BY ROGER THOMAS
I am a fan of the original: “The Lego Movie.” How could I not be a fan? I grew up playing with Legos back when you just got a box of bricks and your imagination told you what they could become. I have also put together several of the modern sets that make something specific. My children gave me the “Cinema” set which was a challenge but also a great gift. It brought back many memories of my brother and I creating things back in the sixties and seventies.
Because of all that experience and fond memories, I found the original film, “The Lego Movie” to be very charming. I loved all the characters and I liked the “plot twist” which was extremely creative. I have not watched the first “Lego” film since I saw it in the theatre in 2014 but maybe I will revisit it to see if it still stands strong.
The same group who did the “Lego Movie” had another production this past year, “Storks.” I do not believe I wrote a review of “Storks” but allow me to state here, I found it to be somewhat less than the first “Lego Movie.” I had hoped those “Storks” would have soared higher, but it just did not turn out that way.
Now we have a new film which happens to be a “Lego” sequel of sorts: “The Lego Batman Movie.”
First, there is no denying that this film captures the color and energy of the first “Lego” film. What a spectrum of brilliant shades. I found myself gazing at the colors in the backgrounds rather than the characters in the foreground because the film artists have created a wonderful tapestry.
I also enjoyed the characters. I cannot recall which characters are new in this film and how many were in the first film, but there are a lot of fun moments as characters such as Voldemort, King Kong, Sauron, and the typical villains of the Batman series: Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Scarecrow interact with the Caped Crusader. Some of the other superstars from DC comics also appear: Superman, Flash, and Green Lantern. This film also offered an origin story for Robin, Batman’s ward and ultimately his partner in crime fighting.
The one thing I liked most, probably slipped right past for a lot of the audience members because it was very quick and short. I appreciated the quick references to the Batmen who have gone before. Yes, this “animated block hero” is something unique, but so were all the ones from past generations. I still have very fond memories of watching Adam West’s version of the Caped Crusader. I especially enjoyed the cliffhangers and all the different ways Robin could us the word “Holy.” Thanks to filmmakers of “Lego Batman” for bringing back fond memories.
In the end, I think “The Lego Batman Movie” is much stronger and more humorous than last year’s “Storks.” But it falls somewhere below the original “Lego Movie.” Perhaps my opinion is based on expectations. With the “Lego Movie” I expected less and got more. With “Storks” I really did not expect much and found my prediction was accurate. “Lego Batman” could have stumbled as “Storks” did or soared like the “Lego Movie.” In my mind, it did a little of both. “Batman” soared often and likewise stumbled as well. But that’s ok.
My guess is that the target audience for “Lego Batman” will find it great for some of the reasons I listed and several more.
As for me, if the filmmakers do a third “Lego” movie, I will more than likely be there to see it. After all, it could be as good as the first “Lego” film. However, if they do another “Stork” film, I will probably skip that one.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.