The Lego Movie — Review and Personal Reflection

This was a great film – perhaps not as good as it’s hyped up to be, but good nonetheless.

The story is primarily about Emmett, a Lego construction worker living in a world ruled by the villainous Lord Business (who is voiced by Will Farrell, a fact which has a surprising amount of importance for the film). Emmett is completely ordinary; in fact, so ordinary that no one can remember him or distinguish him. Lord Business plans to end the world by gluing the entire world together with the Kragle (Krazy Glue), aided by his henchman, Bad Cop.

Inexplicably, Emmett comes upon the Piece of Resistance, the only thing that can foil the Kragle. He then must journey into the heart of Lord Business’s tower, with the aid of the Master Builders (Lego figures capable of great creative construction feats) Wyldstyle, Batman, Vitruvius, Unikitty, and that 80’s Space Guy.

First the bad: Wyldstyle and Emmett have a romantic arc that I’m really sure was there only cause every other story of this kind has that arc (though it only culminates in them holding hands). I really didn’t care for this arc, and it was quite cliché. On another point, there were a number of weird beneficial coincidences that occurred from time to time (such as the Millennium Falcon suddenly appearing). Sometimes these were justified, sometimes they were essential to the plot moving forward, other times they were so little I wondered why they were in there at all. It was as though they were concocted by a child…

…but that’s okay, for reasons I can’t say (spoilers!). On the good side of things, the gags were hilarious. Although the whole story followed the typical “you are the chosen one who must defeat evil” plot (complete with prophecy, delivered rather tongue-in-cheek by Vitruvius in the first moments of the film), the film subverts it in a number of ways. One of the more comical subversions: after Wyldstyle saves Emmett from Bad Cop and begins the typical history lesson exposition speech, Emmett totally fazes out of the conversation, hearing “blah blah blah, I’m so hot, blah blah blah….” Most importantly, at Emmett’s lowest point, the film completely shifts gears, changing how one perceives everything about the story.

This is a film for all ages. It’s action-packed and silly for the kids, but also deep and subversive for the adults.

But if there’s anything to make this a great film, it’s the film’s themes: anyone can be great, everyone can be creative, the world/Lego isn’t for keeping in strict, glued-together confines, but rather to be explored and played with.

 

This film made me want to play with Legos. It also made me consider my own play style: there was one scene in the film where several Master Builders are building together, and Batman says something like, “if you have any black pieces, I need them,” which reminded me of times when I would build Legos with my siblings; also, the entire idea of gluing together Lego pieces made me think.

I don’t like playing Legos with people much. I’m kinda a control freak when it comes to playing and building with Legos. But I’m not the kind to glue pieces – though I often do wish to immortalize my creations, often through photography – creating new things is something I enjoy a lot (as I suppose anyone who’s read this blog can tell). But I don’t interact well. I suppose I could if I and some partner planned what to build and what to do with it before we even started, and I didn’t have to worry about unexpected divergences from my plans, or any…silliness. By silliness I mean the sort of unbounded imagination pouring out of a small child’s mind, unrestrained and untrained in the art of the narrative, and the small child creates Mary Sue characters that beat up everyone and everything they “see.”

It makes me wonder what I’m going to do if I have small children of my own. I’ll have to deal with this…silliness, most likely, but my potential children will certainly play with Legos. I want them to discover, like Emmett, that everyone is creative, everyone can be special.

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Immortality

Sorry I haven’t been posting for the last few weeks. Anyway, this and one more post ought to conclude with this theme of courage and villainy that I’ve been working on. On a side note, you can also expect to see a review of “The Lego Movie” in a few days.

This story is focused on that most democratic of concepts: death.

The magician Rimator tentatively approached the steps of the great, black palace looming before him, the towers piercing the sky in a kind of assault on the heavens’ power, the great doors bearing the draconian symbol of the king. As he passed the many pikes and huge spikes erected alongside the path to the great doors, bearing the weight of the horrified heads and mutilated bodies of rebels and foes, Rimator pulled his white and red robe closer around him.

