Popular building toy Lego has featured in several small-scale DVDs, but now it’s been taken to a whole new level.
THE LEGO MOVIE (U: Warner) is every bit as imaginative, colourful and cleverly constructed as its plastic inspiration.
Directed at breakneck pace by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also made the excellent Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, the action is block-busting and the gags come thick and fast.
Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a chirpy, rule-abiding construction worker for whom life is simply “awesome”. That’s until he’s chosen by a rebel group of master builders to stop President Business (Will Ferrell) executing his plan to keep the Lego populace exactly where he wants them.
Ferrell enjoys the most memorable role and there’s terrific support from Morgan Freeman, who plays a blind seer, and Will Arnett, as a dour Batman. Not forgetting Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams, who pop up to voice their Star Wars minifigure alter egos.
> Speed-freak extravaganza NEED FOR SPEED (12: Entertainment One) is loosely based on the video game and aimed fairly and squarely at the Fast & Furious crowd.
But don’t let its pedigree put you off. You’ll forget the whole thing five minutes after it’s finished, but it’s entertaining enough in a lowbrow way.
Aaron Paul plays Tobey, fresh out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit and looking for revenge on the fellow racer (Dominic Cooper) who framed him.
He gets his chance when both enter souped-up cars in an illegal cross-country road race run by mystery millionaire Monarch (Michael Keaton). While the characters are cornily cardboard, the vehicles are unquestionably super and the racing rather exciting.
> The historic conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953 has been documented many times before. But BEYOND THE EDGE (PG: Metrodome) works wonders in bringing one of modern history’s greatest achievements vividly to life by pacing it like a thriller.
Instead of talking heads, Kiwi director Leanne Pooley uses audio interviews to provide a soundtrack to the visuals – a skilfully assembled blend of still photos, old 16mm film and stunningly shot re-enactments, with New Zealand’s Southern Alps standing in for the Himalayas.
Although the focus is on Hillary and how by a mixture of luck and determination he ended up being chosen ahead of his fellow British team members to make the final journey to the summit, the contributions of Norgay and the rest are not forgotten.
The wealth of detail provided about what now seems very primitive equipment further reinforces what a ground-breaking expedition this was.
> ‘Muscles from Brussels’ Jean-Claude Van Damme heads the cast in ENEMIES CLOSER (15: Anchor Bay).
A forest ranger and former Navy SEAL is plunged into survival mode when a drug cartel forces him to retrieve a package. Trapped in the wilderness with no communication with the outside world, he finds himself face to face with a man who has a personal vendetta against him.
The two enemies must either put aside their past and work together or die at the hands of the drug runners.