In a world where we’re so devoid of ideas we only make sequels, reboots and live action remakes of animated classics, Hollywood desperately had to find a new way to make something new but not really new. The answer, it would seem, is to make everything that’s already been made, but make it out of lego bricks.
Enter the Caped Crusader (for a second time in the last year and several other trailers and film news where he’s peaked his head out of the batcave); this time though it isn’t knock off daredevil, it’s the gorgeously raspy Will Arnett. Arnett’s side role in the brilliant Lego Movie was an hilariously self-aware and melodramatic turn as the hero, so hilarious they’ve decided to make an entire movie about it.
And it’s one funny movie. Like its predecessor, writer Chris Mckenna pens a screenplay with such a high density of jokes per minute that, like a machine launching one hundred wet paper towels at wall per second, you don’t even notice the ones that don’t stick. It’s a good job they’ve pieced together (see what I did there?) a talented voice cast that can handle this rush, from the brilliantly innocent Michael Cera as Robin, the joyfully chaotic Zach Galifianakis as Joker, to the resolute Rosario Dawson as Batgirl. It’s that as if by being made of plastic, there is a requirement for this lego universe to be self-aware and destroy everything that has come before it. No one is spared, from Nolan’s brooding Dark Knight Trilogy to Adam West’s ‘weird one’; from glorious pop culture references to deeply contemplative studio comments; the Lego Batman Movie isn’t really a kid’s film beyond the sugar-rush ADHD cinematography and colours blistering the screen. ‘My name is Richard Grayson. The other kids call me Dick’ explains the wide-eyed boy wonder, ‘well, children can be cruel’ replies the Dark Knight: talk about ‘suitable for all.’
Perhaps the funniest joke of them all though is that they’ve managed to make a better Batman movie out of lego than DC did with Ben Affleck. Again, like its predecessor, there’s a deeply affecting story here. The emotional beats, though they threaten to become cliché, manage to delve a little deeper than they needed to for its U certificate even if they don’t quite reach the bedrock of the Lego Movie. It’s a reminder that, in the face of what could be a cheap cash in, these guys are genuinely good filmmakers. It’s the quiet moments, Batman’s isolated viewing of Serendipity, his profession of not caring about anyone, that make this franchise one to be cherished.
But it’s not just affecting for this poignancy, it also in a sense deconstructs a genre that has dominated our screens now for the best part of a decade. What is a hero without their villain? What is a superhero movie without its audience? And perhaps the Lego Batman Movie insinuates the same answer for them both; there’ll always be the villain, there’ll always be the audience, so we might as well just accept that and poke as much at it as we can.
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