Lego Review and Blu-ray Features
7 February 2014
Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Voice Acting by Liam Neeson
The voice cast were excellent, especially Liam Neeson’s split personality police officer, making the 2 personalities sound distinctive, and giving his Bad Cop the usual Liam Neeson tough guy.
Adding realism to the movie
In order to add more realism to the movie, the Lego bricks have scratches, fading, and even fingerprints to make the movie look like someone was manipulating real bricks in a stop-motion fashion. The Bricks are also affected by their locations, with the bricks in The Old West realm being more dusty and faded from the sunlight.
EVERYTHING IN THE MOVIE WAS DESIGNED TO LOOK AS IF BUILT OUT OF LEGO PIECES. This even includes effects like water, fire, laser bolts, explosions and smoke. For instance, the lasers are actually transparent LEGO rods (commonly known as “Lightsaber blades”), while smaller puffs of smoke are LEGO ice cream pieces. This is in contrast with the direct-to-video LEGO movies and cartoon series, in which parts of the sceneries and most of the effects were made to look realistic.
The creators deliberately tried to make the movie feel like stop-motion, and avoided making the computer-generated effects look too obvious. This was done to make the movie look like it contained real Lego.
Highly recommend this movie to all Lego lovers who have a passion to build and create something awesome, just like the movie makers created this amazingly. This movie was very creative and funny, enjoyable for all ages. I loved this movie!
Interview with Director
Which is more difficult, directing a voice cast or directing actors in a live-action movie?
Phil Lord: “Oh gosh, I would say live action people.”
Chris Miller: “They each have their own unique challenges because for animation you have to paint a picture of what’s happening. In live action, you get to go on the set and interact with other actors. You don’t have to tell anybody, ‘Okay, you’re on a pirate ship and it’s raining.’ They know because they’re on a pirate ship and it is raining. The don’t have to imagine it.
The good thing about doing animated voice work is that you can record it and then you can go back and listen to it. You’re like, ‘You know what? We should change this one line here and then do another little change,’ and go back a few days later and then get that.”
Phil Lord: “You can make more mistakes because fixing them isn’t as costly.“
Chris Miller: “Whereas in live action, you’re going to shoot it that day and then that’s the last time you’re ever going to see it.”
Phil Lord: “If you mess up it’s like a million dollars or you have to cut the scene.“
Speaking of cutting scenes, how much did you guys have to leave out that you wanted to put in? Are there a lot of extra scenes or characters that didn’t make the final cut?
Phil Lord: “Oh yeah, hours and hours of material.”
Chris Miller: “There’s like two more movies of things that didn’t make it. We tried to jam pack as much as we could into this while still having a story that was enjoyable and made sense. But it’s a volume business, so we had a lot more jokes and several more characters.”
Phil Lord: “I can’t say it’s all gold what we left out of the movie, but there’s some fun stuff. At one point there were 13 main characters on the mission and we dwindled it down to seven. A lot went by the wayside, but the same time it was for the best I think.”
When you had 13 characters, did you know pretty much right away that was going to be too many?
Chris Miller: “Yeah, absolutely. We knew that we weren’t going to be able to do a 2 1/2 hour movie. We just wanted to see which ones were going to pop and bubble up to the top. The challenge of it was that LEGO is such a vast universe and there’s infinite number of possibilities. We wanted to showcase as much as we could the breathe of different things you can do and the different worlds there could be. At some point you have to limit that. That’s why they have sequels, you know what I mean?”
Exactly. How much do you think people have to have enjoyed playing with LEGOs to actually like a LEGO movie?
Chris Miller: “None.”
Phil Lord: “There’s been a lot of feedback today from folks who were like, ‘Yeah, I’m covering this movie because it’s my job. I’ve never played with LEGOs and after I saw the movie I regretted my whole previous life.'”
They want a childhood do-over now, right?
Chris Miller: “Yeah. You don’t need to know the inside jokes of LEGOs. It’s not like, ‘I’m not going to understand what’s happening if I’m not enriched in the culture.’ It’s a story with a bunch of jokes. You’ve got Batman and you got a bunch of other crazy characters; you’ve got Shaquille O’Neal in the movie. It’s just a wild ride.”
Do you think there’s a difference between how girls and boys relate to LEGOs? Have you heard from more females that didn’t play with them as kids?
Phil Lord: “There is evidence in the field that more boys than girls historically have engaged with the toy more. Recently, however, they started to crack the code. Their sales among girls have skyrocketed. I think it has to do with some differences in the way that girls play.
There’s a little bit more of a social component and little bit more story component. As they started to design to that, they’ve had a little bit more success.”
Chris Miller: “There’s not much more gender neutral than just bucket of bricks that can become whatever you can imagine.”
Phil Lord: “Yeah, that’s true.”
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever created out of LEGOs?
Phil Lord: “The weirdest thing?
Chris Miller: “We’ve made some pretty weird things. When I was a kid I was really into the Classic Space Lego and I also had some Castle Lego, I think. Once I combined them into a giant castle spaceship and that was pretty weird. But that was when I was eight.” More recently, I made a giant Santa Claus in our office for a little while. I can’t think of anything else.”
