The original 3D computer animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared. (from MovieWeb.com)
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, there's a real good chance you played with LEGO building blocks at some point. Before offering branded sets for franchises from Disney and movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and more, LEGO sets were more broadly themed -- from basic town and city sets to knights, pirates, and the Old West. In recent years, the popularity (ahem, and price) of the LEGO brand has soared with the success of sets like Star Wars, DC and Marvel superheroes, Ninjago, and the branching out into video games and short films. So, when it was announced that LEGO would make its big screen debut, with the promise that everything in the film would be made from LEGO pieces, it probably came as little to no shock to anyone. But when the names of Phil Lord and Chris Miller--who directed the hilarious first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs--were attached to direct, there was certainly a lot of promise backing the film.
The LEGO Movie opens in a world not unlike something found in the imagination of a child (or a LEGO catalog). Using familiar pieces, sets, and characters, we see a city of LEGO characters and pieces going about their daily routines in a fantastical happy-go-lucky universe (All singing the impossibly catchy "Everything is Awesome" theme song). However, this universe is being threatened, unbeknownst to our film's hero, Emmet, by a villain called Lord Business who controls most of the LEGO city and is hatching an evil plan that will doom them all. Emmet's daily routine is especially ordinary, but when he meets the mysterious and alluring Wyldstyle, their chance encounter leads him to stumble upon a mystical place underground that hold within its glowing bricks an object that is to latch itself onto "the chosen one" who will save the LEGO city from Lord Business. Once Emmet is caught up in the insanity surrounding this coveted object, he's pursued by one of Lord Business's head minions, Bad Cop. As Bad Cop and a horde of evil robots chase Emmet and Wyldstyle around this LEGO universe, the two encounter the likes of a wizard named Vitruvius, a gigantic pirate robot, a unicorn kitty (named Unikitty, of course), the Harlem Globetrotters, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, 1980s LEGO spaceman, and many, many other memorable LEGO characters.
One thing that was gut-bustingly funny about the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs film was its inherent random humor. It was quick, out of left field, and almost always laugh-out-loud funny. Not surprisingly, The LEGO Movie is built on the same kind of humor, and it works - beautifully. Given that it's a movie based around small toy building blocks, it pretty much needs to be random and funny, otherwise it's nothing more than an hour-and-forty-minute commercial for LEGO. And, while it kind of is (in the same way that the G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons of the 80s pretty much existed to sell the accompanying toys...but were still awesome in their own right), a wealth of new and recognizable characters, and Hollywood celebrity voice actors, unite for a super fun outing on a huge scale. What you might not expect, however, is that although the movie is animated with computer animation for the imaginary LEGO world, there are some scenes that feature real life (AKA "live action") LEGO footage that fits really well into the plot of the film, but may be jarring to some viewers who were fully immersed in the CG animated LEGO universe and then had been suddenly ripped from it. All of it adds up to a message that encourages viewers to pursue their creativity and not always "follow the instructions." It's a slightly ironic message for a toy brand that primarily sells very specific, calculated sets that come with instructions, but it gets back to the roots of why LEGO began in the first place.
Chris Pratt, of TV's Parks and Recreation, voices the lead character Emmet Brickowski with a brilliant everyday-man kind of feel (and reminds me a bit of Patton Oswalt at times), but his delivery is also spot-on for keeping the character fun and silly. Elizabeth Banks is also wonderful as Wyldstyle, and Will Arnett is perfect as a tongue-in-cheek take on Batman. Given that Warner Bros. is behind this particular film, it's pretty funny to see all DC comics superheroes making appearances, but it also explains why not a single Disney or Marvel character shows up. However, they still manage to work in some other surprise cameos that just add to the hilarity and fun (even if you wish they'd tag along for the journey). Finally, the villain is voiced by a slightly more subdued Will Ferrell who once again makes a great on-screen comedic bad guy (he's more like his Zoolander character than Megamind here). And Liam Neeson is delightfully brilliant as Good Cop/Bad Cop. Every scene he's in is just gold.
The content for this PG-rated is a bit edgy in a violent sense. I watched the film without my 3-year-old son present and I think, although he loves Planes, Frozen and even The Incredibles, he may find some scenes pretty scary in The LEGO Movie. Lord Business's evil robot minions are rather creepy looking and their eyes glow red at times. Then there are at least two "hallucination" scenes which are distorted and maybe a little unsettling for little viewers who won't really understand what's happening. The moments themselves are actually pretty harmless--the first being when Emmet touches the mysterious object in the spooky underground cave which causes flashes of random images to zip by and then he wakes up in police custody. There's also a lot of explosions and LEGO pieces flying all over the place, laser fights and big portions of cities or worlds being destroyed. One scene shows a city being blown up by Lord Business's minions and then we see it sinking into the ocean with pieces dramatically sinking in an underwater view. At one point, one character is beheaded (in true LEGO minifig fashion) and we see the character's head talk briefly before dying. They then show up again as a LEGO ghost. Another scene shows a character erase their face. Later, they draw a semi-creepy scribble of a smiley face on it instead. Unikitty, who is unbelievably positive, fights having negative feelings or getting angry in a couple scenes and that might be a little frightening to some viewers as her face turns red and fierce and she starts eating the robots. It's all meant to be funny, though. Finally, there is no profanity, but there is some rude humor (like in the first Cloudy movie), and even one scene shows some LEGO robot figures photocopying their butts. Obviously, that sounds and looks ridiculous because there's no nudity or anything, but it's just an example of the "rude humor" herein (but that gag was used much more "explicitly" by the minions in Despicable Me).
