The Lego Batman Movie - This Bat Rocks
Dir: Chris McKay
Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galafianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Jemaine Clement
First, on the minus side – it lacks the shock of the new of The Lego Movie. On the plus side – it has Will Arnett. And, also on the plus side, The Lego Batman Movie is easily one of the better efforts that DC has yet to throw up cinematically.
But it is not without flaws. Despite being very funny and awash with pop cultural references and throwaways gags – every iteration of Batman gets a dig (Adam West’s TV version being a particular favourite here), both Jerry Maguire and John Cusack’s romcom career are nicely skewered – Lego Batman does find itself slightly hampered by a need to live up to its comic book roots and still present us with a somewhat restrictive plot. Whereas the original Lego Movie was determined to freewheel and subvert all that came before it (even it’s schmaltzy ending moved into the real world to unbalance expectations), Batman’s Lego world finds itself revolving around Batman and the Joker and their historical relationship. True, this in itself is subverted – those romcoms we see are nicely played around with here. But for every moment that swerves the obvious, there is another that feels, well, a little like a DC movie.
Thankfully though, it’s not an insurmountable problem, and as the film builds, it adds Gremlins, Voldemort, King Kong, possibly Bruce from Jaws/possibly Sharknado from Sharknado, some “British robots” (Daleks) and even Sauron himself into the all-star mix. The gags aren’t as thick or fast as before, but they hit more often than not, and Arnett’s gruff, gravelly performance keeps everything swinging along. Ironically though, his interpretation of Batman – an isolated single-minded vigilante, convinced he is eternally right, unable to allow that anyone else ever had a good idea, and even content to claim Michel Jackson song lyrics as his own homilies – can’t help but remind us of another prominent American figure. Yes, Batman has become the Donald Trump of the Lego universe. How’s that for subversive and unexpected?
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