Phil Lord: “I’m trying to think of the junk that was around our desk. [Laughing] We made this entire LEGO movie and that was really weird.”
People who didn’t play with LEGOs at least know the LEGO brand. Did you have a lot of restrictions on what you could do with the LEGOs and what you couldn’t do? What kind of jokes you could make and what they wouldn’t allow?
Chris Miller: “Mostly it was just that they wanted to make sure that we weren’t doing anything that was inappropriate for a family audience. We weren’t going to do any of the foul language that we used in the Jump Street movie. But our approach was really the same as any other movie. We were just trying to make ourselves laugh and we happen to have a really juvenile sense of humor. It works for people our age and it also works for people who are emotionally our age.
Phil Lord: “But we did have to lose the LEGO Zero Dark Thirty torture scene, unfortunately.”
How do you balance the things that are going to go over kids’ heads and are meant for adult audiences and not lose the kids while doing that? How do you walk that fine line?
Phil Lord: “We just don’t worry about it. We just make the best movie we know how to make. We’re lucky that we’re so juvenile that a lot of our material automatically is palatable to children.”
Chris Miller: “We like visual jokes and we’re just really interested in visual storytelling. I think that translates not only internationally, but also among all age groups. That’s another thing. But we really don’t analyze it like that where we go, ‘This joke’s for adults and this one’s for kids. Let’s put in 10% more slapstick,’ or something like that. We just make a movie that makes us laugh. It hopefully works for all levels.”
If you guys have the same sense of humor, was there ever a time when you were working on this when one of you loves a joke and the other one doesn’t? How do you decide if the joke gets in?
Phil Lord: “That happens a lot.”
Chris Miller: “Yeah, that happens a lot. We end up having so many jokes and bits, there’s only so much time to cram all of them in to one story that unless someone’s really passionate about it, it’s sort of a democracy, I guess.”
Phil Lord: “Eventually, you screen the movie for an audience and they either laugh at it or they don’t. It’s really hard to win your arguments when that joke just sits there.”
Why did you decide to have Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Chris Pratt record some of their lines together? Was it really important to allow them to be together?
Phil Lord: “It doesn’t happen because you hire actors that are busy. Basically, it’s really rare occurrence and it’s so much better when you get everybody in one place. It’s also very chaotic. It’s a big problem for your editors.”
Chris Miller: “Yeah. In the old school animation world they would have them all isolated so they had each track on its own and you can do whatever you want editing-wise. We found that there’s so much more natural performance, especially when you’re hiring really gifted improvisers like all of them, to let them shine that way. They really play off each other really well. It brings the energy up and makes it a much more natural performance. We tried to do it as much as we could.
Unfortunately, they’re all TV and movie stars across the board and so it was a real challenge. We got to have Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson do a scene together improvising with each other, but Liam was in New York and Will was in LA. They improvised over the phone at two different sound recordings. It was that important to us that we went to those lengths to get the most natural performance we could get.“
Were you able to do that with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?
Chris Miller: “A little bit.”
Phil Lord: “We got Anna [Faris] and Bill [Hader] together a few times and then we even had Bill on the phone with James Caan who played his dad. They actually were doing the lines from a phone call that happens in the movie. It was a phone call in real life and there was such a delay that it created a kind of awkwardness that was really helpful to scene, actually.”
Why do you two go back and forth between live action and animated movies? Most people don’t do that.
Chris Miller: “It’s true. They don’t.”
Phil Lord: “Animation is very slow. It’s hard to do more than a couple every 10 years and we want to make more movies than that.”
Chris Miller: “We have stories or ideas that engage us and it doesn’t really matter what the medium is. There’s fun things about telling stories in each way. We’d like to keep doing it, straddling that barbed wire fence without it hurting us too much.“
Do you find yourselves more committed to an animated movie because you know you have to put such a large block of time aside for it? Is a live action movie less stressful?
Chris Miller: “I think they’re both the same amount of stress, but one is much more compact.”
Phil Lord: “Yeah.”
Chris Miller: “It’s all the stress of the two and a half years that it took to direct this movie and compress into to one year for a live action movie.”
Phil Lord: “What I hear is really good for you is a very extended period of low-grade stress. So that’s what we try to do.”
Chris Miller: “At some point we’re going to take a break and it’s going to be lovely. One of these days.”
Is one form more rewarding than the other?
Phil Lord: “I think in most cases you’re trying to make something that lives for a long time. Somebody said that you’re trying to build a cathedral more than you’re trying to build a tepee. In animation you spend a lot more time on the movie so in some ways it has a better chance of that. But that doesn’t mean that a live action movie can’t do the exact same thing. We try to do that with our particular R-rated comedies, to have them stand the test of time as well.”
Is there something audiences should be watching out for, maybe something going on in the background of scenes that you have to really pay attention to catch? Or maybe a character who’s briefly in the film and does something we really need to check out?
