nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

'I've got a brick feeling about this' - El Reg's guide to the best Lego films + TV

Ditch the Christmas Radio Times, surf this lot

By Lucy Orr, 26 Dec 2014

Using toys to re-enact beloved movies is pretty much one of every nerdy kid's favorite playtime activities and Lego makes this easy, by providing minifigs of many of celluloid's leading characters. It's safe to say I had far more fun with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lego down the pub than I did watching Michael Bay's film.

However, taking the time and learning the skills to create a stop-motion Lego film homage is a different kettle of fish. It seemed like the recent sneak peak Star Wars trailer for The Force Awakens had been out less than five minutes before it had its own high quality Lego pastiche, which has already racked up more than three and a half million hits on YouTube.

Created by Snooperking, there's Lego builds of X Wings and the Millennium Falcon. It even includes a mockup of the much derided new lightsaber, and I suspect this almost shot-for-shot remake involved a few sleepless nights.

There's something about the shareable and nostalgic nature of Lego that appeals directly to my generation. I didn't have access to multiplayer Lego The Hobbit or Batman on a console in Christmas 1979 so my time was spent playing with Lego Galaxy Explorer, god I miss my space scooter.

Maybe the underpinning combination of creativity and logic of Lego still has universal appeal but I wonder if the kids of today will be so willing to put in the hours or be more likely to use the pre-made virtual Lego models to create their own digital enactments. Would you buy your kids Lego?

Lately this wistfulness for Lego has led to some astonishing hipster builds such as the awe inspiring remake of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ultimately I love the physicality of these plastic blocks, and the passion that goes behind these remakes is surely to be lauded. So what if it might make us sad nerds, because, hey, there's nothing a basic knowledge of after effects and a piece of string can't accomplish.

I wonder if the kids of today will be

so willing to put in the hours and make

something truly creative from Lego

Lego adaptations span a huge variety of genres from sci-fi to musicals and I think only a very few movies haven't had a humorous Lego homage. YouTube and Vimeo are littered with thousands of clips, recreating cherished scenes of films, trailers, or even entire movies.

So here, for your delectation, is my list of my favorite brick-based B movies.

Strangely enough the childish nature of Lego lends itself well to horror adaptations as it seems the juxtaposition of smiling Lego minifigs and piled on gore (often created from mince or jam) leads to some messy and rib-tickling viewing.

Antiquated by Lego homage standards but cleverly employing the same vintage footage feel as the original no budget Texas Chainsaw Massacre is Lego Chainsaw Massacre and trust me Leatherface has never seemed less scary!

Pushing the bad taste boundaries of the Lego horror genre is Lego Hellraiser, which gives Pinhead much the same treatment. Including enough tomato sauce to drown a cenobite and an ingenious nod to the puzzle box, our Lego protagonist meets a grizzly end involving a piece of wire and a pound of mince. Smoke and lighting go a long way to add atmosphere to these early Lego remakes.

It’s not clear whether HR Giger was

a fan of small, coloured Danish bricks,

but fans of the movie monster he inspired sure are

I'm not sure whether Giger was a super fan of Lego but there's some awesome Lego sculptures of his finest work. The alien chest buster scene is prime Lego remake territory as it's an iconic piece of cinematic history.

The small talk of the Nostromo canteen, complimented by the attention to detail and close ups make this a xenomorphically satisfying Lego adaptation.

Although the baby alien looks far too much like a missing piece of a Lego construction set, and blood and gore have been replaced with Lego lights far less messy and smelly than raw meat during the stop motion filming I suspect.

By 2009 The Lego Matrix has upped Lego adaptation production values, and bullet time takes on a whole new clear Lego stud standard. Taking apparently 440 hours to create, there's some stunning slow motion action and dramatic camera angles which do justice to the movie.

Initially an Alan Moore comic zealously adapted into Zack Snyder film and finally a Lego stop-motion animation Watchmen never loses its appeal. Starring psychopath Rorschach gets a great Lego make over though unfortunately not his own official minifig. I adore this cheap-as-chips production mainly because of the awesomely hand-painted minifigs. The addition of someone's sofa as a set means this could be one revision Alan Moore might not disown.

On the other end of the production spectrum is Guardians of the Galaxy, full of explosions and motion blur this adaptation is After Effects heavy and lit like a real movie. I'm especially fond of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, though suddenly these new Lego minifigs look less and less like the Generic Lego Space men of my childhood.

Even small screens get the big brick treatment

The world waits for Sean Bean to be rendered in Lego

TV series aren't immune to the Lego treatment and jumping on the coattails of the outcry surrounding the release of Breaking Bad Lego, it wasn't long until this narcotic-fueled small screen staple got its own Lego treatment.

Reliving the death of Ned Stark is certainly less traumatic in Lego but I suspect we will have a long wait for an official Game of Thrones Lego franchise. Suspiciously, the internet is awash with familiar minifigs selling prodigiously under a different label. Dragon Sword Fighter Force just doesn't have the same ring to it though.

The most serious Lego adaptation I have watched is the remake of the final scene from Blade Runner. A close up of Lego Rutger Hauer holds forth on the nature of intelligence and humanity. Full of ambience this video tugged at my heart strings and now I'm just holding out for a Lego adaptation of Valis.

If you like your Lego pastiche to come across more Robot Chicken then this is a great Lego compilation which spans at least a century of film making to cover celluloid classics and some recent blockbusters. Everything from Singing in the Rain to Pulp Fiction gets the Lego treatment, my winner being the "Here's Jonny!" scene from The Shining.

So you may ask what's the big deal about seeing another blockbuster film remade in Lego? It seems to me that if you're at a loss with what to do with your spare time, a quick route to internet fame might be to be first at remaking the next big sci-fi trailer to arrive.

People could - and do - argue that Lego isn't as creative as it used to be, and if you're going to create stop motion why not use your own materials. However, I think Lego is a great vehicle for creativity and I'm glad it's continually celebrated.

I just think it was a shame The Lego Movie was not actually created using Lego bricks! But maybe its homage is more of a kind of craftsmanship rather than a true art form.

And, OK, I'm just putting this out there, but how about a Lego Downton Abby?

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing