When The LEGO Movie hit screens, it surprised everyone with its bright, shiny, happy and extremely snarky humor, raising the bar for animated films aimed not just at kids. It gave us the earworm song “Everything Is Awesome” and the breakout character of LEGO Batman (in a movie filled to the brim with famous faces). With LEGO Batman pretty much stealing the spotlight, it was inevitable that he would get his own spin-off movie, and now you can enjoy The LEGO Batman Movie in the comfort of your own home. And this is definitely a movie that requires and demands repeat viewing to catch all of the little jokes sprinkled liberally throughout the movie.
To try to describe the goings-on in The LEGO Batman Movie would be nigh on impossible, but the main plot itself is pretty much genius. Batman has taken on the role of Gotham City’s protector with the attitude that only he can save the city from the myriad villains (and there is a Wikipedia list of villains in this movie, many you’ve probably never heard of like the Condiment King) running rampant through the city. But with Jim Gordon’s retirement and daughter Barbara assuming the role of Commissioner, Batman finds himself butting heads with her no-nonsense approach to fighting crime, i.e. no costumed vigilantes. Add into the mix Batman’s visit to an orphanage where he meets young Dick Grayson, who looks up to Batman as a hero/father figure already and then basically adopts himself into Batman’s life, the Caped Crusader has his plate full with the Joker wreaking havoc in the city. But when Barbara sidelines Batman, he discovers that he’s nothing without the Joker and vice versa. The two learn that their entire existences depend on each other, which is why Batman has never actually captured Joker during their entire history, and this concept is hilariously illustrated as Bruce Wayne watches the “You complete me” / “You had me at hello” scene from Jerry Maguire. Bruce laughs at this scene without realizing that he and Joker are Jerry and Dorothy, and it probably explains the whole Batman / Joker dynamic better than any movie, TV show or comic book ever has.
Which is why The LEGO Batman Movie is so great. It loads up on the up front jokes and background hilarity, but it has a really deep story at its core that goes beyond what we’ve seen in other Batman movies. The movie also plays with all of our knowledge of Batman’s past with my favorite references coming from the classic 1966 Batman TV series. They even reference the 1940s Batman movie serial. The LEGO Batman Movie gives us every iteration of Batman throughout history and it’s glorious. And with all of this going on, the home video release is a great way to rewatch the movie and see new things you may have missed the first time. With so much thrown at you during the running time, it may get a bit exhausting, but The LEGO Batman Movie is extremely rewatchable.
The Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment does a bang-up job of bringing the movie to the home screen. With a movie composed mainly with bright, primary colors the Blu-ray does a terrific job of presenting all the colors as intended. The sharp picture reveals a ton of detail in the LEGO figures, and even though they are all CGI, you would believe that this is actually a stop motion film due to the light reflections on the figures as well as almost imperceptible scratches and wear and tear you’d see on a figure used by any kid. The animation and detail is amazing. If you were an adopter of 3D TV, you will definitely want to consider the 3D Blu-ray package. The 3D conversion process, instead of being used to throw things off the screen, has been skillfully employed to give the scenery more depth, making things like the Batcave and Gotham City itself seem much more expansive than they do in the 2D version.
The one puzzling issue with the Blu-ray / 3D Blu-ray is the audio track. WBHE has not used the highest bit rate for the video, so there is about 10 GBs of space unused on both the standard and 3D disks. Which means they could have devoted that space to more sound options. The standard Blu-ray does offer a choice between a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and a more immersive Dolby Atmos track (which benefits with a 7.1 speaker set-up), although neither track really utilize the rear channels all that much. If you have the capability, you’ll want to use the Atmos choice for a little extra kick. For some reason, however, WBHE has opted to give the 3D Blu-ray disk only the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. If you’re watching a 3D movie, you’d think an audio track that gives you more surround sound would be included. It’s an odd decision considering the unused space on the disk.
The Blu-ray also includes a ton of extra material including:
- Animated Shorts with a Play All option: “Dark Hoser” (2:08), “Batman Is Just Not That Into You” (2:10), “Cooking With Alfred” (2:02), “Movie Sound Effects: How Do They Do That?” (1:24). Honestly, none of these are very good and Ralph Fiennes couldn’t even be bothered to do Alfred’s voice in his own short. And if you’re Canadian, you may be a bit offended by “Dark Hoser”. Where the movie succeeds, all of these shorts fail badly.
- The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short (5:23) – A short film of interest only to LEGO Ninjago fans.
- Deleted Scenes (7:00, with Play All option): Most of these are incomplete and in animatic form, and were wisely dropped before moving forward.
- Six Featurettes that take the viewer behind the scenes of the making of the movie, the longest of which runs 16:10, but the shorter ones could have all been condensed into a single featurette as they seem to have just been randomly cut from the main featurette and contain some duplicate material.
- Promotional Material including several trailers and a snippet of the Comic-Con panel.
The highlight of the bonus material is the Director and Crew Commentary which features director Chris McKay and 23 other crew members taking turns talking about various aspects of the film right down to the details of how the lighting was determined for each scene and how the 3D process was employed to give the film more visual depth. It’s a very informative and entertaining track highlighting what a collaborative process the making of this film was. Of all the extras included on the Blu-ray, this is the one that makes it all worth the purchase.
Overall, if you enjoyed and own The LEGO Movie, you will enjoy and should own The LEGO Batman Movie. WBHE has done a fantastic job bring the movie to home video even if it falls short in some areas, but the casual viewer will never really notice the bit rate and audio shortcomings. It still looks and sounds great!
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment generously provided Hotchka with a 3D Blu-ray Combo pack of the film for reviewing purposes.