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'The Lego Movie' will not disappoint

By Mark Sarll
On February 19, 2014

  • Annie Buckles

Oh, what a relief it is to see one of the finest visual constructions in animation in recent memory.
While this may be an overstatement, it is fair to say that the people who made this knew that they wanted to articulate the movements and mechanics of Lego toys through computer animation and digital input of faces to make animated faces into what are relatively still figures.
As a result, "The Lego Movie" is a strong sell for families, children and animation enthusiasts, and it has the strongest mechanical input in an animated film I have witnessed since the 2009 film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and the 2011 film "Rango."
While my banter about the look and style may not explain much about the story, the film revolves around an ordinary Lego construction worker, Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, who eventually encounters Wyldestyle, a roguish young woman, voiced by Elizabeth Banks, trying to find the alleged Piece of Resistance.
They end up in a run from the law as a mega-tyrant, President Business, voiced by Will Ferrell, also tries to make his henchmen find the Piece of Resistance.
The story accompanying the frenetic action scenes and animation is a good part to the story which reveals something special toward the climax which will not be spoiled here, but has to do with something metaphorical.
In addition, the humor and self-referential nature of the film reminded me of something from a "Simpsons" episode made for a younger set, and the "Saturday Night Live" vibe I have been getting with the voice talent did not overwhelm or annoy me.
The 3D effects in the film accompanying the animation are very strong and did not feel gimmicky considering the scheme here renders it to look like stop-motion - not regular computer animation.
While that is an expensive investment for regular moviegoers to spend $3 to $4 more for 3D, 3D only works for me on rare circumstances.
In most cases, it is often the documentary or stop-motion films that do not have too much digital post-production work.
An action film tends to work for me, and from previous experience, "The Lego Movie" is the best use of 3D in animation since "Coraline" and "ParaNorman."
What drew me to this film was not only the animation scheme and mechanics, but the sense of nostalgia and appreciation that I once had for these brick toys as a child.
This same kind of enthusiasm has not occurred that much since I saw "The Simpsons Movie" back in 2007.
However, I will admit, I did not want to spoil myself with marketing and publicity for "The Lego Movie," as it might have made me have a different opinion about the film.
If I had seen too much advertising, I possibly would have had a lukewarm reaction.
Animal Logic, the Australian animation and digital effects company behind this film, should congratulate themselves for rendering such dynamic visuals that are not only tangible, but also cleverly done.
Congratulations to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for spearheading this project that is more in tune with Lego dynamics than many of those Bionicle and Cartoon Network Lego short films would ever be.
It looks like stop-motion, and there are rules to abide by when you follow this kind of mechanical function with the figures.
If you feel animation has rather twiddled its thumbs, that will change when you go see "The Lego Movie."
You will not be disappointed.

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