I’m sure many of you will ask me where my reviews of “Lifeforce,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” are. Rest assured, I’ll get to those later. (When, I don’t know.) Just not today; today, I have to review the direct predecessors to a movie coming out in theaters this weekend.
This trilogy of reviews will be different than the status quo, as these movies are unusual and require a lot of rethinking of what they are. I will front that when I saw the original movie, the movie I’m reviewing today, I was a bit confused in a “it’s fine, but why does this movie have 90+ on Rotten Tomatoes” way. With that being said, I have more to say to its advantage now, but this still won’t be easy to describe without people having seen the movie. Enough buildup; let’s get to it.
I wouldn’t say that this movie has a coherent story so much as it does a coherent way of telling it and a coherent, perfectly well-rounded worldview to back it up. It also contains one of the best twists ever to be found in an animated movie aimed at kids. Once that twist hits, the movie goes from enjoyable to making as much sense as it possibly could. (It makes a little less sense later on, though, but I’m not gonna fixate too much on that.) This twist makes the entire movie’s point all the stronger, and it’s one of the better examples of this kind of movie, and shows that there’s a lot you can do with movies or TV shows that are “just” toy commercials with a story. (If only Hollywood had actually taken note of how it executed itself, we may have actually gotten a good “Emoji Movie.”) The story isn’t perfect (there’s not that much in way of structure to it, and there’s some rather gaping plot holes), but sometimes, that’s okay.
Story Grade: 82% (B-)
Emmet is a fine protagonist, and Lucy is a fine love interest, but Lord Business and Vitruvius are where this area of the movie shines. Good Cop/Bad Cop was also really funny. What more can I say?
Characterization Grade: 85% (B)
The script is really funny, seemingly knowing exactly which jokes to run with, which ones to use sparingly, which ones to pull back after a while and even which jokes are okay to run into the ground. (It’s so great when writers get that last part right, because it’s usually not a good idea to run any joke into the ground.) I do wonder if Morgan Freeman (Vitruvius) was a bit embarrassed by the amount of times that his character says “Cloud Cuckooland,” though.
Script Grade: 95% (A)
The animation is great (if a bit choppy in places where it shouldn’t be), and the overall speed of the animated sequences is really something to behold.
Directing Grade: 90% (A-)
Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks are great, as well as really funny, and Will Ferrell is funny in his live-action and animated forms. (I’m usually on the fence about him, but here, he really shines.) Morgan Freeman is great, but how could he not be? (He was born in my home state, BTW.)
Acting Grade: 95% (A)
The action is large-scale and very well-staged.
Action Grade: 98% (A+)
I don’t think there’s a single joke in this movie I didn’t like. Even the small ones that are almost in the background get a laugh. Some of my favorites include Unikitty’s “no consistency” remark, Abe Lincoln’s “A house divided would be better than this” comment, and Shaq’s “Are you ready for this?” “Oh no, they were ready for that” line. But what am I saying? It’d be hard to rank them, anyway.
Comedy Grade: 100% (A+)
There’s an unbridled joy in watching this movie, and I have no way of doing it justice by merely describing it.
Execution Grade: 90% (A-)
As I said, I didn’t always think much of the movie, but as time went by, I realized that I was thinking of it in a slanted way, as it’s the kind of movie where, the less said, the better. I can’t say it’s easy to say why the critics praised it high heavens, but it’s a lot better than I initially gave it credit for, and there’s a lot more to like about it than not to. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a perfect movie in terms of what it’s trying to do, and sometimes, that’s enough.
Final Grade: 80% (B-)
Well, that’s all for now, but my “Lego Movie” week will continue on Thursday with my review of “The Lego Batman Movie.” Spoilers: I’ll have a bit more to say about that one.