The Lego Movie: Not Just Another Brick in the Wall of CGI Films

The Lego Movie, I confess, kinda snuck up on me.

I’d been mildly interested in it for a while, as the film marks the first cinematic appearance of Wonder Woman, like ever. Seriously. Don’t think too much about how the inaugural appearance on the big screen of the most famous and arguably the most beloved female superhero is a cameo in a film about bricks.

Still a better Wonder Woman incarnation than Man of Steel 2.

Still a better Wonder Woman incarnation than Man of Steel 2.

 

The film didn’t sound particularly promising on paper, but I decided to give it go. It was Valentine’s Day after all, and nothing says ‘I love you’ like Lego.

The Lego Movie centres on main character Emmett, a fairly ordinary little dude, just another smiley face in the contented crowd of the City. However, a chance encounter with Wild Style, a Master Builder (those who can manipulate Lego without the instructions), leads Emmett to a bizarre looking piece of equipment which is all that stands between the evil Lord Business and World Domination. But is Emmett the Special, the one Brick to lead us all, or is he just as ordinary as he seems on the surface?

The Lego Movie has a lot of stuff going for it- it’s comprised of not just good, but great ideas, that slot together to create a series of interesting worlds and scenarios. On the surface, it has some of the most innovative CGI of recent years. By embracing the limitations of Lego, the animators have created challenges that were not only fun for them to solve, but are also fun for us, as an audience, to watch their solutions. The sea set piece is amazing, and a lot of the goofy creations the Master Builders create are marvellous to look at.

The Lego Movie: silly fun, but fun all the same.

The Lego Movie: silly fun, but fun all the same.

 

In terms of storytelling, the film has not just one, but two very intriguing worlds which are deeply twisted, but oh so watchable. There are a number of points (and one quite early on) where the storytelling dips and the film becomes a little boring, but it’s definitely one to stick with- there is a love triangle that is so engaging and fresh that it puts Twilight and The Hunger Games to shame. I don’t think we’re going to see Team Emmett t-shirts any time soon, but the romance aspect of the film adds a lot of comedy and is definitely one of its highlights.

Emotionally, the film also works- it’s hard to watch a film about toys without the ghost of Toy Story hanging over the proceedings, but The Lego Movie really adds something to the idea that adults, teenagers and children will be able to take something away from.

This is a zippy, zany film with annoyingly catchy music, a decent female lead (in fact, it seems to thrive off developing characters which are normally one dimensional, like the love interest and the villain), a big heart, and the stupidest (but most fun) sound effects ever committed to film. It’s like being stuck in a child’s head for an hour and forty minutes, but yes, unfortunately it does sometimes feel very much like you’re trapped.

The Lego Movie is often delightful, and the makers should be very proud of what they’ve achieved with it, but it does feel like watching someone else play the most awesome game of Lego ever, and it never quite manages to engage you entirely as an audience- there is something slightly passive about the whole experience. There’s only so much you can take before you want to get in on the action- and I guess Lego’s hoping that desire will lead you straight to their stores. Touché, Lego. Touché.

 

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All The Single Feminists (Eat Some Ice Cream and Be Proud)

Hello. It’s Valentine’s Day. I’m a feminist, and I’m single.

I like cuddles. I also like Helene Cixous, Caitlin Moran (when she isn’t being horrifyingly blasé about intersectionality and race, or male feminism), Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter. I campaign for gender equality whenever I can. I am also looking for a boyfriend.

Bombshell: these things are not mutually exclusive.

GADZOOKS!

That’s not to say that being a feminist on the dating game isn’t crap; navigating the world of internet dating and sounds roughly as appealing as eating a packet of fingernail clippings. Navigating Tinder seems roughly as appealing as eating an entire, fungal-infected crusty toe. In a world where my attractiveness seems to be based on a profile picture with at least thirty filters, I am utterly lost. And yet, as a singleton seeking another singleton for some meaningful interaction, the dating world is the most evil and necessary of necessary evils.

I don’t quite know what caused this irrational want. Perhaps, growing up, it was old uncle Disney and his motley crew of princesses (these were the days before Frozen after all, and I didn’t get access to Princess Mononoke until I had long passed puberty).

