Friday, February 14, 2014

LEGO Star Wars, Hunted - Review

Hello readers! Before I begin the review I'd first like to apologize for the lack of content recently. Over here in Ireland we have some big summer tests upcoming and we do a lot of the preparations around this time of year, so I've generally been quite busy. And that's coupled with the lack of over-average brickfilms being released. I'm on a break now however so I have much more free time to do writing/animating!


Now onto the film, Beaton's Lego Star Wars: Hunted! (watch here)

From a glance, your expectations are more than likely going to be low. An essentially un-established brickfilm (so to my mind anyway) and a title that begins with 'Lego Star Wars'. However you're in for a treat with this one! Immediately you're greeted with a lovely opening shot; nice lighting (if somewhat bright for nighttime), crisp camera quality, and a blend of real life wildlife mixed with LEGO, such as the stuff you'd see in a Brotherhood Workshop production.

The plot is basic and I'm afraid boring, it's a very similar format of your Joe Soap clone troopers, who are ambushed. But that's not really what the film is about. Instead, we're treated to some lovely cinematography throughout, smooth animation, and in book the best thing - the shots.
So often in brickfilms you see the same lack luster angles, sometimes due to a tight set, sometimes due to lack of imagination, I too am guilty of this. However, Beaton has really spiced things up a bit. My guess is that it's done a lot in post, but it still gives a nice sense of action and atmosphere.

Verdict: A lovely short piece, showing off Beaton's capabilities very nicely. My hope is that we can look forward to something longer to get our teeth into!

Remember to look out for more reviews, news, and interviews! As well as our monthly podcast; all coming soon.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Brickflickers 1 Month Anniversary!

It has now been one month since we started this little blog and while we haven't been able to be as active as we claim to be in the past few weeks (sorry about that), the site is still moving forward and we will have a lot of content in store for you in the near future.
The second episode of the podcast will hopefully see a release date next week as well as reviews for the upcoming "THE LEGO MOVIE"! - No we will not start reviewing theatrical releases (yet) but we do wanna get a review up for this as it's actually a big deal for us brickfilmers. After all, the biggest inspiration Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the writers and directors) had were brickfilms we all have made which they mention in this interview below. (they literally say "brickfilms"!)

Currently the (brick)film has received a ton of great reviews all around (there was even one review claiming it to be of the same quality as Toy Story). As of today it has a 97% rating on rottentomatoes which as most of us know is a rating that rarely occurs for movies nowadays. Three rotten reviews took away our perfect score but we cannot possibly be disappointed by this because many people were against this even being made in the first place.

Our very next podcast is gonna be a review/discussion show of The LEGO Movie, apologize about 14 times for the lack of content and also discuss The LEGO Movie even more.
In order to expand the site we are trying to come up with more stuff we could do and in order to actually start something anybody would care about - we are directly asking you. If there is anything you'd like to see on the site (could almost literally be anything) then do tell in the comment section belong and let's continue building the site brick by brick!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pre-LEGO Movie Thoughts

It's coming. It's almost here. We've been waiting a long time for an official LEGO movie to happen, but tomorrow, The Lego Movie will hit theaters on February 7th. But it doesn't end there: it actually looks good. Like really good. I've been excited for this movie ever since the first trailer came out, and the more material that's been put out, the more excited I get.

If for some reason you don't know the plot for The Lego Movie, here's Wikipedia's basic summary:
"In the Lego universe, an ordinary mini-figure named Emmet is mistaken as being the Special (the greatest Master Builder who can save the Lego universe). With the help of an old wizard named Vitruvius, a tough young woman named Wyldstyle, Batman, Uni-Kitty, Benny, and a pirate named Metalbeard, Emmet will have to unlearn everything he saw in the instructions and discover the power of imagination to defeat the evil tyrant Lord Business, who is bent on destroying the Lego universe on Taco Tuesday and recreating it as he sees fit by gluing it together."

Not only does the premise sound really cool, but the cast is filled with some well-known names. Chris Pratt as Emmet, Elizabeth Banks as Wildstyle, Morgan Freeman as Virtuvius, Will Arnett as Batman, Allison Brie as Uni-Kitty, Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop, Will Ferrel as President Business, Nick Offerman as Metal Beard, Charlie Day as Benny, Channing Tatum as Superman, Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman, and Jonah Hill as Green Lantern. Phew. That's a lot of actors.

