Directed by Jon Burton
Featuring Voices by Troy Baker, Clancy Brown, Charlie Schlatter
Spinning off of the acclaimed LEGO Batman video game series, DC and LEGO bring us a feature-length film DC Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite. Can you build a good Batman movie out of LEGO?
Batman and Robin battle their most infamous rogues, as the Joker teams up with Lex Luthor to take care of their respective enemies. Luthor’s secret weapon: a deconstructor ray that can break apart shiny black objects. Basically, Batman’s screwed. The dynamic duo might need some unwanted-but-much-needed help on this one.
If the plot sounds familiar to you, then you’ve played LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. The film uses the same plot and some of the animation, but it replaces game play with all-new animation and dialog. I haven’t played the game, but the humor is so good in this that I can’t see a problem with those who have revisiting same material, particularly with the newly animated scenes.
The comedy is great. The film perfectly overplays each character’s famous personality traits for the right humorous effect. Batman is a grim loner to the point where he can’t ask for help. Superman is boisterously perfect. Two Face can’t make a single decision without his coin. I feel bad for Robin though, whose light hearted nature is a good counterbalance to Batman, but he’s often played off as inept and gets put down by his caped crusader mentor. No wonder he’s so enamored by how nice Superman is.
It’s impressive how witty this is with both the comic and LEGO material. The film uses the Danny Elfman theme from Tim Burton’s Batman films, even recreating the 1989 Batman film’s opening credits scene (I suspect due to the similarly named directors). A couple of jokes are even geared for those more versed in the comics, but you don’t have to be in order to get it. On the LEGO side of things, the creative use of LEGO pieces and construction will please the most die-hard LEGO-phile. I loved one scene where Robin rebuilds his bike while in motion. Now I really want Wonder Woman’s LEGO invisible jet.
The acting is also top notch. Troy Baker does a great job capturing Batman’s irritable attitude. Travis Willingham’s Superman plays up the character’s innate bravado perfectly. Clancy Brown reprises his Lex Luthor from the DC animated series of the late ‘90s-2000s, and I’m all the more grateful for it.
The only weak part of the film is Luthor and Joker’s actual scheme, which is even more silly than the film itself. That’s almost forgivable though, as it merely serves as a vehicle for the characters and the jokes to all connect together, which they do quite well.
This is a load of laughs for any Bat fan of any degree.
The CGI in this film is really good. All of the LEGO pieces and minifigures are appropriately plastic, even down to the paint. Those with cloth capes look like actual cloth. The parts of the scenery that aren’t LEGO still maintain a blocky and cartoony appearance, but they’re well rendered and fit in nicely.
The audio is very clear. The sound effects are great matches. The already-mentioned inclusion of Danny Elfman’s Batman score adds a great touch. The language options are plentiful, both in audio and in subtitles, allowing a wide audience to enjoy this movie.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This release is stocked with bonus features, surprisingly so considering it is essentially re-purposed game footage. We get a LEGO stop-motion lesson and several LEGO Batman stop-motion shorts. Also added are episodes of the cartoon series Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Teen Titans, both fun DC cartoons. Oddly, really buried within the trailers is a dub-step Scooby Doo video. I have no idea why, but it’s there, and that’s something. All bonuses are on both Blu-Ray and DVD copies.
Noticeably missing is any behind-the-scenes or making-of videos with cast and crew. The comedy in this movie is so good, that I’d like to have heard from the writers and actors.
The neatest extra though with this particular Blu-Ray/DVD combo release is an exclusive LEGO mini-figure of Clark Kent. Clark’s shirt is unbuttoned to show the Superman costume underneath. The Blu-Ray case comes inside a cardboard case with the same art and allows space for the mini-figure, visible on the cover. Sure, it’s not Bruce Wayne/Batman, but it’s still a really cool addition, and again, according to the box anyway, it is an exclusive.
Overall (Not an Average)
I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. As a comic fan who likes LEGO (remember, the plural of LEGO is LEGO), this is right up my alley. The comedy is well written and witty, both for long-time fans and new comers. The acting and CGI on all counts come together quite well to convey the humor. I lost count of all my laugh-out-loud moments. Those who have played the game it’s based on may be let down by reusing the story and footage, but this film has enough mileage to warrant revisiting the material.
If you have an ounce of interest in Batman or LEGO, you’ll enjoy this. If not, I’m sorry, but I don’t know why you’re reading this.
The Movie 9/10
The Video and Audio 8.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10