As a young child, a film that appealed to me would have to have animals, bright colours and a funky soundtrack. Namely The Lion King, The Jungle Book, and later Finding Nemo. These had, to a six year old, a coherent storyline and wonderfully crafted characters, resulting in a high quality film that I’d never forget. People fell over and walked into things, and I was satisfied for an hour and half without needing to eat or cry. These movies still hold up, and are still revered, because they were fresh and original, the jokes were funny and anyone would enjoy watching it. What began to happened though, over the years, was that movies like Ice Age came out. Excellent viewing for a 6 year old, but give a few years and its hard to keep laughing at the same tired jokes. Unfortunately, this came at a time when animated movies were all the rage, and any production company could churn out a film quickly. Stick to the formula, simple jokes, bright colours, no muss or fuss, easy profit. Shrek became a franchise, films like Angry Birds get made, and the creativity of The Lion king and Wallace and Gromit in the genre is lost.
That is, until the Lego Movie came out in 2015. An all-star (Shaq) cast, and exceptionally witty script led to a lot of surprises amongst audience. Here was a film that could keep the kids quiet with the lovely colours and funny faces, but also genuinely could make anyone else laugh too. Which is what worried me when I saw they were releasing a follow up movie, focusing on the brilliant Will Arnett’s character, Batman. Something that can always undermine the quality of a film is the quality of its sequels/spin offs. I walked into the cinema on Friday, excited for what was in store, but had that niggling feeling the back of my mind that since their original hit, they may just get lazy. They have an audience, they might just exploit them. It took me about 30 seconds of The LEGO Batman Movie to decide that, fuck it, I want to be exploited. I would argue that the opening ten minutes of that film are as funny, if not more, than any comedy movie I’ve seen. There were gags coming from every angle. Background jokes and signs that were hilariously placed, witty and fresh dialogue, and they gave Will Arnett the freedom to run wild with the script, and you’d still be laughing at one thing before three more jokes hit you.
There were slower moments, mainly to give space to breathe, but that was basically then the flow of the whole movie. Visual humour, hilarious lines and clear chemistry between each of the actors. And you couldn’t tell if the creators loved Batman as a concept or not. One minute they’d be holding the ancient character up on a pedestal, the next they’d be slamming almost every Batman movie ever made. Subtle references and call backs made it so fun to watch, either as someone who is or isn’t a fan of the sainted DC character.
My other worry, as is often the case with movie reboots, was that they would spend the first half an hour of the film lingering on the backstory, and then have only an hour to shove in an entire story (Looking at you Amazing Spiderman), and nothing really happens. LEGO Batman briefly mentions the death of his parents at the start of the film, then alludes to it throughout. This leaves as much time as possible for story and jokes, which keeps the whole film moving quickly.
Overall it was a slick, fast paced movie. Some will say it wasn’t as good as the original Lego Movie, and I understand that, the story was a little more basic, but in terms of laughing uproariously, for an hour and a half, no matter what age you are, this is one of the best films going.