Ric’s Review: “The LEGO Movie”

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LEGO: It’s something that we all grew up playing with. It’s so pervasive, even across cultural and generational lines, that, according to various sources, there are somewhere from 62 to 86 LEGO pieces for every person on Earth. XKCD even claims that by 2019 there will be more LEGO minifigs than people on Earth. Recently, the LEGO Group has expanded beyond the physical ‘children’s toy’ into the realm of board games and video games. This has invariably lead to the next logical step, one that I have been amped for since its announcement, The LEGO Movie.

Our story starts out with the introduction of Vitruvious, a guardian, tasked with stopping the evil Lord Business from stealing a powerful super weapon called the Kragle. Unable to stop him, Vitruvious reveals a startling prophecy. A chosen one, called “The Special,” will uncover the Piece of Resistance, a powerful artifact capable of neutralizing the Kragle.

Fast-forward eight and a half years, Emmet, an ordinary construction worker, starts his day in the wonderful LEGO world: he’s prepared to construct whatever he is told, always following the instructions — instructions handed down by the Octan Corporation, led by President Business. After a series of strange events Emmet discovers a never-before-seen piece and, breaking the rules, touches it. Suddenly Emmet has the Piece of Resistance, is assumedly “The Special,” and is wanted by Lord Business’s lieutenant, Bad Cop/Good Cop.

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Bad Cop and Lord Business

Meeting a rambunctious woman named Wyldstyle, it is revealed that she and the rest of the Master Builders, a group highly creative individuals who build without instructions, want to prevent Lord Business from destroying the world. But they can do so only with the help of “The Special” and the Piece of Resistance. Can the Master Builders stop Lord Business? Is Emmet “The Special?”

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Batman pops in on Wyldstyle and Emmet

The LEGO Movie is undeniably excellent. It excels in so many ways. Just like the toy itself, what appears to be a simple children’s movie proves to be so much more. There are numerous references to older sets, some from before I was born, and motifs of individuality and creativity that cater to the adult crowd. There are even nods to LEGO’s licensed sets including DC Comics, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the NBA.

As for the visuals, there was a lot of worry during the build up for this movie that it might not stay true to what people wanted from a LEGO film. Let me assuage those worries. Although entirely digital, The LEGO Movie plays like the stop motion animation of your dreams. The characters themselves are true to their physical forms. Never will you see a minifig bending at a knee or closing a claw hand. Everything in the movie, from the vehicles to the backgrounds, look as if they could have been built in real life. There are already official LEGO sets that you can buy that feature some of the in-movie models, and I am sure it is just a matter of time before we start seeing the fan made versions of others. In short, the visuals are captivating and stunningly intricate.

In addition, the voice cast is a wide and impressive pool. Chris Pratt plays Emmet; the producers no doubt had his work from Parks and Recreation in mind when they cast him. Elizabeth Banks as the tough girl with a past and Morgan Freeman as the wise wizard are matched appropriately and round out the major protagonists. Liam Neeson stars in his bipolar role of Bad Cop/Good Cop. He must have learned something from James Nesbitt when they worked together on Five Minutes of Heaven. Will Ferrell does not step too far outside of his loud and stern comedy box until nearly the end. At that point, we see a much more vulnerable performance. A performance that is atypical of Ferrell, but incredibly welcome, just like 2006’s Stranger than Fiction. Will Arnett also makes a sizable appearance as Batman. I have a nostalgic love for Kevin Conroy as the only voice of non-live action Batman, but Arnett does a great job.

There are a few other notable voice castings in Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation, Somebody Up There Likes Me), Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelpha), Alison Brie (Community), Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders and Will Forte, but it’s a few of the authentic cameo voices that really hit home. Shaquille O’Neal appears as himself, while Anthony Daniels and the smooth-as-silk Billy Dee Williams reprise their roles as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian.

All in all, The LEGO Movie is an absolute must watch. If you have kids, take them to see it. If you don’t, go see it anyway. There is a great deal to this movie and to dismiss it as just a children’s movie would be a big mistake. Beyond the nostalgia factor, this movie hits many high notes from its technical standpoints and the roller coaster plot to the engaging and varied characters.

What are you waiting for?

Rating:

4.5 out of 5.0

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