Lego, in case you didn’t know, is a children’s construction toy. With over 560 billion lego parts having been produced since 1949 (according to Wikipedia), Lego is also one of the biggest toys in the world. Heck, with over 4 billion minifigures, it’s actually the world’s largest population! So as you might have guessed, this has been one of the most highly anticipated films of all time. That’s a big thing to live up to. But did it succeed? Or was it just the world’s most expensive advert? Well, let’s find out in… the The Lego Movie Review!
Warning: This review contains big spoilers that could spoil the film for you… hence the term ‘spoilers’. If you have not seen the film, I suggest you probably don’t read on.
Earlier today, Mike and I went to see The Lego Movie. I am a big fan of Lego, having played with lots of it for many hours as a child, so I was really looking forward to this film and had quite big expectations. Apart from parents, we were the only ‘adults’ in the cinema.
The film follows the life of regular guy, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), and his attempts to stop the evil Lord Business from making the world the way he wants it, with help from his new friends Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and a whole host of other characters. As you’ll no doubt be expecting, he succeeds, but we’ll get to that later.
The film hosts a number of good characters, so let’s take a look at some of them. Wyldstyle is the ‘cool’ girl. She’s a rebel who Emmet fancies. Of course he does. She’s the lead girl, so the film has to have a romance between the two leads otherwise it’s not a film (apparently). Then there’s Batman. There has already been a few Lego Batman films, one of which I watched and quite enjoyed. The thing with Lego versions of Batman is they turn him into a comedy character, always trying to act serious but looking stupid in the process and being ridiculed by his fellow Lego people. This film is no exception, but it can get away with it because he’s surrounded by weird and wonderful characters. Will Ferrell’s Lord Business is, unfortunately, a bit crap. Admittedly I’m not Ferrell’s biggest fan, but it’s your typical comedy villain who you can’t take seriously and doesn’t really feel much of a threat. Liam Neeson’s Cop is another good character with tons of possibilities which are appropriately used. He is a good cop/bad cop, so his head spins around and he can change personality. This is an excellent use of Neeson’s talents, and provides a bad guy with more menace than the actual villain and a great comedy character in the good guy.
Then there’s the supporting cast, which I often find is usually better than the main cast, and this again this is true of this film. Benny, a ‘1980-something space guy’ isn’t fantastic, but there’s one part of him I love, his helmet. The bit under the mouth is broken, which brings back so many memories of discarded helmets and other accessories that broke when playing with them. There’s a pirate-robot sort of thing for the boys, who I found to be a bit annoying, and a ‘unikitty’ for the girls, which is a cross between a cat and a unicorn that I found to be more annoying than the pirate guy. There are also a number of superheroes who make cameos, including, but not limited to: Superman, Wonderwoman and Green Lantern. There are lots of cameos in the film, from everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare, including a few Star Wars characters and possibly the best one… Milhouse Van Houten of Simpsons fame. I didn’t even know there was a Lego Milhouse.
As I mentioned earlier, the movie brings back memories from playing with Lego as a child. One of the best examples of this is a moment when the cop’s face is rubbed off and he draws a face on himself. This was a fantastic moment that got a lot of laughs in the cinema, and rightly so. But for a lot of people it will no doubt unearth memories of drawing on Lego to create ‘limited edition custom figures’.
Although the movie’s humour is a bit simple, there are some moments (like the above) that are laugh-out-loud funny. The blind Vitruvius has a few good jokes, such as when he is put in charge of keeping a look out and, because he’s blind, stands staring at a wall. Another good example is when the ghost of Vitruvius comes back to help Emmet. This was done with a ghost version of the character floating around, being held up string. Again, it’s little touches like this that remind you that Lego is, at heart, still a toy and this is how kids would play with it. Some of the voices are a bit silly too, which, instead of sounding like crap voice actors, sounds like kids trying to do different voices that don’t quite fit. There are also more subtle jokes for the older viewers, such as posters in the background advertising ‘a popular band’. The writers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, are former sitcom writers, which is probably why this seems a bit of a laugh-a-line joke-fest. It’s not as bad as most American sitcoms though.
So, clearly the film has good characters and lots of nice references, but where it falls short is the story. Mike mentioned that the film felt too fast paced, and I have to agree with him. There were quite a few moments that could they could have gone deeper into. The big mistake in this film, however, came near the end, when it was revealed (big spoiler alert) that the Lego world was actually a reality controlled by humans who had made everything in the city. This was a big disappointment, as it took away from the great cartoon story and went into the typical mushy sentiment of the father learning to let the son play with the toys. It made it feel like the story was pointless as anything could happen so long as the humans were controlling it. This live-action scene also resolved the problem of Emmet dying with seemingly no return. I’d have much preferred for him to have stayed dead and have the others sort everything out.
Each world, or ‘dimension’, in the film are from a different range of Lego, from wild west themes to space kits, so it is nice that they incorporated the different ranges into the film and showed that they could be incorporated with one another, although this is where it did feel like an advert. Especially with the surprise cameo of Duplo toys at the end.
The big decision in the film is about whether to follow the instructions or make your own creations, which is essentially what Lego is about, and the fact that people began to create their own objects and worlds out of it is why it has been so successful. So essentially, the film is telling the story of Lego. The message, then, is that you can do anything with Lego and be as creative and imaginative as you wish. And it’s a good message. Lego is an brilliant toy that inspires children to use their imagination and be creative. Although this might seem like the film is just one big advert for Lego, this might not be a bad thing. In these times of supersonic hedgehog brothers and countless war games, children should be encouraged to turn their minds to something less violent and more creative.
Overall, the movie was pretty good. It didn’t quite live up to expectations, but then again how could it? After 21 years of playing with Lego, coming up with the wildest of stories and craziest of characters, how can a feature length film (made by adults I might add) compare with my imagination? The film is clearly made by people who played with lego as a child, and that comes across. The problem is that films have to have certain things, like romance and logical storylines. But this isn’t what Lego is about. In Lego, things don’t have to make sense. Cars can fly, people do things for no apparent reason, romance doesn’t occur… it’s just innocent fun. But the movie has a good balance of childish nonsense and proper drama, so it kind of works.
One thing’s for sure, I’m going to start playing with Lego again very soon.
Our rating: (4.5 / 5)