When The LEGO Movie hit screens back in 2014, nobody expected it being the worldwide phenomenon it became. It was funny, witty, had pure heart and soul, and just resonated with all audiences, particularly me as I chose that as my personal favourite movie of that year. Now, you have the first of two spin-offs (The LEGO Ninjago Movie will be released next year) in The LEGO Batman Movie, which builds upon Batman’s supporting role in the original LEGO Movie and makes him front and centre of attention. This had huge hype surrounding in the past year, not least considering that the last year was pretty much a rough year for Bat-fans after the “mixed” reception to Batman v Superman and the botch-job of the animated adaptation of The Killing Joke. This had to do both jobs of living up to the peaks and heights of The LEGO Movie and satisfy even the most hardcore of Batman fans. Needless to say though that The LEGO Batman Movie is simply phenomenal, living up to expectations and then some.

Even though it is hilarious, spoof-riddled and silly beyond belief, you do get the sense that the filmmakers involved have a true core understanding of the character of Batman and his 78-year history. This is arguably the best Batman movie since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy ended in 2012, and it completely smashes Zack Snyder’s weird fan-fiction out of the park. Speaking of which, it says something when this movie gets the characters of Batman and Joker right more than Affleck’s murderous fascist that’s acting out his revenge fix and Jared Leto’s gurning gangsta-gigolo. Also, this movie takes jabs at DC’s current run of movies, but it also makes of fun of previous cinematic interpretations of the Dark Knight, yet they are all done affectionately and are completely respectful to that rich legacy. There are even direct callbacks to the campy 60s TV series, right down to having the Shark-Repellent Bat-Spray come into play! This is the kind of feel-good-movie that adults can enjoy, as well as kids, and this a film that’s made with such care and attention, that it’s impossible not to love it.

As well as having great humour, there’s also great action throughout, and the opening ten-to-fifteen minutes of the film contains one of the best action sequences seen in a superhero movie, or even an animated movie, to date, which involves every single adversary Batman has ever faced in the comics, movies or TV shows, even right down to the obscure nonsensical rights of the Polka-Dot Man and the Condiment King. Will Arnett once again crushes it as Batman, delivering the perfect performance to a Batman who’s egotistical, narcissistic and cynical, yet containing pathos due to his emotional issues, and all while delivering he’s own style of rapping. As Robin, Michael Cera gives his best performance since 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Ralph Fiennes is hilariously deadpan as Alfred. As for Zach Galifianakis, he now ranks as one of the top five best on screen Joker’s to date, joining the ranks of Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger. Plus, the way the film plays upon Batman and Joker’s relationship here is pure gold, and understands that dichotomy perfectly.

Overall, The LEGO Batman Movie is not just the most feel-good movie of the year, but it’s also the best film of the year so far. It’s funny, self-aware, beautifully animated, has great voice performances by everyone involved, but most of all, is just a great film on its own. It’s a film that benefits from repeat viewings, and provides huge entertainment for all families that will no doubt go with their kids to soak in the joyous experience.

Dir: Chris McKay

Scr: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington

Cast: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Mariah Carey, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper

Prd: Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Music: Lorne Balfe

Country: US/Aus/Denmark

Year: 2016

Run time: 104 mins

The LEGO Batman Movie is out now at cinemas.