The Lego Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie (2014)

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Not exactly who you'd think of when putting together a team to save the world.
Not exactly who you’d think of when putting together a team to save the world.

Twitter Plot Summary: An ordinary Lego figure discovers that he is The Special, a master builder who will save the universe.

Five Point Summary:

1. Meet Emmet. He’s beyond normal.
2. It’s Batman!
3. Rampant creativity is, in this case, a bad thing.
4. That’s a lot of Lego.
5. Ahh, fuzzy feeling inside.

Fans of Robot Chicken are well served by this big screen representation of the Lego brand. Whilst not from the same creative team as Adult Swim’s TV show, both share a similar approach to animation, a similar approach to writing jokes, and a similar slightly off the wall approach to storytelling – but then, the directors are the same guys who gave us Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, so it seems almost inevitable that a similar approach would be followed.

The story is a relatively simple one – an ordinary guy named Emmet, a construction worker in the city of Bricksburg where everything is homogenised and established routine is a fact of life, stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance which, it is prophesised, will prevent the evil Lord Business from unleashing his super weapon the Kragle. Naturally, this weapon, if used, will wipe out all life in the Lego universe. Emmet goes on a quest with Wildstyle, her boyfriend (Batman!) and the blind mage Vitruvius to prevent Lord Business from enacting his evil plans and also for Emmet to discover his calling as a Master Builder (someone who has the vision to build anything out of Lego). Escaping from Brickburg, they visit a number of other realms within the Lego universe, and ticking off the various Lego toylines we get to see is enough to keep even the most ardent of fans busy for some time. Or, you know, you could just look it all up on the internet.

First of all, the best idea was to not have the characters move like real people. They are clearly Lego figures and as such move exactly as they would if you did a stop motion animation of them. This certainly adds a layer of charm immediately. Then there’s the like-for-like Lego branding that inhabits their world – figures and bricks have the Lego copyright imprinted on them, and the instructions used by the characters inhabiting the world are identical to the ones we’d use in the real world. This stretches to every other aspect of the Lego universe – explosions, water, gun fire – all of it is animated to look as if it’s been made out of Lego. The voice acting too, is superb – the sheer number of big name stars attached to this is staggering. Christopher Pratt and Elizabeth Banks take the lead roles, but there’s ample support from the likes of Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell and Cobie Smulders, amongst many others.

Batman: show stealer.
Batman: show stealer.

The gags are numerous and most of them hit the mark. The majority of big laughs come from Batman and his massive ego (as you will have likely seen in the trailers), however there are many more that come from a variety of other sources which are equally likely to cause a belly laugh. The interplay between Superman and the Green Lantern is particularly worthy of mention. There’s also a surprisingly touching final act where the divide between Lego as an adult building project and Lego as a children’s toy is discussed, and to great effect too. Earlier story beats cover the sheer nnumber of combinations of things you can build with Lego, the only limits being your imagination. That said, when everybody is building their own thing, when it’s thrown together it does look a bit of a mess – the fact that they were able to write this in and it still makes sense narratively is impressive. And that, in honesty, applies to the film as a whole. It was very likely to become the equivalent of making a Lego kitchen using only parts from the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars Lego lines – in other words, potentially a horrible mess. Instead it takes the core concept of the Lego toyline, throws in a simple narrative and has some fun with what is at its source an excuse to play with Lego figures. Ultimately, Lego has appeal with young and old alike, and that certainly applies to The Lego Movie as well, no question.

Score: 4.5/5

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