The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie
Directed by Chris McKay
Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes
On UK DVD June 19th, 2017

Watch on iTunes or Amazon

by Richard Hamer

It’s strange that it’s come to this: Five years ago, who’d have thought that a movie based on Lego bricks would not only turn out to be a good idea, but one of the finest comedies of the past decade? Not only that, but we’d then see a spin-off starring the specifically Lego version of Batman, and this would attract major Hollywood talent, and would not seem at all bizarre.

The end result, however, is very bizarre. The Lego Batman Movie is part family adventure, part pop-culture encyclopaedia and part wholesale deconstruction of the Batman character. You see, this Batman is an arrogant crime fighter, addicted to fame, and convinced – as he goes home each night to his empty mansion and lobster thermidor – that he needs nobody and no-one in his life. This leads to tension with new police Commissioner Barbara Gordon (who he says he doesn’t need) and even arch-nemesis The Joker (who he says isn’t even a big deal, really. Not, like, a proper nemesis or anything). The crazed journey of self-discovery that follows includes everything from a visit to the Justice League, to a tuxedo dress-up party to a fight with Lord Voldemort. The Lego Batman Movie, much like its predecessor, is a cavalcade of nonsense and non-sequiturs, wrapped in catchy music and gorgeously lit, solid feeling CGI. It’s an absolute audio/visual treat.

But it can be exhausting: Save the odd moment of downtime, The Lego Batman Movie amounts to a 100-minute-long action sequence: A manic explosion of light and colour, each shot so crammed with gags it can be hard to process. Worse, it can become wearying, like being the only adult in the middle of a children’s party.

I’d suggest giving it several views to absorb it all, except I’m not sure the story warrants it: The Lego Batman Movie is sadly not the equal of The Lego Movie, lacking much of its nuance or depth of feeling. While there are certainly jokes aimed at adults (specifically into the obscure corners of Batman’s cinematic and comic canon), the film as a whole is further toward the child-friendly end of the market: Loud, eye-catching, but ultimately fairly shallow.

And yet part of me wants to love this film. In a world where so much of mainstream comedy is dominated by the same three friends of Judd Apatow, standing in rooms doing improv at each other for days until someone says something funny, The Lego Batman Movie is a revelation. If its manic, its only due to the sheer breadth of its creator’s comic imagination; their frenzied desire to turn every word, action, and even scene transition into a joke. There’s not a single lazy frame here. No-one so much as opens a door without something insane happening.

So, go see The Lego Batman Movie. While it quickly became a wall of noise to this critic, it is funny noise. You’ll catch maybe 20% of the jokes, but every one you get, you’ll love. And if nothing else, get it for your kids: this is a 21-gun salute from a confetti cannon kind of movie, the type of good-natured parade of mayhem the world probably needs more of. Trust me, they’ll watch it over and over. Forever.



 

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