Lego Movie (2014)

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writers: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell

Rating: ★★★★½

The Lego Movie is all about reconnecting to the creative, imaginative, fun and happy childlike mind-set you were in as kid when playing with one of the world’s most famous franchises. It’s an absolutely hilarious film the crafting being complete genius, making for a hundred minutes of laughs and reminiscing. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is what makes for such a great and entertaining watch, alongside some brilliant film references, famous voices, and a well-thought and written concept and ending making for one of the most surprisingly good films I’ve seen in recent years.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just an ordinary construction worker, following the instruction manual just like every other Lego mini-figure living in a whole world made from Lego bricks, blocks and bits. After his work-shift Emmet spots something strange but before he knows, he is kidnapped and taken away by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), under the order of Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Emmet is seconds away from being melted into a tiny block of plastic when he gets rescued by WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks) who enlightens Emmet about him being the prophesied “Special”, the only person who can save the Lego Universe from the evil tyrant Lord Business. As Emmet goes on an adventure to save the universe he must both learn how to use his special gift whilst defeating and avoiding the traps of Lord Business.

The story is fun and entertaining, as Emmet adventures on through his mission he meets all kinds of people from batman, superman, and green lantern, to even a repressive happy pink unicorn. Eventually the film fizzles out to an ending which reminded me of the much famous Star Wars, the ending rounds of the film very nicely whilst showing of some brilliant thoughts and film-writing.  Lego Movie gives off a very nice message, for me it was all about being free to create what you want and to be what you want in life, doing what makes you happy without following the instruction manual.

The characters were all fantastic, all being hilarious, well written and well voiced by some famous names. Emmet was fun and well written; although Pratt voice didn’t jump out too much I felt overall it worked well. Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop was by far my favourite; it was outrageously funny and genius. As his faced changed from good to bad or from raised eyebrows to angry, I couldn’t help but laugh whilst Neeson’s voice couldn’t have been more fitting. Writers and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, comical geniuses in my eyes, deserve a lot credit for what they have made, whilst fellow writers Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman shouldn’t be forgotten.

The way in which Lego Movie has been made is film craft and animation at its finest, not a detail missed and this only increased my admiration. The water scenes were for me most impressive, with each splash being a handful of blue little bricks thrown up into the air. Every block and Lego-made character brought back memory after memory of childhood fun, and it amazes me how all this came across on a big screen.

It’s hard to find things I disliked about Lego Movie, it had everything from humour  to great visuals however I found its theme song, “Everything is Awesome” one of the most annoying aspects and one of, if not the, most annoying film song I have heard for a long while despite it being ridiculously catchy. It brought a very silly aspect to this film with it also reminding me how this is a kid film, despite its appeal to the older viewers, this was also something it seemed to dodge and avoid throughout but couldn’t for a few frustratingly catchy scenes.

Lego Movie I’m sure will be remembered for a long while by both children and adults alike, not only for its song but for a fun-filled film which relights childhood feelings making it too hard not to enjoy. Written and directed greatly, a host of well-known voices and an overall concept which aims to please makes Lego Movie a surprisingly enjoyable film and one of the biggest and surprising releases this year so far. It is a must-see entertaining watch which won’t disappoint!

 

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Her (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Sci-fi, Romance

Director: Spike Jonze

Writer: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Rating:★★★★★

Her is certainly one of the most connecting films I have watched in recent years making me experience a bundle of emotions from sadness to inspiration. The story along with the script, characters and acting is a real credit to the amazing writing and visual direction by director and writer Spike Jonze who has really created something special. It’s hard to find faults in one of this year’s big Oscar films and it certainly deserves its reputation and plaudits and in some respects deserves more as Joaquin Phoenix gives a simply great performance as the lead character along with the rest of cast.

Set in a futuristic time, technology is thriving and as a civilisation we are thriving with it. We follow Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) a New Yorker and letter writer who amazes us along with everyone else with his compassion, charm and romance however to our surprise we find that he is actually a lonely man in the final stages of a harsh divorce. Spending his nights choosing between the dilemma of internet porn and video games Theodore is hooked when he sees an advertisement for a new operating system OS1 labelled “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness”. Upon installing his newly purchased OS1 he is matched up with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the voice behind his system, a programmed conscious who can evolve just like Theodore himself. Being his only and new founded company Samantha becomes more than an operating system for Theodore and the two together fall in love.

It is amazing to watch how an operating system voice with only audible presence can have a huge impact and connection to not only Theodore but us as an audience. However after falling in love and forming a relationship the obvious problems form as Samantha is only a voice but there is more than it first seems which causes harm for our main characters. Despite Samantha’s pure and high intelligence helping Theodore in his work and everyday life, he still finds conflict within himself, finding himself mostly withdrawn at times and alongside the ongoing divorce he gets pulled down. As for Samantha finding and discovering new things and feelings isn’t always good and the popularity of OS1 and relationships seem to grow and grow along with the operating system’s intelligence proving to be a disastrous thing.

Spike Jonze has written possibly one my favourite scripts of all time and one of the most diverse screenplays. The whole concept in itself is unique and this unconventional romance is somewhat refreshing and certainly pleasant. At times I was in tears due to the witty and hilarious comedy, by far one of the most entertaining scenes this year to watch is Theodore’s encounter with a lost alien whilst playing a video game. On the other hand at times there was some real emotional pain and heart-felt sadness when you could see the despair in Theodore and even the sorrow in Samantha’s voice as the story closes. It was too inspirational, showing sometimes the message of just doing what makes you happy or as Theodore’s friend Amy says “you know what, just fuck it”. It was a story that slowly grew on me than eventually took over and became amazing, the only flaws are the slightly perverted moments but those can easily be overlooked. It was also inspirational as one day I hope to be able to write a screenplay or script with such emotional impact and connection with the audience as Her achieves.

The cast give fantastic performances and for me a big surprise was how the role of Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore was overlooked by the Oscar committee as it was truly great. Instantly we felt for our protagonist, we felt his harsh and deepest emotions and when happiness approach him it approached us, and that was due to a combination of excellent writing but even better acting. Scarlet Johansson although only a voice was brilliant, I think it needs to be pointed out that it must be harder to communicate emotion with only tone available yet it was completely believable. Amy Adams too as Theodore’s friend Amy was very believable, apparently Jonze made the actors spend forced time together in a locked room to make them all form a connection. It was an idea that really worked as the dialogue and delivery was so real it felt like it wasn’t even acting.

Jonze’s direction too was great along with the cinematography, a flurry of scenery shots of New York’s skyline and coast beaches hogged the screen and it was awe-inspiring. The shots were mainly long and simple but so beautifully crafted as it created a warm glow and feeling. At times it was the simplicity which made the emotion stand out the most.  Along with Best Motion Picture, Original Screenplay and Production Design, Her achieved two nominations for its achievement in score and music something I found joy in. Not only are the scenes where a happy Theodore and Samantha sing together made up created songs pleasant to watch, but it is pleasant to listen to with such a beautifully lyrical song made. The “Moon Song” is something to listen out for within the film.

Her is hard to fault, maybe the perverted scenes were unnecessary but at times it did show us Theodore’s character and his struggle, however it is something that can’t and really shouldn’t bring down this film at all.  Jonze’s creation is a real treat to experience, leaving you somewhat sad not only due to the story but that the film ended and with it the experience and our time with Theodore and Samantha who we bond with an amazing amount. It is a film worth-while to watch and one worth the huge reputation and praise; it is Her’s ability to be outstanding in so many aspects that makes this film complete and something real special. Easily watchable, entertaining, inspiring and emotional it is a film which is firmly making its way as a modern great alongside a personal favourite.