The LEGO Movie

Emmett in The Lego Movie

Years ago, if a movie became a hit, it would spawn a sequel starring diminished returns, followed by either a third entry that tarnished the screen or went straight to home video. In special cases (read: horror) you could expect a dozen movies stemming from one big hit, creating a sine wave of varying quality. The old pattern wasn’t good, but it was reliable. It’s also the same as the new pattern, except for one sinister addition: overwhelming knowledge. What worked about the grind-a-great-thing-into-the-ground method of olden times was that we weren’t bombarded with it all at once. We knew it would happen, but we didn’t know it would happen, and it definitely wasn’t shoved in our faces. It could be a few months (or even years) before hearing that the Movie We Loved was getting another installment, and the distance gave us optimism even though the track record for sequels was abysmal. It was still an opportunity to spend more time with characters and worlds we enjoyed. If it was ultimately disappointing, so what? We weren’t expecting it to be as good as the first time around. You can probably guess that I’m using all this lawn protection to exclaim in one voice that The LEGO Movie is fantastic, and news of ad nauseam sequels is awful.

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Justice League movie

Sounds like someone over at Warner Bros. just got a cool new calendar and is pretty keen to get it filled up. The studio has announced a slew of thirteen release dates that will take it — and their growing DC-centric series, which account for nine of these dates — into the next six years. Do you hear that sound? It’s the noise that a thousand Marvel calendars make when they all get flipped open at once. It’s okay, guys, while Warner Bros. appears to be going all-in on this DC stuff, these new dates don’t directly conflict with any planned Marvel properties. It’s a smart move from the studio, which has apparently allowed Marvel to take over dates in early May, July and November while sticking their films into slots that run the gamut from the middle of June to early April and beyond. Memorial Day also appears to be the studio’s new stomping ground, but only for a pair of animated features that, if they pan out in the way we think they will, won’t have much other competition anyway. Let’s take a look:

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LEGO Movie Batman

With the release of The LEGO Movie on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we’re taking a look behind the scenes of the movie with the cast and crew. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord lead the commentary, joined by many of the actors in the studio, as well as Elizabeth Banks who phones in her contributions from an undisclosed location. Miller and Lord are riding a wave of cinematic goodwill with two of the biggest openings of 2014 (is a 23 LEGO Jump Street far of?), but they managed to tear themselves away from counting their cash and diving into piles of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck to devote an hour and forty minutes to the cause of pulling the curtain back from the magical world of LEGOLAND.

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discs ERNEST AND CELESTINE

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Ernest & Celestine Celestine is a young mouse still learning the ways of the world, and part of her ongoing education is learning that the bears who live on the surface above the subterranean city the mice call home are vicious, mean and constantly intent on eating any mouse they come across. She’s never met one, but she sees no reason why mice and bears can’t be friends. She finds her opinion challenged when one of her excursions up top brings her in contact with a bear named Ernest, and soon the two are on an adventure that goes against all the laws of both bear and mouse society. This French award-winner is a whimsical delight from beginning to end as it tells a sweet tale of friendship that doubles as a metaphor for inter-species relations. Maybe I read too much into that part, but it does work as a story about celebrating commonalities instead of fearing differences, and in that regard it’s a big success. The soft animation, complete with unfinished lines and watercolor stylings, creates an immersive and warm world, and scenes like the duo’s garbage can meet-cute and a wonderfully chaotic chase with police show a diversity that the style handles with equal strength. See it with the bear (or mouse) in your life. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, animatic, interview]

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Closing credits The Lego Movie

Dynamic directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller have done it again, turning a seemingly terrible idea (a sequel to a movie based on an eighties television show about teen cops? Surely you jest!) into one of the year’s best comedic outings and a financial juggernaut, as least week’s uproarious new release 22 Jump Street has already laughed its way to over $60M at the box office. Although the re-teaming of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill has plenty to offer — big emotions, sage commentary on the power of words, sad Dave Franco, lobsters, Ice Cube yelling a lot, a star turn from Jillian Bell – there’s one thing that everyone is talking about: its closing credits that imagine some of the other sequels the franchise has in store for us. Over at Mashable, Jordan Hoffman dives deep into the “best part” of the film — its crazy credits, naturally, although the entire film is a very funny, very satisfying sequel and we certainly won’t balk at a whole slew of new titles — analyzing some of the better sequel options (we’re holding out on 33 Jump Street: Generations, 35 Jump Street: Traffic School sounds particularly good and any franchise that sends its cast to space gets thumbs up in our book). If you’re looking for something quick and dirty, Vulture posted the full listing of every sequel that appears in the credits, though damn if this doesn’t even remotely do justice to the final product itself (but it will do). Although the end credits of 22 Jump Street are easily the best credits of any Lord and Miller joint (and certainly the best of this year and, […]

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Grand Budapest Hotel Lego

Check out an update about this great Lego mystery, after the break! Red alert, red alert, people, this is not a drill! This is either some seriously misunderstood marketing or a big hint at one of the most welcome, charming and unexpected Lego sets of all time. Are you ready? Are you even sitting down, perhaps on a velvet-covered divan while wearing your finest vintage military uniform and mourning a lost love? Good. Yesterday afternoon, an email from Think Jam, a digital marketing agency whose clients include some big Hollywood studios – like Fox Searchlight Pictures, information that will come in handy soon — started circulating among entertainment journalists. It was a mass send-out, it came with a simple subject line (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and it contained just one thing, a single graphic that ostensibly advertises Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel (perhaps pushing the film’s imminent home release?) but that also includes a pink Lego brick as its focal point. Here, take a look!

