The LEGO Batman Movie Review
"I saved the city again. It was off the chain."
The best character in The LEGO Movie, Will Arnett's self-obsessed Batman returns for more acutely pariodied hilarity.Mirroring the standout success of Ben Affleck's Batman in Batman vs. Superman, Will Arnett's take on the Dark Knight stood out amidst the crowd in the colourful LEGO Movie, and it wasn't long before a solo feature was commissioned, also marking the solo directorial debut of LEGO movie animation co-director, Chris McKay, who delivers a tremendous adventure that hits all the right notes in parody, irreverence and satire, riding a fabulous LEGO-movie-esque dual line of humour that works in parallel for both young and old ("I don't currently have 'a' bad guy. I am fighting a few different people. I like to fight around.").The story is slight, but the least important element - strong enough to carry a ninety-minute movie packed to the hilt with gags, in-jokes, and Batman references from 80 years of comics and 50 years of movies and TV shows. After battling just about every villain he's faced before for the gazillionth time, Batman retires to his super-kitted-out Batcave to face the empty rooms and corridors of his lonely one-man-army life, whilst his spurned arch-nemesis, The Joker, plans a way to defeat Batman using a new cadre of super-villains, ones so mighty that even Batman may not be able to combat them, all on his own.
Right from Arnett's voiceover across the opening black screen and production titles, you realise just what kind of a movie you're in for, a wonderfully self-aware parody that's razor sharp and driven by a superb Batman incarnation thanks to Arnett, who really manages to hit a fine balance between open self-mocking and complete and utter love and respect for this character. It's genius, reminiscent of Archer in the FX spy comedy animated TV series, and just as good as you would expect given his audacious introduction in The LEGO Movie. This is one spin-off that arguably tops its founding feature.
A wild variety of supporting vocal actors bring their own contributors to life - Rosario Dawson's tough cop Barbara Gordon, Zach Galifianakis' madcap Joker (who is - for good and bad - closer to the Suicide Squad incarnation than the most famous animated incarnation by Mark Hamill), Ralph Fiennes' loyal Alfred, and Michael Cera's desperate-to-be-adopted Robin, with bit parts for everyone from Eddie Izzard to Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill to Adam DeVine - but it's Arnett's baby through and through, with some of the greatest laugh-out-loud moments (and there are plenty, if they haven't already been ruined by the trailer) relying upon Arnett to do his stuff solo, with a microwave, lobster or even electric guitar.
This is one spin-off that arguably tops its founding feature
Of course younger kids are going to miss out on many of the in-jokes, from the LEGO-ised images from just about every movie incarnation of the character used to play into the ongoing problems with Batman's psyche; the Robin costume (hilariously introduced); and even the Joker's repeated plans to destroy Batman ("It's not as good as the one with the two boats... or the one with Prince and a parade."), but it doesn't matter because there's just so much crazy-frantic antics on-screen that there's more than enough visual diversion. In fact, it's perhaps only in the Tron: Legacy-esque final flight-battle where things get a little bit too much on the action front, drowning out the comedy and razor-sharp wit in favour of wide-eyed action, but it's a minor gripe in an otherwise superb animated outing which marks a high point in the increasingly imaginative animated LEGO universe. Find a younger relative you can use as an excuse to see this right now.
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