The LEGO Batman Movie review: All other Batman parodies are now defunct

Sorry, this LEGO Movie spin-off has made every Batman joke possible, so the rest of you might as well go home

Clarisse Loughrey
Saturday 04 February 2017 12:05

It's intriguing, in a way, to see The LEGO Batman Movie hit the scene exactly a full year after Deadpool's trumpeted arrival.

The hope, obviously, is that kids won't have seen the latter (pray for good parenting); yet, for adults, the comparison may be hard to ignore. We've re-entered the realm of the meta-superhero narrative and, honestly, it's The LEGO Batman Movie which actually emerges triumphant.

Call it the boon of opportunity which arrives hand-in-hand with animation, but it commits fully to its fourth-wall-breakage and endless self-referencing in a way which simply outlasts its live-action compatriot. Buckle in and hold on tight, because the jokes start dropping as early as the studio logos and only relent once we're deep into end credits territory.

A spin-off of 2014's wildly successful The LEGO Movie it may be, but it's hard to consider this film as anything other than a one-shot deal; Warner Bros. have thrown everything into the ring here, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a single Batman joke that isn't exploited here, much less any wiggle room for a sequel.

Every age, every iteration becomes prime target for parody: from the whiz-bang camp of the '60s TV show to Tom Hardy's indecipherable mumbles in The Dark Knight Rises. Even Gentleman Ghost gets a brief shout-out: a gentleman, a ghost, and possibly the least expected Batman villain ever to make it screen.

Will Arnett's welcome return, after his scene-stealing turn in The LEGO Movie, continues a vocal performance which expertly combines every Batman that's come before; all combined with the fragile ego of a man who's Instagrammed every single gym session he's ever undertaken, as he now attempts to stop short the Joker (Zach Galifianakis)'s plans to conquer Gotham, while finding himself saddled with a newly-adopted son in Robin (Michael Cera).

The Lego Batman Movie - Trailer 3

If this all sounds a little exhausting, worry not: LEGO Batman nimbly manages to pull off this kind of hyperspeed humour through the sheer level of quality being maintained, interspersing its silliness with pointed jabs at Batman's place in pop culture, getting right to the heart of the matter in a way Zack Snyder's excessively sombre Batman v Superman never dared.

That includes the admittance that, despite his iconic appeal, we're talking about a character who represents something of an authoritarian elite; certainly, a tax-dodger if he's managing both the upkeep of the Batcave and all of its ludicrous gadgets. Or, as the film succinctly puts it, he's essentially "an unsupervised adult man karate-chopping poor people".

With any superhero movie, inevitably, come the shadow of the shared universe; however, LEGO Batman keeps its references to its cinematic predecessor refreshingly minimal, though a continued giddy attitude towards its property mash-up ethos once more ends up being a driving force behind the film.

Which is exactly where the film may prove its most divisive: either charming its viewers with the straight enthusiasm of its arsenal of pop culture references, or gaining its contractors through that oncoming stench of merchandising opportunities. Neither does the film engage with the breadth of emotions which made The LEGO Movie such an instant treasure, choosing instead to invest squarely in its gloriously chaotic action setpieces.

Yet there's no doubt, The LEGO Batman Movie delivers a deliriously fun ride that likely to stand up surprisingly well amongst the rest of this year's superhero films.

The LEGO Batman Movie hits cinemas 10 February.

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