The Lego Movie (2014) Review & Analysis

The Lego Movie

[Spoilers Ahead]

The Lego Movie was the feature that changed “brickfilms” forever. It came like a thunderbolt from nowhere, blowing everyone away with shock and awe. It was not that we didn’t know it was coming, we just didn’t expect it to be this good.

As a Lego fan for nearly 40-years I have seen the company evolve beyond my wildest expectations. However, the Lego Movie was the biggest game changer for the iconic Danish toy manufacturer. A piece of branded content that pushed the Lego Group to next level cultural phenom.

Lego Brickfilms

Brickfilms, in some form or another, have been around since the 1970’s, but the first official Lego film did not emerge until the first Bionicle video was released in 2003. As the involvement of Lego properties increased, so the stylization moved away from the true Lego brick and mini-figure format.

The Lego Movie returned Lego film to grassroots brick and figure animation in appearance. The film is basically one giant Lego set. What you see on screen you can recreate at home with Lego bricks. To be precise, 15,080,330 Lego pieces were used to create the Lego movie, with 182 different types of Lego mini-figure. Unfortunately, for the dreamers among us, this giant Lego set was constructed using virtual, and not physical Lego bricks. The animation team used Legos own design software to create the Lego Movie Universe. Ensuring every construction was built using a Lego brand piece.

The Lego Movie Plot

The Lego Movie tells the story of optimistic happy chap, Emmet Brickowski, on his journey to defeat the evil Lord Business. A classic man versus the system story, Lord Business intends to glue together the Lego world using a secret weapon call the “Kragle”, a real tube of used Krazy Glue that now reads “Kragle” on the crinkled tube. Emmet gets inadvertently stuck to the “piece of resistance” (a Krazy Glue cap) which it is said, can be used to defeat he Kragle.

Good morning apartment! Good morning ceiling, good morning doorway, good morning floor! Ready to start the day!
– Emmet

Emmet is captured by Good Cop/Bad Cop, a Lord Business minion with two faces, and two opposing attitudes. Bad Cop is moments away from disposing of Emmett in the melting chamber, when he he is rescued by the kickass Wlydstyle/Lucy, who is a member of an elite group of “master builders”.

“Darn, darn, darn, darny-darn!”
– Bad Cop

Believing Emmet to be the prophesied chosen one or “the special”, Wyldstyle takes Emmet to meet Vitruvius, the hippy wizard leader of the master builders in the wildwest zone. It is determined Emmet is not a master builder, but he has had visions of a human deity called “the man upstairs”.

“Come with me if you want to not die.”
– Wyldstyle

Emmet, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius evade an attempted capture from Bad Cop with the aid of Wydlstyles boyfriend, Batman. They head to Cloud Cukoo Land to attend a council of master builders which a whos-who of Lego characters including Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Gandalf, Unikitty, Abraham Lincoln, a retro 80’s blue Lego Spaceman with broken helmet called Benny, and a giant mechanized pirate called Metalbeard to name but a few.

“One day, a talented lass or fellow, a special one with face of yellow, will make the Piece of Resistance found from it’s hiding refuge underground, and with a noble army at the helm, this Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm, and be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times. All this is true because it rhymes.”
– Vitruvius

 

Bad Cop locates the council meeting with a tracker he placed on Emmet, and captures everybody handing them to Lord Business. Business freezes the master builders and decapitates the poor Vitruvius, who reveals he made up the prophecy. On his death he returns as a Lego ghost to inspire Emmet. Emmet sacrificies himself by jumping out of the tower where they are imprisoned to save his friends, and finds himself in the human world. While there he discovers Bricksburg and the recent events are being played out by a boy named Finn on his father’s basement Lego set collection. His father, “The Man Upstairs”, comes home from work and becomes upset that his son has reconstructed his Lego sets and begins to rebuild them using Krazy Glue.

Emmet realizes his friends are in danger and wills himself to move and gain Finn’s attention. Finn notices Emmet and returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business.

