First Look: Lego Batman movie - 'Everything clicks gleefully into place'
Everything clicks gleefully into place in the Lego Batman Movie. This second whiz-bang animation produced in association with the toy powerhouse is a masterclass in having your cake and scoffing it, with a raucous relentlessness sure to appeal to kids and rapid fire in-jokes for the adults.
With Will Arnett huskily voicing the Dark Knight, the film also offers an intriguing twist on Batman lore – one considerably more nuanced than that set out in the meat-headed Batman V Superman last summer.
Having stolen the show in the original Lego Movie, the legendary crime fighter is now in the throes of a mid-life funk.
Battling evil has started to feel like a job rather than a calling and, with nothing but his gadgets awaiting him at home, the Batcave has become a lonely mancave.
Still, as Batman tells the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) , he doesn’t do “ships” – as in relationships. That we all need companionship – even crimefighting billionaires dressed as nocturnal mammals – is a point the film proceeds to make, even as the chuckles are stacked higher than an enormous pile of tiny, dimpled bricks.
Swooshing in to shake Batman out of his depressive stew are a goofy Robin (Michael Cera, channelling his Arrested Development years), lady cop Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).
Meanwhile director Chris McKay (animation co-ordinator on the first Lego Movie and a veteran of the Robot Chicken series) summons the ghosts of Caped Crusaders past, invoking the camp Sixties series and the heavy metal po-facedness of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight era.
It’s great fun, with stop-motion style animation conjuring a delightful hand-crafted air – quite an achievement for what is essentially a feature-length product placement.
There’s a cracking twist, too, as Batman is forced to reckon with some unexpected villains and the entire affair is tied up in a heartwarming conclusion.
The original Lego Movie showed that, if you build it, they will come, and this sequel delivers just as many laughs and moments of pure joy. Bring your kids – or, if you don’t have any, just bring yourself.