Adventure Animation

Build-a-Blu-ray Review: The LEGO Movie

June 18, 2014Ben MK

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An adventure for all ages

By Ben Mk

No matter what your age or where you're from, odds are that you played with LEGO as a child. But you don't necessarily have to be young to enjoy building whatever your imagination desires, only young at heart. The proof is in the broad appeal of those little multicolored plastic bricks, which has been transcending generational and cultural boundaries for over six decades. It makes you wonder how we survived this long without a LEGO movie. But never fear, The LEGO Movie is here, and rest assured — it is indeed every bit as awesome as you've heard.

The LEGO universe may seem like a happy-go-lucky place, but there's something sinister afoot. The evil Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) — who only sees chaos in the creativity of the world's Master Builders — has come into possession of a powerful super-weapon known as the Kragle, and he intends to use it to bring order to the universe, by Kragelizing everything and everyone in it. But there is hope — for legend tells of the existence of "The Special", "a talented lass or fellow" who will make the Piece of Resistance found. Just what is the Piece of Resistance, you ask? It's the only thing that can disarm the Kragle — or it might make it blow up.

Of course, not everyone's heard of Lord Business or knows of his nefarious scheme. Take Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), for example. One minute, he's just your average, brick-laying, rule-abiding citizen of Bricksburg, going about his daily routine while consulting his "How to: Fit In, Have Everyone Like You, and Always Be Happy!" instruction manual, and the next he's falling down an open pit, stumbling upon the Piece of Resistance and being hailed as The Special.

Emmet's transformation from zero to hero is the heart and soul of The LEGO Movie, following in the footsteps of such storied heroes as Star Wars' Luke Skywalker and The Matrix's Neo. In fact, you can think of The LEGO Movie as the kid-friendly equivalent of The Matrix — only instead of Trinity, we get Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks); instead of Morpheus, we get Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman); and instead of Agent Smith, we get Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).

But these aren't the only characters Emmet meets on his journey to defeat Lord Business and save the universe. Writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (best known for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21/22 Jump Street) populate the movie with a slew of colorful and memorable characters, like Will Arnett's egomaniacal take on Batman, Alison Brie's super-cheerful cat-unicorn, Unikitty, Nick Offerman's steampunk-cyborg-pirate, Metal Beard, and Charlie Day's spaceship-obsessed Spaceman Benny.

It just goes to show that Lord & Miller and co. aren't just set on filling the standard mold of the hero's journey. No, they're out to explode it into a million colorful little studs. And the crazy cast of minifigures — which also includes the likes of Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Gandalf, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C3P0 and Lando Calrissian — is just the tip of the iceberg. There's also the action-packed set pieces (pun intended) and trademark LEGO humor (familiar to anyone who's ever encountered a LEGO-branded videogame). Naturally, there are also valuable lessons (about cooperation, friendship, individuality, etc.) aimed at the film's target (5-12) age demographic, but seeing as how it appeals both to viewers nostalgic for all things LEGO and to those looking for a fun-filled adventure, it's hard to believe there's anyone who won't find something to love about The LEGO Movie.

Warner has assembled quite a studly hi-def presentation for The LEGO Movie's debut on Blu-ray. Co-director Chris McKay, cinematographer Pablo Plaisted and the talented CG artists at Animal Logic have styled the look of the film to impress upon viewers the appearance of stop-motion animation, and it all comes across crystal clear and blemish-free. Each pixel is where it should be, faithfully representing every minuscule paint scratch, imperfection and shimmer of light that the animators have added to Emmet and his world to give the overall image its hyperrealistic look. And the colors — oh, the colors: from the urban sprawl of Bricksburg and the sandy plains of the Old West to the greens of Middle Zealand and the rainbow-colored spectacle that is Cloud Cuckooland, every frame drips with color; and the Blu-ray transfer renders every hue beautifully, without any sign of banding or macroblocking. It's exactly what one would expect from a CG-animated film in 2014 — nothing short of digital perfection. The same goes for the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, which brings everything in the LEGO universe to glorious life: from subtle atmospherics like the clickety-clack of LEGO bricks to sonic dynamics like laser blasts, explosions and, of course, the highly-addictive theme song. "Everything is Awesome" indeed.

The usual DVD and UltraViolet digital copies of the film are on hand for Warner's Blu-ray release, which also boasts 52 minutes of HD special features, not to mention a feature-length commentary from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and cast members Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Will Arnett and Charlie Day.

Younger viewers will be most enamored by the handful of shorts on the disc, including a fake music video, titled Batman's a True Artist; a trailer for the fake spinoff movie, Michelangelo and Lincoln: History Cops; and Enter the Ninjago, which (humorously) proves that not everything — not even The LEGO Movie — is better with ninjas. There's even an "Everything is Awesome" Sing-Along (just in case the song hasn't already earned Top 20 airplay in your household).

If a making-of is what you're in the mood for, there are three Behind the Scenes featurettes as well: Bringing LEGO to Life is a 12-minute tongue-in-cheek look at the making of the film, hosted by Emmet himself; See It, Build It! is a 13-minute guide to building Emmet's double-decker couch and car, courtesy of Senior Designer Michael Fuller and Modeling Artist Adam Ryan; and the 4-minute Stories From The Story Team gives Script Supervisor Kelly Lafferty and a few of the film's storyboard artists the platform to share some of their fondest memories of working on the project.

As for the rest of the special features: The 4-minute Fan-Made Films: Top-Secret Submissions showcases some of the top entries in the contest sponsored by the ReBrick community, in which fans submitted their own LEGO short film for potential inclusion in The LEGO Movie. There are also 3 minutes of Outtakes, 4 minutes of Additional Promo Content (consisting of three promo spots), the 1-minute Alleyway Test (representing the first animation test created for the film) and 3 minutes of Deleted Scenes (amounting to two deleted scenes in storyboard form).

The pieces couldn't have fallen into place more perfectly than they have for The LEGO Movie, which is everything you could ever want from a LEGO-themed film and more. With humor, heart and a timeless appeal, it's truly a film that everyone can enjoy, proving that a movie about a line of toys can be so much more than just a marketing gimmick. Likewise, there's nothing gimmicky about Warner's Blu-ray release: its perfect A/V presentation and entertaining assortment of extras (catering to both the young and the young-at-heart alike) makes The LEGO Movie on Blu-ray an awesome addition to any movie collection.

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  ★★★★½
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  ★★★★★
Special Features  —  ★★★½

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