I have argued, at length, sometimes sarcastically, sometimes with concerning levels of intensity and seriousness, that The Lego Movie is the best film ever made; the peak of cinema if you will. It features seven coherently explored dystopian universes in Will Ferrell’s basement in order for a child to reconcile his relationship with his father for heaven’s sakes. Despite it being Toy Story 2 levels of shouty in places, it maintains an anarchic, consistently family-friendly sense of humour throughout and every joke lands.
I am happy to report that The Lego Batman Movie is equally enjoyable on every level. Instead of trying to equal the absurdity of the outlandish plots from the 1960s or (even the excellent Return of the Caped Crusaders), the story is a treat and focuses on relationships rather than expansive plotting. Batman beats the Joker’s latest scheme, but the Joker takes it personally that Batman doesn’t see their constant fighting as… personal. Batman tells him that there’s no relationship there, and all the Joker wants is the acknowledgement of that relationship, and thusly comes up with a scheme to trick Batman into drastic action that he would only take if the Joker truly was his greatest enemy.
For a series that has been criticised for relying on its villains and retelling the same threads with minimal variation too often (a la critics’ cries of the tedium induced during Batman’s backstory in last year’s Dawn of Justice), Lego Batman manages to simultaneously reference pretty much every other Batman media whilst being very compact. We even get a reference to the very adult world of Return of the Dark Knight with the mutant leader, alongside the Animated Series’ condiment man (apparently) and Billy Dee Williams finally gets to play Two-Face.
It doesn’t even need to be said just how good the animation is. In fact, since the three years of the Lego Movie, things have come on with what will soon be its own brand of storytelling dubbed something like LegoMation. Real water seamlessly blends into the environment but absolutely every object on the screen not only has every lego piece on display, but every structure insanely-well-defined. Despite the absolute mayhem and utter randomness thrown into every moment, this is a surprisingly believable world.
It isn’t good as it thinks it is. It doesn’t wear its heart so effortlessly as the Lego Movie does, and not every action sequence is as interesting or unpredictable as the movie sells them to be. Michael Cera outshines the rest of the voice talent by some distance. Sadly, you can tell that they weren’t together in the room record it.
However, it’s a spec of light in the increasingly vomit-coloured DC soup being brewed of late. It’s happy-go-lucky and shows that with heart and soul, DC can get their act together to make their characters utterly brilliant. Down to Earth, yet, out of so many worlds… The Lego Batman Movie is the movie we need right now, if not the movie we deserve.