The Lego Movie

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The Lego animation :: We all know Lego bricks, don’t we? Those interlocking plastic brick-like things were part of our childhood, and most of us did build a lot of things with them – one of our first teachers of creativity and imagination. Even as they came in many colours, the one I remember the most is blue, and I wonder how that comes to mind often; may be I broke most of the pieces of other colour, who knows? I had them strong until Hasbro came into my life with G.I. Joe. Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Daestro took over at that time. But where did my Lego go? I have to admit that I no longer knew anything about it, and I guess it passed on to my younger cousin brothers and sisters, and I had completely forgotten about the same until I came across the trailer of this movie; yes the Lego people were back, stronger than ever, and they had Batman and Wonder Woman for support. The toys had win hearts, and this was the time of the movies – lets see how they fare.

What is it about? :: Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is a wizard and one of the master-builders of the Lego universe, but he fails to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from taking over a superweapon Kragle. He still tells the villain about the prophecy about a special person who will stop his villainy. Years later, an ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) accidently finds “Piece of Resistance” which can stop Lord Business. As Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) captures him, he is rescued by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who takes him to another world where Vitruvius lives. As the wizard tries to make him imagine and create something like a master-builder, they find out that his creativity is zero, and he needs an instruction manual to create anything. The other master-builders, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Dumbledore, Shakespeare, Gandalf, Dracula, Green Lantern, Pirate Metal Beard and rest of the team are very much unimpressed by him as he makes a hopeless speech and shows his lack of creativity. But as time is less, they have to work together to find a way to stop the Lord before using the weapon. Can they do it?

The defence of The Lego Movie :: This is one of the funniest animated movies of the decade. even as one might wonder if Lego qualifies as animation. Their use of superhero characters is hilarious, and how they managed to bring them into the story is very nice, especially Batman. There is Batman saying “I only work in black. And sometimes, very, very dark gray” and Superman saying “I super hate you” to the Green Lantern. The Wonder Woman is not left behind in fun either, and Metal Beard jumps in like Blackbeard might have did. Uni-Kitty’s attempts to be happy and positive is another thing to watch out for. Even Abraham Lincoln and Michelangelo joins. There are dialogues like “Come with me if you want to not die” parodying The Terminator. I would still prefer Frozen any day, that is for sure. It is nice how a few other worlds are added to the original city of Lord Business, involving Wild West as well as Castles and Dragons settings.

The claws of flaw :: The 3D was totally unnecessary, not only is it ineffective, but it doesn’t suit this kind of toyline animation. It worked well with movies like Frozen and a good number of such titles, but when used with this, it is not effective, in my opinion. There could have also been an even better use of these characters, with our vampire guy and the Shakespeare guy given a better due. I didn’t like the way in which its central theme was exaggerated again and again, even as it was nice in the beginning. This is also too much of a common story, about a normal guy trying to save the world, even as the superheroes fails to do the same – for the same, the movie preaches a lot, and keeps saying that everyone is so special and shouldn’t go according to the rules. Looking at a whole world made of Lego looks fresh in the beginning, but keeps losing its charm. Its connection with the real world is interesting, but is still too weird or rather a little too unnecessary, but that worked, no doubt about it.

How it works :: There might be the usual misconception that a movie which shows so much of a toy-line can’t be that good. Now, that might still be valid even after the success of this movie. A major question might be about what they can come up with such a toyline which is all about construction; what can one bring out of Simcity? But here is the idea that changed that thought. Here is something that rivals the over-hyped animated movies like Brave. The voices are nice, and other than the two main characters, there is some really interesting stuff from Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop with that split personality, and Alison Brie as Uni-Kitty. Will Ferrell as Lord Business is another nice villain performance, just like he did with the voice in Megamind. Channing Tatum has a very short time as Superman, but that’s pretty nice too. Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius even comes back as a ghost, and that was a nice surprise. All the voice actors seem to become the character they were embodying.

