Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who directed the enchanting Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, (sadly, they didn't helm the sequel and we all know how that worked out) take full advantage of Lego's immense universe and bring most of its most famous franchises into play in the film. Most of Warner's franchises (DC, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) are present in the film, alongside other unexpected surprises here and there, (keep an eye for one big franchise in particular making an appearance) but, to the filmmakers' credit, they're not the focus of the film. Rather, that's on characters free of any baggage, and that works wonderfully, as they are able to create completely original characters who also serve the film's message.
The story may seem a tad generic, but the film is brimming with so much imagination and so many great sequences that you're in for an amazing journey. Lord and Miller crafted an engaging story that embraces everything that Lego represents. It includes lots of imagination, endless creations, a hyperactive mood and colourful atmospheres. It's a story full of energy and zaniness (similar to Cloudy), with many silly and funny moments,but which nonetheless has space for many touching and heartfelt moments that give the film a more resonant story with ample depth. One little problem that I had was with the unexpected third act, which - while touching - dragged the film a little bit. But it's a very minor qualm with an otherwise fantastic film.
The cast is top-notch with Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman leading a fantastic group of actors who imbue each and every character with a distinct quality. Freeman and Arnett are wonderful as the wise Vitruvius and the self-involved Batman respectively. But it's Pratt who carries the picture and his endearing voice work makes Emmet a lovable and relatable character.
While many have claimed that this film is a non-stop laugh-fest, I didn't find it that funny - but that's a good thing. There's obviously many jokes and lots of slapstick humour, but I think the film worked because it finds a balance between those funny moments and dramatic ones. It's not a perfect balance and sometimes some of the humour doesn't work, but overall the funny moments do work very well. I prefer to heartily laugh at some, good-positioned jokes rather than being bombarded by many half-baked ones and not even chuckle.
The animation is simply impressive. If you thought Cloudy had an inventive look, just wait 'til you see this one. The filmmakers created a breathtaking and beautiful "Lego" world and every single element, from fire to water, is made of them. The attention to detail is astounding and every sequence is a breathtaking experience.
If the Toy Story films have taught us anything, it's that toys can be wonderful cinematic characters and The Lego Movie reinforces that notion with an expertly-crafted story. The Lego Movie is a triumph in every department. Full of funny and endearing characters, a timeless and timely message, amazing sequences and good humour, The Lego Movie celebrates the power of imagination and speaks to every kid and every kid inside us. After a (mostly) disappointing 2013, I'm glad 2014 is starting with a bang for animation. Highly recommended!