LEGO MOVIE, THE
An ordinary LEGO minifigure, Emmett (voice of Chris Pratt), mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant Mr President Business (voice of Will Ferrell) from gluing the universe together.
Review by Louise Keller:
Awesome is the buzz word for this happy blast of a movie whose sheer energy and pace on its familiar yet inspiring backdrop of colourful toy building blocks is enough to propel us into its uplifting, zany 3D fantasy world. The brilliant and wacky imagination of its creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) ensures a healthy dose of off-the-wall humour as the action speed-skates into overdrive, challenging and surprising us constantly as ideas veer left of centre. Coupled with Animal Logic's extraordinary designs and special effects, the fact that fantasy and reality merge in a clever twist is the icing on a cake filled with fluff and grounded in substance.
After a short prologue in which we learn of a prophecy (by Morgan Freeman's hilarious blank-eyed Vitruvius) involving a simple worker who saves the realm, we enter the big, wonderful world of the Lego reality. It is easy to jump headlong into it, surrounded by all those familiar Lego shapes and pieces that have impacted on us all in some way - be it through our own experiences or those shared with our children.
Emmet (voice of Chris Pratt), the yellow-faced construction worker with an empty mind (representing everyman), bounds out of bed and methodically follows the strict rule book, starting with the first stated step: 'Always Be Happy'. Tumbling into unexpected and unchartered territory after meeting the fascinating Wyldstyle (voice of Elizabeth Banks), he finds himself carrying the hopes of the whole Lego world that he is The Special One, destined to save the world from the dastardly plans of control freak and obsessive Mr President Business (voice of Will Ferrell).
With finesse and as easily as the plastic building blocks join together, our journey navigates between the different Lego worlds: The Old West, Cloud Cuckooland, Pirateships, Princess Uni-kitty, Middle Zealand and more. Historic figures, fantasy characters and super heroes are cleverly integrated and much is made of the fiery relationship between Wyldstyle and her possessive boyfriend Batman (voice of Will Arnett).
It's an A-list voice cast and the wonderful ideas never stop with the action and dialogue racing by so quickly that repeated viewings will be required. Believe in yourself and don't forget the value of teamwork: these are the film's two main positive messages, and are ones that will resonate with kids of all ages. This is a film for simply everyone. It's awesome.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hollywood continues to peddle moral messages like 'everyone is special and of value' wrapped in fun; Lego is a plaything, a toy, and here we are, seeing it as a metaphor for aspects of American life. The filmmakers poke fun at negativity and conformity, as if the individual were the most important unit in society. Personal freedom, they proclaim, is everyone's freedom and worth fighting for. Of course, sometimes you have to fight aggro with aggro, you have to shoot back, you have to take a stand ...
And it's hardly surprising that the world of Lego is harnessed as the vehicle for moral messages and life lessons; that's what play is all about, as evidenced by any fairy tale or children's book or childish game.
Anyone - child or adult - who has ever played with Lego understands that at its best, it's a world of fantastic reality and limited only by our imagination. The filmmakers even understand the nature of the 'man upstairs' in this world, and the fact that the screenplay relies on humour as well as action proves there is more to Hollywood than crass, vulgar, venal and vapid. (There is also a confusing sense of morality which suggests an internal cultural war between the forces of decency and the forces of repression ... discuss.)
Anyway, back to The Lego Movie and its technically brilliant achievements, thanks to Sydney's Animal Logic teams and to a studio willing to give rein to imaginations and ideas. Teaming with life, the lifeless, virtually immovable figurines come alive and appear to move with all the dynamics of people, albeit smaller and cuter. Or uglier. The animation and the voices - along with sound and music - combine to completely convince us of their three dimensional reality - especially in 3D.
The one thing that surprises me is the sheer speed of this enterprise, with dialogue delivered so rapidly I thought it was running at the wrong speed (but being digital, no sprockets or film frames are involved). So is the action; I reckon if this move were made at normal action movie speed, it would last twice as long. But it would only be half the fun.
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LEGO MOVIE, THE (PG)
(Aust, US, Denmark, 2014)
VOICES: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Berry, Alison Brie, David Burrow, Anthony Daniels, Charlie Day, Todd Hansen
PRODUCER: Roy Lee, Dan Lin
DIRECTOR: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
SCRIPT: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Peterson, Pablo Plaisted
EDITOR: David Burrows, Chris McKay
MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Grant Freckelton
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 3, 2014