How The LEGO Movie (2014) didn’t get a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film continues to be a cruel mystery. Brick by brick, the execution was such a riot with a final arc of pathos that punches way above its weight. Until the sequel in 2019, we have Batman in his own movie. The short of it is that everything in The LEGO Batman Movie is indeed awesome, again.
There is a new police commissioner in town. The first order of business by Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is to stop Batman’s (Will Arnett) lone vigilante acts because frankly they aren’t working. Meanwhile, the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) has hatched a devious plan to unleash a plethora of notorious villains and monsters on Gotham City. The only way to defeat them is for Batman to do something not in his DNA – work with others, including Robin (Michael Cera), Barbara Gordon and his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes).
Like its predecessor, this is jam-packed with irrelevant wisecracks, clever digs and pop-culture references. Right from the get-go, we get Batman doing a commentary of the opening logos that had me in stitches, and the jokes just kept on coming. Nothing is safe from the film-makers who are riding on a rich vein of self-awareness as they take aim at not just their own DC universe but that of Marvel and all manners of corporate branding, even Adam West gets gleefully skewered. The rogue gallery is such a dazzling hoot – Voldemort from the Harry Potter films, The Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, King Kong and even the Gremlins. For Batman fans, this fits right into the film franchise and it does peel an interesting layer off the superhero. ‘One’ is definitely the loneliest number as we see Batman returning to an empty bat cave after his city-saving exploit and watching a rom-com in a posh home theatre all alone. The poor dude is even shunned by the Justice League in a sequence that had me laughing the hardest.
Arnett reprises his role in The LEGO Movie with his deadpan gravelly voice and his delivery is pitch-perfect. The cast also has Cera with his spot-on cheery disposition and Galifianakis as Batman’s ultimate nemesis with an identity crisis. The rest of the cast are just as buoyant.
The novelty from the first movie has unfortunately lost its sheen but I wouldn’t say it is to its detriment. Some of the wild spectacles feel a little tiresome after a while and one or two could have been jettisoned without leaving much of a dent in the story. It also doesn’t have a memorable song that sticks in your mind as you walk out of the cinema. This entry is also missing the huge wallop of pathos in the final arc of the original. But for all it is worth, The LEGO Batman Movie manages to shine a new light on our overly familiar superhero and asks some great pointed questions – what is a superhero without his arch-enemy? If Batman has been doing his crime fighting for years, why is Gotham City still riddled with crime?
This is a superb send-up of the over-stuffed superhero genre flicks and it wisely never takes itself seriously. The vibrant colours and non-stop shenanigans will be a hoot for children (judging from the hearty laughter of two kids seated behind me) but I feel it is made more for the Batman fans with its witty digs.
4 / 5