As the deviously catchy song heavily featured through it would suggest, everything really is awesome in The LEGO Movie. Though it follows on the heels of horrific movies about classic toys like G.I. Joe and Transformers, this is the rare family flick that actually captures the unbridled joy that its source material still brings to millions of children every day, with jaw-dropping creativity, humor, style and intelligence. The LEGO Movie somehow succeeds on every level by being so many times better than it ever needed to be. Thank you, Phil Lord, Chris Miller and the hundreds of others who worked tirelessly to see this movie through – you’ve given us the most amazing family film in years.
The LEGO Movie‘s extremely innovative and thrilling story crackles with the same outside-the-box thinking that LEGO blocks themselves aim to encourage. Additionally, its voice acting is a total pleasure, its animation is a marvel and its humor is top-notch. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face from the first minutes to the time the credits rolled – and quickly I stopped trying, realizing just how much of a treat I was in for. I envy the person who goes into The LEGO Movie having heard nothing of its 96 percent fresh Tomatometer, although my knowledge of just how well-received the movie certainly didn’t prevent me from becoming almost instantly caught up in its splendor.
Part of The LEGO Movie‘s intoxicating charm is its perfect blend of head and heart. Though its message of individuality is heartwarming, it also packs in (on top of non-stop, laugh-until-you-cry gags) a hilarious skewering of both corporate branding and the unfortunate fact that instruction books have become indispensible parts of LEGO sets. In The LEGO Movie, the world of protagonist Emmet (Chris Pratt) is an Orwellian society in which LEGO citizens read instruction booklets on how to fit in, buy overpriced coffee, listen to the same popular song for hours and generally live life like feeble impressions of human beings. There’s no creativity in Emmet’s world. That changes though when he uncovers the Piece of Resistance, an object of incredible power. Soon enough, Emmet learns that he is prophesied to be “the Special,” a Master Builder (someone who doesn’t need instructions to build) with extraordinary potential. This discovery sends him on a wild adventure with free-spirited badass Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), as they attempt to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from ending the world as they know it.
If you think that plot sounds predictable, never fear. Lord and Miller slyly subvert the type of movie they appear to be setting up from the get-go, and by the time the literally world-shaking third act rolls around, The LEGO Movie is playing in shockingly ambitious and original territory. But even before it gets to that point, everything on screen is both compelling and deeply amusing. The writer-directors clearly understood just how massive a sandbox they were playing in and removed every sort of limitation on their story. Looking at The LEGO Movie as a whole, it’s like a cinematic fountain of uncapped imagination, from the use of both painter Michelangelo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo to the implementation of nail polish remover – which Lord Business refers to as, “The poh-leesh remover of nai-EEL!”
Another reason you should run to catch The LEGO Movie is its superb voice cast. It’s really an embarassment of riches here, with Pratt lending Emmet a wide-eyed exuberance, Banks painting Wyldstyle as a wise-cracking badass, Ferrell anchoring the film with absurd, Ron Burgundy-esque theatricality and a host of actors playing to their strengths. Morgan Freeman is a riot as the sage wizard Vitruvius, Alison Brie milks her UniKitty figure for every last laugh, Will Arnett brilliantly mocks the ridiculous gloom of Christopher Nolan’s Batman, and Charlie Day is energy incarnate as Benny the 1980s space guy. Along with that crew, there are so many famous voices that the film becomes a who’s who collection of A-listers at some points. Nick Offerman (as a robot pirate named Metalbeard), Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (playing off their Jump Street bromance as a brusque Superman and his adoring fan Green Lantern), Will Forte (as an airborne Abraham Lincoln) and Liam Neeson (as an awesome Good Cop/Bad Cop) are among the best.
It’s hard to describe just how amazing The LEGO Movie is, because its zippy momentum, endearing joviality and overwhelming intelligence come together to create something that’s beyond words. Spectacular, thrilling, hilarious, surprising, moving, truthful – these are all words that describe parts, but not all, of The LEGO Movie. Go find out for yourself – this is possibly the must-see movie of 2014, overflowing with originality, hilarity and a huge, beating heart.
Warner Bros. gave this absolutely wonderful movie an equally wonderful Blu-Ray package – I reviewed the Everything Is Awesome Blu-Ray edition, which comes with a DVD copy, UltraViolet HD digital copy, collectible 3D Emmet photograph, LEGO Vitruvius minifigure, LEGO Emmet minifigure and a 3D Blu-Ray version of the film. It lives up to its name, particularly with the 1080p video presentation. The rich color palette employed on this disc captures the vivid life of the candy-colored characters at the movie’s center, with amazing brightness and jaw-dropping detail. The amount that you can see in a single shot of The LEGO Movie will make this Blu-Ray a favorite for frame analysis – simply every second is filled with sumptuous color, depth and detail. It’s all superb and works to bring you into the film perhaps even more than seeing The LEGO Movie in theaters did. The details on individual bricks, Emmet’s hair, the rolling ocean waves (which are amazing, by the way), the complex LEGO brick explosions – this is a total feast for the eyes.