And that brings me into my next topic: potential dangers of The Lego Movie. One thing that could hurt this movie is the potential of overcrowding. In many films with a lot of characters, many of them suffer when it comes to distributing screen time. If the whole film focuses on "Oh look it's that famous character! Oh look at that one too!" rather than centralize on Emmet's character and story while pushing the extras slightly to the side, then it might suffer. Another potential danger is the humor. Now, the trailers and released scenes are hilarious, but I'm still afraid that the trailers only show the best parts, leaving nothing left in the movie. Hopefully this isn't the case.

Now, let's talk animation: sadly, this isn't stop-motion. We'd all love to see a real brickfilm on the big screen, but it would take years to pull off. But the folks at Warner Brothers seem to have done a great job making it look like actual stop motion.

Overall, I speak for pretty much everyone when I say I'm extremely excited for this movie. //Chris.W

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2015: The Contest

For those who thrive particularly on contests, the deadline, the theme, the feeling of taking part; it's one of those bad times of year I'm afraid. THAC is over, BRAWL is months away, and any seasonal themed contests are off the cards. But hey, here's something just for you!

Last year we had no big BiM contest, and it seems likely again this year. Perhaps not as popular as before, but the big yearly contest generally had an aim for most animators, something big to work towards. I feel like this might partially be a replacement. Jampot's '2015: The Contest' might seem a bit confusing at first. It's essentially a blockbuster themed contest, where the contestant is to make either:

  • An excerpt from a fictional film. You can create any plot you like, then think of a scene(s) from that and animate it. The piece has to be a minimum of 5 minutes, and make what's going on fairly clear. You can read additional rules on the thread page.
  • Your other choice is a faux Trailer (a fake trailer), with a minimum of 15 scenes. Here's an example

Interesting concept to be sure. There'll surely be a lot of epic-style brickfilms coming, however there is a debate about the deadline, which is over a year and 5 months away. Now one of the discussion topics about the yearly BiM contest is that they weren't getting enough entries; partially due to the long running time of the competition, so a lot of people would over extend themselves and not have the motivation to finish something that was overly ambitious. My personal judgement would be to have the contest announced at a later date, but then theres the conflicting with BRAWL, EASTER if it's hosted this year, etc.

Anyway, if you think it sounds good go give it a look! Special thanks to Jampot for creating this. I would also like to add there's a MASSIVE prize pool going, so that should definitely give you some motivating! Don't forget to go follow us on Twitter, and you can follow my personal account here.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nostalgic Brickfilms - Brickfilm's That You Must Watch

Grand Theft Auto : Lego City by Zaebos

We all have to of started somewhere, or were inspired by some sort of brickfilm before most of us ever started or thought about getting into stop motion animation. For me, it was "Grand Theft Auto: LEGO City." It had the combination of Live Action and Stop Motion mixed into it. For being an 8, almost 9, year old brickfilm this really caught my attention. At the time we had GTA 3, and that game was the shiz niz. It was a mixture of one of my favorite video games for the PS2 and animation that blew my mind as a 10 year old. Although the animation is a bit rough; the live action and VFX make up for it. From the explosion VFX, to awesome muzzle flares, to fantastic HUD design, this is what motivated me to begin and hopefully make stop motion a career of mine. If you have never seen this video I highly recommend you go watch this nostalgic piece of work.
Verdict: 4.5/5   I just love the mix of Live action and stopmotion, the VFX are brilliant, need I go on?

Lego Beer Song by Andreas Friedl

When you think of a LEGO music video you more than likely think of dancing and singing. Well, this one is a bit different from your average music video. It's been on YouTube since 2006 and has more than ten million views, so, you've more than likely seen it. EITHER WAY, I'm still going to recommend this work of art and classical brickfilm. It has some rough animation, but the humor and mouth animations are just superb for it's time. To me this was like, "WHOA, that LEGO minifigure is moving his mouth!" I thought that this was, like, THE NEXT THING in stop motion. We would have Brickfilms with mouth animation and realistic movements...Yea, that wasn't for another 3 years until Brickfilming actually became a legitimate thing and everybody wanted to do it. I look back at this video sometimes and realize, man, we've gotten pretty far in these past years. The final verdict for this classical humor Brickfilm is a 4/5!


