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|The Lego Movie|
dir-scr Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
prd Roy Lee, Dan Lin
voices Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum
release US 7.Feb.14, UK 14.Feb.14
14/US Warners 1h40
Make your own rules: Wyldstyle, Emmet and Virtuvius
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
It's hardly surprising that Lord and Miller invest this riotous animated adventure with a smart script and witty gags (see also Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street). But what catches us off-guard is the visual inventiveness, as almost everything on-screen is cleverly rendered with Lego blocks.
Emmet (voiced by Pratt) is an ordinary worker dutifully following all of the rules laid down by President Business (Ferrell), who is lulling the population to sleep with inanely catchy pop-tunes and TV shows designed to keep people from having original thoughts before releasing his secret weapon, the Kragle. When Emmet inadvertently discovers the Piece of Resistance, he is proclaimed as "the special" and taken into the underground rebel alliance by the activist Wyldstyle (Banks) and master builder Vitruvius (Freeman), pursued by the president's enforcer (Neeson).
Lord and Miller echo the surreal approach of retro stop-motion classics like Gumby or The Magic Roundabout. Characters are frankly insane, from Neeson's bipolar cop to Offerman's nutty reassembled pirate, Brie's groovy Unikitty and Day's dopey astronaut. There are also a hilarious range of more referential characters, most significantly Batman (Arnett), who teams with our heroes, but also Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Superman (Hill, Smulders and Tatum), plus Star Wars figures hilariously voiced by Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams.
All of the vocal work is exceptional, bringing manic energy to the already chaotic visuals. And the script's structure allows the filmmakers to play knowingly with a variety of Lego landscapes, from the Wild West to, ahem, Cloud Cuckoo Land. This anarchic approach is a bit reminiscent of Wreck-it Ralph, especially with the blocky animation that uses plastic bricks to render water and smoke in amusingly eye-poking 3D. But it's the strong sense of each character that holds our interest, generating the biggest laughs and even some surprising emotional moments.
There are times when the film feels a little to frantic for its own good, spiralling through a series of enormous action sequences that are increasingly crazed. But the script's final-act flip works perfectly to bring the story's bigger themes to life without too much sentimentality. And it's always great to be reminded that our childhood curiosity and creativity might not be as difficult to tap into as we might have thought.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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