Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.
‘The Lego Movie’ was one of 2014’s most pleasant surprises, a fun and smart piece of animation with a wicked and subversive edge. It’s not a shock that a sequel was announced, although it is perhaps a little surprising that this Batman based spin off has came along first, but ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ more than justifies its existence and provides Will Arnett scope to build on his terrific voicework from the original movie. Given this lacks the element of surprise that ‘The Lego Movie’ had on its release, I didn’t find it to be as good as that movie but this is still entertaining stuff and crams a lot of material into its relatively short runtime.
The premise of the film takes cues from several previous ‘Batman’ outings and some of the most enjoyable moments are the straight parodies of elements of those films, with a comedic edge. The film pits Batman against The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), who once again wishes to take over and destroy Gotham City, with the assistance of a plethora of bad guys from both the DC stable and various other franchises. The film crams in so many characters that it becomes a little overwhelming at times trying to keep up with all of them, but it certainly gets good mileage out of playing around with the comic book formula and in particular, the staples of the ‘Batman’ films. Arnett’s great once again at deconstructing the ‘Batman’ legend, and amongst many inspired casting choices is Ralph Fiennes as his loyal butler Alfred and Michael Cera as a particularly whiny child version of sidekick Robin.
Most of the jokes land, and I particularly enjoyed the various cultural references and commentary on the DC/Marvel rivalry, not to mention how it mercilessly rips into the ridiculousness of the phantom zone (as known most commonly from ‘Superman’). Zach Galifianakis is solid casting as a needy version of the Joker (his constant craving for attention contrasts nicely with Cera’s Robin) and he plays off Arnett particularly well. The film is good at depicting Batman’s persona as a loner, and this iteration of Batman especially does not like working with others and constantly rebuffs attempts at ‘ships’ (relationships) with both friend and villain, and I loved the scenes of him going home to a night by himself in the Batcave with ‘Jerry Maguire’ on his massive cinema screen.
I’d say there’s a lot to love here if you liked ‘The Lego Movie’, but it’s also got a lot going for it for a comic book fan in general and having seen countless superhero movies of late its fun to see a movie satirise them so effectively. ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ perhaps lacks the novelty that came with the first film, but it’s good at what it does and this is a very funny, enjoyable movie.
Directed By: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Mariah Carey, Jenny Slate, Hector Elizondo and Chris Hardwick