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Emmett in The Lego Movie

There’s no pleasant way to say this, so let’s rip this Band-Aid off right now: Phil Lord and Chris Miller will not be directing the sequel to The Lego Movie. Choke back a sob. Curse the heavens. Scream something unintelligible and overturn the nearest table (in slow-motion, if possible). Let it all out. The guys who made 21 Jump Street uncharacteristically awesome and turned soulless product placement into childlike wonderment are moving on to greener, non-Lego Movie sequel pastures.

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The LEGO Movie

Everything is still awesome. Even after three weeks of release, Warner Bros. The LEGO Movie continues to dominate the counted beans of the movie world. This weekend, the masterfully built CG-animated adventure tale not only had to endure the eruption of Pompeii, it also had to deal with a very motivated action film from Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill. Neither were up to the task, leading The LEGO Movie to once again reign supreme, building its domestic box office receipts to $183 million in three weeks. And you know what that means: sequel! 

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The LEGO Movie

Studios should learn a powerful lesson from the one-two punch of The LEGO Movie and RoboCop. Specifically, that they’re getting in the way of their own success. How do you make a hit? By making a great movie. How do you make a great movie? Hire great filmmakers and then empower them to create. Unfortunately, there are some huge roadblocks on the path toward that Utopia. We’ll discuss them while envisioning a bright new future. Plus, FSR Associate Editor Kate Erbland joins us for an Interrogation Reviewification of the aforementioned cyborg policeman movie, and we’ll all offer some ’80s movies we’d love/hate to see remade. You should follow Kate (@katerbland), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #49 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Batman and Wyldstyle in The Lego Movie

It’s late, so let’s party. Circulating around the Internet today is a blooper reel for The Lego Movie. It’s so indescribably lovely to see this movie getting some lasting attention, especially when it leads long remembrance pieces about Clone High, the MTV ‘toon by the same very talented filmmakers. And when it gives me a reason to remind you of the time we talked them into telling us about what Clone High season two would’ve been like. That, and The Lego Movie is one of the happiest filmgoing experience of this and many other years. And its blooper reel is exactly the delight you’d expect from Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Also, Alison Brie says “hoo-hoos,” and we mean the naughty kind. Watch below.

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The LEGO Movie - Flash

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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cloak and dagger poster image

Considering I do these weekly lists of movies to watch in order to highlight new releases as gateways to older works, it’s particularly fun to focus on something geared toward children. Young people aren’t as familiar with a lot of movies, so they’re more in need of such recommendations. A lot of time, though, the allusions they should subsequently become familiar with are for an older audience. At least one movie included in this week’s list inspired by The LEGO Movie, for instance, is definitely not suitable for children at all. Others won’t be of much interest to them. Meanwhile, there are a lot of obvious, explicit movie references in The LEGO Movie that I didn’t feel necessary to spotlight, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lincoln and any of the many DC superhero movies featuring some of the characters represented in LEGO minifig form. There are some fairly obvious titles included, though; the first half of the list is mainly movies that many critics have mentioned in comparison. And then there is the second half, which is filled with pretty obscure films, most documentaries, tied to LEGO in some way. As always, name any movies this one reminded you of as well as any you think we ought to check out next. Also as always, beware that there are spoilers for this week’s movie, so if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Movie, you need to do so right now and then come back to […]

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LEGO

Something I always try to remember when annoyed with product placement is that our whole, real world is itself filled with product placement. It’s just that there’s a level to its presence that we tolerate, and anything beyond that level in a movie is where we get uncomfortable. We don’t talk to each other in sales pitches, for instance, the way Laura Linney does to Jim Carrey, satirically, in The Truman Show. But we see products and are conscious of them as such every single day. We see LEGOs in any child’s playroom or pediatrician’s waiting area or Star Wars fanboy movie critic’s office. They’re as much a staple of life as the Mac computer I’m typing on or the can of Coke Zero I’m drinking or the nameless but recognizable trademark of Polo Ralph Lauren on the sweatshirt I’m wearing. The LEGO Movie is more than mere product placement, though. The whole thing involves a world made out of the product. It’s like that classic Tootsie Roll commercial where everything is made out of Tootsie Rolls. Hershey has done a number over the years featuring worlds of chocolate, too. But those are commercials, and The LEGO Movie is not. It’s something we pay to see rather than something paid for in order for us to see it. Still, the world of the product idea makes it kind of okay. We’re not seeing our world invaded by life-size versions of the product, a la Transformers. We’re seeing a different universe, […]

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review the lego movie

You’d be right to be cynical about a Hollywood movie based around a bestselling toy with a high price point and a lack of prepackaged story inside the box. The movie business is just that, a business, and when they join forces with toy manufacturers to make “entertainment” for children the results are rarely satisfying or recognizable as anything but crummy, feature-length commercials. But every rule has an exception, and The LEGO Movie is that gloriously wise, beautifully crafted, and unabashedly fun anomaly. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is an average guy whose continually optimistic outlook is fueled by his appreciation for, and obedience of, President Business’ (Will Ferrell) instructions for living. They tell him to park within the lines, drink overpriced coffee, root for the local sports team… everything necessary for an orderly, structured, and “perfect” community. That illusory perfection is threatened by a prophecy stating that a lone hero will rise to liberate the people through organized chaos, and as luck would have it, Emmet appears to be that hero. Or not.

