Monday, February 16, 2015
The Lego Movie (2014)
It's an inspired set-up, where the different themes of Lego- City, Pirate, Castle et al- exist as parallel realms. It follows generic mini-fig construction worker Emmet as he discovers that he may be "The special", a prophesied chosen one destined to change the world. When the dastardly Lord Business plots to end existence as they know it, Emmet joins a rag-tag group of figures on a quest to stop him.
It's easy to imagine a scenario in which the suits at Lego could maintain an iron grip on the movie's content, squeezing any creativity out of it. There's no sign of that here though, and Lord and Miller seem to have been allowed free reign, with their imaginations let loose in Lego's toybox. It's also pretty bold to put a subversive anti-corporate message in what is essentially a multi-million dollar toy commercial.
The animation, courtesy of Australian studio Animal Logic is an absolute triumph. With a slightly jerky movement they've managed to make CGI look like it's produced using actual Lego stop-motion. There may be part of us that will always slightly regret that the film wasn't actually made that way, but it's understandable from a technical point of view. A wonderful touch is the way that everything in the Lego world, even fire and smoke, is made to look like it's built out of the titular toy. The closing credits, on the other hand are produced in true stop-motion- which is a nice tip of the hat to traditional animation.
The Lego Movie has an unmistakably anarchic charm. The film moves at quite some speed, and the jokes fly thick and fast. It's full of tiny background details and Easter-eggs that reward repeat viewing. The film throws jokes at such a rate that if any don't hit it barely matters, because they'll be another six or so along in a minute. Inevitably this style isn't going to work for everyone, and there will be those for who watching the film will feel like having Lego bricks thrown at the their head non-stop for 100 minutes by an over-excited six-year old.
For the rest of us though, the humour is Lego Movie's biggest success. Lord and Miller's films are generally above all, extremely funny and that's as true as ever here. Best of all is Will Arnett's Lego Batman, bringing to screen the most purely entertaining version of the Dark Knight since the sixties TV series. It's little wonder he's been picked up for his own spin-off movie.
So, Everything Is Awesome, right? Not quite everything, as the film does have it's issues. While the film is hilarious and completely successful as a comedy, when it occasionally reaches for something more it stumbles a little. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being "just" a comedy, and perhaps it would have been better to be content with that. Instead, we have a final act that is apparently intended to add some emotional resonance to it, seeking to mine similar territory to the Toy Story franchise (particularly Toy Story 3). Unfortunately the way they decide to do it is a final-act twist that falls flat and essentially undermines all the brilliant world building they have done before.
Despite the disappointing ending (and your mileage may vary on that) The Lego Movie is still a highly successful, and irresistible concoction. It's an extremely funny, creatively ingenious animation with a positive message. Despite all the hoo-ha about the Academy's decision to overlook it, it really doesn't matter. This is a movie that is going to be loved by audiences the world over for many, many years to come.
THE LEGO MOVIE is available now on BLU-RAY, DVD and DIGITAL from WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
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Posted by Chris Perkins
Chris writes about movies, games, TV and other stuff you love, and has written for places including MyM magazine, Rant Gaming, KillStreakMedia and Anime UK News. He particularly specialises in the field of animation and spends far too much time watching cartoons for a grown up. He regrets nothing. Follow him at @misterchristor.