           In the Fall of 2008 when Rock Band really started to catch on, this video was created in part with a special song that is sadly unknown. This video has it all: beautiful VFX, a fantastic mock up of the Rock Band HUD, drums and guitars very similar to the game. If this doesn't manage to entertain and impress you I don't know what will. For the year of 2008 these visual effects really blew everyone away. I think the only place you could find some great VFX like this was either by some company that created a boring live action video, or by some guy stuck in his basement and forgot that reality existed and wanted to impress his mom by getting his work of art put on the fridge...Whoever this guy is, he's extremely talented and devoted a lot of time and effort into making this video look really good and entertaining. The animation is nice and smooth, the little bits of comedy always make a video better and that much more entertaining. If you yourself plan on making a short music video I recommend you watch this video and get some ideas from it. It has everything people love: Lego, stop motion, Rock Band, and a sprinkle of comedy. Final Verdict... 4.5/5

James Bond 007 Operation: Cement Dust by videomaster159

Think fast! What secret agent does everyone love? James Bond, a.k.a. 007. What else do people love? LEGO. This video is what happens when you put 2 and 2 together. The massive set designs really show what can be done when you put your mind to it and create your own world of LEGO that also involves the great British agent, 007. The creator of this video was also generous enough to share some tips and tricks on his website on how he created this video. This isn't just a video you watch once and forget about it, this Brickfilm is the definition of a fan film. The fact that he created his own world and original story then animated it over the course of 2 years takes dedication. Final verdict, 4.5 out of 5!

Lego James Bond in Nighthawk (Part 1) by xVVarri0rx

Now, this video isn't necessarily a classic but it's one of the few videos that intrigued me to try and make a James Bond video of my own. It may not have the best of animation or voice acting, but it's an excellent representation of how far you can go with just comedy and cheesy effects. The fact that this manged to become a rather popular series back in the day doesn't surprise me. Everyone loved James Bond films because they had revived the 007 franchise. Quick Tip, if you want to gain views make videos that have a popular fan base to them. i.e. Sherlock, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Psych, etc.
Final Verdict is 3.5/5 The MSpaint FX are cheesy and funny, the animation is pretty choppy but I just can't get over the comedy in it.

Bloody Lego Fight Scene - Greatest Lego Fight Scene Ever by Virgeo1228

I wanted to save best for last. The famous LEGO Fight Scene video. The stunning animation, super catchy music, amazing blood animation and original muzzle flares. What is there not to love about this classic?! If you enjoy action packed Brickfilms and lots of blood in your videos, this right here is a video, every Brickfilmer that makes action videos, should watch. It will show you the core elements of what makes a fight/action video what it is.For those of you who use LEGO for blood particles and what not I recommend you try using clay. Might as well make it a half claymation half Brickfilm video.
Everyone is going to have a different opinion on this video since there are a handful of people out there that aren't very fond of killing and graphic videos, but in my eyes, this video is a 5 out of 5. A magnificent video that deserves every bit of credit and ounce of love. 

~Sean McCarrollFilms the IV

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Fitz and Flubblewalf" Brickfilm - Review

With the recent THAC results out and ready to be disagreed with I felt like giving my opinions on a film that placed rather well, receiving 4th place in a contest with almost 80 entrants. Understandably so as well, seeing the impressive and outright commendable running time for THAC and charming setting, however that’s not to say I don’t have my problems with it.

  "Fitz and Flubblewalf" by Walter Benson is about a man called Fitz, dressed in red and going on a quest to find a specific item. Along the way, he stops at different towns notable for their colour scheme and is often mistaken for being from Flubblewalf. And that’s about it. My main problem with FaF is that it takes an alright premise, and stretches it over the usual length of a brickfilm, with very little else to it.

