The bar was always going to be set high for The LEGO Movie. The high-pressure project will be six years in the making by the time of release, and on paper it looks like a surefire hit.
Not only are the iconic building blocks a beloved toy of millions the world over, guaranteeing box office millions for the sake of curiosity alone, but the voice cast is one made of Hollywood dreams. It even has Batman.
As the infinitely irritating yet unstoppably catchy theme tune assures us, everything about The LEGO Movie is awesome. Isn’t it?
Well… yes, yes it is. That awesome lies, predominantly, in the detail with which animation studio Animal Logic have painted it, cleverly recreating the experience of play we all fondly remember with stop motion and enhancing it with CGI where necessary to make the action not only seamless but more exciting.
All that’s brilliant about LEGO is embodied here and knowingly acknowledged, from the minifigures’ funny clawed hands to their spinning heads and interchangeable body parts.
Best of all, for both fans and the film’s inevitable commercial aspirations, it’s no exaggeration to say the entire film could be built, should any dedicated fanatic wish to take on such a task. From clouds to flames and the sea on which Nick Offerman’s Metalbeard sails his pirate ship, every scene is a loving homage to the toy. And if the thought of that doesn’t make you smile, there is absolutely no reason for you to see this film.
However, for those who are grinning from ear-to-ear at the thought of seeing their childhood dreams recreated on the big screen, there’s a treat in store as Chris Pratt’s extremely enthusiastic but ever-so lonely hero Emmet finds himself mistaken for someone special.
Unwilling to admit he’s ordinary, Emmet must find a way to stop the tyrannical Lord Business from using the fabled ‘Kragle’ to glue the universe together with the help of a band of misfit minifigures – including female fighter Wyldstyle (Banks), wise elder type Vitruvius (Freeman, doing his best Gandalf impression), a terrifying anime unicorn/kitten/thing (Alison Brie) and Batman, voiced by a scene-stealing Will Arnett whose take on the superhero is every bit as enigmatic as Christian Bale’s interpretation.
From here, the film heads off on a hilarious, if a little predictable, romp through several LEGO worlds, referencing even more along the way, as Emmet struggles to tear up the instructions so strongly ingrained in him courtesy of Business’ regime (spot the subtle political undertones here) and embrace his inner MasterBuilder. Hijinks ensue, along with some rather brilliant in-jokes, clever cameos and wonderfully creative action sequences.
Admittedly, it’s not all perfect. The movie is heavy with moral message, and though we find empathy with the characters, the emotional connection never quite clicks, which means patience is quickly lost when being emphatically encouraged to use our imaginations for the umpteenth time.
The rather puerile snigger response every time a character says “MasterBuilder” becomes a bit distracting, and the final third of the plot feels like it’s trying to be a bit too clever for its own good. But when it comes down to it, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have delivered on their promise and many a childhood dream a reality.