The idea of making a movie out of LEGO toys sounds stupid on paper. Though you have no narrative you’re stuck to (which is both good and bad), the film’s existence seems based on shilling a product. That Phil Lord and Chris Miller were able to transcend that and deliver a movie with heart and great jokes is nothing short of a miracle. The LEGO Movie is not only excellent, it could very well be an all-time great movie. My review of the 3D Blu-ray of The LEGO Movie follows after the jump.
The film begins with Lord Business (Will Ferrell) on the hunt for the Kragle, which he needs for his nefarious schemes. The wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is unable to protect it, but issues a prophecy that a master builder (those who are great at making LEGO creations) will come and defeat Business using the piece of resistance. But who could that be? We’re then introduced to Emmett (Chris Pratt) who leads a very normal, boring life. He works in construction and always follows the rules. But his life is upended when he sees Wild Style (Elizabeth Banks) and falls into a hole which leads to the piece of resistance getting stuck to his back. He’s then arrested by Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) and proves to be totally ignorant, but he’s rescued by Wild Style and is taken to meet Vitruvius, where he is to study the ways of master building.
Unfortunately, Emmett’s a blank who can only think of making a double decker couch. Business is hot on their trail, but are helped by many other Master Builders, like Batman (Will Arnett) Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) and the “80’s-something space guy” named Benny (Charlie Day). Emmett is unable to impress them as the chosen one, but he eventually comes up with a plan that could fool Business and allow them to stop the Kragle, which will be used to freeze everyone in LEGO land permanently. The other master builders are so set on doing things in a unique way, they don’t realize the best way to get one past the evil Business is to follow the blueprint.
In that, Lord and Miller have come up with a great metaphor for filmmaking. It’s not that the others aren’t great artists, but there’s a great art in smuggling, in putting interesting ideas and work inside a formula, and in that they’re celebrating some of the great Hollywood filmmakers. It’s also what they’re doing here, and doing so brilliantly. It’s also amazing that they’re able to disassemble Campbellian myth archetypes by having a chosen one who turns out to be the right person in a way that suggests “destiny” is a hackneyed concept.
There’s enough going on under the surface of the film to make the film worth studying, but none of that would work if the film wasn’t entertaining. And thankfully, it is. Moving at a brisk hundred minutes, the film is chocked full of jokes and gags that benefit from repeated viewings (there you can focus on the background, like the posters in Emmett’s room), while the core story is so engaging that parents may not mind if their children want to watch it over and over and over (and over). After four feature films, Lord and Miller have proved themselves to be great directors of comedy, but also master storytellers and two of the smartest and most interesting filmmakers working today.
Warner Brothers presents The LEGO Movie in widescreen (2:35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio in both 2D and 3D. As this is one of my favorite 3D films to watch, it’s good to note that both presentations are stellar and deserve all the superlatives. The picture quality? Awesome! The surround mix? Awesome! The 3D presentation? Awesome. The film also comes with a DVD and digital copy.
The film comes with a fun but scattered commentary track by directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and stars Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks (via skype), Alison Brie, Charlie Day, and Chris Pratt. With that many players they can get caught up explaining what’s going on in the movie to those not in the room, but it’s a good listen, and everyone seems to think highly of the project. The first supplement is “Batman’s a True Artist” (1 min.) which is the music video for his song from the film. It’s followed by “Michelangelo and Lincoln: History Cops” (1 min.), which does a grindhouse version of a buddy cop movie for the LEGO characters. “Enter the Ninjago” (2 min.) sets up a different version of the film starring a lego ninja. Then there’s an actual behind the scenes piece “Bringing LEGO to Life” (13 min.) which gives a goofy look behind the scenes. It’s followed by an “Everything is Awesome” sing-a-long, and it’s followed by the section “See It, Build It!” (13 min.), which shows you how to build the double decker couch, and Emmet’s car both in practical terms and in CG. It’s followed by “Stories from the Story Team” (4 min.), which presents some of the film’s storyboards. It’s followed by the top fan-man films (4 min.), which is introduced by Chris Pratt. Then there’s the film’s outtakes (3 min.), promos made specifically for the film (4 min.), an Alleyway animation test (1 min.), two deleted scenes (3 min.), and the more LEGO-promy “Dream Job: Meet the LEGO Builders” (13 min.), which focuses on the people LEGO has hired to create things.