San wouldn't be dealing with this crap.

San sure as hell wouldn’t be dealing with this crap.

I personally blame Jane Eyre. At the impressionable age of 12 I picked up a book and gained an unrealistic expectation of love that was dramatic and based on intense mutual respect. Though I now think that Rochester is indeed a bit of a douchebag (Mr Thornton from North and South is totes a better dude, obv.), what with the racism and wife locked up in the attic and all that shiz, the lingering desire to find another person, much like a tick stuck on my leg or a particularly nasty case of gangrene, still won’t leave me no matter how much I shake myself.

So, how to deal with this predicament? Feminism on the one hand, a desire to desire and be desired on the other. The fact that I have to consider these things separately is part of the problem. Gender equality and not being treated in a wanker-ish fashion because I don’t have a Y-chromosome has always been a pressing issue to me since I learnt what was “fair” as a kid. Equally, I’ve always found having a significant other (not in the “let’s snog at a club, have casual and disappointing shag on the sofa, shake hands and call it a day” kind of way) important.

Contrary to the advice of such women’s bibles such as Cosmo and Glamour magazine, politics, specifically feminist politics, is often a topic of conversation that’ll come up in my initial courtship rituals. It is the deciding factor that sorts the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Observe:

A Typical Encounter

B: “I study English Literature!”

RANDOM MAN WHO I THINK LOOKS VAGUELY INTELLIGENT AND ATTRACTIVE: “No way! You’re never going to get a job are you? Has anyone ever told you you look like David Mitchell?”

B: “Yeah way! Of course I’m not! And Unfortunately, yes. Many times.”

(Beat)

B: “Also, I’m a feminist!”

Awkward Pause.

RMWITLVIAA: “Oh.”

B: “What do you think about gender equality then, mister?”

RMWITLVIAA: “… Are you a lesbian? Aren’t all feminists butch lesbians?”

B: “Why, NO! Some are, some aren’t, in fact that’s a woman’s choice… In fact it’s really interesting-”

RMWITLVIAA: “- sorry to interrupt, but can you hold my drink?”

B: “What?”

RMWITLVIAA: “There’s a woman over there with no obvious political opinions whatsoever. I am going to proceed to make out with her happily, and avoid this awkward situation.”

B: “Oh.”

Cue sad violins, tumbleweed, and Celine Dion’s “All by myself” playing softly in the background.

The reactions I get when I announce that I am a lonely feminist provoke even more outrage among my supposedly “intellectual” friends, who mistake “want” for “need”, and “desire” for “dependency”. Or, less problematically, from my supportive girlfriends, I get well-meant criticism in the form of “Giiirrrrllll, you don’t need a man to be content!” while playing awesome Beyonce songs. Yes, I do not need a man. I ended my last relationship, with (shock!) a man, because he was pretty hopeless and put about as much effort into the relationship as he did into washing his socks i.e. none at all. Rather than mutating into a shrewish she-harpy with talons at the thought of my being forever alone, I am still a competent and capable autonomous lady.

I don’t let my choice of phone or computer or clothes define me as a person, but  it’s rather nice to have the stuff I want from time to time. I don’t need salted caramel ice cream to live, but damn it, it’s bloody delicious and I do want it from time to time.

DAYUM. YOU IS LOOKING FINE TODAY.

DAYUM. YOU IS LOOKING FIIIIINE TODAY, ICE CREAM.

So, this valentine’s day, let us single feminists who kind of want a man but do not need one unite; let’s go eat salted ice cream together. Or chocolate ice cream. Or vanilla. Or mint. Or maybe you’re more of a frozen yoghurt type of person. Maybe you don’t want dessert at all.

Whatever you want or don’t want, that’s cool. Don’t let anyone judge you for wanting that ice cream, reader. As long as you’re a strong, independent and autonomous lady confident in her own skin, you go ahead and EAT THAT MOTHERF*KING ICE CREAM LIKE A CHAMP.

Metaphor over. I’m going to waddle off to the freezer now.

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