Rating: Awesome! (or 4/5)
It’s a dilemma that every child who opens a new Lego set faces: follow the instructions in the manual, or just riff and create something, even if that means mixing it up and using pieces from different sets.
'Lego Movie' is no 90-minute long toy commercial. Oh no. Instead it’s an unexpectedly raucous, breakneck ride through a hilarious adventure as a regular Joe goes on a quest and transforms from construction worker to ‘the special’.
And, like the irrepressibly catchy song that plays in the first five minutes says, everything is awesome.
AN ADVENTURE QUEST
The plot follows the classic formula of a hero's quest – complete with pirates, dragons, a treacherous villain, and equally treacherous household products in the eyes of Lego people (i.e. nail polish remover).
In a utopian Lego world called Bricksburg, Emmet (Chris Pratt, from TV series ‘Parks & Recreation’) is an average, unremarkable Lego minifigure who plays by the rules and follows instructions. He is mistakenly identified as a the extraordinary ‘special’, who is prophesised to save the world from an evil tyrant, President Business (Will Ferrell, 'Anchorman') whose sole intention is to stifle creativity and enforce sameness among the people. He loathes the intermingling of species and keeps Lego worlds (Pirate Cove, Middle Zealand, Old West etc) separate from each other.
Famous Lego characters feature in the film as members of a rebel alliance, the Master Builders
Emmet is then drafted into a rebel alliance formed of Master Builders, who are the complete opposite of him. They are creative, adaptable and build creations with a disregard for the rules.
They are made up of the beautiful Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks, 'The Hunger Games'), a smarmy Batman (Will Arnett, 'Arrested Development') and a hapless mystic (Morgan Freeman, 'The Dark Knight'). Other members of the star-studded fellowship of Master Builders include the delightful Unikitty (Allison Brie), pirate Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) and Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders).
Will Ferrell plays Lord Business, a micro-managing, totalitarian ruler
Their plans to destroy Lord Business' tool for world domination, the 'Kragle', are thwarted by Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson,'Taken'), a policeman Lego with multiple personality disorder who serves as President Business' head henchman.
While the voice acting is brilliant (self-important Batman in particular, is a scene stealer), there are cameos and pop culture references aplenty to keep the adults satisfied as well. In fact, the adults were the ones laughing throughout the movie, more so than the children. The Lego realm is probably the only one in which Dumbledore and Gandalf get to share the same screen.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord, whose previous works include animated feature 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs' and comedy '21 Jump Street' (both unexpected hits) served as co-writers and co-directors on the film. Their unique comedic approach is apparent throughout the film.
Inside jokes, where less popular Lego lines like 'Bionicle' and 'Galidor' are self-deprecatingly maligned in a montage, guarantee laughs-a-minute.
Lego movie unbashedly celebrates pop culture. But it also challenges its pervasiveness and its grip on the masses where corporations control what you eat, drink, watch on television and consume on a daily basis.
“I’m on television, so what I say must be true” – is one of those lines that make you laugh out loud, among all the witty one-liners and hilarious dialogue. But it also makes you stop and think, while it subtly mocks and satirises corporate control.
A VISUAL AND NOSTALGIC DELIGHT
From slow-motion fight sequences to mid-air transformations (even smoke, fire and water are painstakingly Lego-animated), the film is a visual delight. While the film is swathed in 3D-animation wizardry, there are bits which feel like old school stop motion animation, lovingly and tediously put together frame by frame.
There is a nostalgia and rawness about the film that is missing in most animated films that are churned out nowadays. Perhaps it has to do with familiar, beloved Lego characters making an appearance, but it's also an incredibly accessible film with something for everyone.
At the heart of the film is the message that you don’t always have to follow the instructions. Sometimes you don’t have to follow the manual to make a perfect replica of what’s on the front of the box. You are only limited by your imagination.
Who knew a little brick could be so inspiring?