Belfast Telegraph

Joker in the superhero pack

The Lego Batman Movie (U, 106mins)

By Damon Smith

The beginning is a very good place to start because the opening five minutes of credits and droll voiceover are sheer perfection.

Sly digs at previous incarnations of the Caped Crusader up the comic ante, as the titular vigilante panders to his overinflated ego. It's one of the finest animated opening salvos since the wizards at Pixar had us sobbing into our handkerchiefs with Up.

The rest is a delight but doesn't scale the same heights of razor-sharp hilarity. Batman wallows in loneliness at Wayne Manor where loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) expertly pinpoints the source of his master's malaise.

Soon after, Commissioner James Gordon (Hector Elizondo) hands control to his daughter, Barbara (Rosario Dawson), who questions the effectiveness of Batman when all of his nemeses including The Joker (above, Zach Galifianakis) remain at large.

Batman adopts plucky orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and the boy wonder decides to join the night-time escapades. And Batman desperately needs a sidekick when The Joker unleashes every villain in the galaxy on Gotham.

Three stars

Sporting life turns into strife

Strong-willed patriarch Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) presides over this tug-of-war for supremacy.

He works as a rubbish collector alongside best friend Jim (Stephen Robertson), who loves to listen to Troy's anecdotes.

Troy toils in order to provide for his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo). The young man is a gifted athlete and is being scouted for college football.

Troy refuses to sign his son's permission slip because he believes the football leagues are rife with racial prejudice and he doesn't want his flesh and blood to fail as he did, playing baseball many years before.

This refusal to support his son's dream drives an insurmountable wedge between Troy and Cory.

Fences (12A, 139mins) Three stars

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