Laugh out loud funny with smart, impressive visuals, this first big-screen outing for Lego is animation gold (aka yellow plastic bricks).

From writer-directer duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street), The Lego Movie has a clever and relevant story that plays with some of Lego’s key concepts – following instructions and nurturing creativity.

“The Lego Movie’s attention to detail and self-referencing makes it a joy to watch”

President Business (Will Ferrell) kidnaps Master Builders to produce instructions for a perfect world, taking control of a secret weapon to end all creativity. But the white cloaked sorcerer, Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), reveals a prophecy – a Master Builder, known simply as The Special (Chris Pratt), will harness the Piece of Resistance to save the world. The trouble is, The Special, aka Emmet, is an average construction worker who loves nothing more than following the rules.

With a message that encourages children to harness their creativity, The Lego Movie could  easily play out as a big mushy advert for the world’s favourite toy. Yet the bubbling sarcasm in Lord and Miller’s screenplay rescues it from sickly sweet sentimentality.

Borrowing ideas from The Matrix and referencing The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter and Superman amongst other recent films, The Lego Movie plays into the hands of film buffs and feels relevant to anyone with a passing interest in popular culture. Video gamers will be left feeling satisfied too as Lego favourites from Star Wars to Marvel characters make their appearances and Batman’s dry, serious outlook is ridiculed, ‘I only work in black. And sometimes, very, very dark grey’.

The supporting cast is as star studded as animations get with Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Shaquille O’Neal and Will Arnett voicing familiar Lego characters from the toy and video game franchise. Elevating an average Lego figure to the dizzy heights of fame is Bad Cop,  The Lego Movie’s biggest scene stealer. Heading up President Business’ team of baddies, this regular policeman figure with dual personalities is voiced with aplomb by Liam Neeson.

Accessible to anyone who has ever played with Lego or known a child who has, it is The Lego Movie’s attention to detail and self-referencing that makes it such a joy to watch. From the snap in retro spaceman’s helmet (in the same place where well-loved spacemen from the 1980s were known to break) to the awkward nature of Lego hands, The Lego Movie’s animators stick firmly to Lego’s constraints in the real world. Horses walk with rigid legs and figures move in the jerky style of stop motion.

Made using CGI with some stop motion and computerised Lego sets, the cinematography is so fine that The Lego Movie replicates the look and feel of stop motion throughout. Everything – backgrounds, vehicles, and buildings – are all Lego and the action set pieces are startling. When the characters are submerged in free flowing water – made from hundreds of studs in different shades of blue – the sheer force of what can be achieved with Lego is mesmerising.

“The sheer force of what can be achieved with Lego is mesmerising”

While The Lego Movie’s animators could have used brand new, straight from the box pieces of Lego, instead we get well-used bricks, along with fingerprints, that adds authenticity and a charming visual style.

This world of Lego is optimistic, fun and immensely creative. With sharp observations from the price of coffee to action movie cliches, Lord and Miller’s screenplay is entertaining and often laugh out loud hilarious. The sharpest, geekiest and most satisfying animation since Wreck-It Ralph, everything is awesome in this Lego adventure for adults and children alike.

VERDICT:   ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭      4.5/5

For more information, see the official website