After the original Lego Movie became a box office behemoth there was no escaping a future filled with animated Lego figures spouting sarcastic quips. Now we have The Lego Batman Movie a cluttered, manic film stuffed with mostly superficial pop-cultural references that, while sporadically amusing, fails to live up to its predecessor.
Here, Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) is having a minor existential crisis and starting to lament his solitary status as a shadowy super-hero (cue piss-taking melancholic music). Despite his loneliness Batman still recoils at the idea of family but when a young orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) latches onto him, Batman suddenly finds himself with an unwanted nephew and sidekick, Robin. When his old nemesis the Joker (Zach Galafianakis) enacts a sinister plan to unleash a gaggle of supervillains on Gotham City, Batman has to call on Robin, Bat Girl (Rosario Dawson) and a surprisingly nimble Alfred the Butler (Ralph Fiennes) to help him save the day.
This film is essentially an affectionate piss-take on superhero culture and franchises like DC. The whole thing feels like a fanboy indulgence as if someone had taken a five minute homemade YouTube video sending up super heroes and stretched it to feature length. The humour is just a more benign version of what we see in a South Park or Family Guy with characters – Batman in particular – being oh so self-aware and drolly commenting on their lives. Fanboys might find it titillating but others will probably see the humour as annoyingly self-conscious, repetitive and unfunny.
The film pulls in characters from outside the DC universe such as Voldemort and Lord of the Rings’ Sauron which will delight some viewers but might have a few comic shop purists wagging their fingers. Unfortunately, the writers do little with these characters and fail to send them up with any wit or insight. Also, no matter how acerbic the film might try to be or how much it attempts to lampoon Hollywood clichés it still indulges one of the worst aspects of contemporary film-making, gratuitous product placement.
The Lego Batman Movie is also ridiculously manic and seems to have been made for people with zero attention span. This approach is ok in minimal bursts but repeated continuously across the film it’s rage-inducing.
This film will please a certain section of the cinema-going audience but will not generate the widespread affection and admiration afforded the original Lego Movie.
Nick’s rating: **1/2
Genre: Animated/ action/ super hero.
Director(s): Chris McKay.
Release date: 30th Mar 2017.
Running time: 104 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show