Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Lego Movie

From day one hearing of The Lego Movie I was pretty excited; I love Lego, I love animated films, and perhaps most excitingly, the movie has been created by the people behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, one of the most visually rich, creative, and funny, animated films ever made. In those capable hands I felt sure The Lego Movie would be pretty great. Then trailers started to appear, I felt even more sure about it, seeing the attention to detail and fidelity of the on-screen Lego world only made me more excited. So when I came to actually see the film my expectations were pretty high, and yet it still managed to surpass them! To shoehorn in the film's theme-song, everything in The Lego Movie is AWESOME!

The film shares the bright and wacky feel of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It also vaguely reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs The World, not just for the clueless lead, and pink haired love interest, but the constantly changing settings and unreality of the universe. There are also some very pleasing flashes of Wes Anderson when you are pulled right out of the reality of the film to wide-shots of locations created at completely different scales, and with some silly "unrealistic" animations and sounds. The film is not afraid to poke fun at both the medium of Lego and its own choices of animation style.

The world of The Lego Movie is staggering in its Legoness. Everything is Lego; cars, buildings, people of course, but then the sky, and sea, huge landscapes and tiny details. Even the explosions have been modelled as if they were meticulously crafted stop motion animations using real Lego pieces. While most of the film is CGI it's amazing to think that, with sufficient quantities of Lego and time, you probably could, with the exception of the facial animations, make it all as real stop motion animation. The film makers have made the decision to animate the film within the rules of Lego; if you couldn't achieve a design or movement with real Lego than it's not in the film, and that gives it a unique look and charm that sets it aside both from other animated movies, and from most of Lego's previous shorter CGI promo animations.

We are also treated to whirl-wind tour of Lego worlds. If you're not that familiar with Lego then you'll just enjoy the random assortment of genre locations, but if you know your Lego stuff you're treated to a plethora of cameos and call backs. These worlds are also inhabited by a huge variety of characters that reflect many aspects of Lego: From the bright brick-built Unikitty in her equally bright and wacky Cloud Cuckoo Land, to the brilliantly retro spaceman Benny and his obsession with the Lego space-ship style of the past, and the most prominent (and scene stealing) licensed character in the film, Batman, who gloriously pokes fun at his own emo approach to life.

Aside from being a beautiful homage to everything Lego the film is unrelentingly hilarious. Much of this comes from the animation style and limitations of the Lego world. My favourite jokes came from the film making, in particulr the manipulation of time; when the film skips forward with intertitles to denote the time passing. There's also the strength of the identity of each of the major characters, all offering different takes on identity, conformity (or lack there of), and how to exist in the Lego world. Their great variety, each offers something unique and positive to the Lego world, even the bad guy, all feeding into the film's message on creativity.

If you're a fan of Lego you should love this film, it revels in its subject matter. It should also appeal to anyone interested in film making, particularly animation, as it's very cleverly and wittily made. And finally it's also one of the funniest films I can remember seeing, from what it gets from both the previous points, and so much more. I couldn't recommend The Lego Movie enough, it really is fantastic. I hope the franchise of Lego films to come after this can maintain the very high bar it has set.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Theme Guide: Mixels

Mixels is a new animated series co-developed between Lego and the Cartoon Network. The first Lego sets are expected to be released in March 2014. Each of the sets will be one Mixels character, each with a colour-scheme and theme based on a natural element.

Common between all the sets are lots of the new ball-hinge parts, as well as many other clip joints. All the characters also seem to have big googly eyes, either printed on balls, or round plates. Teeth and claw parts are also quite common, along with more unusual and visually distinctive parts such as flames and lightning.

The first wave of nine sets includes three sets of three characters which appear to be based on fire, rock, and electricity. The three sets for each element can be combined to create a larger character to represent each theme.

