Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blu-ray Review: THE LEGO MOVIE (2014) [Warner Brothers]

The Lego Movie (2014)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

If you had told me last year that one of my favorite films of 2014 would be an animated movie based on the LEGO brand, I would have probably called you crazy. However, I also would have been very wrong because THE LEGO MOVIE is awesome, and it is definitely one of the best films that I have seen this year.

Co-Writers/Co-Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller seem to have a knack for taking existing (and often implausible) properties and adapting them into studio films that are fresh, funny, and just flat-out entertaining. First, they turned CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS into a madcap sendup of action/disaster films. Then, they rebooted 21 JUMP STREET as a big-screen action-comedy that is one of the funniest films of the last 10 years. And now, they have given us THE LEGO MOVIE, which somehow takes the aesthetic of LEGO building blocks and uses it to tell a story that is hilariously fun, filled with action and adventure, and is even a bit of a tearjerker at times.

The official synopsis is as follows:
The original 3D computer-animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as The Special, the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world.  He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.
On its face, that may sound very simple – and, at its core, it is – but the beauty of THE LEGO MOVIE is how it takes that simplicity and then circumvents the conventional Hero’s Journey; while at the same time using the familiar format as a metaphor for conformity and the need for individuality. Now, that may not sound like something that belongs in a “Kids’ Movie,” but I assure you, THE LEGO MOVIE is every bit as entertaining and fun for children as it is for their parents. Of course, kids may not understand all of the Pop Culture references (especially those pertaining to the 1980s), but my three-year-old was just as captivated by the movie as I was. Somehow, Lord and Miller manage to take THE LEGO MOVIE to that magical “Pixar Territory” where just about any person, regardless of age or gender, can’t help but watch with a huge smile on their face.
Of course, the screenplay and story are only part of the package, as another of THE LEGO MOVIE’s strengths is the amazing cast of voice actors that they have assembled to bring the characters to life. Chris Pratt voices Emmet, and he really brings that every-day, likeable guy vibe to the part. Will Ferrell is also excellent as President Business, the “evil” leader who forces the citizens to conform to his rules and regulations. I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of some of his work, but here, Ferrell manages to balance the over-the-top sensationalism that’s required for the part with a very human side that is hidden underneath. And then there’s a huge supporting cast featuring fantastic actors like Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett (as the scene-stealing Batman), Charlie Day, Alison Brie (always great), Morgan Freeman(!), Liam Neeson, etc… Seriously, THE LEGO MOVIE has got to have one of (if not) the best casts of any animated feature ever.

The animation itself is also astonishingly awesome. The world of THE LEGO MOVIE is sprawling, vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully realized through computer animation and various other techniques that really capture the feel of a landscape that is built solely from LEGO bricks. Usually, I tend to cringe at films that are essentially one long product placement (ummm… THE INTERNSHIP, I’m looking at you), but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t smile at the use of the LEGO aesthetic in the film. It’s not only nostalgic, but it’s clever and beautiful to look at. Computer animation sure has come a long way since TOY STORY, and THE LEGO MOVIE is a great example of what it is capable of.

Honestly, I could go on for a long time about how great THE LEGO MOVIE is. For my money, it’s the best animated film of 2014 so far, and it’s also one of the best movies of this year; period. It’s technically impressive, hilarious, moving, and captures the fun and adventure of a child’s imagination while seamlessly tackling some very smart and subversive themes. I was wowed by it in the theater, and I loved it even more after revisiting it on Blu-ray with my son (who also loved it). If you haven’t seen it already, do so now, and if you did catch it previously, make sure you revisit it, as I’m sure you’ll find even more to love the second time around.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Warner Brothers brings THE LEGO MOVIE home on Blu-ray in two different editions – the standard Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, and the “Everything Is Awesome” Edition. Both include the film on Blu-ray and DVD, an Ultraviolet copy of the film, and all of the same special features on the Blu-ray disc. The main difference between the two packages is that the “Everything Is Awesome” Edition also includes a 3D Blu-ray copy of the film; along with one extra bonus feature, a 3D “Picture” of Emmet, and a limited edition LEGO figure.

The “Everything Is Awesome” Edition is what is being reviewed here.

Video Quality (5/5)

THE LEGO MOVIE features what is pretty much a flawless 1080p AVC-encoded transfer of the film. It looks amazing, with even more detail than I remember seeing in the theater. The colors pop, and you can really get a huge appreciation for the use of the LEGO style throughout the movie. This is one of the best-looking discs of 2014, so far.

The 3D version of the film is equally astounding, with probably the best 3D transfer that I’ve seen on home video.

Audio Quality (5/5)

You might not think that THE LEGO MOVIE would have a bombastic, booming sound design, but the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix on this disc is incredible and will really give your home theater system a workout. Everything is crystal clear, and the action set-pieces make wonderful use of the surround channels and feature LFE activity that will shake your entire home theater room. Simply phenomenal.

Extra Features (4/5)

THE LEGO MOVIE "Everything Is Awesome" Edition comes loaded with a good assortment of bonus features. While none of them are as comprehensive as some cinephiles would like, there's certainly enough to keep you busy, and all of them are quality.

  • Audio Commentary with Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, and Actors Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Charlie Day and Alison Brie: This audio commentary is easily the best feature on the disc. The Directors and Cast run through a lot of the production of the film in a fun conversational way. Considering how funny all of the participants are in their own right, you should expect some silliness and a lot of humor interjected throughout. Personally, I had a lot of fun with the track.   
  • Dream Job: Meet the LEGO Builders (13 min): This feature is the only one that is exclusive to the “Everything Is Awesome” Edition of THE LEGO MOVIE. It’s a pretty fun look into the work and process of LEGO Group employees and the folks who designed the movie.
  • Bringing LEGO to Life (13 min):  Kind of like a Behind the Scenes featurette for kids.
  • Stories from the Story Team (4 min): A quick look at various stages of story development for the movie.
  • See It, Build It! (12 min): Several tutorials (aimed mostly at kids) on how to build various models from the film using LEGOs.
  • "Everything is Awesome" Sing-Along (3 min): It’s exactly what it says it is.
  • Fan-Made Films: Top-Secret Submissions (4 min): Homemade LEGO animation shorts; including the top three from a competition that LEGO hosted in anticipation of the film.
  • Alleyway Test (1 min): The film's first animation test.
  • Batman's A True Artist (1 min): Stop-motion music video starring (you guessed it) Batman.
  • Michelangelo & Lincoln: History Cops (1 min): A goofy History Cops trailer.
  • Enter the Ninjago (2 min): THE LEGO MOVIE + Ninjas.
  • Deleted Scenes (3 min): Storyboards of scenes that were cut from the film.
  • Outtakes (3 min): A “blooper reel”.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, THE LEGO MOVIE is not only the best animated film of 2014 so far, but it is one of the best films of the year; period. Warner Brothers has done their usual stellar job of bringing it to Blu-ray, giving it jaw-dropping 2D and 3D transfers, an amazing audio track, and a good chunk of bonus material. In short, I can't recommend THE LEGO MOVIE "Everything Is Awesome" Edition enough. For fans of the film, this is a must-buy set. For those that haven't seen it (especially people with kids), this is a definite blind buy. 

Highest Recommendation!

Blu-ray Score


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