Lego The Lego Batman Movie
dir Chris McKay
scr Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
prd Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Roy Lee, Dan Lin
voices Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Mariah Carey, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ellie Kemper, Jemaine Clement, Eddie Izzard, Adam Devine
release US/UK 10.Feb.17
17/US Warner 1h44
The Lego Batman Movie
Dynamic duo: Robin and Batman

arnett dawson cera
the lego movie (2014) the lego batman movie (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Lego Batman Movie Frantically funny, this raucous action comedy is packed with hilarious gags, rude one-liners and fiercely clever references. It's also so busy that it's exhausting, especially with the feeble attempt to layer in an emotional message about the values of family and teamwork. Genre fans will adore its whip-smart script, but a slightly less frenzied approach would have broadened the appeal.

In his secret lair under his island mansion, Batman (voiced in an amusing growly whisper by Arnett) is feeling sidelined when Barbara Gordon (Dawson) assumes her father's role as police commissioner. She prefers to work together, rather than to leave things to a costumed vigilante loner. And the Joker (Galifianakis) is also feeling underappreciated, so he develops a nefarious plan to release an army of villains on Gotham City. Meanwhile, Batman is distracted by his butler Alfred (Fiennes), who insists that he spend some time with the orphaned Dick (Cera), whom he has inadvertently adopted.

As the story ricochets around, the movie is a barrage of sight gags and verbal wordplay that will require repeat viewings to even catch half of them. Much of the joking is well-aimed at the Batman franchise, with added timely jabs at Suicide Squad and Justice League, as well as the entire Marvel universe, including the knowing Deadpool-style narration. It's refreshing that the studio let the filmmakers run riot with the humour: the anarchic irreverence is the best thing about this movie.

On the other hand, the madcap zaniness comes at the expense of coherence in the story and characters. There are narrative elements that hold the movie together, but everything seems haphazard. Thankfully, the vocal cast continually add witty angles, with jagged sarcasm, sassy asides and little character touches that keep the audience chuckling, such as the way they vocalise their weapon sounds. And the animators bringing scenes energetically to life within the limitations of a world made of plastic bricks.

Faces are cleverly expressive, while the settings and movement are created with invention and plenty of colour. Action scenes are almost insanely busy, although some climactic moments feel rather under-imagined, resorting to cheap gags. The script makes up for this with its outlandish flights of fancy, such as a climactic showdown that features Batman taking on the likes of Sauron (Clement) and Voldemort (Izzard). There may not be much beneath the chaos, but the sheer silliness leaves us breathless.

cert u themes, violence, vulgarity 6.Feb.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall