20th Aug2019

‘LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Features the voices of: Troy Baker, Will Friedle, Jason Spisak, Alyson Stoner, Steve Blum, Zach Callison, Cam Clarke, Ralph Garman, Jake Green, Tom Kenny, Christian Lanz, Scott Menville, Nolan North | Written by Jeremy Adams | Directed by Matt Peters

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LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters is the latest animated movie in the now long-running LEGO DC Super Heroes series which was originally spun off from the cut scenes from the LEGO Batman games, and sees the franchise focus on its biggest hero – after all, Batman is the ONLY character to have his own feature film – and the rest of the Bat-clan; including Ace the Bat-Dog, the Damian Wayne version of Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman and the Red Hood – aka former Robin, Jason Todd.

As I’ve said before, and no doubt will say again, by now LEGO and DC’s animated movie are well into their stride, and both the filmmakers and the audience knows what what works and what doesn’t in this particular slice of the DC universe – and the audience, given the success of both the big-screen movies and DC’s TV line-up, are more than familiar with the characters – which means these films can have even more fun with the concept. Such as they do here, making the Bat-family literally that, a family. With all that comes with being a family: falling outs, disagreements, reconciliation and – given this is Batman – plenty of heroics too!

Speaking of heroics, LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters pulls its superhero plot from a couple of places within DC Comics’ history, namely 2004’s Batman: Under the Red Hood, which saw Jason Todd take over the mantle of the titular villain/anti-hero; and the pre-Infinite Crisis mini-series The OMAC Project. Here mashing the two ideas together into a fast-paced story that manages to both honour the original source material and give it the usual LEGO spin. The story is that ominous notes are sent to the Bat-family leaving the heroes racing against time to stop Red Hood, who’s gathering Gotham City’s rogues’ gallery to enact revenge on the Dark Knight; however the Hood’s cohort in crime, Two-Face, goes rogue on the rogues’ gallery – buying up Wayne Enterprises and gaining access to Brother Eye and the OMAC’s and turning them against Batman AND the Red Hood!

There’s a nice nod to Shazam! in the appearance of a pre-hero Billy Batson who, it would seem, is set to get his own LEGO DC animated feature if THAT credit sequence is to be believed. And like that film this DC tale is definitely all about the family – the Bat-family! There’s a real moral centre to this film, much moreso than some of the other LEGO DC movies, one that shows that despite family conflicts and tension, family is still family. It’s interesting to see what is essentially the same moral core and family dynamic as the Shazam! live-action movie brought to animation. It’s not surprising that it fits so well in this universe – when your story is allowed to be lighter and more jovial than other Bat-stories it should really be expected.

Speaking of animation, Warner Bros. have the design and animation of the LEGO DC movies down to a tee. This looks flawless – it also looks bright and colourful enough to appeal to kids whilst still maintaining the darker, more gothic, look that Batman has across all media. LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters also, once again, has a fantastic voice cast. Led by Troy Baker, who seems to be channeling the spirit of Adam West’s Batman somewhat, there’s not a single bad performance in the entire film.

If you’ve enjoyed ANY of the LEGO movies then this is a easy recommendation. Hell, even if you haven’t it’s worth checking this out just to see how this adaptation of Under the Red Hood and The OMAC Project works so well in family-friendly animation form!

**** 4/5

LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters is out now on DVD and Digital from Warner Bros.

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