Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Lego Movie (2014)

Well when I first heard about this a long time ago I pretty much assumed it would be a shameless cash grab with a rehashed plot trying to copy any number of big hit animated movies. Looks like I got bitch slapped pretty hard here!

Holy stickle bricks Batman! even the opening logos before the film are made out of Lego...CGI Lego. Yes everything in this film is made out of Lego, everything! explosions, water, steam, soap suds, rocks, clouds etc...this is most definitely a world of Lego. Within this world everybody is happy and lives in harmony doing what they do for the good of the Lego community, that is until 'Lord Business' rears his ugly head and threatens everything with his evil secret weapon of mass destruction. Well sticky destruction...right up until the plot reveal towards the end I didn't really get why the bad guy wanted to encase everyone in glue.

The plot is basically your everyday action flick hocus pocus about a chosen one who will lead the rebels to victory against an evil force. Now you may think that sounds boring and indeed it is, difference here is the plot is mocked and spoofed hard, it uses all the regular action cliches in the book and basically rips on them to its hearts content. For this to work as well as it does many many different types of characters from various genres and franchises are used to enhance the lunacy. Of course being a film about Lego you can do virtually anything you want using any form shape or character for maximum results...this cleverly feeds into the plot twist premise too.

I won't lie, for me this was all about seeing the huge range of Legos from all the generations stuck together and I wasn't disappointed. In this crazy ass world there are different regions...medieval, pirate, space, wild west, civvy this naturally allows plenty of retro visuals much to my joy. I absolutely loved seeing all the individual Lego themes and figures popping up, the best of these must be '1980-something space guy'. I loved how this guys chest logo was faded, how he was hyper about building retro spaceships with retro Lego and how he even had the little crack on his helmet which did used to happen with those spacemen helmets...detail much!!! awesome!!! The only downside to this was the fact we didn't see enough of these lands, alas I really wanted to see more medieval involvement.

As for the other characters well its a mega Easter egg hunt if you ask me. Aside from regular characters Batman, our plucky hero Emmet, not too sure what the hell 'Uni-Kitty' was suppose to be exactly but I did like her Manga-esque facial design, and 'Good cop/bad cop', there were loads of blink and you'll miss em guys. Talk about a Justice League flick oh my, some great camaraderie between Supes and The Green Lantern who is hilariously voiced by Jonah Hill (I like that guy). Also look out for Wonder Woman and a quick appearance of The Flash (quick..get it? hehehehe). We also see Gandalf, Dumbledore, Robin Hood, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Mikey, Shaq O'Neal, Gillman (swamp creature) and how about THAT short Star Wars sequence huh!!! didn't see that coming and it was ace! top banana! Actual voice work by Billy Dee and Anthony Daniels, shame no Ford though, still...I think I got a little sexually excited.

So all the franchise characters and retro Lego figures was enough fun for me but how about everything else? Well the visuals are amazing, talk about a 100% beautifully realised dreamlike fantasy world with so much colour and imagination bursting from the screen. The detail is incredible, everything is built from Lego so you can imagine how much small detail there must be, every little block, every little plastic piece you remember from your childhood, its all here in one form or another. Even all those odd bits which looked weird that you would have left over, every single Lego piece ever made is used here and you can see it...even the sharks.

Next to that you then have the stunningly simple looking animation which blends CGI (can't escape that) and stop motion...or so it seems. Its like watching an episode of South Park in Lego form, you know, all that jerky movement that looks cheap and tacky but at the same time kinda cool. Some of the sequences though are mind blowing, an animated ocean of Lego and Bayplosions in Lego (not far from reality there). The plot is also really fresh and takes a turn you don't quite expect towards the end. Not sure I completely agreed with going down that specific route as it did kinda take me out of the moment, risky decision. But its purpose is the moral of the story, a lovely message that imagination and freedom to express yourself is important, be creative, don't box up your ideas and thoughts, run with them. This is why the plot is so wildly exhausting, explosively manic and never seems to stay on one course for very long. Always going off on a spontaneously surreal fantasy tangent just like a young persons imagination.

The only thing I would say overall is I didn't quite find it as funny as I expected. I know its essentially a kids movie but its also in the realms of 'Toy Story' where adults have their own touches to enjoy. I loved how the Lego people live their lives by those little instruction manuals we all know and love. To be brutally honest some of the humour tended to miss more than hit in my opinion. If it wasn't for Batman (always upside down) and Emmet the film may not have won me over as easily.

The film is top heavy with pop culture references as you will probably have guessed by now but that is by no means an issue. It never feels like an ad campaign for anything or anyone. One thing is for damn sure, even though the film has proved it wasn't a lazy cash grab (but still a very big promotion), Lego sales will definitely be going through the roof from this point on. I can see myself needing a '1980-something space guy' figure...and maybe a 'Metal beard'.


'I only work in black...and sometimes very very dark grey'