Not quite as awesome as the original but this animated spin-off is jam-packed full of fun
After the hugely enjoyable, phenomenally successful toy tie-in The LEGO Movie, the inevitable follow-up arrives. This computer-animated superhero mash-up is shorn of the talents of the first film's co-directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, as they prep another spin-off – the young Han Solo film – but the impact of their absence is negligible. Right from the off, as the unique take on the Caped Crusader growls his voiceover across the studio logos, it's clear The LEGO Batman Movie boasts the same wry humour.
Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Bojack Horseman) reprises his role as Batman from the original film (as well as playing his billionaire alter-ego Bruce Wayne) and there are vocal turns from the Jump Street boys Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as Superman and Green Lantern, but there's little else connecting the two films. Set in Gotham, this is very much a Batman tale, riffing on the Dark Knight's mythology all the way back to the camp Adam West era; at one point, fight sequences are even illustrated with giant 'POW' signs.
Arnett's Bat is an inveterate loner, with just his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) for company. Others try to penetrate his isolation – notably a young orphan named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and Gotham's new Commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). Even the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is peeved that Batman refuses to acknowledge him as his greatest enemy, leading him to construct a convoluted plot that brings a reign of terror down upon the city.
Packed with relentless winks, references and visual gags, director Chris McKay delivers a dizzying array of inventiveness. Justice League, the Daleks, Gremlins, King Kong and more all seem to get a look-in, without ever feeling shoehorned. It doesn't quite match the exuberant spirit of The LEGO Movie, nor does it have a song to rival 'Everything Is Awesome', but it is still tremendous fun.
General release from Fri 10 Feb.