by Sam Robinson
Rated PG. Starring Will Arnett, Zack Galifianakis, Michael Cera. Directed by Chris McKay.
It’s happened again. A 90+ minute advertisement for toys that I’ve shelled out money to see and I really enjoyed. Well played, Lego.
Yes, 2014’s surprise hit – to the tune of half a billion dollars (not counting merchandise) – The Lego Movie has spawned a spinoff sequel starring one of its most hilarious, egocentric and brooding characters, Lego Batman. Capturing the heart and adventure of the original film and throwing it together with a DC superhero who is easy to poke fun at (yes, the Batman & Robin batsuit nipples get a gag), The Lego Batman Movie is always going to be a winner at the box office.
The film finds Batman (Arnett) at his crime-fighting best: saving Gotham to much applause, and enjoying a microwave lobster thermidor for one at the end of a day’s work. The Joker (Galifianakis) has other ideas though, working best to bring him down with a slew of DC’s C-grade villains including Polka Dot Man, King Tut and Condiment King. But when the Joker comments that their archrival relationship is the only thing that keeps them going, Batman responds harshly, saying that he doesn’t need the Joker, which brings tears to Joker’s eyes. As he says, ‘Batman doesn’t do relationships. I don’t need anyone.’
This leads the Joker to respond with a grand scheme, to release the worst pop-culture villains from the prison-like Phantom Zone – including Daleks, King Kong and Voldemort – and unleashes them on Gotham. Batman must combat his greatest fear, that is, working with others, to save Gotham City.
As you can probably tell, director Chris McKay has a field day with the Lego universe, allowing for a much lighter tone than your usual Batman films, but also the ability to insert a range of Warner Bros’ characters, no matter how ridiculous. The laughs aren’t as frequent as The Lego Movie, but if you’re familiar with the Batman canon you’ll enjoy the gags at the Dark Knight’s expense. It must be said too that the animation is spectacular. Not only are the colours vibrant, but you forget that everything displayed is animated from a Lego perspective. That makes the design very intricate, and it’s an absolute delight to watch. For the dark and sombre mood of most Batman films, there’s a lot of joy to be found in The Lego Batman Movie.
‘Your greatest fear is being part of a family again.’
Batman, or (spoilers) Bruce Wayne, enjoys the solitude of Wayne Manor, and is happy alone. But when a number of characters cross his path, he faces the dilemma of working as a team – something that he’s just not willing to do. He would much rather sit at home and watch Jerry Maguire by himself. But he soon learns that he cannot face Voldemort and friends alone.
When I reviewed The Lego Movie back in 2014 I noted the importance of imagination, using the creativity that God has gifted each and every one of us with. That message is still here, loud and clear, but added together with teamwork. Batman discovers how good it is to be in relationship, not only in fighting crime, but for all aspects of life. And this is how God created us, to be in community with one another – we are stronger together. As the writer to the Hebrews says, ‘let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,’ (Hebrews 10:24).
The Verdict: The Lego Batman Movie is filled with pop-culture reference gems and Batman throwbacks, but captures you into a world where anything goes, and encourages you to live life in community. It’s perfect for kids and adults alike, it’s gorgeous to look at, and will give you a solid laugh. 4.5/5
The Lego Batman Movie opens in Australian cinemas Thursday 30th March and is already screening in the USA.