The Lego Batman movie begins with the perfect joke. "All important movies start," rasps Will Arnett over the looming darkness, "with a black screen."

From there on in, the glum cinematic superhero world that we've seen from The Dark Knight to Batman vs Superman is torn apart, Zack Snyder's morbid grey wash swapped out for rainbow brights and neon lights.

Directed by Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) who also loaned his talents to the first phenomenal Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie is a spin-off of sorts, but never disappoints or pales in comparison.

Instead, it's a riotous joke fiasco for the whole family that will make you howl louder than when you accidentally tread on a Lego brick in the dead of the night.

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Will Arnett voices the incredibly douchey iteration of Batman, our notoriously moody vigilante who destroys baddies by night and watches Jerry Maguire by himself in his sad mansion by day.

His only company in the world is his butler Alfred, voiced by a perfectly snooty Ralph Fiennes, and the slew of cackling villains that terrorise the city, including a suitably demented Zach Galifianakis as The Joker.

With Gotham being overrun by evil, and Batman becoming more of a grizzly recluse by the day, police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) suggests they pair up to save the city.

But how can a loner, one who doesn't even notice when his new adopted son (Michael Cera) moves in, learn to work with other people?

Crafted using millions of tiny digital bricks, mimicking stop motion animation so closely you would think it real, The Lego Batman Movie is perfect for kids and adult nerds alike.

The effect of the CGI is mesmerising, every now and again snapping you out of a daze to remember that you are just laughing, empathising and crying alongside a small plastic block with a face on it.

Because, where other earnest superhero movies lack energy, The Lego Batman Movie packs it in with more manic energy than The Joker at a facepaint convention.

The film knows the audience is suffering from major Batman fatigue, and it's time to point and laugh at that very fact.

Much like the first Lego movie, the jokes are laid on thick and fast. From ridiculously drawn out delivery gags (Batman screaming "no" for what feels like 20 minutes) to almost imperceptible sight gags (an early scene features a "McGuffin Airlines" plane), absurdist comedy pulses viciously through every moment of the film.

Fans of superhero franchises in general will delight at Batman's cheeky skewering of both his previous incarnations and, more recently, the ill-fated monstrosity that was Suicide Squad.

"Getting criminals to fight crime? What a stupid idea!" a member of the Lego community announces, Lego tongue firmly in Lego cheek.

What I like the most about The Lego Batman movie, as with its predecessor, is that it trusts the audience to keep up and refuses to water itself down - despite the PG rating and the young target market.

If the kids miss some of the jokes, there are still plenty that will hit them like a tonne of Lego bricks.

The film also imagines a new kind of Gotham where a woman (gasp!) can be the mayor of the city (voiced by Mariah Carey no less), as well as a police commissioner and very pointed "platonic friend."

Even if they are all made of plastic, that kind of representation still matters.

All in all, I implore all fans of pop culture to watch this bloody hilarious zinger of a movie. If Deadpool showed us that we like our superhero first and foremost with a side serving of sass, The Lego Batman Movie provides a buffet.

Our plastic protagonist may not have Clooney's chest or the chiselled jaw of Affleck, but he's definitely the hero we need right now.

The Lego Batman Movie

Showing now, rated PG
Stars: 4/5