It has been exactly three years since I declared "The Lego Movie" the most imaginative and fun film in years. It was, everyone's favorite except the Oscar Awards were it wasn't even nominated in the animation category. No problem, after holding court for eight months as 2014's biggest movie (it later got passed by the winter movies), the creators laughingly made theri OWN Oscar... out of Legos. Booyah!


It would be hard to expect the second film based on the Danish toy brand to be as good and as funny as the original, but this one by The Robot Chicken director Chris McKay comes very, very close. He obviously did his homework and made sure to study the things "The Lego Movie" did right - which was just about everything.


With a team of writers that included absolutely no one from the original film, McKay's crew took the so-called star of the the first film - Batman - and did what DC Comics should have done years ago and created a brooding funny guy.

Voiced by Will Arnet Bruce, we find Batman as a lone ranger type who doesn't really get along with others as he repeatedly imprisons the Joker and other villains. At home, he spends his decadent evenings with his butler Alfred (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) and his Siri voiced computer.


He doesn't have to be alone, as he is reminded that he did take charge of the orphan Dick Grayson (laughingly voiced by Michael Cera) whom Batman had pretty much forgotten about. But after lots of harping by Alfred and Batgirl (Rosario Dawson), Batman finally starts to let Dick into his world.


As with any loner movie, this one offers up an annoying kid who is down right excited to partner with Batman in fighting crime; if only Batman will let him.

That happens sooner than later as Batgirl and Alfred warn Batman of the latest crime wave that will have him battling every criminal you can possibly imagine. Yes, that is Voldermort and I'm pretty sure the Creature from the Black Lagoon you'll see dancing their way across the screen.


Much like the original, McKay knows the the best way to keep an audience engaged is to get them laughing early and often and that is exactly what he does. This Batman pays homage to every version of Batman there ever was including the 1960s television serial. It won't matter that the kids might not get some of the jokes, just like the first, this is a film for the entire family and is made to make the paying parents feel good first.


You will love Batgirl as she takes over for her retiring dad and immediately disses Batman in a hilarious speech during which she points out he has never really captured anyone. It's one of those observations we have made ourselves but never dwelt on it.


McKay keeps the humor on a steady roll with countless nods to the old campy 1960s Batman television series with Adam West. In the meantime, McKay focuses on Batman's brooding and loneliness. Easily more than the live action films and with the solution of a best buddy - aka - Robin. McKay tells us a lot about Batman including his enormous ego as the omnipotent hero.


The main thing that makes this film work is the exuberance with which the actors voice their roles. They sound like they are having a blast and it is infectious.


"The Lego Batman Movie" is not only a great sequel, it is also one of the best Batman films ever. Kudos to Chris McKay for keeping it fresh and non-stop funny while keeping an eye on what is making this franchise great.   -- GEOFF BURTON