After years of being known as nothing more than the plaything of kids and adults alike, the world’s most popular construction toys have finally made it to the big screen, and a who’s-who of Hollywood’s best have lined up to give big voices to the little characters. Following great success with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, directors Lord and Miller have taken on the challenge of making sure that what could be mistaken for a potential feature-length toy commercial actually becomes a good movie.
Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Staring: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman
Run Time: 100 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
There is a fine line when it comes to animated films. The line that determines said film most appeal to kids but also hold enough for the adults that accompany the little ones. Many have succeeded, some have failed. That line becomes even more precarious when the film revolves around what is regularly voted as the most popular kids’ toy of all-time. In development since 2008, it has taken a fair while for LEGO to finally hit the big-screen, with the Cloudy directors charged with delivering a film good enough to measure up to the standard that the construction toys already hold. Of course, the last few years have also seen the LEGO franchise expand to videogames, with a high success rate. So after conquering the toy and gaming industries, the film now had to hold up against other great animated movies.
Focusing on a generic construction worker named Emmet – voiced with great natural enthusiasm by Chris Pratt – who follows the instructions to the letter; from paying for overpriced coffee, to loving the popular television show, and leading a rousing rendition of Bricksburg’s favorite song, he is an everyman drone, leaving next to no impression on anyone. But his life takes a monumental turn when he discovers the piece of resistance, leading him on a journey across land, sea and air with Morgan Freeman’s Vitruvius and Elizabeth Banks’ Wyldstyle. As the movie goes on, we get introduced to more characters, including Liam Neeson’s hilarious Bad Cop (with flashes of good) and Will Ferrell’s tyrannical leader President Business. Ferrell plays this with such relish and enthusiasm that it is a joy to watch. Echoing my feelings when watching Anchorman 2, this is a Ferrell that is always welcome.We also get fleeting cameos from Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Incidentally, who would have thought that the first Justice League on-screen appearance would be in a LEGO movie? And speaking of Justice League, that brings us to Batman. Voiced wonderfully by Will Arnett, this totally serious Dark Knight is like nothing ever seen before. It is even possible to suggest that we forget Keaton and Bale, and whatever Affleck has lined up for us, Arnett may be the best on-screen Batman yet. He also leads us into an unforgettable cameo that Star Wars fans, and non-fans come to that, will cherish.
Aesthetic-wise , the film looks stunning. The effects are top-class, with every LEGO set looking exactly like one you could build at home. The marketing guys will be happy. And the attention to detail is magnificent, and throughout the film you can tell this whole project has been a labour of love for everyone involved. The range of characters too, is impressive. Reflecting the randomness that a LEGO collection can bring, everyone from the aforementioned superheroes to Michaelango – both the painter and the Ninja Turtle – to Dumbledore and Gandalf make an appearance. Kudos must go to the legal guys involved for negotiating the permissions to have these characters featured, and it makes you wonder what led to Marvel possibly not giving the okay for Iron Man and company to show their LEGO faces. As much as the movie probably didn’t need more famous cameos, given the range of characters on display it was a little obvious that DC’s rivals weren’t around.
The film, regrettably, is not without fault. Some of the jokes fall a little flat, though there are usually some great lines not far behind that bring things right back on course. And things take a bit of a tumble during the middle portion of the film, with a fair amount of random ideas thrown around it begins to come across as directionless and makes you fear that the film will go out on a whimper. Fear not though, as it pulls itself right around with a quite brilliant third act reveal that turns the entire film on it’s head. It also asks that immortal question associated with LEGO; do you follow the instructions or do you do something new?