Here are the sets in wave one (packaging images via Hoth Bricks), the guide continues after the jump:

41500 Flain

41501 Vulk

41502 Zorch

41503 Krader

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Minifgures Online trailer

Funcom have launched a new website for their forthcoming Minifigures Online game. The website has a few partially populated sections, such as character profiles, revealing each minifigure's special abilities, and a guide to the "worlds" of the Minifigures game (although so far only Pirate World is previewed). You can also sign up to take part in the beta testing of the game. And they have released a new trailer demonstrating some of the game's features:

For more on the Minifigures game, see my earlier report, with the previously release trailer and screenshots.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cuusoo Curiosity Rover

Lego have revealed the final design for the forthcoming fifth Cuusoo set, 21104 NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, which is set for release in January. Here's the set and box art:

Here's Lego's description from their announcement blog post:
This LEGO version of the highly advanced mobile laboratory features lots of great details, such as 6-wheel rocker-bogie suspension, articulated robotic arm and multiple camera sets, plus a display plate complete with LEGO brick Martian rocks – perfect for testing out the rover’s go-anywhere suspension! Similar to other LEGO CUUSOO sets, the building instruction booklet also includes background information about the fan builder, the history of Mars exploration, and the real Curiosity Rover.
The final model is remarkably similar to the original Cuusoo concept model. Here's what was submitted to Cuusoo, and the real thing, for comparison:

Lego's announcement also includes comments from Stephen Pakbaz, a NASA engineer who worked on Curiosity, and submitted the set idea to Cussoo, there are also pictures of him building his own copy of the set.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Minecraft goes minifigure scale

It would appear that the Minecraft sets have been quite the success for Lego. After three "Micro World" sets (the first a Cuusoo project), work is now under-way to expand the series even further, and at a larger minifigure scale. Here's a teaser image from the Lego Mincecraft Facebook page:

Lego plan to do a series of sets at minifigure scale, and have solicited for fan feedback on exactly how they do that, as this video explains:

The "cobuild" has already kicked off, which Lego posting a gallery of prototype designs for the Creeper character, again on Facebook. They are asking for a vote by "like" for the best of the six options on offer. I'm still pretty ignorant of Minecraft, but on a purely aesthetic level, I rather like this version:

One assumes they will continue offer other opportunists to shape the new Minecraft sets via Facebook, so keep an eye on the page!

Friday, November 1, 2013

More The Lego Movie sets revealed

Hot on the heels of the new The Lego Movie trailer, Lego are starting to reveal more of sets tied into the film. Including series 12 of the Collectable Minifigures, which are all characters from the film:

There look like a great set of characters; I'm glad to see being tied to The Lego Movie hasn't reduced the range of figures on offer this series. Brick Fanatics released the image, and as well as details of who all these are:

  • Calamity Drone
  • Gail the Construction Worker
  • Larry the Barista
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Panda Guy
  • Velma Staplebot 
  • William Shakespeare
  • Taco Tuesday Guy
  • “Where are my Pants?” Guy
  • Wiley Fusebot
  • President Business
  • Wild West Wyldstyle
  • Hard Hat Emmet
  • Scribbe-Face Bad Cop
  • Mrs. Scratchen-Post
  • Marsha Queen of the Mermaids

Of course all these characters also give us some new insights into the film. We've got several western characters here (I love Wyldstyle's dress!), and several robots (two indeed fit into both groups), as well as plenty of city people and some more fanciful and historical characters.

Talking of fanciful, Yahoo Movies have revealed another of the sets based on the film: The gloriously colourful and pretty absurd 70803 Cloud Cuckoo Palace, which includes the brick-built Uni-Kitty (who it appears has a new tail element). There's also another robot in there, alongside Emmet, Wyldstyle, a snail, and a flower catapult!

UPDATE: Hollywood Reporter have revealed another set, 70809 Lord Business' Evil Lair, which comes with the extra tall Lord Business (with his extra long cape). Also included are Emmet and Vitruvius, and some new characters; Ma Cop, Pa Cop, wrestler/master builder El Macho Wrestler, and Biznis Kitty, a different (corrupted?) version of Unikitty. The set appears to include a TV set for Where-Are-My-Pants Guy, a corporate boardroom, and a massive tube of glue (powered by a massive nine-volt battery), surely used by Lord Business in his nefarious plans. Note Ma Cop and Pa Cop seem to have been glued, with an excellent use of the Toy Story army men bases in clear as a blob of glue!

