Much like its predecessor, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is chock full of tongue-in-cheek teen-speak as well as speed-of-light scene cuts and fast dialogue. It quickly opens with a ‘bam!’ ‘bam!’ ‘bam!’ gag approach that can at times come off as a little needy. We don’t need 50 jokes per second to hook us in when the central conceit is already A grade. The Joker hijacks an airplane but one pilot is decidedly non-threatened. “Batman will stop you. Like he always does,” he deadpans.
Will Arnett is fantastic as the eponymous hero; the gruff-voiced Batman who believes he is better off alone – until certain people come into his life to make him unsure of his convictions. After the initial (very fun) opening sequence where Batman’s self-absorbed nature is more damaging to Joker than his tech (“What do you mean I’m not your greatest nemesis?!”) the emotional core is laid bare. Batman, despite the bravado, is lonely. The movie reveals this perfectly by showing him pottering around his echoing mansion with no-one to celebrate his latest victory with.
There are tons of cheeky nods to previous Batman incarnations (including the live-action TV show and movies) with a whole host of ridiculous costumes and villains getting some screen time. Filling up Batman’s world is a starry-eyed orphan, Dick Greyson (Michael Cera) whose blinkered giddy nature makes for an always gleeful presence. Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) is ‘butler Dad’ much more so than usual, chastising Bruce’s more selfish excesses. And Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is the object of his affections, but also a determined public servant who wants to do away with the need for Batman altogether. “We don’t need an unsupervised man karate-chopping poor people in a Halloween costume,” she scoffs.
The Dark Knight may still be a brooding vigilante in Lego form but his ridiculous self-aggrandizement makes him a much more comedic figure than the serious, humorless (and quite frankly, dull) character that audiences are used to. The movie may have the energy and attention span of a toddler but the ability of the movie to lampoon just about everything harks back to the classic era of the Naked Gun movies: you can’t help but enjoy its irreverent comedy that has a plethora of jokes for every member of the audience. Portraying Batman and a surprisingly sensitive Joker as a quarreling couple adds another delicious layer of tongue in cheek gags.
If you didn’t like The Lego Movie then Lego Batman is not going to change your mind. But for those on board with the silly daftness then shining a multi-colored light through Batman’s solitude makes for a great film all the family can enjoy. And you’ve also got Voldemort, Sauron, Daleks, and more thrown in for good measure.
Words by Michael Record