A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the dreadful new DC animated film Superman: Unbound which was definitely one of the worst DC animated films yet. While Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Unite doesn’t technically qualify as a DC Comics release, it was vastly superior to Superman: Unbound. The film is based on the Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes videogame which finds Batman and Robin teaming with Superman and other members of the Justice League to take down a group of villains which includes The Joker, Lex Luthor, Two-Face, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, The Riddler, and Bane.
Luthor is on the verge of winning the bid for President of the United States and in order to secure the win, busts The Joker and several other villains out of Arkham Asylum with his new weapon called The Deconstructor, basically a disintegrator that reduces buildings or vehicles to a pile of Lego bricks. The film recreates many of the levels from the video game including the robbery at Ace Chemicals; The battle in the Arkham Asylum sculpture garden; Luthor and The Joker’s attack on Batman and Robin in the Batcave; LuthorCorp; and the showdown between the JLA and the giant Joker robot.
But even more than bringing those videogame levels to life on the small screen, the film also manages to capture all the humor and campiness of the game. Batman grows more and more irritated at Robin’s idol worship of Superman and refuses Robin’s requests to call Superman for help. Then there is Superman’s dramatic rescue of the Dynamic Duo at Arkham and the Batcave where Superman’s playful touting that he can do anything also serves to annoy Batman. The opening title credits recreate the opening credits from the first Tim Burton Batman film including the Batman score by Danny Elfman. And Superman’s appearances always feature the now iconic Superman theme by John Williams and even in an animated Lego film the music gives you chills.
The animation was produced by Traveller’s Tales, the same company that developed the videogame so the look is spot on when compared to the game. Frankly, the 3D Lego animation beats the crap out of many of the traditional 2D animated films we’ve seen. There’s a depth to the lights, shadows, and effects that you just don’t get with 2D animation. I found myself chuckling throughout not only at the sparkling dialog but also the many sight gags. At one point the villains use the Deconstructor on the Batmobile which completely destroys it except for the steering wheel that Batman still holds onto then throws in disgust. There’s also the scene in which a shark jumps out of the water to make Batman its lunch but a growl from Batman causes the shark to rethink his actions.
The voice acting is exceptional featuring a cast of veteran animated film performers. Leading the way is Clancy Brown who reprises his role as Lex Luthor from the videogame, as well as Superman: The Animated Series. Troy Baker who has provided dozens of voices for Anime series handles the voice of Batman/Clark Kent. Christopher Corey also reprises his role from the videogame as The Joker. Other cast members include Travis Willingam (Superman); Brian Bloom (Cyborg); Stephen Blum (Bane and The Penguin); Cam Clarke (Green Lantern); Katherin Von Til (Catwoman); and Rob Paulsen (Riddler).
Whether you were a fan of the game or not, you’re sure to enjoy Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Unite
Building Batman (15:00) – An animator and Lego expert talks about building and animating customized Lego scenes and instructs a group of kids on techniques for building and filming their creations.
From the DC Archives - Two episodes from the Brave and the Bold and one from the Teen Titans.
Batman Jumps into Action - animated short (:38)
Winning shorts from the Lego DC Universe animation contest (10:00) – The three winning animated short films
Here is a clip from Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Unite: