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Non-Review Review: The Lego Movie 2 – The Second Part

Appropriately enough, given the brand involved, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part very skillfully builds on The Lego Movie.

Of course, The Second Part faces the typical challenges that haunt sequels to beloved and genre-bending films. A large part of what made The Lego Movie such a joy was the way in which it played with audience expectations of what it could be. More specifically, it built very cleverly and very consciously to a late development that was both entirely organic and very surprising, which is a difficult balance to strike. The Second Part starts with that late development baked into the premise, which means that it can’t pull the same twist again. It removes an important toy from the chest.

Bricking it.

However, while The Second Part lacks the novelty that made The Lego Movie so refreshing, it does have the advantage of building on what came before. In keeping with the nature of the toys depicted, The Second Part has the luxury of building upon an established template to tell its own story. The Second Part can trust that the audience understands the logic (both literal and metaphorical) that guided The Lego Movie, and so can develop that idea in interesting directions.

The result is a sequel that is fulfilling and satisfying, but which never quite matches the highs of the original film. The Second Part is clever, funny and canny. However, it is also – by its very nature – less innovative and creative. The results are impressive and affecting. While they don’t have quite the same impact as they did in The Lego Movie, the success of The Second Part is at least reassuring. That the template works so well even without disguising its twists offers proof that the fundamental building blocks are solid.

Piece in our time.

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My 12 for ’14: The Lego Movie and Everything is Awesome…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

The very idea of The Lego Movie invites cynicism.

It is the latest in the long line of toy-to-film adaptations that includes such auspicious cinematic magics Transformers and Battleship. More than that, it is a film about a toy that has found particular success licensing existing properties – so it would be very easy to turn The Lego Movie into a collection of recognisable characters having generic adventures while selling their toys to an eager young audience. In a market where studios like Pixar had raised the bar for family-friendly animation, The Lego Movie seemed like it could be cringe-worthy.

thelegomovie

Instead, The Lego Movie is one of the most purely enjoyable movies of 2014. It is a film that appeals to all children, no matter their age. From seven to seventy, The Lego Movie is constructed with such energy and enthusiasm that it is impossible to resist. Even the most hardened cynic and most ruthless pessimism will struggle not to smile at certain points as The Lego Movie marches to its own wryly and playfully subversive beat. The amount of charm on display here should win over everybody.

The Lego Movie is still a feature-length advertisement for a world-renowned brand, but it manages to capture the fun and the excitement of that brand in a way that will feel familiar to those viewers who do remember playing with blocks; no matter how long ago.

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Non-Review Review: The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is – as one might expect – a wonderfully well-constructed family film. Following a construction worker repeatedly described as “normal” or “average” – but, one colleague hastens to add, “not normal like us” – named Emmet, the movie is structured as a conventional “special one” narrative. However, veteran directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller stir things up just enough to keep it interesting.

With a wry sense of humour and an acute awareness of the clichés of a typical “hero’s journey” narrative, Lord and Miller have actually managed to tap into the core essence of Lego – if a massive multi-platform brand name empire can be distilled to a “core essence.” It’s a story about the magic of playing with toys and the necessity of throwing away the instructions every once in a while.

The ensemble fits together perfectly...

The ensemble fits together perfectly…

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