Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Lego Movie

So, still playing catchup on movies from 2014, next up is The Lego Movie.
The Lego movie is very funny, and very good.
Not much else to say, I suppose.

Oh alright. I'll talk about the acting and animation.
The animation is CGI, but it looks like stop-motion, it's so well done.
As someone who's built a lot with Lego in his life, it's good to know that they paid so much attention to the little details of how Lego moves and feels. That's something that the Lego comics tend to forget, that for all the freedom Lego gives, it still has some limitations. The fact that the minifigures don't have knees or elbows is a great touch.
That's something all of the animated Lego movies I've seen didn't have. The characters didn't move like minifigures. They stretched and squashed, which is something Lego doesn't do.
That's something which isn't seen in this film. Everything looks and feels like real bricks, rather than 3D models.
Part of the reason for that would probably be that they used the program, Lego Digital Designer, which was made by the Lego Group to allow fans to make custom sets, as the basis for the design of the environment and characters, and then rendered with super-detailed textures taken from the actual Lego bricks.
Even the old spacemen figures have the broken chin-straps, like they did in real life.
The fact that The Lego Movie doesn't depict everything as perfect, as they so easily could have done is one of the strong points the film has.
Now, the actors.
The cast is made up of both licensed characters and original ones.
The main character of Emmet is played by Chris Pratt, most famous for his work as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and is also starring in the upcoming Jurassic World.
Will Ferrell plays the villain, Lord Business, and actually manages to be tolerable in that role.
Morgan Freeman is Vitruvius, who is one of the funniest characters in a movie full of funny characters.
Elizabeth Banks plays Wyldstye, the female lead. She's great.
And then there's Liam freaking Neeson as Bad Cop. Liam Neeson is awesome, no other explanation needed.
Now let's talk licensed characters. Being a Lego movie, they have a load of characters and sets from stuff they made in the past. They've got DC stuff, Ninja Turtles stuff, Star Wars stuff, Harry Potter stuff, Lord of the Rings stuff, and strangest of all, NBA stuff.
For some things they managed to get the actual actors in the do the roles.
Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels do the voices of Lando Calrissian and C3PO, respectively, and Shaquille O'Neil lends his voice to his minifigure counterpart.
Unfortunately, you can tell which actors they couldn't get. As you might have guessed, there's no Harrison Ford as Han Solo, no Ian McKellen as Gandalf, despite the fact that they could get him in to do voice-work for the Lego Hobbit games, no Christian Bale or Ben Affleck as Batman,, no Henry Cavill as Superman, no Michael Gambon as Dumbledore as far as I can tell, and no famous Wonder Woman voice-actress as Wonder Woman.
And finally, no David Boreanaz, Nolan North, Ryan Reynolds, Nathan Fillion, or Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan.
It's unfortunate that they couldn't get the right people in for the right roles, but in the case of Batman, the guy they did get, Will Arnett, does a pretty good Batman/Bruce Wayne voice.
The other licensed characters voices are okay I suppose, but Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum wouldn't be my first choices for Hal Jordan and Clark Kent, respectively.
And there's a noticeable lack of Marvel characters. No Tony Stark, no Bruce Banner, no Peter Parker, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Wolverine, Deadpool, Thor, Hawkeye, Phil Coulson, or god forbid Steve Rogers.
And do you want to know why? Because the film was made by Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers, who owns and makes all of the DC movies. Because they didn't want to have Disney involved in the project. Never mind that Lego had Marvel licences long before they had DC ones. Hell, I remember looking in the Lego catalogues as a kid and seeing all the Spider-Man sets they had and wondering where all the DC ones were. Never mind that it just would have been cool to see them in the movie together, because Warner and Disney have been at each others throats for decades, they probably never would have come to an agreement. And WB and Disney acquiring DC and Marvel respectively has only helped fuel the degree to which they'll probably never work together. The only way it could get worse was if Disney bought out Capcom and started making Street Fighter games.
Yes, Marvel and DC characters have been in the same media before. Yes, Marvel and DC can work together. And yeah, there might have been some issues with timing and licensing and whatnot, but at the moment, unless I can find any other explanation, I'll just chock this up to petty intercompany rivalry.
Anyways, I remember when this movie was new wondering if it would be any good, and it was.
It could have just been an advertisement for everything Lego's ever made, and it wasn't. It was easily one of the funniest and most thoughtful films I've ever seen.
And I wish I'd watched more new movies in 2014, because I would have given this a movie of the year award if I did. That wouldn't have made up for it not winning (Or even being nominated for) Best Animated Film at the Oscars.
Honestly, the only way this movie could have been given all the praise it should have been would be to win every single award there is for cinema that year.
So, I retroactively name The Lego Movie my movie of the year for 2014.
Oh, and I'm just gonna drop this perfect score right here: 10.1*

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