Two guards stood at either side of the doors, wearing black armor bearing the king’s insignia and wielding vicious spears.

“Halt,” said one of the guards. “Who are you and what is your business at the palace of the Great Emperor Carnifex, may he live forever?”

“I-I am Rimator, of the Vitic Order,” the magician replied, pulling out pair of papers from within his robes, one of which stated his position, the other of which being the letter that had summoned him here in the first place. “The Emperor, may he live forever, summoned me here.”

“I see,” said the guard, examining the papers. “You may enter.”

He opened one of the doors and Rimator entered, walking through the atrium of the dark palace. Here, statues of gold and other precious materials replaced the king’s enemies. Further in, the next door brought him into the throne room.

The room was dominated by a high, sable throne at the far end, a throne that was made of stairs stretching up nearly twenty feet into the air. At the very top sat a large man, the kind of man who had once been strong and muscular, but had fallen apart with age, and was now quite fat; Rimator could also perceive that his hair was only black because of dyes, and there were likely wrinkles covered by makeup.

There were several other people in the chamber: guards lined the walls, looking toward the center like stone statues; several advisors and nobles stood scattered about; about three-quarters of the way up the throne stairs were four young women, their necks bound in chains to the king’s seat.

Rimator noticed this all in one second, before he prostrated himself on the ground.

“Rise,” said the king, “and approach.”

“Thank you, my lord,” Rimator replied, scrambling to his feet and coming forward to the foot of the throne, but keeping his head and his eyes down.

“Rimator,” the king said, “I have a problem, which I desire you to help me with. Can you solve the problem?”

“I cannot say, my lord. It depends on what my lord’s request is.”

Rimator could tell the king was dissatisfied with this answer.

“It is said that your order can bring the dead back to life.”

“Under certain conditions, one could say so,” Rimator replied. “If a person has been dead for a very short time, we can restart the heart. But we never resurrected Cubans, as he was only in a very deep sleep. That story is false.”

“I am sorry to hear it. But is it also true you can keep a person alive for many years longer than the seventy allotted years?”

“This too is an exaggeration, my lord. We can place a person in a deep slumber, which stops virtually all bodily functions; but we can preserve dead bodies from rot and decay for millennia.”

“I am sorry to here this, too. You see, this is my problem: I desire to be immortal.”

Rimator started in surprise, almost looking up at the king. But he quickly gathered himself and remained still. “Immortal, my lord?”

“Yes, and you will make me so. Tell me, what ingredients are required? My agents shall assemble them as fast as possible. What incantations are needed? My magicians will recite them. What lives must be sacrificed? My armies shall slay them, even if it were my entire empire. What must I do to gain eternal life?”

Now Rimator did look up at the king, shock etched on his open-mouthed, wide-eyed face. The king looked down at him, leaning forward out of his seat, lips spread in a wide grin, a wild look in his bloodshot eyes.

“It’s…impossible…my lord,” Rimator breathed.

The king’s look turned furious. “Don’t lie with me, magician! And don’t conceal the breadth of your knowledge! I have summoned the chiefs of all the orders: the Bellic, the Ritic, the Animic, the Panic, the Pulvic, the Mentic, and now the Vitic. Surely one of you must have a solution! Or is it to put you all together, a feat which I may arrange?”

There was a brief pause before Rimator responded. “My lord, the Vitic Order has studied the bodies of humans for a thousand years, and we have found nothing to halt death from coming upon each and every person. Even those who enter the eternal slumber eventually die. There is nothing I can do for you.”

The king gazed upon Rimator with a fury that would turn back armies.

“I will give you one more opportunity,” he said slowly. “If you tell me it cannot be done, you will die.”

“I’m sorry, my lord,” said Rimator.

It was only an hour before the magician’s body hung, rotting, from one of the spikes outside the palace. And the king sat on his throne, fuming, his own body rotting – perhaps more slowly, but no less inevitably.