Following in the footsteps of 2014’s brilliant The Lego Movie is no mean feat, so rather than make a sequel, Warner Animation Group wisely decided a spin-off might be a better idea. And who better to lead the way than Will Arnett’s Batman (who single-handedly stole The Lego Movie right out from under everyone)? The gravely-voiced Caped Crusader is ripe for satire and meta-humor, and the writing team (five-strong, at last count) takes full advantage, offering up an onslaught of goofy humor for the under-12 target audience right alongside clever, biting puns for the adults in the crowd.

The masterminds behind the original film, the writing/directing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, are off prepping the new Han-Solo-as-a-young-man movie, but they didn’t abandon ship by entirely. Not only did they stay on as producers, they faithfully handed the reins to director Chris McKay, who served as editor and animation supervisor the first go-round. So fear not. While The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t end up being the rare-air success the original was, it still gets the job done, providing plenty of laughs and eye-popping nuttiness throughout.

After a frenetic prologue, which itself follows a hilariously self-aware opening bit, Batman confesses to the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) that he doesn’t have any true enemies and that he’s perfectly content to just keep saving Gotham by himself, no matter which bad guy happens to step up to the plate. The Joker, understandably hurt by the admission, immediately sulks off to gather all of pop culture’s baddest characters (including the Wicked Witch of the West, Doctor Who’s Daleks, and Jurassic Park’s velociraptors) to teach Batman a lesson.

Meanwhile Batman has mistakenly adopted a young boy from Gotham’s orphanage and begrudgingly agreed to let him become Robin (Michael Cera), and so the Dynamic Duo, together with the new Commissioner Gordon (Rosario Dawson) and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), join forces to battle the Joker and, as a happy bonus, learn a nice little lesson about teamwork along the way.

Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) heads up the screenwriting duties, making sure the comedy is as meta as humanly possible. There are plenty of jokes about Batman’s longevity (multiple references to the original 1960s spoof TV series are tossed in) along with rapid-fire comedy at the expense of everything from Jerry Maguire to Iron Man.

The action is fast-paced (even borderline haphazard) and will easily make the younger heads in the audience spin, even as mom and dad start drifting off a little in the edit-worthy second half. Though McKay can’t quite make it to the finish line, there’s more than enough to justify hanging out for the full 105 minutes and just taking it all in. No, everything isn’t as awesome as it was in its predecessor, but The Lego Batman Movie still hits you with a great big bang! And boff! Kapow!


3.5/5 stars

Worth the 3D glasses?

Hey, it’s a Lego movie…of course it’s worth it! Little plastic bricks are flying at you from every direction, along with dinosaurs, explosions, and cups of hot cocoa…all made out of little plastic bricks.