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The Lego Movie – Theatrical review 5/5 stars

             5 Stars

Simply amazing.  Lots of jokes, lots of in-jokes, lots of Lego, lots of fun, and lots of memories brought back.  I’ve played with built with Lego for as long as I can remember, and I can definitely now relate to the “man upstairs” in the movie.

This Sunday I took my kids, who are also lifelong Lego builders, to see The Lego Movie, and I think I enjoyed it more than they did.  Grace Randolph of Beyond the Trailer, brought up on her show Morning Movie News that it may really be an animated movie for adults.  She had heard of several instances where the adults in the audiences loved the movie but the kids only liked it, and theorized that this might actually hurt the box office appeal of the film.

It had all the pieces necessary for a good movie.  Humour, heart, great characters (a bit of a surprise for an animated film) and in the end, it meant something.  I do need to see it again, and preferably from further back, our third row seats weren’t the best, and I will definitely be watching it again at home where I can pause often, because there was so much going on and probably so many things in the background that I missed and want to see.  Also, because I went with my kids (who are aged nine to twelve) I didn’t get to sit all the way through the credits as I always do.  Smaller bladders and general impatience prevented that.  If anyone knows if there was an “after the credits scene” let me know!

The story was quite fun, as Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) is a regular construction worker in Bricksburg where he lives life by following the instructions.  Instructions passed down by President Business who is also Lord Business (Will Ferrell) the evil overlord who plans to destroy the world of Lego using the Kragle, his ultimate weapon.  Emmet is soon mistaken for “The Special” of prophecy when he discovers the “Piece of Resistance” the only thing that can stop the Kragle.  The other Master Builders now look to this ordinary guy to lead them and save the world.  Unfortunately Emmet isn’t that creative (his whole life has been lived following the instructions) so he can’t build “outside the box”, he’s not that confident, and fears that he probably isn’t The Special.  Full of great characters from Lego sets past, Emmet teams up with Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), 1980s Blue Spaceman Benny (Charlie Day), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal), Metal Beard the pirate (Nick Offerman) and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to stop Lord Business and his army of “micro managers” and the police lead by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).  I usually don’t like “big cast” movies because they tend to water down the story so that each actor gets face time, but that wasn’t really an issue here in an animated feature, and each character got to do something fairly important to the story.  My one son’s favourite character was Unikitty, but my favourite was Benny, perhaps because 1980s Space Lego was a big part of my childhood (though we only had the Red, White and Yellow spacemen in my house…).

Yes, it could be that adults will enjoy the film more than kids, but should we adults feel guilty about that?  Is it a problem that we still enjoy our Lego sets?  Is it a problem that we don’t let our kids touch them?  Well, perhaps we all should watch The Lego Movie.  And it’s never a bad idea for me to watch a movie again with my sons.  Being a part time dad, sharing my experience of The Lego Movie with them may have biased my rating.  I have several movies that I enjoy only because of who I watched them with originally, but still I think my rating and enjoyment of The Lego Movie stand.

Bottom Line: I think they have a good enough base here to build up to a sequel….puns intended.


Pacific Rim – DVD Review 4/5 stars

Product Details4 Stars

Pacific Rim came out at the perfect time.  It satisfied the audience’s need for giant monsters and destruction, and did well financially at the box office.  Why is this important?  I think it paves the way perfectly for audiences to see the “King of the Monsters” next summer with Godzilla.  Though, this could be a perfect “chicken or the egg” situation.  Did Pacific Rim do well because people are anticipating Godzilla, or does the success of Pacific Rim fortell Godzilla’s future success?  Oh, and by the way, the egg came first.  Creatures were laying eggs long before chickens ever came around…

You may think you can call Pacific Rim nothing more than just a popcorn film.  It had the giant alien monsters, robots, action galore, and wasn’t too deep or heavy on plot but it was very much a character driven film.  It had a surprisingly good cast and .  Idris Alba and Ron Perlman are fantastic actors, and really shone well in what were effectively supporting roles tonight, well not tonight, because once again I’m putting up a review for a film I watched two and a half (maybe even three) weeks ago.  That aside, Alba and Perlman were great at bringing some star power to a film that could easily have been overlooked.  Leads Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi developed their characters well and elevated the film above simple popcorn fare.  Though, if you hadn’t heard that Guillermo del Toro was directing it you’d probably expect this sort of film to be “direct to video”, I mean come on aliens coming out of the ocean, it sounds just like Atlantic Rim….  Actually I had heard that Asylum’s “mockbuster” Atlantic Rim had to be renamed Attack from Beneath for some rather obvious copyright and confusion issues before it could be released on DVD.

Aliens are invading Earth, but they aren’t coming from outer space, they’re coming from a rift in the Pacific Ocean.  And they aren’t little green men, they’re giant lizard, monster….things…  Kaiju.  To combat these creatures the world has been using Jaegers, giant robot-esque creations that require two pilots, mentally in sync to properly guide the machine and fight the aliens.  After a series of defeats and narrow victories, the Jaeger program is scrapped in favour of giant walls to protect the populace, but Marshall Pentecost (Alba) keeps the last four Jaegers active to make one last attempt at destroying the rift and stopping the invaders once and for all.  Recruiting Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) a former Jaeger pilot who quit the program after his brother was ripped from their craft (Gipsy Danger) and killed while they were still mentally linked.  Teamed with a new partner (Mako Mori played by Rinko Kikuchi), Becket is brought back into service, with his old Jaeger repaired and is given one last chance to stop the end of the world.

Pacific Rim probably would have been more fun on the big screen.  My complaint about these sorts of movies is that at home, the effects move too quickly and (to me and my aging eyes at least) the incredible amount of detail put into the creation of the robots or the monsters or whatever, is lost and you see none of the detail.  Sometimes I wish they would follow the “less is more” philosophy and not put as much detail into the design so you can actually see and discern more of the detail.  Instead of showing us that the graphics department put every rivet into every piece of steel, go with less so that I can actually see more instead of just a blur created by over-rendering.  While Pacific Rim was fairly predictable, though in a pretty “feel good” sort of way, there were a few tropes that it avoided.  While at first there were hints that a romantic subplot may develop between Becket and Mako, they actually ignored it in the end and went with the stunning concept of a man and woman just being friends.  A strong female character was not reduced to a literary nothing by being thrown into a stereotypical plotline.  I think Pacific Rim found a wonderful balance was found between giving the audience what they expected and avoiding what they expected and by doing so, gave them something better.

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