Fans of LEGO bricks, creative visuals and random humor won't want to miss this movie. It has a couple moments that start to lag just a tad, but for the most part, it's just constant fun. It's probably a little too frenetic and crazy for the younger ones, but it's mostly harmless fun with any violence only ever involving LEGO pieces flying apart or being thrown around. This is one the adults and kids can enjoy together... and be warned: if you have a history with LEGO, this movie will make you want to break out those colorful little pieces and start building once again!- John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/8/14)
The LEGO Movie in 3D: I had only seen the film in 2D in the theaters, but I was interested in catching it in 3D on the Blu-Ray release. Sure enough, it's a whole lot of fun in 3D; it's easily one of the best 3D releases I've seen to date (and yeah, as a whole, it looks better than Gravity). Things jump out at the screen (not gratuitously) while the effect gives great depth to the film too. For a movie this fun, it only adds to it. It was also only my second time through and I found the movie to be even funnier the second time around. The first time watching it, it reminded me of some truly great LEGO memories throughout my childhood and the film actually encourages creativity. It's really just an enjoyable, silly movie.
Along with a director's commentary track, the 2D Blu-Ray disc offers the following extras:
Batman's A True Artist (1:12) - This is a video made by a 6-year-old fan, using the Will Arnett "Batman" theme from the movie's soundtrack.
Michelangelo and Lincoln: History Cops (1:21) - This is a fake TV commercial using LEGO blocks in which Michelangelo and Abraham Lincoln become police partners. It's relatively funny but a weird addition to the bonus features.
Enter the Ninjago (2:13) - This is a joke video featuring Emmett and a representative from Hollywood talking about the popularity of ninjas and inserting one into the film's key scenes.
Behind The Scenes: Bringing LEGO To Life (12:36) - This is a great featurette about the making of the film in which the directors talk about planning the project, visiting LEGO's headquarters in Denmark, visiting the factory, etc. They also treat Emmett as if he were real, and took him to his place of origin in Denmark. The filmmakers also talk about how every single thing in the film is made entirely out of real LEGO bricks (well, animated digitally with them)! It's a great little featurette (although I do wish there was more focus on the voice cast as well).
"Everything is Awesome" Sing Along (3:16) is kind of a lyric video of the fun movie song. However, it's not the one sung by Jo Li that's in the film, it's the other one on the soundtrack by Tegan and Sara & The Lonely Island.
Behind the Scenes: See It, Build It! is separated into 6 parts with no Play All option. First, there's an intro from one of the creative "Master Builders" at LEGO who then shows you how to create a double decker couch, similar to Emmett's (but not the one in the movie), and then a car like Emmett's. One of the digital designers on the film then introduces the digital designing of the couch and car and we see him create them on the computer using the LEGO Digital Designer program that fans can download for free (http://Ldd.lego.com) to make their own creations. This one will inspire you to bust out your bin of LEGO bricks.
Behind the Scenes: Stories from the Story Team (4:02) - This features some of the storyboards from the film in animation form with the animators and storyboard artists telling stories about their ideas that were used or not used, and we see some deleted ideas for the movie here.
Fan Made Films (3:51) is about some "secret submissions" of fan films that were made as part of a contest to be used in the background of a scene in The LEGO Movie. We get to watch the 15-second long mini movies here.
Outtakes (2:33) - Just like Pixar did with Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life, the LEGO Movie team offer up some fun fake outtakes from the animated film. This is definitely a fun one to watch.
Additional Promotional Content (3:51) - These are little promo commercials centered around the individual minifig characters in the film where we see them goof off as they make these commercials.
Alleyway Test (0:55) - This is a less-than-1-minute test animation sequence where the crew got to play with how the animation might look in the finished film.
Deleted Scenes (3:20) - These are deleted scenes in storyboard form. The first one shows Emmett in a jail on the pirate ship, while the second shows Lucy being interrogated by Lord Business's people.
Featurette: Dream Job: Meet the LEGO Builders (13:28) - This is a bit of a grand finale of sorts as we get to see the LEGO idea team construct possible vehicles and models from LEGO bricks to be used digitally in the film (but also work as toy products too). There's also a great segment where they talk about the live action LEGO city set and how they had to build it all and maintain it for the shoot. Some unique pieces were also donated by some of the world's biggest LEGO fans!
All in all, this is a great LEGO Movie set that fans of all ages should check out!- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/14/14)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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