The Lego Movie want's you to be a kid again, and is the best version of Batman in a while. Spoilers.
These day's it seems like a month doesn't go by where I am not brought to a mouth foaming, red haze level of rage by the news that some old franchise is getting a big budget Hollywood remake, as the Nostalgia dollar seems a far safer bet than trying to float an original thought. However I wasn't brought to this frenzied state by the news of the Lego movie, partially because unlike the old T.V shows or mobile apps that will be coming out in the next few years, Lego doesn't have a story. It has an aesthetic, it is a canvas. As such there were plenty of stories that could be told, plus Lego had built up a lot of good will from me for it's continued success in making great games off of popular franchises.
When the first trailer came out, I became excited. When the first reviews hit the stands from America (due to Australia getting fucked over with release dates... again), I avoided spoilers but my expectations were set even higher. People loved this film.
So when I finally sat down in the theatre did it meet my expectations? Was the incredibly high bar set reached? Yes, pretty much it was. It's always more fun in reviews to disagree with popular opinion than to heap more praise or scorn on a properly already buried under it. However the Lego movie just holds up, it's creative, it's vibrant, it's fun. And oh how I have been missing fun in movies.
We enter spoiler territory now, so really, if you haven't seen it yet. Back out now and come back after the movie.
I said that Lego was a canvas, that it could be used to tell any story. And that's true, what at first appears to be a chosen destined narrative which we've seen a hundred time but subverted with anarchic humour turns out to be the story of Lego. It's the narrative of creating, of not always following instructions and just doing. It's the narrative of anyone who ever played and was told to stick to the rules.
The chosen one narrative we see is that Emmet, the most unremarkable man in the Lego world is in fact destined to defeat the evil Lord Business who has a plan to end the world with his special weapon, the Kragle. A group of Master Builders, those who can build beyond the instructions given, are there to help him. In particular the resident wild girl love interest but has a boyfriend character... aptly named Wyld Style.
This is worked both into the destined narrative and the twist. The whole story we've been watching is a child at play, and certainly hints are dropped throughout the movie, still the reveal was nice and the scenes in the real world worked well. A father has been collecting and building Lego sets, his son sneaks down and puts the Lego worlds together, mixing pieces and creating new works. That the father is taking the toys of youth and rigidly confining them to the 'correct' way of enjoying them is the heart of the movie, and the reason that Batman is so central.
The Lego movie is saying that perhaps...
A gritty, dark, reinterpretation...
Of something as joyous as a child's toy...
Isn't a good thing.
Batman is after all the character most readily portrayed as the gritty face of superheros, the dark brooding loaner, and the one who always seems an inch away from snapping and killing everyone. Despite the fact he has perhaps the largest network of immediate allies, friends, and what is essentially family in the Robins, Alfred, the Batgirls, the Bird's of Prey, and his international network of Batmen. To the point where his gritty-titus has crossed over and affected his best friend Superman...yes you read that right, not enemy, not ideological opposite... Friend... AHHHHDJHSILJD DC STOP IT!!
Sorry... Back to Lego
Another thing the film does is to completely subvert the 'chosen one' narrative, the prophecy... completely made up. Our resident, Morpheus/Dumbledore/Gandalf/Obi-Wan Kenobie (even though some of those are present in the movie) is Vitruvius... played of course.. by Morgan Freeman. In what is clearly a last ditch effort, he has made a prophecy, because it can be the push to cause those needed to believe in themselves, rather than guarantee any one person can do it. While it's fairly obvious this ties more into the idea that everyone has the spark of creativity in them, everyone at times plays. I'd like to believe that is a bit of a dig at how many movies have begun using 'Destiny' as a narrative crutch because it's easier to explain.
I MEAN COME ON... WHY DID YOU NEED TO MAKE HIM MORE LIKE JESUS??!!
Right... Sorry... The Lego Movie...
A thing I've heard a lot from people having seen this move, 'this was my childhood'. Mostly from those who Lego and a parent threatening to glue it was actually present, but it still touches what seems to be a fundamental aspect of childhood. That desire to break the rules and see what can be made in place.
That most kids, will just wing it..
It' s a Bat Pun.
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