Reel Freak

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Reel Review – The Lego Movie (2014)

the_lego_movie_2014-wide(***Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers. Read at Will***)

The Lego Movie is so far 2014’s greatest cinematic achievement.   Yes, everything IS awesome.  You can’t help but notice just how filled to the brim with entertainment this film is, and it delivers a non-stop pacing from beginning to end.  Stunning animation and intended detail serve as its beauty, while witty, zany humor and personality are what represent itbrain-power.  Penned and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) make Lego Movie the success that it is.

The Lego Movie follows the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet (Chris Pratt) who is mistakenly identified as a “Master Builder”, who has the ability to save the Lego universe.  He meets Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), who send Emmet on a quest to save the world from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who plans to glue the entire universe together.  Along the way, they meet several characters, including Batman (Will Arnett), Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), Unikitty (Alison Brie) and many more.

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I was sold from the first time I saw the trailer for this movie.  To many, a movie involving a toy like Legos may sound like nothing but a cash-grab, when in fact the result is a high-quality success.  One of the things I loved about this film is the fact that, while it might appear as a kids movie, there are countless examples of humor that would probably go over the heads of youngsters, and which only adults would be able to laugh at (think Shrek or Madagascar).  The jokes are so perfectly timed, so frequent that you often forget the previous joke when another replaces it just seconds later.

The casting in this film is phenomenal.  It is one of the few instances where voice work is utilized this well for an animated feature.  Chris Pratt fits the role of Emmet flawlessly, while Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, and Will Arnett are all equally unforgettable, lending their talents to the next wave of iconic movie characters.  Supporting voice work from Charlie Day, Will Forte, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Colbie Smulders and Nick Offerman tie the movie together perfectly.

Where The Lego Movie strives the most is with its attention to detail.  Never have I seen a film so dedicated to its visual detailing.  The movie is literally created from a Lego universe.  Everything feels as though the 3D animated feature could have been stop-motion using actual Lego toys.  The characters walk like Lego figures would, each individual Lego piece is noted and shown at one point or another, and even the water is created and animated in Lego form.  When Emmet showers in the morning, the faucet spews mini-lego studs.  Whenever an explosion occurs, the smoke cloud appearing is made of Lego.  Also, the “1980-something Space Guy”, who I actually grew up playing with hand-me-downs from my Dad, had a crack in its helmet and the chest logo scratched out a bit, which is extremely accurate to the actual toy.  There are countless details you can search for to point out, with some you may not end up catching with just one viewing.

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While delivering constant humor throughout its 100-minute runtime, The Lego Movie is also very heartfelt and good to its characters.  The last 15-20 minutes of the film take a surprising turn, when the completely animated universe turns out to be the imagination of a real-life 8-year old, whose father is played Will Ferrell, and suddenly starts using half-animation, half-live action for the movie’s final scenes.  While this added a lot of heart to the film, at first it seemed to weigh the ending down a bit, and that it could have stuck to its animation instead of dwelling into the real world.  But, I’m not going to complain, because I realized that this particular plot twist gave the movie a very Toy Story-feeling and purpose, encouraging children and adults to use their imagination.  This ended up being very beneficial, and Lord & Miller used this to their advantage to win over audiences even more.

Now, onto some of my favorite parts of the film.  Hell, there were so many I’ll probably end up leaving a few out by mistake.  I definitely want to go back and give it a second watching very soon to recapture all of its great moments.  One of the things I laughed at was when the Master Builders were doing a roll call, and Vitruvius lists off all of these characters Lego has produced over the years that you must have seen in your life at one point or another.  From “2002 NBA All-Star Team” to “1980-something Space Guys” to the DC Superheroes, to having trouble telling Gandalf and Dumbledore apart, and even listing off “Michelangelo” (the artist) followed by “Michelangelo” the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

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Another thing that really got me laughing was when Vitruvius died, and he came back to life with a glow-in-the-dark Ghost costume, and they purposely had him dangling on a string, giving ghost effect sounds.  One of my other favorite scenes was when the main characters met some of the Star Wars crew, as the Millennium Falcon shows up, with Han Solo, C-3PO and Lando Calrissian (the latter two actually voiced by their original actors Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams, respectively).  Batman hops on board the Falcon pretending to be friends with the Star Wars crew, and just ends up stealing its generator just to power their own ship, and the Falcon ends up being shown getting eaten by a Lego version of the giant asteroid worm from The Empire Strikes Back.   

Also, the banter between Superman (Channing Tatum) and Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) was hilarious.  By the way, a re-teaming of Tatum and Hill with Lord and Miller, who all worked together on both 21 and 22 Jump Street.  I loved how they made Lantern out to be this complete fanboy over Superman who was always trying to buddy up to him.  When all of the characters are taken prisoner by Lord Business later on, Superman is detained and goes “could this get any worse?” and the camera pans out and Lantern is in the cell next to him and yells “BUDDIES!” and Superman mutters “Does anyone have any Kryptonite?”.  It’s jokes like these that may fly over the head of children but are tossed in for the appreciation of other audiences.

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Receiving very positive, near-perfect reviews early on, The Lego Movie definitely lives up to the hype, and is very deserving.  It currently holds an 8.7/10 on IMDB and a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (expect them to change slightly since the movie just hit theaters last week) but already those numbers are hugely impressive.  Not to mention its near-$70 million opening weekend.

Overall, The Lego Movie is a massively entertaining time at the theater.  I can honestly say that this film is just as geared towards teens and adults as it would be towards kids.  There are a lot of references and humor that more mature audiences will appreciate, while at the same time it doesn’t single child audiences out.  Featuring an incredible cast, recognizable characters, a fun story and insanely gorgeous details, The Lego Movie is everything you’d want from a movie based on one of the most universal toys.

My Rating: 9/10

Written by Josh Sazin on 2/11/14

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