One would have to forgive the pessimism when film critics first heard about The Lego Movie. Their eventual screening would start with a collective groan with what was sure to be a cheaply animated feature length advert, at least in their minds, and mine too. What followed truly surprised. Four to five star reviews emerged and critics around the tabloids were singing the little bricks praises. Lego Movie had my curiosity, but now it had my attention. With my undivided I'm happy to report that The Lego Movie is a triumph. Fast, funny, sly and subversive, Lego Movie is going to storm the box office for weeks to come.
Story-wise, (un) happy go lucky construction worker Emmett (Chris Pratt) stumbles across the path of Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and reluctantly becomes involved in a plot to thwart evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell, playing it straight) from gluing the Lego universe together. The plot serves as a shell surrounding a bold and meaningful issue that comes into play a little too abruptly in the final act. It interrupts the potential for an exciting climax in favour for something a little more subdued but effective. Lego Movie's final message is perhaps shoved down our throat with some saccharine to spare, but the emphasis on creative independence and family values is welcome in our digital age.
Lego Movie is brilliantly animated, consciously adopting a stop motion aesthetic that captures how Lego architecture and characters would look and move when brought to life. It allows director duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to create a fresh visual style which by itself adds originality to the film's many kinetic action sequences. It's no coincidence that the on screen ecstasy comes from the highly creative minds of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller can obviously nail a keen visual style but as with their successful live action re-boot of 21 Jump Street, they have an acidic tongue too. Lego Movie bites with subversive attitudes and sly send ups of genre tropes. I particularly liked the 'oblivious' exposition scene, hilariously delivered by Wyldstyle, 'blah blah backstory blah blah'. Lego Movie plays around with iconic characters too. Best of the bunch is Batman (Will Arnett in full Gob 'Arrested Development' mode). Here, Batman is an egotistical jock who's all too aware he is the number one badass superhero. He also likes to party with Han Solo and build things with only black bricks (or very, very dark grey ones). There are many other iconic characters that crop up for cameos which I won't spoil but credit to the writing team for introducing new and memorable characters to the Lego universe. Emmett is the perfect accidental hero while Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is a perfect send up of the wise Gandalf/Dumbledore wizard hybrid.
Lego Movie's sense of humour and sharp one liners will suit the adults while the children will marvel at the wacky action scenes. Whether the film was good or bad, it still acts as an advert for a legendary toy. Fortunately, Lego Movie wants to be a great film first and it succeeds.