By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
I very rarely get excited about all the toys released along with an animated film. With How to Train Your Dragon, the variety of reptiles seen on-screen only salivated my appetite for owning a model of each because I love the designs. In the movie, LEGO Batman, I got giddy over the garage full of vehicles the caped crusader uses in his fight against crime and if only I had a couple of thousand dollars. Buying the bricks is not cheap because a lot of the money goes towards name brand recognition and licensing rights than manufacture. All reason went out the window when I saw Scutter, Batman’s mech change from robot mode to airplane.
Can I hope the model does the same? I’ll have to look at YouTube videos to find out, or just buy it. I caved and bought the set, not only because I liked the personality given to it, and enjoyed how the film gave to fans a perfect examination of two properties. Not only did it examine why the man behind the cowl is what he is but also it stayed true to what the brick represents. It’s become more than a kid’s construction toy and it helps creates a foundation to spur creativity.
Plus, watching this film is a guilty pleasure. To hear the actors voicing the gun shots — like they were playing with the figures in studios — brought out the kid in me. I want to play cops and robbers too!
The concept behind this film is not to sell the toys (to which I’ve spent $200 since I wanted to own Scutter and the Jokermobile so bad), but also show family matters. Young Bruce Wayne lost his parents when he was a kid and if the butler Alfred did not become a surrogate father, the lad might have turned out a bit differently. The best bits of dialogue come from Alfred since he understands young Bruce’s life. The boy lost all the joy that existed in his life, and for much of his adult years, he’s simply moody and temperamental.
The Dick Grayson (Robin) introduced in this film is the opposite. His exuberance comes through as a boy trying to discover life than to be jaded by it. Michael Cera does an excellent job giving life to this character but at the same time, this soon-to-be-a-hero comes through as annoying. This version is not the serious lad from the comic books or films. He’s a kid hooligan. Perhaps, in time, he will change. For the purposes of this movie, he’s the foundation to help create the Bat Family and does not grow beyond that.
Barbara Gordon’s significance is a funny one. She assumes the role of commissioner, taking over after her father’s retirement, and offers Batman an opportunity. She wants to see better cooperation between the police force and him. But when he prefers to operate solo, none of that will happen. The same can be said about his position with the Justice League.
The trailers show they are in this universe. To have Batman operate as Gotham City’s sole saviour is one thing, but when he does not admit to needing help (when he can’t do it alone) should go beyond the core group — Bat Butler, Robin and Batgirl — especially when an entire city is in danger. To say, “It’s not in our jurisdiction,” goes against the camaraderie I’ve seen in other DC animated products. The heroes and villains mix it up so the bad guy can get captured. The Phantom Zone is specifically used by Superman to deal with über criminals instead of Bats. Though, if one villain (i.e. Zod) remained free, perhaps a road is being paved for LEGO Superman the Movie.
The big question is whether Warner Bros. will green light more theatrical LEGO films using DC’s heroes? After all, they do own DC Comics.
4 Bricks out of 5