Let’s be honest, nobody really expected The Lego Movie to be quite as good as it was. The opportunity the toy franchise had to essentially concoct a milkshake of pop culture references was severely underestimated, as was the appeal of such pan-generational hijinks. And if there’s one cultural area that has seen itself shift from niche interest into mainstream success in the last decade or two, it’s the superhero myth, and the commercial success this spin-off has enjoyed demonstrates that. Batman is so engrained in our consciousness now that people of all ages and backgrounds can get the in-jokes, and boy do the filmmakers here know it.

After the hugely impressive but consistently grim tone of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Dark Knight movies, and the clumsy recent attempts by Warner Bros to incorporate the character into a shared cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s, it’s perhaps about time that Batman was essentially sent up. Taking a comedic route has not always worked in the past (the 60s TV series is perhaps most enjoyed ironically, and Joel Schumacher’s embracing of camp in the 90s films ended painfully), but the use of Lego animation places this in a very different area. There’s an inherent silliness to Lego figures, an instantaneous sense of physical comedy that keeps everything knowingly ridiculous, and the character’s extended storyline certainly has enough ammunition to take advantage of this.

The film is a treasure trove of references to previous Batman media, and especially enjoyable for the way in which they’ve tracked down the more ridiculous characters (take a bow, Condiment King and Crazy Quilt), and there’s a glorious third act where the gloves come off and villains from all manner of other franchises literally invade the film (if you ever wanted to see Batman fight King Kong, the Daleks, Agent Smith, the shark from Jaws, Voldemort, Sauron and the Gremlins then this may be your only chance). And above all this dizzy silliness is a pretty obvious but nevertheless welcome message about loneliness and the best way to cure it.

 

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
As surprisingly enjoyable as The Lego Movie was8
A much-needed piss-take of the increasingly serious Batman mythology8
The breadth and depth of references to other parts of the franchise9
The anarchic inclusion of pretty much every other intellectual property they were legally allowed to9
Having a rather sweet message amongst all this about friends and family8
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
Bechdel test failures
  • I'm not sure if they talk about something other than men or not
8Overall Score

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