UK Release Date: 10th February 2017
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zoë Kravitz, Jenny Slate, Mariah Carey, Billy Dee Williams
Synopsis: When Batman banishes his greatest enemy to the Phantom Zone, he unwittingly springs a trap that threatens Gotham City and the world.
When it arrived in a frenzy of colour and noise in 2014, The Lego Movie was a pleasant surprise for just about everyone. It was an inventive animated movie that had plenty to say about modern consumer culture and the essence of creativity. But it was also riotously funny and, at the centre of all of that was Will Arnett as the gravel-voiced Lego Batman. It was little surprise when the caped breakout star was announced as the star of his own spin-off and, now The Lego Batman Movie is here, it’s as joyously bonkers as its predecessor.
Batman (Arnett) has just saved Gotham again from a cabal of baddies, including The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), and he returns to the Batcave, alone except for loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and irritating child Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who he has inadvertently adopted. The mayor (Mariah Carey) introduces new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), who thinks that the police should work more closely with Batman in order to phase out the need for the vigilante. Upset that he is no longer necessary, Batman tries to vanquish his foes forever by marooning them in the Phantom Zone.
The Lego Batman Movie is a film made as if everyone involved has guzzled an entire tube of blue Smarties. It has energy in abundance and is fully willing to throw literally everything at the audience. It would be wrong to spoil the myriad surprises and cameos that make the film such great fun, but it’s fair to say that it isn’t just Batman’s traditional rogues’ gallery that arrives to get in the hero’s way this time around. Director Chris McKay’s ambition and imagination is boundless and the film is a frenetic journey that will delight young audiences with its bonkers action and machine gun script, which packs in jokes at an astounding rate.
It’s Arnett’s performance that brings the whole thing to life. The first 15 minutes especially are a tremendous comic showcase for the Arrested Development star and The Lego Batman Movie cracks the laugh count of many Hollywood comedies before the title card has even popped up on screen. The laughs don’t dry up for the entire first half of the film, which is packed with self-referential nods to Batman movies and the rest of the superhero canon. Fans of these movies will find plenty of gags for them and there’s a steady stream of slapstick to keep younger fans happy.
The vocal performances from the eclectic cast are brilliant, with special praise due to Galifianakis and Cera, who both take iconic characters and put their own spin on them. Cera embraces the irritating aspects of both Robin and his own persona to produce something hilariously grating and Galifianakis’ Joker is like an insecure ex, desperate to beat Batman and equally secure his approval. Rosario Dawson also excels and is gifted many of the most cutting lines as Barbara Gordon, who ultimately becomes Batgirl. Memorable cameos are too frequent to list, though Channing Tatum deserves a special note for reprising his jock incarnation of Superman from The Lego Movie.
Unfortunately, The Lego Batman Movie cannot quite sustain its comedic momentum for the entire running time and hits something of a stumbling block when it tries to crowbar a facile moral message about friendship into the final third. It’s the equivalent of a sugar crash and, though the film remains consistently funny, it sacrifices the edge of its opening act and becomes something more akin to a generic animated flick.
Pop or Poop?
Ferociously funny and utterly effervescent in its comedy, The Lego Batman Movie is a genuinely hilarious animated film that is more than willing to have a pop at its superhero bedfellows. Will Arnett is perhaps the most purely entertaining incarnation of Batman to date and the supporting cast sees A-listers having the time of their lives.
The moral messaging in the third act is a little clumsy, but a film this funny can get away with a slight sentimental streak.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
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