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Film Review: The Lego Batman Movie

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It's the one sequel we've all been waiting for, and with it's glorious wackiness, dry humour and endless self-parody, The Lego Batman Movie certainly doesn't disappoint.

In 2014, the imaginations of adults and children alike were enraptured by the odd, yet awesome styles of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's The Lego Movie. A fantastically random family movie, created with an almost strange amount of heart, The Lego Movie brought together several mini-worlds to create an imaginative vista of childhood play. One of those worlds was the DC universe, in which Will Arnett's wry, arrogant Batman held a particular resonance among fans. 

In his much-anticipated (and well deserved) spin-off film, the DC Lego universe is developed and expanded upon with just as much style and charismatic energy as you'd expect from this version of the Dark Knight. We meet the miniature caped crusader in the middle of an existential crisis, as he struggles to find happiness in the quieter moments of his life, when he's not out kicking the butts of bad guys in Gotham City.

Despite his fame, fortune and gadgets, Batman is the quintessential loner and the absence of a family to ground him is beginning to take its toll. From eating Lobster Thermidore in his pants and cowl to manically laughing in the emotional scenes of rom-coms in his private cinema, it's clear that the lone vigilante is in need of company other than his 'puter and butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

Batman's arrogance and determined resilience to work alone even begins to effect his number one adversary, The Joker (Zach Galifanakis) who enters a confidence crisis when his "greatest enemy" shuns their good guy/bad guy relationship. Disheartened by the lack of emotional investment Batman has in their battles ("I like to fight around"), the clown prince of crime comes up with a dastardly plot to prove his worth as a villain and take over Gotham. 

In the midst of this chaos, Bruce Wayne also encounters and inadvertently adopts a sparky and enthusiastic orphan called Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who later finds himself donning a pants-less reggae suit to become Batman's reluctantly appointed sidekick, Robin. As well as this, wily and determined crimefighter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) comes to replace her father Jim as the Police Commissioner of Gotham City, proposing a revolutionary plan that threatens to make Batman's vigilante heroics redundant. 

Undoubtedly, one of the best elements of the film is its consistent use of wry, self-referential humour, combined with classic visual gags and rapid one-liners. Arnett gets the best of them, making the audience laugh from the very first production logo at the start of the film, as he fires off meta quips about the cinematic gravitas of previous Batman films, like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.

Like Deadpool, The Lego Batman Movie isn't afraid to laugh at itself or to make jokes at the expense of DC's cinematic history. Indeed, the film takes aim at everything, from Batman and Robin to Adam West's gloriously cheesy "BAM! WHAM! WALLOP!" days. And of course, Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman don't get away from Lego Batman's sly comedic ire either ("Fighting bad guys with another team of bad guys? That's a stupid idea.")

As with The Lego Movie, this film manages to pull together several wacky and surreal ideas, without ever getting too carried away with itself. The frenetic animation style of Lego stop-motion really enables the story to go to the absolute limit, bringing in surprise characters and elements that would seem totally out of place in any other kind of movie. For some reason, the rendering of moving Lego pieces just enraptures the imagination, in a way that completely abolishes the cynicism we usually employ when watching movies. And for that, the filmmakers have to be commended.

The vocal cast of this film is also phenomenal. Arnett's voice work as Batman offers the perfect balance between wry sarcasm and heartfelt realisation. Cera and Galifianakis also bring bucketfuls of energy and charisma to the colourful characters of Robin and The Joker, while Fiennes' droll delivery is just perfect for Alfred. 

Proving that the DC universe isn't doomed just yet, The Lego Batman Movie is a brilliant family movie, that with it's wry humour and imaginative storytelling also goes to show just how well a popular brand can be adapted and built upon. All it takes is the right amount of bricks.

The Lego Batman Movie is out in UK cinemas from Friday.




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