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Lego Movie

Film critics are heaping it with almost universal praise, with The Lego Movie sitting pretty at a 96 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes thus far. Warner Bros. is wasting little time in greenlighting a second installment to what is expected to be an enormously successful opening weekend family film. Early predictions have The Lego Movie pushing $40m or more in first weekend gross, which suggests the movie will easily outpace its competitors, Vampire Academy and The Monuments Men. Screenwriters Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Wreck-It-Ralph) and Michelle Morgan (Girl Most Likely) have been tapped by Warner Bros. for co-writing duty for the sequel. The Lego Movie is one of the first pieces in what is designed to be the studio’s return to prominence in animated fare, having last year hired a stable of writers and filmmakers to bolster their ranks in that department. Including Stern, they have onboarded Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), John Requa (Cats & Dogs), Glenn Ficarra (The Angry Beavers), and Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets).

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The LEGO Movie

All you need is some state-of-the-art computer programs and a guardian of the galaxy to make your own LEGO Movie in the comfort of your own home. Also, official licensing helps. No, it’s not stop-motion, but the CGI is still stunningly impressive considering the restrictions. Namely that everything in the world had to be made from LEGOs, rain and bubbles included. Plus, if they were going the stop-motion route, it would have taken 46 years to produce. Give or take. This how-to video is fluffy, but it’s a fun look at Chris Pratt and Liam Neeson recording what the little plastic people say, the pre-viz computer models and a song that should become your new personal anthem.

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Lego Movie

I, Frankenstein sure was something, eh? Why that movie wasn’t a bigger hit is beyond comprehension, but like most works of unheralded beauty, it will stand the test of time. January 2014 will forever be known as the month that didn’t recognize a good thing when it was sitting there in a cineplex the whole damn time. The same might be said for this February, with Jason Reitman’s Labor Day tanking alongside its Frankensteinian brethren. Which is a shame. Reitman’s movie is actually rather memorable. The film, albeit quite flawed, is refreshingly sincere, romantic, and is without any irony. While the last day of January didn’t do it any favors with poor reviews and a low audience turnout, make sure to see its beautiful cinematography and Josh Brolin‘s performance before it leaves theaters. And after you finally get around to Labor Day, make sure to checkout these five February releases as well:

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The Lego Movie arrives in theaters February 7, 2014, but there’s been no shortage of video content introducing us to the world and characters the interim leading up to the release. There are a lot of characters. And oh, what fun it appears we’ll be in store for. I’ll admit, I’m already kinda sold, but I’m highly biased. My love of Lego is borderline unhealthy.

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There’s something undeniably charming about The LEGO Movie. Sure, it may be a feature-length toy commercial, and the toys in question will undoubtedly engineer some vast takeover of every store on planet Earth, but who could resist our Danish building block overlords when the product they’re hawking is so clean and crisp and inviting? With stop-motion animation and a voice cast going for broke with giddy childlike enthusiasm, the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs may have just made the greatest feature-length toy commercial ever made. In this new theatrical trailer (or as YouTube awkwardly puts it, the “Official Main Trailer”), we’re given a greater look at the story that will string us along from LEGO set to LEGO set. Emmett (Chris Pratt) is an ordinary LEGO dude who falls into a hole and is thus mistaken to be “The Special,” a mystical hero destined to save the universe from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the help of a love interest (Elizabeth Banks), a wise old sage (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett). Some of the humor in the trailer may fall a little flat, for sure. But there’s a frighteningly huge supply of talented voices in the cast including Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, and Jonah Hill, and the animation is so endearing it’s practically a controlled substance. Who could possibly turn The LEGO Movie down?

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The LEGO Movie

“The Lego Movie combines all your favorite pop-culture characters: Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, (most likely) Hobbits and Harry Potter, all for one giant commercial for Lego!” Good thing for us, that’s not the animated picture directors Chris Miller, Chris McKay, and Phil Lord are making. A movie that literally has “Lego” in the title could easily be interpreted as just that, but at the film’s Comic-Con press conference, the three filmmakers stressed the actual movie is far from an ad. This was a project treated with a good deal of skepticism when it was announced, but after the trailer, it’s shown skeptics they’re not going to see the movie they were dreading. We learned plenty more about the film while in attendance at Comic-Con, so if you’re curious in how the film is more than a payed advertisement, read what the the three men had to say about Michael Bay, Morgan Freeman voicing a crazy wizard, and more.

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