Film review: The Lego Movie

By Matthew Parkinson

Surprisingly humorous and entertaining, The Lego Movie could have easily been a 100-minute advertisement for its title product. That’s exactly what is expected with a movie like this. There are times when this is the case, but for the most part the beauty and comedy of the film overcomes this feeling. This is a strong and early contender for the best animated film of 2014 and it’s only February. Kids will absolutely adore it — parents had better set aside some extra cash for Lego sets if they take their children to see it — while adults will also have a good time thanks to the more mature references and subversions.

The film’s story is one you’ve seen before. An ordinary person — in this case a construction worker named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) — finds himself as the chosen one in a prophecy which is supposed to put an end to the evil schemes of the villain, who in this film is called Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Alongside a team of Master Builders — those Lego characters who can create things without instruction booklets — including Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvirus (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett), he has to bring a magical MacGuffin to a specific location in order to ruin Lord Business’s scheme to superglue everyone in place for all eternity. The difference is that everything in the film, save for a few real world items, are made of Lego blocks.

This allows for a unique animation style. The film often looks as if it was made using stop-motion animation, not with the use of computers. It is sometimes choppy and stiff, as you can’t make movements as fluid as you normally would. It feels very much like a Lego movie, not just a random film that uses the property. Lego becomes not just a tool to tell the story but an integral part in the picture’s creation. It wouldn’t have the same charm without it.

We also wouldn’t get some of the surprises that are hidden within The Lego Movie. There are a couple of genuine shockers here and while I won’t ruin them I’ll just put you on notice to look for them. There are a lot of Lego sets that have been licensed over the years and that provides ample opportunity for cameo appearances from known characters from these various sets. The only one who has a large role is Batman, but you can bet the new creations will get their own sets and that the older ones will see a spike in sales. The movie is going to do big business both at the box office and in toy sales.

The Lego Movie is filled with action and set in interesting locales. There are scenes in the Wild West, “Middle Zealand,” an imaginary land in the clouds, a very busy city and more. The action is of the spoof variety, with Lego creations either making the action more ridiculous or providing new ways of viewing it. The comedy is all over the place, as it has to be. Enough jokes have to be there for the young children who are the primary audience, but there are also plenty of laughs to be had from both adults and children.

Any way you slice it, The Lego Movie is a good time at the cinema. It has many creative, imaginative and colourful settings, action scenes which are fun both on their own and as send-ups of other movies, the humour is appealing to audience members of all ages and the animation is done in a style that you won’t have seen before because it will only really work with a Lego movie. It rarely feels like an advertisement, it contains genuine surprises and it’s a lot of fun.