The LEGO Movie (2014)
Assembling in 2014
It’s a rather sad reality when one comes to terms with Hollywood’s history of butchering so many beloved childhood relics when adapting them to the big screen, just look at the recent Garfield (2004) or Alvin and the Chipmunks films, including that unpleasant ‘Squeakquel,’ failing to entertain while not staying true to the magic that made them so captivating to our younger counterparts. Generally what’s produced by studios resembles nothing but a cheap, hollow cash-in complete with cheesy computer effects and slapdash comedy aimed at stealing our childhood memories along with our hard earned dollars — many were afraid that The LEGO Movie would share this same sorry fate. We must first face the fact that The LEGO Movie is primarily a lengthy commercial designed to coax us into pulling money out of our pockets in order to purchase new LEGO collections for our kids — both young and old — and while the latter is awfully true, The LEGO Movie is surprisingly one of the most refreshing, creative and entertaining family films to come out of Hollywood in years.
Based on the LEGO brand created by the Danish toy company, The LEGO Movie centres around Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), a construction worker carrying out his daily duties in accordance to the instruction manual provided to all LEGO citizens by President Business (Will Ferrell), an obsessive compulsive, extremist CEO bent on world domination. After a chance encounter with the beautiful WyldStyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet accidentally stumbles onto a mythical Piece of Resistance, an ancient relic spoken of only in prophecy that is rumoured to save the LEGO citizens from their impending doom. With the Piece of Resistance firmly stuck to Emmet’s back, he and Wyldstyle visit the Master Builders — a group of highly-trained and super-creative builders who design all of the official LEGO sets — which include the likes of the wizard-looking Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), the hypo 1980’s astronaut Benny (Charlie Day), and WyldStyle’s dark brooding boyfriend, Batman (Will Arnett). Together, the Master Builders formulate a plan to defeat Lord Business — President Business’ evil alter ego — by infiltrating his colossal high-rise fortress and somehow using the Piece of Resistance to defeat him and his secret scheme — provided they are able to escape the clutches of the relentless Good Cop/ Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), Lord Business’ most loyal henchman.
What primarily sets this film into A-grade territory is its fantastically detailed, creatively ingenious LEGO Universe brought to life by Australian Special Effects Studio Animal Logic. In an attempt to generate a ‘real life’ LEGO sense, the creators deliberately tried to make the film look as though it were shot in stop-motion, although the animation was seamlessly done with computers. Animators also avoided making the computer-generated effects look too obvious hoping to further enhance the superb stop-motion aesthetic of the project. In another mastermind move, unlike the direct-to-video LEGO films and cartoon series — where the scenery and effects are made to look realistic — the team on The LEGO Movie in addition, designed their surroundings to look as though built out of LEGO pieces, this includes water, fire, lazer bolts, explosions and smoke; even the lazers are transparent LEGO rods — commonly known as ‘Lightsaber blades’ — while smaller puffs of smoke are LEGO ice cream pieces.
Visually, The LEGO Movie is a sight to behold; the look of the texture of each LEGO figure is done to complete perfection and with so much happening in every frame — it’s impossible to catch all the witty details in one sitting — the film demands multiple viewings as this cheeky satire is stuffed to the gills with crafty pop-culture references or subversive elements for both young and old to acknowledge and appreciate.
The mischievous script penned by Writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — who also directed the film — is jam-packed with laugh-a-minute jokes, sly slapstick and wild characters keeping the picture fast paced, fresh and continually entertaining. While the twist, which occurs during the third act is definitely clever, this sudden revelation could have easily derailed the entire picture if handled by less talented filmmakers, but Lord and Miller’s pitch-perfect execution makes this subversive, pro-liberty message work.
The voice acting on the film is equally outstanding, with Chris Pratt, Moneyball (2011), leading this stellar cast as the ordinary LEGO construction worker Emmet. Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption (1994) — in his very first animated film — delivers his lines with pitch perfect comic timing, while Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum who also teamed up on 21 Jump Street (2012) — another movie directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — play-off each other superbly as the DC heroes Green Lantern and Superman. Stealing the already impressive brick laden show though are Will Arnett’s, Despicable Me (2010), Batman — who takes himself way too seriously to the point where it becomes downright hilarious — Will Ferrell, Step Brothers (2008), as the lovable lunatic Lord Business — who’s special cape is actually shaped like a giant necktie — and Charlie Day’s, Monsters University (2008), 1980-something space guy Benny, who has a serious case of OCD when it comes to building spaceships. Last but not least, badass Liam Neeson, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999), is incredibly impressive as the chair-kicking, split-personality henchman Bad Cop/ Good Cop. It’s a delightful added bonus to see my personal favorite Community (2009), actress, Alison Brie, as the adorable unicorn-cat named, you guessed it, Unikitty.
Bottom line, The LEGO Movie, complete with its excessive product placement and obvious advertising ploy is a beautifully crafted cinematic work of art and a cleverly executed picture that’s inspiring, hilarious and dazzling. The LEGO Movie is a film for both adults and youngsters; it’s bold and brave and isn’t afraid to explore new territory whilst taking a few wild risks. Just like the annoyingly catchy theme song by Jo-Li featuring The Lonely Island states ‘Everything is Awesome.’ The LEGO Movie. Embrace your inner child and see it twice. What are you waiting for?
4.5 / 5 – Highly Recommended
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
The LEGO Movie is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia