<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Our long-forgotten bricks of dreams are back in a movie incarnation that is so furiously wild and wonderful it makes me want to take out my old LEGO’s and play again.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the guys who brought us Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Brick by brick they have constructed a visually spectacular film with The LEGO Movie.
For those of us who do know what LEGO’s are we are keenly aware that they kept us busy through most of our childhood, which lasted a lot longer than ‘childhood’ does today. Building all sorts of fantasy vehicles and lands from space, regular life and forests full of knights and horses, we’d play out scenarios from our imagination, giving voices to our character pieces, creating fanciful stories and rejoicing in the destruction of our creations since we knew we’d get to build them again and maybe even differently.
Alas, today’s generation hardly play with LEGO. It’s iPads, iPhones and Blackberry’s for them. Their imagination is stunted, restricted to the worlds that a game developer has built for the iStore. And even if you do find LEGO’s you’ll see that they aren’t the same anymore: pre-built parts, with fewer bricks and pieces, so it’s easier for kids to make.
One thing I was worried about at the start of the film was if the ‘space’ LEGO would be represented. They were my favourite if a bit retro (but then there’s so much to love about 80s). And I’m happy to report they are.
Our hero Emmett (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker in Brickburg, building structures and his life according to predefined plans. ‘Everything Is Awesome’ blares the catchy song and it does look that way. Until of course President Business (Will Ferrell) steals the ‘Kragel’ and the Master Builders to make his worlds even more picture perfect. But Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) a white-haired wizard pronounces that there will be one saviour: the special, who will stop this devious plan.
The LEGO movie is a combination of real LEGO bricks as well as CGI. Now the CGI is very cleverly used. The stop motion style of the animation, like for when the characters walk, gives you the feeling of the ‘toys’ being played with. It’s surreal and wacky in a way. They could have made it all very smooth and seamless but they’ve given it that stop motion feel for a reason that works magnificently.
After droves of boilerplate animated films with analogous characters, sidekicks and jokes, The LEGO Movie provides a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s funny, visually stupendous and innovative. The inclusion of their toys based on film and TV characters like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Dumbledore and Gandalf let them play (and make fun of) with the legacy of these franchises in a charmingly witty way. The way Superman tries to avoid the notably less popular Green Lantern (who has some horrible movies to his name as well) is hilarious.
The message The LEGO Movie promotes is one of non-conformity. It tells us we should all be different and that’s all right. We should also do things differently and not be like mindless drones with coffee cups dashing off to work every morning. I’d like to think it’s also a dig at LEGO and the ‘business’ aspects which lead to them shelving the retro 80s LEGOs like the space LEGO and replacing it all with simpler bricks and almost-readymade kits that you can’t build into anything you want.
Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) and Batman (Will Arnett) are great characters and Charlie Day’s Spaceman Benny is adorable especially after he finally gets to build what he – and I – desperately wanted to see in the awesome The LEGO Movie.