Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lego Movie (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Lego Movie”
Mixes Pretend
And Real

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Needless to say, I’m a bit dubious about movies based on toys and games. But the “Transformer” films had a good gross and “Battleship” didn’t get sunk at the box office.

So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that “The Lego Movie” raked in nearly $130 million in its first 10 days. Not bad.

Even so, who would have thought to base a movie on inanimate plastic building blocks?

Construction toys, as The Lego Group terms them.

It would be like making a movie about a brick.

However, children with their sense of imagination have been constructing things with Lego blocks since 1932.

The Lego Group is a $14.6 billion family-owned toy company based in Denmark. The word Lego comes from the Danish words “leg godt,” meaning “play well.”

Lego blocks were originally made of wood, but plastic bricks were introduced in 1947. Aside from selling sets of the colorful building blocks, the company maintains 32 Lego stores in Europe and 68 in North America. Plus there are four Lego-themed amusement parks around the world.

“The Lego Movie” is now playing at the Tropic Cinema.

As for the movie’s plot, a wizard named Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) is trying to keep a superweapon called “Kragle” (i.e. Krazy Glue) out of the hands of evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Among those who get involved are a construction worker minifigure named Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), female warrior Wildfire (Elizabeth Banks), a cop with a split personality (Liam Neeson), and Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte). Not to mention a plethora of DC superheroes including Superman (Channing Tatum), Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders), Green Hornet (Jonah Hill), and Batman (Will Arnett).

While this is mostly a computer-animated movie, there are live-action sequences where a father and son reflect on the “pretend” part of the story.

As it turns out, people have been making Lego movies since 1973. Popularly known as known brikfilms, the first was a six-minute Super-8 stop-motion production by Lars C. Hassing and Henrik Hassing titled “En rejse til månen” (“Journey to the Moon”). In 1987 The Lego Group officially commissioned more brikfilms as part of its Lego Sport Champions series.

Today, the deluxe DVD edition of “Monte Python and the Holy Grail” contains a brikfilm of the “Camelot Song.” And “Lego Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick” appears as a feature on one of the “Star Wars” DVDs.

Lego itself has produced and/or licensed a series of films based on its product line. These include nearly 30 computer-animated films (the Bionicle series, the Clutch Powers series, etc.) that appear in places like the Cartoon network.

So why wouldn’t Lego eventually build its way up to the big screen? There’s already a sequel to “The Lego Movie” in the pipeline.

What next? “The Erector Set Movie”?

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