“Are you making some of those up?” asks a dubious hostage after the Joker reels off an impressive roster of villains come to destroy Gotham once and for all. “Nope,” replies Joker, “all real. Probably worth a Google.” Good idea, and a distinct advantage of The Lego Batman Movie hitting DVD and Blu-Ray: the ability to pause and rewind at will, ensuring not a single precious Easter Egg is missed.
You’ll probably still miss a few though, so jam-packed is The Lego Batman Movie with nudges, winks, references and cameos to the DC Universe and beyond. Like The Lego Movie before it, Batman’s spin-off is a joy to behold, every frame an intricate, colourful work of art that’s both fun and functional. From the big-hitters like Two-Face and The Riddler, to the Z-List (Condiment King, Orca), the gang’s all here – and so is, um, Voldemort?! And the Daleks?
Will Arnett reprises his role as the Dark Knight in a story which delves further into the psychology of Batman than any movie has gone before, facing his fear of intimacy and, ultimately, loss (okay, Batman and Robin did go there in its surprisingly tender Alfred scene, but that was Batman and Robin). He comes to terms with this through the adoption of Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and the brand new Commissioner Gordon, Barbara (Rosario Dawson). As he learns to love and let others in, what follows is fairly standard kids’ movie character progression… except with Batman.
Like its predecessor, The Lego Batman is as hyperactive as its young target audience will be after seeing it, barely stopping still for a moment of its breezy runtime. It’s a bright, loud popping candy party of a movie. From the performances to the animation, it’s that holy grail of a kids film, which is equally enjoyable to adults (especially if you happen to be more than a little acquainted with the Bat). If it’s missing anything, it’s a tune to match The Lego Movie’s ‘Everything is Awesome’ or Batman’s own ‘Untitled Self Portrait’. Michael Jackson and George Michael are teased, but the film goes all in on the less catchy Batman and Robin penned numbers which bookend it.
If anything, the film is too busy at times, the massive roster of characters not giving anyone but the lead five more than two or three lines of dialogue or anything to do (Billy Dee Williams finally gets to do his Two-Face after missing out in the Schumacher films - but his screen-time lasts all of five seconds). That said, Tom Hardy’s Bane voice comes in for a good ribbing, and some of the bigger laughs too. And Killer Croc’s head is that of a traditional Lego crocodile! The film earns an extra star for that alone.
But there’s a surprising infrequency to the belly laughs, as though The Lego Batman Movie was too concerned with setting out its toybox to be as funny as it could have been. It doesn’t help that the story is predictable too, lacking the astonishing twist of The Lego Movie, in favour of an obvious plot from the Joker that the World’s Greatest Detective should have seen coming. We’ll let him off though, it is a kids’ film, and this Batman’s brains are literally made of Lego.
The Lego Batman Movie is clever, funny and packed to the rafters with a veritable who’s who of Gotham’s most wanted. Everything is still awesome in Legoland, but there’s a lingering sense that this one could have been just a bit more.
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: CHRIS MCKAY / SCREENPLAY: SETH GRAHAME-SMITH, CHRIS MCKENNA, ERIK SOMMERS / STARRING: WILL ARNETT, JENNY SLATE, RALPH FIENNES, ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, MICHAEL CERA, ROSARIO DAWSON, BILLY DEE WILLIAMS / RELEASE DATE: 19TH JUNE