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The LEGO Movie

"Immediately, the first thing to marvel at with The LEGO Movie is its unlimited use of color, atmosphere, and bricks."

The LEGO Movie is something of a miracle amongst animated movies: brightly colored, a feast for the eyes, one that bravely establishes its own world, one where voice actors that aren't used as marketing gimmicks, and an adaptation that does perfect justice to its toy-counterpart.

What The LEGO Movie does and overwhelmingly succeeds at could've easily fallen apart like someone accidentally bumping into someone's meticulously built LEGO-set. However, the film manages to rise above inevitable product placement to show why LEGOs have etched themselves in the hearts and minds of children and adults for decades now. The only way a film featuring the construction toys could've worked is if it had thrown in reasons why the toy has remained popular for so many years and, thankfully, we, the audience, are treated to a rousing film that shows why and so much more.

The Lego Movie
Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Cast Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Berry
Release Date 7 February 2014
Steve's Grade: A

The film immediately hits the ground running to make full use of its ninety-four minutes by introducing Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary, unremarkable construction worker who lives his life by pre-written constructions that tell him when to eat, what to eat, what to do, what to watch, and how to operate. He, among everyone else in this LEGO world, lives under the law of President Business (Will Ferrell), a bitter politician hellbent on enacting destructive policies and using "The Kragle," a tube of Krazy Glue, to freeze the world.

Emmet becomes involved in this madness when he sees an attractive LEGO girl named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) poking around the construction site, and manages to fall in a hole where he learns from a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) that they're both "master-builders," a rare breed of people who can build whatever without the use of instruction manuals. The fate of the brick world now rests in the hands of Emmet, Wyldstyle, Vitruvius, Wyldstyle's boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie), a half-unicorn/half-kitty anime character, and Benny (Charlie Day), who is referred to as a "1980-something space guy."

Immediately, the first thing to marvel at with The LEGO Movie is its unlimited use of color, atmosphere, and bricks. Through the wonders of computer-generated animation and imagery, a team of immensely-skilled animators have done what I personally didn't think could be done and that's erect a LEGO world, from the ground up, that moves, builds, and feels like authentic LEGOs in action. Upon the opening credits, my expectations were entirely annihilated as some of the most fluent, detailed, and meticulously-colored animated environments came to life, reminding me of such animated innovations such as Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph. It's more than fair to compare The Lego Movie to their heights in terms of animation and story.

The environment effectively reminds anyone whose childhood involved LEGOs why they love LEGOs in the first place. Speaking personally, LEGOs were an enormous part of my childhood, so much so that I still have a six-foot long table in my basement bearing numerous sets - even rare ones that now command outrageous prices on the internet - complete with two gigantic bins of extra pieces right beneath it. LEGOs are one of the few toys left on the market that, while instructing you to build what is on the box, are still only limited by your imagination. You could follow the directions from page-to-page, skip some parts you don't like, change up the design, or overhaul it all together and just create something entirely random that comes right from the confines of your mind.

The LEGO Movie does an incredible job at showing the versatility of the product without the feeling of constant, incessant jabs to your side as if it's hinting at you to buy the product for this reason or that. Ostensibly, by including characters from Gandalf, to Batman, to even Superman here and there, it's easy to assume that the film doesn't have a real idea of what it wants to do other than showcase numerous different LEGO characters as if it has just constructed every character it could find in a gigantic tub of LEGO pieces. However, this provides for ultimate variety and an incredible range of ideas to flow, similar to an eight year old letting his imagination command his adventure as he sits and plays with his toys for hours on end. The ending of the film only further cements the impact the toys can have on people and how there is no right or wrong way to play with them in the long run.

It's nice to see writing/directing team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have a true understanding of the importance of LEGOs as well as the variety of different worlds that they have spawned. The only way this film could've worked is if competent people who, most importantly, understand the impact LEGOs have on a generation had been hired.

The minor detractor in all of this is the film does become quite manic at times, so much so that I was occasionally contemplating what I was missing from the scenery and the environments since, due to rapid-fire cutting, I was never able to look at a specific area for too long. This complaint, while present, however, gets almost immediately remedied by looking at another part of the film, like the soundtrack. I simply find it difficult to hold even the tiniest bit of malice for a film whose main song is called "Everything is Awesome!!!," with not one or two but three exclamation points in its title.

The jokes come every few seconds, ranging from chuckles to uproariously funny instances involving inside jokes or running gag-jokes. With this, combined with the grand-scale environments that are sure to hold easter eggs and small, easily-missed inclusions, The LEGO Movie already has a high rewatch value. I envision many parents weary of playing the same tired thing on DVD players every day for their children - films that are likely unsubstantial and immature that will do nothing to help them overtime. Finally, here's something that the parents may even want to rewatch when the kids do; The Lego Movie is a rousing feast for the eyes and an absolute delight for the mind that is sure to think back to your own personal days with the toys themselves and the impact you may or may not know they left.

Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic

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