Judge Jim Thomas says, "LEGO my LEGO!"
Saving the world. One brick at a time.
Clutch Powers (voice of Ryan McPartlin, Chuck's Captain Awesome) is the best builder and explorer in the LEGO universe. However, his upbeat demeanor hides a tragic past, namely the unexplained disappearance of his father. Clutch leads a team of experts, including the brave Peg Mooring (Yvonne Strahovski, also from Chuck, sporting her natural Aussie accent). Peg is, of course, built like a brick. The team travels to the Space Police prison planet to respond to a distress call. Clutch discovers a clue to his father's disappearance, but with Clutch distracted—and with all of the team members bickering—the three most dangerous criminals in the galaxy escape. But Clutch can't follow up on the clue; the mastermind behind the escape—the evil wizard Mallock the Malign—has been tracked to the medieval world of Ashlar. There, Clutch and his team must help the rightful heir to the throne find the courage to regain the kingdom from Mallock and his army of darkness (Hey, if they can steal from other movies, so can I).
If that sounds like a mashup of every science fiction, adventure, and medieval movie you've ever seen, it's only because that's exactly what it is. Just the opening sequence borrows heavily from Indiana Jones, Aliens, and Star Trek: The Original Series' "Devil in the Dark." In fact, 20 minutes in, my nine-year-old daughter said, "Hey! They're just copying stuff from other movies!" In their defense, they don't really try to hide the references, and it's certainly possible that there's a decent drinking game to be had. There's a fair amount of slapstick humor as well as some nice references that younger kids may miss:
[gesturing] "This isn't the man you're looking for…"
The movie is basically a cleverly crafted feature-length commercial for the various LEGO product lines. The pre-credit sequence features the Power Miners collection, the credit sequence takes Clutch on a whirlwind drive through the City collection, the prison planet features a lot of stuff from the Space Police line, and Ashlar offers us the Castle collection. Still the CGI is entertaining enough, and they have a fair number of LEGO-related gags, such as Peg disguising herself by simply taking off her hair and replacing it with a helmet.
The characters are fairly generic, but Ryan McPartlin was a great choice for the lead; his voice has a relaxed intensity that's just perfect for the role. Yvonne Strahovski doesn't get a lot to do, but it sounds like she enjoys using her own accent for a change.
There are a couple of things that don't quite work. A lot of the jokes are telegraphed, and a lot of slapstick concepts get run into the ground. That's mainly a problem for grownups; my kids didn't seem to have a problem with it. One thing is just odd, though: The concept of the "creation spark." Clutch, talking about his dad, says "We thought his creation spark had been extinguished"; Furthermore, Mallock goes on about taking the "creation spark" from Clutch's father. It sounds like the creation spark is a soul, but perhaps the people at LEGO feared that if they suggested that LEGO figures had souls, they would get picketed by fundamentalists. Or perhaps the LEGO universe was an early experiment by Andre Toulon (The Puppet Master). Who knows, but it sure sounds weird. Maybe it's a way of getting around the fact that you can't kill LEGO characters by taking them apart. If we're lucky, in a sequel, LEGO Judge Doom will appear with the LEGO equivalent of "dip."
The video is pretty good. The picture is razor-sharp, which is to be expected with CGI, but there's also very effective use of color depth and gradations. Sound is a bit of a letdown; while it's clear and tried to use the surround channels, the mix is rather thin. There are some extras, they are instantly forgettable. "Bad Hair Day" is a 3-4 minute short featuring some of the minor characters from the feature. "Mini Toy Movies" is series of short shorts, ranging in technical sophistication from Mr. Bill-quality to fully textured CGI. "TV Spots" is a set of commercials.
The movie leaves the door open for multiple sequels—Clutch not only needs to recapture the other escaped prisoners, but there's also the matter of his missing father—so we probably haven't seen the last of Clutch Powers.
Based simply on my kids' reactions, the movie's a winner. It might get on parents' nerves, but if you're a parent who has survived the collected offerings of the Disney Channel, this one's a breeze. Not guilty.
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