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Review: The Lego Batman Movie

“Black. All important movies start with a black screen.”

So begins the audacious Lego Batman Movie, the spin-off from the hugely successful 2014 animated film The Lego Movie. Bright, light-hearted and bordering on manic, the newest instalment sees the vigilante promoted from cameo to centre stage – a position in which he is more than comfortable. Voiced by Will Arnett, the growly superhero and his ego are back with a bang.

In arguably the most entertaining Batman film for a long time, the caped crusader – hero of Gotham and ‘super modest about it’ –  faces several problems. His awesome (but microwaved-lobster-thermidor-for-one) life is disrupted when the Joker demands an exclusive hero-villain relationship while Batman prefers to ‘fight around’, the new commissioner wants Batman to work with the law instead of operating on his own, and Bruce Wayne (the brooding billionaire behind the mask) accidentally adopts an orphan.

Led by the maniacal and needy Joker a huge host of villains, including obscure DC baddies and Warner Bros greats, join forces to wreak havoc in Gotham. Cue ridiculous action scenes, comedy montages and smart dialogue, all gorgeously animated and really brought to life by the brilliant cast. Particularly worthy of a mention, Ralph Fiennes creates a witty and likeable Alfred the butler (who has taken to reading parenting books to try and get Batman under control), and Michael Cera makes the almost annoying starry-eyed orphan Dick Grayson – later Robin – completely endearing. The whole film is wacky and playful, and it completely works considering that Lego as a toy is so successful because of its endless possibilities. 

This fast-paced film crams in references to the last 8 decades of Batman films and pokes fun at Marvel, Suicide Squad, and even Frozen. It’s full of funny moments that kids will be quoting for weeks, and jokes and cultural nods that will sail over their heads but keep adults laughing. One of the most commendable features of the film is the fact that women (and not just white ones) occupy powerful roles in Gotham; this children’s film does a better job of presenting strong, 3D female characters than most movies. As well as a female Chief of Police, Commissioner Barbara Gordon is set on solving the Gotham crime problem with compassion and statistics, and Mariah Carey – female empowerment embodied – voices Mayor McCaskill.

Though the focus of The Lego Batman Movie is mostly on the comedy and action, at the heart of this film is the idea that everyone – even Batman – needs other people, whether that’s a concerned butler, an adopted-son-come-sidekick, a no-nonsense Batgirl or an arch-nemesis. In between bragging, Batman faces his fear of being part of a family again and has to accept that maybe he can’t do everything alone.

While this film doesn’t have the bold, innovative plot and break-the-mould message of The Lego Movie, it is pure colourful fun. It’s silly and proud; if it was meant to be taken at all seriously the guns would not make ‘pew pew’ noises.

Cover photo property of Warner Bros, courtesy of their official website found here

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Victoria Williams

Exeter Cornwall

Hi! I'm Vicky, I'm 21 and I'm a third year Evolutionary Biology student at the University of Exeter's Penryn campus. When I'm not learning about the weird ways animals reproduce you'll probably find me wrapped in a blanket with a book and a whole packet of custard creams.
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