Being productive over my seven-day weekend, I finally got around to seeing “The LEGO Movie,” a film I haven’t been able to keep off my mind ever since I first saw it advertised. As I’m sure a lot of kids my age did, I grew up playing with LEGOs. I loved the bricks, the possibilities that awaited me every time I would take the buckets of them and dump them all on the floor (picking them up was always a pain, and stepping on them was beyond pain). I had/have a few kits, but I also let my mind run wild whenever I pulled the plastic bricks out, always trying to make pirate ships and construction cranes and wind-up cars with rubber bands and the gears. I got a kick out of them, and I’m sure if I ever had the time to break them out of my closet again, the same thrill would return.
So “The LEGO Movie” was for sure something that I could not go without seeing, though everyone I talked to said they weren’t interested, despite the great reviews the movie has been receiving. Now if they’re saying that because they’re legitimately not interested in it, I understand (to an extent; again, I really like LEGOs), but if they were just blowing the movie off because they thought they had better things to do, boy, are they missing out. Anyone, and I mean anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in this movie needs to see it. It is creative and funny and action-packed and… you just have to see it.
From a review-standpoint, the movie stands on several grounds, though it does have its disappointments that even I can’t overlook. On the positive side, the cinematography of the movie is near-genius. As I’m sure anyone who has seen the trailers has noticed, the movie isn’t animated the same way that the LEGO video games or LEGO television shows are. Yes, the movie is computer-animated, but instead of rounding the characters legs and bodies like the former do, the directors of the movie make sure to keep everything in the movie looking as “LEGO” as possible. And despite being animated, the movie is purposely filmed to look as if it’s stop-motion. And everything in this movie is LEGO. When dust is scattered from a character hitting the ground, or something catches on fire, the dust and flames are LEGO pieces. The rolling waves, the clouds in the sky, the laser beams from the guns, all LEGO (and for someone with a keen eye for LEGO pieces, it gets creative what pieces they use for certain objects.). Even the title cards that say “Ten Seconds Later” (a recurring joke throughout the film that is lost on me) are made of LEGOs. The animators definitely took their time when focusing on detail and ingenuity in this film. When the camera zooms in on a character’s face, you can actually see the texture of the head, the plastic surface and the painted faces. When the characters in the movie are looking around for pieces to build with, they “scan” the area like Batman in “The Dark Knight,” and the five-digit ID numbers for each piece show up. It is little things like that that show just how much effort was put into this movie. It’s fantastic.
As far as plot goes, however, this movie seems to rely a bit too much on the audience’s interest in everything being LEGO and drops the ball on developing a coherent story. You can follow the story if you try, but puns and thrown-in references make it difficult sometimes, and the plot itself is a little too fast and confusing. The story revolves around Emmet, an ordinary construction worker who lives in a world where everything is done by the instructions (poking fun at those who build by the instructions versus those who build with their imaginations). Emmet comes across “the piece of resistance,” which is needed to stop Lord Business from taking over the world with his secret weapon, “the Kragle.” Along the way, he meets up with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Gandalf, Han Solo and about a dozen other “cameos” on his quest to become a Master Builder and stop the bad guy like the prophecy says. This “hero’s journey” is definitely nothing new, though a twist at the end does help this movie’s ethos. I won’t give away anything, but I will say that it’s one of the best parts of the movie, and it ties everything together in a creative and pleasing way. Think of it as an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist that, for once, won’t leave you demanding a refund.
Overall, the movie’s plot could be better developed, though going into it, you have to understand that the directors knew that the storyline wasn’t the important part here. When you’re making a movie where everything is LEGO, having a riveting and gripping plot takes a backseat. What is important in this movie is making as many references and jokes with LEGOs as possible, and I believe that they have achieved that goal. So, if you can look past a simple plot and instead engross yourself in the magical world of LEGOs, this movie is nothing short of a work of art. And I recommend you see it, because a sequel has already been announced.
(cover photo courtesy IMDb.com)