Summary : Overall it's likely to please kids and it does make for good family viewing.
Films based on toys and games have regularly graced the silver screen for years. Animated films based on toys might bring to mind Care Bears or Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. Of course there board game-based live-action flicks like Clue and Battleship. From the video game world we have films like Super Mario Brothers and Tomb Raider. The LEGO Movie is kind of a combination of the two. Clearly basing a film on plastic building blocks and their associated playsets seems like a stretch, but don’t underestimate the popularity of LEGOs. LEGO has its own theme park, retail stores, and a series of very popular video games. The games bring the world of LEGOs to life with adventures featuring building block versions of superheroes and action movie characters. The games are fun adventures, typically full of imagination and clever situations. It’s a natural for the big screen, and though The LEGO Movie is decent family fare, it pales in comparison to the fun of the video games. It’s a natural for the big screen, and though The LEGO Movie is decent family fare, it pales in comparison to the fun of the video games.
With so many characters in the LEGO universe, the possibilities are only constrained by licensing rights. Luckily LEGO still has a good many heroes to choose from, including Batman, Gandalf, Green Lantern, and some surprise cameos I won’t spoil. The film cleverly doesn’t center on any of these famous characters. Instead the hero is average guy Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt). Emmet is a construction worker happily living his life, watching the popular sitcom Where Are My Pants? on TV, and listening to the popular song of the day, “Everything is Awesome.” Each morning Emmet meticulously reads The Instruction Manual so he knows what to do each day. So content with his routine life, Emmet doesn’t even wonder what more might be out there for him.
But of course there is more out there for Emmet. He soon finds himself off on an adventure to save the entire LEGO world with the conformity-eschewing Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks). In the past, at a time Emmet has no memory of, things were not so uniform in the land of LEGOs. That was before the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) took control. Lord Business, also known as President Business, hates anything to be out of order. He does not allow the various LEGO worlds to interact. He hates the idea of integration so much he wants to glue everything in place so it will remain perfect and where it’s supposed to be. Only Emmet, as prophecy states, can stop this from happening.
The first half of the film is a lot of fun as Emmet and Wyldestyle make their way through a western world and “Middle Zealand.” They encounter LEGO people of all kinds. These characters will be familiar to LEGO fans both young and old as the film nicely weaves in ‘80s astronauts and characters like Shaq with classic superheroes that are still popular today. Emmet is also likeable as the unlikely hero. He’s one of those generic LEGO figures that every kid gets, but likely doesn’t think a lot about. But is he really less fun than any of the other LEGO guys? This film doesn’t think so.
The clear message of this film is that suppressing creativity is a bad thing. It’s a fine message that kids can easily relate to. Unfortunately the film loses focus in its bizarre third act that throws out the idea that creativity rules. Co-writers and directors Christopher Miller & Phil Lord also throw in a twist that saps the fun out of the film, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, so I’ll only say I found it disappointing.
One area of The LEGO Movie that definitely does not disappoint is the audio/visual presentation. The “Everything is Awesome Edition” features both 2D and 3D discs. Either way, the visuals are second to none. It’s becoming easy to be jaded about the “perfection” of most big budget, high definition Blu-ray transfers, but this is something special. The wide variety of settings, from the Wild West to “Middle Zealand” to urban environments, allows for endless visual invention and it all bursts from the screen with colorful detail.
Fans of 3D will be thrilled. I happen to get bad headaches from 3D and can only watch it in small doses. But what I did sample looked mind-blowing, with awesome depth and realistic off-screen effects. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is not as attention-getting, but it is no less technically sound. Every channel is generously employed, with a barrage of sound effects zipping around from every direction. The level of detail in the sound editing is every bit as involved as that heard in the biggest live-action extravaganzas.
Adult viewers may find the special features a little superficial, but there’s plenty here to keep kids occupied. The most serious feature (and I use that term loosely) is the audio commentary with directors Miller and Lord, along with cast members Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, and Alison Brie. They’re even joined on the phone by Elizabeth Banks (who confesses to having never actually listened to an audio commentary track). A selection of short featurettes covers everything from the film’s production to real-life professional LEGO builders. There are deleted scenes, outtakes, and even some fan-made LEGO short films. The “Everything is Awesome Edition” is packaged with an Emmet mini-standee and a Vitruvious LEGO figure.
Overall, The LEGO Movie is likely to please kids and it does make for good family viewing. Adults will get a kick out of many of the jokes and there is a nice nostalgic twinge in seeing the older LEGO figures. The ending is a serious letdown, but it doesn’t completely ruin what is mostly a fun film.Powered by Sidelines