Film Reviews

When Lego characters are more entertaining than real life actors…

The LEGO Batman movie potentially has the most entertaining opening sequences of any super-movie in the last few years (in fact the visuals throughout are incredible and vibrant), with the opening credits even featuring a hilarious meta voice-over from Batman himself (Will Arnett). Given the medium, this film could never achieve the dark tone of the more recent versions of Batman, but what the LEGO aesthetic loses in grittiness, it makes up for with the sheer level of spectacle and humour. It pokes fun at itself, previous Bat-Men, DC, Marvel, the list goes on.


It’s self-referential, self-deprecating, and heaps of fun. By making full use of the DC universe, and a few others to boot, it captures the essence of what makes LEGO, and Batman, so popular. Even if you just focused on the references to Batman lore there is so much to enjoy, whether it’s Tom Hardy’s version of Bane interacting with Danny DeVito’s imagining of Penguin, or the fact that in one beat Batman attempts to embody the darkness of Christian Bale, and in another resembles the camp style of Adam West.

“Some of the funniest moments come from a still-masked Bruce Wayne mooching around the various rooms of his lonely manor”

As for the plot, the story is simple but executed to perfection, resulting in one of the most humanising portrayals of the Dark Knight to date. Batman’s development throughout is as satisfying as it is funny, and honestly, it’s probably the best DC movie since The Dark Knight back in 2008. After facing off against every member of the Caped Crusader’s rogues’ gallery you can name (and probably all the ones you can’t too), Batman finds himself at a loose end, living in a mansion with nobody but his humble butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

Some of the funniest moments come from a still-masked Bruce Wayne mooching around the various rooms of his lonely manor, microwaving lobster, playing epic guitar solos, and fiddling with HDMI settings in his home cinema.

The glimpse into the mundane side of Batman works not only as a great gag but also as a genuinely moving view into the extent of his loneliness. This is the driving force behind the whole film, the question of whether Batman will finally allow himself to be close to others and be happy for once, yet there is very little time in the film to feel sad, because the welcome tongue-in-cheek tone is always there, along with brilliant witticisms and visual gags.

“Will Arnett’s gruff tones and Ralph Fiennes’ dry delivery are the standout performances, in a film full of fantastic voice acting.”

Inevitably, Batman and his team, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Robin (Michael Cera), and Alfred, must take down the most random collection of villains in recent memory. While on the topic of the supporting team members, I should point out that the cast is brilliant: Will Arnett’s gruff tones and Ralph Fiennes’ dry delivery are the standout performances, in a film full of fantastic voice acting.

That being said, the Bat-beatboxing was bit much, and while Zach Galifianakis gives a decent performance as the Joker, he doesn’t really bring anything new to the role, with most of the Joker’s laughs coming from his superb animation.

2The humour of the film doesn’t just come in the form of its brilliant jokes, though, of which there are many and, while not every joke sticks the landing, the next big laugh is never too far away. There are so many great references, sight gags, and as with any movie aimed at children, a tonne of innuendo.

A lot of the fun comes down to the combination of Chris McKay’s frantic direction style which carries over from the original LEGO Movie, the brilliant writing, and the great plot; which sees the Joker gather the worst villains of all time from the Phantom Zone including Lord Voldemort, Sauron, and for some reason Jaws makes an appearance too.

But somehow it just works, and this is because it reminds you of actually playing with LEGO, I mean who didn’t play with their Batman and Harry Potter LEGO sets at the same time as a kid? Thanks to the movie’s self-awareness that everything is made of LEGO (and as with the LEGO Movie, it is everything that’s made of LEGO), the action has a hysterically simple resolution, which fits the tone of the movie perfectly.

Verdict: The LEGO Batman Movie continues the fun of the original LEGO movie, but with the slightly narrower focus on the Caped Crusader and his exploits, Chris McKay has managed to bring to life another heart-warming blockbuster (sorry) that’s equal parts parody and pastiche, joking about questionable parts of Batman’s previous incarnations, and cheekily nodding to the things make up the Dark Knight we love to see.  

It’s a film with a tremendous amount of heart, a plethora of different gags, and near-perfect voice acting, given all of that, Warner Bros will have to step up their game to make a better DC movie than The LEGO Batman Movie.

Jack Sparling

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Media Sourced from DC Entertainment

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