Lego Batman The Movie: DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 5/25/13

This curious oddity is basically an abbreviated retelling of the "Lego Batman 2" video game, which has Lux Luthor and The Joker teaming up against Batman and Superman. Luthor is running for president and needs Joker's laughing gas to secure votes. He has also developed a fierce weapon called the Deconstructor, which has the power to tear apart certain Lego objects, but it runs on Kryptonite and his supply is running low. And it just so happens that Batman has the largest stockpile of Kryptonite in the world. After a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum, Luthor puts his evil plans into motion, with Batman and Robin in hot pursuit.

Thankfully, the movie is more than just a collection of cutscenes from the game, and the narrative is more polished and fleshed out. It flies by at a breakneck pace as it tries to hit all of the major plot points and set pieces, and the biggest disappointment is that the supporting characters get very little screen time. The stoically cool and eternally grumpy Batman is utterly delightful, and his interactions with the upstanding and overly cheerful Superman are wonderful. Clancy Brown's Lex Luthor is fabulous, and the maniacal Joker is a hoot. Robin is solely used as a comedic foil, but fortunately he's not too annoying. Commisioner Gordon, Catwoman, Two-Face, Bane, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Martian Manhunter make extremely brief cameo appearances, and make you long for more.

The animation looks great and the production is very slick. Danny Elfman's original "Batman" (1989) score is used to great effect and nicely complements the atmospheric setting of Gotham City. Even though the material is goofy and juvenile, the presentation maintains a very serious and mature tone, which is what totally sells it. I'm extremely thankful for that, and I look forward to more animated Lego features in the future. I just wish that the "Lego Star Wars" series would take itself more seriously and move beyond the six year old demographic. Imagine the untapped potential!