Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

For children and the uninitiated it may be fun, for everyone else....

Based on the LEGO video game franchise, Batman, Superman and other members of the Justice League team up against The Joker, Lex Luthor and a slew of DC villains. But is this just a carbon copy of the game, or worth your time and money? Since I have already played and beaten its videogame namesake, and since most of the movie is lifted straight from the game LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, it’s a bit hard to be completely objective. Thus, I will split this review into thirds: one-third for those who have not played the game, one for those who have and finally all-around thoughts for everyone in-between. So, pick your poison based on your familiarity with it. Here we go: For those who HAVE NOT played the game: As I mentioned, the plot comes right out of the game LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. After Presidential Candidate Lex Luthor loses Gotham City’s “Man of the Year” award to billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, what else can an evil genius do but team up with The Joker to help him win the Presidential Election? Oh yeah, and to destroy Superman and Batman, too. But with a title like Super Heroes Unite, you can expect more than just Bats, Supes and Robin fighting Lex and Joker. Batman’s Rogues Gallery shows up to help take down The Dark Knight while some of the Justice League show up for backup. It’s a simple plot for kids to enjoy.
I am not sure if they made the game first and then decided to make a movie based on that or vice-versa, but the majority of the footage in the movie is straight from the video game’s cutscenes. Thus, if you have not played the game, it gives you an advantage over those who have, as it will all seem fresh and brand new. Trust me, you’re lucky.BEGIN SPOILERS  For those who HAVE played the game:Now, if you have played the game, especially if you are one of those hardcore LEGO game players that has to replay levels to get all of the minikits and any special items, watching these cutscenes over again is just not at all entertaining. The jokes are still bad, especially since they are the exact same ones from the game, and the whole story seems rushed to get you to the next scene. The Justice League is all of a sudden thrown in towards the end and the other villains, including Bane, Poison Ivy, Riddler, etc., are no fun at all in their wasted capacity. As I already mentioned, so much of this movie is solely cutscenes from the videogame that there’s almost nothing redeeming in what has been added to make it a full-length feature. Unless, I guess, you are a young child. That may be the only way to love this.END SPOILERS For All of the Above:Besides the cutscenes being re-used, the biggest problem with this movie is that it is just not very well written. The jokes in it, especially coming from The Joker, are fall horribly flat. If you have seen either of the LEGO Star Wars animated specials that were also released on home video, you are going to be baffled by how incredible those two are in comparison. In contrast, those two LEGO Star Wars specials had great dialogue, jokes and references to the franchise. Granted, there have been many takes on the Batman and Superman mythologies over the years, from Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan to Richard Donner and Zack Snyder. Let’s not even go into all of the writers and artists who have worked on the comics for over a combined century. Even without having to tap into a specific one of those takes, there is still plenty to draw from. 
Yet, this wealth of source material is not taken advantage of. Sure, we’re talking about a movie that is marketed to kids, but so were the aforementioned LEGO Star Wars movies and those had plenty of in-jokes that your average 10 year-old will miss. So it is not a question of source material, it was just bad writing. Some episodes of Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends from the 1970s were more creative and entertaining. The cast is mostly made up of voice actors who have worked on other animated features and voiced characters in videogames. Not to put down anyone’s talents, but the only name in the cast really worth mentioning here is Clancy Brown, who returns to voice Lex Luthor. Brown voiced Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series, JLU and several other games and videos. On a personal note, he is my favorite animated Luthor, just as Gene Hackman is my favorite live-action Luthor.
 If you are a fan of John Williams’ Superman theme and Danny Elfman’s score on Tim Burton’s Bat-films, you are in luck, because these are what played continuously during the movie. As someone who is a Blu-ray fanatic, I can tell you the picture quality is really good. At times you can see some pixilation in fast action scenes, kind of like when you’re watching a poor quality DVD being upconverted, but it is nothing that bad. The audio quality is also really good with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which is more than enough for kids and decent enough for adults for a LEGO movie.The Blu-ray also comes with some special features: *All-New Featurette Building Batman:  A fifteen-minute video with stop-motion animator and Grand Prize winner of the DCU LEGO Video Contest, Garrett Barati, who guides a group of kids around his LEGO studio and shows them how to make a stop-motion animated Batman short, even without having expensive equipment. *Winning Shorts from the LEGO DC Universe Super Heroes Video Contest: Garrett Barati’s prize-winning animated short, as well as the runner-up shorts.*From the DC Comics Vault: 3 Bonus Cartoons: Nothing new here. Two episodes from Batman: The Brave and the Bold: “Triumvirate of Terror” and “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Overdrive” from Teen Titans. *A LEGO Batman Stop Motion Short: A minute-long promo with stop-motion animation.