Batfleck may have thus far been a mixed blessing for comic book fans, but there's no doubting the popularity of his smaller, Lego counterpart. Will Arnett's cocky Caped Crusader was the breakout star of The Lego Movie three years ago, earning his own solo adventure.
Having saved Gotham again, Batman finds himself alone and without a purpose when The Joker (Zack Galifianakis) mysteriously surrenders to police. Convinced his nemesis is up to something, Batman must also deal with an idealistic new police commissioner (Rosario Dawson) and a clingy Boy Wonder (Michael Cera).
Any fear an entire Lego Batman movie might stretch even this proven formula too far is despelled in the opening minutes, when Batman narrates over the opening credits and claims a Michael Jackson quote as his own. Mixing simple visual gags with clever writing (the opening scene takes place on “McGuffin Arlines”), Chris McKay's film makes affectionate digs at movies including Suicide Squad, the previous Batman films and Iron Man, the result being closer to Airplane than anything by, say, Pixar.
The biggest niggle is the influx of needless characters feels like a cynical merchandise push, but you can hardly complain when the movie has the word Lego in the title, and you soon forget when the gags come this fast and rarely miss their mark. There's even space to fit in an endearing message about the importance of family, which doesn’t feel forced.
Galifiankis' Joker is an insecure villain, heartbroken that Batman doesn't view him as his greatest foe; Dawson's authority figure picks up Bats on his outdated views on crime fighting. It's Arnett's show, however, taking the egotistical dope who was such a delight in The Lego Movie and making him even more absurd; he makes a strong case for taking over as Batman in his own right.