Like many when I first heard about The Lego Movie my reaction was a long, angry groan. I’m sure if I looked I could probably find a tweet somewhere about how Hollywood are desperate to exploit every toy franchise, how they’re running out of ideas and how badly this movie was going to suck. To my surprise however, The Lego Movie is a fun, inventive satire of blockbuster movies as a whole, hitting on their obviousness, lack of creativity and seemingly asking the question: why can’t they be more fun?
Years ago Lord Business took over the world, taking away all creativity and enforcing a set of instructions (yes those instructions) which all citizens must follow. It’s a very 1984-like set-up; people only watch TV shows and listen to music that is churned out by the government, mindless repetitive things which are designed to keep them in line. Business plans to push this even further through the use of a device, the Kraggle, which will freeze the world in a state of what he views as perfection, unable to be changed in any way.
The premise is reminiscent of The Matrix or any of those movies where there is one man prophesied to save the world through the use of godlike powers. Lego Movie pushes this even further, making its protagonist Emmett a total moron, lacking any original thoughts, the exact opposite of a hero. When he discovers the Piece of Resistance, a device which will stop the Kraggle, Emmett is thrust into the world of The Master Builders, individuals who can make wonderful creations out of Lego and are raising an army to stop Business once and for all.
Lego Movie‘s animation is superb, making computer generated effects look alarmingly like real Lego bricks with even laser battles, explosions and the ocean created to seem like they are constructed out of Lego. Everything is considered, from the awkward way that Lego creations like the horses would move, down to the smallest bump on a Lego spaceship. At times the movie almost appears to resemble stop-motion films (something which I admit I have tried and failed to make with Lego due to impatience).
The voice cast completely throw themselves into the insanity; Will Ferrell in particular feels born for this sort of film, clearly delighting in every hammy speech his villain gets to spout. Morgan Freeman is also great in the role of Vitruvius, the Morpheus of the story who teaches our hero how to save the world. Will Arnett as Lego Batman is brilliant, a parody of the character’s awesomeness who is cocky, obsessed with black and totally into himself. Of course he’s also dating Emmett’s love interest, despite being totally wrong for her. Not to mention all the hilarious cameos found throughout from Superman (“I super hate you!”) to Han Solo to Milhouse, reminding us just how far the Lego franchise has come in its apparent mission to turn everything into bricks.
The romance in the film is sweet but feels a bit underdeveloped, mostly because Wyldstyle spends much of the film hating Emmett while being awesome. It’s easy to see why Emmett would fall for Wyldstyle but for much of the film she doesn’t seem to appreciate his genuine cuteness beneath his idiotic exterior.
Perhaps the film’s biggest misstep comes towards the end, where the movie jumps into a cheesy live action sequence. This feels very unnecessary and destroys the momentum of the action presiding it, before hammering home the film’s message of the importance of originality and fun. The reconciliation between father and son is rather adorable but it was already apparent what the message of the film was without needing to shove it into the viewer’s face. In a way it can be seen as an attack of how transparent blockbuster films are with their messages but it feels more like they are dumbing it down for the children in the audience.
Overall The Lego Movie is a fun satire of the action movie genre, while also being a exceptionally animated look at the world of Lego created within a child’s imagination when they pick up those bricks and let their creativity go wild. At its heart it is really a film about how although the instructions are there and you could just follow them if you want, it’s a lot more fun to break the rules.