2/18/14

THE LEGO MOVIE - REVIEW


Well, it's looking like The Lego Movie is proving to be a big hit in the U.S. and elsewhere and it's no secret why: we all had Lego growing up and whether you like the idea of a movie based on the toy or not, chances are you'll go see it anyway.

If I went to see it, you either probably will or you've been already.

I mean, I was proven wrong long ago about how a Lego video game wouldn't be a good idea so there's no reason why those colourful blocks and little plastic dudes wouldn't work on the big screen.

The good news is that, indeed, The Lego Movie works, mostly.

Voiced by an all-star cast, the film sets out to make the ultimate Lego movie and it does just that.

From the get-go, it's Lego agogo.

We're suddenly introduced to this Lego-centric world where everyone lives as per the Lego "instructions" and, as that annoying little song proclaims, "everything is awesome". Except it's not, there's the small business of a macguffin which might end the entire Lego world, some bad guy called Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who is after it and a Bad Cop voiced by the ever-intimidating Liam Neeson helping him out in his devious quest. The Lego world's only hope is some prophecy, which some hippie wizard dude called Vitruvius (a fun Morgan Freeman) talks to us about early on and which would involve some guy being "the Special", basically the world's saviour, the One, you know the drill. Plot-wise it's pretty straight-forward kids movie fare with a "believe" message and the usual ups and downs and cheesiness that comes with it. The saviour in question is a random, average Lego character called Emmet (an energetic Chris Pratt) whose imagination when it comes to building things doesn't go too far beyond bunk-bed-style couches. Luckily he's got some help from clever tough cookie Wyldstyle (aka Lucy), voiced by Elizabeth Banks, and Batman (a perfect Will Arnett), who very nearly single-handedly steals the show. Along the way, we meet a bunch of "Master Builders", different characters within the Lego world who are particularly good at building things out of Lego, but, although they each get a moment to shine, all except The Flash (sorry Flash), they are there mostly for cameo purposes, kinda like Zangief and co in Wreck-It Ralph.

I'd be calling this movie really messy if it wasn't so darn fun.

It really is non-stop and throws at you so many jokes and so many crazy visuals that it's hard to take it all in, especially when the movie moves at break-neck speed. The Lego Movie is a treat visually and provides a nice alternative to usually overly slick CGI animated films. The aforementioned jokes, by the way, mostly all work and should put a constant smile on any kid's face and even most adults. This is definitely the most colourful animated film since, well, Wreck-It Ralph which had Sugar Rush, that, pun intended, eye-candy of a setting. Unfortunately, as inventive, funny and enjoyable as the film is, it just can't match Wreck-It Ralph in terms of having a worthy plot that stands upright and, due to a needlessly convoluted and slightly soporific third act, it's overall a bit uneven. As soon as we transcend the Lego World, the film comes to a drastic halt and we're left to try and piece together, Lego-style, a plot thread which really makes little to no sense. The film's last minute attempt to become yet another Toy Story-style reality-bending animated film really not gelling with the rest of the film at all and disappointingly slowing things down and taking itself seriously. It's like the film realised it didn't have a basic moral or a message two thirds of the way in so it decided to stop and spell it out because otherwise people might think this is nothing more than a huge Lego ad.

Ahem...

Kinda hard to deny it's not, guys.

This really is one of the least subtle movie ads I've seen since Dracula walked into a Virgin Megastore in the middle of Dracula 2000 or since Timothy Olyphant tried to sell me a Mars bar to my face in Dreamcatcher. I mean, they literally show you the different Lego worlds you can buy in a couple of slideshows! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Lego Movie is nothing but a glorified ad, it's also an entertaining, great-looking and funny kids movie. However, there's an undeniable manipulative core to the whole thing that just can't be masked by a last second burst of corny cat poster-worthy moral-spouting. Let's keep things about how kids should embrace their imagination and be allowed to let their minds run free, shall we?

Overall, I would recommend The Lego Movie, especially for kids and definitely for kids who are fans of Lego. For you adults, there's enough decent jokes and fun references to keep you all entertained through 90% of it and, even in the slower, less convincing part of it, you still have Will Ferrell so there's always that. Kinda like 2011's The Muppets, I do feel that this one's somewhat overrated, though, and I wouldn't believe the hype that it's simply amazing and perfect in every way.

It's a fair enough flick: enjoyable but a bit flawed nonetheless.

I'd check it out, though.

After all, it's not every day we get to see a movie in which Jonah Hill plays The Green Lantern...

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