The follow-up to 2014’s BAFTA Best Animated Film winner, The Lego Movie, is a parody of Batman and the world of DC superheroes in general, but balances the comedy with a strong ‘no man is an island’ message about not shutting yourself off from friends and family. Or, indeed your enemies. The secretly sensitive Joker (Zach Galifianakis), hurt that the narcissistic Batman (Will Arnett) won’t recognise they have a mutual hate relationship and refuses to accept he’s his greatest foe, hatches a plot to get sent to the Phantom Zone so he can free all the bad guys to help him destroy Gotham. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Batman has to content with new sidekick Robin (Michael Cera), the orphan he accidentally adopted while dazzled by new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). She wants Batman and the law to work together, and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) wants him to face up to his greatest fear – family.
Opening with a Batman voiceover saying how every important movie starts with a black screen, the film is playfully self-referencing (there’s even a clip from the Adam West TV series), it plunges right into the action as Batman takes on and defeats a whole army of super-villains, is hailed as Gotham’s saviour once again and then, with the crowds assuming he’ll be off partying, goes home to the emptiness of the Batcave and Wayne Manor. Still scarred by his parents’ murder, Wayne has shut himself off from any emotional feelings or relationships, that way he can’t get hurt. He even watches the Tom Cruise romance Jerry Maguire as if it’s a comedy.
While the Dark Knight probed Batman’s dark side, it never went as deep into what makes him tick as this one does. And yet, for all its serious psychoanalytical observations, it remains a huge explosion of fun, which, let’s face it, is what the audience have gone for.
Goaded by The Joker, Batman plans to steal the weapon needed to banish him to the Phantom Zone (leading to an amusing scene as he visit’s Superman’s Fortress of Solitude to find the Man of Steel (Channing Tatum) hanging out with the other Justice League superheroes at a party to which he’s not been invited). Ignoring Commissioner Gordon’s warnings, Batman falls victim to Joker’s manipulations, leading to the escape from the Zone of the worst of the worst villains, among them Sauron, the Gremlins, Voldemort (Eddy Izzard), Godzilla, King Kong, Oz’s flying monkeys and even the Daleks.
To defeat them, he has to realise that it’s okay to accept help, just as its okay to accept family (and finally let Dick call him dad) as he joins forces with not only Alfred (wearing a retro Batman costume), Barbara and Robin, but also pretty much every DC super hero and villain you can think of, including Harlequin, Bane, Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) and, er The Condiment King. Although there are moments of quite melancholy, for the most part this is a dizzying hyperkinetic whirlwind of nonstop entertainment. Top that Ben Affleck! 104 mins. Also in 2D and IMAX 3D.