Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is a summer blockbuster and summer blockbuster spoof - with a February release date. It is a movie based on a line of toys, and which is clearly engineered to boost sales of said toys, which has an anti-corporate message. This is a bit confusing in retrospect, but in the moment, the movie is just fun.

The story is standard ordinary-guy-is-called-to-save-the-world schtick, heavily referential to The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, and just about any movie which uses Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey concept. In fact, the trailer basically gives away the entire plot, and that's okay because the framework is solid and the execution is lovely.

Lego has done an extremely good job making and keeping their product relevant by tying it to other intellectual property and media. The Star Wars Lego games were silly fun, and the endless stream of similar titles remain entertaining and popular. The Lego Movie taps into the same place - it draws on the nostalgia that many of us have for the wonderful toys of our childhood, and combines it with a plot so cliched and classic that it is both itself and a parody of itself at the same time. Then it layers in references to pop culture and other popular franchises, and tops the whole thing with the humor that is the hallmark of the Lego video game series. And it works.

The voice work is generally good. Chris Pratt is serviceable as the voice of the hero, Emmett. Elizabeth Banks is fine as Wyldstyle, who is basically a clone of The Matrix's Trinity. Will Ferrell is good as President Business. Liam Neeson is great as Good Cop/Bad Cop. Morgan Freeman is fantastic, of course, since a)he's Morgan Freeman doing voice work and b) he is spoofing himself, which is always good fun. Will Arnett steals the show as Batman, though. He is utterly brilliant, and could easily support his own movie.

Also, I love Unikitty.

I did not see the movie in 3D. The opening sequence is obviously designed to highlight the 3D reel, but the movie looks fine in 2D. I suspect that for me, with that specific animation style, 3D would have resulted in a headache. The animation ss not bad, but it was rough/jerky by design, to give the look of blocks. This is only rarely a problem.

The Lego Movie is exactly what it should be - a movie which celebrates the endless imagination of the original Lego toys. It is fun, and funny, and exciting, and even has time for a nice moral message.

Performance: 3.5/5
Plot: 3.5/5
Production: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

1. Lone Survivor
2. The Lego Movie
3. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
4. I, Frankenstein
5. Monuments Men
6. Knights of Badassdom
7. The Legend of Hercules

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