Chris McKay / Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes / Comedy, Animated / 2017 / U / 104mins
The Lego franchise rolls on, this time focusing on fan favourite Batman. Let's face it, there's no superhero better than Batman - his money, his ego, his awesome crime-busting skills. Who wouldn't want to see a Lego Batman movie? It's a win-win.
The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is up to his old tricks but Batman (Will Arnett) doesn't care - it's just another day at the office, fighting crime and... being alone. Sad times. It gets worse, new crime commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) decides the city no longer needs their dark knight and, before Batman can deal with the repercussions, orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) stumbles under his wing. The Joker hatches a final dastardly plan to seek revenge - can Batman choose between himself and those close to him before it's too late?
Opening at a breakneck pace, Lego Batman brings a riotous half an hour of gung-ho entertainment that superbly balances both action and comedy. Then... well, the whole narrative takes a big step down. The plot seems to go in circles till Batman finally decides to accept he is a bit of a moral moron.
Thankfully, the naturally hilarious Will Arnett has created one of the all time great Batman personas, and it's hard not to smile when he's on screen. There's been Bale, Clooney, Keaton... Arnett is up there. Whilst Cera is equally well cast, not much can be said of the others. Galifianakis's Joker isn't someone who seems dastardly evil - just someone who wants to be loved - and Fiennes is just a token posh Brit.
Noting that Lego Batman is a kids film, the snippets of adult banter are worth the wait. Humour really is the saving grace for the entire feature, otherwise you're left with something that amounts to an extended Nicklodeon showpiece.
The thematic content is not the usual kid flick bonanza. The death of Batman's parents, and the trauma he still clearly suffers, is pretty much the major theme. That cuts deep. To manage it in a way that kids can understand, whilst dropping jokes like it's Live at the Apollo, is always great to see.
What goes up must come down, and the same regrettably applies to Lego Batman. Batman's longing for Barbara randomly ends on a 'I've come to realise I don't have to love you and we can just be friends' note. While admirable, the path to this conclusion comes out of nowhere (much like the end of the film... woops).
I was disappointed. I expected something much better. Instead what we get is a movie with a quirky template that somehow ends plain and tiresome. The animation is as cute as ever, and some of the voice acting and humour is great, but there wasn't a satisfying climax - it was too long. Any child will start getting a bit restless - even I was.
Film as a Film - 2 / Target Audience - 3 / General Audience - 3
The Lego Batman Movie is in cinemas now
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