Title: The Lego Movie
Release date: Out Now
When a film based solely on a children’s toy normally comes along, especially in this instance a cold, rigid and lifeless bit of plastic; there is reasonable scepticism with the recent glut of disappointing adaptations and additions to the genre. The likes of Transformers, Battleship and G.I Joe have all ultimately proven to be let-downs. Thankfully however, The Lego Movie deviates from the norm as it de-constructs the blockbuster genre and then rebuilds it brick by brick through subversion. This combined with its self-referential nods and hilarious one-liners creates one of the funniest and most original films seen in years.
This could easily have been a poorly executed direct-to-DVD cartoon found in a bargain bin. One of the reasons it isn’t and that it works so well is that the movie actually acknowledges its source material and includes its style and mythology into the films humour, which improves it. With it’s almost meta self-awareness, it inventively integrates the essence of Lego as we know it into the Lego world within the film.
In this world, Chris Pratt’s Emmet, is a brainless every(Lego)man. Ingeniously he has to follow a Lego instructions booklet on how to complete his daily routine. One day he accidentally falls through a hole and discovers an ancient relic called the “Piece of Resistance” which gets moulded to him. Consequently he gets mistaken as the savior of all Lego-kind by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who is also searching for the piece. She in turn is following a prophecy laid down by Morgan Freeman’s Vitruvius at the beginning of the film to try and stop Will Ferrell’s President Business taking over the many different Lego realms.
The film is brought to us by Chris Miller and Phil Lord who are at the current forefront of comedy with 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs both in their locker. They also have 22 Jump Street coming out next month and have recent How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn Nine-Nine TV credits. They are able to use their connections and present success to round up an enviable wealth of comedy talent with the likes of Will Arnett, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman and Liam Neeson; in a hilarious dual Good Cop/Bad Cop role, also joining the aforementioned leads. Arnett’s spot on Christian-Bale-as-Batman impression and Superman and Green Lantern’s relationship are some of the many highlights.
Not only does it have nods to the physical plastic product, it also embraces the Lego computer game franchise as well with Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings characters all appearing. Similarly to Wreck-It-Ralph, albeit this time with the film medium, any personality can turn up at any point and these provide some of the most laugh-out-loud moments. Any fanboys watching will also be delighted with the numerous sci-fi and comic book references.
The films plot and pacing is frantic at times with the cuts appearing thick and fast. Whilst this works well and appropriately when characters are building things, it does make it slightly difficult to follow, especially during fight and chase scenes. A breathless second and third act ironically feel like a computer game at times.
The CGI is fantastic and the blend between modern graphics and retro look of the Lego figures is seamless. The way the characters limbs move stiffly and restrictedly when being active almost seems like a Stop-Motion feature at times that someone has created in their room. This is beneficial to the glossy look of the film and again adds an extra level of humour. The ending is also surprisingly profound with its embracing of the family bond.
With jokes and pop-cultural allusions for the parents and dazzling, zany, visuals and heart-felt storyline for the youngsters, this is up there with a Pixar movie from the noughties. With a sequel announced even before the cinema release of the film, it could turn into a lucrative series for both the studio and its viewers. It’s going to be hard to tie Miller and Lord down for too long though (this film took 3 years to make) as their career continues to go from strength to strength.