If you've been avoiding superhero movies because they take themselves too seriously, The Lego Batman Movie may just convince you to return. The surprise favourite from 2013’s The Lego Movie, Batman (voiced again by a gravelly Will Arnett, because Batman is DARK, innit) is back in Gotham City, single-handedly saving his hometown from the world’s worst criminals. He sees himself as the ultimate lone wolf: a man who puts bad guys away, then goes home to his empty mansion to eat lobster and laugh at ’90s rom-coms.
We learn two things pretty early on: Batman is lonely; and Batman cannot continue being a one-man crime-fighting machine any longer, because, as the new police commissioner points out, despite the Dark Knight having defended the city for 84 years, there are still a heckuva lot of problems. She proposes that the police work with him, a suggestion that doesn’t sit so well with this lone ranger.
The story is entertaining enough, and alone would make a perfectly nice, 20-minute episode of a cartoon series for little kids. Batman is alone, Batman is lonely, Batman learns the value of "family", in the form of the commissioner, his long-serving butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and his accidentally adopted son, Dick Grayson/Robin. So far, so sweet. But add to that the layers of CGI excellence, self-referential nods and homage to the character’s earlier incarnations (its treatment of the original 1960s TV series is phenomenal, as is the Batman v Superman scene; actually, everything related to Superman here is excellent), allusions to pop culture (the likes of which haven’t been seen since Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 – and it’s brilliant).
While it may not, perhaps, be quite as literally blocky as The Lego Movie – to an untrained eye, at least, every scene of the earlier film looked like stop motion – the level of detail is incredible. This is like four action movies packed into one; there is sometimes just too much on the screen to take in. Luckily the dialogue is as captivating as the visuals, and you don’t feel like you’re missing out. (Although it's definitely one to watch at home once it's released, if you're one of those people who enjoys nerdily spotting all the Easter eggs.)
And it’s just So. Darn. Funny. From the overarching mockery of Batman as a brooding, misunderstood (or frankly miserable) individual, to the “pew pew pew” noises made by some of the gun-wielding baddies, this is literally laugh-a-minute.
Whether you’re a DC Comics devotee, a lover of animation, or just looking for something to distract yourself from next week’s deadlines, The Lego Batman Movie is absolutely unmissable.