There are seventeen sets planned based on the film, continue after the jump for a reminder of the other sets so far rumoured in the range:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Lego Movie second trailer, and more!

FThe second trailer has been released for The Lego Movie, and it's full of awesome:

I love everything about this! How EVERYTHING is made of Lego. How there are so many nods back to older Lego sets, and clever building techniques. How all the animation is done as if it were a real Lego stop motion. How Batman is so into himself and ever so slightly inept!

Continue after the jump for screencaps to scrutinise all the cool details. Plus a look at the teaser trailers that preceeded the release of this one!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Maersk ship set revealed

Lego have announced the latest set in their decades long series of sets featuring vehicles from Maersk's transportation fleet. Having previously released lorries and trains, this time they're returning once more to the Maersk container ship, specifically the record breaking new Triple-E ship.

At a glance 10241 Maersk Line Triple-E is quite similar to the previous big ship set, 10152 Maersk Sealand Container Ship. But it is in fact a big upgrade; presented on a stand, the designers have been able to detail the entire hull, including two golden propellers. Unfortunately the unique Maersk blue colour isn't returning for this set but it does come with "boat loads" of azure blue, which is almost as good, as well as lots of dark red.

Other features include models of the ships engines, complete with a windowed section of the hull, allowing you to peer in to see them. Here's the designer video, which guides us round the set's features:

The Triple-E will be out in January. Continue after the jump for more photos (originally posted on Eurobricks):

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Theme Guide: Ninjago (2014)

Ninjago is back in 2014, and this time the ninjas have got problems with robots, or cyborgs maybe, called nindroids. The whole theme seems a bit more urban and techy now, which I suppose helps set it apart from the more nature-based Legends of Chima sets, while appealing to the same demographic. The ninjas all have messy hair now instead of wearing their usual headgear.

Eurobricks users The Creator and Duke have posted the images below, which continue after the jump:

70720 Hover Hunter
  • We've just got the back of the box image for this at the moment, but I think it gives a good enough idea of the set: Some sort of hover jet thing, with a nindroid, and the black ninja featuring a very nice torso print, which could have useful applications in many a historical MOC me thinks.
70721 Fighter Kai
  • A sleek red fighter jet, I think this is a step up from the previous Ninjago jet, 9442 Jay's Storm Fighter. Perhaps a bit more spaceship-like in its general design, which is fine by me. Nice new (I think) hair-piece on our red ninja too.

Lego movie news

Lego is ramping up its cinematic efforts, with at least three films on the way now! In addition to The Lego Movie, a fictional adventure set in a multi-genre Lego world, coming early next year, Lego have now announced a new feature length Lego documentary, also set for release early in 2014. Film makers Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson are making Beyond The Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary, which will look at the history of Lego and Lego fans. The film's website promises it will exploring the following subjects:
• LEGO fan conventions and the booming world of AFOL

• Brick artists and LEGO Certified Professionals pushing the boundaries of expression

• The creation of the world’s largest LEGO installation — a life size X-Wing Starfighter model in Times Square

• FIRST® LEGO® League and introducing engineering to kids who otherwise wouldn’t know it

• A brief history of The LEGO Group

• Famous LEGO fans and how the bricks inspired them

Ultimately, Beyond The Brick: A LEGO® Brickumentary will go beyond an evaluation of this so-called toy and ask deeper questions about ourselves. Why do we build? How do codified systems enhance creativity? Does a finite system contain infinite possibilities? When is it time to stop playing?
In other Lego movie news, Hollywood Reporter has revealed Charlie Bean, director of the Tron: Uprising animated series, will be directing the forthcoming Ninjago movie. Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman will be writing the movie, following from the same role on the previous Ninjago animated series, while The Lego Movie's directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord will be producing, along side The Lego Movie's producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee.

Speaking of The Lego Movie, recently shipped versions of the 10232 Palace Cinema set have apparently (as reported by Brickset), featured an extra alternative movie poster for the cinema's frames, to promote the release of film: