Director Chris McCay’s whirlwind romp through The Dark Knight’s universe keeps things kid-friendly by operating from the notion that Batman is a seven-year-old boy, his development arrested by the traumatic experience of losing his parents at a tender age. He doesn’t want to share: he regards his greatest enemy as “rival” good guy Superman instead of actual bad guy The Joker. He’s frightened by his feelings, so much so that he invents “snake clowns” as a more plausible phobia. And when his butler tells him he has to go to a social occasion, he literally rolls on the floor shouting “No,” until he’s reminded that going out means getting to play dress-up. The story is similarly juvenile: a bland affirmation of the importance of working together, and a casual brush-off to the pain of loss. Anything realer, one suspects, might have gotten in the way of the rat-a-tat barrage of gags, jokes, riffs, zingers, etc., wrought by the script’s five(!) authors, to say nothing of the ravishing riot of brick-based set design. It may look like a children’s movie, but it feels like it’s aimed at Mommy and (more likely) Daddy. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
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