Lego and DC have got a good thing going. Back in 2013 they released Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite, which was an adaptation of the video game Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. In the time since, Warner Bros. Animation has let loose with a stream of direct-to-video adventures – not to be confused with the theatrical release The Lego Batman Movie. These films are much more geared towards children, and as such, aren’t really concerned with what critics like me have to say.
But here we are.
The ninth installment of the Lego DC Comics Super Heroes series, Lego DC Batman: Family Matters, is interesting for old school fans as it introduces the Lego world to the story of Jason Todd, otherwise known as Robin/Red Hood. Of course, in the comics, Jason Todd’s fate (A Death in the Family) was one of the darkest storylines to come out of eighties, so I was extremely curious to see just how Warner Bros. Animation and Lego would go about adapting a brutal murder, resurrection (Under the Hood), and violent crime fighting.
I should have realized before going in, that they would adapt it by ignoring all of that.
This is a children’s comedy cartoon about family, after all, with Batman (Troy Baker really leaning into the Adam West style of Bat-Acting) as the somewhat reluctant patriarch of a diverse super hero family. At the forefront of this is Batman’s supporting cast, which includes a rather white-washed Robin/Damian Wayne (Scott Menville), a dim-bulb Nightwing (Will Friedle), a put-upon Batgirl (Alyson Stoner), a hardcore serious Batwoman (Tara Strong), a snarky Alfred (Nolan North), Ace the Bathound, and ultimately Jason Todd/Red Hood (Jason Spisak).
The story doesn’t just introduce the mysterious Red Hood and the rest of the Bat-Family, though. We also get cameos by a variety of Bat-Villains, all of whom have been enlisted by Red Hood to teach Batman a lesson. They just don’t know that it’s a lesson about loving and caring about your family and friends. In a bit of a twist we also are introduced to Brother Eye (Cam Clarke), and the OMACs from Greg Rucka’s 2005 mini-series The OMAC Project.
You’ll want to keep an eye out for another surprise guest who gets a very special scene, potentially setting up a future film.
Overall, the plot is a bit simplistic, the script isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is, but the voice-acting is superb. There’s plenty of action and loads of Lego innovation in a CG animation-style that is practically flawless. Legos were made for CG, it seems.
While there are no special features with the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray/DVD combo does come packaged with a LEGO Mini Ultimate Batmobile, ready for assembly. And honestly, that might be more enticing for older viewers than the film itself, but kids should love both.