The Lego Movie. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures
MANILA -- There's something brilliant about "The Lego Movie," the new film from directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," "21 Jump Street").
Yes, it's a movie about cities made of tiny, tiny bricks and the toy people that live in them. But like the best Lego creations, "The Lego Movie" taps into what makes those little bricks insanely cool. It immerses in candy-colored world-building that makes its own internal sense and then deconstructs its own story for the final reel.
It's got a Justice League quartet and the best use of Batman in a movie for a good long while, a hilarious hero's journey and a soundtrack that won't quit.
It lays to waste the "chosen one" tropes favored in so many movies and even has something special to say about the collector mentality, fathers and sons and even the act of creation.
In other words, everything about this movie is awesome.
Emmet and Wyldstyle escape the clutches of Bad Cop. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures
"The Lego Movie" tells the story of an ordinary Lego mini-figure named Emmet who is just one of many yellow mini-figures who follow the instructions, buy overpriced coffee and sing the same song for hours during his shift.
A workplace accident with the stylish but tough Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) leads to him being mistaken for the "Special," who is prophesied to save his town of Bricksburg from the clutches of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and his evil henchmen led by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).
Emmet is forced to team up with Wyldstyle, the mystical Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), DC hero Batman (Will Arnett) and other unlikely heroes to fight Business and his mysterious weapon, the Kragle.
What does the movie have going for it? Well, the concept for one. The sameness of Lego figures translates into the same commonality in Bricksburg, whether it's their houses and cars, the songs they listen to (the earwormy "Everything Is Awesome"), and even the shows they watch ("Where Are my Pants?"). It's all part of Lord Business' plan until Emmet's world is turned upside down and he is forced to go to other Lego worlds outside Bricksburg.
Emmet teams up with the other Master Builders. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures
Also, it takes the concept of building and just runs with it -- everything in Bricksburg and other universes can be dismantled and put back together to make new creations. Taking a page from "The Matrix," so-called Master Builders such as Vitruvius, Metalbeard and Unikitty see the Lego bricks differently, complete with each brick's number.
Lord's and Miller's dialogue also deserve notice, with some memorable quips and back-and-forths that wouldn't look out of place from a "Parks and Rec" episode. One running gag is everyone asking about Wyldstyle's name.
Batman helps Emmet in his quest. Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures
I got to say, I'm not a huge fan of the last Batman movie but this version of the character nearly steals the show. Batman the Lego version is probably the funniest version of the Dark Knight post-Christopher Nolan. His relationship with Wyldstyle, especially Wyldstyle's insistence in calling Batman "babe," had a lot of the audience in stitches.
Short cameos by Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern also keep the story light: it's one version of what a not-so-serious Justice League movie could be. Some mixed universe stuff and cameos are also kept to a minimum and actually had people cheering.
"The Lego Movie" gets a bit heavy-handed and short on laughs in the final reel but the risk is well worth it. Lord and Miller aren't just interested in making us laugh, they want us to think about things such as the rigid sameness of adulthood and why the death of imagination could be a part of it.