|Darn right. Mroww.|
Up until The Lego Movie released two weeks ago, every one of the company’s visual productions, from its somewhat tolerable made-for-TV shorts to its less tolerable made-for-Legoland 4D-fests to its completely unacceptable made-for-DVD disgraces to Bionicle, had been nothing more than a mostly plotless and sometimes amusing kiddie cartoon fraught with pop-culture references that kiddies won’t understand and strategically designed to sell toys. So just imagine my surprise when rave reviews started to pour in for this somehow different feature-length Lego Movie, downplaying its commercial agenda and specifically praising it for telling an original, meaningful story. Imagine my further surprise upon going to see what all the buzz was about and finding that The Lego Movie is also an extended Lego ad set to a very skimpy plot, fraught with pop-culture references, and very obviously designed to sell toys, video games, theme park tickets, and whatnot. Oh well. Maybe someday Lego will grant an independent filmmaker the rights to make a philosophical, morally ambiguous, adult-oriented drama with its “sophisticated interlocking bricks system”, but for now we’re stuck with this consistently funny, eye-popping, witty, and completely bubble-headed CG comedy. Unlike the works of Batman, it’s not exactly what I’d call true art, dark and brooding and serious, but under the circumstances it’ll do just fine.
I LOVE this song.
Will the woman get the man that she deserves? Will an eventual heist go according to Batman’s plans, or will the good guys have to wing it? Will Emmet and the rest of Brickburg’s mindless slaves forego their instructions to build something “only they can think of”, or are they forever fated to live as mere parts in a larger set? How do Dumbledore and Gandalf, Superman and Green Lantern figure into this hodgepodge of settings and themes? Such are a few of the questions you’ll be asking yourself should you go to watch The Lego Movie, a movie so light-hearted and comical for the first hour and a half that when the plot twist finally unfolds and we’re supposed to start taking things seriously, the tone doesn’t shift nearly as smoothly as it ought, but that’s really the greatest complaint I can muster against the most technically impressive and well scripted animated film I’ve seen since, well, nothing that came out last year or the year before that.
It certainly towers over the abysmal Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs that co-directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller made in their younger days. As familiar as the ideas of rebellion, believing in yourself, and teamwork are, the animation style used herein to relate those ideas is unlike anything yet attempted in a mainstream blockbuster, appearing to be a mix of stop-motion animation and highly detailed CGI that replicates the same look. All the explosions, lasers, clouds, and waves are animated as if they were composed of individual bricks, and the minifigures usually gesticulate in stiff, awkward movements that reflect their true flexibility or lack thereof, much as Disney poked fun at the primitive, staccato animation of older video game characters in Wreck It Ralph. Both effects contribute to an appearance that’s unexpectedly photo-realistic and appropriately plastic, though it doesn’t resemble a low-budget project by any means, being filled with action sequences so complex and tremendous in scale they could have been borrowed from The Avengers’ finale or any Transformers movie.
Wyldsyle: [After Emmet proudly demonstrates his single original design, a bunk-bed couch] “That’s literally the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Vitruvius: “Let me handle this, Wyldstyle. That idea… is just the worst.
Emmet: “You’re an amazing person, Wyldstyle, and if your boyfriend can’t see that, he’s as blind as… a person… whose eyes stopped working.”
“We awe fwum the planet Duplo, and we awe here to destwoy you.”
If Lego can maintain this same standard of quality for the inevitable #2, I can’t wait to see how the embattled minifigures repel the Duplo invaders from their home baseplate. The Lego Movie doesn’t have a very deep meaning like Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Short Stories, the Toy Story Halloween Special, or some other movies based on and made to sell toys, but it is superbly entertaining, delightfully hammy, blissfully nostalgic, consistently funny, occasionally romantic, and most of all awesome.
Grade rating: B+
Mr. Peabody and Sherman – The one thing about this that looked remotely sufferable was Patrick Warburton as a Greek soldier, but he’s only as funny as the lines that writers give him, all of which weren’t.Earth To Echo – This is likely an early teaser because it didn’t reveal many plot points, but it looks like a mashup of Super 8’s better parts with the aliens and floating things and Chronicle or Cloverfield with the handheld camera. And y’all know how I feel about shaky cam.
Muppets: Most Wanted – “Lights out.” *Crash* “Turn them back on. Ugh. You ’ave to vait until I’m LIKE out of the hallway.” Huh huh. Tina Fey smashing Russian and valley girl together. That’s a good one. I think I’ve liked approximately zero of the Muppet movies I’ve seen so far, but maybe this one will change that record. On DVD.The Amazing Spider-Man 5, or is it officially 2? – Another year, another special effects extravaganza about an arrogant, unlikeable teenager who zips around the big city and wisecracks along the way, except this time the villain is Jamie “Every single thing in my life is built around race” Foxx and the most special effect on display is Spidey’s girlfriend Emma Stone. A noble effort from Industrial Lights and Magic, but that’s not music enough for my ears. It’s time for this string of cash-grabbing sequels to bow out.
The Box-Trolls – If I’m not mistaken, this is the one that made a small stir for being gay kiddie propaganda dressed up as a stop-motion monster movie. “Families come in all shapes and sizes…” Whatever the case, it doesn’t look nearly as inventive visually as Coraline or The Nightmare Before Christmas.Another Wizard of Oz movie – Soooooooo bad.