Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The LEGO Movie [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

There's a reason that I waited up until February of 2014 to actually watch my first movie of the 2014 season. Sure a movie like "Lone Survivor" is doing well and I have an abnormal fascination with the "Paranormal Activity" series. But, those are movies that you can really wait on. The may be good, they may be bad, but they weren't something I was REALLY looking forward to. "The LEGO Movie" on the other hand is truly the first release of the year that I had any hype for. From the first teaser trailer I saw, I was hooked. Then the voice acting cast was revealed and eventually the trailers. I was on board completely and it even had the feel of "Wreck-It Ralph." While not quite on that level, "The LEGO Movie" is one that is perfect for kids, where as the adults will get mileage out of this as well.

"The LEGO Movie" follows the story of Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and ordinary construction worker living a completely normal life. Years earlier, the [now] tyrant of Brickville, the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) defeated Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to obtain a super-weapon called the "Kragle." Vitruvius warns Lord Business of  a prophecy where the "Special " will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping said Kragle. One day after work, Emmet comes across a woman, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who is looking for something at the construction site. Emmet falls down a hole and lands in front of the Piece of Resistance and upon touching it is shown visions and passes out. He wakes up in custody and begins to be interrogated by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a henchman of Lord Business, and finds out the Piece of Resistance is attached to his back. As Emmet learns of Lord Business' plan to destroy the world, Wyldstyle busts in and rescues him to take him to Vitruvius. Vitruvius explains that he and Wyldstyle are Master Builders, able to build anything that they need without instructions and with great speed. He also explains that in Lord Business' rise to power he captured a great many Master Builders. Emmet must become The Special, aka everything he thinks he's not, to stop Lord Business. With the help of Batman (Will Arnett), an anime unicorn kitten, Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie), a 1980-something Space guy, Benny (Charlie Day) and a pirate set out for revenge, Metal-Beard (Nick Offerman), they just may be able to save the world.

Ever since "The LEGO Movie" hit theaters this past Friday all I've heard is a steady stream of overwhelming positivity towards the film. The few negative thoughts center around the idea that this is just a giant commercial for LEGOs or that it suffers because of a lacking plot or story-line. I mostly don't agree with these sentiments, because for me this is a movie in the same vein as one I mentioned before, "Wreck-It Ralph." A movie totally based and made around video games. Just like "The LEGO Movie" is based in a world made of LEGOs. I did want to buy or play video games after "Wreck-It Ralph." The point of the film wasn't to sell video games though. "The LEGO Movie" is gonna want to make kids go play with what the just saw, sure. But, I highly doubt that anyone truly thinks this is a "100-minute commercial" for LEGOs. Especially when such a great a main point of the film, is to breakout of that norm and learn to harness creativity. Sure things get a bit convoluted when they are forced to use the instructions at one point to move onward, but in the overall scheme of things, "The LEGO Movie" wants you to breakout of that shell. I like that message in this film and in this day and age. Also the story is pretty okay to me. Sure it doesn't break any new ground, but it's one that really does work in a movie like this. A character who is ordinary, finds out that if he can go against the grain, he can be great. You don't have to be the strongest or the smartest to make an impact in everything going on. I liked the writing by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the same team that brought us "21 Jump Street" in 2012, and look to wow us again with it's sequel later this year. "The LEGO Movie" is a pretty well written story and has that great blend of both humor for adults and for kids alike. 

The animation in this is also pretty great. An almost flawless blend of CGI and stop motion using the LEGOs we all know about. The worlds are not only vibrant, but familiar if you've grown up at any point with LEGOs around your house. Beyond that they're brought to life you used to in your imagination as a kid. I loved being able to see what I did as a kid come to life, so nostalgia was a big part of this film for me. I touched on this a bit in the previous paragraph, but the humor is a great point in this film. Some jokes fall flat, but there's never a moment were a joke couldn't be put into a situation. Almost like "Family Guy" in the style of which the jokes were used, despite you know the movie having a semblance of a plot. Kids will love the humor and the adults will get more than just a few laughs throughout the viewing as well. Finally, we'll get to the character and voice acting, cause I thought they were all pretty good too. Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman the rest of truly delivered performances fitting for each character. The voice cameos were fun as well as I want to give this a re-watch just to catch them all. While I love the voices, the characters were hit and miss. Emmet was great throughout, but I thought suffered from the fact he was very one dimensional, same could be said of a lot of these characters though. I liked Vitruvius as sort of the guide and teacher of the group, while Wyldstyle (she's a DJ right?) brought that over the top action into the mix. The supporting roles by Batman, Uni-Kitty, Benny and Metal Beard were fine as well as they all brought a distinct character into this diverse band of LEGOs saving the world. Lord Business was a good villain throughout and really captures the misinformed and crazed power hungry side of a bad guy well. While his main henchman, Bad Cop/Good Cop was a nice one. One that was not only was menacing, but that had some back story as well. All of this mentioned above is combined with a stellar soundtrack led by the song "Everything Is Awesome." Which you will know by the end of this film.

"The LEGO Movie" is one of those movies that's hard to hate. You could find faults in it all day, but I'd rather be the guy that lets my inner child take over when watching an animated film like this. This move looks great, the voice acting is done well and there's a bunch of humor (and emotion), all wrapped nicely in a fun little story. There's a major moment near the end that really did vault this from "only an okay" movie, to a great one in my eyes. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you here. Even if you never played with LEGOs growing up and don't plan to start your collection now, "The LEGO Movie" is hard to pass up, as it's easily the best of 2014 so far.

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