Chris Miller: “Oh man, there’s so many things happening in the background that you should definitely go to the theater and watch it several times. Pay attention to whoever is not talking. But it’s true that Chris McKay, who co-directed this with us and oversaw the animation, really was able to get in all sorts of little details throughout. Funny things are happening in the background.
For example, one time a pig falls off of a train and when it lands on the ground it turns into a bunch of sausages. That’s something that happens, tiny, tiny, in the background while other stuff is happening. That’s just one example of hundreds of things that are in this movie.”
RT/Meta Critic Review
The movie is a wonderful surprise, cleverly written and executed brick by brick with a visual panache (Click here to see)
Lord and Miller’s sensibilities are continually clever, and The Lego Movie works hard to gradually deliver surprising payoffs .. (Click here to see).
As if The LEGO Movie weren’t dazzling enough, along comes Warner’s 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Rather than slather the screen with eye-gouging swaths of color, the film’s ever-shifting palette incorporates convincing lighting to lifelike ends. Hues are bright and bold when Emmet strolls through a bustling city; dusty and sunburnt when he and Wyldstyle travel to the Old West; cast in cold blues and positively sinister greens in Lord Business’ lair; sickeningly sweet when the Masters arrive in Cloud Cuckoo Land in Middle Zealand; and bold and triumphant as Emmet and Wyldstyle bring the fight back to the streets. Primaries are vivid, black levels are deep and satisfying, and contrast is consistently filmic and strong. And oh the detail. The chips along the edges of the plastic characters. The fingerprints you’ll catch sight of when the light hits Benny or Lord Business just right. The wear and tear of a fading decal. The imperfections of a brick. It’s all there to be discovered and pored over in high definition. Edges are clean and natural, free from ringing or aliasing, and textures are refined and close-ups striking. If you didn’t already think the world of the animation, you will now. Better still, there isn’t a hint of significant macroblocking, banding or any other encoding issue of note. This is about as pristine and impeccable as they come. Fans will be overjoyed.
Matching The LEGO Movie‘s video presentation high-point for high-point is Warner’s wonderfully enveloping DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. In fact, the only nitpick I can even muster is that it isn’t a 7.1 mix. And when that’s your chief complaint, you know you’re listening to something special. Low-end output is big and boisterous, throwing weight and power behind every blast, explosion, crash and collision, as well as lending presence to anything and everything that calls on the LFE channel for assistance. Rear speaker activity is both aggressive and playful too, latching onto every scattered block, incoming attack craft, lumbering machine, approaching robot or off-target Batarang launched across the screen. Directionality is precise and involving, pans are smooth, and dynamics never falter. Dialogue isn’t shortchanged either, arriving with ever-intelligible, impressively grounded voices that are never disconnected from the soundscape or compromised in any way. And the music? Masterfully prioritized, without issue or incident. This is about as good as The LEGO Movie — or any animated movie for that matter — could sound.
- Audio Commentary: Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord are joined by actors Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Charlie Day and Alison Brie for a chatty, quip-riddled cast and crew commentary, one of the only extras on the disc that offers anything resembling an in-depth overview of the production. The cast’s jokes tend to get in the way, amusing as the ensemble is, but there’s still good fun to be had thanks to (among other things) the directors’ almost gag-for-gag breakdown of the many, many, many easter eggs and details scattered throughout the film.
- Bringing LEGO to Life (HD, 13 minutes): A rather short, kid-friendly behind-the-scenes featurette narrated by Chris Pratt. Talking head interviews provide a bit of insight into the production, but not to any substantive ends.
- Stories from the Story Team (HD, 4 minutes): This rapidfire trip through the development takes a look at the evolution of the script, from early storyboards to dialogue to some of the film’s abandoned scenes, characters, worlds and concepts.
- See It, Built It! (HD, 12 minutes): Some mini-featurettes for the kiddies, specifically instructions for building two simple models from the movie, online and off. Segments include “Introduction with Senior Designer Michael Fuller,” “Build the Double-Decker Couch,” “Build Emmet’s Car,” “Introduction with Modeling Artist Adam Ryan,” “Digital Double-Decker Couch” and “Digital Emmet’s Car.”
- “Everything is Awesome” Sing-Along (HD, 3 minutes): Because your kids don’t already know the words. Oh, they do? They’ve been singing it every day for months? Then you won’t mind once more, karaoke style. Right?
- Fan-Made Films: Top-Secret Submissions (HD, 4 minutes): Clips from several homemade animated shorts, with the top three winners of a recent LEGO-hosted contest presented in their entirety.
- Alleyway Test (HD, 1 minute): The film’s first animation test.
- Batman’s A True Artist (HD, 1 minute): Batman stars in this on-the-cheap, stop-motion music video.
- Michelangelo & Lincoln: History Cops (HD, 1 minutes): A fun, pun-packed History Cops trailer.
- Enter the Ninjago (HD, 2 minutes): Ninjago characters commandeer The LEGO Movie.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 3 minutes): Storyboarded scenes cut early in the production.
- Outtakes (HD, 3 minutes): An in-character blooper reel.
- Additional Promotional Content (HD, 4 minutes): Teaser promos and spots.