While rebuilding his Lego, Finns father notices that Business represent him and his perfectionism. Through a speech Emmet gives to Business in the Lego world, Finn reconciles with his father, and the two unglue the constructions with white spirit, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle, and thawing his victims.

Emmet is hailed as a hero and begins a romantic relationship with Wyldstyle with Batman’s blessing.

As a result of Finn’s father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplo beam down on the Lego world and announce their plans to destroy everyone. Which is the foundation for the Lego Movie 2.

Lego Creatives

The Master Builders are creatives, artists, and visionaries, with the ability to build wonderful Lego creations without instructions. Lord Business hopes to stifle this creation and control the population of Bricksburg in its entirety. By day, Lord Business becomes President Business, the uptight president of Bricksburg who is obsessed with organisation. He believes imagination has not place in his world of absolute order, and treats the master builders as a threat.

“All I’m looking for is total perfection.”
– President Business

Lord Business is the alter ego of President Business, an uptight company president who wants to organize everything around him. As Lord Business, he commands a robot militia with plans to take over the world by gluing it together with a substance called Kragle which is actually a tube of Krazy Glue.

Believing imagination to be weird and messy in a world of order, he considers anyone with creativity in mind to be a threat – including Emmet who, despite not having a creative bone in his body, possesses the “cap” to seal his defeat.

Lego Movie at the Oscars

I believe the Lego Movie was the best animated film of 2014, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not agree with me. The Lego Movie did not win the 2014 Academy Award for animated featyre, in fact it wasn’t even nominated. The eventual winner was Big Hero 6 produced by the Disney studios. The four other nominations were The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

In my personal opinion, I would agree that was a strong field in the animated feature film category. However, I would certainly have put the Lego Movie in the mix instead of The Boxtrolls, which I dont think was on the level of the other four plus the Lego Movie.

I would not be too upset with anyone who chose Big Hero 6 over the Lego Movie, after all it is a great film. 2014 was a record year for animation submissions at the Oscars, with five animated films battled for the five nomination slots.

Production

Warner Bros. picked the film-making duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to write and direct the movie. The pair had great success with the 3d animated feature films, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2, which may have convinced Warner Bros. of their potential. The Lego Movie was co-written with Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman. The first draft of the script started life as a very different animal, and would have a made a decent animated comedy. However, with some masterful rewriting and craftsmanship it became an excellent movie.

The Cast

The Lego Movie rocked an all-star cast of talented voice actors which makes all the difference.

The protagonist Emmet was played by the perfectly suited Chris Pratt who plays Peter Quill/Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Will Ferrell the comedy heavyweight was cast as the evil Lord Business and as his live action equivalent “The Man Upstairs”.

Morgan Freeman played the wise old master builder Vitruvius.

Liam Neeson plays the cop family with comical effect. Good Cop/Bad Cop and Ma and Pa Cop.

Our favourite voice, and we are sure we are not alone here, was the casting of Will Arnett as Batman. Arnett who is best known for his role as Gob Bluth in the comedy Arrested development, absolutely killed-it as the arrogant, self-centered, lonely Batman, the character which would go on to warrant his own Spin-off. A master stroke of voice casting.

Full Cast List

  • Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski.
  • Will Ferrell as Lord Business, and also “The Man Upstairs” in the live-action part of the film.
  • Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle/Lucy.
  • Will Arnett as Batman.
  • Nick Offerman as MetalBeard.
  • Alison Brie as Princess Unikitty.
  • Charlie Day as Benny the “1980-something space guy”.
  • Liam Neeson as Bad Cop / Good Cop and he also voices Pa Cop, Bad Cop/Good Cop’s father.
  • Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius.
  • Channing Tatum as Superman.
  • Jonah Hill as Green Lantern.
  • Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman.
  • Jadon Sand as Finn, The Man Upstairs’ young son in the live action.
  • Graham Miller as The Duplo Aliens.
  • Shaquille O’Neal as a Lego version of himself who is a Master Builder alongside two generic members of the 2002 NBA All-Stars.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.
  • Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.
  • Keith Ferguson as Han Solo.

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