The Lego Batman Movie (McKay, 2017)

Everything is… not so awesome this time around, I’m afraid. From what I remember of The Lego Movie, there was so much wit and innovation that made it a joy to watch. This spin-off, on the other hand, is only intermittently entertaining. Most of the laughs come from the meta references to previous Batman incarnations, from the cavalcade of pop culture villains that show up in the climactic battle, and from Michael Cera’s adorably precocious Dick Grayson/Robin. Will Arnett reprises his role as the Caped Crusader with ease, but he is hampered by the script’s insistence on treating the character in a familiar manner (namely, as a sheltered loner who must learn to work with a team in order to get the job done).

Something I also noticed: this film never breathes. Everything about the breakneck pace feels manufactured for viewers with short attention spans, which I don’t think was an issue with the original film. When a fast pace works to highlight something stylistic or thematic about a film, that’s fine; when it serves only to keep kids from drifting off, then I can’t help but be cynical. If you keep feeding them entertainment like this, they’ll never become accustomed to anything slower. They’ll renounce and denounce anything that tries to be contemplative and meditative, and that would be a damned shame. But I highly doubt the formula will change.