Cinematic lightning in a bottle, The Lego Movie is undoubtedly one of the greatest family films of the past decade; blending humour, heart and a true message effortlessly. Three years later, The Lego Batman Movie has arrived and it is clear the studio wanted to recapture that same magic. While on some part it fails to achieve this, the film excels when it follows its own path; creating brilliant humour at expense of the batman franchise as a whole and offering unique action and world building only the Lego franchise could possibly hope to achieve.
Self-aware from the very first frame, The Lego Batman Movie finds humour in every aspect of the sprawling Batman universe; from the seriousness of the Nolan Universe to the already campy nature of the 60s series, complete with POWs, BAMs and BIFFs. Any fan of the mythos will instantly be drawn into this world and appreciate the clear time and effort put in to both tribute and parody Batman but thankfully director Chris McKay also ties the films narrative to universally recognisable themes and ensures to create humour at more than simply the franchises expense; making the film compelling to even the most unfamiliar of viewers. This humour is the films greatest strength and it excels when allowed to breath but far too often the film shifts tone with emotional scenes that break the momentum of the plot and ludicrousness of the characters. While it is well intentioned and works fine for younger viewers, the message of family in the film just feels tired compared to that of The Lego Movie.
Returning to the cowl, Will Arnett leads the voice cast brilliantly and brings the perfect balance of arrogance and absurdity to the role. Supporting him is an energetic Michael Cera and surprisingly emotional Zach Galifianakis as Robin and Joker respectively. The rest of the expansive cast is performed equally well, giving every line from even the most minor of characters a memorable quality. Perhaps the one element that exceeds the original Lego Movie is the action; taking the same beautifully detailed animation that gives the illusion of stop motion and applying it to several memorable set pieces made possible only by Legos massive collection of properties – where else can we see Batman battling the Eye of Sauron using the power of the Kraken!
A strong film for children and nerds alike, The Lego Batman Movie is let down only by the shadow of its predecessor as a landmark in animation and family entertainment. However, it is still far better than a lot of the competition and, as a Lego film, is worth seeing for the surreal visuals alone.