Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The LEGO Movie Trailer Released

Many hardened AFOL are right now shaking their heads at the release of the trailer for The LEGO Movie, knowing that the 90 minutes that could be spent watching it could be better spent trawling Bricklink for that last elusive piece that will complete the greatest MOC ever. It’s probably that dedication that produces some great masterpieces, however The LEGO Movie looks like a fantastically frivolous part of the hobby with some nice touches. Read more to check out the trailer, poster and analysis.

Having a movie based on a building block always sounded like a curious concept. After all, when Hasbro licensed out the rights to their property Battleship it resulted in a pretty awful movie (although clearly it hasn’t jaded Liam Neeson enough to avoid toy originated movies), but Battleship was a very specific property. LEGO, on the other hand, is a construction toy with a huge variety of themes. So with so many directions it could have taken, seeing what The LEGO Movie will be is an interesting moment.

Previously the only LEGO movies have been straight-to-video releases such as Clutch Powers and Batman: DC Super Heroes Unite, and due to the budget limitations that such a release imposes mean the animation has been good but nothing outstanding. Equally the 4D movies produce for LEGO Theme Parks have been improving but still nothing exceptional in terms of the quality of animation. The humor has also been hit-and-miss, with many of the jokes focusing on the child audience (who direct-to-video films are probably more aimed at in fairness). 

Certain LEGO content, however, has driven the nature of the humor that LEGO now clearly feel they want their product to be associated with. Traveller’s Tales video games, starting with LEGO Star Wars, did a great job of using intelligent slapstick and silly twists on well-known stories to find a sense of humor that appeals to both young and old alike. The Padawan Menace TV special also found a good balance of obvious humor for the youngsters, and more subtly visual gags for the AFOL (unfortunately The Empire Strikes Out seemed to lose the magic formula).

So The LEGO Movie has a lot to live up to. It has to be much better than these straight-to-video releases, as it potentially will reach a much, much wider audience and therefore has a much, much bigger budget.  Fans of LEGO don’t expect much from a theme park 3D short, but they do expect something special from a full theatrical release. As well as that, it has to provide humor for both adults and children – like a Pixar movie – to be a genuine family film.

Here’s the plot: 
The LEGO Movie follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which he is hopelessly and hilariously under prepared.
A plot which seems to have the potential for suitably ludicrous fun. From what the trailer shows, there will be plenty to amuse children but also some nice gags for the seasoned LEGO veteran. The 80s Spaceman has a crack in his helmet, Emmet has a LEGO shark thrown at him and there’s definitely two jokes in Batman’s line, “I only work in black… or sometimes very, very dark grey” (one joke that everyone can enjoy, and one joke for those of us who have held the instruction book up to the light to decide what the damn colour’s supposed to be). 

The way the locations are built, purely from existing LEGO elements, seems promising. This will be an especially cool touch if it is maintained throughout the entire film. Having licensed characters seems an odd choice, and the potential for greatness as well as problems. After all, it dates the movie somewhat – who knows whether any of these licenses will still be held by LEGO in ten years – but on the other hand, it allows for fun gags like “the 2002 NBA All Stars”. With the focus on Batman in the trailer it seems that he and his DC friends will be the most prominent licensed characters, which makes sense as Warner Brothers has the rights to them. What is a shame is that they are not as iconic in LEGO as characters from Star Wars,
If this iconic Minifigure doesn't show up in The LEGO
then expect lots of griping here on All About Bricks
which has been in brick form for fourteen years now (if Lucasfilm refused this movie but said ‘yes’ to Yoda appearing in a Vodafone ad then they need to stop smoking Jabba’s hookah). If LEGO stop making Superman sets anytime soon, it will be a little embarrassing that he showed up in the big showcase movie. 

Based on how good Hollywood are at screwing up really promising ideas, it is best not to get too excited. But based on the look and feel of the movie from the trailer, this could be a really fun celebration of LEGO and a damn funny movie to boot. Maybe even the most brick-focused AFOLs will read rave reviews that lead to them dropping the building for a night and heading to the cinema instead. With a release date of February 2014 it’s a while until we’ll find out, but if it lives up to the trailer then The LEGO Movie could be really good fun. 

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