REVIEW / ANIMATION
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (PG)
105 minutes/Opens tomorrow/4/5 stars
The story: Stung by the realisation that Batman (Will Arnett) does not regard him as his greatest foe, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) hatches a devious ploy that will unleash a plethora of notorious villains and monsters on Gotham City. In order to defeat them, Batman needs to learn to work with others, including Robin (Michael Cera), police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes).
This new animated feature should appease movie fans who loved the animated flick The Lego Movie (2014) and are impatient for its sequel scheduled to be released in 2019.
It is chock-full of that familiarly irreverent tone, non-stop wisecracks and, of course, the inventive use of the humble Lego brick to conjure up buildings, monsters, explosions and everything in between.
The jokes start early with Batman critiquing the opening film logo sequences - and never stop coming.
It helps that the self-aware film-makers are happy to take aim at themselves and others. There is even a dig taken at the much-reviled Suicide Squad (2016) in which villains are recruited to fight other villains.
The line-up of monsters is a hoot, a who's who of top cinematic nasties including Voldemort from the Harry Potter films, Eye of Sauron from The Lord Of The Rings and flying monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz. It is always cool to see what characters can be achieved simply by using Lego bricks.
Arnett, best known for the television comedy Arrested Development (2003-2013), reprises his brief role as Batman in The Lego Movie and his deadpan, growly delivery remains spot on.
The buoyant cast includes Cera, yet another Arrested Development alumnus, as the irrepressibly cheerful orphan unwittingly adopted by Batman/Bruce Wayne; Galifianakis as a villain with an identity crisis; and Fiennes as the loyal and wise butler/friend.
For all the silliness and mayhem, this is a movie that asks smart, pointed questions about the superhero genre: What is a superhero without his nemesis? In the case of Batman, a lonely man with attachment issues, shunned even by the rest of the Justice League.
Also, given that he has been at his job for such a long time, why does Gotham City remain crime-ridden? A most valid observation.
The Lego Batman Movie gleefully sticks a pin into the self-inflated pomposity of tortured superheroes and overblown superhero flicks and then tops it off with a sublimely ridiculous ending.