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MOVIE REVIEW: The Lego Movie Showcases the Building Blocks of an “Awesome” Film

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Everything is awesome… with the exception of Geek outlaw’s pose.

 

Every once in a brick-shaped moon, a movie comes along that is so awesome that the film’s creators develop a repetitively mind-numbing, but catchy musical number – using said word in italics above – and inject it directly into the film itself.  In a further show of confidence, the studio’s marketing department then proceeds to the use the above-mentioned tune in every promotional form of media known to man.

 

Luckily for The Lego Movie, not only did it live up to its awesome musical track of the same name, but it far exceeded that italicized sentiment.  Would you also believe that I could have predicted this film would be awesome way back in July of 2013?  To be fair I don’t blame you if you had your doubts seeing as I don’t even trust my own judgment half the time.

 

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The movie was so “awesome” in fact, it made me want to purchase my own $37 cup of java. (And I don’t even like coffee.)

 

I was lucky enough to get the first official glimpse of the movie during last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con.  I happened to be in the venerable Hall H for some other panels when The Lego Movie made its presence known.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but the sheer fact I used to love playing with the infamous blocks when I was just a wee lad – roughly 3 weeks ago – peaked my curiosity enough to keep my bladder in check.  The mere fact a third of the massive room emptied out to use the bathroom before the panel even started suggested that most weren’t expecting much either.  Their loss, because the trailer alone turned out to be one of the most entertaining of the entire convention.

 

 

Thus far, the payoff has is building quickly in the form of dollar bills.  70 million of them to be exact.  It’s the amount the movie pulled in on its opening weekend, so it didn’t take long for Warner Brothers to green light a sequel before the ink on the checks dried.  Don’t get too excited for part two anytime soon though as it took a longer than usual five years to get the first one completed and in the can.  Here’s to hoping the Lego directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord have another half-a-decade to spare.

 

As you should be well aware of by now, I don’t like to waste your precious seconds recapping summaries that can be found on the internet as easily as locating someone who’s had plastic surgery in the Southern California region.

 

Keeping that in mind, I will summarize in brief by sharing that trouble is afoot in Legoland as President Business (aka Lord Business; both voiced by ) has plans to use the mysterious Kragle to freeze every Lego citizen and building in place due to his disdain for the Master Builders who don’t like to ‘follow the instructions’.  Master Builders, as they are referred to, enjoy building random contraptions using bricks from other structures, which goes against the instructions you see.

 

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It’s always the blocks with the mean yellow face pieces ya gotta watch.

 

It isn’t long before we are then introduced to the happy, but generic Lego construction worker named Emmet Brickowoski ().  Sadly, so generic is Emmet that no one seems to remember much about him despite his friendly demeanor and incredible knack for ‘following the instructions’.  (Side note: ‘Following the instructions’ is one of the many clever nods to the real world of Lego building.)  After introductions are made, Emmet stumbles into Wildstyle (), a Lego Master Builder that can put together a pretty sophisticated Lego hog in a matter of seconds with nothing but spare bricks she finds in a deserted backstreet ally.

 

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How do you not fall for a woman that’s good with her hands?

 

Hopefully you read between the lines – although the lines themselves were pretty descriptive – and realized how much that I enjoyed this film.  If your curious as to why this is the case, I offer you my personal instruction set that all the parties involved followed in order to build a perfect movie:

 

STEP 1)  Construct Memorable Characters

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Sometimes the biggest personalities come in the smallest packages… really tiny packages that say “some assembly required”.

 

Whether they consist of human flesh or plastic blocks manufactured in Denmark, the main set of characters is what drives any entertainment narrative.  The voice work provided by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, (Batman), (Virtuvius),  (Lego Cop) and Will Ferrell is incredibly impressive, especially when you consider the limited facial expressions that Lego faces are able to emote, even when animated.

 

STEP 2)  Come on, it’s funny!

I don’t care what genre a movie is categorized as, if it doesn’t have one iota of humor planted somewhere within its entire run-time, it’s won’t be as entertaining as it could have been.  Luckily, The Lego Movie brings the funny, and it brings it faster than you can build a retro spaceship (that’s an inside movie joke).  See, even this bullet point has humor in it.  A lousy attempt at humor, but it’s the attempt that matters.  My lack of comedic prowess aside, you’ll just have to take my word that there are more than a few laugh out loud moments littered throughout.

 

3) Add a Dash of Romance

Call me a hopeless (though mostly helpless) romantic, but I find a good love story an essential part of any excellent piece of story-based entertainment.  Fittingly, The Lego Movie was light on love, but the will-they or won’t-they relationship of Emmit and Wildstyle was endearing (even if you knew the highly predictable outcome.)  Now before you all start spreading rumors that I’m a How Stella Got Her Groove Back loving, romance novel reading sissy cowboy that likes to use words like “endearing”, please understand I’m not one for the overly sappy romance novels with the picture of Fabio on the form of every cover.  Nothing against Fabio or anything, I’m sure he’s a perfectly decent person that has no fondness for the taste of butter.

