Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, we’ve done some deep bricking, superhero style, to discuss The LEGO Batman Movie, which premiered in the United States on Friday, February 10, 2017.
Sound Off! is meant to be a group of reactions, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places. You may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching, but it’s safe to say that if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie and you read this post, you WILL be spoiled in some form or fashion.
Now, join J.L. Gribble as she talks about The LEGO Batman Movie! [Note: This particular Sound Off! does not include major spoilers. Read in safety.]
J.L.: Good news, kids:
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.
I say that not because this film is a direct sequel to the original LEGO Movie (2014), but because this is easily the best DC comics movie I’ve ever seen. It could even be argued that it doesn’t take place in the same universe as the original LEGO Movie at all, instead taking everything we loved about that Batman and turning it up a notch, giving us a three-dimensional character filled with the tragedy and arrogance viewers expect of any Batman with a healthy dose of humor, both LEGO-based and not.
Most “kid’s movies” attempt to appeal to adult viewers by including subtly naughty humor intended to sail over a child’s head. The LEGO Batman Movie handled this completely differently, and most of the laughter in the theater was from adults. Not because of “adult” humor, but because of the sheer number of references that kids who haven’t been involved in Batman and the greater SF/F genre just wouldn’t get. Walking out of the theater, my friend called it “The LEGO Fandom Movie.” Without spoiling major plot points, this film absolutely capitalizes on its amazing licensing power. However, this movie uses it for legitimate plot points rather than surprise and laughs (but still in surprising and humorous ways).
Because this is still a movie directed, in part, to children, the themes of family and friendship are a bit more overt than necessary for adult viewers. I never felt beat over the head with a stick about it, though. I was impressed by the attempt at decent female representation, however: not only with the addition of new police commissioner Barbara Gordon, but also the female mayor and a female detective who coordinates police activity for both Gordons in the film. It still doesn’t come close to passing the Bechdel Test, but I do have to applaud the lack of traditional romance arc I originally expected between Batman and Barbara Gordon.
If you have kids, this is a great chance to expose them to an age-appropriate full history of Batman as he’s been represented on screen, with the bonus addition of so much more elements of speculative fiction fandom that you can dole out to them as they get older. If you don’t have kids, cleanse your palate of the current crop of live-action Batman movies and enjoy the added surprise of seeing many, many other old friends appear on screen as well.