiful, but the camera never stops long enough to fully appreciate what you’re seeing. It would be like watching a fireworks display at triple speed or riding the Peter Pan attraction at 75 miles an hour.
Another major issue I had was the vocal performance of Zach Galafianakis as The Joker. Amongst the rest of the hyperactive proceedings, his voice is unnervingly shrill. Between him and Michael Cera, there’s a lot of high-pitched hollering going on. I usually love Zach, but somebody should have called Mark Hamill or Jake Gyllenhaal to provide a richer interpretation. More impressive is Will Arnett as Batman, managing to chew scenery using only his voice.
Still, this is a solid script and a solid effort that never talks down to the audience. Fifty percent of the comic references will go completely over the heads of most children. For those of us who get to/have to ingest a lot of animated fare, this is way better than average. Way, way better. I just wish it didn’t come at you quite so fast and furious.
This movie might work better for adults on subsequent viewings.
(Loudinni provides movie reviews under 500 words, sans spoilers.)