This is the best Batman movie in five years – during which time there’s been almost as many flicks featuring the caped crusader as there have been Best Picture winners.
The LEGO Batman Movie and its star, as ubiquitous as his appeal is somehow never-tiring, gets what Batman v Superman never quite cottoned on to – that a film about a guy who dresses up in leather to fight villains called Egghead and Condiment King (as per the movie, yes, they’re real) is supposed to be fun.
Reprising his role as the highlight of The LEGO Movie, Will Arnett is joined by his Arrested Development co-star Michael Cera (Robin) in the fight against a cavalcade of bad guys, many among them a little too camp for modern iterations and here lead by Zach Galifianakis’ Joker, obsessed with his status as Batman’s No.1 adversary.
Opening with a spectacular parody of The Dark Knight Rises, The LEGO Batman Movie is best when riffing on its hero’s extensive legacy, even revisiting his earlier castings, drastic changes in tone and, lovingly, much-loved ‘Kapow!’ graphics of decades-past. The panoply of DC characters a treat for any fan, the surprise addition of villains from a slew of other cult favourites including a batch of Daleks, aka ‘British killing machines,’ will have any pop-culture enthusiast salivating.
Arnett is reliably superb, playing up the dark, brooding temperament popularized by Christian Bale, while Galifianakis envelops a Joker notably more engaging than Jared Leto’s turn in whatever Suicide Squad was. The whole premise slyly drawn from a central plot point of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy now duly adopted by blockbusters everywhere, the film too skewers some of the peculiarities of the Bat-verse hitherto unaddressed in most features.
Why, for instance, has no one figured out that the only person in Gotham young and rich enough to be Batman, is Batman? How does Bruce Wayne cope with being so dark and mysterious literally all of the time? Is there something more than a little weird about his relationship with the Joker?
All these questions are answered, playfully, with a thrilling Killing Joke Easter egg thrown in for good measure; only one of the gentle digs at Batman’s relationship with the clown king of crime.
As fun as it is, the novelty of Arnett’s character so evident in The LEGO Movie wears off in the film’s latter half as he is forced to maintain the shtick and LEGO Batman’s abundant levels of energy for an entire feature. Infrequent musical renditions and beatboxing from the central characters (definitely aimed at younger audience members) might also try the patience of some of the older fans, though a throwaway line about Batman never paying his taxes almost makes up for it.
One for the kids and any and every Batman fan out there, it’s fantastic to see that Animal Logic have done it again.
The LEGO Batman Movie is in cinemas on March 30