Soul exploration :: The movie tells that everyone is special and there is the need to nurture the imaginations and show creativity rather than just follow the instructions. It comes up with he idea that almost anyone can make a difference, no matter how much immature or inexperienced that person is. Now, that sounds nice, but when it is completely against that order which works against chaos, there is a little bit loss of trust. It fails to set a limit to that imagination, and it is only in a perfect world under the best circumstances that such things can happen in the right way. Otherwise, instructions can always be helpful, no matter how much they are hated or opposed to prevent people from following them. The movie also doesn’t really come up on top when thinking about being special or adding more imagination, as it could have definitely used more as it neared the end. The end doesn’t justify the nice beginning, as there is the ordinary stuff that fills the finish.

How it finishes :: As we can see from the reviews all around, The Lego Movie finishes strong in the theatre. We should wait very long to meet someone who didn’t like this movie. As an animated movie, it is difficult to find errors from this movie, and almost everyone who have ever played with a Lego toy will like this one a lot, and this one also mostly applies to the rest. From what the year has to offer, this might be the best animated movie of the year. It surely has a colder reception here though, as there are not many screens showing the movie, and the maximum of about three shows or something among so many theatres and multiplexes, with not many viewers either. But it is indeed going on to become a global success, and it can surely stay in the top grossing movies of the year for some time. I can only be glad that this didn’t become one of those movies which didn’t release here, as there are so many movies of other languages which have occupied the screen at this time.

Release date: 7th February 2014
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring (voice): Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit II

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On The Hobbit :: In the first installment of a three-part film prequel series based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien called An Unexpected Journey, we saw thirteen dwarves accompanied by one wizard and a hobbit, going on a mission to reclaim the dwarf lands which was earlier claimed by a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. It was then that our hobbit had attained possession of a ring from Gollum which will make a difference in many ways later. The film had ended with a vision of the Lonely mountain with the dragon, and the creature opening its eyes. This movie has released almost exactly an year after the first movie released, and the third movie There and Back Again will be there on December 17th, 2014. It would have been even better if Guillermo del Toro was more involved with the movie, and it was his vision that was there, but even now, this movie is incredibly strong, and one would wonder if how different this would have been if he was in charge – may be something which was so different that one has to wonder so much? Who knows?

What is it about? :: After taking refuge from the orcs at the home of a skin-changer, the team of fifteen splits up as Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) who separates from them with a promise to meet them before they reach their destination. After fighting giant spiders, they are caught by the wood-elves from where the escape hidden in empty wine barrels. Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) invisibility ring helps in both cases. Meanwhile, Gandalf fights a legion of orcs as well as an entity known as the Necromancer. They are later helped by a human bowman Bard (Luke Evans) and later receives a great send-off when the talk about the riches come into play. But the orcs are after them, and so are two elves, Legolas and Tauriel who have more obvious reasons. With Gandalf missing, the fourteen are on their own in their battle against the dragon, and the questions remain about how they would get inside the mountain, how will they get the Arkenstone which is needed to rule, and how they will slay, defeat or at least survive from the dragon if they could. Another interesting question might be about who all will survive, with a dragon, an evil necromancer and lots of orcs involved.

The defence of The Hobbit II :: Talking about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is exactly what I had expected from this movie, and the movie has provided me with exactly what I was expecting. The fans of the book might disagree, but I haven’t read it and the whole movie remains a spectacle for me. The movie is an improvement from the previous one of the series, and it is a huge improvement as the action sequences and special effects are considered – may be I am a little prejudiced with this point as I watched the first movie on television in Sony Pix and this one in a multiplex in 3D, first day third show. But you can’t deny the strength of action sequences here, especially with the team’s barrel run chased by the orcs who are chased by the elves, and then when Legolas is involved. The dragon is also well-designed and it is an interesting character with its fire breath adding to the special effects more burning beauty. The spiders, the web and the forest remains another area which makes the whole thing interesting. One can actually take time to talk about almost every character out there, but I would rather not do the same.

