Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let's Build A Summer Blockbuster In Winter

By Alan Burkholder

BOSTON, Mass., USA – Everything is awesome.
At least, that's what the tagline of The Lego Movie says. And given what nearly everyone is saying about it, that certainly seems to be the case.
As a fan of Lego, it can be hard not to have a strong expectation for what the movie will be like. However, this film is, even from a subjective viewpoint, well-crafted and competent. Naturally, since the entire movie is based around a toy, it is virtually impossible to make a Lego movie without product placement, but the movie handles this issue quite cleverly.
The plot of the Lego Movie is standard.
Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt, is a construction worker who has few distinguishing characteristics. He lives his life quite literally by the book, always following a set of instructions and never doing anything to set himself apart from the crowd, which only serves to blend him into the background so much that nobody in the city of Bricksburg, where he lives, knows who he is.
The monotony of his life is interrupted, however, by a mysterious action girl who goes by the name of 'Wyldstyle' (Elizabeth Banks). After going after her and stumbling down a rather steep and dangerous tunnel, Emmet finds a mysterious object known as 'the Piece of Resistance,' and it gets stuck to his back.
From here on, we have a fairly typical "save the world" plot, as Emmet and Wyldstyle set out to stop the evil control freak President Business (Will Ferrell) and his most trusted police officer, Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) from freezing the entire world in place using another mysterious object known as the 'Kragle.'
This movie sports an impressive cast of all-star actors, including Morgan Freeman as the wise, blind and magical Vitruvius; Will Arnett as an incredibly snarky version of Batman; Alison Brie as the deceivingly happy Princess Uni-Kitty; Nick Offerman as the half-pirate, half-robot Metalbeard; and Charlie Day as an aged and somewhat loopy astronaut named Benny.
All the actors and actresses make the most out of their roles, and every character has some shining moments on-screen.
The movie, at heart, has a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, courtesy of the writing team of Kevin and Dan Hageman, along with the writing and directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Lord and Miller also created the comedies 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The style of comedy in those films is also used here, albeit for a more family-oriented audience.
The jokes are almost always guaranteed to get a laugh, and there is an effective mix of visual and verbal comedy that is almost certain to leave the audience rolling in the aisles.
The Lego Movie, however, is not only funny, but creative. The cast is colorful and diverse, the jokes clever and original, and the locations amazing.
In fact, creativity and the power of imagination is a central element to the story that keeps things going and keeps the audience engaged.
The film also has a lot of other strong points worth mentioning.
The score manages to set the mood for what is happening on screen. The animation – a unique blend of stop-motion and CGI – makes the film feel like it is actually filmed using sets made entirely out of Lego bricks and other real-world objects, right down to the small imperfections in the plastic.
As it starts out, the Lego Movie is what one would call fairly standard for a kid's movie: lots of humor, lots of actions, colorful and fascinating characters, and so on.
However, what really sets this movie apart is the incredible twist that comes after the second act, just before the movie's climax.
Without giving anything away, any questions that the audience may have had about the movie before this point will suddenly get answered. It's not only a good twist, but one that makes sense, and sets up a fitting final confrontation between the villains and the heroes.
And, in the tradition of many movies before it, there is a small chance that you might start to cry at the point of resolution, regardless of your age.
In the end, all you need to know about the Lego Movie going in is this: There is a reason this film is almost universally loved. There is a reason that this film made over $69 million its first weekend. There is a reason that this film has a currently unrivaled score of 96% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. That reason is, of course, that the film is good. If you have not seen it yet, do so as soon as possible.

1 comment:

JOHN M. said...

Great review! Now I know why it has had such a good box office performance.