Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review: The Lego Movie

World of Blackout Film Review

The Lego Movie Poster

The Lego Movie (3D) (Spoilers. Kinda.)
Cert: U / 100 mins / Dir. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
WoB Rating: 6/7

You like Lego, yeah? Of course you do. Who doesn't? It's great. And the great thing about The Lego Movie is the number of levels it works on; from the batshit crazy Hero's Journey which drives the plot, to the themes of growing up, not growing up, and keeping to The Instructions. Some voices have derided the film as 'anti-capitalist' with its arch references to "hippy-dippy baloney" and gentle mockery of conformism, whilst others have pointed out that that's a difficult argument to make against a one hundred minute toy advert. While there's certainly some subtext at play, a more straightforward view would be to say that its bloody good fun for anyone who's ever played with Lego at some point. Plus, y'know, let's not look too deeply here: it's a kids' film.

The Kids' Film defence isn't one I use lightly, nor is it intended as a derogatory term. The Lego Movie is proudly intended for children of all ages, and is engaging, funny, smart and acutely self-aware. As an animated comedy-adventure set in the world of branded plastic bricks, it looks and feels gorgeous (particularly the wide-shots of the city; this is one to watch in hi-def), and pootles along nicely with its Matrix-esque story about an everyday guy who has greatness thrust upon him.

But the third act is where the film really punches out of its box, and lays on callbacks to previous plot-markers (some delicate, some not-so). Without going into too much detail, it's this segment which is the least steady of the three, relying on Will Ferrell to do more than his Comedy Shouty Voice™ which he's used to fine effect in the lead-up to it. Now I like Ferrell, but even I'm the first to admit he doesn't do 'sincere' as well as many of his contemporaries. The film doesn't quite seem to have the bottle to go full-on weepy, but I think that's probably for the best. Ultimately, the day is saved by the plastic population of the Lego city (and its various licensed parallel dimensions), and ends with smiles all round, not least from the audience.

The 3D is as gorgeous as you'd expect from a CGI movie, and the animation differs from most existing Lego-universe offerings (the Star Wars series, Chima etc) in that the character limbs aren't bendy, but move more like the actual toys they're based on. It's a little jarring at first, but there's an in-movie explanation which tops any aesthetic choices for it, so all is well. The voice-acting is marvellous all-round, as Pratt, Banks, Freeman and Ferrell lead the way with a supporting horde of cameos (but no Ian McKellen or Michael Gambon? For shame, Lego, for shame).

The animated kids film is better than most in its class; the heartwarming parable for adults, slightly less so. But The Lego Movie is still an outstanding achievement, and it'll be difficult for a sequel to be as unique as this, particularly the way the film bends reality for the characters*1.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
For the most part.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Cinema. 3D. Yes.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
I will.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
THERE IS! The first this year, no less, AND within the first minute or so of the movie.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
But don't you think that the sudden hike from £2 to £2.50 for the minifigs is a bit steep?
It reminds me of 2008 when Hasbro's Star Wars line went from £5.99 to £7.99, and they wondered why sales went through the floor, not that Lego are likely to have that problem…

*1 Yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to look too deeply. What of it? You can't riff on The Matrix and expect me not to look into it.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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