Positives and Negatives :: We know the dragon is an impressive creature here, and so are all the creatures of different races, but there is one thing that doesn’t stand that good, it is the female elf Tauriel who seems to do nothing interesting other than create a bad love triangle. But we can still think that she never existed as the dwarf whom she healed was treated by other dwarves or humans. But the character is awesome in the action sequences, so may be she can be of interest in the next movie as long as the significance of that unnecessary love triangle will become less. As a character who is not in the book, I would think that she won’t be liked by the book fans. The movie is very long, but there is no dull moment in it, so just take that length negativity out of the equation. May be some people don’t like journeys like this, but obviously this was what one was supposed to expect, and the ending is quick, but better executed than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and gives people more interest in going for the third movie which is surely going to be heavily packed with action. The 3D is fine and even excellent at times, nothing spectacular considering the overall quality of the movie, but I wasn’t looking for that in this movie.

Performers of the soul :: As the movie gets into action very early unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which takes an eternity, our people are also prepared. Martin Freeman steals the show, and Ian McKellen comes as the big tree which holds things together. Richard Armitage’s dwarf king gets better, and Luke Evans’ presence is something which will be strong only by fulfilling his character’s destiny in the next movie if it is indeed the fate. Orlando Bloom is the ultimate action hero of the movie, and the number of claps he received in the theatre can’t be counted. The movie needed the character from Lord of the Rings, even as I hear people say that he is not The Hobbit character. He is more an archer magician right there making most of his screen presence. Despite Evangeline Lilly’s nice portrayal of her character, it is an avoidable she-elf – otherwise she is good and excellent in the action sequences. Well, elves are crowd favourites! Aidan Turner is equally detestable for that love triangle even as one has to like the way he has performed. Lee Pace makes a fine elf king, while the other dwarves work as good as they did in the first movie. Above all, love Benedict Cumberbatch’s fire-breathing red dragon, for that one rules.

Soul exploration :: The movie deals with the courage of a hobbit yet again, as despite his weaknesses and the lack of abilities, he joins the dwarf warriors, and continues his journey here. He is more heroic than he was in the first movie and even saves the dwarves from being eaten by giant spiders as well as being eternally imprisoned in the elf prisons – he even talks to the dragon face to face, and there is the courage that he has found, along with the ring. Meanwhile, Bard has to accomplish his destiny or rather fail in it, leaving a question mark for the final movie of the series. Elves, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls and humans – they have all been in the series, and except for goblins and trolls, the rest make an impact in this movie too. The human neutrality is evident, and so is the orc alignment towards pure evil. The dwarves and hobbits remain more on the good side a little more than neutral, and the elves are good in their own way. But when we look at the ideals of the three – dwarves, elves and hobbits, they are different with variable views on each other, and if given a choice, I would think that most would chose the elves, and so would I. This racial difference is an incredible thing, and I have loved this variety in creatures since playing Age of Wonders.

How it finishes :: I would sincerly hope that all who are praising the special effects and CGI of some of the worst movies of the year, to watch this one (Krrish 3 fans can look at Dhoom 3 when it releases if waiting for an opponent of equal platform). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is one of the best movies of the year and also a visual treat which entertains with its witty dialogues, incredible action sequences and a flurry of special effects. It indeed makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feel that it could have been a better movie. Peter Jackson has indeed created the right hobbit movie which will surely make me choose Halflings as the race the next time I play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic – something which I had given up in favour of the Draconians and the Undead. Meanwhile, I hope you all had a great Friday the 13th. It is the favourite day (and night) of the Vampire Bat, and on this occasion, he has decided to go lenient on his ratings, but The Hobbit II actually deserves it. Still, the one year wait for the third movie is going to be so depressing!

Release date: 13th December 2013
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.