  The running joke throughout the whole film is that people mistake Fitz for being someone else, while he tries to argue otherwise, and except for the very end, this formula rarely evolves. Having an already typical joke about an awkward situation like this over the entire course of a 5 minute short gets somewhat tiring. Seeing the same basic town structure reused but with different colours is cute at first, but coupled with the repetitive nature of the jokes it can drag quite a lot. The final big event isn't even that related to the whole build-up it was given, and thus in the end the endless jokes feel a bit pointless.
  A minor complaint, though one that still relates to this aspect is the editing. Now I recognise that Walter stated he would have cut down the editing had the time requirements not been so restrictive, but it still works to the detriment of the film. Lines are often met with a long pause after they’re said, despite Fitz’s clear frustration at the fact that he can’t get his point across properly, he never speeds up the pace of the dialogue and simply waits for the familiar jokes to be said.

  All of this culminates in a pacing issue rife throughout the whole film. Until the end, not much except for the bare minimum changes, which made the whole thing feel very slow. Contrast is key in any aspect to any form of storytelling, and that’s the thing I feel ‘FaF’ lacked. You can have very low-key moments in stories, but unless they’re contrasted with some variety, they’re not exactly going to stick out. I recognise that this was a THAC entry and commend Walter for even making a film this long in the first place, but I just expected a little more out of this premise, maybe Fitz’s identity could be mistaken so badly that he has to go on some sort of detour that deviates from his desire to get the fl... flubbe... flubbergafllewiron that he so badly wanted, rather than his easy-to-mistake appearance just ending up as an excuse for more awkward humour.

  Not to say there aren't merits to the film, the somewhat charming premise and the relate-able main character certainly propped the film up in my books. The animation is a bit simple at times, but given the impressive length I’m most definitely not going to hold that against Walter. The voice acting for Fitz was quite nice, and did a good job at seeming genuinely annoyed, yet I still feel as if the voice acting area as a whole had a bit to be desired. The premise of having a bunch of different locations by mostly just changing up the colour scheme of the last one seems like a cute idea, but as I've said I feel as if it works to the detriment of the film.

  On the whole, I feel the very basic idea had some potential, yet this was not helped by the repetitive nature of the whole film. It has its charm, but that wasn't enough to really captivate me. It’s only a THAC, so I can respect the effort put in here, and feel that with better time Walter can certainly make something a lot better. However, judged on its own merits, I think that ‘FaF’ just needed to spice things up to keep this somewhat lengthy brickfilm from getting stale.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

THAC 11 Review Part 2

THAC 11 Review Part 2 - by Chris

THAC is now wrapped up, and I thought I'd review a few films that weren't mentioned in Hal's post.

Fish Tale by Soppenjim

Coming in at 6th place comes a short film by Soppenjim, a film with a simple plot but yet great execution. Although it only has one main punch line, Fish Tale manages to nail it, which is something many brickfilms with the same formula lack. The sets in this film are awesome, and although a few are pre-built sets, they are laid out beautifully. With a well-executed story, great animation, and gorgeous sets, Fish Tale is one of the better entries to THAC. I can tell Soppenjim has a bright future in the brickfilming community; who knows what he could make with more than 24 hours?

Mr. Figure's Job Interview by Fun Sucker

Now we have another great entry by Funtastic Films (aka Fun Sucker). Sadly, it didn't place as high as I personally believe it deserved, nonetheless, this story centers around Mr. Figure, a guy who goes to, well, a job interview, but he tries a tactic that is a bit odd. My only complaint of this film would have to be that the sets are a bit bland and boring, but it doesn't distract too much from the film as a whole. As one of the longer entries to THAC, it tells a very entertaining and well-made story. Accompanied by some great voice acting by the entire cast (and I'm not just saying that cause I'm in it), Mr. Figure's Job Interview is a great entry.

Drifter by Onion

Made by this wonderful blog's creator, comes Drifter, a serious film that actually works. THAC 11's host, Harry Bossert, plays a guy named Peter, a guy who doesn't have a stable home and environment. Not only is the plot very interesting and well-executed, but the sets are beautiful along with some perfect lighting. In addition, Peter's monologue is extremely clever (along with a hidden Shrek reference), and adds to the overall feel and setting of the film. Drifter is a must-watch, and I'm really glad it got 9th place; it definitely deserved it.

THAC was an extremely fun time, I had such a fun time entering. It produced some fantastic and memorable entries. I can't wait until next THAC as always. Agree with our reviews? Disagree? Post your thoughts in the comments!  Thanks for reading and make sure to follow Brickflickers on Twitter!