Lego x Nostalgia = Stupid Kids

Old news this may be, but I've noticed a slightly disconcerting trend. A trend that deals with something immensely close to my heart. Lego.

Now when I was a kid, lego came in brick form, if you were lucky, you maybe had a big box of bricks and shite, and then the odd pirate ship, castle, space station or if you were Pete Hayman, a petrol station...

You emptied the box all over your bedroom floor and went to town. Worlds were created, super duper, customised jet fighter/speedboat/space cruiser hybrids were built and then destroyed. It was great fun, but it was also the means by which i could be creative, learn basic engineering principles, appreciate the complexities of asthetic design vs functionality, it was a remarkably educational toy for something so enjoyable.

Try telling me K'Nex can do all that...

But over the past five or ten years, things have begun to change, with Lego teaming up with a variety of big-screen tie-ins, Spiderman, Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter and now Indiana Jones.

The biggest of these is of course the Star Wars kits, there have been literally hundreds of sets, from the tiny, to the truly massive. And I must say they are superb, brilliantly capturing the look of the sets and vehicles from the films in tremendous detail.

But what can you do with them!? You cant break them up to use for something else because a) they look so cool, b) they're so damn expensive, and c) all the parts are so specialised they wouldnt fit with anything else anyway, and as the hardcore builder knows, uniformity is key.

This isnt Lego made for kids, kids will buy this, and get bored cause you cant really do anything with it. So why when you look for the best selling Lego kits on Amazon its almost all Star Wars? The answer I'm ashamed to say, is me. I have sitting on my shelf, three lego star wars kits of fairly decent size. One was a gift from my wonderful girlfriend but the other two were symptoms of my childish obsession with all that is kitsch and nostalgic. Clearly I am not alone as Amazon shows, and was further evidenced on the occasion of the MagLab crew discovering Lego Indiana Jones. There were some very real calculations done by those present as to whether you could justify the expense of a Temple Escape Playset.

This is the problem, Lego is catering to man-children in their twenties to rake in the cash rather than continuing with it's own endeavours, gone are the pirate, space and medieval playsets of old, replaced with movie tie-ins and the hated Bionicle.

Hysterical teachers and politicians often lament the lack of creativity and imagination shown by children today and TV and Computer Games are often the percieved culprits, but if you ask me, you need only look over the water to the Denmark to see who really has corrupted our youth.

Mr Christiansen would be spinning in his grave...


IndieNewsweek, 8/2/08

So the behemoth of indie films that is Sundance has come upon us once again and as usual the hype over what will be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine has begun. The biggest cheque was handed out to the interestingly titled Hamlet 2, which was bought by Focus Features for $10 million. While the plot, which sees a high school drama teacher motivate his students by writing a sequel to the Shakespeare play, seems quirky if little ham fisted, the cast gives me some optimism. Steve Coogan hasn’t had much success translating his TV success to the big screen, Around the World in 80 Days was dismal, but when you’re essentially a device for Jackie Chan to riff off in a “zany” manner its hardly surprising. This offers much more promise, Coogan is at his best when he is essentially Alan Partridge in condensed form, and the role of eccentric but well meaning drama teacher Dana Marschz seems to suit him down to the ground, just don’t get me started on his forthcoming Eddie the Eagle biopic…

The other big news this week has been the continuing revelations about the tragic death of Heath Ledger and the impact it will have on his last unfinished work, Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Paranassus. While rumours have been flying about the internet for the last week or so, it seems like we finally have word that it’s going ahead without him, making use of the footage he’s already shot as means of tribute, as you can read about in the latest issue of the mag.

While it’s a fitting tribute I can’t help but be a bit worried about how they are actually going to manage it without it feeling artificial and clumsy. Gilliam needs some success as his last few films have tanked horribly, so he’ll find himself in the awkward position of wanting to pay tribute to his dead star, but not doing so in a way that detracts from the film as a whole.

To end this week, I’d just like to wonder aloud at a worrying trend of music docs and biopics that seem to have taken over our cinemas of late. It started with Ray and Walk the Line but now seems to have ballooned out of control.

In the last few months we’ve had Dylan biopic I’m Not There and Control, the story of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and soon we’ll have Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the Rolling Stones. As if that wasn’t enough, it was announced this week that Scorses plans to make a film about Bob Marley due to be released in 2010. But we don’t stop there, oh no, also this week Jesse Martin and Soprano’s star James Gandolfini have been lined up to star in Sexual Healing, Lauren Goodman’s biopic of the last days of Marvin Gaye. If you were reading aloud there and felt the need to pause for breath, I don’t blame you. While all of these films might be great in their own right, if you start flooding the market with anything, even independently made music pictures, then eventually we’re going to get bored of them. I mean, who wants to watch low budget atmospheric horror films anymore?

Taken from IndieNational Magazine Filmblog