 

4) A Catchy Soundtrack

All six of my Outlaw followers should know by now that I love my musical scores.  The Lego Move does a more than adequate job of providing a blockbuster-like musical experience, but where the movie truly shines is in the brainwashing of viewers with its main title track, “Everything is Awesome”.  To make sure your mind has completely been erased of all pertinent information (such as breathing and eating) the creators made sure to incorporate sever versions of the awesome song throughout the flick to make sure it’s the only thing that still residing within your skull as you exit the theater.  Case in point, it’s been roughly four days since I’ve seen the movie and I’m still randomly spewing out the chorus during important meetings at work.  Then again, and argument could be made in my case that there wasn’t much to erase prior.

 

5) Geeky References

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I don’t know if there is anything geekier (or more patriotic) than a movie with Superman, the 16th President of the United States and Lady Liberty herself.

 

Ok, so this isn’t as much of a necessity to create a stellar film as it is virtual icing on the cake.  I’m fairly certain I don’t speak for myself when I say that I get giddy like a school girl (or boy) when I see unique reference made to some form of beloved pop culture, most notably to anything of the geek or nerd realms.  It is here that The Lego Movie goes above and beyond the call of duty in representing several of nerd culture’s geekiest franchises.  From Batman and the rest of the major DC heroes to the Matrix-esque micro managers; the creators pulled out most of the stops in loading this movie to the brim with geeky goodness.  Seriously, where else are you going to see Dumbledore and Gandalf have a verbal spat in a major motion picture?  Most of what was in the trailers is what you see in the film, but there is one cameo from other notoriously famous space travelers that just needs to be seen first-hand to be appreciated.

 

6) Visual Effects that Wow

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No Lego blocks were harmed during the filing of this motion picture.

 

Let’s be honest, there is nothing particularly earth-shattering about stacking a bunch of Lego blocks on the big screen.   Conversely, there is something awe-inspiring about seeing the little blocks come to life before your eyes in 3D.  Although a fair amount of CGI was undoubtedly used to bring the little blockheads to life, the creators did make sure to point out that every element in the movie is created using Legos; including the clouds, smoke and the water.  Watching the gun fights and the ocean waves had to be among some of most mesmerizing visuals I’ve seen in a long time.

 

7) Tugs at the Heart Strings

While a movie doesn’t have to make you cry to be good, especially since most men would rather clean out a bathroom urinal after Oktoberfest then admit to shedding tear one during any movie outside of The Godfather, a film could escalate from being just good to being awesome if it manages to stir something deep down within your core. (And I’m not referring to the 78 gallon vat of buttered popcorn you ate during the first 25 minutes of trailers.)  My expectations were low for the 100 minute Lego commercial, but color me surprised when several scenes – specifically the grand finale – had me welling up like I was in the middle of an onion slicing factory.

 

8) Surprise Ending

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Hey, if given the choice between a construction worker and billionaire superhero, you can pretty much bet the Lego farm set on who I would choose too.

 

Speaking of grand finales, the concluding few scenes of the film definitely caught me a bit by surprise.  I’ll stop short of calling it a twist ending since several clues were provided that made you think there was something else at play during the course of the flick.  Your reaction to it will vary depending on how much you think during movies – and I tend to be on the lower end of the thinking food chain.  Regardless if the ending caught you off-guard or not, it was an appropriate wrap up nonetheless.

 

From the very start of the film, the entire production felt like a huge gift to the countless fandoms of pop-culture.  It just had that feeling of being a movie made by nerds, for nerds.  I haven’t had this much fun at the theater since that other flick about toys that come to life.  As someone who has nothing but love for the Pixar adventures of Woody and Buzz, I’m just going to throw it out there that I preferred the underlying message The Lego Movie tries to deliver with its claim everyone is special in their own way and life isn’t always about following the instructions.  Similar to the plot of Toy Story 3, this film also shares a common thread of being a kid that plays with toys and the transition to an adult who owns toys but instead keeps them for display purposes only, never to be played with.

 

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Because apparently I need more crap to buy like a hole through my head, Lego has successfully convinced me I need to purchase their overpriced products again.

 

My only minor quibble with The Lego Movie most likely had to do with the theater I was in than the actual film quality itself.  I attended the showing in a RealD 3D theater that I don’t frequent as often as others, and for some odd reason, the specific screen I watched the film on didn’t display the vibrant colors I have witnessed via online trailers and the preview shown at SDCC.  The 3D itself was top notch and provided plenty of dimension, but I definitely couldn’t shake the feeling that colors were muted more than they should have been for a 3D presentation.

 

No skin off my brick though as it just gives me another chance to catch the film in a higher quality theater for my second viewing.  You heard me right, I will definitely be seeing this movie in theaters again very soon.  That’s because The Lego Movie was built to be watched multiple times, and that my fellow Outlaws, is truly awesome.

 

6 Spurs

 

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