Following the unexpected success of ‘The Lego Movie’ in 2014, it only makes sense that such success should spawn a second outing handled in the same vein as the original; but can the formula work a second time around or is it a one trick pony?
As to be expected, this outing ditches the gritty, gloomy atmosphere attributed to Batman films of recent memory and opts for a comedic approach, poking fun at nearly all of the franchise’s 78 year history. Offended by Batman’s refusal to acknowledge him as his greatest enemy, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) hatches a scheme to make him take notice, involving not only Batman’s extensive rogues gallery, but many of the greatest villains ever put to Lego. Meanwhile, Batman (Will Arnett) struggles with his inability to accept help from the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario dawson), his butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and his newly/accidentally adopted son, Dick Greyson/Robin (Michael Cera).
Like the Lego Movie, this is heavily peppered with jokes, coming thick and fast from all angles. In fact, during the first half, blink and you’d miss them. Fortunately, quantity does not detract from quality here, whether it’s Will Arnett’s delightfully tongue in cheek voicing of Batman, the pop culture references or even slapstick, all are well handled and few failed to produce a chuckle. The overarching story was also well handled, incorporating a vast number of different characters from the Batman universe and beyond, but none felt unnecessary, uninteresting or poorly handled. There are, as can be expected, a large number of what can only be described as ‘in-jokes’ that only avid Batman fans would catch. However, these are not so common as to exclude any casual viewer. Indeed, in several cases, the in-jokes speak for themselves (yes, Kite Man, Egghead and the Condiment King are real Batman villains. And yes, they’re all in this movie).
It’s not just the jokes that come thick and fast either, but the visuals too. It makes a nice change to have a new Batman movie that pops with colour and the incredibly snappy animation present in the Lego Movie makes a return here, with impressive and inventive effects throughout. It really is like watching the inner workings of a child’s mind when playing with Lego and almost makes you want to go out and buy a set. Furthermore, the soundtrack was a pleasant surprise, mixing intense action scores with what can only be described as ‘Bat-raps’ – inventive and amusing.
However, it is perhaps the huge volume of jokes during the first half that makes the second feel like a little bit of a drag at times, as the movie takes a slightly more serious tone leading up to the final showdown. This is not a serious pacing issue by any means, and the movie does recover, but there was a period of less engaging down-time.There is also a message behind this movie, which at times does feel rather over-exposed and blindingly obvious – this is a kids’ movie after all. Despite this, it is heartwarming, appropriate and does not detract from the film as a whole.
This is as good a follow-up to the Lego Movie as could have been expected. While it perhaps doesn’t carry so much of either the surprise or emotional impact as its predecessor, this is a solid comedy. In fact, this is very a solid Batman movie to boot, and one worthy of the franchise’s pedigree. Will Arnett does a great job of satirising Christian Bale’s gravelly tones and Zach Galifianakis delivers yet another different, but (this time) highly effective take on the Joker. Overall, this is a shining example of how a movie marketed for children can appeal to all ages by awakening the child within once again. I would recommend going to see this movie, especially if you’re a fan of the famous caped crusader.