That goes double for the 3D presentation, which is easily one of the best I’ve ever seen. The image depth is great, as is the way that the 3D truly pops. From characters flying at the screen to explosions to the ocean waves, all of the 3D is supremely pleasing to the eyes and never detracts from what’s going on in terms of story. Film buffs, be advised – The LEGO Movie offers a smashing 3D experience.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track somehow matches the video quality in terms of quality. It’s an immersive, engaging mix that makes every line of dialogue perfectly crisp while not neglecting to impress the ferocity of explosions and action sequences. The music – particularly thrilling earworm “Everything is Awesome” – never gets short shrift and feels almost like a character in of itself. What’s really impressive about this audio presentation is how it builds to an awe-inspiring crescendo during the intense battle sequences without ever becoming muddled or faulty. In a word, the audio on this disc is masterful.
The Lego Movie: Everything Is Awesome Edition boasts a strong array of bonus features, in addition to the aforementioned DVD, digital copy and collectibles. It includes:
- Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Cast
- Batman’s A True Artist (1:12)
- Michelangelo & Lincoln: History Cops (1:21)
- Enter The Ninjago (2:13)
- Behind the Scenes: Bringing LEGO to Life (12:36)
- “Everything Is Awesome” Sing-Along (3:19)
- Behind the Scenes: See It, Build It!
- Introduction with Senior Designer Michael Fuller (0:49)
- Build the Double-Decker Couch (3:53)
- Build Emmet’s Car (2:55)
- Introduction with Modeling Artist Adam Ryan (0:41)
- Digital Double-Decker Couch (2:11)
- Digital Emmet’s Car (1:51)
- Dream Job: Meet the LEGO Builders (13:28)
- Alleyway Test (0:55)
- Deleted Scenes (3:20)
- Outtakes (2:33)
The terrific, feature-length audio commentary includes Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Charlie Day and Alison Brie – which is as overwhelming but engaging as it sounds. A lot of time is spent with the cast and directors cracking jokes, but that’s a lot of fun to listen to, so you won’t hear any complaining from me. The commentary still digs into the details of putting something as complex and audacious as The LEGO Movie together more than any of the featurettes do, so it’s a strongly recommended listen for fans of The LEGO Movie. The finished product speaks for itself, but in case any doubt lingered for any reason, the care and attention that Lord and Miller put into dissecting almost every part of their movie in this commentary speaks to the endless love they hold for the project.
“Batman’s A True Artist” and “Michelangelo & Lincoln: History Cops” are both good for a laugh. The former is a choppy, stop-motion music video for a Will Arnett-voiced song about true darkness and Batman’s status as an unloved orphan. The later features the titular characters teaming up to solve crime in a trailer for a movie we all know will never see the light of day.
“Enter the Ninjago” finds a ninja taking over The LEGO Movie, stealing the show from Emmet at key moments. It’s a fun little teaser for the Ninjago spinoff on the way.
“Bringing LEGO to Life,” narrated by Chris Pratt, is a short behind-the-scenes featurette that only really scratches the surface of all the work that went into this movie. It cutely focuses on Emmet as a real character with whom the directors and entire crew interact with – a move kids are sure to love.
The “Everything Is Awesome” Sing-Along is exactly what it sounds like – enough said.
“See It, Build It!” is a multi-part featurette that encourages kids watching to use their own creative energy to design whatever they want with LEGOs, but it also teaches kids how to build some simple models from the movie.
The lone extra exclusive to the Everything Is Awesome Edition, “Dream Job: Meet the LEGO Builders,” is definitely the best featurette of the bunch. Introducing real-life Master Builders – people who design LEGO toys and worked on the movie’s look – it shows how the characters of the film were created. As one designer put it, their challenge was making really cool and original LEGO inventions for the movie that could also be translated into easily marketable products for kids down the line. Peeking behind the scenes of something like The LEGO Movie is really awesome, and this featurette does a great job of that.
The alleyway test shows the animators messing around with the scene in which Wyldstyle builds a motorcycle out of spare parts following her rescue of Emmet from Bad Cop. It’s interesting to see how far the scene came during production.
The deleted scenes come in the form of storyboards. They aren’t very funny, but it’s still cool to see additional parts of the film. That said, it’s easy to see why the scenes were cut, because they slow down the breakneck pace of the movie.
The fictionalized outtakes are absolutely hilarious, including a lot of ad-libbing, collapsing LEGO sets, Vitruvius rummaging with LEGO scripts and Emmet and Batman chilling off-camera. In particular, watching Alison Brie go off script had me in stitches.
With a stellar video/audio package and a host of terrific extras, The LEGO Movie: Everything Is Awesome Edition Blu-Ray is far and away the best way to experience what is sure to become a classic family film. It’s packed to the gills with warmth, innovation, humor and crazy characters – LEGO has never seemed more alive and relevant than in this movie. Moviegoers of all ages are sure to love The LEGO Movie, because it succeeds on every level imaginable – then stacks a few more levels on top of that. It’s awesome, yes, but words alone can’t do this movie justice. Only the childlike joy you’ll feel during and after The LEGO Movie can really express the true mastery of what Miller and Lord have created.
With a jaw-droppingly detailed and vibrant video presentation, top-notch audio and a hearty helping of extras, The LEGO Movie: Everything Is Awesome Edition Blu-Ray lives up to its name - and proves to be one of this year's must-own releases.