In 2014 The Lego Movie came along and delivered an unexpectedly hilarious, charming and entertaining film catching a lot of people off guard. Originally expected to be little more than a marketing ploy the film was a huge success and there was outrage when the film wasn’t nominated for Best animated feature at the 2015 Oscars. This success has led to the creation of a Lego Movie franchise with a sequel greenlit and a Lego Ninjago movie due out later this year. First though we are treated to a spin-off focusing on the Lego Batman character, voiced by Will Arnett.
The movie begins with Gotham City under siege from the Joker whose plans are once again thwarted by Batman. During the confrontation Batman crushes the Joker’s feelings by claiming they have no relationship and the Joker means nothing to him. This sets off a series of events that lead to the joker voluntarily surrendering so Batman can experience life without him. Meanwhile Commissioner Gordon retires and his daughter Barbara takes his place. She wants Batman to abandon his vigilante ways and team up with the police to take down criminals together, something the caped crusader wants no part of.
From it’s opening shot to its closing Lego Batman is a never-ending cavalcade of jokes, gags and witticisms. One liners, visual gags, slapstick humour and easter eggs are abound and the pace never lets up. Arnett continues his fine work from The Lego Movie, capturing the ultra-serious tone of the character which he juxtaposes with the ridiculousness of his actions. Michael Cera makes a terrifically naïve Robin and Ralph Fiennes is amusing as the ever put upon Alfred. Galifianakis makes a surprisingly charming Joker, giving this popular character a new spin as a partner in an abusive relationship with Batman. He breathes fresh life into the highly popular role and is a highlight in this buoyantly entertaining film. Chris McKay was an animation co-director on the Lego Movie and he steps up to the role of director with aplomb. The miniature Gotham is wonderfully designed and lit with the teale and orange style reminiscent of other popular blockbusters, including last year’s Batman vs Superman.
The Lego Batman Movie is a meta-cinematic treat satirising and celebrating the history of one of the most popular fictional characters of the modern era. Batman has gone from the pages of early comic books, to a goofy Adam West TV show, appeared in some of the most violent and thoughtful graphic novels of our time and featured in one of the most successful and self-serious movie trilogies of the 21st Century. With a vast and expansive back catalogue to lampoon The Lego Batman Movie is yet another strike for the Caped crusader and it is unlikely Arnett will be hanging up his Lego cowl anytime soon.
Dir: Chris McKay
Scr: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Cast: Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Mariah Carey, Jenny Slate
Prd: Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Music: Lorne Balfe
Country: USA, Denmark, Australia
Run time: 104 minutes
The LEGO Batman Movie is out now in UK cinemas.